The List of Movies

Everybody has movies they connect with, and there are many that lots of us share. Star Wars, When Harry Met Sally, The Nightmare Before Christmas. Those are all on my list of like, defining movies of my life. They swim near the surface of my consciousness, always waiting for reference.

But there are some movies that you love that are shared with only a few. I think I share a couple on the list below only with, er, myself, and a few others probably only with one person (who actually might add a few to the list that I’ve forgotten. We’ve seen a lot of movies together.)

Odd Cinematic Touchstones In JB’s Life:

  • L.A. Story
  • Brazil
  • Beetlejuice
  • Bubble Boy
  • Super Mario Brothers
  • Soapdish
  • Motorama
  • Until the End of the World
  • Where the Heart Is (with Dabney Coleman, not Natalie Portman)
  • Dead End Drive In
  • The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai (barely makes the list)
  • The Iron Giant
  • Barry Gordy’s “The Last Dragon”

Some that don’t seem (or definitely aren’t) unique enough to make the list: The Dark Crystal, The Muppet Movie, When Harry Met Sally, Batman, The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Edward Scissorhands, This is Spinal Tap, Three Kings, Labyrinth, Ice Pirates, Karate Kid, Spaceballs, The Last Starfighter. I can quote almost all of Spaceballs. I know, I know. But I don’t think I’m alone in that, so it doesn’t make the list.

And there are of course so many movies that I adore, but which don’t qualify as a “touchstone.”

God, how powerful cinema is! Staggering, the influence that medium has on our lives. Even the least susceptible of us has a couple flicks they love and will defend with fisticuffs if it comes down to it.

Care to share your list? What movies do you absolutely love that it seems nobody else does? Or rather, like some of the movies on my list, do you consider touchstones in your life, even if they weren’t very good? I mean, y’know, ’cause “Dead End Drive In” really isn’t very good. But still.



  1. Did you know Spud’s #1 movie of all time, iirc, is Brazil? I tried watching Super Mario Bros. again a few months ago, couldn’t quite do it. Man, that movie is awful.

  2. Well, you had a pic of Butch Cassidy and Sundance last week, but didn’t include their movie. That movie is dear to my heart, even though I kinda get bored with the “Rain Drops” scene.

    L.A. Story is a good one. In a sort of weirdly similar vein is Joe vs. the Volcano, which no one talks about very much.

    Time Bandits!

    5th Element…ish

    The very first Superman meant something big to me, because I had reached an age where I thought I was too old for Superman, and hadn’t yet reached the age where I realized that I’m NEVER too old for Superman.

  3. For myself, I would add Back to the Future, which, and I’m not even kidding here, blew my freakin’ 13 year-old mind. I saw it with my cousins, and they were like, “Yeah, that was pretty good,” and I was just speechless. Twentysome odd years later, and I can’t tell you what the deal was, but I can trace my movie-philia back to that and Ghostbusters.

    A lot of these on your list are ones I feel like we stumbled into, watching them on tv or video, but not really knowing anything about them. I think we watched Heathers like that. My list would include Fearless and Short Cuts. Jurassic Park didn’t take anyone by surprise, but I still love that movie, and kind of judge most special effects movie by it. While we’re on Spielberg, I caught Raiders on HBO when I was a kid. I was pretty insulated from pop culture at that point, and didn’t know that it had come out or anything. I probably watched it 15 times in a year or so. Same with Time Bandits. I have a feeling that a lot of people our age had their movie tastes dictated to them by endless reruns on HBO.

    In my adult years, I feel like finding Wes Anderson was something of a touchstone. He makes movies that feel like someone was rummaging around my brain and put it on film. It’s not the best way to put it, but it’s all I got. That many other people feel like this about his stuff is either Wes’s genius or our collective pop culture-influenced sameness. Probably a bit of both.

    The Matrix kicked my ass like it did everyone’s. The Ice Storm is still the saddest movie I’ve ever seen. I don’t feel that Pulp Fiction is overrated, and that’s saying something. Baron Munchausen sticks in my head because I was ridiculously, painfully in love with the kid I saw it with (Jim Irwin, JB. I don’t get it either*). Beverly Hills Cop is the first R-rated movie I snuck into. 2001 in 70mm was fantastic. When AMC Colonial Commons opened in Harrisburg, it was exciting to see the older movies they were showing for free while they practiced operations. It felt like this would be our new haunt, which of course it was.

    The City of Lost Children and Dark City made me think more about sets and cinematography than I had before. Dazed and Confused I love so much I can’t even tell you. L.A. Story – same. And Babe. I love Babe. Eh, I could go on and on and on, like Gnarls B. says.

    *this, of course, is a lie, made to make me sound flip and cool. I totally get it, and it still kind of feels like all that was yesterday. Somewhere, stashed in my papers and stuff, I have a story I wrote in eighth grade about Jim that I can’t bring myself to read now. I think I would throw up out of empathy with my 14 year-old self. Middle school is kind to few.

  4. Anybody who knows us would know, of course, that everythign you mention is on my list. Yeah, definitely add Time Bandits, The Ice Storm, and Baron Munchausen to the list of odd touchstones. City of Lost Children seemed to have something, but until Amelie, it didn’t quite come together. I completely and utterly adore Amelie. And Dazed and Confused… torturously painful and beautiful and funny and all those things. Linklater is immortal for that one alone.

    You like Fearless more than I do, although if you combine it with “A Perfect World” it adds up to something that should go on my list. Short Cuts, yeah, add that one too. It still freaks me out. I know it’s not something that really is supposed to feak people out, but it freaks me out. The whole suicide thing. It’s too intense.

    Someday I’ll write a post about the worst movies ever made. And you know what’s going on that list.

  5. Yeah yeah Raiders. My dad told us, in trying to convince us to see it, that it was like one of the old-fashioned movies, and that it was about the Ark of the Covenant.

    We pretty much did NOT want to see anything described in those terms. Then we saw it. Whoa.

    Yeah, and Pulp Fiction, which I walked into having heard nothing about it. I thought I had found out about some secret, amazing movie that no one knew about.

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