Blog » My cultural education

7 Jul 2005

My cultural education

Filed under: Personal — paulcook @ 9:18 am

Growing up in Africa, as I did, means I missed seeing a lot of the “classic” movies that define our generation. I mean, I had to spend my leisure time caring for my elephant, so I could get to school the next day. And movies arrived by camel, about a decade late. But we didn’t have electricity to watch them, anyway.

Or perhaps it’s just that I never lived in a dorm at university. Well, regardless, I seem to have missed out on seeing quite a few classics — whether good or terribly, hilariously bad. The topic came up at TASI last month, and now (with much thanks to Michelle and others), I have the beginnings of:

Educating Paul: A must-see movie list

I’m going to be working my way through the list in the coming weeks (months, years), with company if anyone is interested!

Exercise for the reader: What’s been left out? Add it in a comment below!

UPDATE: I’m going to cross out movies I’ve seen. Some might argue that it’s a little unfair crossing out things on the basis of my viewing alone — but then hey, this is my blog, afterall.

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  1. I’ve only seen three of them and my elephant died when I was 6.

    Comment by gv — 7 Jul 2005 @ 10:13 am

  2. Well, a lot of my youth was spent on elephant poaching (…um… sorry, gv, gotta feed the monkey), so I didn’t get to see a lot of movies either. But Beastmaster? Paul, you can do better than that; never settle.

    The Shawshank Redemption
    Lobster Man from Mars

    To name a few pivotal movies of my childhood.

    Comment by MDA — 7 Jul 2005 @ 10:27 am

  3. I’ve actually never seen any of those on Paul’s list. I have seen The Shawshank Redemption (Which I now own a copy of, if you want to borrow it, Paul. It’s an excellent movie). I might suggest adding:

    Wayne’s World
    Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (For the love of God not in the same night!),
    Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,
    Ghostbusters, and
    The Princess Bride.

    I have a copy of The Princess Bride available for borrowing also.

    Comment by Adam — 7 Jul 2005 @ 2:53 pm

  4. Bill & Ted is an especially amusing movie since you’re living spitting distance from San Dimas. Princess Bride, Ninja Turtles, and a few others are specialty tastes, I think. They influenced some people heavily, others not so much. (I know I’ve found the right group of people, for example, when I detect Princess Bride references.) I haven’t seen most of the movies on Paul’s list either, and the one I have seen (Finding Nemo) I didn’t really resonate with. Maybe I’m of the wrong generation. The earlier Disney movies (Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin) remind me more of my childhood than does Finding Nemo.

    Sneakers is a classic, and eerily accurate in places. I think Usual Suspects is probably another good one, with the widely quoted line about the devil (though I suspect it wasn’t original to that movie). I think Shrek might be a modern classic, but you’ve probably seen that…

    If anyone wants to sit down and watch Sneakers, let me know. I *love* that movie. :)

    Comment by Dixie — 7 Jul 2005 @ 4:00 pm

  5. Aaaugh! Out, damned smileys!

    Comment by Dixie — 7 Jul 2005 @ 4:02 pm

  6. Ahh… How could I forget The Usual Suspects!!! A truly amazing mystery! Every time I watch it I start to wonder if, just this once, the ending might be different. And the crazy thing is that I’m sometimes surprised by what I know to be coming. Some more (possible) additions to the list (I make no claim as to whether they’re good or not):

    Real Genius (A Must-See for Caltech students, since it’s kind of based on us, or rather, on the undergrads. Good in a bad way. Or bad in a good way.)
    Pulp Fiction (Which I also have available to loan out)
    Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
    Top Gun
    Karate Kid
    The Breakfast Club
    Back to the Future
    Who Framed Roger Rabbit
    Honey, I Shrunk the Kids

    I also agree with Dixie about the Disney movies.

    Comment by Adam — 8 Jul 2005 @ 12:02 am

  7. I might as well go ahead and put up the list of movies that I own. Not all of them are classics; not all (in fact, possibly most) of them are from my childhood; some of them you might not even call “good”. However, I wouldn’t have purchased them if I didn’t like them. I’m willing to loan them out to people as long as they don’t come back scratched.

    Some of my top picks: The Big Lebowski, Blade Runner, Fight Club, The Hunt for Red October (one of my all-time favorites. you should really watch it), and Tombstone (one of my other all-time favorites).

    Comment by Adam — 8 Jul 2005 @ 12:15 am

  8. I hereby lose my Langabi.name-blog-comment virginity. Ok now that that’s over with, here’s the real comment:
    I heartily agree with pretty much all suggested so far and would like to add the following pieces of cinematic genius:
    Army of Darkness
    Baraka [go see in original 70mm in a cinema if you can: it’s worth the trouble!]
    Beverly Hills Cop II
    City of God
    any of the Herbie films (except the new one)
    Transformers: The Movie

    I am sure there are plenty more but this should keep you occupied for as long as your current elephant lives.

    Comment by sV — 8 Jul 2005 @ 12:28 am

  9. Your elephant sends regards and said he enjoyed the list. Pity you won’t get this message by camelweb for another decade.

    Just as well you are coming home by jumbo rather than camel.

    PS. What are “movies”?

    Comment by Jonathan — 8 Jul 2005 @ 9:16 am

  10. Ah, yes, “movies”. As far as I can work out, they’re the main method America uses to sustain the two vital aspects of its society: celebrity worship and lawyers. They show a small group of people pretending to be doing all sorts of “cool” things, which somehow inspires interest in this small group’s personal lives. Secondly, they teach teenagers things like violence, crime, extramarital affairs, and so forth, which provides lawyers with work down the line.

    They’re also great for procrastinating from doing physics. But then, what isn’t?

    Comment by paulcook — 8 Jul 2005 @ 10:43 am

  11. NOTE: I’ve edited everyone’s comments, because I enjoy practising the abuse of power. I’ve added IMDB links, and crossed out ones I’ve seen. If anyone wants them unedited, let me know.

    Comment by paulcook — 8 Jul 2005 @ 10:52 am

  12. For a second I thought you were saying something along the lines of: Those movies suck, so I’m going to put strikethroughs to make sure everyone knows. After all, how could anyone not like Pulp Fiction. By the way, you failed to link the movies in one of my other posts (#7), and I’m too lazy to put up links for you.

    So when are we going to start watching some of these?

    Comment by Adam — 8 Jul 2005 @ 2:13 pm

  13. I own a set a movies which I claim to be absolutely essential. I actually sell the unessential ones. You can borrow any, anytime:

    Fast Times at Ridgemont High (“awsome, totally awsome”)
    The Big Lebowski (“you’re entering a world of pain”)
    Weird Science (“why don’t you shut up, bitch”)
    Swingers (“there’s nothing wrong with letting a beautiful baby know that you are money and that you want to party”)
    When Harry Met Sally (“I’ll have what she’s having”)
    Saturday Night Live: Best of Christopher Walken (“I pranked him to death with a tire iron”)

    It is quite possible that in a few years “Sideways” and “The Life Aquatic” will be on that list.

    Oh, and I own Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

    Comment by suavisimo — 11 Jul 2005 @ 2:38 pm

  14. Very few oldies up here, so here goes (in no particular order):
    Raiders of the Lost Ark
    Back to the Future
    Wizard of Oz
    Field of Dreams
    Bull Duram
    The Player
    Pale Rider
    In the Heat of the Night
    2001: A Space Odyssey
    *batteries not included
    Short Circuit
    The Longest Day
    Witness for the Prosecution
    Get Shorty!

    Fun outdated sci-fi/fantasy:
    The Andromeda Strain
    The Attack of the Bee Girls (a genuine B-movie)
    Fastastic Voyage
    The Fly (both versions)
    The Blob
    Planet of the Apes

    There are so many more! These are just random thoughts. Have fun.

    Comment by Deborah — 15 Jul 2005 @ 5:25 am

  15. “Johnny Five, ALIVE!!!” Short Circuit is such a great movie! Classic ’80s.

    Comment by Adam — 16 Jul 2005 @ 1:12 am

  16. So here are some of the moves I think are worth a watch. I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of them already, but that’s your problem, not mine.

    Barbarian invasions
    Love Actually
    Natural Born Killers
    Grosse Point Blank
    Dirty Pretty things
    Pretty Woman
    Forrest Gump
    Good Will Hunting
    Scent of a Woman

    Then I’ve always been a sucker for the large scale Hollywood epic kinda feel: Deep Impact

    and of course:
    At least one of the Die Hards
    At least one of the Rambos

    Comment by Spleen — 21 Jul 2005 @ 9:51 am

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