Coming up with lists is hard, man. When I was asked to come up with my top five movies that have impacted my life, I thought, “fuck yeah, I’ll come up with the best list ever.” But once I sat down to write, I couldn’t think of where to start. I watch a lot of movies. Horror, comedy, drama, the weird, obscure movies very few people talk about. And anyone that knows me well enough, knows that I’m a huge David Lynch nut. I could’ve easily made a top five list on his movies alone. But I didn’t do that. In fact, I didn’t include a single Lynch film. I thought long and hard about what movies to include on this list, and this is what I came up with. Maybe there’s a theme. Maybe they were influenced by a current mood. Or maybe they were titles drawn at random out of a hat. Who knows. Read and enjoy. And if you ever want to talk to me about movies, find me online and we’ll talk.
Welcome to the Dollhouse
Todd Solondz is a wizard when it comes to awkward/uncomfortable storytelling. He has a way of evoking sympathy for people who, on paper, can be absolutely despicable. And he tells the stories that no one likes to talk about. It can be uncomfortable at times, but goddamn, what an experience. While thinking of his catalogue of films I’ve enjoyed, Welcome to the Dollhouse came out on top. The protagonist is a young girl who only wants to be loved and appreciated for how special she is. But she’s an underdog in every sense of the word. At school, at home, and everywhere in between, she’s yearns for people to tell her that they love her and falls into a quiet acceptance after realizing that no matter what she does, nothing will ever change.
Hour of the Wolf
Beautiful film about love and mental illness. Not only is this film visually stunning, but it’s the most impactful film on metal health degradation I’ve seen. There’s a character who’s so afraid of dying in his sleep that he keeps himself awake. The more he starts to lose grip with reality, the more characters we are introduced to. I’m already spoiling too much of this movie, but there’s such a creepy, beautiful scene where Johan (the male protagonist) confronts the social parasites he had befriended on the island. And the final monologue? Shit, if I could write anything half as good as that, I’d could happily quit writing forever.
This could be easily dismissed as a Rupert Everett film with zombies, but really, this is so much more than that. Yeah, there’s some gratuitous nudity and gore, but deep down, this is about a person who’s so burnt out and jaded, he keeps dreaming of something more, something better only to find out nothing exists beyond the life he knows. Some deep existential shit here.
Coffee and Cigarettes
Simple is beautiful. Jim Jarmusch reminds us this with his film about the conversations people have over coffee and cigarettes. There are no elaborate sets or locations, no special effects, nothing that screams “look how much money we spent on this!” (although the cast is pretty impressive). Dialogue is the primary focus. And I’m a sucker for black and white movies.
Dancer In The Dark
This is such a beautiful and devastating story. I watched this because Bjork was in it, but I had no fucking clue what I was in store for. This story is about a working-class woman who is slowly going blind and tries to save her hard-earned wages for an operation that could save her son from suffering the same fate. And betrayal. Oh my god the betrayal. This movie starts out with an already awful situation, and it only gets worse. Keep a box of tissue handy and whatever other coping items you might need because this movie will fuck you up.
Tiffany Scandal is the author of Jigsaw Youth and There’s No Happy Ending. She is also the Managing Editor at King Shot Press. When time allows, she dabbles with photography, modeling, and painting for online and print display. She currently lives in Portland, Oregon with her three black cats.