If you’ve read Jeffrey’s piece already, not only will you see that he is a rebel of sorts, but also that the original assignment was to write about three films that we love. Now, I’m not necessarily going to break the rules as he did, but rather bend them slightly as one of my choices felt cinematic in many ways.
1. The Social Network (2010)
If you let me talk long enough, you will hear me admit that David Fincher is one of my favourite directors working today. Something about his work consistently being there for me (even prior to my being familiar with which director did what) as his work was one that I always gravitated towards. Beginning with Fight Club, which had a massive impact on me when I first saw it nearly a decade ago. If Fight Club was the first step that began my journey into the immersive world of cinema, it was The Social Network that made me stop questioning that same journey.
To me, The Social Network achieves perfection. At least once a year, I revisit this film and look for faults, but I, frankly, immediately stop looking during the opening conversation. I’ll compare it to the opening monologue of Annie Hall in that it immediately grabs a hold of me.
Once Sorkin’s script has been properly showcased, we see Mark running back to his dorm as the score by Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross begins playing.
This is the first film David Fincher shot entirely with digital cameras, and it’s appropriate given that the film is about the digital age and the beginning of our generation’s obsession with social media. It’s clean, crisp, and immediate. A film for the new generation.
It’s a film where everything meshes perfectly together to create perfection.
2. Master of None, “Nashville” (2015)
Yes, I went from The Social Network to a Netflix original series by comedian Aziz Ansari, and on top of that I chose a specific episode in the middle of the season. This was my most watched anything of last year, and the season premiered at the beginning of November.
Like other comedian-based shows, (Seinfeld, Louie; the list goes on endlessly) some of the episodes are built from jokes and/or bits within their stand-up specials (in this case, Live at Madison Square Garden, and even his book, Modern Romance: An Investigation).
In Master of None, Aziz tackles some of the same topics he’s been an advocate for in his daily life, whether that be diversity within Hollywood, being a feminist, or what it means to be in a relationship that may be obsessed with social media (I guess there was a link between The Social Network and this after all.)
During the sixth episode of the season, Dev (Aziz) asks Rachel (the adorable Noël Wells from Saturday Night Live) to go Nashville for the weekend. It’s an episode that stepped away from New York, and was the first time in the series I felt as if I was watching a film rather than a show. It feels so cinematic while building a story-line that will last for the rest of the season.
As the two spend time bonding together in Nashville, there is a favourite moment of mine while they are looking at jackets and talking about how Rachel’s first album purchases were cool (Johnny Cash and Pavement, as opposed to Dev’s The Beauty and The Beast soundtrack and Vanilla Ice). Specifically, a reaction by another shopper (which I still laugh out loud at): “Can you guys bond somewhere else? I’m really alone right now. The name is not Grumpy McGrumperson, it’s Steve.”
Not only is this episode extremely hilarious, but it’s also genuinely sweet and endearing. It’s those moments at the beginning of a relationship where it’s simply about getting to know one another, and just like when it happens with you, it’s almost blissful as it plays out on screen.
I would like to go more in-depth about how Aziz channels Woody Allen and, subsequently, Ingmar Bergman in one bottle episode that focuses simply on the relationship between Dev and Rachel, but I wanted to specify this one episode that I absolutely adore.
3. Singin’ In The Rain (1952)
Back in June, I had one of my favourite double features (in the theatres) ever. I got to see Singin’ in the Rain in 35mm, and then I ran over to a different theatre to watch Inside Out on opening day. Both of which were movies that I was smiling (and then crying for Inside Out) throughout it’s entire run time.
Over the past year or so, I made it my mission to try and watch new films that I had never seen before, films that are undeniably important to cinematic history. If that film could be seen on the big screen, I sought after it harder.
This film was the one that stood out the most for me (a digital projection Lawrence of Arabia was a close second, maybe seeing it in the preferred 70mm would have the order reversed). This film had me grinning from the very beginning. It’s a film that is so wonderful, colourful, cheery, and charming that you can’t help but be won over by it.
I love musicals, I just don’t watch them often. I didn’t grow up in a home that liked musicals (outside of, occasionally, Grease). I grew up with movies and music separately, so when I see a musical that combines them so exceptionally well, I’m filled with absolute joy. It’s a case of classic magic on the screen in the sincerest form. The way Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, and Debbie Reynolds work together feels pure and real.
I didn’t even mention the fact that the movie is about the transitional period in cinema from silent to sound. They decided on making the film about that after the director(s) was told to simply make a movie using the songs that were already owned by the company but needed a vehicle to have it in. Gene Kelly and Stanley Doren took what could have been a typical, forgettable greatest hits of a film, and made it informative, incredible, and a classic.
When Kelly performs the titular song, you’ve been completely won over and you would like to join him, just singin’ and dancin’ in the rain. Hopefully, this Valentine’s, somebody has a good enough day that makes them want to go outside and sing and dance just like Gene does.