"Lesser known" films that I highly recommend
Stand By Me (1986)
Genre: coming-of-age drama
From Wikipedia: In Stand by Me, four boys in 1959 Castle Rock, Oregon, go on a hike to find the dead body of a missing boy.
No other film that I have watched has ever depicted what it's like to be a 12 year old boy as well as Stand By Me
. Not only an excellent film, but also a personal favorite. A must watch for all men who have forgotten what it was like to live in that brief period of time when you first started to wonder about your future, but before girls started becoming interesting.
From Wikipedia: Set in 1970 and 1971, Roma follows the life of a live-in housekeeper of a middle-class family, as a semi-autobiographical take on Cuarón's upbringing in the Colonia Roma neighborhood of Mexico City.
This is a very slow, "boring", and "artistic" film that won't do anything for most people. The central theme (in my eyes, of course) is male abandonment and male failure. (Many others see this primarily as a film about class divides or feminine strength - both of which are strong themes as well.) The film almost exclusively follows the central female character, but this is a must-watch for men who have failed others, men who are afraid of failing others, or people who have been failed by men.
North by Northwest (1959)
From Wikipedia: North by Northwest is a tale of mistaken identity, with an innocent man pursued across the United States by agents of a mysterious organization trying to prevent him from blocking their plan to smuggle out microfilm which contains government secrets.
This is probably the most crowd-pleasing Hitchcock film, and it is pure entertainment - even by today's standards! Every aspect of this film is perfect - the music, the chemistry, the dialogue, the plot, the romance, and the cinematography. One of my all-time favorites.
Raging Bull (1980)
From Wikipedia: The film, distributed by United Artists, stars Robert De Niro as Jake LaMotta, an Italian-American middleweight boxer whose self-destructive and obsessive rage, sexual jealousy, and animalistic appetite destroyed his relationship with his wife and family.
This film is as beautiful as it is gut-wrenching. Jake LaMotta is one of the most despicable heroes in cinema, but his story is oddly sympathetic. Raging Bull
is the masterpiece of the greatest director. The primary themes are guilt, insecurity, and what it means to be a man. A personal favorite, and a must-watch for every man.
Movie comedies are usually much worse compared to their TV counterparts. If you've watched films like Anchorman (2004)
or Bruce Almight (2004)
you'd know. But Airplane!
possesses a very novel style of comedy that just works. There's absolutely nothing like it.
The 400 Blows (1959)
Genre: coming of age
From Wikipedia: Written by Truffaut and Marcel Moussy, the film is about Antoine Doinel, a misunderstood adolescent in Paris who struggles with his parents and teachers due to his rebellious behavior.
This film is considered one of the greatest French films of all time - that might be a turn-off for some people, but it's still a very personal film. Above all, this film is a portrayal of the directionlessness of adolescence. You should watch it if you are a teenager or were once a teenager.
West Side Story (1961)
This is the most famous adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, and it succeeds on every level. You could watch this just for Bernstein's music actually. This is the only musical I've every watched where I actually found the music/dance numbers entertaining.
American Graffiti (1973)
Genre: comedy/coming of age
From Wikipedia: Set in Modesto, California, in 1962, the film is a study of the cruising and early rock 'n' roll cultures popular among Lucas's age group at the time. Through a series of vignettes, the film tells the story of a group of teenagers and their adventures over the course of a single night.
Some films are considered great for one reason only: the ability to capture a brief moment of time and place. This film doesn't do much more than that, but it does it perfectly. It's a feel good movie that makes you grin the entire time, but also deeply nostalgic.
Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979)
Genre: religious satire/comedy
From Wikipedia: The film tells the story of Brian Cohen (played by Chapman), a young Jewish man who is born on the same day as—and next door to—Jesus Christ, and is subsequently mistaken for the Messiah.
Ironically, for such a notoriously offensive film, it's not actually that offensive. I found Holy Grail
not very funny and a bit cheesy. This comedy steps way further over the line - as such, it is infinitely funnier. (Yet some of the funniest moments are the most childish ones.)