My Favorite Movie of All Time

I have just as much testosterone as the next guy. Well, no I dont, but I DO have enough that I love movies with car chases and beautiful women and big explosions. I don’t demand that a movie show me people that think and look like me, or reflect my politics. I don’t neccessarily want them to “teach”. I certainly don’t want them to “preach”. My only qualification when watching a film is that it take me somewhere, preferably a place I’ve never seen, ultimately a place I’ve never imagined.

That’s the reason why I do not have a problem with movies that other people consider “dogs”. Joe Versus the Volcano is a good example. That one was silly, but it touched me as well. Any story about shedding a crippling fear is OK in my book.

As a general rule, I do not like “quiet” movies (that darn testosterone again). That’s why it might come as a surprise (even to me) that my two favorite films of all time are slow-paced, quiet movies.

My second favorite film is one you’ve probably never heard of, but should run out and rent as soon as you’re done reading this. It’s a Korean film (subtitled in the US) called “The Way Home“. It’s a story of redemption, which is always good, but it’s also the best story about unconditional love I’ve ever seen. The lead character is extremely bratty and unlikeable, but if we look real hard we can see ourselves and our own attitudes in his behavior. Even though the director eventually gets us to the tear-jerk moment, she does so by a different route than most movies of the genre. It sneaks up on you: you don’t even notice yourself crying until the credits roll. That’s good filmmaking.

My favorite film of all time is the most poetic movie I’ve ever seen. There is a certain rhythm to every cut, angle, and piece of dialog. AND it’s the only movie I’ve ever seen that tackles one of the really big themes that I’ve considered a truism in life: that life is a dance between Art and Science, between left brain and right brain, between Word and Spirit. Many people missed it because they saw the trailer and wrote it off as a kid’s movie. My favorite film of all time is Searching For Bobby Fischer .

I’m sure you’re familiar with the plot: (from imdb)

A prepubescent chess prodigy refuses to harden himself in order to become a champion like the famous but unlikable Bobby Fischer

Funny, that makes it sound like a sports movie, but it most certainly not. Yes, it chronicles Josh Waitzkin’s rise to the top of the chess world, and there’s an antagonist (sort of) in Jonathan Poe (another chess prodigy), but the REAL conflict is between Ben Kingsley’s character (Bruce) and Laurence Fishburne’s character (Vinnie). Bruce is a Grand Master, a student of the game, and a teacher. Vinnie also plays chess, but he’s a (implied) homeless guy, a “Patzer”, who plays speed chess for money in Washington Square.

Both are fascinated by, and try to influence young Josh Waitzkin. Bruce teaches him to “see” the board, analyze it, predict every move in an entire game. Vinnie, on the other hand, teaches Josh to “use his gut”, not hold back in defensive measures, “Attack, attack attack!”. Both are instrumental in his success. THIS is the part of the movie that is so magical to me. This is high philosophy, yet told in such a simple and endearing story.

We can look around the blog world and see a microcosim of this. We have analytical, overthinkers (I’ve got mail! What is the nature of mail? Is it a tool of the Patriarchy? But is it ok to open mail if it gives me pleasure?); we also have those that live life by the gut (just give me my damn mail, m*****f*****!).

I kid because I love, by the way.

In some ways, I’m not sure if any of you can relate to what I’m talking about. Sometimes I think I’m weird and nobody else sees life through the same prism I do. I am “brain ambidextrous”, as it were. The Artistic Geek. The Scientific Songwriter. I take delight in seeing the dancing numbers in the computer programs I write, and I am fascinated by the mathematic perfection bubbling just below the surface in the songs I write and sing. I think that everyone should have a Plan, and that nobody should stick to it.

I feel that one of the secrets of success in any vocation (and in life) is to find both the art and science in it. Master the science, and let the art master you. Use your gut while implementing your Perfect Plan.

Anyway, I guess I’ve rambled too much. But if you’ve never seen “Searching For Bobby Fischer”, do yourself a favor and rent it. See what I’m talking about.


3 Responses to “My Favorite Movie of All Time”

  1. jag Says:

    Excellent choices! I love Joe and Bobby Fischer (I haven’t seen the third one). I also have a fondness for ‘bad’ movies, AKA TBS Sunday Afternoon Specials.

    Master the science, and let the art master you. This is brilliant, by the way.

  2. Kat Coble Says:

    I love SFBF. It’s probably in my top 25 faves.

  3. Reel Fanatic Says:

    I have to admit that I was one of those originally put off by the marketing of Searching for Bobby Fisher, because I was convinced it was a children’s film, but nothing could be further from the truth .. there are very few movies that do such a good job of exploring just how far you can push a child without going over the line

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