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15 Movies Meme

In the absence of truly original content, I sought to fall back on a gimmick today, that being the trebly-symmetric date of 09/09/09. Except, to keep the symmetry intact, I would have to talk about something related to the Olympic Games, as I did both on 07/07/07 and on 08/08/08. Alas, Olympics are lately as much as on my mind as, say, Newton’s binomial theorem. Not a lot, in case you did not get the allegory. Not at all, in fact.

What is on my mind are what we hope the last remaining bits for fully re-integrating ourselves back into American life. Closing on a house and such. Not the topics I am willing to blog extensively about.

Instead, realizing that I’ve been increasingly neglecting my blogging host responsibilities of late, I decided to resort to the true and tried crutch of a meme and followed a recent one via Jason. If interested, read on.

The idea is to list “15 movies that will always stick with you”, which supposedly means not necessarily your favorite flicks, but rather those that you can vividly recall seeing for the first time, or those that continue to have some special meaning for you. The instructions are not to think too much about them, but try to come up with the first 15 titles that come to mind, within no more than 15 minutes. I have to admit it took me some thinking; I wanted to avoid Russian movies here – they would likely merit a separate list – and my brain kept throwing out Russian titles.

Anyhow, I did finish the list in about 10 minutes.

And then spent a good hour formulating why I picked them.

In no particular order (but not in the order they popped into my head):

  • Gone With the Wind
  • To be honest, I do not remember much about the movie itself. What I mostly recall is the hype surrounding its run in Russia in late 80’s. It was screened at a single “central” cinema in our big city, which I took my then-girlfriend to. I have a vague feeling that we were rather bored.

  • Some Like It Hot
  • I watched it at least a dozen times in a local cinema when I was a teenager, and it remains my most favorite movie ever, plain and simple.

  • Magnificent Seven
  • One of the first American movies that I have recollection of seeing as a near-adult in mid-80’s. I made attempts at emulating Yul Brynner’s gait for quite some time afterwards.

  • Star Wars
  • I like this movie but I can’t say that I’m a die-hard Star Wars fan. But the opening shot of the Star Destroyer gliding through the frame as if over my head will likely stay with me forever. It was mid-80’s, VHS players were still a rarity where I grew up, and not-exactly-legal “private video-salons” were springing up all over the city. My best friend and I joined a showing at one such establishment. Even with a relatively small TV screen, sitting good 5-6 meters from it, the impression that shot made on me was of utter amazement and awe.

  • Love Actually
  • It might be my second most favorite movie. Some silliness aside, I love the humor, I love the acting, and the concept – “Love, actually, is all around you” – is something I seem to be quite willing to revisit again and again, in a not very manly manner…

  • My Cousin Vinny
  • Another top favorite. Watched it again a few days ago and realized how much of it I know by heart.

  • Hangar 18
  • I think I actually skipped classes in 4th grade and, with a group of like-minded classmates, went to a local cinema to watch this flick. I later watched it a couple of more times. A few scenes, such as the piercing-blue-eyed dead aliens turning in their seats towards the audience, had a strong hold on me for quite a while.

  • Casablanca
  • Jason will feel vindicated. After I first watched Casablanca less than two years ago, I expressed my sense of being underwhelmed with what is regularly being put forward as one of the best movies of all times. Interestingly, since then, I have revisited my impressions of the movie in my mind occasionally, and I feel it growing on me. In other words, it did stick.

  • Live and Let Die
  • The first James Bond movie that I ever saw, around the same time as Star Wars. For quite a long time I called it my favorite. It hooked me on Bond alright, to a point of acquiring the entire Bond collection on VHS in mid-90’s (which I sold on eBay a few years ago).

  • Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • I always liked “adventure” genre in cinema, well represented in Russian offerings year after year. But my early experiences with American cinema included Westerns, dramas, comedies, sci-fi, and not what I would call a genuine adventure. Raiders were the probably the first such movie that I’ve seen, which ensures its special place in my heart.

  • The Lion King
  • After Becky was born, there was a period of three or four years that Natasha and I did not set foot inside a movie theater. We never had a regular baby-sitter, my parents or grandparents minded the child when we went to entertain ourselves, and I never had the inclination to inconvenience them additionally for the sake of us seeing a movie. The reason Lion King features on the list of “movies that stuck with me” is that it was the last viewing Natasha and I went to before becoming parents. Natasha must have been 8-months pregnant. Things like that tend to stick with you.

  • Once Upon a Time in America
  • The “Jewish” setting of the movie made it a must-see among the small Jewish community in our fairly large city in late 80’s. I’m pretty sure we went to the cinema as a family to watch it, Mom, Dad, Little Brother…

  • Lemonade Joe
  • Self-imposed restriction on Russian movies aside, I can include foreign movies here, can I? This Czech flick likely has the distinction of being one of the very first movies that I’ve ever seen in a cinema, sometime in late 70’s. I do remember that I watched it with my Dad.

  • La Grande Vadrouille
  • More of non-English-language fun. One of the most hilarious movies that I’ve ever seen in my life. Many times over.

  • Seksmisja
  • Another world cinema “masterpiece”. Aside from an obvious attraction of a movie thusly named to an adolescent boy (actually, in Russia it ran under the title of New Amazons and was heavily censored), it is part of a vivid school memory of our history teacher (same person as in #16 here) scolding us for being “apolitical” because we preferred that silly romp to a serious biopic of an early Soviet diplomat. (Damn, I can’t come up with anything original these days; turns out I already mentioned this before).

Hmm, this was fun. I like reminiscing about stuff. I should do this more often.


  1. Kisintin

    I think we watched Once Upon a Time somewhere outside the city. While on vacation maybe. I remember us getting to a movie theater that we didn’t usually went to.

  2. jason

    As you surmised, I’m glad to see you coming around a bit in regards to Casablanca. đŸ™‚

    I had a similar reaction as you to Gone with the Wind, interestingly enough. I admired the craftsmanship of the movie, respected its significance in film history, and was utterly bored by it. I distinctly remember thinking “That’s it?” Probably much the same as when you saw Casablanca, actually…

    One more thought: I don’t think I’ve seen Hanger 18 since I was about 13… wow…

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