The maalamalama Movie List

September 12, 2006 –

Today, I’m taking a brief respite from my daily financial blubbering to just write a movie list, with the common theme that all of these movies dig down the rabbit hole. So these are not necessarily what I feel are the best movies of all time but the best movies that dig deep down the rabbit hole, as that is our common investment theme to building real, tangible wealth. Here are some great movies that everyone should catch at one point or another. If you see the common themes that run through this list and know of movies that we would love, please send us comments! We’re movie buffs here and want to know of other brilliant films, no matter the country of origin.

amores.jpgAmore Perros (Mexico) – This movie is so intelligent that you may need to watch it several times to catch all the allusions hidden within this film. There is a story told inside a story here. And it’s brilliant. Plus my friends in Mexico City told me that it captures life in Mexico City perfectly. The director, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, stated that he wanted the movie to be like a two hour, uninterrupted scream. He succeeded.

whale.jpgWhale Rider (New Zealand) – Don’t know what it was about this movie, maybe the charming little girl who played Pai. A simple story about Maori traditions that somehow resonates in the back of your mind long after you’ve finished watching it. One of those “good for the whole family” type of films but yet so much more than a weak Disney film.

whywefight.gifWhy We Fight (USA) – Fascinating documentary about the history of the industrial-military complex and an indictment upon the corporatization of war today. Seems appropos given that the U.S. provided cluster bombs to Israel to bomb Beirut, and now that the UN says a million unexploded cluster bombs now act like landmines in Beirut neighborhoods, the Bush administration has sent a delegation of American corporate executives to help “re-build” Lebanon. So from a corporate standpoint, the U.S. defense industry and mainstream corporation both profit. Sad that war has become just another business transaction.

lumumba.jpgLumumba (French) – Moving film about legendary Congo leader Patrice Lumumba. An important film about strength, honor, and integrity.

scratch.jpgScratch (USA) – documentary about the history of turntablism. Some amazing footage from world famous mixologists such as Q-bert, Mix Master Mike and DJ Premier.

dominique_blog.jpgThe Agronomist (French) – Yet another documentary. This time about Jean Dominique, an outspoken Haitian journalists whose frequent criticisms of the corrupt Haitain political machine eventually cost him his life. Dominique was a fearless man who embodied the saying “I would rather die standing up than live my life on my knees.” A perfect moment that captures his fearlessness as well as his wicked humor is when he was asked about an attempt on his life when unknown persons fired shots into his home. Dominique, in all sincerity, shrugged, laughed, and then said ,”It was exciting!” Don’t miss this one.

tae guk.jpgTae Guk Gi (Korean) – The Korean version of “Saving Private Ryan”, only I liked the story much more. Very melodramatic but the film’s grittiness more than compensates for the detraction of the melodramtic factor.

amelie.jpgAmelie (French) – Jean-Pierre Jeunet just doesn’t make bad films. Visually the film is stunningly gorgeous, like a canvas you wish were in 3-D so you could crawl inside it and explore further. Jeunet said he mirrored the films color schemes to a painter that always painted in reds and greens, so in almost every frame in the movie, there are reds and greens. Plus, the charming Audrey Tautou stars. His latest film, A Very Long Engagement, was also visually stunning.

infernal.jpgInfernal Affairs I and II (Hong Kong) – Hollywood has remade this movie into The Departed, starring Jack Nicholson and Matt Damon, but as you well know, nothing ever tops the originals. So do yourself a favor and go see the originals instead. Hollywood just doesn’t make crime capers this good and I doubt that the re-make will live up to the originals.

fight.jpgFight Club (USA) – like Amores Perros, another brilliant film of a story inside a story. Filled with alegories and allusions, it’s a film that makes multiple references to the fear that people dwell in instead of embracing the greatness that dwells within.

city.jpgCity of God (Brazil) – Directed by Fernando Mereilles, who also directed the brilliant Constant Gardener. This film portrays life in the favelas (slums) of Rio. Beautifully shot and containing a cast of uknown actors, it’s about as raw and visceral a vision in filmmaking as you’ll find anywhere.

constant.jpgThe Constant Gardener (USA) – Though City of God garnered all the accolades, I thought that this movie was equally brilliant. Based upon famed spy novelist John LeCarre’s work of the same title, this film explores the seedy underbelly of the global pharmaceutical industry. According to LeCarre, a former MI5 and MI6 agent, he intensely researched this novel by using his intellgence gathering training to speak to disenchanted middle managers in the industry. He says that what he discovered when he dug deep down into the rabbit hole made his portrayal of his fictional pharmaceutical company in the film flattering in comparison.

step.jpgStep into Liquid (USA) – A film about the brotherhood that exists in surfing, I found this movie captivating because it mirrors the brotherhood you find in martial arts. This is a story more about the humanity of people everywhere in the world much more than even surfing. And if you don’t surf, it’ll make you want to start.

catch.jpgCatch a Fire (USA) – Actually I just saw a trailer for this film and haven’t seen it yet but considering the director also made “Rabbit-Proof Fence” it looks interesting enough that we’ll give it an early endorsement, sight unseen.

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