Top 10 Movies to Get us Through the Trump Years
(the following opinions are mine alone as Josh Plock AKA darknite, and do not reflect the opinions of the House of Geekery) (I agree with Josh – G Funk)
In the United States we have begun the reign of a president who campaigned proudly as a racist xenophobe who objectifies women and bullies veterans and the disabled. But he has proven that he has no problem bending over backwards for the totalitarian government of Russia even at the expense of our allies. He entered the job with a 35% approval rating and having lost the popular vote in the election by millions. Now that he is filling his staff with; Nazis, white supremacists, Russian-sympathizers, Wall Street thugs, and air headed morons; a good portion of the American people are on edge. Millions are filled with dread and terrified of what the next four years will bring. The ultimate form of escapism in America has always been movies, and during these coming four years we are going to need a lot of escapism. So I have made a list of the top ten movies that will inspire us, fill us with hope, put a smile on our faces and get us through the next four years.
Casablanca: This classic picture has often been called “America’s Movie” by film critics and historians. The city of Casablanca is filled with people from all over the world, hoping to find safe passage to the United States, as the shadow of the Nazi machine looms over all of them. In the midst of this chaos and tension, is the world weary American, Rick who simply wants to run his bar. His desire to remain under the radar comes to an end as one of the leaders of the resistance movement, Victor Laszlo finds himself in Casablanca pursued by villainous Major Strasser. But the game changer is, Ilsa the only woman he ever loved, is on the arms of Laszlo. Rick can no longer stand on the sidelines as the world goes to hell around him, and the bar-owner must decide between rebuilding what he had with Ilsa or doing the right thing and helping her and Laszlo to escape to continue the fight against the evils of the Third Reich. Of course Casablanca is filled with; razor sharp dialogue, noir-esque beauty, and stress-inducing tension, but it is Rick’s dilemma between choosing Ilsa or letting her go for the greater good of the world which makes this movie a classic.
Batman Begins: Gotham City had gone to hell as the city is run by the criminals and the corrupt, billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne knows he has to do something to save his city. Ultimately the prodigal son of Gotham returns as, Batman, the hero his city both needs and deserves. The first chapter in Christopher Nolan’s magnificent Dark Knight Trilogy, is all about one man with the means and the dedication fighting to take back his city. Though often typified as “dark” there is a clear thread of optimism in Batman Begins as Bruce Wayne is ultimately a hopeful hero who knows he can deliver his city from those who would prey upon it.
Captain America: The First Avenger: While I am on the topic of superhero movies, it seems only right to put one on the list which represents the best qualities in this country. Steve Rogers does not fight for any political agenda, he just loves his country and hates bullies. And now that the country is run by a bully, who has surrounded himself with those who resemble Cap’s rogues gallery, this would be the time to pick up the shield and get to work to save his nation. And as cathartic as it was seeing notorious Trump supporter and Nazi…I mean alt-right guy, Richard Spencer punched in the face, imagine a whole movies worth of Nazi punching.
Star Wars Rogue One: This is the part when, I debated putting the original Star Wars: A New Hope on this list. But after a campaign cycle where Trump; berated a female Fox News moderator, bragged about sexually assaulting women, basked in cheers of “Trump That Bitch!”, and made creepy comments about his own daughter; nothing would be more fitting than seeing Jyn Erso leading a team of Rebels taking the fight to the Galactic Empire. The running theme of the Star Wars movies, is that a diverse rag-tag group of freedom fighters can overcome the might and power of the evil which rules their galaxy. And right now, movies with female leads are more important than they have ever been, making now the perfect time to make a return trip to the cinemas to see Star Wars Rogue One.
A Face in the Crowd: So how did we get here to this point? When the Trump campaign began he was simply a circus clown, but the circus clown drew ratings for the media so his antics were constantly featured everywhere you turned. His brash nature was scoffed at by many, but he touched a nerve in a good number of people. In the Elia Kazan flick, a Face in the Crowd, Andy Griffith, in arguably the best performance of his career, plays Lonesome Rhodes, a drunken drifter who gets his own show which has an appeal to the working class people in the Memphis and across the Midsouth. As his fame skyrockets, he becomes more loud and obnoxious and the people are eating out of his hands for it. When he begins to get pushback from sponsors, he lashes out at them winning even more fevered support from his fans. As he revels in the attention he berates the women in his life and mocks those he works with. If none of this is ringing a bell of familiarity I have to wonder where you have been for the past year. Unlike in real life, all of this comes crashing down around Lonesome Rhodes and he is left alone longing for the fame and power he once had. But we are left with an ominous warning, that while his star has been snuffed out, there will always be people like him around and in only a matter of time another Lonesome Rhodes will hit it big.
Zootopia: I will come clean on this, when I initially began seeing advertisements for this Disney movie I was skeptical. Talking animals living in a human-like city sounded particularly bland and uninspired. I was happily proven wrong as this animated feature took an honest look many of the issues we face today. The rifts in our society are explored and discrimination is tackled by Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde, in an easily digestible way that does not get too preachy or cerebral. The plus side being that this film is aimed at a younger audiences to catch them early and try to keep them from following our mistakes.
The Great Dictator: A talent like Charlie Chaplin only comes along once in a lifetime. Rarely did the actor speak so that meant that when he did it carried an incredible power. In one of his most memorable flicks he portrays both, the Hitler-spoof Hynkel and the Jewish barber who is mistaken for the dictator in the end of the picture. Chaplin’s passion project which utilized humor and hope to skewer an evil ruler rings just as true today, and the final speech encouraging people to stand up in unity for a better world not only tugs at the heartstrings but has also maintained its relevancy even now close to eighty years after it was first recited.
The Prince of Egypt: The vast majority of so-called “evangelical” voters this election cycle, put aside their moral convictions to vote for a lying, money-grubbing, egotistical, adulterer, simply because he was from their political party (and for my money losing the right to ever claim moral superiority to Bill Clinton ever again). But ultimately putting your trust in God means standing up for what’s right in the face of adversity, even if you have to stand alone in a difficult situation. In the film I consider the greatest Bible epic of all-time, we get a very human look at Moses who armed only with his faith had to one of the most powerful people in the world. You will help but get a lump in your throat as the Hebrews are finally freed from bondage and head off for the Promised Land.
Lilo and Stitch: Nothing gets us through tough times like family, and that is what ohana is all about. Even if your familial circle is just a sister struggling through life and a troublemaking blue alien, if you care enough about each other you can get through anything. One of the most popular films in Disney’s stable of animated classics is far different from many of the other films the House of Mouse has given us. No princesses or castles or anything like that just an eccentric girl in Hawaii and her sister trying to make ends meet and fix their family. Making things even more difficult is the fact that their new pet is an intergalactic fugitive. But no matter what the universe throws at them they prove that family can overcome anything, and that means nobody gets left behind of forgotten.
Lord of the Rings trilogy: This may be cheating because it is a series of three films instead of a single one. But this series of films based on the classic JRR Tolkien book series tell a complete narrative of good versus evil in one of purest and most entertaining ways in recent cinematic history. An evil that has been forgotten returns to Middle Earth forcing all the free races of the land to unite to do battle. In the midst of the epic battles, memorable characters, and awe-inspiring visuals is an ordinary Hobbit who holds the fate of all Middle Earth on a chain around his neck. Over the course of this epic fantasy saga we see that; hope, friendship, love, and courage, can overcome any challenge. These are universal theme which still shine bright no matter how dark things get.