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Into the Wild (2007)
This is a life-changing experience
When I watched this, I was sitting in my barracks in Afghanistan. I had to keep pausing this and going out to walk the tiny FOB we had there, just to take in what I had watched. I even went on two missions before I had finished it the first time, getting into combat during the intermissions. Believe me when I say, this movie was affecting my life more than what was going on around me, and that is no small feat, given I was in a war-zone.
There is no small amount of 'go back to nature' movies out there. Some are downright disdainful of the urbanized world. This movie isn't that. It is a meditation on the life a real man, who abandons his upper- middle-class career trajectory to become a tramp and eventually live in deep Alaska for awhile. He learns a great deal along the way.
Transcendentalism runs deep in the American psyche. Though we ignore it, that theological position is what drove the creation of many schools of though, including non-violent protest (ie Gandi and MLK). This man takes up the task set by Thoreau in 'Walden' and expands on it with the new quintessential American thought - the road, but he doesn't stop with these things. He learns one of the most powerful lessons I have ever had the pleasure of observing, and it is merely a scribble at the end.
One other thing about this movie: the music is fantastic. Eddie Vedder has some of his best work in this, most of which (I would dare say) is better than anything he did in Pearl Jam. Also, the cinematography is so well done that it ought to be used as an example of how to film such movies.
By far, my favorite movie of all time
I tend to like movies that have a deep and meaningful story to tell, and this one easily takes the cake. It simultaneously challenges people deepest conceptions of superheroes, righteousness, historical purpose, psycho-social behavior, and ultimately ethics/morality. There are so many plots and subplots interwoven nicely in this movie. There are even multiple subtle philosophical interplays that encourage multiple viewings of this movie. The action and suspense are done with glistening polish, and there is the perfect portion of humor interwoven into it. Everything one could ask for is in this movie, and may even change the way you think about your life and role in society.
Of course the comic does do it far better, but a movie may only have a certain runtime (it is not happenstance that my favorite comic and movie are the same). It is indeed unfortunate that the creator (Alan Moore) has refused to watch the stuff that the WB has churned out since he left DC comics, but it is true to his work.
*As an aside, the people who complain about the "blue penis" thing, you are playing into the challenge presented by this movie and you failed it. Try to be less narrow-minded, and understand why it was placed there in the first place. There is a lot to unravel here, and you have to think because it will challenge even the most open-minded of sorts, but THAT IS PRECISELY WHY THIS MOVIE IS GOOD. I won't ruin anything by saying why you need to read into its meaning, or what there is (that's in the eye of the beholder). Try to see these things as a sociological challenge, and you might be surprised at what you'll see on the 1st or even 15th viewing.
When Nietzsche Wept (2007)
hard to follow at times, but an amazing pay off
For those who love philosophy, this is a heck of a movie for you. If you haven't read Nietzsche before this, you absolutely have to read 'Thus spake Zarathustra' beforehand, if not for your own piece of mind. After that, this will be an interesting and inspiring tale about the man and a fictitious interaction between him and Breuer. These to challenge each other to the breaking point and back. One waits for the end and when it comes, it is sad, joyous, ecstatic, uplifting, and inspired all in one.
This movie was ignored to easily by the unitiated, who somehow wished to go into a movie with a name that looms as large as Nietzsche's and be able to understand and like it. This is a movie for simpletons. It is for those who can take the challenge of Nietzsche's work. They will be happy with this. If you know someone who talks a bunch about philosophy, then throw this at them and really test their chops.
Defying Gravity (2009)
deep and meaningful, if you pay attention
This series may seem to be a simple drama IN SPACE, it has much deeper philosophical intentions, that are played out in the unaired episodes quite amazingly. Unfortunately the only way to view them is through piracy, and otherwise the show does not stack up given its limited run- time before cancellation. It is well worth watching though, if only to see how powerful a series it was. I recently played it for a friend who was on the edge of his seat with excitement for each episode, not because it was thrilling but because it was enlightening.
It is ultimately disquieting when reading other reviews and comments when one realizes, most people couldn't see the deeper nature of this show, and through their ignorance made the network cancel an entirely worthwhile experience.