Okay, so the last one was solved far too quickly.
Don’t get cocky. Try this on.
Yes, Ikiru is a great example… a student of mine watched that film and it lead him to explore Eastern philosophy, culminating in an amazing final research project and a change in his professional plans (being influenced by the film)
How about Ikiru? Terminally ill from cancer Kenji makes it a point in his life just to do one thing significant for others, and therefore himself. As a bureaucrat, he makes funding a children’s park possible.
“Ikiru is a cinematic expression of modern existentialist thought. It consists of a restrained affirmation within the context of a giant negation. What it says in starkly lucid terms is that ‘life’ is meaningless when everything is said and done; at the same time one man’s life can acquire meaning when he undertakes to perform some task that to him is meaningful. What everyone else thinks about that man’s life is utterly beside the point, even ludicrous. The meaning of his life is what he commits the meaning of his life to be. There is nothing else.”
-Excerpted from Donald Richie’s The Films of Akira Kurosawa, ©1996 University of California Press.
Thanks Rob for reminding of some films I need to see…
None of these indulge in the sorts of comforting closure and narrative forms which all too often anesthetize the force of purportedly “consciousness-raising” American films.
Resnais’ NIGHT AND FOG (concludes with a call for vigilance whose urgency cannot be underestimated to this day — as is grimly driven home by the international community’s feckless and dilatory response to the ongoing genocide in Darfur)
Moodysson’s LILYA 4-EVER (enjoys promotion by the UN and US State Department in the campaign against human trafficking and sex slavery)
Haneke’s CODE UNKNOWN (the formal austerity superbly serves Haneke’s office as the bad conscience of the problematic multiculturalism currently under reconsideration in Europe today)
The indefatigably rigorous Dardenne brothers’ ROSETTA (after which a Belgian child labor law was named)
Jia’s THE WORLD (though it’s the first of his films to enjoy approval from the Chinese government, it’s nevertheless, I think, the most acutely critical of inequities and injustices apparently endemic to its transformative rapid economic development)
Iron Jawed Angels
Moving the Mountain
Hearts and Minds
The Weather Underground
Grave of the Fireflies
Fog of War
Life and Debt
Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War
Super Size Me
Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism
Orwell Rolls in His Grave
The Laramie Project
I’ve used all of these in courses I teach and various film societies I’ve set up:
Bluegrass Film Society
I should’ve posted earlier, but thanks to Darren’s site (Long Pauses), I’ve been reminded about this question.
I’d pick “My Flesh and Blood,” one of the few films that, through its depiction of service (from an unbeliever!), made me feel ashamed of my own lack of service to others.
Oops. You only need to see the movie once :)
What about American History X? To me, the movie was secondarily about race relations, neo-Nazism, or hatred. What was predominant–and most believable–was the role that older men have in the formation of boys. Boys are so easily influenced, for good or ill, by men that give their time to them. Perhaps watching this movie might persuade a man to go into education instead of a more lucrative field, or to become a Big Brother, or give his time to inner-city youths, or help with his church’s youth group, or become a foster parent. There are too many boys without a positive male influence in their lives; I think that vacuum eventually gets filled by something. Unfortunately, what fills it is often destructive.
Ichi the Killer.
A while back “Cry Freedom” would have been in the running. Miners have been in the news lately — “Margaret’s Museum” (a bit older) explores the limited choices of the poor in a mining town. Recently, “Dirty Pretty Things” influenced me.
Mad Hot Ballroom
Watching “Millions” again made me give money to the Red Cross. In a different way, Spike Lee’s “Do The Right Thing” and “Malcolm X” made me examine my own racism and want to do something to change it.
Bus 174 comes to mind.
A film that left a deep impression on me, when I was much younger, was “The Cross and the Switchblade”. The film may be dated today, and the acting may be subpar (Pat Boone and Erik Estrada!), but the story itself is current and pertinent.
John Sayles’s “Men with Guns”
OTTOMH – I’d have to say Hotel Rwanda
Nicely done, Mike!
You are the king of the world!
Gotcha Dude! :-)
It’s confirmed via goggle image search. It’s definitely Harry Dean Stanton in Paris, Texas. Great Film.
I’m guessing it’s Paris, Texas.
Is that, um, a rabbit on his shoulder?
For some reason I want to say it is Nicholas Cage in Adaptation.
Johnny Depp, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
John Malkovich, In The Line of Fire