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Saturday, 21 March 2009


Local Hero - Scottish subtlety at its best

The Straight Story by David Lynch.

This year's best movie, of course.

Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler.

Oh so many. I might answer more than once. First, though, a couple featuring Paul Newman. The Verdict is the point at which, I think, he raised his game from very good actor to great actor. Nobody's Fool was a crowning achievement.

The first title that came to mind was the first one listed in these comments: "My Dinner with Andre." Screenplay available: http://books.google.com/books?id=92LUorQ4BsAC&dq=imdb+%22my+dinner+with+andre%22&printsec=frontcover&source=bn&hl=en&ei=447FSZyZL460MeHw-B0&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=4&ct=result

You want to read screen plays?

Get a book...

The Thomas Crown affair!

Grey Gardens
25th Hour
Anything Else
Before Sunrise
Before Sunset
Bukowski: Born into This
The Fog of War
Girl with a Pearl Earring
House of Sand and Fog
Little Children
Melinda and Melinda
Notes on a Scandal
The Squid and the Whale
The Station Agent
Seeing Other People
Pieces of April
The Pianist
The Secret Lives of Dentists
The Upside of Anger
The White Diamond
Waiting for Guffman
Brokeback Mountain

From my four star and up Netflix history.

After reading other contributions I guess i should add that the only movies I own, I bought to lend because I felt that everyone should see them.
Cinema Paradiso (mentioned before)
Young Frankenstein (Pitchforks and torches)
Monty Python's Holy Grail (Trebouchet)
A Fish Called Wanda (abuse of small dog)
Branaugh's Henry V ( you did say well written)
And yes you too can borrow them.

A Christmas Carol by C. Dickens.

Check out Death Race 2000




" The Lives Of Others" has been mentioned, and it's great. Also, "Immortal Beloved", the only only Gary Oldman film I can recall without him being a villain.

Big Night
The Terminal
Whale Rider
Sophie's Choice
LA Story
The Birdcage
Calendar Girls
The Gods Must Be Crazy
Good Night and Good Luck
Million Dollar Baby
Any of the Meg Ryan chick flicks

Never Cry Wolf


There is a hunting rifle and a wolf or two do get killed.

Oh ya... and a whole bunch of lemmings get eaten by various animals including the main character.

So may I would suggest have already been mentioned. Since I don't wish to just repeat others:

Marty (1955)

Ok, so I lied, I want to repeat one:

To Kill a Mockingbird

'Michael Clayton', if you're looking for something you can go get right now at the video store. Tough, unsentimental, smart. It has peripheral violence, but not a violence-dependant conclusion.

And I have to ask why you're asking. So many good movies listed above, but some that would need to be ordered online from Criterion, etc, which is not handy if you're just looking for a Saturday night movie.

If you hadn't said English-only, I would have strongly recommended La Regle Du Jeu by Jean Renoir (1937).

A Brief Encounter David Lean 1945 made way before I was born.
It is a minimal set movie probably shot on a shoe string. The tension created between the characters is palpable done by brilliant cinematography and direction.

it seems most of my favorite movies involve guns or cars, therefore putting "Tank Girl" near the top of my list :).

Upon reflection, almost all of my favorite movies *are* war movies:
Black Hawk Down
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon
Duel at Diablo

I haven't seen it mentioned, yet. Dr. Zhivago would have to rank well up there. Although there are some guns, they are peripheral to the story line. Can't have a revolution without a few guns...


You want to read the screenplays?

I have a great book of 5 Preston Sturges screenplays in which all, I think, meet your requirements. It's called "Five Screenplays by Preston Sturges" coincidently.

The House of Sand and Fog


I'm gobsmacked that nobody has nominated "Mr Holland's Opus". Not only is it well-written, compelling and engaging, it is also beautiful AND it features a composer/musician (Richard Dreyfuss) and an aspiring photographer (Glenne Healy) and lots of music. Even teenages get enthralled with this one, but it's deeply satisfying for a 52 year old!

I'm also amazed that at least three people nominated "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button". No fantastical premises???

Regards, Rod

Good Night and Good Luck

The Cider House Rules

In current release: The Reader

Andrei Rublev by Tarkovsky
Goin' Down the Road by Shebib

Two foreign movies that haven't been mentioned, but are pretty special:

Monsoon Wedding
Y Tu Mama Tambien

and an old comedy with Dustin Hoffman


the pink panther. back when move dialogue actually mattered

harold & maude...

& blood simple!

tough criteria. i can't think of many more that haven't been mentioned.

paris, texas
stranger than paradise

oh, wait. i forgot that there is a gun in "metropolitan."

Age of Innocence

Okay, that'll learn me to half ass read your post... even when it is only a bloody paragraph long! I misread it as you being curious for a "fantastical" movie, that didn't "use guns or gun substitutes..." etc., etc... hence, my suggestions. My bad.

For what you are really asking about, even though, I still stand behind my previously listed movies, as with the fact that you now got enough choices offered you to last the rest of your viewing days, let me just add:

- I had Krzysztof Kieslowski's 'Double Life Of Veronique', but would also add his 'Decalogue' series, and his 'Red'
- Michael Apted's '7 Up' series
- Deconstructing Henry
- Hud
- Lars And The Real Girl
- The Lion In Winter
- A lot more Woody Allen films

Awakenings - 1990
Elegy - 2007
The Gods Must Be Crazy - 1980
Strictly Ballroom - 1992
Waking Ned Devine - 1998
The Sea Inside - 2004

absolutely agree with Juno, Waking Ned Devine and Priscilla Queen of the Desert.

Also like "the Whale Rider" and "Little Miss Sunshine"

then different but very compelling is "Rain of the Children" from NZ: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hW9ph-iCS_k

Oh and of course from Australia: "Kenny" : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfPpTeR_760

Many of your respondents' suggestions are on my own list, but some ignore your criteria that the scripts be in English, (though I suppose some scripts might be available in translation).

Also, you did not mention why you wanted to read film scripts - as research or as a form of literature? Does a good film mean that its script would be good reading? And does a film script derived from a play count?

A few titles that might meet your qualifications:

Trouble in Paradise 1932 dir. by Ernst Lubitsch
It Happened One Night 1934 by Frank Capra
Me and You and Everyone We Know 2005 dir. Miranda July
Junebug 2005 dir. Phil Morrison

That's easy, Mike: my personal favourite -- A Man for All Seasons; Baraka; Ghandi; The Dish; Rabbit Proof Fence ...

I must say, as a 62 yo Aussie, I have come to revile most US films made these days. I just don't want to watch American movies any more. Hollywood doesn't seem to regard reality, truth and honesty as very important. I have over 200 DVDs on my shelves and most of them are either UK or Australia/NZ productions or TV series, although I have a soft spot for Blazing Saddles and the Superman movies with Christopher Reeve. I also have the entire West Wing series and regard it as a masterpiece.

Finally, will I ever see a scientist portrayed in an American movie in any other way than as a laughable stuttering nerd with glasses and a pocket protector before I die? I doubt it.


Mentioned before:
Being There (if you haven't seen it, do)
Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Not mentioned yet (I think)
Amelie (charming!)

4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days

try the 1966 original "The Flight Of The Phoenix" by Robert Aldrich.
Available on DVD. No female characters, but awesome straight-ahead storytelling(without the tricked-up, pointless time-jumping' of "Michael Clayton", an otherwise good movie.)

Comment on your addendum: English screenplays are available for most of the great foreign Classics.

For instance, I have the collected screenplays of Tarkovsky in English, which includes Nostalghia. All of Bergman's films are also available in English translation.

Reading the screenplays misses much of what makes the films so great, though -- their photography.

I second the vote for "Spider" (2002). Its pretty much a one man show with very little dialogue (mostly in flashbacks). Somehow it still does a great job building suspense. No guns, swords, etc.

The Station Agent. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0340377/

"The Commitments" and "Once", two great Irish movies about musicians.

"Spitfire Grill"

What, no one mentioned "On The Waterfront", "MASH" or "Catch 22"?

Little Man Tate

Ma Vie en Rouge

"Big Night" (Stanley Tucci and Tony Shalhoub are Italian brothers in NJ circa late '50s running a restaurant - looking for the big night that will spell success - Look for the looong take at the end - amazing!)

I've always loved the Shawshank Redemption: "Get busy livin' or get busy dyin."

wow, I can't believe that after all these posts, the two movies that came to my mind had not been mentioned:

Amazing Grace -- the Pope feels out of touch with his followers and disappears out the back door of the Vatican, leaving his brother (cousin?) in his place, and wanders the countryside as a plain person, gets in a fistfight, loves a woman, eats country food...meanwhile, the Vatican is going nuts.....absolutely wonderful story!

Big Blue -- a story of competitive free diving with Jean Reno, absolutely compelling photography and a neat tale
following two Mediterranean sea kids as they grow up on the water into the strange world of free diving....(how deep can you go on one breath...?...scary....)

but mike, how are you going to winnow this list down?

Waking Ned Devine has beautiful writing behind it, many twists and moments and wonderful personalities...

Good Luck, maybe a lottery system, darts on a wall.....?

Legends of the Fall
Wait Until Dark

All you need for a movie, Jean-Luc Godard notoriously said, "is a girl and a gun."

It's really not that hard. I'll repeat several suggestions:

As Good as It Gets
Four Weddings and a Funeral
The Gods Must Be Crazy
Little Miss Sunshine

And then add some of mine.

Notting Hill
Rocky (the one and only, the rest is just faff)
One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest (but do read the book if you already haven't)
American History X

I'd also suggest that you try to track down Sennen Joyu, Millenium Actress. Some things on IMDB make me believe there is an English version of screenplay available. It's an anime and a perfect proof that cartoons are not just for kids - the history of 20th century Japan told through an interview with an old actress. Excellent.

BTW, you can check Script-O-Rama and see if anything jogs your mind.

haven't seen these mentioned before:

Goodbye Lenin!
Vicky Christina Barcelona
The Band's Visit (Bikur Ha-Tizmoret)
Ain't Scared (Regarde-moi)
Kunsten å tenke negativt (The Art of Negative Thinking)
DarkBlueAlmostBlack (Azuloscurocasinegro)
Crna macka, beli macor (Black Cat, White Cat)
The Million Dollar Hotel
2 Days in Paris (Deux jours à Paris)
Vratné lahve (Empties)
The Darjeeling Limited
Dark Horse (Voksne Mennesker)
Kebab Connection
Belle Epoque (The Age of Beauty)
Ko to tamo peva (Who Sings Over There)
Il Postino (The Postman)
Paris Je T'aime
Y Tu Mama Tambien
Garden State
Coffee and Cigarettes

You must be kidding if you are suggesting there are very few such movies! Oscar 2009 nominations is a good list in which most movies meet your criterion.

When I read your words without the addendum, Krzysztof Kieślowski's "Three Colors" movies come to mind. I don't think there are any guns in _Blue_. However, even with a good translation, I don't think they'd work nearly so well without the visual presentation. I think that's a large part of why they're stuck so firmly in the "excellent cinematic art" place in my mind.

_Harvey_ might make for good reading. I really enjoy the words in that one, and the element of fantasy is never quite on stage. I remember liking some of the dialog, and I don't remeber any guns in _Philadelphia Story__ but it's been quite a while since I saw it.

I wonder how many movies that meet your first two criteria would also meet one that the screenplay does the story justice better than does the book?

"I wonder how many movies that meet your first two criteria would also meet one that the screenplay does the story justice better than does the book?"

I can't speak to that, but I know that some movies are better than the books they were made from. Somebody mentioned "Being There," which is a terrific movie but a disappointing book. On the other hand, I don't want to see "The Reader" as a movie because I had such a memorable experience reading the book.

I might see "A Beautiful Mind" someday, though, even though I liked the book. I could imagine the movie being just as good and maybe better.

"Book or Movie?" would make a good topic for a whole separate blog....


"You must be kidding if you are suggesting there are very few such movies!"

Did I suggest that?


If you want to *read* a screenplay, "Two Lane Blacktop" is very good, and the film is pretty good too.

Arthur Penn's "night moves" is one of my favorites along with Orson Wells' "touch of evil". They are both detective movies , so there are some guns , but I can't remember any shooting. Both have excellent scripts

The Natural, The book is even better

Bridges of Madison County
The Notebook
Wall E

Local Hero and Gregory's Girl

Chinatown?! I think that there are guns and knives in a great many of the suggested films, and the moments when they come into play are some of the most intense in the story.

Do cameras and microphones count as gun substitutes?

Medium Cool - plenty of guns and bayonets in the background, but none used in so prominent a role as a cine camera.

The Conversation - a murder by gun figures into the story, but you've got lots of long-barrel shotgun microphones that are even more notable.

Blow-Up - the image of a gun is central to the plot, but a camera does plenty of violence too.

Apollo 13
The Dish
The World's Fastest Indian

Leaving Las Vegas

Some great movies above:

Ferris Beuller's Day Off
Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist
Local Hero
Adam's Rib
Pride & Prejudice (A&E/BBC Version)
Chariots of Fire
Dan in Real Life

I'm having trouble with "use guns" in your criteria -- does that mean you can't have a gun appear in the movie, or you just don't want shoot-em-ups?

If some violence is allowed:

Rear Window
Maltese Falcon
Asphalt Jungle
To Have and Have Not
To Kill A Mockingbird

Intimation of the fantastical:

Whale Rider

Of particular importance to me personally that have already been mentioned:

The Philladelphia Story

The interesting thing to me in terms of your question as a Rorschach test is how many of my truly favorite movies (Brazil, Blade Runner, e.g) violate your screen.


Ben Marks

The Purple Color
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind [weird, but I wouldn´t say fantastic or sci-fi genre].
West Side Story
The String of Pearls
All about my mother [being the yanks so obsessed about Almodóvar and Amenábar, this is a good one and I guess you might find the script translated].
Talk to her.
Open your eyes [not the so-so Vanilla Sky].
Good morning Vietnam
My life without me [AND you get to see Leonor Waitling, which is always a plus]But it is very, very bitter and unsettling.
The cook, the thief, his wife and her lover.

Thing is I don´t know if you´re looking to read the movies or watch the movies that we might think are well written.

[I did not realize there were THREE PAGES OF COMMENTS, bloody hell!].

I have to say that, even if it is considered one of the lesser movies of Almodovar, Talk to her has one of the scenes that most impacted me recently. And it has to do with photography as well.

Watch it, and see how bedsheets are changed.
Very, very touching.

I still, being in my thirties, find very compelling to read children and early teen´s literature -and recover that weird yet wonderful feeling of seeng the world from 4 feet height-. I can, thus, see Mike´s point. One of the biggest dissapointments ever I had were the film translations of Michel Ende´s books: Neverending story and Momo [specially the last one].

None of the movies made to translate the pace nor the illusion and anguish Ende´s books deliver.

"Benny and June" is well worth watching.

Your definition of fantasy leaves some things up in the air. Can't precisely remember if there are gun substitutes in some of these, but it's a list to get started with. List would be several times a long except for the English requirement.

His Girl Friday (1940 USA)
All About Eve (1950 USA)
The Night of the Hunter (1955 USA)
The Trial (1962 France)
Petulia (1968 UK)
Images (1972 UK/USA)
3 Women (1977 USA)
Paris, Texas (1984 Germany)
Barton Fink (1991 USA)

"His Girl Friday", or any Howard hawks film for that matter.

"Citizen Kane"

The Horse's Mouth.

Charlie Wilson's War
Primary Colours
In Brugges (Ignore the guns, they are only metaphysical)
Devils Advocate
Postcards from the Edge
Night of the Hunter (Original with Robert Mitchum)
Blow Up

You is going to be busy, innit. :-)

My suggestion would be "Smoke" from 1995 with Harvey Keitel and William Hurt.

The Matchmaker

Local Hero

Eat, Drink, Man, Woman

Just last night saw "The Visitor", a superb film that fits your bill quite well.

Into the wild
The weather man

Just thought about those, but I'm sure there are hundreds of others

There are guns in Oh Brother Where Art Thou but please don't make that put you off if you've not seen this amazing film.

At the other end of the scale, Cool Runnings Sprang to mind! Breakfast at Tiffany's, for something British, Human Traffic is a wonderful reminder of my misspent youth!

The Wrestler

Here are a few more I didn't see already posted, not that you need more.

Enchanted April
Bagdad Cafe
A New Leaf
Love Actually
Blow Dry
The Full Monty
The Birdcage (the English redo of La Cage Aux Folles)
A Man For All Seasons - no swords, etc., that drive the plot, but one could say the story is driven by the executioner's axe at the end.

Walk the line
For love of the Game
The Prestige

Forgot to mention. Psycho and rear window

1. Seabiscuit. I know that you want to read screenplays, but if you look at the DVD, one of the bonus features consists of photos taken by Jeff Bridges.
2. Thirteen Days.
3. Schindler's List.
4. It's A Gift (W.C. Fields)

Danny Deckchair

"Coal Miner's Daughter"

Ang Lee's "The Ice Storm"
Wenders/Shepard "Paris Texas"

Most of Charlie Chaplin's movies would qualify, I guess.
Anyway, my favourite movie, a Canadian one: Les Invasions Barbares.

The tricky part of your question centres around your ideas of "compelling" and "engaging".

Still, because it hasn't been mentioned, try "Turtle Diary" — the screen play is by Harold Pinter; the lead actors include Ben Kingsley, Glenda Jackson, and Michael Gambon. It tends to polarise opinions; some find it dull (i.e. neither compelling nor engaging), but they're just wrong ;^)

"The Edge" by Lee Tamahori, with Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin, has always been one of my favorites.

The Fisher King.
Although a gun is used at the beginning, the movie is mainly about the aftermath and how different lives were affected. It has an unusual plot, light humour and is very different from the usual run of the mill.

Check out "The Sensation of Sight", a superb piece of film making and engaging story with real characters.

(Although, there is one tiny little spot in the film that may technically disqualify it since it suggests a certain psychological character is physical. But that's only a wee slip in an excellent work of art.)

Being an Grand Prix/Sports Car racing fan:

Le Mans

Being a LeCarre fan:

The Russia House

Hey Mike,
I'll help you out.
here's a link to the Monty Python Holy Grail script. ( the others are there too, but really not as good as "the holy grail"


Big Night.

What's wrong with comedies? One of my favorites is "something About Mary" for sheer flat-out funny.

Don't think these two have been posted yet:

Roxanne - 1987
Zero Effect - 1998

They're sleepers - they got good reviews and did OK at the box office, then kind of sank out of sight. Yet they're quirky, clever, funny but with poignant moments, and definitely underrated.

The Parent Trap

Another movie with Natasha Richardson. Rest in peace.

I did not read all the comments so I'm sorry if I duplicate a suggestion.

The Best Years of our Lives (1946 William Wyler)

Network (1976 Sidney Lumet)

Local Hero (1983 Bill Forsyth)

"84 Charing Cross Road", too. Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins; recommended particularly for those who appreciate books.

The Shawshank Redemption

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