It’s award season here in SoCal. Meaning the industry that is entertainment is taking a few breaks to pat themselves on the back. The biggest, of course, is the Oscars just finished, which means I am reminded that I should go see some of them here and there … and not just on an airplane. It also means I remember all the great movies I’ve seen, namely the best lines from those movies. Since I needed a deviation from life for a little bit, I thought it was about time I throw together one of these “ISH” lists to do just that.
Honestly, when I was trying to create this list, I was split between doing one on my favorite quotes, and one on my favorite movies. Honestly they blend together into one mass. Also, I was pretty sure I was going to miss some; so it was hard to say this list is very definitive. So I just decided … heck with it, I’m throwing out a list, and if I don’t like it, I’ll just bore people with another one later.
As with all these lists, there must be rules … because without rules I can’t overexplain things. The rules this time are:
- SPOILERS!!!!! There Will Be Spoilers Here Folks.
- Each entry must be a great line from a movie I think is also great. So great lines from stupid movies don’t count.
- The line has to, in my unhumble opinion, to be part of what makes the movie great. Out of context, it may not seem that great, in fact some of these seem insignificant. Yet with the right level of overexplanation, the reasoning I chose them should be clear(ish).
- One line per movie, one movie per line.
- I won’t commit to saying these are the best lines or movies ever. For one, there is more to come surely; but for two, I don’t trust my memory … I did have some mighty fine wine last night.
So here we go … in order of ‘None of your business what order it is in’ here is:
The Top-6ish Lines from Movies I Think Are Great:
1) “Do You Classify As Human?” “Negative, I am a Meat Popsicle”
The Fifth Element (1997)
I am not silent about my love for the Star Wars saga, but what I am also not silent about is that I think the Fifth Element is one of the best sci-fi movies, and the one movie that deserved every sequel that the train wrecks of the Transformers got. For one thing, Fifth Element developed an entire cinematic universe that touched on politics, economics, entertainment, and art all wrapped in a ‘save the world’ action plot. The film did a lot of this through nearly throwaway lines that you just start picking up, sometimes in the most comedic ways. For instance, most of your life, including your identification, your travel authorizations, your background, and even how many points you have against your license is held on a single card … or “Multi Pass”. It’s a culture that contains multiple races, and a very militant police force that has the right to force you against the wall while they identify you. It was in that moment when our hero resisted with a little joke. Yes, it’s nothing more than a throw away line, but just like all the others in this movie, it build this grand universe that even Micheal Bay could blow up.
2. “I coulda had class, I coulda been a contender …”
On The Waterfront (1954)
Yeah, going for a real classic here. Of course, if you know movies you were bound to have heard this line at some point … I know I did before I actually watched the whole movie. This line, which holds a fair bit of weight on it’s own, is the movie … it is the whole of what this movie was, and was as powerful of a moment in any movie I have ever seen. The film is about longshoremen, caught between keeping their jobs and the mob. The main character, Terry Malloy, is really stuck in the middle – a once promising boxer, protected by his mobster brother Charlie, and now seeing how he can be the linchpin to stop violence against his fellow longshoremen. While he did a lot to walk the line between the two sides, it wasn’t enough – and his brother Charlie is sent to kill Terry. From the moment he gets into the car, Terry knows what Charlie is about to do, and Marlon Brando acts his bottom off showing not fear but exasperation for a brother who let him down. Terry brings up how it started with Charlie getting him to throw some fights, Charlie quick to know how Terry saw pay from that; but this is the turning point. Terry points out what could have been … he coulda had class, he coulda been a contender, instead of a bum. This was a burst of emotion Terry had been holding back the whole movie. It explains why Terry is looking out for the other longshoremen. It explains why he kept his mouth shut for Charlie’s sake. It explains so much about Terry, and so much about what is to come. Figuratively, Literally, and Symbolically, that line defines the life of Terry, Charlie, and the whole of the life on the waterfront. So, yeah, I went with a classic, but it’s a classic for a reason.
The Dark Knight (2008)
I like movies that make you forget that you are watching the movie you are watching. It took me a while to jump on the Dark Knight bandwagon, because I wasn’t sure I wanted to watch a Batman movie; but it was easy to forget I was watching a “Batman Movie”. The Dark Knight was the second in Chris Nolan’s trilogy, and easily the best of the bunch. It was brilliant because, in part, Chris Nolan – who seems to love incredibly intelligent plots told in incredibly entertaining ways. What really set Dark Knight apart, though, was Heath Ledger as the Joker. If the theories and legends are true, this role sent him over the edge and contributed to his death – but this as a magnum opus is a work of genius acting. While there are some great lines (like “the lose their minds” speech, or the intense interview room scene); I wanted to focus on just one simple word. It was deep into the plot, and through a very long series of complicated events the Joker was in a hospital dressed in a nurse costume complete with a white mini skirt and a surgical mask. What follows that scene is a just as complicated series of events to move the Joker’s plans forward. All of this starts with the first conversation with Harvey Dent, who is going through some, for lack of a better word, complicated set of emotions. As the joker removes that surgical mask, looks upon a knowing Harvey Dent, all of those complications, those plans, those actions, those emotions, ripple through the mess of smiles, lips smacking, and gritting that makes this portrait of the Joker so incredible, and he punctuates it with the simplest of words. “Hi.” Every time I watch that scene, I am laughing in awe of that moment.
4. “But I still don’t drink coffee”
The Fisher King (1991)
So, most of the items on this list are about a single line that the movie seems to swing around. This one is actually a punchline to a brilliant speech as part of a just as brilliant scene. While it stands as a turning point to the film, a symbol of the ideas present, or even a key moment in these characters’ lives; the ‘coffee’ scene from the Fisher King may not be as powerful as all the rest of these. But that isn’t the point. This scene follows two people who met just hours before and now are walking back to her apartment. She assumes that one thing is going to lead to another, the thought of which makes her feel bad about herself before they even reach the door. This part of her comes on so quick that the only thing he can do to get a word in is that every time she mentions getting together for coffee, all he can do is say that he doesn’t drink it. She goes to leave and he stops her – and that’s when things get brilliant. She’s played by Amanda Plummer, and he … Robin Williams, at his most crazy and most controlled. This speech he gives is all of that – from saying she is the greatest thing since spice racks, to discussing the phallic nature of Florida. In this speech he reveals he has been, for lack of a better term, stalking her in a friendly way. He bravely talks about what he loves about her, points out all her cute quirks, and even tells her he recognizes when she thinks she isn’t so happy about herself … doing so just revealing that it is all part of how he feels. He leaves it with this final plea, a final wish, that he can be pushed away and never seen again if he can get that ‘first kiss’ from her, then he would accept anything. Except the coffee of course. For serious, if you want a happy cry, watch this scene.
5. “I forgot how big … Thank You”
Joe Versus The Volcano (1990)
If I ever get into an argument about movies, the one thing that can nullify my opinion is me admitting I love Joe Versus the Volcano. Considered to be one of the worst movies of the early ’90s, I can watch it over and over again. Yes, the symbolism is forced, the dialog is clunky, and the whole Hawaiian-Jewish-Orange Soda thing was confusing — but there are some brilliant moments. I could have gone with the very quotable office scenes (“I’m Not Arguing With You” – “I am opening or closing the main valve” – “Do you think I feel good? Nobody feels good. … I don’t let it interfere with my job.”) or quotes about luggage or quotes about clothing. But the scene that gets me happens later on. The film is about this guy Joe who with the prospect of a terminal disease agrees to end his life by throwing himself into a volcano (yeah, like the premise of E.T. makes sense in summary). Joe, stranded on his waterproof trunks in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is awaken by the moon rising. He stands on the trunks, and raises his hands. With the theme of a man faced with his own mortality and understanding what that could mean, he reaches up and calls out: “Dear God, whose name I do not know – thank you for my life. I forgot how big… thank you. Thank you for my life.”
6. “Okay” “Okay”
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
This quote, though, is the most spoiler heavy, so be warned. Hopefully by now you see I am into different movies, smarter movies, and/or stranger movies. Eternal Sunshine is that … and then some. A couple end their long relationship and to help themselves get over the break-up they … well … erase their memories of the other one. Literally. In fact, most of the film follows as the guy, Joel (played by Jim Carrey) as the process removes the memories of her. They start with the most recent memory, and work backwards – which means they start with the ones you most likely want to get rid of, but slowly as the film continues he figures out he wants to keep some of them, especially those that made him happy. The film becomes almost a mid-dream battle to save the past. In the end, all memories of her are erased except for a few hints of something — one of which was a suggestion to find her where they first met. He goes there on valentine’s day, finds her, and they start hanging out again. Without expanding on the details, they come to find out that they had been in this long relationship, that they really hated each other in the end, and that while they have no memory of that time they know now it happened. In the very last scene they are stuck in that question – do we move ahead with this or do we quit now since we already quit. She states all the things that are going to happen, all the bad things she will do, all the annoying things he will do and they will have to put up with all of that. He, in his very soft spoken and sheepish way, shrugs, smiles and says “okay.” She looks back at him, confused, scared, but breaks into a smile of her own. She agrees as quick, “okay”. The film ends, their futures all ahead of them, their past like a hint of something, but at that moment they are unafraid – ready to take all the lows, because the highs make it worth it. In it’s own way, defining what love is.