Spirited Away (2001)
Directed by: Hayao Miyazaki
Written by: Hayao Miyazaki
Running Time: 125 minutes
I love the story and the animation. I must have been gaping the entire time I first watched this movie with my mom and my younger sister. We were completely awestruck by the beautiful and vibrant imagery. Spirited Away tells the story of a girl who gets swept away in a fantastical universe after her parents are transformed into pigs. She goes on a quest to turn her parents back into human and, along the way, meets a very colorful cast of characters.
Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (2005)
Cast: Geum-ja Lee, Min-sik Choi, Shi-Hoo Kim, Yea-young Kwon
Directed by: Chan-wook Park
Running Time: 112 minutes
Chan-wook Park’s revenge trilogy (Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy, Lady Vengeance) is some of the best film-making and storytelling that I have ever seen. The films aren’t interconnected in any way, but they’re known as a trilogy because they all deal with the same theme – vengeance. Sympathy for Lady Vengeance is my favorite one out of the trilogy. Geum-ja Lee (Yeong-ae Lee) is sentenced to prison for a crime she didn’t commit, ripping her away from her young daughter who ends up being adopted by an Australian couple abroad. Geum-ja Lee is granted early release from prison because she appears to have found God. Instead, she goes on a quest to get vengeance against the man truly responsible for the crime that she was unjustly sent to prison for.
Cast: Alicia Silverstone, Stacey Dash, Brittany Murphy, Paul Rudd, Donald Faison (otherwise known as Turk from Scrubs)
Directed by: Amy Heckerling
Running Time: 97 minutes
I’ve seen Clueless at least a hundred times. This movie is not only quotable but also has a really endearing cast of characters. Alicia Silverstone’s Cher Horowitz, the semi-ditzy, good-natured protagonist of the movie, is my spirit animal in one form or another. Here is Cher debating another girl in her class about immigration:
So like, right now for example. The Haitians need to come to America. But some people are all, “What about the strain on our resources?” Well it’s like when I had this garden party for my father’s birthday, right? I put R.S.V.P. ’cause it was a sit-down dinner. But some people came that like did not R.S.V.P. I was like totally buggin’. I had to haul ass to the kitchen, redistribute the food, and squish in extra place settings. But by the end of the day it was, like, the more the merrier. And so if the government could just get to the kitchen, rearrange some things, we could certainly party with the Haitians. And in conclusion may I please remind you it does not say R.S.V.P. on the Statue of Liberty.
The movie is a modern-day (well, set in the ’90s) adaptation of Jane Austen’s book Emma, about a matchmaker who isn’t very good at said matchmaking because she lets her snobbery cloud her judgment about which two people should actually be together. The basic premise is the same in Clueless, with Cher matchmaking Brittany Murphy’s character Tai. While bringing Tai under her tutelage, Cher winds up learning a few life lessons of her own.
When Harry Met Sally (1989)
Cast: Meg Ryan, Billy Crystal
Directed by: Rob Reiner
Running Time: 96 minutes
When Harry Met Sally is another movie that I could watch over and over again. I’m a romantic at heart, folks, and the relationship between Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) is the epitome of true love and all that soul mate-y goodness for me (if you believe in that kind of thing). I love watching Harry and Sally’s relationship blossom from mild dislike and irritation to friendship and then finally to romance over the course of several years. No matter what, they stick by each other through all the crazy, happy, ugly moments in their lives because they are each other’s best friends.
Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (2001)
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, Kajol, Hrithik Roshan, Kareena Kapoor, Rani Mukerji
Directed by: Karan Johar
Running Time: 210 minutes
Man, this movie gets me so nostalgic. The music alone defines a huge chunk of my childhood. Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham brings together Bollywood’s two biggest superstars – Amitabh Bachchan and Shahrukh Khan – as well as other huge stars like Kajol, Hrithik Roshan, and Kareena Kapoor. It’s super long (it’s running time is over 3 hours), as Bollywood movies tend to be, so you really have to plan accordingly before watching this movie. When Rahul (Khan) falls in love with Anjali (Kajol), his father (Bachchan) shuns him because Rahul marries below his class. The film chronicles Rahul and his father’s eventual reunion, acceptance, and forgiveness, along with a few other subplots. (I mean, it’s 3 hours, of course other shit is going to be happening.) Listen to one of the songs here.