As an art form, movies are one of the most accessible ways to appreciate the creativity and passion that can come from the world. While some are made from a place of greed and cynicism, others are from a place of meaning and from people who have something to say. When it comes to a film that’s impactful, there can be any reason for it or motive behind it, whether intentional or not. For me, I believe that movies can teach us about ourselves, others and the world around us and make lasting impacts upon our lives.
V for Vendetta (2005)
As a massive fan of both Hugo Weaving and Natalie Portman, I am definitely biased here, but it was this film that introduced me to them both. This movie is entirely political and not the most faithful to the Alan Moore graphic novel, however, I think both of those things are positives. I first watched this film when I was probably too young, but the visuals, acting, commentary and general tone had me hooked and informed my current political views. This film has so much to say about the class divide in society, hypocrisy of the rich, the will of the people and so much more. I can definitively say that this is my favourite film and for once I cannot say that the source material is better.
I feel that the impact this film had on me cannot be understated as since watching it I have definitely held a more critical eye on the things that I am told from authority figures. I no longer go past respect for individuals, which lets me keep them grounded in my view and seem more human to me.
Yes Man (2008)
This is a weird choice, but it is not for what might be expected. I definitely enjoyed this film when I first saw it as a teenager, but I never thought too much of it until much later. When I hit my 20’s, this film took on a new meaning as I decided to read the book. It completely changed my life. The film is fun, quirky and I loved Jim Carey and Zooey Deschanel’s performances, but it does not capture the true essence of the book. The film definitely displays the point of not letting life pass you by and being an active part in it, by taking chances and living life in the moment. What the film doesn’t mention though is the true toll this can take on you, the mental challenges of this and the difficulty of taking chances.
The film impacted me by introducing me to the book – this is the real thing that changed my life as previously I had been quite passive in my daily life and would more often say no to things than yes, forgoing experiences in the pursuit of comfort and resistance to change. There is also an extremely important part of the book which I feel contextualises what saying yes to things actually means; there is a point in which Danny Wallace goes on a date with a woman and it goes quite well, then yes asks if he’d like to go back to hers and this is the only point he allows himself to say no. In the book, this is a clear message on the importance of choice even when trying to be more positive and open to everything, and as a man reading this I felt a release of pressure.
What We Do In The Shadows (2014)
This film is hilarious in so many different ways and fuses different aspects and methods of comedy into one endlessly entertaining mockumentary. This film introduced me to my favourite director Taika Waititi, who has since blown up outside of New Zealand. The film explores the concept of vampires and how comedic the vampire myth actually is, whilst being respectful enough to win over fans of vampires. By extension, the TV show that spawned from this movie is also one of my favourites for the same reasons plus some.
I was impacted by this film due to discovering a lot of my new favourite things from both the director and co-writer of this movie. It is also perfect for showing how to take a pre-established mythos and run with it, thus also shining a spotlight on New Zealand’s film industry, which needs it after The Hobbit franchise ruined it.
Legally Blonde (2001)
A bit of a surprising pick for some, but for me Legally Blond showed me quite a lot through the use of a typical “valley girl” to demonstrate how deceptive appearances can be. The movie is also just hilarious. It highlights how ridiculous stereotypes as well as the importance of working for something. It also introduced me to Reese Witherspoon, who I have followed since and love all of her efforts toward making mental health more visible and her charity work which helps women with financial literacy.
The impact this film made on me has seen me viewing others more openly and fairly. It has definitely helped to stop instant judgements and instead focus on the merits of someone’s character and work, whilst appreciating the potential everyone has within them.
Interview with the Vampire (1994)
This film probably has the most personal impact on me. I used to watch it with my sisters during our movie nights and seeing Tom Cruise, Antonio Banderas and Brad Pitt at a young age is what first made me realise I wasn’t exactly straight before I knew that was an option. It is also just a great film in general with amazing acting from all of the cast, especially a young Kirsten Dunst giving an Oscar-worthy performance for such a young person. The set design in this movie is off the charts and really sets a standard for atmosphere and mood. The book that the film was based on was also a really interesting – if depressive – read and I enjoy both for different reasons.
I feel like this movie has impacted many young gay/ bisexual men like myself, with so much sexual tension between Tom Cruise and Bradd Pitt. It really did leave me with the impression of sexual attraction towards men as a male was something that just happens and is normal. This may not be my favourite movie but it definitely has been on my mind more often than any other. I would thank the director Neil Jordan personally if I could.
Feature image credit: Dylan Carducci