The movies

Cinememe — 15 memorable movies in 15 minutes (sort of), Part II

True North Perspective's Managing Editor takes a strictly personal trip down a cinematic memory lane

By Geoffrey Dow

The following is adapted from a post originally published at

Fifteen films in fifteen minutes!
(May not actually be do-able in 15 minutes!)

Rules: Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen movies you've seen that still keep a powerful hold on your mind. The first fifteen you can recall within no more than 15 minutes.
  1. 2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968: Boring, pretentious and non-sensical are three adjectives I've seen hurled at this remarkable movie and I can't argue with any of them. Kubrick was falling from (or rising towards, take your pick) being an artist whose primary goal was to communicate with a mass audience, to one simply in communion with himself — come along for the ride or not, Kubrick didn't care.

    I'm one of those who did and does find the film crawls at times, and who thinks the ending makes no sense at all. But I still think it's a magnificent piece of film-making. Mating "On The Beautiful Blue Danube" with space travel, made those ships (all obeying Newton's Third Law, something also un-heard of in SF films before or since), made the silent mechanics of space travel into nothing less than a balletic ode to the future.

    This is not a movie for the twitter generation, so be prepared to sit down and really watch it, if you're going to give it a try (which you should do). While there's much to criticize, there is also much to think about and much to simply enjoy.

  2. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, 1964: Another Kubrick, this time in black and white and this time almost without flaw. Peter Sellers plays the titular character, a semi-paralyzed "former" Nazi scientist now working for the Petagon; the President of the United States; and an upright English army officer and an innocent viewer would probably assume three different actors. But that's merely trivia.

    Kubrick's satire skewers the military and political worlds with a keen and vicious eye, managing to provide the viewer with all the suspense of a good thriller and the belly laughs of the best of the Marx Brothers. "Gentlemen, please! You can't fight in here! This is the war room!" Oh hell, if you haven't seen it, then repair that flaw now.

  3. The Great Dictator, 1940: I was nine or 10 the summer the CBC played just about all of Chaplin's major movies, probably on Saturday nights. In any event, it was must-see television for our entire family, and a revelation to me. The closest I had then seen to Chaplin's physical comedy was Don Adams' Get Smart, and good as the latter was, it was clear to me then (it's actually less clear to me now, but that's a digression for another time) that Chaplin's work was simply on another (higher) level entirely. In the years since I've blown hot and cold on Chaplin, but the "dance" in which his Hitler parody plays with a giant balloon marked with the world's continents and oceans will stay with me always.

  4. Duck Soup, 1933: What can I say that hasn't been said a thousand times before? This is the Marx Brothers at the top of their game — anarchic satire, pratfalls and wordplay with scarcely a musical interlude to slow things down. See it in a theatre if you can, with a few friends who like to laugh if you can't.

  5. The Petrified Forest, 1936: My first exposure to Bette Davis and one of my first to Humphrey Bogart, The Petrified Forest was all about the threat of violence, rather than violence itself. Stagey, perhaps, but compelling as hell when I saw it on television and one I've revisited a few times since. Based on a stage-play, it's definitely primitive film-making, but primitive doesn't mean bad.

  6. 9 September 2009 — Return to cover.