Movie Masterpieces Part 2 – Dramas

Reasons why we love these dramatic films… spoiler alert!


Graphic by Monica Inouye/SAC.Media.

“Good Will Hunting” from Frank Liang

It was difficult for me to choose a favorite movie of all time since I have so many, so I chose one of my favorite movies: “Good Will Hunting” directed by Gus Van Sant. This is one of my favorite movies because it explores a person who is extremely smart and has potential to “make it out.” Because of how society views him and how he views himself, he is reluctant to move forward and requires the help of a psychologist to help him face his past trauma. Will Hunting played by actor Matt Damon is a math prodigy, but he grew up in an underprivileged broken home that made him afraid to get close to anyone as well as afraid to leave the comfort of his lifestyle. He is comfortable with his friends and jobs that he takes despite having potential to do more. It takes psychologist Sean Maguire, portrayed by actor Robin Williams, to help him break down his walls. One of the reasons I like the movie so much is because how cathartic to see Will finally forgive himself. When Sean tells Will “it’s not your fault,” you feel the heavy burden that Will has been carrying his whole life. One example is that he refuses to be intimate with his girlfriend Skylar because he’s afraid she’ll reject him if he finds out more about him. It takes Sean to help Will see that he does not need to carry the entire burden by himself. Will is finally able to accept this, and move forward finally living his familiar life and cross into the unknown. “Good Will Hunting” is a feel good movie that I love. I think people can either sympathize or relate to Will Hunting. Constantly thinking you’re not good enough or being judged by your background is something every person faces. We may not be the genius that Will Hunting is but everyone has potential to do something great, and I think that’s what the film projects. It showcases the life of someone who has high potential, but because of his background and past trauma he puts walls around himself to protect him from getting hurt, and it took Sean to help break those walls down, and show Will that he is not to blame.

“Parasite” from Karmen Escarrega

Choosing a favorite movie was very difficult but for the sake of this essay, between Bong Joon-Ho’s “Parasite,” Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land,” and Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton’s “Little Miss Sunshine,” I had to go with “Parasite.” Bong Joon-Ho is one of my favorite directors. I love the way he tells a story while simultaneously criticizing a societal illness, just like in his past films “Okja” and “Snowpiercer.” In his most recent multi-genre Academy Award-winning film, “Parasite” Director Bong Joon-ho brings us into the world of the Kim’s. A lower-class family that lives in a semi-basement, as they infiltrate the wealthy Park family by scheming their way into service jobs within the household. In this film, Bong Joon-Ho criticizes the capitalist and classist society of South Korea. Because so many people in many different countries suffer at the hands of capitalism, this movie is truly universal and goes way beyond just South Korea. To me, the most powerful scene had to be the final scene in which the son, Ki-woo, was writing a letter to his father, who was hiding and living in the basement of the Park household after they moved out. In this scene we hear a voice over of Ki-Woo writing this letter to his father while we see the plan that Ki-Woo came up with being played out as he planned. We then see Ki-Woo find a way to become rich and successful. We see that he buys the former Park house in which his father is still hiding in, we see Ki-Woo and his mother moving in and lastly, we see his father walk up the stairs to finally be reunited with him and his mother. However, at the end of the scene we see the Kim’s basement home and the camera pans down to reveal Ki-Woo, writing this letter to his father but also revealing that the past few minutes were just Ki-Woo’s daydream. He did not accomplish any of those things and likely, never will. This capitalistic idea that you can get very far in life if you try hard enough is just not true. Under capitalism, poverty is extremely hard to get out of. The Kim’s were highly skilled people with great intelligence. They tried everything they could to increase their quality of life and they still couldn’t make it. The title of the film itself is very telling. Who was the parasite? Was it the Park’s? The Kim’s? Was it the Park’s housekeeper that was housing her husband in their basement? The truth is that everyone was a parasite. The Kim’s leeched off of the Park’s for income, the housekeeper and her husband leeched off of the Park’s for housing, but most of all, the Park’s leeched off of the hard manual labor of both the Kim’s and the housekeeper. This movie is so beautiful in every way. From the storytelling, to the irony, to the symbolism, to the cinematography and the characterization. Bong Joon-Ho wanted to demonstrate that the relationship between the rich and the poor in any capitalistic setting is bound to be parasitic. After all, where would the wealthiest people be without the exploitation of the working class? I think “Parasite” is truly a cinematic masterpiece and was very deserving of all the love it got at the 2020 Oscars. I can’t wait to see what project Bong Joon-Ho has for us next.

“50 First Dates” from Alondra Arvizu

The movie “50 First Dates” shows the story of a man named Henry who falls in love with a woman he sees in a restaurant located in Hawaii. Lucy is a peculiar woman because she has short term memory loss due to a car accident and wakes up each day with no recollection of what happened the days before. Henry does not let this get in the way and he spends his days trying to catch her attention and make her laugh. He goes through many trials in trying to not only win her over, but also her family and close friends because they are highly protective over her. Once her father and brother approve, they do everything in their ability to help her regain any memory. As a result, Henry makes short films of things that happen within each year together such as historical events, important news, as well as messages from loved ones. Towards the end of the movie she watches the two get married and follows his instructions within the video. She is welcomed outside by Henry, their daughter, and her father as they are living on a ship in Alaska enjoying a somewhat normal life as a happy couple.

The scenes that stuck out most within the film were when Henry did everything in his ability to see Lucy. Since his father forbade him from seeing her, he spent each day creating different scenarios on the side of the road in hope of winning her over. He pretended to have car trouble, was tied up, asked his friend to beat him up, and even brought a penguin to stand on the side of the road. These actions not only showed how important Lucy was to him but also how committed he was to her. When applying this to my own life, I would relate to Henry the most because I am a very patient person, especially when it comes to love. I believe that a relationship should never be rushed and effort can go a long way. It is important to take time with the person you love and to help them grow and prosper. Henry never gave up on Lucy’s memory ability and he did everything he could in order to help their situation.

The reason why I chose this film as my favorite is because it shows the importance of selflessness within a relationship in both a fictional and humorous way. Actors Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore are not only compelling, but make the film enjoyable to watch numerous times. Personally, I like movies that make me laugh but when it comes down to looking at details and finding true meaning behind the laughter, this movie has it all. Following the many stages of a relationship between the couple is quite mesmerizing and you can really feel the love through your television screen. The couple endured many trials and errors just to reach their final points within the film. They came together by initiating conversations, experimenting ways to catch each other’s attention, intensifying their love language, bonding with family, but eventually things took a turn for the worst as they had different views and avoided each other. Through coming together and even apart, they both realized the love they had for each other and that is why they ended up coming back to each other. After writing about this film I learned that love is not an easy thing, disagreements are normal, but it is important to be patient and follow your instincts.

“Whiplash” from Nicole Stout

“Whiplash” has been one of my favorite movies since it came out, and remains to be one of the only movies purchased on my phone. As a jazz lover and daughter of a drum player, I am automatically biased towards liking the main character. When it came out I was a passionate track runner, and could relate with the hardships of having a difficult coach and wanting to be a perfectionist. I also identify as an outcast, or someone who’d rather get the job done myself, similar to the main character. Yes, I am biased to like the storyline, but many agree with me that it’s a cinematic masterpiece. The story follows Andrew Neiman, a student drummer at the best music school in the country. He dreams of becoming “one of the greats” and is willing to sacrifice his social life and physical health to dedicate his life to his craft. His teacher, Terence Fletcher, sees this spark in him early on and decides to push him to his limits, further than anyone else in the class. Andrew, obsessed with perfection and Fletcher hungry for power, both push each other to a breaking point where each fails to reach their initial goal. Both actors portray passion with blood, sweat, and tears, keeping the viewer on the edge of the seat. The storyline takes unexpected turns, perfect for me as I am one to predict every outcome before it happens. Sacrifice is a part of life I value, and those who make them are respected. This movie is surrendering to a dream whether it comes true or not, it shows the beauty in the journey but only after it’s too late, a reminder to live in the present. The soundtrack and camera work is great too, especially the way orchestra scenes were edited together. Overall, one of my favorites.

“The Book of Eli” from Gwendolyn Marshall

I chose “The Book of Eli,” starring Denzel Washington as my favorite movie for it not only sent a lasting message of a character who fought for truth, but it speaks volume to anyone who chooses to fight for whatever is deemed to portray to be true to not only them but to also bring help, salvation, comfort and to further heal the broken heart, mind and soul of others. The movie was filmed in the year of 2010 and the length of the running movie is just about two hours. I believe the producers chose the best actor to portray Eli. Personally, I really never observed Washington to be one of my favorite actors before. He made quite a few movies before this one, but none of them touched me like this movie did. The movie starts off showing a barren wasteland. The scene shows the dead from a war and how decomposition is taking place. The character, Eli, is one of the survivors, a soldier who fought in the war. What I love about this movie and what became very endearing to me, is when I learned what this character was assigned to do. He became blind due to the war, but fortunately, he was chosen by God to save what will be the most valuable asset that would save mankind. The movie also depicted how the world was consumed by a fiery light. What was amazing about this movie, although he became blind due to the war, God allowed him to regain his sight to save and carry to its destination what was sacred. As to life and any good movie, there will be opposition to either try to foil or spoil the plan. I loved how the character showed how he was determined to do what God directed him to do. He claimed a voice from heaven spoke to him and the voice also told him that he would not be alone, and that he would always be protected. When it came for Eli to fight for the safety of the book and himself, he fought so courageously. There were times he fought five to many more men at a time. He did not do this by himself, he knew that he had the assistance of God to help him. Eli fought to save the book by himself and he was determined to do this alone; But found himself befriending a young lady who was in need of help herself. She became someone that was an asset to Eli, for she learned that he was a sincere and determined soldier and that he was not going to let no one or nothing stop his journey. The main nemesis of the movie, Gary Oldman’s character Carnegie, wanted the book for the wrong reason. He believed if he had possession of the book, he would be capable of using people and creating a city where people would obey him by thwarting or using the words from the book for overall control. The movie displayed how the plans of God, no matter what tries to destroy them, will not work. Eli persevered to the end. When he finally reached the city where the Bible could be published through the ancient printing press, one learned that it was the only divine intervention that was manifested. What was fascinating near the ending of the movie, Eli relayed the Bible verbally, in fact, when he reached his destination, he did not have the physical
book in hand with him. He had the words of the book in his heart and mind. The whole book was written by the transcriber who was writing every word from Eli verbatim. The nemesis did get the book, but he was not able to read the book, because when he finally opened it, he found that it was written entirely in Braille. Overall, I have not found another movie that touched my heart and inspired me, as well as, brought hope and more love to my heart as this one did since I first watched it over ten years ago.

“Django Unchained” from Mohit Patel

The movie I like is “Django Unchained,” directed by Quentin Tarantino starring Jamie Foxx, Christopher Waltz, Kerry Washington and Leonardo DiCaprio. The reason I chose this movie is because for one it is a Tarantino film, but also the plot itself is very intriguing. The story takes place two years before the Civil war. It is centered around slave Django being freed by Dr. Schultz, a dentist turned bounty hunter. Dr. Schultz asks for Django’s help to find the Brittle Brothers, Django’s former slaveholders. Schultz even offers payment for his help, but Django was more than willing. The Brittle Brothers had tortured Django’s wife, Broomhilda, and sold her off to separate the two. Django and Dr. Schultz completes the Brittle Brothers’ bounty and continues to complete a series of other bounties, proving to be quite the team. Throughout their bounty-hunting adventures, Schultz develops a soft spot for Django. As a result, he wants to help Django find Broomhilda. They eventually find her to be on Calvin Candie’s plantation. Their first attempt to save her fails as Calvin uncovers their plan and forces them to pay $1200 if they want her. Schultz obliges, but he is livid. He is angry at how Candie played him and how he treats slaves. Schultz kills Candie cold-blooded, leading to an all-out shootout. Django gets caught and imprisoned by Candie’s henchman. However, he eventually escapes, kills everyone and leaves the plantation with his beloved Broomhilda.

The reason it is a cinematic masterpiece is because it’s storytelling is absolutely impeccable. Everything flows and is connected. No plot point is forced, but everything fits and makes sense. Also, the character development of Dr. Schultz is really impressive. Starting the movie off as Django’s savior to ending it in him killing Candie for Django during the pre-civil war era is pretty moving. Jamie Foxx’s portrayal of Django is great as well. He is put in a tough position because he is a free slave who is now a bounty hunter. He rides around on a horse everywhere, wearing nice clothes, and a gun strapped to his waist. Django has to deal with the judgement of white people, which is not the issue. The issue is him having to balance being a free-man and a black man. The slaves always stare at him like he is different, but in reality he is not. Foxx does an amazing job at displaying this internal battle. The score and music-selection for the movie is also amazing. It is not just typical Western music. There are elements of classical music and modern rap music.

One of the most memorable moments was when Django got off his horse and threw a white man off for calling him a racial slur. Django looked down at him and spit at him. The white man was so thrown off and did not respond. It was a really strong moment for Django’s character because it showed that he was not going to take anything from white people anymore. After this moment, Django hops back on his horse and keeps riding, acting like the boss. To signify Django’s power statement, the song that plays in the background is Rick Ross’s “100 Black Coffins.” The song choice is so unexpected in a Western, but it fits so well that you cannot help but get excited. The music throughout the movie was impeccable.

“I Am Not Ashamed” from Karely Perez

The movie I chose to watch, both because it is my favorite movie and also because I do feel is a cinematic masterpiece is called “I Am Not Ashamed.” This movie caught my attention for different reasons. Since the Columbine school shooting that happened in 1999 I had been intrigued with reading more about it. In watching this movie, it showed the different components that led to the tragic massacre. The movie itself is based on one of the victims, Rachel Joy Scott, who I found very inspirational seeing this tragedy from an insider perspective. The movie isn’t one of those “well they probably felt this way,” as this masterpiece was created based on Rachel’s diary.

The movie and Rachel’s story sparked my interest because as a Christian, we do go through many trials and tribulations that becomes a battle between being human and also being in tune with our spirituality. It also taught me how being humble is one of the greatest ways to really show true spirituality, not being afraid to be who you are and stand strongly in one’s beliefs. Rachel’s life was just like so many of our own, struggles in peer pressure, romance, friendships, family, and finding yourself. The movie also made an incredible illustration on what led to the actual shooting, which came from bullying, misunderstandings, lack of parental guidance and so much more. It surely was an eye opener as to how important and how strong of an impact, especially kids in high school, bullying, playful gun violence and even what one says is.
The script was written amazingly perfect as again the movie was based off of Rachel’s diary who was the first student shot and killed because of her beliefs. Rachel’s family and best friend Nate also helped along with the movie as they did not want any highlights of the tragedy being taken out or missed. I would strongly recommend this movie to any and everyone, it really is an eye opener and gets you thinking about life in so many different angles.