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Top three movies you will only want to watch once

| Tuesday, March 31, 2020

During this dreadful time of isolation, I have decided to spend a decent portion of my free time watching movies I consider valuable. This catalog of movies ranges from Hitchcock classics to “Finding Nemo.” Typically, when one sees a great movie, there is some willingness to watch that movie again at a later time. Through this journey, however, I have stumbled upon some truly phenomenal films I now know I could not bear watching again. Here are the top movies that you will only want to watch once.

Honorable Mention: “Mulholland Drive”

“Mulholland Drive” is tricky. On one hand, you will find the movie so perplexing that you will have no desire to watch it again. On the other hand, you will deem it a personal challenge to comprehend this whirlwind of a movie. I chose the latter route, and after roughly ten viewings, I am proud to say I think I understand about 80% of the movie.

Trust me, this is an accomplishment. David Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive” follows two women in pursuit of their identities in Hollywood. In the movie, Lynch creates a dream-like setting in which the line between reality and fantasy is basically nonexistent. Have fun trying to decipher this beautiful puzzle. 

  1. “American History X”

I absolutely adore this movie. “American History X” centers around the relationship between two brothers, the older of the two being an former neo-Nazi having recently been released from prison, and the younger being a distraught high school teenager in search of a mentor. “American History X” is a story that illuminates the best and the worst of humanity.

Not only is the message hopeful and inspiring, but the cinematography is also breathtaking. Director Tony Kaye effectively delves into the human condition and shows man’s redemptive qualities. While reading this description, one might be asking why this movie is on this list. Well, seeing man in his worst state is exhausting. The detail in which Kaye examines neo-Nazi culture is at times gut-wrenching and horrifying. However, there is true value in watching this film, and Edward Norton’s performance as the older brother is absolutely outstanding.  

  1. “Manchester by the Sea”

I watched this movie with my mother at the movie theater, and when the movie ended, no one said a word or moved for a solid three minutes. The somber departure that followed the movie only accented my already depressed state. “Manchester by the Sea” explores the relationship between an uncle and his nephew following the death of the nephew’s father.

Director Kenneth Lonergan invites the viewer to explore one pressing question: Can one ever overcome the trauma of one’s past? The central characters in the film have all experience some form of life-altering trauma, and each has to live their lives with that trauma ever-present in the background. Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams deliver soul-stirring performances and show the different methods by which people grieve. If you are looking for a movie for a gloomy day, “Manchester by the Sea” fits the bill. 

  1. Requiem for a Dream

Be prepared to spend a solemn week reexamining all of your vices after watching this movie. Luckily, you have time to do that. “Requiem for a Dream” follows the lives of four main characters whose lives are all connected in some way. Each character is struggling with drug addiction, and as the movie progresses, the situations only become more depressing.

The movie is based on the book of the same title by Hubert Selby Jr., and director Darren Aronofsky transforms Selby’s written work into a visual masterpiece. Spoiler alert: there is no happy ending in this movie. Aronofsky illuminates the depths to which people will go in order to chase a fleeting happiness. The star-studded cast of Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, and Marlon Wayans all deliver heartbreaking performances and truly make the film phenomenal. “Requiem for a Dream” is a sobering experience to say the least.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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