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John’s Desert Island Movies

August 24, 2011

John’s 10 Desert Island Movies

By John Leavengood

            As Mark wisely professed, the movies I’d want to have with me if stranded on a desert island wouldn’t necessarily be the greatest movies, but rather those which I enjoy watching again and again.  Fight Club was amazing.  So good, in fact, that everyone wanted—or needed—to see it a second time right away and it felt like a different movie!  But after two times, it’s just another amazing movie which I’d love to watch once a year, while once a week would test my patience.  So which movies would I pick?

            I’ll respectfully exclude Evolution since Mark included it in his list.  I also avoided heavy romance…I don’t need to be reminded of that on my lonely, but hopefully gorgeous, island.  I should also give a strong nod to The Boondock Saints.  That movie was in my original list but got shoved out like a Mo’Nique hip-check during a full contact round of musical chairs.  I tried to stick to comedy and action, but you’ll see that in the #1 slot is a sentimental pick.  So here they are: my desert island picks based on how I felt one day.  I’m certain any other week they’d be very different.

10.  A Knight’s Tale (2001)


A fun, nostalgic soundtrack and a story about someone “changing their stars” make this a perfect pick.  What better story to help me forget that I’m stranded on an island?  It boasts a great cast (Mark Addy, Paul Bettany, Heath Ledger, Shannyn Sossamon) worthy of more than just laughs. 

9.  Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)


Another good laugher.  If you haven’t seen Steve Martin play Ruprict the monkey boy then you’ve missed out!  I’d say this is Martin at his best and Caine at his standard greatness.

8.  Gangs of New York (2002)


            DUDE!  If you didn’t think Bill the Butcher was the most awesome villain then you’re packing some issues.  This movie features all of the meanest moves that I’ve ever wanted to pull on someone during a blind road rage attack.  This one will help you vent your frustrations with three square-meals-a-day of coconut on your island.

7.  The Replacements


            This movie is for the misfit in all of us.  It’s a feel-good movie with awesome football scenes, great humor, and a cast so perfect it had to be an accident—Hollywood never gets things this good, right?  The soundtrack is awesome, Keanu and Hackman are great, and watching this reminds me of my own embarrassing rookie-failures in life…followed by my kickass redeeming comebacks!

6.  40 Days and 40 Nights (2002)


I may get some strong disagreement on this one.

This is a chick flick designed for men.  There are not a lot of these out there.  Shannyn Sossamon, Josh Hartnett and a hilarious Paulo Costanzo will remind me of the sexual conflict that is the liveliness and misery of my twenties.  In similar vein, I should give an honorable mention to Buying the Cow, which also has some great bro-lines about women and sleeping around.  Also, to Hollywood Homicide.  I don’t know why I like that movie so much, but I can watch it over and over again.

5.  The Birdcage (1996)


I’ve never seen any actors other than Robin Williams, Nathan Lane and Hank Azaria make it look quite so fun to be gay.  And Gene Hackman playing the clueless straight guy while politely socially wooing a Nathan Lane in drag?  Perfection.  This movie is pure fun and constantly hilarious.  In mentioning the oddity of Hackman playing the straight guy, honorable mention to Runaway Jury.

4.  The Fifth Element (1997)

Guns, the ever-cynical MacClaine-esque Bruce Willis, spaceships, ugly aliens, Gary “best-villain-actor” Oldman, war, a wicked future techno-funk soundtrack, and—ah yes—Milla Jovavich as Leeloo.  You may have the fire, water, earth and air that you need to survive on your island prison, but Leeloo is the element that will get you through the night.

3.  Tombstone (1993)


Badassery is the best path to forgetting our problems.  When we are wowed we don’t reminisce.  We simply tell ourselves “Oh my damn…that just happened!”  All of the main players in this movie are different flavors of tough.  Kurt Russell is the gangsta’ that don’t flex none.  Val Kilmer is the one that runs his mouth—Val also has the hot hooker girlfriend from The Kiss.  Since Bill Paxton is in this one, it’s a good time to give an honorable mention to Aliens.  Also, a nod to Kurt Russell from The Thing.  But we don’t want any scares when we’re alone in the dark on our island, do we?

2.  Troy (2004)


For my daily dose of awesome, this movie is loaded with great quote badassery!  “If they should ever tell my story, let them say that I walked with giants.  I lived in the time of Hector, tamer of forces.  Let them say–I lived–in the time of Achilles [–Sean Bean].” I don’t care what kind of flack this movie got from some.  The fight between Alagrius and Achilles was brief, but jaw-dropping, and the duel of Hector and Achilles (Eric Bana and Brad Pitt) was nothing short of legendary.  “You will not have eyes tonight.  You will not have ears or a tongue.  You will wander the Underworld blind, deaf and dumb and all the dead will know: this is Hector, the fool who thought he killed Achilles [–Brad Pitt].”

1.  A River Runs Through It (1992)


Touching moments of brotherhood, fatherhood, family and a simpler time…This one makes me miss my family, especially my father, but only in the best of ways.  Since I live 700 miles away from them it’s very much as if I am on a desert island.  Robert Redford’s direction and wisely prosaic narration spin a soothing tale rich with quoteworthy lines.

This movie exudes beauty both emotionally and in its cinematography.  Not to mention great performances by Brad Pitt, Tom Skerritt, and perhaps Craig Scheffer’s best performance ever.  I only watch this movie with my father, and only about once a year.  But if he asked, I’d watch it with him every day.  I’d never feel alone on my island even if this was the only movie I had.  Not for a moment.

I love you, Dad.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. I'll be your Huckleberry permalink
    August 24, 2011 8:47 pm

    Geez, you’re going to be depressed on that desert island. Gangs of New York and A River Runs Through It?

  2. johnleavengood permalink
    March 10, 2012 5:42 am

    Oops, that’s Boagrius that fought Achilles–not Alagrius. Just caught that.


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