Please don't talk, please don't talk to me in the movies.

If you’ve ever spent time reading my work on The Book of Jackson, you know that I really enjoy watching movies.  I can sit in my place all day, rediscovering old favorites and discovering new ones.  There’s something special about certain motion pictures- they captivate minds leaving lasting imprints.  We’ve all had those moments where we leave a movie wondering what we’d do were we in the protagonist position or how we would respond to some of the situations permitted. We watched Superman as kids and hoped we could fly, we watched Limitless as adults and wished for NZT.  Movies have the power to change us, or at least change the way we view the world.  Check out these few, and let me know if they had a similar effect on you.

The Godfather II

It wasn’t the first, but it’s arguably the best of the mafia movies.  Filmmakers have been trying to recreate The Godfather for years. Nearly every gangster flick you’ve seen since borrows from its cinematography. It shows the story of a family’s migration to a new country from a distant land and it’s subsequent rise to power. What makes it special is that as much as it’s a movie about the mafia, it’s also a movie about family and what you do to protect your family.  If you’re a part of three siblings, I’m sure you look at all of yourselves and think who is Sonny, Fredo or Michael?  Don’t worry, everyone thinks they’re Michael, but not everyone has it in them.  There’s something about Michael in this movie that not many people ever noticed.  First, many decisions you make you will have to make them alone and then execute them despite the people around not seeing how this will inevitably be the best move.  Second, pick the right wife for you.  I always thought that Michael struggled with his relationship with his wife because he fell in love with the wrong woman for him.  Last, always make your decisions of compassion or vengeance with great intent and follow through on them.

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The story told here was enough to change the lives of everyone who watched it.  It is the story of someone who came from nothing and made it to the top of everything.  It’s a story that every Pusher needs in order to keep his head above water and to get pushing along to the top.  There are a few takeaways from this movie that we should never forget.  First, when your past is not an option, your ambition can be unstoppable.  Second, you are a product of your environment.  Most people who make it to the top by being willing to kill, typically fall victim to the same fate.  Third, don’t let any of your homies sleep with your sister.

The Lion King

I’ve always been a fan of Disney movies, and that’s not changing any time soon.  They shared so many lessons with us over the years.  In each, there is a key lesson that every child or adult can learn.  The Lion King, however, ushered in a new type of movie for America.  It was the Blockbuster of Disney that their previous movies had attempted to reach but never reached.  It was also the first movie they made that showed Africa… (Must take a moment and remember Jamie Foxx’s standup when he would utter those words, “Africa… Africa… (random jungle noises).”)  Ask a man his favorite character in the Lion King and you can find out everything you need to know, because you surely have some friends in your life who will resemble the Hyenas.  But there’s one lesson here that you can take and apply to every fact of your life, know thyself and thy true worth.  The return of Simba to Pride Rock is a great one.  The other lesson that you can take from this movie is that Disney has the god awful best way of bringing you to the brink of tears in the first thirty minutes of every movie.  RIP Mufasa.

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Crash was a movie unlike any we had seen before.  It made us think differently about the person we came to the movie with, the people who we saw in the movie theater that day, and the people we saw on our way out.  Each story had meaning and purpose.  The independence and dependency of each plot on one another was priceless.  This movie challenged us to evaluate our lives in those dark places where we don’t want to look or be.  We thought about race, family, gender, and the struggles that we all face as humans who’s lives inevitable cross paths.  Many men were troubled with what they would do in a similar situation as a police officer gropes his wife in front of him.  Would you raise a fist, or hang your head?  Also, how do upper middle class Black folks view the ones who are committing crimes every day?  Are they an embarrassment to us all, or just themselves?  The only advice I can give you is that this might not be a good date movie if you’re dating outside the family.

The Matrix

I saw this movie in college and it changed my life forever.  The way I would look at the world was changed when I saw this movie.  I know I wasn’t the only one who left the theater thinking, “Am I really in the Matrix?”  There was no real way to find out, and we still don’t know.  This story although compared to many stories throughout history is about choices.  It’s not a comparison to the story of Jesus.  It’s about choices.  The ones we make and why we make them.  This movie is about what choices we would make if we knew we could do anything we put our minds to.  This movie is a perfect movie for a developing mind because it encourages the mind to go after great feats instead of being confined to the reality of unambitious souls.  If you ever have a chance, take a look at some of the books that inspired this movie.  They’re based on paying attention to your dreams and really analyzing them to the point of using them to your advantage.

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I didn’t pick movies that only changed me, I picked the movies that changed us all.  If you haven’t watched these movies lately, watch them again.  These are those movies that one should own in their collection, they are pieces of art like any painting that you might hang in your home.  I feel inclined to answer a question I’m asked all the time because of my obsession with movies.  My favorite movie is, All About The Benjamins.  Don’t judge me, that’s my favorite movie and everyone is entitled to their own.  The best movie I’ve ever seen was Memento.  The plot of that movie can’t be duplicated, I’ve seen very few directors recreate the feeling I had with this movie.  Lastly, the movie that taught me the most was A Bronx Tale.  I think every boy should watch that movie, and ladies, if you meet a man who hasn’t seen that movie, he’s as suspect as the dude who doesn’t know the lyrics to Juicy.

Now let’s commune in the comments.  Thoughts about these movies and the five movies that changed your life forever.  Cheers.

– Dr. J