As a film minor and aspiring screenwriter, I am aware that I need to get on top of my “must watch” movie list ASAP! I’ve been told numerous times in my classes that in order to be an extraordinary screenwriter, you have to not only write as much as you can but watch as much as you can – which I’m kind of slacking on if I’m being honest. To try and start crossing bullet points off of my list, I made sure to sit down and watch four iconic movies that I haven’t seen yet!

“The Notebook” 

I know! How have I never watched “The Notebook” before? Trust me, I always asked myself that question too. However, I am kind of grateful that I waited until I was 19 to finally make time for it. 

The film is composed through a frame narrative, a technique used to separate two plotlines, making it come across as a “story within a story.” In this instance, an older man reads a love story to an older woman who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. The retold teenage romance follows Allie (Rachel McAdams), a wealthy, headstrong woman, and Noah (Ryan Gosling), a poor, irresponsible boy who are separated in their youth due to class differences. However, they reunite as adults (in not the most ethical way). The journey proves to be a long cycle of emotions, with it being as heartwarming as it is heartbreaking.

It doesn’t take viewers long to understand, or at least assume, that the elderly couple placed in the retirement home is the aged version of Noah and Allie. And while I shed a few tears when it was confirmed for certain by the older, ill version of Allie, it wasn’t until the very end that I fully sobbed. Thinking back, I’m sure that if I watched this movie when I was younger that I would’ve cried, but definitely not for the same reason I did now. Because, yes, while it’s sad, the story holds such a different meaning as an adult. I’ve had my own first love and heartbreak that I can place myself into when watching young Noah and Allie, and I’ve also had a grandparent that has passed away who is brought to the forefront of my mind during the ending scene.

“The Notebook” is definitely one that I would recommend for the times when you feel that you need a reminder to cherish your loved ones or fight for what you love despite what the consequences might be. 

“Goodfellas”

I had heard about the “Goodfellas” before, but nothing past the fact that it regarded the mafia, an Italian-American organized crime group. It wasn’t until my film class when I watched a scene from the movie (Henry and Karen’s first date) that I quickly raised it to the top of my list. 

Henry Hill starts his life of crime young, moving up the ranks with ease as he ages. Yet, his time of luxury is something he foolishly takes advantage of, and gets caught red-handed for theft and dealing drugs. Nearing the end, those that worked alongside him or held the intent to help were consequently betrayed in exchange for Hill to be enrolled in the Witness Protection Program, an anonymous hidden location where he remains today.

I guess I should have gone into the film expecting that it would be incredibly violent considering it’s about a group of mobsters, but I would have never guessed the amount of backstabbing or other terrible actions that occurred (such as domestic abuse). Even so, I thought it was incredibly eye-opening to witness such a different way of living that people actually endured, which made me absolutely love it. Not to mention, it was cast flawlessly, as every actor portrayed their roles with perfection. I will undoubtedly watch this film again when I find myself longing for an action-packed story.

“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”

Going into “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” a film that secured five Academy Awards (most notably for “Best Screenplay”), I had high expectations. But unfortunately, it was a little slow for my taste! Some of the scenes just seemed to last forever and could have been easily shortened while keeping the context.

However, I did appreciate the fact that the film calls attention to how poorly mental patients are treated in hospital settings. When the main character, Randle McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) is able to get himself transferred out of prison to a mental institution, in hopes of a less limiting environment, he finds that his decision may have been the poorer choice. The patients are given little to no free will, as they are force-fed medication and punished with electro-shock therapy. In the end, one of the patients escapes, proving that he has the strength to rebel against conformity. While I usually enjoy older movies, I think it would be interesting to watch a modernized version of this plot with updated technology! As for the version it remains in at the moment, I don’t think I would watch it for a second time.

“Star Wars: A New Hope”

I’ve never been interested in the plotline that surrounds Star Wars; the whole space-themed galaxy battles just wasn’t something that intrigued me. However, I knew that at some point I had to take the time to sit down and watch it, considering George Lucas changed the film industry ever since. Even more so, one of my close friends berated me every day for two weeks to watch it until I finally pressed “start”.

As I predicted, it just wasn’t a narrative that I absolutely loved. I think that it was a lot more compelling than I primarily had predicted (since I was left wondering who Leia would end up with and when Darth Vader would say his famous line “No, I am your father”). And because of it, I consequently watched “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back,” which I actually rated a nine out of 10. While the aliens honestly still kind of freak me out and the story at times can be hard to track, I hold a strong appreciation for what the movie accomplished during its production time period. I might not actively turn the series on, but if someone were watching it near me, I would most likely tune in.

Love, like or dislike, I’m so happy that I finally crossed these four well-known films off of my “never-seen-before” list. Now I can finally move on to the next handful!

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