Editor’s Note: Avi Jacob is an acclaimed Americana singer-songwriter. Formerly of Boston (and a friend of the Hassle), he currently lives with his son in Charleston, South Carolina, and performs around the country. His new single, “Pick Up Truck,” will be available on iTunes February 26th.
I’ve watched thousands of movies in my life, and thought I would share the 10 that cause my soul to sway towards that so, so true feeling. The movies that make my spirit dance, like an early Modest Mouse album. The films that bring me back to the countless teen nights I spent laying on the floor listening to Kurt Cobain, understanding that art is the only thing worth living for.
1. Harold & Maude (1971) dir. Hal Ashby
My favorite movie of all time, hands ALL THE WAY down. It’s both uplifting and soul-crushing. It’s life&death; beauty&sadness. An entirely Cat Stevens soundtrack! The scene where Harold’s mom is completing a survey for his computer dating service, filling in her clueless assumptions of her son instead of his true feelings, is a classic mother-son moment in cinema. Imagine your mom swiping on Tinder for you?!
2. 10 Things I Hate About You (1999) dir. Mark Waters
Just a classic from my teen years that I still watch time and time again. It’s goofy but doesn’t take itself too seriously. Julia Stiles is so very pretty and plays a Fender Strat! Heath Ledger is hunky as hell. So many emotions, fantastic movie. If you like this movie, I highly suggest She’s All That, which has a truly moving scene that involves hacky sack as performance art.
3. The Princess Bride (1987) dir. Rob Reiner
If you haven’t watched this movie with a child, then you live a soulless existence. It’s love and magic! It’s everything! I’ve seen it at least 20 times with my son and I can be damn sure we’ll watch it 20 more! Aaasss yyoouuu wiiiiiiiiiiissshhhhh……..
4. Be Here to Love Me: A Film About Townes Van Zandt (2004) dir. Margaret Brown
This is a fantastic documentary, the story of a true songwriter. Drug addiction, electroshock therapy, and sleeping in your car are things that really resonate with me. Extra credit because my little sister Carolyn told me about this movie, and I love her a lot.
5. High Fidelity (2000) dir. Stephen Frears
John Cusack is just great, so self deprecating and yet so totally full of himself. Throw in Jack Black and the classic “really meek dude” character actor guy, and you have a fantastically well balanced cast. I love the moment when Bob Dylan’s “Most of the Time” kicks in, just the absolutely perfect place for an underrated Dylan classic!
6. Silver Linings Playbook (2012) dir. David O. Russell
I’m a sucker for romantic comedies, and this one just embiggens my heart. Firstly, I, like the protagonist, fly into a murderous rage everytime I hear “My Cheri Amour,” but only because most of Stevie Wonder’s music is impossibly cheesy. Great movie for anyone else who cried buckets when they finished “Farewell to Arms.” Seriously, when I finished that book I sobbed uncontrollably for like 20 minutes, until I had to call my girlfriend Diana on the phone to calm me down.
7. Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) dir. Joel and Ethan Coen
I literally lost my breathe watching the opening scene. It’s a very rare feeling, one that I also got the first time I heard Townes Van Zandt, like this person can literally read my mind. I had to put a Coen Brothers movie on this list because they are possibly the greatest filmmakers of all time. The Big Lebowski? No Country for Old Men? Blood Simple? Come on!
8. What Happened, Miss Simone? (2015) dir. Liz Garbus
My 2nd favorite documentary of all time, the oh my god so so so hard true life story of Nina Simone. The performance footage is fucking awesome, and she is a true inspiration. She sings about black bodies being dehumanized. It’s amazing how we’re 50 years after the Civil Rights Act and white supremacy is still undaunted.
9. The Dead Poet Society (1989) dir. Peter Weir
Watching this movie, my god, brought me right back to school. I remember when there were rumors about me so bad that I thought about killing myself. That isolation that you feel when you’re young is so real. My heart is heavy just thinking about this movie. If that doesn’t sound good, then try Wes Anderson’s Rushmore, which will make you cry, but it’ll be a much lighter cry.
10. Full Metal Jacket (1987) dir. Stanley Kubrick
My father wanted me to enlist in the Army when I turned 18. I can’t possibly imagine what he was thinking. It would not have been pleasant. There’s no way war is glory, like some Saving Private Ryan bullshit. No, I imagine it’s something like this beautifully moving film.
Honorable Mention: Any Wes Anderson film except The Life Aquatic.