My Neighbor Totoro

The climax of My Neighbor Totoro doesn’t involve the Volvo-sized hamster of the title, nor does it involve a sick mother who can only be cured by magic – it involves only a five-year-old girl who is lost and scared because she thinks that she can. Like childhood the film involves a lot of running around and laughing and getting grass stains in exotic places. And it drifts into genuine fear, and magic saves the day.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

If Raiders was a backyard adventure where we put on our explorer’s hat and went bucket-and-shoveling out into the woods for buried treasure, The Last Crusade is like watching a home movie of it. It’s still got the same gee-whizz endearment but in a “boy, don’t we look silly” kind of way.

Hellraiser

Nothing about Hellraiser has the remotest sense of dread (besides perhaps that sense that it’ll inevitably become a franchise). Even Frank as he gradually corporealizes has the sad eyes and questionable brow anatomy you may expect less from a Barker body horror than from an alien ambassador on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Batman Returns

Batman is the man Bruce Wayne wishes he was, an empowerment trip mythologized into a performance. Batman is Bruce’s mania, his love, his coming-into-being. Batman Returns is as perfect at portraying him as live-action has been, though there were many angry mothers whose frightened children screamed to recall its atrocities.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

The title card of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, blazoned in its pulpy font across the opening dance act of shimmering waists at club Obi Wan, was the moment a great movie became a brand. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. After all, Indy’s adventures were born as serials, each entry a new exotic locale, another damsel, another sidekick, a new hellish fortress to conquer with a whip-cracking grin.

Full Metal Jacket

It’s a film whose un-tempered acidity towards masculine hero types reads like the very bumper sticker philosophy it decries in every foul-tasting second of undeveloped action and bullet fragments of narrative. “God has a hard-on for marines,” the drill sergeant says. Kubrick has one for montages.