Here are the 5 movies that have influenced me the most in life. These are not “my favorite” or “the best*,” just the ones that I have thought about or helped me choose a course of action at different times in my life.
5) Running the Sahara – The epitome of pure grit. This documentary, which follows four ultra-marathoners who attempt to run across the Sahara Dessert, is a testament to never giving up. The movie stuck with me because of the idea is actually, totally pointless. Yeah, these four guys all worked together and pushed their bodies and minds to their limits, but for what? Sometimes in life you just have to give 100% of your energy to truly pointless endeavors (sports, games, cards). This film pushes “pointless endeavors” to the limit.
4) Shawshank Redemption– I take it personally when people don’t think this is the best movie ever made, but it’s not #1 on this list. Even though the overflow of emotion, Red’s voice, and the scene of Zihuatanejo will warm the heart of the coldest curmudgeon, it’s on the list because of one line from Ol’ Brooksy. “The world went and got itself in big goddamn hurry.” As we (or at least I) tend to complain about the pace of life nowadays, that line is a reminder that life has been speeding up for everyone throughout history. We just have to deal with it the best we can and not let it cause us to end up like Brooks.
3) Good Will Hunting – I’m not sure which scene speaks to me the most, but I ALWAYS feel so inspired every time I see this movie. Always be original. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Tell your friends when they’re eff-ing up. It always seems like the first time I’m hearing these messages. I feel recharged every time I see that jalopy heading down the Mass Pike with Elliot Smith in the background.
2) Castaway– This movie actually helped me through a couple of tough times in life. The last ten minutes of the movie are what stuck with the most. “I just kept breathing.” That one line was a mantra for many days when everything seemed pointless, tasteless, and stupid. Breathing is the one activity you NEED to do to make from day to day, and sometimes, when nothing else makes sense, “just keep breathing” is all you can do.
1) Office Space – The year is 1999. I am working away on my applications and resumes for corporate entry level positions through the UMass School of Management career placement services. I just had my 17th viewing of Office Space the night before as I’m looking down at a “career map” for some company where the next 25 years of work are mapped out right there in front of me. I remember thinking, “Ugh, I’m only 21. I don’t want to end up like Samir Nagga-Nagga-Naggonna-work-here-anymore.” I slammed the book closed and didn’t send in anymore resumes.**
* “The Best” according to me: 1) Shawshank 2) Good Will Hunting 3) Royal Tenenbaum’s 4) Zoolander 5) Hoosiers
** Not sure I would handle something like that with my girls the same way my parents handled it with me.
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