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Member Lists

Heading toward death
List creator: sethbecky
Created on: July 25, 2006 - 11:31 AM PDT
Description: Each of these movies ends with a death and everything before is about that death. They ask important questions about character development in the face of finality and what happens to survivors.

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All That Jazz (1979)
  Bob Fosse's autobiography of his own self-destruction, made 7 years before his death. We follow Joe Gideon drinking, pill-popping, oversexed, workaholic genius destroy himself and both hurt and inspire everyone around him. It's beautiful, funny, painful, and tragic. Also my favorite movie, btw.
The Wicker Man (Extended Version) (1974)
  Groove on the soundtrack and on long-haired, dancing Christopher Lee as the pagan sect leader. Someone is already dead at the start and our conservative Scottish detective knows he's trying to prevent another murder. But every single person in town might be in on the crime. One of the best endings ever.
Donnie Darko (Director's Cut) (2001)
  Time travel. Giant talking rabbits named Frank. Countdowns to something unknown. It's going somewhere, but where is pretty much unexpected.
The Man Who Wasn't There (2001)
  It's noir. Someone dies or goes to prison. It's on this list, so you know which. Fabulous performances by Thornton, McDormand, Johansson, Shalhoub, and more.
Pan's Labyrinth (Special Edition) (2006)
  The list of who dies at the end is open to some interpretation; one could read the major "death" as a transcendence. No matter which you choose, it's a powerful faerie tale about developing inner strength, learning *not* to trust, and exercising morality with faith in the consequences. Not for most children.
Mulholland Dr. (2001)
  Again, who dies is the mystery, but everything builds. Partway through, the characters wake up with different names and identities. And it works. Watch for the astounding performance of Roy Orbison's "Crying" in spanish. And then watch the movie a second time to see how much Naomi Watts has been wasted in every movie since.
Jacob's Ladder (1990)
  Surreal, confusing, and fabulously done. I'm not telling who dies or why, but it's as inexorable a descent as the title object's climb.
The Little Prince (1974)
  Bob Fosse as the snake and Gene Wilder as the Fox. The Prince is trapped on Earth and nothing he's found in the galaxy is like his home asteroid and his beloved flower. When he leaves, we have to wonder, can he get home? Plus, Wilder and Fosse! This one is beautiful, btw. See it.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (Collector's Edition) (1969)
  One of the most famous and powerful final shots in film history. This one is about the spirit to face life and death with confidence, humor, and spirit.
Gods and Monsters (1998)
  A fictional account of Frank Whale's final months; we see if desire, obsession, or friendship is enough to hold the dying, old man together and how his life impacts people he could never have predicted. A beautiful and moving film.
Harold and Maude (Criterion) (1971)
  A movie that opens and closes with suicide, but it is neither depressing nor maudlin. A movie about death as a part of life. The last part, maybe, but definitely a part. You may be inspired to buy a yellow umbrella to take to funerals.
The Virgin Suicides (1999)
  One of the few downers on the list. Beautifully staged and showcasing some great acting and directing. This one is as much about the deaths as the people who can't make sense of them.
American Beauty (1999)
  The death in this one isn't really the sole point, but Kevin Spacey's regression out of his mid-life crisis ends in its logical conclusion right as his family finally grows up. One of the most mainstream movies to handle this sort of ending and still make money.
Poison For the Fairies (1986)
Not Rated
  The only real "horror" movie on this list (I don't count The Wicker Man), and it's a strange one. Told entirely from the childrens' point of view, we see their power games and their delusions grow as they willingly put their lives at risk to have the experience of being special and to maintain a deep, if disturbing, friendship.
Hugo Pool (1997)
  A strange, sad, slightly twisted movie. A brilliant cast gets together to clean the pools of mobsters, hollywood stars, and eccentric millionaires while pulling together as friends and family for the last days of a stranger's life. Affecting in an odd way. Patrick Dempsey upstages Malcolm McDowell, Robert Downey, Jr., and Sean Penn.
Crank (2006)
  The only "action" movie on this list, it's all about the his choices in his final hours of life. A fun, silly movie with some bad editing marring the action, the lesser story of morality and how the past affects the present is a nice counterpoint to the main feature. But see it for the action and humor mostly. He dies by the sword, but in style.
Gran Torino (2008)
  Being on this list might be a spoiler, but I thought the death was telegraphed from early on. How someone chooses between dying and killing and how he uses it to teach and give despite his emotional failings.
Beat (2000)
3:10 to Yuma (Special Edition) (1957)
The Hogfather (2006)
Hard Candy (2005)
Bartleby (2001)

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