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  • Writer's pictureCandace Nola

The Mort Report: Perfect Movies


I am going to sound like an old man, but I feel like most Hollywood movies coming out these days are shit. This saddens me to no end, especially since I used to love movies as a child and could find some good in most of them – the literal amount of movies I’d seen passed 4 k many years ago. And while I could appreciate a lot of really bad movies (looking back) for what they were, I struggle to stay interested in most 90-minute offerings these days.


I need to make it clear that this is not some cancel culture thing – I have grown up and my taste has changed quite a lot – but I need stories to be character driven above all else. With the exception of humor, the violence, sex and special effects should always be built around the story, and not the other way around.


The superhero theme was never something that particularly drew me, even as a child. Sure, I would watch the movies, but I didn’t go looking for them. And it feels (to me, at least) like this is the main focus in Hollywood. Understandable, as they make the most money, but other than DEADPOOL or THE BOYS, I honestly can’t make it through these movies without my mind wondering.

 

So, now that I threw the complaints out there, the reason for this article is actually to highlight three movies that I think about as “perfect”. None of them had a big budget, even though they had some big names, but they left an impression on me, and they are the movies I will re-watch regularly.


 

 

SE7EN

 

I went into this movie blind, not knowing anything about the story. And it turned out to be the most influential movie of my life, because the moment I walked out of the cinema, I told myself I was going to write a story like that one day. And it started my writing journey.


From the investigation of the first body, it grips you and pulls you into the mystery, where something unusual is happening and the need to solve it becomes important. The Pitt and Paltrow combination is believable, but it is the relationship between Freeman and Paltrow that makes the tired old cliché of two cops who can’t stand each other but becomes best friends almost disappear into irrelevance.


Freeman becomes the father figure, the one she confides in because she has no one else. The fact that he (and you, the viewer) knows she is pregnant before her husband finds out is incredibly effective to not only makes you an accomplice to the secret, but her worries humanize her and makes her character relatable.


As for John Doe…well, his introduction halfway through the movie without you realizing it is so well hidden that few people could have spotted it. This was an ingenious bit of marketing from the director as well, since Spacey was not expected to participate in interviews and promotion, keeping the audience oblivious to his identity – much like the mysterious John Doe character itself.

And then we come to the ending. That blew me away. After many years of rip-offs and memes, it may not have the same impact on the youth of today, but I honestly had no idea what was in the box.


And here’s some kudos to Pitt – the studio wanted to change the ending to make it more viewer friendly, and Pitt threatened to withdraw from the movie if they did. He was 100% correct – that was the ending the movie was meant to have. As a writer, I can’t see that any other ending would have worked as effectively as that one.


As a writer, the ending (and plot twist, if possible) is as important to me as the entire movie preceding it, most of the time.


This is my all-time favorite movie.


 

 

MEMENTO

 

I was told that this is a movie that goes backward in time. Before this movie, I didn’t know it could actually work.


And it was with this movie that I discovered the genius of Christopher Nolan. Not only could he make it work, but he could also make it understandable and intriguing enough for almost any viewer. And while this is not his most impressive example of that – INCEPTION is mind-blowingly brilliant in portraying the complexity in a way that made sense – it was a movie that was simple and straight-forward (or backward, if you will) without the need for special effects or over the top acting.


The character played by Pearce can’t form short term memories, so like the audience he needs to figure out things as they go along. And while his condition does not improve, the viewer gains more knowledge and everything you thought you know or had figured out, gets turned on its head as you go back further.


The brilliance of this movie is the fact that it took the rule book and just threw it out the window. The approach was totally fresh and most important of all, it WORKED.


As a writer, this movie taught me that time can be manipulated, things doesn’t always need to go in a straight line and that you can hide things in plain sight sometimes, like a good sleight of hand, by giving just enough information at the right time.


 

 

BLACK SWAN

 If you told me when I was in my twenties that I would call a film about ballet one of the best movies I’d ever seen some day, I would have laughed in your face.


But it is extremely important because it creates the entire environment and atmosphere for the story. It might not be a world I know much about, but the ultra-competitiveness and grueling hours of practice to make things perfect comes to the forefront in this film. Aronofsky manages to give you so much information about that world without having to say it.


This movie is so abstract in its investigation of abnormal psychology without the viewer realizing initially that they are figuring things out for themselves. It goes beyond show and tell, because a lot of what you realize can’t be visualized.


After seeing the movie for the second time, I tried to write down what the story was really about. There were seven interwoven concepts I could come up with at the time – the biggest one being that while we strive for perfection, actually achieving it might do more damage than good.


As a writer, this movie showed me how important it is to be subtle and to never underestimate the readers. They can (and often should) figure things out without the author having to put it in their face.

 


 

 

There are other movies I could also mention, but these are three that comes to mind first when asked about my favorite films.

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