Film: Top 10 “Texas” Movies

As most of you know by now I am moving to Texas. This is a big deal for a couple of reasons. First I am a Californian  – which means I don’t approve of Texas and probably feel a slight superiority towards the entire state. Californians think of Texas as a really big state full of Bush supporting, church going, shit kicking Republicans. I know, it’s totally unfair. But such is life. I have lived my entire life being called a hippy, liberal, tree hugging slacker – and that’s just from my brother. But as you can see, the stereotypes go both ways.

The second reason it is such a big deal that I am moving is that I am leaving my home of the last 6 years. I love Prague and I have made a home for myself here. It will be very hard for me to leave all of my friends and the city I have grown so very fond of. But, if we choose to stand still we don’t grow.So I am taking a leap once again into the great unknown. I have decided to get super pumped about this and give Texas a fair shake. Hell, it can’t be all bad, right? I mean cowboys are pretty badass and I really like BBQ. And they are super into baby beauty pageants there so maybe I’ll get to meet some.

In honor of my (soon to be) new home I give you my Top 10 “Texas” Movies. In researching this list I found that most movies that take place in Texas are about sports, crime or country music. Some have all three. (wink wink)

1. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974) – Duh. This is a no brainer. When I hear the word “Texas” I think “Leather face”. In fact whenever I am making a list about anything at all I hope to find a reason to put this most excellent movie on it. God bless you Tobe Hooper. 

2. Happy, Texas”  (1999) – Anybody who knows me even a little will not be shocked to see this movie on my list. It has all of my favorite things in it: Beauty Queens and, well gay guys. It’s a story about two guys who escape prison and pose as gay pageant hosts. I know! It’s awesome. Steve Zhan is hilarious.

3. Tender Mercies” (1983) – Before movies about down on their luck country singers became the role du jour in Hollywood, there was Tender Mercies. The movie is strong and subtle and just about perfect. It’s about relationships and how hard they are. Especially if you drink a lot in Texas while trying to revive your dead music career.

4. Blood Simple” (1984) – This movie is probably one of the best films on this list. It is almost flawless. The Coen Brothers make movies I like. They take a simple premise like a man hiring a PI to kill his wife and the guy she is sleeping with but, as it says in the movie tag, when there is blood involved… nothing is simple.

5. No Country For Old Men” (2007)Since I am talking about Coen Brothers films set in Texas, I thought I’d include the one that you have all probably seen. It’s one scary film and it is awesome. Although I thought “There Will Be Blood” should have won Best Picture that year at the Oscars, I couldn’t get too upset. This movie is why people like going to the movies. It’s tense, dark, scary and exciting. Javier Berdiems hair alone scared the shit out of me.

6. Terms of Endearment” (1983) – I had to include a movie with an astronaut, right? Everyone knows astronauts come from Texas. This movie often gets pigeonholed as a “chick flick” but I think it is just an all around good movie. Any Jack Nicholson fan notes this as one of his best performances and also the moment they realized just how fun it would be to get wasted with him and Shirley MacLaine. 

7. “Friday Night Lights” (2004) – I hate sports, I really do. Okay, maybe not the sports themselves but the way organized sports make people behave. Ironically I adore sports movies. Friday Night Lights is a great movie that also shows that negative side of sports that I’m talking about. This isn’t one of those Disney sports movies with the awesome coach who teaches his team about life, or racism. This movie shows the down side of making your life about sports. Tim McGraw is perfect as a washed up former high school football player who beats his son for not being as good at football as he was. Or thinks he was. It kind of doesn’ t matter because after he beats up his kid for the third time while swigging from his beer. News flash – there is life after high school! If you peaked in high school (and you know who you are) there is still time. I promise. Nobody remembers you that fondly anyway.

8. “Bottle Rocket” (1996) –  I was probably one of four people who actually saw this movie in a theater. That means I was a Wes Anderson fan long before you and your friends saw Rushmore and decided he was cool. It is one of my favorite heist films. it stars all three of the Wilson Brothers (yes, there are three) and James Caan. The attempt to rob a bookstore is fantastic, as is the opening scene where Luke Wilson tries to “escape” the hospital that he is obviously free to leave.

9. “The Last Picture Show” (1971) – One of the best films ever made, just ask anyone. It’s about small town life and how unchanging it can be. It’s about Texas and it’s about growing up and realizing that being a grown-up isn’t all you hoped it would be.  Peter Bogdanovich captures the frustration of growing up, and growing old in a small Texas town. He captures the hopelessness and pain at every age in every frame of this masterpiece.

10. “Hud” (1963) – Paul Newman plays a real dirtbag in this classic movie. Honestly, he is a despicable person. I got into a heated debate in a film class (once upon a time) as to whether the Hud character is just a “misunderstood” anti-hero, or just a bad guy. I voted bad guy. I think it makes movies easier for us to watch if we can justify the bad things certain characters do by saying they are sick, or crazy or had bad parents. but, it makes for better movies if we realize that there are just some really rotten people out there who take advantage of everyone around them. Patricia Neal is outstanding as Hud’s only true friend.

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