With the gloomy weather and tons of rain lately here at Orange County, many will find themselves having to stay indoors more frequently these days—after all, the beaches are flooded and it takes forever to drive anywhere, with all the traffic. Why not curl up at your couch, get some hot tea, and catch a flick right at home? Here are some recommended films that you can consider watching on a rainy day. Admittedly, many of them have scenes that take place in the rain (after all, it helps set the mood), but not all. It is not in any particular order.
1. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
An 80’s comedy classic, this John Hughes film about a high school senior who ditches school to spend time with his girlfriend and a depressed buddy is certainly a great highlight of Matthew Broderick’s career. There are virtually no rain clouds in this film. The three visit various Chicago landmarks and even gets to be part of a street parade. The film is a comedy/adventure film that’s almost like a travelogue of Chicago. It is, in that sense, a road trip movie—and like all good road trip movies, it’s not about where you go, but where you arrive as a person. The film reminds us that even one day, if spent right, could be one of the best days of our lives. Imagine if everyday was like that?
2. Seven Samurai (1954)
Watching black and white samurai flicks while eating ramen in the afternoon (while it rains outside) has been one of my little joys in life. I recall spending some Saturday afternoons watching black and white movies (often involving private detectives) or Kung Fu Theater on channel 9. So, why Seven Samurai, in particular? Aside from the fact that it’s one of my top 10 favorite movies, this Akira Kurosawa classic has an amazing battle scene in the rain (and many indoor scenes while it rains outdoors). Harrowing scenes of horses running in the mud, samurais wildly flailing swords—few movies made rain scenes seem so bad-ass. The story takes place in Feudal Japan where a bunch of farmers decide to hire samurais (seven of them) to keep their land from being pillaged by a gang of bandits (which happened every harvest season). Toshiro Mifune is particularly great as the wild and nutty 7th samurai. The film also takes into account the seasonal changes that happen throughout the year—a good reminder that after all the rain, there will be clear days coming.
3. Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
Back when Hollywood made lots of great musicals, Singin’ in the Rain is perhaps the most fun and memorable. The musical numbers are all excellent and every scene feels meticulously professional. The plot involves a film studio trying to move from silent to talkie film and a romance that develops between a silent film star and a chorus girl. A classic scene where the lovesick Gene Kelly starts to dance and sing (while making it feel effortless despite his wet clothes) as it pours at night is pure movie magic that I can’t imagine ever being duplicated.
4. Shawshank Redemption (1994)
This Frank Darabont film, based on a Stephen King story, about a banker who is falsely sentenced to prison for murdering his wife, is #1 on IMDB’s Top 250 (as of this writing) for a pretty good reason—it’s a very good film. It’s an uplifting movie despite the gloomy situation the main character Andy Dufresne, played by Tim Robbins, is in. He develops a friendship with the warden (a bad guy) and other inmates that makes the prison life a little more bearable. A story about hope that can literally take you places. There’s also a great rain scene at the end. To say more would be spoiling it.
5. My Sassy Girl (2001)
I used to think no romantic comedies could ever be good until a long time ago, I saw this South Korean romantic comedy about a guy named Kyun-Woo who meets a girl at the subway, after various oddball situations, winds up becoming his girlfriend. A big hit in Asia, the film brought Gianna Jun (aka. Jun Ji-Hyun), the actress, to the limelight. The film also turned me into more Korean films (much like how The Killer got me into Hong Kong films). The humor is darker than most romantic comedies as the relationship between the main characters is a rollercoaster ride (the girl has a tendency to be abusive), suitable for its own psychological study. Interestingly though, as the character and story gets more involved and the back story gets revealed, everything comes together full circle, into drama, and a great conclusion. There are great moments of rain here, some sweet, and some referenced.
6. Blade Runner (1982)
A very atmospheric sci-fi flick by Ridley Scott, based on a Phillip K. Dick novel, starring Harrison Ford as an android-hunting policeman, pretty much brought the cyberpunk genre to the mainstream. This is a type of film that’s rather subdued, the type you can appreciate more as art than just a movie. Scott made a world that’s very involving and moody. There are lots of great scenes of rain in urban landscapes (even if they’re acid rain). To quote Roy Batty from the movie, “All those moments will be lost in time… like tears in rain…”
7. Forrest Gump (1994)
Sometimes you need an inspiring movie to lift your spirits. This film, directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Tom Hanks, certainly fits the bill. Tom Hanks is excellent as a man with a low IQ who achieves great things throughout the tumultuous 60’s. Much like a box full of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get in this film. Many life-changing moments happen during the rain in this film.
8. Memories of Murder (2003)
Based on a true serial murder case in the countryside in Korea in 1986, Kang-Ho Song and Sang-Kyung Kim play two detectives who are desperately searching for the killer as corpses are showing up. Director Joon Ho-Bong (The Host) does an amazing job of creating great tension, amazing drama, deep characterizations, balanced with some ironic humor. Kang-Ho Song is amazing here as a biased, simple-minded detective who uses rough tactics to get suspects to talk, whose character changes throughout the movie as he partners up with a more logical, big-city cop played by Sang-Kyung Kim. This haunting film has many intense, dramatic scenes and a creepy chase scene—many of them taking place in the rain. Watching this film while it’s raining may freak some people out. If you prefer something more light-hearted or less grisly, Joon Ho-Bong went on to direct the very popular The Host (2006), a fun, sometimes intense, monster film that takes place in an urban area—also great to watch on a rainy day.
9. Jaws (1975)
Here’s the famous monster classic from director Steven Spielberg about a man-eating shark, starring Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, and Richard Dreyfuss. This is a great guy film, a story of man vs. nature. This is how a monster movie should be made, in my opinion. True, the mechanical shark looks slightly dated, but even by today’s standards, it’s hard to make a truly realistic-looking giant shark. Luckily, this film gave the monster a sense of mystery, and the story is really about the characters anyway. Roy Scheider is great as a police chief who is completely out of his element. This film has great dialogue, characterization, mood, and amazing score. Great stuff all around.
10. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Almost any black-and-white sci-fi or horror movie is great to watch on a rainy day. Or, any Twilight Zone episode, for that matter. A good rainy day sets a certain mood that sunny days can’t quite do. This George Romero zombie classic has plenty of horror, but most of that is left to our imagination, which the film utilizes to great effect. With great uses of darks and contrast, it’s too bad we don’t see more black and white zombie films these days.
That’s it for my list. Certainly, many films could’ve made this list. If you have any recommendations, please feel free to leave a comment below!
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