Hmm. There are certain movies that I term "important" movies because they really tried to send a message to the viewers of their times. The three that come to mind at the moment are Gentleman's Agreement (1947), Rebel Without a Cause (1955), and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967). But I can't say those changed my mind about anything, as I was already anti-anti-Semitism, convinced parents need to be involved in their kids' lives, and unopposed to mixed-race marriage.
So I guess I'll go with a movie that changed my mind about an actor: Meet Joe Black (1998). I mentioned this briefly once before, but all through my high school years, I couldn't stand Brad Pitt. A couple of my friends were gaga over him in the silliest ways imaginable, and since their previous movie star crushes did not attract or interest me at all, I figured he must be all beefcake and no brain. I refused to watch any of his movies. I derided him as a no-talent pretty boy.
But then, during I think my sophomore year of college, some friends convinced me to see Meet Joe Black. And, to my great surprise, Brad Pitt can act! And act well, when he wants to. He's also quite attractive, in a Robert Redford sort of way. Not that he'll ever top my list of Hottest Movie Stars or anything, but he's fun to watch.
And this movie... it's so nifty! It's kind of a remake of Death Takes a Holiday (1934), which I've yet to see, though I'd like to 'cuz it stars Frederic March as Death. So, yeah, this is a movie about Death. Death decides to see what it's like to be a mortal, so he takes over the body of a young man (who just happens to look exactly like Brad Pitt, good choice), calls himself Joe Black, and tells the next person who was supposed to die that he'll grant him a few extra days if he'll show Death what life is all about. That person is Bill Parrish, played by the incomparable Anthony Hopkins. The scenes between Hopkins and Pitt are my favorites, they have a great chemistry, all about antagonism, fear, and curiousity.
Meanwhile, of course, Bill Parrish's daughter Susan (Claire Forlani) falls for Joe Black and teaches him more about life than he'd bargained for.
But the scene that really clinched my change-of-mind about Brad Pitt is the one where Joe Black speaks Creole to an elderly woman who recognizes him for who he really is. Pitt is amazing there, and the sound of that patois rolling off his tongue is magical.
It's a beautiful film, with gorgeous sets and costumes, not to mention all the pretty people. And it has some of my favorite quotes -- I can never hear the phrase "death and taxes" without thinking about this movie. And I love what Bill Parrish says at his birthday party at the end of the movie -- "Sixty-five years... don't they go by in a blink." I hope I remember to use that line at my own 65th birthday.
The ending always makes me cry, both sad and happy tears. It's a good one.