Thursday, June 21, 2007

Movies, movies, movies

OK, I should comment on the revised version of the American Film Institute's 100 Greatest American Movies.

:: First, what the hell is an "American" movie, anyway? I'm befuddled by how Lord of the Rings can be considered an American movie. Is it because New Line's an American company? Well, so what? Disney owns distribution rights to Studio Ghibli movies, so let's get Princess Mononoke on the list.

:: Second, like Roger Ebert, I was wondering what happened to Fargo. When I first saw Fargo, my initial reaction was, "OK, it's good. Not that good, but good." But it sure stuck in my head, and now I'm of the "Yup, it's that good" mindset.

:: Here's a good article about the list that sums up some stuff. Before I get to the movies actually on the list, here's a list of the movies that were on the original list but fell off this time around. I've bolded the titles whose fall from grace piss me off, for lack of a better term:

Dr. Zhivago
The Birth of a Nation
From Here to Eternity (Great, great movie.)
Amadeus (Ditto.)
All Quiet on the Western Front
The Third Man
Rebel Without a Cause
Stagecoach (My favorite John Wayne movie.)
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
The Manchurian Candidate (The original, duh.)
An American in Paris
Wuthering Heights
Dances With Wolves (I know, I'm alone in pretty much the entire world in thinking that this movie's better than Goodfellas, but that's my story and I'm sticking with it.)
Mutiny on the Bounty
The Jazz Singer
My Fair Lady (Yeah, I like West Side Story too, but I'll take MFL over WSS any day of the month.)
A Place in the Sun
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

And next, the entire list, with occasional comment:

1. "Citizen Kane" (1941) (I know, iconic movie that was staggeringly influential. For me, it's a "see it once and that's about it" kind of thing.)

2. "The Godfather" (1972) (I've got to admit, I've never seen this all the way through and I have virtually no interest in doing so. I just don't get the allure of mob stories, whether it's this or The Sopranos or whatever. These aren't honorable people, they're not good people living morally within some kind of code, they're bad people, and I'm just not interested.)

3. "Casablanca" (1942) (This should be number 2, for me.)

4. "Raging Bull" (1980) (Not a fan of boxing, either, really. I heard a comedian on TV once say something along the lines of, "You gotta wonder about a society that considers masturbation 'self-abuse' and boxing a sport." I'm sure this is a great movie, but not a priority of mine.)

5. "Singin' in the Rain" (1952) (Best musical ever.)

6. "Gone With the Wind" (1939) (Three hours of my life I'll never get back. I do not understand this movie's beloved status.)

7. "Lawrence of Arabia" (1962) (I'm buying this on DVD tomorrow. We've got it at The Store for eight bucks.)

8. "Schindler's List" (1993) (Thank God this placed above Saving Private Ryan, which I consider staggeringly overrated.)

9. "Vertigo" (1958)
10. "The Wizard of Oz" (1939) (Top twenty? OK. Above Star Wars? Not on your life!)

11. "City Lights" (1931) (For me, a little Charlie Chaplin goes a long way. I'd have been fine with including Modern Times, and calling it good.)

12. "The Searchers" (1956) (Another one of those iconic movies that's full of iconicky goodness and that I didn't much enjoy watching.)

13. "Star Wars" (1977) (Number One, dammit. And I do not want any of what George R.R. Martin is smoking.)

14. "Psycho" (1960) (Not even close to my favorite Hitchcock movie. More icon than movie, for me.)

15. "2001: A Space Odyssey" (1968) (No argument from me. Haven't seen it in far too long. I adore this movie.)

16. "Sunset Boulevard" (1950)
17. "The Graduate" (1967)
18. "The General" (1927)
19. "On the Waterfront" (1954)
20. "It's a Wonderful Life" (1946) (How can I have a sentimental streak as wide as I know my sentimental streak to be, and yet not like this movie? How can that be possible? And yet, 'tis true. Don't like it.)

21. "Chinatown" (1974) (Heresy to say this is some circles, but Jerry Goldsmith never wrote a score as good as this again. Great film; haven't seen it in far too long.)

22. "Some Like It Hot" (1959)
23. "The Grapes of Wrath" (1940)
24. "E.T. -- The Extra-Terrestrial" (1982) (Yup.)

25. "To Kill a Mockingbird" (1962) (Should have been quite a bit higher.)

26. "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" (1939) (Never seen the whole thing. I only mention it in light of the hilarious Mel Gibson remake from that episode of The Simpsons.)

27. "High Noon" (1952)
28. "All About Eve" (1950)
29. "Double Indemnity" (1944)
30. "Apocalypse Now" (1979)
31. "The Maltese Falcon" (1941)
32. "The Godfather, Part II" (1974) (OK, here's a sequel. So why not The Empire Strikes Back?)

33. "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (1975)
34. "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (1937) (OK.)

35. "Annie Hall" (1977) (I just don't get Woody Allen. And this movie beat out Star Wars for Best Picture. On that basis it is an evil, evil movie.)

36. "The Bridge on the River Kwai" (1957)
37. "The Best Years of Our Lives" (1946)
38. "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" (1948)
39. "Dr. Strangelove" (1964)
40. "The Sound of Music" (1965) (Fine by me. This movie is adored.)

41. "King Kong" (1933)
42. "Bonnie and Clyde" (1967)
43. "Midnight Cowboy" (1969)
44. "The Philadelphia Story" (1940)
45. "Shane" (1953)
46. "It Happened One Night" (1934)
47. "A Streetcar Named Desire" (1951)
48. "Rear Window" (1954)
49. "Intolerance" (1916)
50. "Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" (2001) (OK, I got this list from the afore-linked Roger Ebert article. The show did not specify Fellowship, but quite properly identified The Lord of the Rings as a whole. Apparently I was wrong, and they just faded the title out because they couldn't get the whole thing onscreen at once, which negates my point here. These aren't three separate movies, and for the AFI to treat them as such is idiotic.)

51. "West Side Story" (1961) (Fine, fine film. Truly great. And I can name a dozen musicals I love more, and several I think should outpace it on this list.)

52. "Taxi Driver" (1976)
53. "The Deer Hunter" (1978) (Watched this in college when my roommate Chris had to watch it for a history class about the Vietnam war. This movie made me want to kill myself.)

54. "M*A*S*H" (1970) (Loved it.)

55. "North by Northwest" (1959) (Loved it. Need to watch it again.)

56. "Jaws" (1975) (Ditto.)

57. "Rocky" (1976) (OK, here's the exception for boxing. Like this one. Don't love it. It's good.)

58. "The Gold Rush" (1925)
59. "Nashville" (1975)
60. "Duck Soup" (1933)
61. "Sullivan's Travels" (1941)
62. "American Graffiti" (1973) (Haven't seen this is far too long, either. I think it's great.)

63. "Cabaret" (1972)
64. "Network" (1976)
65. "The African Queen" (1951) (OK, does Bogart get enough love as an actor? Just compare him in this movie to Rick in Casablanca. I'm thinking of that bashful grin Bogey does when he admits to Katherine Hepburn that his first name is "Charley". There's some range for you!)

66. "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (1981) (Well, duh.)

67. "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (1966)
68. "Unforgiven" (1992) (This is when I realized that Eastwood wasn't just the guy from Every Which Way But Loose.)

69. "Tootsie" (1982)
70. "A Clockwork Orange" (1971)
71. "Saving Private Ryan" (1998) (Sigh. The D-Day stuff is stunningly great. Everything after that? Meh followed by treacle.)

72. "The Shawshank Redemption" (1994) (Not nearly high enough.)

73. "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (1969)
74. "The Silence of the Lambs" (1991)

75. "In the Heat of the Night" (1967)
76. "Forrest Gump" (1994) (OK, I'll admit to liking this movie. I don't think it's quite the indictment of the Left that many think it is, and I find it absorbing every time I see it. But still: it's on the list and Fargo's not? I call shenanigans.)

77. "All the President's Men" (1976)
78. "Modern Times" (1936) (As I said. This is legitimately great.)

79. "The Wild Bunch" (1969)
80. "The Apartment" (1960)
81. "Spartacus" (1960)
82. "Sunrise" (1927)
83. "Titanic" (1997) (I've blogged about this before in greater depth somewhere, but let me just say that I still don't get the angry backlash against this movie that's pretty much held sway ever since, oh, the day after it won "Best Picture". Sure, the love story is pure melodrama, but there's nothing wrong with melodrama sometimes, and all the stuff about the ship sinking is just amazing stuff. Great movie, in my opinion.)

84. "Easy Rider" (1969)
85. "A Night at the Opera" (1935)
86. "Platoon" (1986)
87. "12 Angry Men" (1957)
88. "Bringing Up Baby" (1938)
89. "The Sixth Sense" (1999) (Well...really? Top 100? It's good, but...well, really? If this movie is on the list again in ten years, I'll be shocked.)

90. "Swing Time" (1936)
91. "Sophie's Choice" (1982)
92. "Goodfellas" (1990) (Meh.)

93. "The French Connection" (1971)
94. "Pulp Fiction" (1994) (OK, here's my exception to my general antipathy toward movies with criminals as protagonists. But this is because of the film's theme of redemption, when Jules realizes he must leave the life and "try real hard to be the shepherd".)

95. "The Last Picture Show" (1971)
96. "Do the Right Thing" (1989)
97. "Blade Runner" (1982) (Sorry, Yes, its production design is amazing, but the story isn't all that interesting, to me. I always find this movie uninvolving and kind of dull. Roy Batty's final speech before he dies is pretty poetic, I'll admit, but it's preceded by two hours of "Meh".)

98. "Yankee Doodle Dandy" (1942)
99. "Toy Story" (1995) (I think they picked this because it was Pixar's first, as opposed to Pixar's best. Finding Nemo is far, far better. So is The Incredibles.)

100. "Ben-Hur" (1959) (Yes! My favorite biblical or "sword-and-sandal" epic.)

And finally, here are some movies that haven't made either list that, in my mind, damned well should have made at least one:

The Adventures of Robin Hood
The Sea Hawk
The Empire Strikes Back
An Affair to Remember (Oh, stop. It makes me cry like a little girl, and that's fine by me.)
When Harry Met Sally...
The Music Man
On Her Majesty's Secret Service
As Good As It Gets
The Princess Bride
Say Anything (Shut up. It makes me cry like a little girl too.)
The Iron Giant
Somewhere In Time (OK, maybe not. But it too makes me cry like a little girl.)
Bull Durham (Hey, wait a minute -- there's no baseball anywhere in the official list! What the hell--!)
Heavy Metal (OK, definitely not. But oh, my beloved Taarna....)

OK, I think I'm done now. We'll revisit this in 2017, when this blog is beamed directly into your brain.


Erin said...

Say Anything, When Harry Met Sally..., and The Princess Bride are the three movies I list when people ask me what my favorite movie is. :)

And I liked Titanic, too. The ship sinking stuff is stunning. I get a lump in my throat just thinking about it. And besides, Victor Garber!

Anonymous said...

Since it's on the list too, you forgot to mention that the other half of the double feature for the Vietnam class was "Platoon". That was a very depressing night at the movies.


Tosy And Cosh said...

While The Godfather films are arguable, The Sopranos is not about how Tony Soprano is a good man within the amoral code of the mafia, it's about how his being in the mafia makes him a bad man, and how he can not escape that. Even in The Godfather films, the overall message is that the life of a criminal is not, in the end, one one can rise above. Doesn't mean they'll be your cup of tea, but neither are about making apologies for bad men.

And the show did list The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, not the whole trilogy. I thought the same thing at first, as they put up the title: The Lord of the Rings. But then that faded away to be replaced by The Fellowship of the Ring. I guess they just couldn't fit the whole title on screen at once. and for what it's worth, I do think they have to be considered as three films - after all, they were released that way.

Jason said...
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Anonymous said...

I'm with you on a lot of these comments: Dances with Wolves and Titanic are great movies that suffered from undeserved backlashes, Gone with the Wind is majorly overrated, Annie Hall frankly baffles me on every level, and Star Wars should be higher on the list. I've been unable to take Saving Private Ryan seriously since William Goldman pointed out that the whole movie is a lie (we're led to believe that old man in the flashback is Tom Hanks when ***spoiler alert*** it's later revealed otherwise).

I like gangster flicks, though. The Godfather deserves its place in the pantheon, IMHO.

Anonymous said...

I would argue (although not with you; I have a feeling you'll agree with this) that Say Anything contains the Iconic Romantic Moment for Generation X, much as Casablanca (or maybe From Here to Eternity) has the I.R.M. for the Greatest Generation. Therefore, it should really be on the list.

I'm not sure what the Iconic Romantic Moment for the Baby Boomers would be. Maybe the scene at the end of The Graduate? Oh, no, wait: that's the Ironic Romantic Moment. Sorry. :-) Actually, I'm pretty sure it's one of several from Love Story.

Iron Giant should definitely be on some list, somewhere. I think modern animation gets overlooked unless all the characters look like they're made out of computer-generated Play-Doh.

Kelly Sedinger said...

I don't think that the Godfather makes "apologies" for bad men, but it's still a movie with bad men as its protagonists. As such, I'm just not willing to delve into it.

Kelly Sedinger said...

Love Story? Ick! "Love means never having to say you're sorry"? Huh?!

Anonymous said...

Um, I was talking about Iconic Romantic Moments, not necessarily good scenes. And as a matter of fact, that isn't the scene I was thinking of: I was thinking of the scene where they're walking through the autumn leaves and you can hear the crunching of the leaves over their voices. I was 4 when the movie came out, but I can pretty much guarantee you that for an awful lot of people who are about 15 years older than me, when they think of the romance of their youth they're picturing Ali McGraw and Ryan O'Neal scuffing through the autumn leaves, caught up in college-age angst, trying to make some sense of the world together.

But an awful lot of others probably think of "love means never having to say you're sorry." As nonsensical as that is, it seemed to hit a chord with a lot of young people back then. Of course, so did Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

Kelly Sedinger said...

OK, thanks for the clarification. I don't recall that scene specifically, but that's probably due to the Herculean efforts I made to expunge that movie from my memory!

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