Sunday, August 24, 2008

Going to the movies

Full disclosure: I started this post back in February and forgot about it until trolling my "draft" list. So... old news, but related to the Elliot Spitzer scandal, see this hilarious "script" by Greg Howard, a.k.a. Geese Aplenty, on legalizing prostitution.

Also, the American Film Institute issued (quite a while ago now) its annual list of the Top 100 Movies of All Time, as determined by an AFI jury of 1,500 film artists, critics and historians. Here's the original press release in PDF. I reprint the list here with color coding. Warning: if you're reading this, you are morally and legally obligarted to comment on this post with your reactions and opinions, citing your own movie viewing history as well as at least three academic sources. OK, none is fine as well.

Green = Movies I've see and really love — I totally agree with the AFI on these.
Black = Movies I've seen but that wouldn't make my personal top-100 list.
Red = Movies I haven't seen.
NMKOM = Not my kind of movie. Sorry.

To be on my top 100, the movie has to break new ground in terms of story. Technical accomplishment is also important but secondary. So I would not include "Star Wars" or "Titanic" because, although they represented breakthroughs in terms of special effects, their plots were actually pretty shopworn or even downright lame.

Missing titles form my personal favorites:
Ordinary People
Return of the Pink Panther
What's Up, Doc?
...and of course, "The Poseidon Adventure."
  1. Citizen Kane (1941)
  2. The Godfather (1972)
  3. Casablanca (1942)
  4. Raging Bull (1980) — NMKOM; too much testosterone.
  5. Singin' in the Rain (1952) — NMKOM (musical) though Gene Kelley's dancing is amazing.
  6. Gone with the Wind (1939)
  7. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
  8. Schindler's List (1993) — Amazing story with huge emotional impact, and amazing performance by Liam Neeson.
  9. Vertigo (1958)
  10. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
  11. City Lights (1931)
  12. The Searchers (1956)
  13. Star Wars (1977) — NMKOM (basically a western gussied up with sci-fi special effects that are admittedly terrific). Totally cheesy characters and acting.
  14. Psycho (1960)
  15. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
  16. Sunset Boulevard (1950) — Gotta see this.
  17. The Graduate (1967)
  18. The General (1927)
  19. On the Waterfront (1954) — NMKOM for some reason; maybe its because I don't like Brando's mumbly style.
  20. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
  21. Chinatown (1974)
  22. Some Like It Hot (1959)
  23. The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
  24. E.T. The Extraterrestrial (1982)
  25. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
  26. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
  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)
  33. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
  34. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
  35. Annie Hall (1977) -- Woody Allen's best, IMO.
  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)
  41. King Kong (1933)
  42. Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
  43. Midnight Cowboy (1969)
  44. The Philadelphia Story (1940)
  45. Shane (1953) — too sentimental.
  46. It Happened One Night (1934)
  47. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
  48. Rear Window (1954) — see #55.
  49. Intolerance (1916)
  50. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) -- No plans to see, because NMKOM (fantasy).
  51. West Side Story (1961) — I'm just not a fan of musicals. Except "Fiddler on the Roof." And parts of "The Sound of Music" but mostly for the camp factor, especially after seeing an interactive version (think "Rocky Horror" but gayer) at the Coolidge Corner Cinema with a host who exhorted us to make some noise every time "HUNKY Captain von Trapp" appeared.
  52. Taxi Driver (1976)
  53. The Deer Hunter (1978)
  54. M*A*S*H (1970)
  55. North By Northwest (1959) — Not the one by Hitchcock that I'd pick; I'll take "Psycho" (#14).
  56. Jaws (1975)
  57. Rocky (1976) — yecch. Cheesy recycled underdog-triumphs plot and cheesier acting by Stallone. Hate it.
  58. The Gold Rush (1925)
  59. Nashville (1975)
  60. Duck Soup (1933)
  61. Sullivan's Travels (1941)
  62. American Graffiti (1973).
  63. Cabaret (1972)
  64. Network (1976)
  65. The African Queen (1951)
  66. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) — lots of adventure and exotic settings but cardboard characters, so not my cup of tea.
  67. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
  68. Unforgiven (1992)
  69. Tootsie (1982)
  70. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
  71. Saving Private Ryan (1998) — Best evocation of World War II combat I've ever seen.
  72. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
  73. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) — A western and a chase movie, yes, but so beautifully done, so lighthearted and so suffused with the era in which it was made, yet the blend of 1960s and late 1800s somehow works.
  74. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
  75. In the Heat of the Night (1967)
  76. Forrest Gump (1994)
  77. All the President's Men (1976)
  78. Modern Times (1936)
  79. The Wild Bunch (1969)
  80. The Apartment (1960) — Perfect script and acting jobs, depiction of a world that's spot-on funny and satirical, then moves seamlessly into truly moving personal interplay with no sap.
  81. Spartacus (1960)
  82. Sunrise (1927)
  83. Titanic (1997) — great special effects, obviously, but the artificial love story with DiCaprio and Winslett? Gag me with a spoon. The actual historical facts are a lot more gripping (such as the many big-time celebrities who perished).
  84. Easy Rider (1969) — ground-breaking but too sloppily made.
  85. A Night at the Opera (1935)
  86. Platoon (1986) — just not that into war movies.
  87. Twelve Angry Men (1957) — Good, but its quality is mostly a function of the strength of the play it was based on.
  88. Bringing Up Baby (1938) — just not to my taste for some reason, though I love Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn. I preferred the screwball comedy homage "What's Up Doc?" made in the 1970s.
  89. The Sixth Sense (1999) — terrific plot premise and child-actor performance by Osment.
  90. Swing Time (1936)
  91. Sophie's Choice (1982) — not a strong enough story, I think, but I'll see it again.
  92. Goodfellas (1990)
  93. The French Connection (1971) — Great evocation of a time and lace, but still your basic cop-and-robbers-and-chase movie.
  94. Pulp Fiction (1994)
  95. The Last Picture Show (1971) — another from the Second Golden Age of American movies (the late 1960s and 1970s). Directed by Peter Bogdanovich, who also did another of my all-time favotites, "What's Up, Doc?"
  96. Do the Right Thing (1989)
  97. Blade Runner (1982)
  98. Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
  99. Toy Story (1995) — You might argue for "Shrek" in its place, but "Toy Story" did come first.
  100. Ben-Hur (1959)

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