Monday, May 23, 2005

A Story Only They Could Tell

In a stunningly original move, Time magazine has put out a list of the 100 greatest films ever, or, the greatest films according to their two film critics, Richard Corliss and Richard Shickel. I mock but lightly; I love stupid lists like this, no matter how insubstantial they may be. Jamie notes with satisfaction that they haven't attempted to do anything as dumb as ranking them, opting instead for that 'ol reliable alphabetical order. In truth, this saddens me somewhat--half the fun of these lists lies in angrily reacting to the hierarchy itself. Jamie may be right that there is no real difference between the 91st and 92nd greatest films of all time, but it's still fun to pretend there is.

I'll respond to this list by noting those I've seen (in blue). Prepare to be appalled at the massive gaps in my cinema-watching experience.

Aguirre: the Wrath of God (1972)
The Apu Trilogy (1955, 1956, 1959)
The Awful Truth (1937)
Baby Face (1933)
Bande à part (1964)
Barry Lyndon (1975)
Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980)
Blade Runner (1982)

This was, for me, one of those films that couldn't live up to the hype. I liked it, but wasn't as floored as all I had read would have led me to believe I would be.

Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
Brazil (1985)
Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
Camille (1936)
Casablanca (1942)

See my earlier, pre-two-year hiatus, post.

Charade (1963)
Children of Paradise (1945)
Chinatown (1974)
Chungking Express (1994)
Citizen Kane (1941)
City Lights (1931)
City of God (2002)
Closely Watched Trains (1966)
The Crime of Monsieur Lange (1936)
The Crowd (1928)
D - FDay for Night (1973)
The Decalogue (1989)
Detour (1945)
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)
Dodsworth (1936)
Double Indemnity (1944)
Dr. Strangelove: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

Drunken Master II (1994)

Great fun, but odd to find on this list.

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

One of my favorites. That ending is just so amazingly schmaltzy, so amazingly obvious and overblown, what with the crying and the little girl and the score (one of Williams' most remarkable bits of composing, to my ears) and the rainbow, but damn it all to hell--it works! Big time.

8 1/2 (1963)
The 400 Blows (1959)
Farewell My Concubine (1993)
Finding Nemo (2003)

Them Pixar folks really know what they're doing. They tread the balance between successful kids entertainment, and true-deeply felt art, as well as an Andersen or Milne or, well, the best of Disney. Just amazing films, and this is quite possibly their best.

The Fly (1986)
100 greatest ever? Corliss tries to defend his position, here, but I'm sure I don't see it.

The Godfather, Parts I and II (1972, 1974)

These lists really shouldn't cheat by combining these two. I mean, it's not as if they tell one seamless story, a la the Lord of the Rings trilogy; these are two very distinct movies telling two separate stories, albeit ones that tie together much better and for much greater effect than the stories in most film series' individual films.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966)
Goodfellas (1990)

This is one of those movies I've been meaning to re-watch. I saw it once, ages ago, and remember liking it, but have a hunch I'd appreciate it more now.

A Hard Day's Night (1964)
His Girl Friday (1940)
Ikiru (1952)
In A Lonely Place (1950)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
It's A Gift (1934)
It's A Wonderful Life (1946)

The wife and I watch this every Christmas, like clockwork, and it holds up every damn time.

Kandahar (2001)
Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)
King Kong (1933)

I must have technically seen King Kong years ago, when the local stations used to show it every Thanksgiving, but can't remember much about it so I'm not counting it.

The Lady Eve (1941)
The Last Command (1928)
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Léolo (1992)
The Lord of the Rings (2001-03)

Good call here. These are really just one movie. And what a remarkable achievement they were.
The Man With a Camera (1929)
The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
Metropolis (1927)
Miller's Crossing (1990)
Mon oncle d'Amérique (1980)
Mouchette (1967)
Nayakan (1987)
Ninotchka (1939)
Notorious (1946)
Olympia, Parts 1 and 2 (1938)
On the Waterfront (1954)
Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
Out of the Past (1947)
Persona (1966)
Pinocchio (1940)

I have a hard time with the notion that upon the invention of the full-length animated feature, it was the second movie that got it the most right, and that since then none have measured up, save for Finding Nemo.

Psycho (1960)
Pulp Fiction (1994)

No argument here. I love every bit of this movie, and can't fault it for all of the half-assed imitators it spawned.

The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)
Pyaasa (1957)
Raging Bull (1980)

Saw this a few years back and honestly did not get the fuss. Good film, but the best of the 80s, as it has been oft-called? Not sure what I missed, but miss it I did.

Schindler's List (1993)

Good call. I've seen many a film buff and critic dismiss it, for being, but of course, too serious. The hard fact is that many will always hate Spielberg, simply for being popular. The notion that the masses are always wrong is just as wrong-headed as the notion that they are always right. Popular acclaim doesn't necessarily translate into quality or a lack of it. To believe in either pole is naive.

The Searchers (1956)
Sherlock, Jr. (1924)
The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Now this one, when I finally saw it a few years back, I got. Great film, with infectious use of music and some of the more sublime dance I've ever seen. I'm no dance fan, but this I liked.

The Singing Detective (1986)
Smiles of a Summer Night (1955)
Some Like It Hot (1959)
Star Wars (1977)

Of course.

A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
Sunrise (1927)
Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
Swing Time (1936)
Talk to Her (2002)
Taxi Driver (1976)
Tokyo Story (1953)
A Touch of Zen (1971)
Ugetsu (1953)
Ulysses' Gaze (1995)
Umberto D (1952)
Unforgiven (1992)

Another film I need to revisit. Remember loving it, and being very moved by it, but don't remember much in the way of details.

White Heat (1949)
Wings of Desire (1987)
Yojimbo (1961)

Until Whenever

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