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Monday, 05 January 2009

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Gotta say it: "Goodfellas." And here's two that probably won't make anyone else's list: "The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds", starring Joanne Woodward and Nell Potts and directed by Paul Newman, and "The Insider," starring Russell Crowe and Al Pacino and directed by Michael Mann. I love the look of anything Michael Mann directs. I'd happily watch Mann's "Collateral" with the sound off.

I never understood the attraction to "Citizen Kane" myself. At first, I blamed myself since those in the know all gave it such high praise. I figured I was too unsophisticated to understand the fuss. Now I think the "experts" are "wrong" for still considering it the "best film" of all time.

I do still look for films co-starring Nipsy Russell and Charles Nelson Reilly. You just can't beat that.

Ed

Well, let's move in time a bit with nominations. At least 20 years...

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
The Deer Hunter
Unforgiven

Yes, The Godfather. Maybe even not the first one, but The Godfather II.

And finally something that's only half-American, but that I enjoy very much - Snatch.

I think it's a good list, but like ANY list worth debating, its greatest worth is in how it reflects the values of its author.

After reading Fish's list - and before looking at his bio - I'd assumed that he was an older gentleman, probably liberal politically, and a little bit of an egghead (and I mean that only in the most complimentary sense). I'm not certain how accurate my assumptions are but they are what they are.

I'm also unsure what my list of favorite movie tells people about me, as it includes not only "Citizen Kane," but "Superman: The Movie," "Enter the Dragon" and "Blazing Saddles." But they are MY favorites and that's all that matters to me.

Interesting list.

Surprised by the inclusion of 'Groudhog Day' and the exclusion of 'To Kill a Mockingbird'.

Sorry, but if it doesn't include "To Kill a Mockingbird" the list stinks.

My wife had never seen Citizen Kane until last week. I asked her to watch it with me late at night on BBC4. She's never been a night owl, she's fallen asleep during some fantastic films, but she managed to keep both eyes open for Citizen Kane. That's a pretty good review and it's not one of my top ten films, but one that I enjoy.

I don't own more then five films, I've never been one for collecting them. I class myself as a true film fan. One of my favourite films is 'The Night Of The Hunter' I never fail to be excited by those very rare occasions where it's shown again. It's something I feel I just can't afford to miss and I just don't get that feeling once I own a film.

It's the complete opposite with photographs, I can keep coming back again and again to a photograph like I can to a poem. I'm sure that's because I think photography is closer to poetry then it is to cinema

I can't give you a top ten but The Night Of The Hunter would be in there.

I don't watch enough movies to be any kind of authority, but of the recent ones I liked "As Good As It Gets". A couple oldies that I thought deserved more credit than they got are "Flap" (Nobody loves a drunken Indian), and Waterhole#3.

I think I would have to find room for Casablanca, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid would come under serious consideration, too. Both entertaining movies, that also had quite a lot of 'message'. Something that I find missing in recent Hollywood movies, although I am probably just showing my age. Shane would be on my list, too.

And I totally agree with you about Citizen Kane. I have tried to watch it all several times, but have only made it right through without sleeping on one occasion.

wow! 30 DVDs!!
I've only got 5 and I haven't watched those, I bought them to loan out because I felt that people needed to see:
#1 Cinema Paradiso
#2 Young Frankenstein
#3 Monty Python and the Holy Grail
#4 A Fish called Wanda
#5 Branagh's Henry V.
Of course I have hundreds of CDs and albums.

dale

Yes Mike, I too prefer Goodfellas. One of the all time great films.

Well... here is my list in no particular order (or at least the ones I remember now)

- Blade Runner (1982)
- Brazil (1985)
- Fahrenheit 451 (1966)
- Toys (1992)
- The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988)
- Shawshank Redemption (1994)
- Godfather (1972)
- Braveheart (1995)
- The Red Violin (1999)
- Wings of Desire (1987) - Later copied as "City of Angles"

Hope you like them too ;-)

"Groundhog Day" is on Fish's top 10 alltime-best list.

"GROUNDHOG DAY"?

Mike, Groundhog Day will now serve the same function for me as Citizen Kane does for you. (But aren't they really the same movie, anyway?)

I'll bite. (And I agree about Citizen Kane.) This is not the list of what I think are probably the "ten best movies," but today's short-lived feeling about what my ten favorites are, at this very moment, and if you count them, you'll notice that there are eleven. I couldn't make the last cut. These are movies that, when I see them as I'm clicking around on TV, I will always stop to watch all the way to the end.

Aliens (The best hard sci-fi movie ever made; sorry Star Wars.)
Big Lebowski (A classic LA-noir detective story. I wanna *be* the Dude.)
Bonnie and Clyde
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Blackhawk Down
Chinatown (Maybe the best movie ever made.)
Jeremiah Johnson
Pulp Fiction
Saving Private Ryan (Best opening scene ever made.)
Silence of the Lambs (The scene when Starling meets Lector.)
Taxi Driver (Right there with Chinatown for best movie)

Also:
Three Days of the Condor (prophetic -- the other guys won.)
Blade Runner
Police Squad ("Say, that's a nice beaver you got there.")
Forrest Gump (I like the fact that many people hate it.)
Bull Durham
The Pope of Greenwich Village
LA Story
Dangerous Liaisons
The Player (Watch the tracking shot as the movie opens, and they talk about the longest tracking shot.)

Damnit, now I'm not going to be able to sleep tonight. I really need the sleep.

JC

Kudos for relegating Kane to also-ran. I am impressed with it's bold technique, but in the end, there's no real story there, and no real character development. Let alone the horrible performance by Joseph Cotton as an old man.

I can't pretend to list my pics in ascending/descending order, and on any given day the list may well look substantially different. But today, my top 10 are:

My favorite American film is easily Casablanca. In my opinion the ultimate product of the studio system at it's best. Crackling dialog, a plot that runs like a fine watch (with complications, ba dump bump!) and great performances all around. This movie is in no way innovative, the anti-Kane.

I'd also have to include the sublime A Christmas Story. A note-perfect memoir of childhood. Full of wonderful small moments.

The Right Stuff: To me, the greatest of the 'epic' genre (and I'm including all of Lean's work). It simply is the definition of the American myth, post WWII. That the technical aspects are breathtaking as well is icing on the cake. Not a bad performance in the film, and effects (filmed decidedly low-tech) make it impossible to tell new from archival footage.

Unforgiven: Tough choice here between Shane (it's philosophical opposite) and The Searchers. In the end it comes down to great casting, writing, direction, photography, music etc etc.

In Cold Blood. Great story, well adapted from Capote's 'non-fiction novel' just years after the case was closed. The final sequence in the gallows, with the reflected rain from a window running along Robert Blake's face is one of the most moving moments in film for me.

Singin' in the Rain scores (sorry) for being a good film about Hollywood (though not the best), a good musical (though not having the best songs) with some terrific dancing (though more gymnastic than graceful). In the end, the songs are memorable, the dancing top-notch, it is a good anecdotal history of the transition from silent to sound Hollywood. With one of the most memorable movie songs of all time.

The In-Laws is a movie that after dozens of viewings still makes me howl with laughter. The pairing of Falk and Arkin is reminiscent of the best of Matthau and Lemmon; all of the actors are accomplished whether performing comedy or drama, but put them together, and the most is made of the script. For a great comedy, some days I pick The Odd Couple or Mr Roberts, but today its The In-Laws.

North by Northwest is one of two Hitchcock favorites for me, this is the best 'thriller', and To Catch a Thief the best romantic thriller. in the interview book Hitchcock/Truffaut he claimed to want to name it 'The Man in Lincoln's Nose', but I'm certain that was a put on. In any case, this had all the hallmarks of the best of Hitchcock; an everyman (if you can consider Cary Grant everyman) put in danger due to mistaken identity and a story that is propelled visually as much as by exposition (this is a moving picture, after all).

And for film noir, so many great films: Asphalt Jungle/The Killing (nearly the same movie, with the same star in each); The Maltese Falcon (a replica of the bird sits on my writing desk) or Touch of Evil are all excellent choices and would be hard to deny any of them. Or just go with the Steve Martin comedy Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, the final film for costume designer Edith head and composer Miklos Rosza.

And for the greatest cast ever assembled with great dialog, easy pick: Glengarry Glen Ross. A very stage bound adaption of a play, but a cast for the heavens: Kevin Spacey, Jack Lemmon, Alan Arkin, Al Pacino, Ed Harris, Jonathan Pryce and Alec Baldwin (in a role created for the film version). How many Oscar nominations between them? One of the few films really about selling. A topic ignored by Hollywood for some reason.

And since this is my list, I'm going to eleven (that's one more, innit?): Twelve Monkeys. On first viewing my attitude was fairly 'meh' towards this, but this is a film that rewards additional viewings. Written by David Peoples (who also wrote Unforgiven and is co-credited for Blade Runner) it is the only time-travel movie I've seen that works through the so called 'grandfather paradox' by acknowledging that the past can't be changed, Bruce Willis is only trying to gain information that will help the future survivors of the global pandemic unleashed by the terrorist Army of the Twelve Monkeys.

Patrick

It was good to see Groundhog Day in the list. Here in Australia it copped very mixed reviews from so called experts to friends. I even had a friend say they didn't like it because it was too repetative (I didn't say this friend was overly intelligent...)It would definitely be on my 10 favorites list as the concept and execution was great and Bill Murray was perfect for the part.

Glengarry Glen Ross.

OMG, I love movie lists!! I enjoy the connection I feel with someone else when I see that they also found a favorite film noteworthy. I look through the lists thinking "Oh yeah, that was a cool film...Oh wow, I had forgotten that one...I have to go rent that one tonight...Never heard of it, I should check it out."

The comedies, oaters, sci-fi, mysteries, documentaries, intellectual exercises, foreign films, action, and yes even some chick flicks. I get dizzy trying to figure out how I can watch them all again and also discover something new. Like Ken, I sadly realize it is impossible. Sigh.

Hollywood is a much maligned world. The denizens get hammered for having no morals, being out of touch with reality, backstabbing, sex engrossed, drugged up, childish, arrogant,...blah, blah, blah. But, lets face it, we genuinely love their product.


I forgot to mention re: Charles Nelson Reilly. He was actually a quite accomplished director in the theater.

Patrick

Comedies! There are so few comedies on these lists! Consider, in no particular order: Slap Shot, Animal House, This Is Spinal Tap, and The Meaning of Life. And yes, I do understand that Pulp Fiction is a comedy.

I've never been able to watch Citizen Kane to the end; it puts me to sleep every time I try to watch it.

Bill

Not in order:
Bringing Up Baby
The Philadelphia Story
Charade
Blade Runner
Raising Arizona (or The Big Lebowski)
Fargo
The Godfather
Se7en
Pulp Fiction
City of Lost Children

Citizen Kane is an academic pick only. If cinematography is what makes a movie great, then, sure - put in on a list.

"Groundhog Day" is on Fish's top 10 alltime-best list.

Yuck.

How about "Little Miss Sunshine"? I haven't seen anything like that since college. And Arkin won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

What, no "Holiday", nor "Bringing Up Baby"? Where's "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World"? Bullit, for it's complete refusal to have a coherant plot. The French Connection, the greatest "chase" ever filmed. And what about "Les Incroyables"?

Just saying.

Bron

I much liked Ken Tanaka's suggestion of the AFI 10 top 10. It does side-step the problem of comparing apples to oranges, etc. However, on that site (understandably given it is the American Film Institute) and in these comments there are stupendous-colossal gaps. As in, every film made outside of the US-- I do think there have been a few that are works of high art and simple generous pleasure, too.

Dave

I'm with you on Citizen Kane. The much touted photography looks like it came straight out of "Minicam Magazine" for 1938. Ugh!
(You want to see great B&W movie photography, look at much of the work done just before SOUND was introduced. The lighting and camera work was often exquisite.)

" Big Lebowski (A classic LA-noir detective story. I wanna *be* the Dude.) "

Classic ;-)

However, I like the "Raising Arizona" (1987), much better.

The Coen Brothers have made a few classics. You could have a top-10 just with their movies.

# No Country for Old Men (2007)
# O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
# The Big Lebowski (1998)
# Fargo (1996)
# Barton Fink (1991)
# Raising Arizona (1987)

What about the top box office champ of all-time? Titanic.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is right there for many different reasons, and if you have never seen Waking Ned Devine, do yourself a big favor and watch it. Lead-pipe-guarantee you won't be disappointed, doesn't matter who you are...

OK, one last comment (I promise)

Who can forget Gary Cooper in the "The Fountainhead (1949)". Love that movie.

I'm not that old, but I've watched that movie dozens of times ;-)

Groundhog Day!? I'd rather watch re-runs of The Bill, which would surely cause me to vomit blood.

Voltz

I won't bore everyone with my list - most of the films have already been mentioned anyway!
But to all you Citizen Kane -bashers...come on! It's one of the greatest films of all time for a reason.
Mike, or anyone else who doesn't get CK, I strongly urge you to rent the DVD and watch it with the Roger Ebert commentary. It's really fun and it may change the way you look at and feel about the film.
I own the DVD and watch it 2-3 times a year.
I also love Touch Of Evil.

No Shawshank Redemption? Goodbye!

I don't understand why Citizen Kane comes in for such a lambasting. In its day it was quite simpy revolutionary and a lot of cinematic techniques which we take for granted today can be traced back to that one film.

The other reason it's a great film is the way it tells its story. It's not a straight-through narrative (which puts a lot of people off) but the same story told from multiple viewpoints.

So, revolutionary camerawork, an unusual and intriguing way of structuring a plot and a great central performance - all from a director new to cinema. How can this not be a great movie?

As for my own personal top ten? Well, I couldn't possibly list just ten but Sergio Leone's 'Once Upon A Time....' movies would definitely be up there, along with a sprinkling of Kubrick, some David Lynch and most of the Cohen Brothers films.

I also felt that at least one of Raising Arizona, Fargo or the Big Lebowski should have been there.

I have to add Apocalypse Now to my list.

'10 best movies' has always seemed to be a pointlessly impossible task, and usually such lists don't say much about the movies I actually enjoy watching. I too was underwhelmed by 'Citizen Kane', and more recently I've downright hated some of the recent Best Picture winners ('Crash', 'The Departed').

I tend to seek out movies the same way I seek out music - I look for directors and actors I've liked and then watch more of their work.

So, 10 directors whose work I've really enjoyed (and not including the Kubricks, Coppolas, and Scorceses):

Robert Altman (ok, maybe a little obvious)
Cohen Brothers
Krysztof Kieslowski (Trois Couleurs trilogy is just fantastic)
Jean-Pierre Jeunet ('Amelie', 'City of Lost Children')
Sergio Leone ('Once Upon a Time in the West' is my favorite western)
Alfonso Cuaron
Richard Linklater ('Before Sunrise' and 'After Sunset')
Alejandro González Iñárritu ('Amores Perros', '21 Grams')
Paul Thomas Anderson
Michel Gondry

My all time favorite: "Wild at Heart". And I'll second anything by the Coen brothers.

In no particular order:

Singing in the Rain
Jour de Féte
Mon Oncle
Monsieur Hulot's Holiday (yes, I like Jaques Tati!)
Way Out West (Laurel and Hardy)
Duck Soup (Marx Brothers)
Jabberwocky
Modern Times (Chaplin)
North by Northwest

That's only nine. Not the best films in the world perhaps, but my favourites.

I like many other suggestions but I don't see any of these:

- American Beauty (!!!!)
- No country for old men (!!!!!)
- Raiders of the Lost Ark
- Kill Bill
- The Matrix
- The Game
- Out of Africa
- AI

1. To Kill a Mockingbird
2. Anatomy of a Murder
3. Trois Colores Red
4. Milagro Beanfield War
5. Lawrence of Arabia
6. MASH
7. The Bridge Over the River Kwai
8. Roma: Aperta Citta
9. Il Postino
10. Facing Windows

best big epic: Spartacus

(who doesn't like movies about gladiators?)

Groundhog Day? I hated that movie. Seems like my job, the same thing over and over every day.

Mine, based on the number of times I have watched them include:

Twelve O'clock High,
High Noon
Pork Chop Hill

and a few Japanese movies:

Hanabi (Fireworks)
Zatoichi
Sonachine
as well as the animated film "Spirited Away."

I posted this list on my blog on Dec 1st last year. Goodfellas, not The Godfather. And no Citizen Kane. Classics like that are great to watch once, but they don't stay on the shelf for me.
1. Seabiscuit (2003)
2. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
3. Goodfellas (1990)
4. Heat (1995)
5. The American President (1995)
6. The Matrix (1999)
7. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
8. So I Married An Axe Murderer (1993)
9. Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979)
10. 12 Monkeys (1995)

I guess it depends on the criteria for choosing your top 10. If you're judging based on story or entertainment value, then Citizen Kane is a big flop. If you consider a film's influence as part of its greatness, though, then Citizen Kane belongs at the top of any list. Many of the techniques used to create CK were revolutionary at the time, but have been employed in nearly every film made since.

Mediterraneo

Day of the Jackal (the first one, not the Bruce Willis remake)

Dr. Strangelove

I would find it very hard to come up with a top 10 list. There are so many factors that come into play. Sadly, one of the biggest is what frame of mind you were in when you first saw that film or your predisposition toward the film itself.

There are quite a few movies that give me positive vibes that most people would view as complete turkeys. Similarly, there are certain films that something rubbed me the wrong way and I cannot suppress my prejudices.

When you compound it by genre preferences, actor/actress preferences, etc. things really get difficult.

A couple of years ago I started compiling a spreadsheet of all the movies that I have seen (can remember having seen) over my life. I tried to come up with a rating system (1-10 scale, ABC scale, stars, etc). In the end I simply settled on: L - liked, O - ok, and D - disliked.

Mike
From a european angle I think Kieslowski's - Three Colours trilogy is briliant. Top 10 lists don't often have any foreign language films.

David F

Any list of all-time top ten movies that doesn't include Sir Henry at Rawlinson's End, Kind Hearts and Coronets, She Knows What She Wants or Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot is clearly wrong.

I don't remember where I last saw this (here - TOP, Lum.-Lan., Flickr, etc.) but there was a stream of suggestions of best films for photographers (visual candy). Though this is off topic, it would be interesting to hear the suggestions of TOP regulars.

The last list I saw included: "Barry Lyndon", "Indochine", "The Third Man", "Days of Heaven", Kirosawa's "Dreams", etc.

I'm curious what Mike (our host), Ctein, Ken T., etc. would suggest.

(Again, if it was done before here on TOP, please don't let this post through.)

Thanks.

Jeff

I'd have to substitute favorites for best; I only know what I like :)

My list varies based on what I've seen recently and what I can remember that I've seen. Mostly I've seen kids movies in the last 6 year. Two movies that I never forget to have on my list are:
Schindlers List
The Nightmare Before Christmas

Movies whose soundtracks I like tend to stick with me.

Some movies I loved at the time but might not enjoy so much now, such as the first Indiana Jones.

Going by AFI's genres:

Animated films - I liked Monsters Inc a lot; loved Ice Age, and recently Wall E but have to let that one settle before I know if it has long term appeal.

Romantic Comedy - nothing comes to mind. Ditto western, sports, mystery.

Fantasy: Lord of the Rings Fellowship - the movies deterioriated (they got drippy & started to resemble NBC's coverage of the Olympics but the first movie was good and the whole series was still a fun experience to watch)

SciFi - The original Star Wars series was great in its day; I rewatched A New Hope recently and gosh, is it awful :) But watching it when it first came out ranks up there.

The Last Samurai with Tom Cruise was very good (and I'd normally write off anything with Tom Cruise as a "top" contender).

The Shawshank Redemption was a favorite.

Maybe Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder, not Depp)

Kind of a lame list - I should start a real list so that when I occasionally remember a really good movie I've seen, I can write it down.

Wow.
Lots of good picks.
Some more (some of my favorites):

A trilogy of films: Blue White Red (exspecially "Blue").
Bladerunner
Miller's Crossing (my favorite "gangster" movie)
Lion in Winter (the original)
Wings of Desire
Until the End of the World
Bulworth
Barton Fink
Lord of the Rings
1984 (1984 version)
Stop Making Sense
Manhattan
Titus
Brazil
Dune (Lynch version)
Mr Smith Goes to Washington
Kill Bill (the first one)
Thin Red Line
The New World
Tin Drum
At Play in the Fields of the Lord
The Mission
Dead Man
Contact
The Egyptian
The Last Temptation of Christ
Glory
Young Frankenstein
Six String Samurai
Dracula (Coppola)
Frankenstein (Coppola)
Godfather (#1)
Apochalypse Now
Full Metal Jacket
Magnolia
Bride
The Fearless Vampire Killers
All of Krubrick's work

"OK, one last comment (I promise)

Who can forget Gary Cooper in the "The Fountainhead (1949)". Love that movie."

Yeah. there are so many "good movies". It is hard to rember them all, specially the older ones.
His Girl Friday, Have and Have Not, Key Largo, My Man Godfrey...."

These lists are certainly great conversation pieces. The best ones I ever read are those put together every 10 years, if I remember well, by Sight and Sound, the British Film Institute Magazine. (It's on the web: http://www.bfi.org.uk/sightandsound/topten/ ) They conduct two simultaneous polls, one among film critics, the other among active film directors. And the results are always entertaining. Something similar could be done with photographers: a list by curators, art critics, historians, etc. compared with a list drawn by working photographers...
Citizen Kane, IMHO is a victim of overexposure. I think it's still a great film and a portentous achievement for a first time director. On the other hand, there are other films, specially comedies, that will never ever the recognition they deserve. Yesterday I saw for the umpteenth time As good as it gets (James L. Brooks, 1997) wich I think is a masterpiece that surpasses almost any classic film comedy. The way it's done is so good it's intimidating: Acting, lighting, framing, writing, art direction, everything cliks.
I don't know if Americans, even filmakers and industryites realise what they have given to the world. Something to be proud of, a whole art form, entertaining and estimulating. Robin Wood, a great Brit critic, used to write that Hollywood was like the Elizabethian theatre, a peculiar system that birthed geniuses like Shakespeare. The only flaw I would point to to it's the underrepresentation of the working classes, and the other side of the coin, the overrepresentation of the idyllic American small town, probable a form of life that probably, like dinosaurs, only live in the movies.
If you want to test your film addiction you can go to http://plutor.org/filmaddict/?f=52ca8ioq
Now that's a list!

Some good films in the comments (along with a few stinkers).
I don't think I could narrow it down to ten - just too many films I like - but any list without "A Matter of Life and Death" is to my mind incomplete.

"What about the top box office champ of all-time? Titanic."

I cannot resist. My one line review after seeing it.

Despite a valiant effort by cast and crew, it went down with the script.

2046.

I've preferred TV shows to movies. Here are my English speaking favourites:

- Brideshead Revisted (the best)
- Lonesome Dove (better than any Western movie)
- A Touch of Frost
- Prime Suspect
- Blackadder
- Only Fools and Horses
- Fraser

It wasn't stated, but essentially all of this discussion is about everybody's 10 best AMERICAN films (the AFI does make this clear). Renoir, Kurosawa, Fellini, Godard, Truffaut and countless British and Indian contributions disprove the assumption that all cinema is based on Hollywood originals. In fact for about a dozen years, Hollywood imitated Kurosawa (Star Wars, the spaghetti westerns, Magnificent Seven, even A Bug's Life...). As an experiment, I counted our collection of about DVD's, about 85, just the grownup ones. A little over half are not American. Makes me think I am missing some things, as the ratio properly ought to be 1/3 American to 2/3 rest of the world.

scott

"It wasn't stated, but essentially all of this discussion is about everybody's 10 best AMERICAN films (the AFI does make this clear)."

Scott,
Not true--my own list contains films by a Brit (Nicholas Roeg), a Japanese (Kurosawa), a Spaniard (Bunuel), a naturalized Czech (Milos Foreman, who directed "Cuckoo's Nest"), a South African, and two German films. I suppose this means I'm bigoted against the French--?

You can't blame people for the fact that the U.S. produces more films than any other country, or that American films are generally the best known to many English speakers.

Mike J.

Actually much of my favorite watching these days are TV shows. In the past decade or two, some great stuff has been made.

Dead Like Me
Black Books (UK)
The League of Gentlemen (UK)
Wonderfalls
Buffy
Friends

top ten movies for kewl kids (in no particular order):

solyaris
paris, texas
a woman under the influence
picnic at hanging rock
persona
high and low
aguirre
le samourai
das boot
chungking express

"I probably see the same number of movies in a year now as I used to watch in a week."

Other way around for me, almost. These days I have time and money, and DVDs.

Goodfellas and Godfather are both wide revered. Funny enough neither could really keep my attention. And it's not because of the genre, because I love the Sopranos.
Maybe that's because the Sopranos has a lot of underlying humor. Humor is essential to me. I watched Fried Green Tomatoes recently, and though I'd thought it would be totally "chick flick" I quite liked it, and I think it was because it had a lot of that underlying humor.

A couple of random faves:
Postcards From The Edge.
The Fearless Vampire Killers.
Pulp Fiction.
Office Space.
Grosse Point Blank.

Funny to see how many lists are composed of Hollywood films from the last 15 years. Open your eyes, folks. Also, anyone who listed 'Glengarry Glen Ross' (great film) should try & see the documentary 'Salesman' by the Maysles brothers. Made in the mid 60s it covers a group of door to door bible salesman & several of the characters & situations are directly 'referenced' by David Mamet. Also, anyone who listed '12 Monkeys' (awful film) should see 'La Jetee' by Chris Marker. It's a short art film from the 60s & the Hollywood clunker was a sad attempt at remaking it on a large scale.

I like everything from art movies to comedy & exploitation. As long as the movie is doing something that only movies can do then I will probably like it. Off the top of my head:
'Sweet Smell of Success' 1950s USA literary noir
'Bande A Part' probably Jean Luc Godard's most fun & accessible film. France, early 60s
'Taxi Driver' definitely Scorsese's best film
'Pickpocket' Robert Bresson, France 1960 a moody story on the same theme as Crime & Punishment. Thrilling pickpocketing scenes.
'Clockwork Orange'
'Revenge of the Nerds' because it's really funny
'Just For the Hell of It' crazy exploitation film by Herschell Gordon Lewis about teens on a rampage. mid 60s.
'Modern Times' Chaplin.
'Seven Samurai' Kurosawa
'Pierrot le Fou' beautiful colour film from around '65 by Jean Luc Godard. Even if you think the story is boring (which it's not) you can enjoy gazing at the beauty of Anna Karina.

Mike, the title of Bunuel's film might better be translated as _That Dark Object of Desire_.

And if we're talking about Jamie Uys, I think an earlier film is maybe even more interesting than _Gods_ - _Animals are Beautiful People_. Yes, it's very much dated and quite corny in places, but man, most of those scenes were breathtaking when I saw it as a kid and they were still breathtaking when I saw them again last year. I didn't feel a second's need to move to something else.

In contrast, _Seven Samurai_ was excellent when I saw it for the first time but so overlong and stretched when I watched it a couple of years ago. Not that _The Magnificent Seven_ fares much better.

Actually, most of the older films are too slow for me now. Of course, that's just me...

Okay. Have to weigh in... the Fish list STINKS!!! It just stinks... And the AFI list loses simply on including Titanic, which really was an awful, awful film. But back to Fish... isn't he a lit-crit guy? And aren't we in a recession here? Wouldn't his column space be better spent on, say, discussing how American writers responded to economic difficulties, ie the depression? He could even talk about the response in films (Sullivan's Travels), though I don't think he is very good in that realm. Better stick to books. At least it's better than another of his discussions of the intellectual politics of higher-ed. (!)

Anyway, I'd love to give a top ten list, but I won't. It actually changed this year, as I'd have to add WALL-E! And I'd like to give Mike a shout for including the Seven Samurai.

First, I'd like to address a couple of comments. For the Coen Brothers list, you'd have to include Blood Simple, which is easily as good as Raising Arizona. Second, the Best Directors list would have to include Kurosawa. You can't go anywhere without that guy. 100 movies? Ikiru alone?????!!!!!

For the films for photographers list, I think there's so much. Speaking of Ikiru... there's this scene where he's looking over the place where the park is going to be... oh man!

Okay. Now here's the thing... I have a proposal, totally tangential. Going back to Fish... since we are looking at a nasty economic spell, couldn't he be better using his space to encourage the creation of something like the federal writer's program that existed in the 30's? Or perhaps something like the FSA documentary photography project? Now that would be an interesting discussion on TOP... would something like the FSA even work now? What would be the 'F' today... certainly we wouldn't be taking pictures of rural life, at least not exclusively, and maybe we wouldn't be taking pictures at all... perhaps video? But regardless of the media involved, is there a place for some kind of project like this in the upcoming economic stimulus programs? What would the subject(s) be? And how would still photography play a role?

In short order I came up with a list of twenty one movies that I've seen that would deem certification for my top ten list. It took a little longer to pare it down to ten. As you can see my choices cover more than a ten year period of my youth.

Top 10 Favorite Movies
1.) The Best Years of our Lives (1946 William Wyler)
2.) Dr Strangelove or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964 Stanley Kubrick)
3.) The Birth of a Nation (1915 D.W. Griffith)
4.) Lawrence of Arabia (1962 David Lean)
5.) The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957 David Lean)
6.) The Deer Hunter (1978 Michael Cimino)
7.) Shane (1953 George Stevens)
8.) Network (1976 Sidney Lumet)
9.) Local Hero (1983 Bill Forsyth)
10.) Jackie Brown (1997 Quentin Tarantino)

Runners up in no particular order:
Blackhawk Down (2001 Ridley Scott)
American Beauty (1999 Sam Mendes)
The Ox Bow Incident (1943 William Wellman)
High Noon (1952 Fred Zinnemann)
The Professionals (1966 Richard Brooks)
GodFather Part II (1974 Francis Ford Coppola)
The Searchers (1956 John Ford)
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962 Robert Mulligan)
In the Heat of the Night (1967 Norman Jewison)
Bite the Bullet (1975 Richard Brooks)
Ride the High Country (1962 Sam Peckinpah)


No Photographers movie list can be complete without the addition of Ron Frike's masterpiece Baraka. If you haven't seen this stop what you are doing and see it now. If you have the luxury of Blu-ray then the new 8k remaster is stunning but on any screen it is powerful. Coincidentally I had known about the movie for a while but never watched it till I saw it on a top ten list of movies for photographers

My criteria is fairly simple - for a movie to be great it needs to be something I can't get out of my head for days after watching it, and I need to be willing to watch it again (in general I dislike watching a movie more then once). I also tend to appreciate good cinematography.

American Beauty
Natural Born Killers
Apocalypse Now
The Shining
Taxi Driver
Star Wars
The Exorcist
Requiem for a Dream
The Haunting of Hill House (1963 original)
The Usual Suspects

CK Dexter Haven needs to "fess" up, as I believe he is a charactor in The Philadelphi Story; good movie, though Bringing Up Baby is more fun.

Bron

My rebuttal to both Fish's list and this blog entry is at the Theatre of Noise as the post Seventy Films. Here are some essential films so far unmentioned:

Un Chien Andalou
I Walked With a Zombie
Meshes of the Afternoon
L'Année Dernière à Marienbad
La Jetée
Petulia
The Hart of London
Spirit of the Beehive
3 Women
Koyaaniskatsi
Videodrome
Hard Boiled
La Double Vie de Véronique
The Sweet Hereafter
The Kingdom
Gamera: Revenge of Iris
16 Years of Alcohol
Omagh

I think Citizen Kane gets on the lists in the same way William Eggleston gets so much praise for his colour work, or Stieglitz gets praise for bringing in 'modern' composition with images like The Steerage.

Citizen Kane was perhaps ground breaking at the time, changing the way the camera was used, introducing most of the modern approaches to working with lenses and composition for film making.

Being first maybe matters and is certainly dramatic at the time, but often doesn't mean you'll be the best with hindsight. Still significant, but not best, just the first.

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