Wednesday, May 25, 2005

100 vs. 100

Click over here for Time Magazine's recently published list of the greatest 100 movies ever made. Richard Schickel and Richard Corliss, who split the film-reviewing duties at Time, composed the list in tandem, even though it seems they don't always agree about each other's picks. It's kind of an interesting list, about 50% films that are always on these lists, 30% unique inclusions that still make their own case, and 20% novelties. Obviously, responses to a list like this are just as subjective as the list itself, maybe more so; my own ranked canon of 100 films is here if you wanna know. That's my standing, full-length response to rosters like Time, but to keep on the ground they've established, here's what I think about some (okay, many) of their choices:

PERFECT TASTE
Aguirre, the Wrath of God, Camille, Casablanca, Chinatown, Citizen Kane, City Lights, Double Indemnity, Dr. Strangelove, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, , The Fly, The 400 Blows, The Godfather I and II, His Girl Friday, King Kong, The Lady Eve, Man with a Movie Camera, Metropolis, Notorious, Persona, Pinocchio, Psycho, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Raging Bull, Singin' in the Rain, Smiles of a Summer Night, Some Like It Hot, Star Wars, A Streetcar Named Desire, Sunrise, Talk to Her, Taxi Driver

SKEPTICAL ADMIRATION
(These are fun, spunky choices, but I wonder...)
Barry Lyndon - Gorgeous, but few people's favorite Kubrick
Chungking Express - Wong's deserving, but is this the film?
Closely Watched Trains - Delicate and memorable, but unexpected
Farewell My Concubine - Opulent and biting, but a tad remote
Kandahar - Hugely intriguing, but manifestly flawed
The Last Command - Great film, but the best of Sternberg?
Mouchette - Great film, but the best of Bresson?

J'ACCUSE!
(I've seen it, but I'm not seeing "it")
Brazil - Beyond the ingenious art direction, I'm mostly unmoved
Bride of Frankenstein - Some of the camp plays to me as clunk
Charade - Perfectly titled: a lazy, hollow coo over its stars
City of God - Gripping and important, but has its own problems
Detour - Sometimes overheated B-grade pulp is just that
Finding Nemo - Truly perverse to choose over the Toy Storys
A Hard Day's Night - A key work in a quickly exhausted aesthetic
It's a Wonderful Life - No Mr. Smith or It Happened One Night
The Lord of the Rings - Zeitgeist much? Too early, and too uneven
Miller's Crossing - Deserves another try, but I wasn't hooked
Sweet Smell of Success - The milieu was great, but the story let me down
Umberto D. - A major gaffe of mawkish Italian self-romanticization
Unforgiven - A good but tautological film, perpetually overrated

MEA CULPA
(Now I have another reason to catch these)
The Apu Trilogy - I've only seen the sublime Pather Panchali
Baby Face - News to me, though I love Stanwyck
Berlin Alexanderplatz - Who's got ten hours free?
Children of Paradise - At four hours, a relative finger-snap
The Crime of Monsieur Lange - The favorite of a good friend
The Crowd - A truly shameful omission
Day for Night - Widely reputed as a cinéaste's treat
The Decalogue - The first insallments didn't convert me
Dodsworth - Nat loves this
Drunken Master II - A long-deferred pleasure
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly - Why can't I get excited?
Ikiru - That's one Kurosawa I haven't seen...
In a Lonely Place - The buzz all says it's my speed
Invasion of the Body Snatchers - Looking forward to this
It's a Gift - Promise me that W.C. isn't annoying
Kind Hearts and Coronets - I'm bad with British film
Léolo - On a to-see list I made in 1998!
Mon oncle d'Amérique - Resnais fascinates me
Nayakan - My ignorance about Indian film is appalling
Ninotchka - Garbo + Lubitsch = What's not to love?
Olympia - Not ones to shrink from a controversy, these two
Once Upon a Time in the West - My students often beat me to this
Out of the Past - These two sure love their noir
Pyaasa - Can't say I'd heard of it till now
The Searchers - Literally sitting on top of my TV
The Singing Detective - I miss a lot of TV series, even on DVD
Tokyo Story - I know, I know...
A Touch of Zen - Never heard of this one, either
Ugetsu - Never seen a Mizoguchi; just shoot me
Ulysses' Gaze - I've had it on tape for years
White Heat - Cagney's is billed as one of the greatest perf's
Yojimbo - Kurosawa just isn't my bag, but I'll try

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10 Comments:

Anonymous Luke said...

I don't know if you know this Nick but Barry Lyndon is *my* favorite Kubrick film, and the favorite of more than you might think. My feelings for this film I think may rival yours for The Piano.

11:31 AM, May 25, 2005  
Blogger Nick Davis said...

Glad to hear it. I haven't seen Barry Lyndon since a beaut 35mm projection I caught in Boston in '98, and I've been eager to get back to it some day. (What I should really do is do a whole Kubrick immersion, since there are key films like The Killing and Lolita I haven't seen even once.)

Anyway, no aspersion cast on Barry Lyndon—it's just not usually the Kubrick film that pops up on lists like this. (2001, for example, is missing in its stead.) I'm excited by the pick, even though I'm not sure I'd make the same one—just as I think Chungking Express is a great selection, even though I *might* have gone for Happy Together, and many others would spring for In the Mood for Love.

2:26 PM, May 25, 2005  
Blogger David Shultz said...

I've recently made a list of about 75 of the greatest films I've ever seen, with the last 12 or so being choices that won't be on there once I see more of "the classics." For my Wong Kar-Wai choice I placed Happy Together high on the list and In the Mood for Love. Though I'm only 16, in my short life his is of the most unique cinematic voices in modern day.

I wonder where L'Avventura is on this list, or La Dolce Vita for that matter. I'm also surprised (well, I guess not that surprised) that The Thin Red Line never places on greatest 100 lists. Red Line is one of the most underappreciated films in history. Would you agree?

3:04 PM, May 25, 2005  
Blogger Nick Davis said...

David, you wrote me earlier about Happy Together, and I realize now that I never got back to you - please accept my apologies. I'll be less scatterbrained in 26 days, I promise!

As far as The Thin Red Line goes, you are a man after my own heart. I think that film is still the best American movie in the last 10 years (i.e., since Safe), and I'm building a whole course around it when I teach this coming fall. Here is my review, if you're interested.

And I'm so glad to have 16-year-old cinephiles visitnig the site! I was 16 when I saw The Piano, which as Luke knows was my big turning point. Anyway, keep coming back... and feel free to link to your list of 75, if you've got it on-line anywhere.

3:15 PM, May 25, 2005  
Anonymous goatdog said...

The Thin Red Line was very nearly awful.

I love these lists, even though I think including trilogies as a single film is cheating. I especially like the oddball picks (The Fly?); even if they wouldn't be anywhere near my top 100, I like to see evidence of personal eccentricity. It was oddball picks on top 100 lists that brought me to your site in the first place. Here's my list. (Note the presence of four of your "j'accuse!" films.) I've missed 19 of your "mea culpa" films. I think I'm going to have to do a blog entry on this now.

2:43 PM, May 26, 2005  
Blogger Nick Davis said...

Down, Goatdog - no barking at The Thin Red Line! Just kidding, of course—I'll look forward to your longer post. (Everyone can reach Goatdog's blog via my sidebar.)

For now: you can advocate for any of my "J'Accuse" films you want, as long as they aren't Charade or Umberto D. (And as I look at your list, they aren't; close call.) And really, we only disagree 3½ times, since I'm much more enthusiastic about The Fellowship of the Ring than about the other LOTR installments.

As for "oddball picks," you're right that there can never be enough of those, and in your own list, I'm especially appreciative of Y tu mamá también, Boyz N the Hood (also an "oddball pick" on mine), Paradise Lost, and the immortal Suddenly, Last Summer. We can swap "J'Accuse"s later, though I already know you drew the line at my Apocalypse Now/Redux double-bill. :)

3:19 PM, May 26, 2005  
Blogger David Shultz said...

In all of my list making and movie-reviewing, etc., I'm terribly sad to say that though Y Tu Mama Tambien was my favorite film of 2002, I have parents who would slaughter me if they found any sign that I had seen it. This pains me, as I'd love to analyze it openly and discuss it, express my love for it. But alas, they're too uptight for that sort of thing.

11:45 PM, May 26, 2005  
Blogger Nick Davis said...

(As Goatdog's unofficial ambassador, I'm offering a link to his own response to Time's list. A good read, as per usual with him.)

1:08 AM, May 29, 2005  
Blogger jeff_v said...

So did you see The Searchers yet, Nick? Curious to read your thoughts...

You've got some great stuff ahead of you on your Mea Culpa list. What I wouldn't give to experience Children of Paradise, In a Lonely Place, Out of the Past, The Singing Detective, etc., for the first time again.

And seeing Umberto D. was one of the most profoundly moving experiences I've ever had at the movies --to each his own.

1:48 PM, June 09, 2005  
Blogger Nick Davis said...

Won't hit The Searchers, or anything, till the dissertation is in, but I'm TA'ing a class this summer where we're teaching the film, so it's bound to happen soon.

Thanks for swinging by, Jeff!

1:58 PM, June 09, 2005  

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