Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Alphabet Meme

The rules for this blog meme, as already performed by Goatdog and Self-Styled Siren, were so simple that I somehow didn't get them at first. It seemed too easy, but then Goatdog said it was hard, and now I see why it was hard: you want to give the list some flavor. Which he certainly did: I talk to him all the time about movies, and I still don't think I've ever heard him mention two-thirds of those movies, several of which were completely new to me. So, within the rules, thusly paraphrased...

1. Pick one film to represent each letter of the alphabet.
2. Obviously, articles like "A" and "The" do not count.
3. Use the original title endowed by the film's creator.
4. [Never mind, 'cause I'm steering clear of numerals]
5. Link back to Blog Cabins to make him King of Google.
6. If you're selected, you have to then select 5 more people.

...I decided to add the extra codicil of picking movies that I personally cherish or admire tremendously but that I never seem to discuss much on this site. Some of them have been hanging silently on my Top 100 List for a while now, some are still awaiting top-tier entries on the Favorites Countdown, and some I just love. No Pianos and no Morverns. Fresh blood. Darlings you don't know about. The titles are all IMDb links. Rent them. If you're feeling up to it, post your own list. (Re: Rule #6, since I wasn't explicitly tagged, I'm not explicitly tagging.)

    One of those Sirks no one watches, but Stanwyck surpasses herself

    Derisive toward its own plot, but what images, and what outfits

    A perfect suspense thriller, maybe my fave of the 70s "political" films

    The movie I'd want to end any "History of Cinema" course with

    Just re-watched it to give a talk this week; so stirring and creative

(Fox and His Friends)
    Fassbinder was never so likeable until he played an utter sadsack

    A perfect hip-hop movie, and a high-point in screen existentialism

(Late Marriage)
    Forget Jim Cameron; when will we finally get more Dover Kosashvili?

    A Chaplin short that's as rich and hilarious as most of his features

(Diary of a Country Priest)
    Evokes a devout Christian sensibility in a profoundly moving way

    May be Soderbergh's most perfectly realized movie; why no DVD?

(Bicycle Thieves)
    One of those rare world classics you can safely recommend to anyone

    Every film Ph.D. has seen this a zillion times, but I'm always up for it

(The Ballad of Narayama)
    Keep your Kurosawas; I like my Japanese cinema folksy and erotic

    Not as fully integrated as Woman Under..., but a fascinating mess

    You know I love Piano and Portrait, but every Campion "P" is a winner

    One of those negligible Hepburn movies you love if you love Hepburn

(The Green Ray)
    An astonishingly full character, plus the best last shot in movies

(The Quince Tree Sun, aka Dream of Light)
    I guess I already huzzahed this one here; when do we get a DVD?

    A devastating political allegory, witty and brilliantly abstracted

    Just saw this in England; a static dramedy that creeps up on you

    If Bresson captures the delicacy of religion, Buñuel nails its perversity

    Because my grandmother's adoration of it passed so completely onto me

    Why can't I ever get anyone to come over and watch some Sembene?

    Cinema as hearth; one of my two or three most reliable comfort movies

    I know, I know, I have got to finish that Best of '07 feature...



Blogger goatdog said...

You've never asked me to come over and watch some Sembene.

11:59 AM, November 18, 2008  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

And why haven't I? No good reason. Goatdog, you want to come over and watch some Sembene sometime?

12:08 PM, November 18, 2008  
Blogger goatdog said...

...and I just remembered why: exactly how many Oscar nominations have his films received?

But that doesn't have to be the extent of our film-watching relationship. I can branch out. I can change.

12:40 PM, November 18, 2008  
Blogger Guy Lodge said...

Damn this post -- I swore I wouldn't take the bait, but then I kept mentally running through the alphabet all of yesterday, and felt I'd better get it out of my system. (It's amazing how competitive certain letters get -- "L" was a heated fight.)

Not all these films are necessarily in the top rank of my favourites, but they're all special to me for one reason or another, which is surely why they came to mind before others did:

ANGEL HEART: Because I've been thinking a lot about Mickey Rourke lately, and he's such a movie star in this.

BOY NAMED CHARLIE BROWN, A: Because every time I have the flu, I have to curl up with a duvet and watch this.

CRIA CUERVOS (Raise Ravens): Because, more than any other film, it understands just what weird, complicated creatures kids are.

DARK PASSAGE: Because, while I suspect it's not very good, I caught it on TNT one wet afternoon when I was seven, and was entranced. I don't want to see it again and break the spell.

ESPIRITU DE LA COLMENA, EL (The Spirit of the Beehive): Because there's nothing wrong with having two Ana Torrent films on a list. Oh, and it's perfection.

FRIED GREEN TOMATOES: Because it makes my brother cry every single time he watches it. (Particularly early on, when Chris O'Donnell dies. Who knew he could summon such feeling?)

GOOD GIRL, THE: Because I'll keep lobbying for this one until the Academy gives Jennifer Aniston a deferred Oscar nomination for it.

HAPPY-GO-LUCKY: Because I had tea with Sally Hawkins yesterday and, in the words of the Osmonds, I think I love her.

THE INNOCENTS: Because of that lullaby: "We lay, my love and I, beneath the weeping willow." Chills.

JU DOU: Because of those colours.

THE KILLERS: Because it's so very, very, very sexy, whoever you're looking at on screen.

LANTANA: Because I'm starting to wonder if this might be the greatest film of the decade so far.

MON ONCLE: Because it reduced my parents to two soggy, pitiful heap of laughter when we saw it many years ago, and I'm bringing the DVD for Christmas.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK: Because not enough people understand quite how brilliant this is. And because the production design would be reason enough.

ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST: Because I recently saw the restoration at the London Film Festival and fell in love anew. I wish more westerns had such an equal interest in faces AND landscapes.

PALJAS: Because of its (and my) heritage. South African cinema is rarely this warm and issue-free... I wish more people could see it.

QUEEN OF HEARTS: Because there's a giddiness here that Brit working-class cinema too often shies away from.

RED SHOES, THE: Because it's beautiful. Sometimes things are that simple.

STRATEGIA DEL RAGNO (The Spider's Stratagem): Because I feel that there is so much more to discover in the narrative, but I keep getting lost in the atmosphere.

THIN RED LINE, THE: Because it's one of the few war films that truly makes me feel something, rather than making me feel like I'm supposed to feel something.

UNDER THE SAND: Because older women are endlessly interesting, and nobody understands that better than the French.

VIE DEVANT SOI, LA (Madame Rosa): Ditto. (Are there really any greater actresses than Simone Signoret?)

WITCHES, THE: Because when I saw it, Roald Dahl's book was my favourite of all time, and I was sceptical that this could measure up. And then Anjelica Huston kind of took my seven year-old breath away.

XALA: Because a) there's not much with X, is there? And b) it's THE great African film. Nick, I'll happily watch Sembene with you, if you don't mind.

YES: Because of the sheer ridiculous gutsiness of it all.

ZOOLANDER: Because I'm afraid someone has only to cheerily say "Orange Mocha Frappuccino!" to me, and I lose it.

Well, that was productive. I think that's more than enough work for the day... I'm off to the park.

7:12 AM, November 19, 2008  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Goatdog: Well, it occurred to me that this is the problem, but I wasn't going to call us out so publicly. I'm not sure I want people knowing that we are a little nuts about the Oscars?

@Guy: I feel I must warn you that you just picked a fight with Nathaniel with the Good Girl thing. I'll mediate, but it could get testy.

I am so with you on New York, New York, I can't even say, and I am once again prompted to hunt down a copy of the oddly elusive Spider's Stratagem.

10:27 AM, November 19, 2008  
Blogger Guy Lodge said...

Oh dear. That said, it wouldn't be the first time I've fought on The Aniston's behalf.

Not that long ago I had a conversation with a friend which turned very ugly when we began debating which member of the "Friends" cast did the best work on the show. (I think you can guess my stance.)

We're still friends, but he's looked down on me ever since.

12:37 PM, November 19, 2008  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

The safest answer to that question is always "Marcel."

12:49 PM, November 19, 2008  
Blogger Dame James said...

I would go so far as to say that The Immigrant is easily Chaplin's best short and the only one (besides Kid Auto Races at Venice) that I've seen that transcends the usual "Keystone formula" that most of his shorts follow.

Random question: Should we be expecting a 1929-30 Best Actress profile in the near future since you've just watched the two Garbo vehicles and The Trespasser?

6:01 PM, November 19, 2008  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@DJH: Sharp eye! I was semi-burying the lead on The Trespasser so that I can unveil that Best Actress installment; I've just gotta revisit The Divorc&#233e, and I'll be done. It's become something of a horse-race for the win (as far as my own preferences), but I'll have more to say about that soon enough...

6:25 PM, November 19, 2008  
Blogger NATHANIEL R said...

HURRY UP (re: the best actress thing)

also. thank you thank you for the Kosashvili plea. seriously what is that about. I love LATE MARRIAGE so much

6:44 AM, November 25, 2008  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

Totally. (Re: hurrying up.) But I have run into a problem. Every perf is worse the second time around, and no one deserves to win. We are headed for a 2005 situation. And I haven't seen the Academy rejects that are bound to improve the experience. And yes, we are talking about Louise Brooks.

But soon! Faster than Dover puts out his next movie, I'll tell you that.

2:09 PM, November 25, 2008  

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