Monday, May 23, 2005

And the Lists Go On

Last week I complained about the Discovery Channel’s foolish list of the 100 Greatest Americans of all time. Now the critics at Time Magazine have come up with a slightly less moronic list of 100 greatest movies of all time. Now, before I tear into them, allow me to say that Time got a thing or two right: Double Indemnity, Casablanca, On the Waterfront, The Godfather (parts I and II), His Girl Friday, Psycho, and Talk to Her all rightfully made it onto the list.

I also agreed with some of their more surprising selections such as: the Purple Rose of Cairo, Kind Hearts and Coronets and City of God.

But many of the choices were exceedingly strange. Barry Lyndon is a snooze fest and E.T. is one of the most dreadful movies of all time. I had fond memories of E.T. from my childhood, so I rented it about a year ago and was rendered comatose by the sheer volume of treacle I was force fed through the movie’s flickering images.

The 1933 King Kong was on the list. The movie was Hitler’s favorite. Many people think that this is because he identified with the gigantic gorilla, but I suspect he actually enjoyed the thought of all the suffering this dreadful movie would inflict on its audiences. He no doubt hoped that many of the world’s "Juden" would see it. King Kong may have been a big deal in its day, but the movie is unwatchable now. No matter how bad the forthcoming version by Peter Jackson is, it will be better than the original.

One odd aspect of the list is that many of its movies are not even the best films of the people who made them. For example, Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo and Ikiru are on the list, and while they are both wonderful, neither of them is as good as The Seven Samurai.

Furthermore if you have to have a movie by Preston Sturges on the list, why do you choose The Lady Eve? Though the movie has an entertaining supporting cast, its two leads (Henry Fonda and Barbara Stanwyck) are absolutely unlikeable, and the love story preposterous. Sullivan’s Travels would have been a better choice.

And if you have to have an Ernst Lubitsch movie, why do you choose The Shop Around the Corner and Ninotchka instead of the much better To be or Not To Be?

From the output of the Cohen brothers they chose Miller’s Crossing, and while I love the movie, it seems to me that Fargo and The Big Lebowski are both much better, and yet neither made the list.

Time selected a few westerns and The Searchers is one of them. I guess they wanted to give John Wayne his due but they could have picked a better movie. Rio Bravo seems like the obvious choice to me.

Some of the choices are just silly. Are they kidding with A Hard Day’s Night, Finding Nemo, Chungking Express, Out of the Past and Meet Me in Saint Louis?

My list would have included Die Hard, L.A. Confidential, Groundhog Day, The Third Man, No Man’s Land, The Seven Samurai, Sunset Boulevard, My Fair Lady, Adaptation, Fargo, The Big Lebowski, The Killing, The Maltese Falcon, M, Shawshank Redemption, Waiting for Guffman and Bottle Rocket, just to name a few. If you disagree with any of these you are just plain wrong!

(I know TomAy is something of a film junkie and I’d particularly like to know what he’d have on his list.)

TommAy: thanks for the invite, Noay. Yes, lists always seem to find their way to become "damn shitty lists". But at least this movie list from Time didn't try to rank them, which is the key ingredient that can transform any list into "certifiable dogshit". Do you remember AFI's 100 best film rankings? Citizen Cane the top movie of all time? Wtf. These film-philes obviously have something else in mind from the rest of us when they're compiling these lists. And to choose Miller's Crossing to represent the Coens rather than Fargo or Lebowski, and to include Barry Lyndon as one of the two Kubrick flicks to make the list? And Goodfellas (to this day I still don't see its appeal)? And Wings of Desire? Yeah, this makes me wonder if they're not out to prove something, because this list is quite a bit different from any other top 100 list I've seen out there. Also, this list from Time was compiled by only two movie critics; hardly a good sampling. But my biggest complaint: no Apocalype Now? Now that's the only movie that I, personally, have ever been able to call the best movie of all time and space. They just don't make movies like that anymore, and they never will again. But enough of my backtalking jive talk. Here's part of my list, which consists of my "great" films and my "awesome" films, because it's all the same to me:
Apocalypse Now, 2001, Paths of Glory, Once upon a time in Mexico, Total Recall, Straight Story, Lebowski, The Ring, Hero, every Seagal film before 1995, Harold and Maude, most of Eastwood's spaghetti westerns, In the name of the Father, The Professional, Kill Bill vol. 2, Empire strikes back, Thin Red Line, Days of Heaven, Team America, Ong Bak, Matewan, Men with Guns, Pump up the volume, Heathers, Matrix (not the trilogy), Gladiator.

PS In paricular, any list on VH1 is terrible. Their top 40 most metal moments SUCKED, as did their top 100 greatest hard rock artists, which was an abomination. Example: Cheap Trick better than Alice in Chains? Sonic Youth better than Ratt? Lita Ford better than Yes!!???Soundgarden the #14 greatest hard rock band? It's needless to say that I was livid at those fucking scrawny music geeks from Rolling Stone magazine that put these lists together, and who are also commentators that try to comment (i.e. try to be funny, BUT FAIL) on these shows as well. Just terrible!

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