Thursday, April 27, 2006

At The Movies: Parte Dos

A little less than a year ago, I wrote a post about influential films and how their "greatness" often escaped me. I feel pretty much the same way now as then, although I would argue I've become both more open minded and slightly better at interpreting symbolism, hidden meaning, and nuance (emphasis on the word "slightly.") There's still a long way to go, however. I'm still the recipient of loud gasps from friends. I've heard, "Oh my God. You've never seen '_____'?" more times than I care to remember. I've still got the old Netflix account and am regularly adding classics to the queue so that one day, I too can be considered a film buff. But... man, is this a time consuming process.

Allow me to (yet again) rip a page out of Yesterday, the site made reference to a list posted on Roger Ebert's website by film critic Jim Emerson. Titled 'The 102 Movies You Must See Before...' it lists those films that "you just kind of figure everybody ought to have seen in order to have any sort of informed discussion about movies. They're the common cultural currency of our time, the basic cinematic texts that everyone should know, at minimum, to be somewhat 'movie-literate.'"

Seems innocent enough, don't it? I mean, if everyone should have seen these films, the list can't be too intimidating, right? Nay, it most certainly can be. See for yourself.

The list in question (in alphabetical order, with asterisks next to those films that I've seen):
You can look them up on if you're unfamiliar with any of them

2001: A Space Odyssey
The 400 Blows
8 1/2
Aguirre, the Wrath of God
* Alien
All About Eve
Annie Hall
* Apocalypse Now
* Bambi
* The Battleship Potemkin
The Best Years of Our Lives
The Big Red One
The Bicycle Thief
The Big Sleep
* Blade Runner
* Blue Velvet
Bonnie and Clyde
Bringing Up Baby
* Casablanca
Un Chien Andalou
Children of Paradise / Les Enfants du Paradis
* Chinatown
* Citizen Kane
A Clockwork Orange
* The Crying Game
The Day the Earth Stood Still
Days of Heaven
Dirty Harry
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie
* Do the Right Thing
* La Dolce Vita
* Double Indemnity
* Dr. Strangelove
Duck Soup
* E.T. -- The Extra-Terrestrial
Easy Rider
* The Empire Strikes Back
* The Exorcist
* Fargo
* Fight Club
The General
* The Godfather, The Godfather, Part II
* Gone With the Wind
* GoodFellas
* The Graduate
A Hard Day's Night
It's a Gift
* It's a Wonderful Life
* Jaws
The Lady Eve
* Lawrence of Arabia
* M
Mad Max 2 / The Road Warrior
* The Maltese Falcon
The Manchurian Candidate
* Modern Times
* Monty Python and the Holy Grail
* The Night of the Hunter
Night of the Living Dead
* North by Northwest
* Nosferatu
On the Waterfront
Once Upon a Time in the West
Out of the Past
Pink Flamingos
* Psycho
* Pulp Fiction
* Rear Window
Rebel Without a Cause
Red River
The Rules of the Game
The Scarlet Empress
* Schindler's List
The Searchers
* The Seven Samurai
* Singin' in the Rain
Some Like It Hot
A Star Is Born
* A Streetcar Named Desire
* Sunset Boulevard
* Taxi Driver
* The Third Man
Tokyo Story
* Touch of Evil
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
Trouble in Paradise
* Vertigo
West Side Story
The Wild Bunch
* The Wizard of Oz

If my count is correct, I've only seen 47 of the 102 films listed. So, fine... slap a dunce cap on my head and send me to the corner - but not before I take exception to this list. First, he listed The Godfather & The Godfather II as one entry, which is blasphemous in itself. They're two separate films after all. Secondly, I (and would argue most average folk) haven't even heard of a number of these titles. The Searchers? Tokyo Story? The Scarlet Empress? Not even the great Netflix carries the last one. Lastly... where's Trainspotting? You can put Mad Max 2/The Road Warrior on the list but Trainspotting is absent?

Alright, that last one is certainly a stretch. But if this list is correct (and it would appear to have Ebert's blessing, so damn, that's as close to perfection as you can get) then I'm watching all the wrong films. Screw it. Ignorance is bliss. Next up: Spiderman. Later.

P.S. Any of you film buffs seen them all?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love conversations about great movies. My top 10 are:

- The Godfather
- The Godfather II (notice mine are separate)
- Caddyshack
- The Warriors
- Patton
- The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.
- Dumb and Dumber
- Glengary Glenross (I hope I spelled it right)
- Goodfellas
- The Outlaw Josse Wales
- tie Boiler room or Rudy

How do I judge a favorite movie? Easy, I watch it whenever it is matter how many times I've seen it.

11:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's some list... are supposed to have heard of "Jim Emerson," too? He fails the martian test, whomever he is. (If a martian came down to earth, and we could only show it 102 movies to prove that the earth was worth saving, which movies would we pick?) I'm not saying I could make the best list, I'm just saying that I don't think Jim Emerson should be on the committee.

8:04 AM  
Blogger Eric said...

Quite a list, Al. I'm embarrassed to say I've never seen Caddyshack, The Warriors, Patton, Dumb and Dumber, and The Outlaw Josie Wales. Caddyshack (BY FAR) is the one film that people just can't believe I've never seen. I remember seeing bits and pieces of it in college and thinking, "This is nothing but stupid stoner humor. How the hell is this funny?" Of course I was drunk at the time...

Anyway, if we're doing Top 10's I'd have to go as follows - but bear in mind, the bottom few pretty much change with the seasons:

1) Trainspotting
2) The Lady Vanishes
3) Heat
4) Run Lola Run
5) The Shawshank Redemption
6) Rear Window
7) Shallow Grave
8) Monty Python & the Holy Grail
9) 12 Angry Men
10) Road to Perdition

As for you, Anonymous... very well put. I'd never heard of Jim Emerson either but I gave him, perhaps unduly, a certain amount of street cred, given that he appears on Ebert's website. I'm starting to lean towards your line of thinking, though. After all, it's just one man's opinion. Chocolate and vanilla.

9:43 AM  

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