Tuesday, August 9, 2011

"What do ya know, Joe?"

Putting film titles in all caps is much easier than italicizing them. I'm gonna start doing the former.

A.I. is flawed and I don't love it unconditionally, but it has a strangeness and a power to it that I can't easily escape. It's a spectacular film.

I don’t know how I would rank Kubrick films. I know that BARRY LYNDON and 2001 are my favorites, but beyond both, I love all of his films with almost equal measure. EYES WIDE SHUT is one of the best films Kubrick ever made though, and it’s one that I love more and more with each revisit. Easily the best film of ’99 and in my top 3 of the decade. Glad you love it too, Brandon.

Chris, I also like that you say that the parents are more God than God in TOL. Absolutely, they are life givers and life shapers. They are responsible for the lives they create, and are easily identifiable as creators. For the children in the film, there is no mystery about who is responsible for their existence and how they’ve been shaped as people. But with God there is still that mystery and that lack of responsibility (until possibly the ending) that fuels the anguished whispering in the film. To me, that makes the film as important and ambitious as it is. It presents a seemingly simple story about the development of a single family in Texas, but makes the stakes no less than universal and eternal. It’s not just the creation and evolution of a family, but of everything that has ever existed.

Brandon, I’m excited to see your 1933 list. I might be able to have mine done by the end of the month. I’m definitely having fun with all these lists, but at times I do feel the weight of seeing too many films at once. I maybe don’t get the chance to really feel the excitement of watching a new film or to let each one sink in. Still, I’ve found all the films I’ve seen to be great and inspiring. I don’t regret watching any of them for a second. I think if I were doing an 80s marathon I would feel differently.

I think its swell that you stand up for action films. It’s a genre that is certainly frowned upon in many intellectual film communities. And you are totally right when you say, “I’ve sensed that a lot of people stare down their nose at the less reputable genres in art (punk, metal, action, horror, pulp, romance).” It seems as though whenever you want to become knowledgeable of any art form, you are immediately pressured into developing a sophisticated sense of taste and must repudiate all allegiance to anything deemed trashy. I’m glad you stick up for all these genres.

You mentioned this a while back, but I love what you wrote about revenge movies. The best ones do test us. They challenge our ideals and theories, and hit us on a very primal, emotionally raw level. I think I like revenge movies so much because they do hit me on such a level. I watch THE VIRGIN SPRING and I scream, “vengeance!” but I’m also conflicted about it. On a purely emotional level, I want the revenge and feel like it will restore the balance to the universe. But on a purely rational level, I know that it can never do this and that it is ultimately hollow. Some of the best revenge movies are conflicting in this way and present almost Pyrrhic victories. I think of two revenge movies coming up in my 2000s lists, OLDBOY and IN THE BEDROOM, and I think they present this exquisitely. Look at the scene in the elevator in OLDBOY after one of the characters has gotten his revenge, or the scene at the end of IN THE BEDROOM with the band-aid. It’s the bittersweetness of vengeance, with an emphasis on the bitter.

I really like your gangster list. It’s not too dissimilar to one I would make if pressed. I haven’t seen HIGH SIERRA yet, but plan to watch it on TCM very soon. Been meaning to watch it for a while now. Likewise, never got around to watching Cassavetes’ THE KILLING OF A CHINESE BOOKIE, but have always been interested in doing so. Here’s the list I would make without too much thought or expertise:


I think THE ROARING TWENTIES is incredible and with time and more viewings it will only grow in stature for me. It’s hard to rank it above the first three on my list because I’m so familiar with them and have seen them multiple times. ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA, I’m certain after one viewing, is a masterpiece and I’m excited to watch it more as well. What say you of The Coen’s MILLER'S CROSSING?

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