Thursday, May 29, 2008

Almost done!

As just a quick little aside, I guess that if this news is true, every single person on the face of the earth was wrong about something. I'm not sure if that's ever happened before! So good for you Clay and while this is also quite disturbing, you must be congratulated for slipping one past the goalie.

Anyways, we're really getting into some serious territory now...We crossed the halfway point with the previous entry on the list and now we're really running out of films. Only forty to go, after all! I'm sure there are some that will be predictable but perhaps by now you'll all be wondering if certain flicks will make the cut at all and if there will be some really oddball surprises and perhaps now the rankings mean just that much more.

So we're almost near the finish line and here is the penultimate entry on my list of the Top 100 Films of All Time. This is getting exciting! Okay, it's exciting for me because I have no life outside of this and when this list is done I'll have pretty much nothing to focus my energy on. So allow me my fun, okay?

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Films # 40-21

40. The Battleship Potemkin (1925) dir. Sergei Eisenstein- The fact that it was officially a propaganda piece for the Soviet government cannot detract from this Eisenstein masterwork. Indeed as a propaganda film, it is brilliant in its depiction of the rebellion of the sailors against the oppressive Tsarist regime. And the visual style is undeniably brilliant, the utmost example of the Soviet Montage school of filmmaking. From the maggot- infested meat to the harrowing massacre on the Odessa Steps it is a shocking motion picture.

39. Smokey and the Bandit (1977) dir. Hal Needham- Apparently towards the end of his life, this was actually one of Alfred Hitchcock’s favorite films. Why? Because according to the Master, it was a film in which it looked like everyone was having so much fun making it, something that couldn’t be faked. A wise man, Hitch was dead on. Forget the story and just sit back and enjoy. Totally infectious, carefree and just a total blast. Pop it in on a lazy Sunday afternoon, put your brain on cruise control and enjoy simply being entertained.

38. Tokyo Story (1953) dir. Yasujiro Ozu- Moving at an often glacial pace, this is probably the last movie you want to watch if you need to get your batteries recharged. What you will get though is a moving examination of elderly parents coming from their small town home to visit their adult children in bustling Tokyo. The children however, have their own lives and seem to have little to entertain the old folks. Deeply sad and moving at the same time.

37. Die Hard (1988) dir. John McTiernan- However if you do need your batteries recharged, look no further than this. There’s a reason why pretty much every other action movie that came out afterwards was referred to as “Die Hard on a *blank*”. Bruce Willis is the coolest, most personable and easily chattiest action hero of them all. A great and more importantly human hero you can root for (his feet actually bleed when he walks on broken glass) and Alan Rickman is beyond outstanding as the Euro-trash baddy. “Now I have a machine gun...ho-ho-ho”. How can you not love it? Also a great Christmas movie, don’t forget

36. Fantasia (1940) dir. various- Easily my favorite Disney film, it’s really of course just a lot of great animation (sans dialog) set to timeless music and done some in such a seamless manner that so many of the pieces have become synonymous with the animated segments. “The Waltz of the Flowers” sequence and especially the “Night on Bald Mountain” are standouts and while you could watch them all separately, it’s even more rewarding as a whole. Not as groundbreaking, but also highly rewarding is the sequel (continuation?) Fantasia 2000.

35. Vertigo (1958) dir. Alfred Hitchcock- Incredibly intricate (as always) Hitchcock flick, dealing with the fear of heights and insatiable obsession. Jimmy Stewart is at his best as the detective who seems to find the woman he loves somehow reincarnated or so it seems. This one will keep you on your toes at all times and of course the Bernard Herrmann score is legendary.

34. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) dir. David Lean- An epic like only David Lean could craft ‘em. Features an awesome cast, with Alec Guinness (yup, he made movies before Star Wars remember) brilliant as the Colonel who is determined to prove his British superiority at any cost, building the best-damned bridge possible (take THAT Japan!). Of course also features one of the greatest action scenes of all, one that no computer could ever recreate adequately. Totally amazing POW pic, the likes of which will probably never be seen again.

33. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) dir. Steven Spielberg- Impossible not to love. You’ll be whistling along with the music two notes in unless there’s something way wrong with you. I saw on the big screen a few years back and it was just awesome. Maybe the best car chase in history (yes, even over Bullitt and French Connection), plus of course there’s the fact the movie is flawless from once the ball gets rolling (!!) all the way through to the oh-so-droll ending. Yeah Indy 4 totally sucked the big one, but I'm going to try to put that out of my mind and just remember how great the original is.

32. Sleuth (1972) dir. Joseph L. Mankiewicz- A supreme acting battle-royale if there ever was one. Olivier and Caine go mano-a-mano playing the ultimate game, over a woman (what else?). The twists are absolutely endless and not until the very end do you know how it’s going to turn out and who is going to win. Sophisticated and witty, with just enough menace thrown in for good measure. I haven’t seen the 2007 remake, but our good pal Beer told me it wasn’t any good. No surprise though, what's the point in even trying to remake a movie as good as this?

31. The Man Who Would Be King (1975) dir. John Huston- Rousing adventure in the grandest Hollywood tradition, Connery and Caine have never been better. They play two former British soldiers in the British Raj, who attempt to essentially plunder the kingdom of Khafiristan. Wonderfully politically incorrect, a winner all around. Caine’s speech at the end is so cool I can recite it perfectly. If you're to look at film as pure entertainment, I'm hard pressed to think of any better example than this.

30. Seven Samurai (1954) dir. Akira Kurosawa- Legendary adventure from the incomparable Akira Kurasawa, it’s no surprise that so many elements from this landmark film have been lifted by American and European filmmakers. The action scenes are breathtaking and the story utterly engrossing and universal. It runs well over three hours, is in black & white and is in a foreign language. This shouldn’t stop anyone with half a brain from enjoying this timeless classic (yes, I used the phrase ‘timeless classic’).

29. High Noon (1952) dir. Fred Zinnemann- Forget every other ‘real time’ thriller, this is the original and the only one that matters. Gary Cooper is the martial who plans to hang up his guns and badge on his wedding day, only to find that a man who has sworn revenge is due to return to town on the noon train. Of course all those he thought he could count on to help one by one abandon him. Chilling and suspenseful throughout, Tex Ritter’s unforgettable “Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling” playing throughout makes for only makes it better.

28. Sullivan's Travels (1941) dir. Preston Sturges- Preston Sturges was a hugely under appreciated genius in his day and while now widely regarded in film circles, he still doesn’t get the credit he deserves. This is his best film, about a competent but bored Hollywood director who sets out to make a ‘serious’ film (entitled O Brother, Where Art Though, yes this is where the Coen’s got it from). Wanting to ‘know trouble’ as so many less fortunate do, instead he learns that maybe there is something important about comedy after all…

27. This is Spinal Tap (1984) dir. Rob Reiner- Sweet Jesus, this is a funny fucking movie. And apparently a painfully realistic one in some regards, because when it came out a lot of people took it at face value and even after it was widely known to be a joke, many actual rock stars though it hit too close to home on several occasions! There are so many jokes and they pretty much all work, that it’s nearly impossible to pick one favorite. Mine? Today I’ll go with their first drummer who died in a “bizarre gardening accident”, but tomorrow I might have a new favourite. Just hilarious, 'nuff said.

26. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) dir. Stanley Kubrick- One of those totally arty and pretentious 'films', it’s slow moving and needlessly opaque, but its sheer beauty is hard to deny. The Strauss score fits perfectly and the shift from past (tossed bone) to future (orbiting satellite) is genius. God knows what the hell is going on half the time, but it’s totally absorbing from start to finish and the HAL 9000 is (in my opinion) the greatest screen villain of all-time.

25. Umberto D. (1952) dir. Vittorio De Sica- If this one doesn’t move you, then your heart must be made of stone. An old pensioner struggles to survive during the hard times faced in post-WW2 Italy, with his only friends being a pregnant maid in his rooming house and his very cute little dog. Made up almost exclusively of a cast who had never acted before (!!), it’s powerful and unforgettable. Truly tragic, it and its characters will stay with you for a long time.

24. Groundhog Day (1993) dir. Harold Ramis- A true modern day fairytale. That’s probably a term (or something similar) that’s thrown around a fair bit, but it actually does apply here. Bill Murray is pitch-perfect as the jerk-ass weatherman who is given the chance that we all wish we could have: keep on trying and trying until we get this crazy thing called life right. Equally funny and touching, it shows us that this hell he’s trapped in is actually a remarkable blessing, a chance to make it all right, no matter how long it takes.

23. Field of Dreams (1989) dir. Phil Alden Robinson- The best sports movie ever made. Kevin Costner is really good (before his head swelled to huge proportions) as the Iowa farmer who builds a baseball field in his corn so that Shoeless Joe Jackson can return from the dead to play baseball again. Ethereal film, that’s somehow haunting and heartwarming at the same time. The whole cast is amazing from Liotta to James Earl Jones. I can’t even count the number of scenes that give me goosebumps every time, but my fave has to be when “Moonlight” Graham crosses the gravel and leaves the field. Special props (again) to James Horner’s excellent score.

22. Amadeus (1984) dir. Milos Forman- Incredible pseudo-biopic about a man with God-like musical abilities who also happens to be petulant dolt. Tom Hulce is fine as Mozart, but F. Murray Abraham gives perhaps the greatest one-hit-wonder performance of all-time as the man driven to destroy Mozart and revenge himself against God for having used such a petty creature as his musical instrument on earth. Totally riveting and unforgettable.

21. 8 1/2 (1963) dir. Federico Fellini- Totally arty and pretentious, it also happens to be the utterly engrossing story of a brilliant director (masterfully played by Marcello Mastroianni) riddled with the ultimate case of director’s block. Interweaving the past and the present, along with reality and fantasy, this one will take at least a couple of viewings to soak it all in. There are so many great films-within-films, but this is easily one of the most brilliant, involving on so many levels, especially as one which can speak to anyone who has ever been confused as to where they’re going in life.

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Wow, we're almost done. Like I said the list is getting harder to rank as I near the top...now more than ever I'm really spending a lot of time contemplating the exact order of this thing...If this was hard to do then the final entry should be even more of a challenge. But it'll be worth it to have out of my system at last. Stay tuned!

9 Comments:

Blogger Natmac said...

hey i like groundhog day too but there's no way it should be #24 on a list of 'the top 100 films of all time'. there are much better comedies and even much better bill murray films that could take it's place.

May 30, 2008 9:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, and with all apologies to Alistair Shields, what the fuck is Smokey and the Bandit doing anywhere on this list? Let alone ahead of the Godfather... I know you said you were ordering the films not necessarily in terms of how good they are but possibly in terms of how much you enjoy them, but do you really enjoy Smokey and the Bandit more than the Godfather? REALLY?

Props for including Amadeus though, that was one I was really hoping would make the list.

(heart) Coop

May 31, 2008 11:08 AM  
Blogger Daphne said...

I agree with 36 - Fantasia is often overlooked by people because there's no dialogue, but really, does it get better than the dancing hippos? Or Micky and the mops? No, no it doesn't. It's the perfect animation to showcase the music. I watched Fantasia every time I was home sick when I was younger.

Also, agreed on Spinal Tap. I love British comedy, and this is the best of the best.

May 31, 2008 10:27 PM  
Blogger Kid Icarus said...

Natmac: Sorry, but I think Groundhog Day truly is a modern day fairytale like I said and while it's perhaps not the best 'ha-ha' comedy out there, it's one of the sweetest movies ever made and I actually like to look at it as a wonderful film that's part fantasy, part comedy, part romance...in fact I think it defies genre conventions and it's a film that speaks to all of us who wish we could have a million tries just so we could get it right. I love it.

A better Bill Murray film? Not a chance. Only Lost in Translation could be considered as a worthy competitor, but I still like GD better.

Coop: Because it's such a great chase movie (my favorite in fact) and like I said, it's just grand entertainment. There's this sense of sheer fun which pervades throughout and I find the joy of the whole affair more infectious than with pretty much any other film.

And I sense I really have hit a sore spot with The Godfather ...You could have used any other film on the list as a point of reference, yet you went back to this one. I can tell you'd rate it much higher than I have, but please understand that I still love it and consider it one of the best of all-time! Okay perhaps I may have shortchanged it a bit because I like Part II (which you can see is still to come) better, but try not to be so upset about it!

Daphne: Quite right, but while the dancing hippos and Mickey are lots of fun, the "Bald Mountain" part is easily the best! But kudos on Spinal Tap, glad you are a fan. "Quite exciting, this computer magic"!

June 01, 2008 12:43 AM  
Blogger Natmac said...

i would argue that both 'scrooged' and 'rushmore' feature better bill murray performances.

June 01, 2008 4:16 PM  
Blogger Kid Icarus said...

Oh my, not even close. Scrooged? I mean it's a pretty good movie and all but to compare it to Groundhog Day? Not even in the same ballpark.

Anyways, I guess I might as well post the last part of the list...it's ready to go, so no use in delaying things much longer!

June 01, 2008 7:37 PM  
Blogger Natmac said...

dude 'scrooged' is a virtuoso performance by murray and 'rushmore' in essence resurrected his career giving him credit as a serious dramatic actor.

June 02, 2008 11:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

question -
did you know you were gay when you were little, or is it something you gravitated towards in adolescence?

June 06, 2008 5:53 PM  
Blogger Kid Icarus said...

Oooh, good one coming from someone who seems to be enjoying making anonymous comments on a random blog to the point he's probably jerking off over it.

June 06, 2008 6:14 PM  

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