#50 Watch the 100 Greatest Movies of All Time.
Update #31: #70 A Clockwork Orange (1971)
If you've read any of my reviews I don't think there's going to be any surprises here. I hated this movie when I first saw it back in high school and I hated it even more now. The big difference is, back in high school I was open to liking A Clockwork Orange.
In high school I’d just started hanging out with the punks and skaters who all seemed to own an A Clockwork Orange shirt. When they spoke in British accents I figured they were either referencing this movie or Are You Being Served some BBC show that they would watch on PBS.
I went to a more of an urban Jr. High than these new friends, so I was more into gangster rap and hood movies. I had no interest in this British nonsense and managed to avoid this movie for a long time.
As I got older and started to develop a taste for independent film I was finally willing to give both A Clockwork Orange and The Rocky Horror Picture Show a chance. I hated them both. I don't think I ever let my friends know this. I feel I just continued to act like I'd never seen either movie.
I don't remember why I didn't like A Clockwork Orange at the time. I'm not sure if my feelings were the same and just wasn't able to vocalize my thoughts, or if I hated it for no reason at all, but the fact that we are introduced to our heroes through their rape and violence led me to think my views were at least similar and reminded me why I had no interest in ever watching this movie again.
That said, I continued to let it play. I made the resolution and will continue to suffer through a lot these movies that I’ve either already watched and have no interest in watching again or have never wanted to watch to begin with. As you've seen, some of these movies have actually won me over. I expect more of this in the future, but I never had any hope for this movie.
I did have an interesting moment while I trying to avoid paying full attention to the movie on the screen. I found myself questioning why I like most gangster movies that can get as violent, but hate mafia movies or movies about other forms degenerates who are violent for the sake of pleasure.
I think the answer is that in most gangster movies we follow a person who either: a) falls into a bad situation because they have no other choice, or b) are trying to escape this life style and are either successful or find themselves stuck. The main character that we're supposed to see this world through rarely strives to be a part of this horrible scene.
These other movies that glorify the bad guy are all about the drive to be a part of this horrible world. Once the character is in, their next goal is to make their way to the top. The world is normally a better place once we get to their demise.
At best there is a turning point where they main character wants to make a change to go straight, but this usually follows a scenario where they mess up which leads their allies to turn on them. This desire to change is purely a survival technique and not a need to be a better person.
This happens in A Clockwork Orange. When what's his face determines that he wants to join this intense experiment to change his ways it's only because he wants to get out of jail quicker and not out of a true desire to repent and become a better person. I know this is kind of the point to the story, but I think the whole villain becoming the victim would be a much more interesting story if he didn't remain a villain throughout.
At best he seems to see the irony of the situation, but his only remorse seems to be that his actions lead to the horrible things that happen to him once he gets out of jail. He never seems to actually have remorse for what he did in the first place.
The fact that this guy at his worst is a pop culture hero bothers me a bit.
This isn't to say that I'm all about good guys. As I've pointed out in other reviews I hate movies of hero worship just as much. I guess what I'm saying hero or anti-hero I don't like stories that put people in that hero spotlight.
I'm a fan of movies with characters who are kind of normal people coping with life. Even if the story is grand, I like the characters to be more common within the world.
I don't know. I might just be over thinking things these days.
Update #32: #69 Tootsie (1982)
I remember really liking Tootsie when I was young. I must have been six years old when I first saw it and the idea of a guy in woman's clothing was silly enough to make my day.
I saw it a couple more times as I got older and the writing is solid enough to make you feel for this guy's struggle while at the same time continuing to be hilariously entertained because it's a man dressed up as a woman and people are actually buying it, just like in Bosom Buddies.
I then saw bits and pieces of Tootsie as an adult while attending film school. Of course it was shown as a sample of great writing, but I couldn't get past the whole point of the story where a man thinks he is so great at acting that he could play a woman better than an actual woman and in the world of the story he's right.
Wow, that's an interesting stance to take, especially when it takes a turn for the serious and leaves the realm of being nothing more than a crazy comedy. You can factor in that it was a different time, but it kind of makes me wonder how White Chicks would’ve been received if it took itself for more than an over the top comedy.
During this latest viewing I also started to think about how not only is it offensive to women but at the time the whole transgender thing wasn't even factored in as a reference. It was such a taboo at the time that people living with these feelings were closeted to a point of nonexistence that went far beyond homosexuality. That might have been an interesting take. If he really felt he was a woman and did all this because she had something to prove then that would be a movie.
Instead it was just a guy. A know it all guy. This is the true reason that I wasn't a fan during this viewing. Having "worked" in the "film industry" I’ve met plenty of these people. The character Dustin Hoffman plays is the epitome of the "those who can't, teach," personality and has the unwarranted confidence that he can do every role on the set better than everyone else. He could out tree a tree if it came down to it.
You get trapped in conversations with these people and it like your listening to the audiobook of the most trendy instruction manual of the day. He switches words in an attempt to get you to believe these are his insights, but saving the beluga whale of the story is pretty much the same concept of saving the cat. He's just got persistence about him that he swears is charm and the same douchie personality of the money people to bamboozle his way through a career.
All this said, the acting is fine and until the day that we get to the point of seeing movies like this as nothing more than acceptable minstrel shows I see why this movie made the list. Luckily I don't see a reason why I would ever watch this movie again.
And with that I say good day.
I said good day sir.
(The fact that they use that line a lot is the only reason I actually do like this movie.)
Update #33: #68 Unforgiven (1992)
If you've been following my reviews then you know that I hate Westerns. If you're interested in my take on the genre then take a look a my review of the movie The Wild Bunch. In some comment arguments I pointed out that Unforgiven was one of the few Westerns that I actually like. Someone quickly pointed out that Unforgiven was an anti-Western which must explain why.
I've seen this movie a couple times already so it quickly became something in the background as I started to multitask.
I think Unforgiven is a good movie and understand why it made the list. I'll probably never see it again but wouldn't see it as a punishment if for whatever reason it happens again.
Update #34: #67 Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is another one of those movies where all I knew about it was the title. I had no idea what to expect when I hit play.
As the opening credits came to a close and Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton entered their dwelling my first thought was, "Here we go again." I thought for sure that this was going to be your basic tale of a level headed guy having to deal with his insane bitch of a wife.
One of my biggest pet peeves is that when I discuss issues that I'm having with a girl I'm interested in the common answer is, "Oh girls are just crazy." It wouldn't bother me all that much if this answer only came from guys who are very hung up on traditional gender roles, but the fact that this answer comes from women just as often if not more. It really bothers me not so much in a feminist way, but because I'm often asking advice over the craziness going on in my mental head. I just don't think women corner the market on insanity.
So to me, my biggest pet peeve was my introduction to this world. This introduction is then followed up by the announcement of another couple coming over which leads to a scene of what appears to be justified jealousy over open infidelity.
Is there a storyline from this time period in cinema that doesn't portray unfaithful relationships as common practice? Is that just how things actually were at the time? At least in modern movies the characters try to hide their affairs.
It's no wonder there's no trust in this world. All of our modern day myths and legions of cinema tell us that true love has to be tested and in the end there's romance in realizing the mistake made in a relationship. I know, movies need conflict and blah, blah, blah.
Alright back to the movie.
The couple did eventually win me over. The relationship between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton starts to develop into a beautiful dance of dysfunction where neither side gets to lead for too long. When I saw that there was still two hours left to the movie I had to run down to the store and buy booze to get on their level.
I got home and started working hard and fast to get caught up and was really enjoying the movie. Being that this movie is based on a play, it can get very wordy at times. For the most part I like this aspect of the movie, but it's also very long. I got bored at moments and my attention started to drift, but it never lasted all that long, there was always something going on to draw me back into the story.
By the time I got to the last half hour I was fully captivated by the story. I drunkenly laughed out loud as the drunks on the screen bickered their way to the climax, and then cried like a baby when they got there.
I can fully see why this movie made the list and will definitely be watching Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? again to try to find more pieces to the puzzle now that I have most of the edge pieces put together.
Update #35: #66 Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
I remember really liking Raiders of the Lost Ark as a child, but it wasn't a favorite. I never ran around the backyard with a makeshift whip pretending to be an adventurous archaeologist. I was busy hanging out with imaginary Mexican mice telling jokes.
I was a weird kid.
As the years have gone by I've become less and less interested in the action genre as a whole. I hesitate making a declaration but I'm pretty much to the point where I'm anti-action film. Because of this, part of me feared that I was going to hate this beloved piece of cinematic history.
I really don't want to come across as a contrarian by almost consistently being disappointed in what is considered mainstream. As I pointed out before, my big problem with mainstream cinema is that I've been to two film schools for writing, I've read many books on story and I just feel bothered by seeing the repetitive framework of a time tested formula.
It's the same reason why the phrase, "Why reinvent the wheel," infuriates me. Why not? We'll never know if there actually is a better way of doing things if we just stick with what works well enough to get by the way we always have. This don’t fix what’s not broken mentality doesn’t work when the world lives in constant denial as to what is actually broken.
That's a whole different argument though.
Last night I watched Raiders of the Lost Ark for the first time in maybe 25 years (holy crap I'm getting old.) I had a feeling I would like it on a different level because since then I've seen several documentaries about the Nazi's connection to the occult and their quest for artifacts from antiquity.
It didn't take all that long before I remember why this movie is such a classic. It's more of an adventure film then an action film, our hero is a humble hero and there are real stunts.
I think I turned on the action genre around the time of the first Mission Impossible. It seemed that was the time that CG took the place of real stunts. Part of the thrill of watching old action movies was the thought that someone had to physically do everything that is seen on the screen. Even though there may have been stunt doubles you could sense the fact that there was a genuine risk involved in these exciting sequences.
It also feels this was the point where the hero's in the action genre became aware that they are invincible, and their arrogant, confident, and cocky style of storming through a story give off no charm whatsoever.
That's what I love about Indiana Jones. When he's about to fight that giant bold Nazi, he's not excited. He has no idea how or if he is going to be able to survive this challenge. We know he this because he's the star, but what we don't know is how bad the beating is going to be, so there is genuine tension, not just excitement.
The other thing that I love about Raiders of the Lost Ark is that there is humor, which is another thing that modern action films seem to lack. Sure almost every movie has a funny throw way line, a funny interaction or a funny scene but this humor normally comes from a gag and not from a place of sincerity or character.
Most importantly; Raiders of the Lost Ark is a fun movie. I fully understand why it made this list, I'm not sure why it's so low and I wouldn't mind watching it again.
Update #36: #65 The African Queen (1951)
I think this is the third or fourth time that I've seen this movie. The first time I remember seeing The African Queen was several years back when I was attending the Vancouver Film School. It took a while but I eventually remembered watching this movie at my grandparents house when I was a kid.
I remembered it as a boring old movie when in my youth, only to really like it as an adult. Last night was my second night watching The African Queen as said adult and my fondness for this movie grew.
I think that part of the reason I like this movie is that I'm attracted to women with strong personalities and thought maybe misguided am a fan of Taming of the Shrew type storylines. Not stories about conquering a beast. If my memories and interpretations are correct I like the stories that are more about finding peace in a common ground where both sides end up evolving to find happiness together. At least that's my fantasy of how it works.
I feel that The African Queen did a good job at believable showing a relationship between former adversaries develop into something fun. Because of this I can see why it made the list and wouldn't be surprised to find myself watching it again.
Update #37: #64 Network (1976)
You can tell how much I like a movie by how little I have to say about it. I feel like when I'm on the cusp of whether or not I like a movie I have to talk myself into why this is the case to solidify then solidify my own opinion.
Get ready for a quick one.
I first saw the movie Network about ten years ago while I was attending film school. I was blown away by how prophetic this movie is.
When I watched this movie last night I was blown away again, but this time for a different reason. During this viewing I couldn't help but think this movie's not prophetic at all; we've just been dealing with the same exact crap for years. Network was just ahead of it's time in pointing it out.
I can fully see why this movie made the list and can't wait for another ten years to go by to be blown away by Network once again as it becomes less and less of a satire.
Update #38: #63 Cabaret (1972)
All I knew about Cabaret going into this viewing is that Me First and the Gimme Gimme's did a cover of the title song… I guess I also knew what the word Cabaret means so I had some idea of what would be going on there... Oh and for some reason I knew Nazis were involved, but that's it... Oh and I also knew Liza Minnelli starred in it.
Alright, enough with my Navin Johnson approach to listing.
Other than the facts listed above I had no idea what the story was about, but was pretty sure that Cabaret wouldn't be up my alley. I'm a bit of a prude when it comes to romance in a story. I'm not a big fan of lust based love and couldn't help but think a movie named Cabaret would probably be pretty lust based.
The movie was interesting, very colorful, with fun cinematic performances, but it never managed to win me over. Mainly for the exact reasons I feared.
There was also something going on with a lot of the actor’s accents and pitch of their voices. I had a hard time following the story because I couldn't hear what anyone was saying and didn't care enough to hit rewind to figure things out.
Being that I'm more indifferent to this movie, I'm also indifferent as to whether or not I feel Cabaret belongs on the list but I really doubt that I'll ever see this movie again.
Update #39: #62 American Graffiti (1973)
American Graffiti is one of the few movies on this list that I haven't seen but was really looking forward to watching. As I said in an earlier review I love slice of life, ensemble cinema and I was not let down by this movie’s execution of these conventions.
I think my fascination with this genre stems from me being a bit of a loner. Sometimes I just want to sit back and hang out with fictional characters as they navigate their mundane existence.
There doesn't have to be a major quest, the world doesn't have to be in peril, we don't need another hero...
Granted there are quests in this movie, these teenagers’ worlds were in peril in their heads, and each character was the hero of their own storyline but it's subtle, like real life... Well an idealized telling of real life at least.
I really enjoyed this movie and can fully see why it made the list. I can't wait for the day that I find someone to share a second viewing of American Graffiti with.
Update #40: #61 Sullivan's Travels (1941)
Sullivan's Travels is another film on this list I was looking forward to watching again. I saw it once in film school and even though I couldn't fully remember the story I did remember really liking the movie.
Last night this Sullivan's Travels was just what I needed. I was feeling a pretty burnt out and my moral was low. I rushed to get all my writing obligations done and made myself comfy for the viewing.
When Sullivan hitches a ride from the kid in the rocket car, who's training to be a whip-it tanker, it caused me to laugh the hardest I've laughed in a long time. There's something about old black and white movies that when they speed up playback that just cracks me up.
To top it off, the actions of the characters in the crazy Winnebago as it chase the rocket car had me literally laughing out loud. These characters get flung this way and that as the RV is in hot pursuit. Rather than try to stabilize themselves these characters pull at curtain rods, keep trying to stand, climb on things and even continue to try to cook, leading to even more chaos and destruction then if they were to just settle in.
This scene had me in tears.
Here it is if you haven't seen the movie.
Not only is this movie funny. It has a cute little love story as well. I think this is the first movie on this list that the love aspect wasn't about infidelity. Granted their love grows while Sullivan is still married, but he doesn't act on it because of this marriage. Okay that may sound like it's still infidelity but Sullivan and his wife are separated and being that this is from a time before divorce it's impressive that he turns this girl down because of his commitment to his wife even though she's pretty much an ex-wife (and this isn't just a line he's feeding her.)
The movie then strays away from comedy toward the end and it doesn't lose any of it's charm in the process.
The over all story of Sullivan's Travels is of Sullivan who is a very privileged director who is trying to escape his privileged life to study up for a movie (Oh Brother Where Art Thou) he wants to direct. Every time he gets close to understanding the struggles of life, his privileged past steps in and saves him. He eventually ends up in jail due to mixed identity and finally gets to see what it's like to struggle.
There is a scene while he's in jail where Sullivan and the other inmates watch cartoons in a church. This scene is pretty moving. We see all these downtrodden convicts laughing and enjoying a Pluto cartoon as an escape from their misery. Sullivan seems to have finally learned his lesson as he joins in on the laughter, understanding and appreciating this escape.
My only problem is that as soon as he learns this lesson his privileged passed steps back in to save the day. It's hard to tell if the lesson was truly learned.
Other than the happy ending I loved this movie and can see why it made this list. Sullivan's Travels is another movie that I can't wait to share with someone who hasn't seen it before.
Update #41: #60 Duck Soup (1933)
So far I've only seen two Marx Brother's movies and both were part of this resolution. As I pointed out in my review of A Night at the Opera I think some of their charm of the Marx Brothers is lost on me because there's a lack of nostalgia connected to these characters. I didn't even know there was a fourth Marx Brother.
When Duck Soup starts it is very Groucho heavy. I found myself very annoyed with his type of humor. This is where I feel that if I had a nostalgic connection that I would have been way more into his jokes, but without such a connection everything fell flat.
For whatever reason, I feel that Groucho is one of those old school comedic actors that can bore you to death with his theories on comedy. He reminds me of "the funny guy" at a party who takes every courtesy laugh as the real thing, who fires off one rehearsed joke after the next as if he were coming up with it on the spot. I'm not a fan of that guy.
I am however a fan of the Chico and Harpo and feel they saved the movie. After about a half an hour we finally get introduced to this crazy duo and I laughed out loud right away. Those two crack me up. It turns out I'm a big fan of physical comedy and confusion over arrogance and word play.
Though I think both of the Marx Brother's where fine movies, I'm not fully sure why either movie made the list and I definitely don't know why Duck Soup made it this high up. I also don't see myself initiating another viewing of Duck Soup, but I'd watch it again if someone was insistent.
Update #42: #59 Nashville (1975)
I had mixed feeling going into this viewing of Nashville and have even more mixed feelings about the movie now that I've seen it.
I'd never even heard of this movie until I saw it on the list. The title Nashville scared me a little. I'm not a big fan of the country music, and I'm even less a fan of the blind faith in God and Country citizens that I imagine make up this region of America. That said, I was put at ease by this being an ensemble piece directed by Robert Altman.
This movie is long, clocking in at two hours and forty minutes long. Though I was fascinated by what I was watching, I couldn't stay awake the first night that I tried to watch it. The next day after I figured out where I left off, it turned out I only missed the last half hour.
I can't put my finger on why I liked Nashville as much as I did. I think it has to do with my fascination with the mundane spectacle that's presented. There's sort of a dull excitement of a state fair where all the characters that we follow are larger than life but only to this specific crowd that seems to be wandering through life on autopilot, thrilled by celebrity for the sake of celebrity alone.
Nashville is also fascinating because, as with most of the movies from the past it shows that other than technology we have barely advanced as a society. It seems that no matter what year we look back at we're dealing with the same exact nonsense. Troubles in the Middle East, an inept government that is becoming more corrupt, big business growing out of control, our food is getting worse and all we do is seek the flashing lights of entertainment.
I'm not sure whether or not Nashville belongs on the list. I don't think it's a good movie, but at the same time I did find it entertaining in an odd way that I know will eventually lead me to watch it again as I try to explain my confusions to someone else only to come to the conclusion that they have to see it to understand.
I guess that's enough to justify Nashville making the list?
Update #43: #58 The Gold Rush (1925)
As I said in my review of the movie Modern Times, up until I saw that movie I only knew the caricature of Charlie Chaplin. Though I always heard the word genius thrown about in reference to Charlie Chaplin, I pictured him being nothing more than a comedic slap stick actor. Now that I've seen two of his movies, I understand why he earned this label.
The fact that he is able to create something that is both simple and works with the limited technology of the time, while at the same time creating very complex stories is very impressive. Especially when you think that he not only wrote, directed, acted, performed the voice over, but also composed the score? That's crazy.
Though I do have a new found respect for Mr. Chaplin and did have fun watching The Gold Rush, I was a bigger fan of Modern Times and feel that movie was enough of a representation of Charlie Chaplin's work to be added to the list. I probably won't watch this movie again but I am definitely open to watching more movies by this little tramp.
Update #44: #57 Rocky (1976)
It turns out I didn't really know the story of Rocky I. Sure I know the story of everything Sylvester Stallone had to go through to get the movie made. I also knew the climax and the Apollo Creed storyline. I knew the story ended with a draw and a "Yo Adrian," but I had no idea what made up a majority of the movie.
The thing is I'm old enough that Rocky was a big deal when I was a kid, but I'm young enough that I found the first Rocky to be boring. All I wanted to see was the training and the fights. I was too young to appreciate the love story.
I was looking forward to watching Rocky because I knew that I would like it, but I thought I was going to like it in a different way. As I said, being a fan of the sequels I thought this was going to be more of a story about Rocky's raising through the ranks to build up to earn the fight with Apollo Creed.
I had no idea that Apollo randomly picked Rocky to fight for the championship as a publicity stunt. I knew Rocky had a love story element to it but I thought it was more like the sequels where Rocky's relationship with Adrian is just a b-storyline. I wasn't prepared for the fact that the first hour and twenty minute barely had anything to do with boxing and was more about a guy who just happened to be a boxer who was in love.
I found the movie awkwardly entertaining and watch it almost as if I were Jane Goodall, witnessing Sylvester Stallone's alpha male approach to dating. I couldn't tell if the Rocky character was supposed to be a bit of a simpleton of if this was Sly's genuine vision of what he found to be romantic at the time.
Keeping in mind that he wrote this movie before he was famous, I can't help but think that Rocky is a love story inspired by a girl he was interested in and was his attempt to show her through story that there is more to him than being some sort of bruit.
I didn't really buy the love between the two characters. Adrian seemed to give into the pressures to be in a relationship rather than actually falling in love. That said I did buy that this was a genuine attempt from Sylvester Stallone to write a story in an attempt to express his feelings and because of that I'm a fan.
I can totally see why Rocky made this list and wouldn't be surprised if I ended up watching it again.
Update #45: #56 Jaws (1975)
I've seen Jaws a bunch of times. I think it has to be on of my favorite series as a kid. I even like the 3D one and the one where they go to an island to escape a shark. Jaws is another one of those movies that is so good that I don't really have anything to say.
I do have a new favorite scene however. It's right after Jaws attacks and they that they're going to shut down the beach. At first it seems like it's going to be for an undetermined amount of time then the mayor adds, "For 24 hours." If you listen to the gathering crowd you can hear a person say, "Awe, 24 hours? That's like three weeks."
I love listening to the atmosphere actors.
I also love this movie and can see why it made the list. This is another movie that I would have put much higher up there. I have no doubt that I will watch Jaws again at some point in my life.
Update #46: #55 North by Northwest (1959)
Last night was my second viewing of North by Northwest. My first viewing took place several years ago while I was at film school. I remember really liking the movie at the time but for whatever reason, I just couldn't get into it last night.
That's not to say that I didn't enjoy last night's viewing of North by Northwest. It's a good movie, I just wanted to like it more than I did this second time around. I think this ended up being another case of knowing the answers ruining the fun of the mystery.
Even though last night's viewing left me wanting more, I know this is a good movie and understand why it made the list. I doubt I'll ever watch North by Northwest again but this won't be out of protest.
Update #47: #54 M*A*S*H* (1970)
My viewing of M*A*S*H* was kind of interesting. I'd never seen the movie before and I wasn't a fan of the television show. As I pointed out in my review of In the Heat of the Night, the theme song to M*A*S*H* meant it was time to go to bed when I was a kid. Though I always loved sleep I never loved having a bedtime and this hatred carries over to certain programing through Pavlovian Conditioning to their opening themes.
Unlike In the Heat of the Night, I was willing to give the cinematic version of M*A*S*H* a shot. I think part of it has to do with the fact that it doesn't use the same exact theme song. I always knew "Suicide is painless..." were the actual lyrics to the song, but having never seen the movie I've never heard this rendition. That may have broke some of my conditioned response.
I really wanted to like this movie. The characters were all fun, funny and played by many actors and actresses that I like. That said, it didn't take long for that disappointing feeling while watching older movies to set in as I braced myself for another two hours of frivolous sexism and racism!
I did learn one thing about myself. I kind of hate to admit it, but I am much more lenient towards the, "It was a different time," excuse for movies that I saw while living in my own, "It was a different time," phase of my life.
I'm all for off colored jokes, especially when there is a known audience and an awareness that whatever is being said or acted out is wrong and is being exaggerated to make a point. I'm also for off colored jokes when used purely for shock value, but again there has to be sense of satire and the person delivering the joke has to genuinely have a point and mean no harm. (I'm aware that this is a pretty convoluted line to draw to justify my tastes, but I'm trying to grow here.)
M*A*S*H* could have been way more tongue in cheek at the time but I couldn't get over the scene where all the guys line up to watch as the walls to "Hot Lips'" shower gets knocked over leaving her naked, screaming and crying on the ground in front of a group of male doctors who did nothing but laugh and make cat calls.
Then to top it off she runs off to the captain to complain. Meanwhile he's in his tent sexually harassing another cadet. "Hot Lips" complains about what happens and threatens to quit if this person in control doesn't do anything, to which he replies with a straight face, "Then leave," as he continues to lay in bed with the other cadet.
Up until this point I was on the fence as to whether or not I was being prudish and that some of these exploits could be taking place between consenting adults, playfully releasing tension in this time of war, but the "Hot Lips" scene really affected my view of these characters I was supposed to be rooting for.
And then we get introduced to "Spearchucker Jones."
I don't know? Maybe if I would have seen this movie as a kid all this would have seemed funny to me? I still think Blazing Saddles is a funny satire and I know that movie's horribly offensive. The difference to me is that in Blazing Saddles movie the characters being offended seemed to be in on the joke and in every instance they also seemed to be made out to be the better person. The offended characters in M*A*S*H* however seemed to be nothing more that props for the privileged doctors to do with what they please.
This is another movie where I would have to look at it through the eyes of someone who is okay with the, "It was a different time," mentality to understand why it made the list. There are some fun scenes and great characters but I was really bothered by the shower scene. The recent news about unchecked sexual harassment in the military didn't help. It did help solidify the fact that I won't be watching the movie again or the television show any time soon.
Update #48: #53 The Deer Hunter (1978)
I'll openly admit that I went into last night's viewing of The Deer Hunter with a bad attitude but you should be used to that by now. Other than a couple of the actors I don't think this movie has a single one of my favorite things.
If you've read any of my reviews you already know that I'm not a fan of alpha male stories, I don't really like gun driven suspence, and I hate war stories.
This movie has the trifecta.
That said, The Deer Hunter did manage to win me over from time to time. I really wanted to like it but inevitably I would end up zoning out during the scenes of chest pounding gun play.
If you've ever seen this movie, it's a hard one to follow unless you're focused.
It starts with a wedding, then transition into what seems to be a bachelor party hunting weekend and then they end up in Vietnam, they really get into Russian Roulette, then return to America where they find a underground Russian Roulette league to join, they're all weirded out by being home then next thing you there in some other war torn nation where they find another Russian Roulette league, then Christopher Walkins shoots himself in the head after DeNiro tells him he loves him.
Even though I know more of the details than I'm letting on, my mind was somewhere else so it was hard to truly follow along. I liked the style and tone and even thought there was a good story. I just found that I was losing interest often and then struggling to put the pieces together when something would happen to draw me back in.
Even though I wasn't a fan, I can see why this movie made the list. I'm pretty sure I'll never actively seek out a viewing of The Deer Hunter again. I wouldn't however turn down the offer to watch it with someone if they were a fan and wanted to prove that I just wasn't in the right head space. I doubt that'll ever happen though.
Update #49: #52 Taxi Driver (1976)
This was probably my fourth or fifth viewing of Taxi Driver. I think I gave in to watching this movie at just the right time in my life to become a healthy fan. I avoided Taxi Driver until the point where I was old enough to appreciate it without it becoming influential enough to affect any of my life choices.
Now when I say this I don't mean that seeing this movie in my teens may have led me to go on some form of delusional yet justified killing spree in an attempt to clean up the world, but it would have definitely lead me to buying the poster and potentially getting a Taxi Driver poster art inspired tattoo instead of the Reservoir Dogs poster inspired tattoo that I actually have.
I was also young enough that I wasn't already fed up with guns in cinema. I'm seriously trying to figure out what my actual issue with guns playing such a big part of plot is all about.
I think part of it’s from being taught to avoid Deus Ex Michina in story yet it's perfectly fine when said Machina is being fired by our hero. Though the loud bang and fire flash is exciting gun based climaxes are pretty anticlimactic to me. Nothing is resolved except our primitive urge to just destroy the problem.
I need to write a movie kind of like The Gods Must Be Crazy, only have it take place in a metropolis and instead of a Coke bottle, our Xi comes across a gun. The neighborhood finds the gun to be a very useful tool at first but then eventually is exposed to be the weapon it truly is as it accidentally claims its first victim. This leads our Xi on a journey to throw the gun off the edge of the world.
Or go the other route and make a reboot The Gods Must be Crazy. Xi finds the Coke bottle, the tribe finds the Coke bottle to be very useful, only when the bottle is become weaponized rather than journey to the edge of the world to rid our planet of this threat, Xi reverse engineers this mystery and starts to mas-produce these Coke bottles to sell as both tools and weapons.
This would eventually lead to a whole The God's Must Be Crazy genre of action film featuring characters armed to the teeth with Coke bottles instead of guns...
That ended up going somewhere I wasn't expecting.
Oh well, I'll leave it.
All the above said. I am a fan of Taxi Driver. I think the main reason is that we really get into Travis Bickle's head to where even though he's an anti-hero we get to see that using his logic he's not actually a real bad guy. This is opposed to an anti-hero like in the movie American Psycho where anti-hero is more literal and the main character has no redeeming qualities.
Taxi Driver gave us an anti-hero that we can actually have compassion for and because of that I can see why this movie made the list. I don't really plan to ever see this movie again, but I never planned to see it in the first place so I wouldn't be surprised if it happened.
Update #50: #51 West Side Story (1961)
Back around 1995 I stumbled across a CD entitled Punk Side Story by a band called Schlong. I had no connection or interest in the movie West Side Story but being a fan of punk, novelty and cover songs I decided to buy the album. At first I wasn't a fan of the music but I was a fan of how obscure and obnoxious this faux soundtrack turned out to be.
I eventually grew to legitimately love the album so I was kind of excited to see what the real West Side Story was all about. All I knew going into this viewing were the above mentioned cover songs, it's a retelling of Romeo and Juliet and that it's filled with flamboyant men dancing their asses off in place of acts of violence.
Even though I was prepared for these dancing bad asses I couldn't stop laughing for the first half hour or so. I couldn't help but think if West Side Story were my introduction to the American experience during this time period I would think we were dealing with an open minded society, well at least when it comes to sexual orientation.
After the half hour or so of laughing I got really bored. Not because of the song and dance, or anything musical related. I've just seen enough tellings of Romeo and Juliet to last a life time and this one didn't have an interesting enough twist to hold my interest.
Base on all the other selection made by this crew I can see why this West Side Story made the list. I'm not sure why it's so high up there, but I'm guessing it has to do with the musical being a bigger part in cinema back in the day. Being that I never had to put an ounce of effort into avoiding this movie in the past, even though I liked Punk Side Story so much, I'm pretty sure I'll never see West Side Story again.
Update #51: #50 Lord of the Rings (2001)
I think this is the fourth time that I've tried to finally watch The Lord of the Rings. It's definitely the first time that I've made it all the way through. Unfortunately even though I fully understand why this movie is the success that it is; it's a beautiful film, the acting is great and the story hits every single beat that a trained writer is supposed to strive for.
That said, I still hate it.
There are a couple reasons why.
The first reason won't be a surprise to anyone who has read any of my other reviews of movies on this list. I am not a fan of formulaic stories. We are so well trained at interpreting story based on these proven techniques, that it's hard to avoid using elements of the proven structure of the hero's journey.
No matter how well following time tested structure works when it comes to box office; I will personally never be all that impressed by anyone who finds a treasure by following such a precise map, even if I am impressed by the authors ability to do so.
In my review of Taxi Driver I pointed out that I'm seriously trying to figure out my hatred of guns in cinema. Well, I'm also seriously trying to figure out why I am not interested in the type of fantasy world created in The Lord of the Rings.
As I was watching the movie last night I think I figured it out.
Part of the reason I don't like structure is that I feel we put too much value in the fiction of reality that has been created throughout history. I feel we're all pawns in a game that was created a long time ago. We're unable to let go of all these rules because we put too much stock in the mythology of our "forefathers."
Fantasies like The Lord of the Rings feel like nostalgic throwbacks to this time where illinformed leaders created similar mythology and the rules to this game that the primitive part of our minds continue to be controlled by.
I feel that this is my own personal issue and in no way expect anyone to agree with me. Because of this self-awareness and the awareness that it's a well made movie, I fully understand why The Lord of the Rings made the list. My feeling about structure and it's glorified connection with rules of the past is only growing stronger so I doubt that I'll ever see this movie again.
Update #52: #49 Intolerance (1916)
Because of the fact that I've been so impressed by all the other silent films on this list, I was really looking forward to watching Intolerance, especial after reading more about the film while looking for a copy to watch.
For example according to the Wikipedia "Intolerance is a 1916 American silent film directed by D. W. Griffith and is considered one of the great masterpieces of the Silent Era. The three-and-a-half hour epic intercuts four parallel storylines, each separated by several centuries: (1) A contemporary melodrama of crime and redemption; (2) a Judean story: Christ’s mission and death; (3) a French story: the events surrounding the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre of 1572; and (4) a Babylonian story: the fall of the Babylonian Empire to Persia in 539 BC. Each story had its own tint in the original print. The scenes are linked by shots of a figure representing Eternal Motherhood, rocking a cradle."
I was expecting to see a silent Cloud Atlas expressing the flaws of the sexism, racism and overall intolerance that I've been complaining about when it comes to old time Hollywood. Though this expectation was somewhat accurate I had a hard time getting through this movie and not because it was bad.
As the Wikipedia article points out, this movie is three and a half hours long which can be too long for a modern movie with amazing sound.
Intolerance is also the oldest movie on the list. All the other silent films on this list were shot toward the end of the silent era when Hollywood was no longer experimenting and knew how to put together a movie.
Again that's not to say that Intolerance is bad, just hard to make it through with out zoning out.
One of the zone out factors is that the same (what is now stereotypical) piano music seemed to be playing throughout the entire movie. Then the title cards are long winded, having to not only convey the dialog being said, but also explain what the hell was going on in the story. Being that the story is ambitiously complex for the time the title cards would sometimes even explain the structure of the tale. Then there was the acting. As expected, it's extremely old school with lots of over-exaggerated movements and women looking concerned as they bring their hand to their head in distress.
It was like watching a mutoscope movie for three and a half hours. Because of this it was too easy to be distracted by modern technology, only to find myself completely lost whenever the movie regained my attention.
Intolerance is an amazing movie for it's time so I fully see why it made the list, it's just from an era of silent film that not for me. I doubt that I'll ever watch it again, but it was worth seeing.
Update #53: #48 Rear Window (1968)
Rear Window is another one of the rare movies on this list that I've already seen before. I've actually seen it a few times. I'm not only a fan of this movie but I'm also a fan of the movies that it's inspired, including Burbs, one of my favorite movies to reference.
Being that I already knew the story so well going into the viewing, I didn't really find anything all that insightful or interesting to say about it. I did watch Grace Kelly like a hawk because a friend pointed out that she takes items of clothing off and turning on all the lights every time she shows up on the screen. This would be a good drinking game if only I was still drinking.
Maybe the next time I watch it I'll have company so it will count as a social occasion where drinking would be allowed! I fully understand why Rear Window made the list and would be surprised if I never ended up watching is again.
Update #54: #47 A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
All I knew about A Streetcar Named Desire going into this viewing was that someone yells "Stella" at some point in the movie and that rap duo Das Efx references this "Stella" yelling in one of their songs.
I went in and out of enjoying this movie through out the viewing. I pointed this out in reviews of other movies from this time period but there is something about the affect, accent, and speed of the speech from actors of this time, that for whatever reason, I have a hard time understanding.
It didn't take too long to become acclimated to these odd tones and I was eventually able to follow the story.
I could see why this is considered a good movie but it just wasn't for me. Sure there's the standard sexism that I'm usually griping about from this era, but my big problem with this film is the perpetuating stereotype that deep inside "the nice guy" is a horrible person.
I hate how the Mitch character is set up to be a gentleman in his courtship of Blanche even has she avoids him and is pretty open about the fact that she's interested in Brando who is her sister's husband as she continues to string Mitch along. (Note: I hate the "string along" concept because most the time it's a term used when the girl is nice and not interested, but in this film it seemed to me like it was a genuine "stringing.")
Brando is able to be a monster throughout the entire movie and we're supposed to feel for him at the slightest hint of his sensitive side. Meanwhile when the sensitive guy uncharacteristically expresses an opposite emotion he's the one portrayed as the actual monster in the story.
Then to top it off it's revealed that Mitch actually is a monster and was just out to use Blanche all along. I just don't like this because I'm a nice guy and I feel that I'm perceived this way because it's a prototypical trait perpetuated throughout fiction. I guess this is why I relate to all the issues with the other ist and ism as they are portrayed in film.
The movie then won me over at the very end of the story. Even though I'm against reboots and remakes I couldn't help but think how great this story would be if it was rewritten and directed by a female. This is Blanche's story after all and it seems like it would be much more interesting if it was told minus the prism of a male writer's mind.
As I said, even though I'm wasn't a fan I could see that A Streetcar Named Desire is a good movie and can see why it made the list, but would be just fine never seeing it again.
Update #55: #46 It Happened One Night (1936)
I don't have all that much to say about It Happened One Night. Though I haven't seen this movie before it feels like I've seen it a million times before. It's your every day tale of a bounty hunter (in this case a reporter) tracking down a woman on the run from a guy she doesn't want to marry.
The "bounty hunter" tracks down the girl and the two team up. Even though the two can't stand one another the "bounty hunter" has a job to do. Being fragile, the girl begrudgingly teams up with the guy because there's no way she can make it to her point B without his help.
The two inevitably fall in love in the process. Things then fall about toward the end. This leads the girl to go back to the other guy who she despises, not out of love but to get back at this "bounty hunter," who eventually comes around and ruins the wedding.
I don't know where this movie lands in the history of Rom-Com but I'm guessing it's significant enough to make the list. If that's the case I can see why. My disinterest in It Happened One Night stems from me being over this formulaic genre. Aside from my genre prejudice I just felt that this movie wasn't all that fun, and doubt that I'll ever watch it again.
Update #56: #45 Shane (1953)
It turns out that this was the second time that I've seen Shane in it's entirety. I thought I had just seen clips of it while in film school but as I continued to watch there wasn't a single scene that I was unfamiliar with.
I think I liked Shane the first time I saw it. This first viewing was I also with a group of classmates so I was probably caught up in the overall experience. This was also around the time where my taste in cinema started to evolve. I may have genuinely liked it for being a more sentimental Western.
Last night as I watch Shane alone I found myself indifferent. It wasn't offensive enough to push me away but still promoted violence as the answer to all the worlds problems enough so that it never ended up drawing me in.
Being that Shane seems to be like the original Unforgiven style anti-Western, I can see why it made the list. Now that I've seen it twice I think I'll be just fine never watching it again.
Update #57: #44 The Philadelphia Story (1940)
I had no idea what to expect going into my viewing of The Philadelphia Story. At first I thought it had something to do with The Philadelphia Experiment and was pretty excited. Then I saw it was a romantic comedy and lost my enthusiasm.
It's not that I dislike romantic comedies. The problem is that the past couple Rom-Coms on this list (though original at the time) were so formulaic that I wanted to jump out my window.
Then I saw Jimmy Stewart was one of the stars and was willing to give it a shot. Years ago, Jimmy Stewart became my favorite actor after seeing him in Harvey.
Then the movie started and again I was scared.
A tale of a love triangle from the 40s?
I was fully prepared to see a masculine battle of entitlement over the helpless and hopeless Katharine Hepburn.
I zoned out and started to multitask but the movie kept drawing my attention back to the screen. All the characters were so insane and charming that I had to restart the movie to give it the attention it deserved.
I ended up loving this movie.
The fact that everyone in The Philadelphia Story is a little mentally off made the story feel real to me. More real than most of the movies I've seen from the time.
I especially liked how Katharine Hepburn's character's indecisiveness was part of her character and a flaw of her gender.
My stance on the depiction of women in film doesn't come from being a "male feminist." My stance comes from the fact that we are all crazy and insecure.
Being that men who are desperate to be heroes in the real world write a majority of the stories in cinema. These writers seem to limit the flaws in the characters that they relate to. This leads the entire fictionalized world of the story to seem even more false than it already is.
I feel The Philadelphia Story did a great job at depicting a flawed world with beautifully flawed characters. Because of this, I can see why it made the list. I can't wait for the day where I find someone to share this movie with so that I can watch it again.
Update #58: #43 Midnight Cowboy (1969)
Last night was my second viewing of Midnight Cowboy. I remember liking this movie the first time I watched it. I was at the peek of my interest in contemporary independent film and was impressed by how not only did it hold up but I could also see it's influence on the genre.
Midnight Cowboy is another case where the characters are so honestly flawed that the story feels real. The predicament of a straight guy from a small town trying to make it in the big city only to end up a gay sex worker has fascinating built in conflict that makes for a compelling story.
I like this aspect of Midnight Cowboy but there's another aspect that I love.
When I'm out people watching I love creating backstories for the bizarre pairing that are out there in the world. Whether it's the morbidly obese drunk hanging out with the scraggly tweeker or the priest and the rabbi walking into a bar, I love to imagine what these duos do on an average day.
There always seems to be a love/hate friendship where the dominate personality bitterly cares for their train wreck of a friend. I think that Midnight Cowboy does a great job at telling this tale.
As I mentioned above, I can see Midnight Cowboy's influence on contemporary independent film and therefore understand why it made the list. I can also see myself watching this movie again. Especially after one of these people watching mission with a friend where we spot this duo's real life counter parts.
Update #59: #42 Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
A few nights ago I watched Bonnie and Clyde for what turned out to be the first time. Though I'd never seen the movie before I've always fantasized about being in a Bonnie and Clyde style relationship. When I say this I mean more of a collaborative relationship with a common goal than having a partner to go on a violent killing spree with.
I bet if I would have seen this movie a few years ago I would have loved it. It’s Natural Born Killers but with the killers working through an awkward asexual relationship.
How could I not?
I did like the relationship aspect of the story but as you may have read, I'm just so over violence as the conflict and solution in story. This lead me to drift off during the many shoot outs.
That said I liked Bonnie and Clyde, I just know that there was a time in my life where I would have loved it. Since the parts that I didn’t like stems from my own change in taste, I can see why this movie made the list. I'll probably will watch it again if I ever happen find my Bonnie to be awkwardly asexual with as we watch.
Update #60: #41 King Kong (1933)
As a large mammal who often feels misunderstood, I've always felt a connection to King Kong. This morning I had a nice relaxing viewing of the 1933 classic after deciding to stay in bed in an attempt to ease myself into the day.
I'm not sure how many times I've seen this version of King Kong but I know I've seen it multiple times. Every time I watch the 1933 version I forget about all the dinosaurs that are involved in the story.
During King Kong's first fight with the T-Rex I thought to myself, "I thought he fought a giant snake?" Moments after defeating the T-Rex out came the giant snake. Then I was completely caught off guard by the pterodactyl fight.
I guess I haven't seen the original as many times as I thought.
Either way I still love the story and feel for my fellow giant mammal and his struggles with unrequited love of a woman who is out of his league.
I can only image how amazing these special effects were when this movie premiered. Because of that and the great story I fully agree that King Kong belongs on this list. Once I'm done with my reboot/remake boycott I may have a King Kong movie marathon and watch this version along with every other version that I can find.