Tag: Fantasia

Top 100 Films (2013 Edition): Part 2 of 5

The next 20 movies are here. It’s happening! If you missed the bottom 20, check them out here. And now, on with the show.

80. A History of Violence

Well, why don’t you ask “Tom” about his older brother Ritchie in Philadelphia? Ask “Tom” how he once tried to rip my eye out with barbed wire. And ask him, Edie… ask him how come he’s so good at killing people.

A History of Violence is Cronenberg relaxed, not as focused on the body horror that he built his name on. That isn’t to say there’s no horror elements here as the violence from the title is brutal and not masked at all. But this is a movie about a man and his family, the steps he would take to protect them. It’s really good at what it does.

79. The General

If you lose this war don’t blame me.

Buster Keaton makes his second appearance on this list as a rejected fighter in the Civil War who gets mixed up in a crazy train thing. Less inventive than Sherlock Jr., The General must rely on a stronger story and even crazier action setpieces for its thrills. And they are spectacular thrills indeed.

78. Aladdin

Oi! Ten thousand years will give you such a crick in the neck.

Aladdin was the first film I ever saw in theaters. It began my lifelong love of film thanks to its beauty, songs, and one-of-a-kind performance by Robin Williams as the wish granting genie with pop culture references and fireworks blasting off at any given moment. It is very likely my most watched movie of all time, and I can still hear all of those great lines in my head as if I were watching the movie.

77. The Wicker Man

Don’t you see that killing me is not going to bring back your apples?

While this is often lumped under the category of horror films, it’s more of a kind of nutty musical with a little ritual sacrifice thrown in at the end for good measure. Edward Woodward (which, until Benedict Cumberbatch, was the best name to say out loud) is a proud Christian confronted by all kinds of pagan nudity and insane happiness. His counterpart, the “evil” Lord Summerisle is played delightfully by Christopher Lee. Forget the dumb remake, this one is crazy and good.

76. This Is Spinal Tap

Well, I don’t really think that the end can be assessed as of itself as being the end because what does the end feel like? It’s like saying when you try to extrapolate the end of the universe, you say, if the universe is indeed infinite, then how – what does that mean? How far is all the way, and then if it stops, what’s stopping it, and what’s behind what’s stopping it? So, what’s the end, you know, is my question to you.

There may never be a mockumentary as good as This Is Spinal Tap. A fantastic combination of dull wits and silly music, it’s a dumb comedy made very clearly by a bunch of intelligent guys. Nearly every element of the rock world is skewered perfectly.

75. The Proposition

Mr. Murphy, Russia, China, the Congo, oh, I have traveled among unknown people in lands beyond the seas. But nothing, nothing could have prepared me for this godforsaken hole.

The dirtiest, most unsettling western I’ve seen. It takes the harshness of the American West and ratchets up the grime and heat a few notches by setting the tale in the middle of the Australian summer. And the mission at the center of the film is a rough one, too, with one brother sent out to reign in another brother while yet a third brother is held ransom by the town sheriff. Existential, evolutional angst is on full display in this gorgeously ugly film.

74. Rear Window

Now, Doyle, don’t tell me that he’s just an unemployed magician amusing the neighborhood with his sleight of hand. Don’t tell me that.

A marvelous movie which creates the majority of its tension at a distance. Jimmy Stewart’s wheelchair-bound photographer catches on to some shady business and is helpless to do anything about it. Hitchcock is obviously a master and Rear Window is a perfectly constructed example of his ability to instill anxiety in his audiences.

73. Fantasia

Then the music begins to suggest other things to your imagination. They might be, oh, just masses of color, or they may be cloud forms or great landscapes or vague shadows or geometrical objects floating in space.

A fantastic (ha) marriage of sound and image, Fantasia is an early masterpiece from Disney. Each work of classical music is paired with a really great story or environment which has cemented the importance of music without lyrics for generations. At once a starters guide and an experimental art film, Fantasia will never lose its hold on the young and old alike.

72. Never Let Me Go

We didn’t have to look into your souls, we had to see if you had souls at all.

A heartbreaking beauty of a film. Never Let Me Go is a sci-fi love story that leans away from both of those elements into a melancholic meditation on loss and friendship. It’s a quiet little movie that packs a serious emotional punch.

71. Brick

No more of these informal chats! If you have a disciplinary issue with me, write me up or suspend me and I’ll see you at the parent conference.

Rian Johnson has gone on to make bigger movies (both The Brothers Bloom and Looper are larger in scope than this little film) but never has he matched the audacity of Brick, a movie set in a normal high school which just so happens to be populated with a student body that talks like they’re in a film noir. As out there as the premise is, the characters are grounded in an emotional reality that sells the film as a whole.

70. The Mortal Storm

I’ve never prized safety, Erich, either for myself or my children. I prized courage.

The first Frank Borzage movie on this list is one of his better known works. An early example of movies decrying the Nazis, its historical importance often overshadows the sheer beauty of it all. Each scene is powerful in its own way and the cumulative effect of all the love and hardships is staggering. A career highlight for all involved (Stewart, Sullavan, Young, and Morgan), this is a devastating movie.

69. Shaun of the Dead

Take car. Go to Mum’s. Kill Phil – “Sorry.” – grab Liz, go to the Winchester, have a nice cold pint, and wait for all of this to blow over. How’s that for a slice of fried gold?

Edgar Wright’s second appearance on this list is another doozy. Working in the zombie genre, he deftly blends a romantic comedy into the mix alongside a touching mother-stepfather-son triangle. Also, it is really funny. Wright can blend homage with his own style quite well and is one of the few directors working today with a definite sense of pacing and joketelling through his editing.

68. Paths of Glory

You are an idealist… and I pity you as I would the village idiot. We’re fighting a war, Dax, a war that we’ve got to win. Those men didn’t fight, so they were shot.

This is a strange half-war-film, half-courtroom drama hybrid which uses Stanley Kubrick’s impeccable eye for composition as its guiding light. The war scenes are a wonder, the predecessor to Saving Private Ryan‘s opening salvo, and the courtroom scenes are just as intense, albeit on a verbal and intellectual level rather than a visceral one. Kubrick’s cynicism shines through and, although I hesitate to indulge in those kinds of thoughts, his vision is so well defined that it’s hard to find fault with it.

67. City of God

A kid? I smoke, I snort. I’ve killed and robbed. I’m a man.

Here’s another organized crime movie. The unique setting is what elevates this above the drivel in the genre in addition to the captivating myriad stories being told at once. Participants include a young photographer, a maniacal teenage drug kingpin, and an apartment where everything goes down. Kinetic in style and broadly considering of its topic and scope, City of God is one of a kind.

66. Repulsion

I must get this crack mended.

The ultimate paranoia director takes on spooky apartments with even better results than his more well-known Rosemary’s Baby. Like some of the other horror films on this list, Repulsion isn’t crisp or smooth, instead it wallows in a creaky realism that keeps all the jagged edges in to great effect. An ever escalating thrill ride with a bit of feminist theory thrown in for good measure.

65. Out of Sight

It’s like seeing someone for the first time, and you look at each other for a few seconds, and there’s this kind of recognition like you both know something. Next moment the person’s gone, and it’s too late to do anything about it.

Soderbergh at the height of both his ultimate cool abilities and his experimental tweaking. He combines these two elements into one super great love story based on characters from the incomparable Elmore Leonard. Clooney and Lopez have such an intense chemistry and are surrounded by really great character actors in fantastic roles.

64. Metropolis

Having conceived Babel, yet unable to build it themselves, they had thousands to build it for them. But those who toiled knew nothing of the dreams of those who planned. And the minds that planned the Tower of Babel cared nothing for the workers who built it. The hymns of praise of the few became the curses of the many – BABEL! BABEL! BABEL! – Between the mind that plans and the hands that build there must be a Mediator, and this must be the heart.

An early masterpiece of crazy expressionism and religious and social metaphor. Fritz Lang uses spectacular sets and direction to tell the tale of a populist uprising in a utopia of supreme architecture. Futurist in style and fable-like in story, this one really appeals to all of my little taste bubbles. It’s fun and heady and really beautiful.

63. Before Sunset

Maybe what I’m saying is, is the world might be evolving the way a person evolves. Right? Like, I mean, me for example. Am I getting worse? Am I improving? I don’t know. When I was younger, I was healthier, but I was, uh, whacked with insecurity, you know? Now I’m older and my problems are deeper, but I’m more equipped to handle them.

I watched all three Before movies this year, concluding with the recently released Before Midnight. This one, the middle in the trilogy, grabbed me way more than the idealistic Before Sunrise. Celine and Jesse are older and probably wiser nine years later, but no less infatuated, though they don’t often show it. It’s seen as the more cynical of the two first films but I feel like the ending really refutes that. It’s a romance that feels real and still like a storybook. I don’t know how that happened.

62. Funny Games

You’re on their side, aren’t you? So, who will you bet with?

Michael Haneke’s sarcastic indictment of horror audiences really gets to the point about halfway through the movie when something totally jarring happens and messes with the audience’s expectations entirely. Though I still enjoy silly horror films, this movie has forced me to at least think about the reasons why I do so. It’s crazy and the build-up is pretty slow, which makes for an even more intense film once it really gets going. The remake is a perfectly fine substitute, by the way, with the director returning and doing almost everything exactly the same as before, but in English.

61. The Prestige

The truly extraordinary is not permitted in science and industry. Perhaps you’ll find more luck in your field, where people are happy to be mystified.

Christopher Nolan’s only truly great film is, on its surface, a movie about jealous magicians and the terrible fates they bring upon themselves and their family and friends. Looking deeper, though, reveals that it’s a movie about movies, and the power they have to transport us away from ourselves and into unreality. It’s a puzzlebox like many of his other films that has (unlike those others) an emotional and thematic core that satisfies as much as the mystery, if not more.

That’s the end of round two. Let me know how you’ve been enjoying it, or if you hate a pick or something. PS, if that last part applies to you, you’re nuts. These are objectively awesome movies.

Top 100 Films List (2013): Movies about God(s)

Welcome to the first real post about my new top 100 movies list! It’s very exciting, at least to me. The first grouping will be, as the title suggests, movies about God(s). As a not-religious person my interest here is not to affirm my own point of view or force it upon you, but to see how movies about god(s) and religion raise questions that matter deeply to us as humans. How does the presence or lack of a god inform our lives? How do we cope when we try to approach something beyond our understanding? Who do we blame when something goes wrong, or praise when something goes right? Religion has been a large part of our cultural heritage and movies are no different. Without further ado, here are, in alphabetical order, the movies from my top 100 list that are, in some way, about God(s).

Ok, have you voted? That’s a poll, go vote on it! Pick one that is your favorite. Do it!

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk a little. First, movies about playing God. We have within us a deep desire to create and specifically to create life. That is often seen as the territory of God or Gods, depending on the creation myth you like best. Through movies we’ve come up with some fantastic creation myths of our own, none better than Jurassic Park. Here’s an example of creating life gone wrong, bringing back what should have been left dead, or at least should have been created with a little more care and foresight. “God creates dinosaurs. God destroys dinosaurs. God creates man. Man destroys God. Man creates dinosaurs.” This pretty accurately describes the thought process up to the beginning of the movie as wryly stated by the one and only Jeff Goldblum. Laura Dern counters with the potential plot of the rest of the film, “Dinosaurs eat man … woman inherits the earth.” But Jurassic Park isn’t the only movie about humans trying to reach god-like status as creators of life. Blade Runner, too, concerns itself with the perils of trying to re-create humans and improve upon them. At what point does that creation turn on its creators for being imperfect as some would argue we have done with God? Roy Batty is perhaps the most human character in the film as he struggles with this question, though beneath his synthetic skin an artificial heart beats and a computer thinks. The Truman Show goes on a bit of a different path as a tv producer creates not life but a life for the titular character. Everything is controlled and broadcast for all to see and though it may seem idyllic initially, soon the curated life becomes a prison, which leads the viewer to ask whether or not the same would be the case if we were to know with certainty that our lives are curated in a similar respect.

Some movies warn of the perils of religion and religious thinking. Doubt, for example, presents some obvious issues with the concept of certainty when it comes to things that are immensely complex, whether it be belief in God or the relationship between a man and a boy. That film does a wonderful job of not answering any of the factual questions we have as that would not accurately reflect the situation the characters find themselves in. Haxan: Witchcraft through the Ages is an early documentary that explores the way religion has treated anybody that isn’t normal in the society of the time. Even in 1922 the movie is smart enough to link this bad behavior to the treatment of mental illness in “modern” times, a situation that hasn’t improved as much as it should. In The Wicker Man a Christian detective is brought to an island of pagans to investigate a missing girl. It’s a clash of religious ideas that is as loopy as it is unsettling, with its nude ritual scenes and creepy costumes. Fanny and Alexander is a movie in which an artistic family is subjected to the strict religious rules thanks to a mother’s second marriage. The bishop she marries is one of the greatest screen villains precisely because he is almost always certain he is doing the right thing. The Night of the Hunter has a similar father figure, and though his evil is even more apparent, it is no less scary.

It’s not always so obvious, though, the insidious implications of religion. The Long Day Closes shows a boy struggling with his sexual identity in the face of religious doctrine which states that he is ill-formed. The Seventh Seal demonstrates that life during the Black Plague was a nasty one, and religions reflected and enhanced that nastiness with their own misguided beliefs. In A Serious Man, the Job story from the bible is reinterpreted for the 60’s as a Jewish man’s life is ripped apart in any way possible while his religious leaders offer little comfort. And finally, in There Will Be Blood, capitalism is set against harsh Christianity as two ideals enter and both lose. There is very little up side to either as the deep-seated flaws are laid out in the forms of Daniel Plainview and Eli Sunday. Metropolis, too, shows us that economics are nothing to be worshiped.

Of course, God and religion are really just one way of trying to understand things that are bigger than ourselves and beyond our current understandings. As our scientific knowledge grows we answer questions with facts that we had once answered with gods, though new questions always appear in relation to even crazier things that happen in the natural world. Sunshine shows us a man who has lived so close to the sun for so long that he has gone crazy, believing that the sun is God incarnate and that he is an angel sent to destroy humanity. Cloud Atlas has, in one of its stories, a woman who becomes a god-figure thanks to her deeply human act of freeing millions of slaves. How one person can be so good is deified through countless retellings of a story. The Devil’s Backbone shows young orphans as they try to comprehend the insane violence of the Spanish Civil War through an unexploded bomb in the middle of their orphanage and tales of a ghostly kid who will exact revenge. Melancholia is a planet that appears out of nowhere and is on a collision course with the earth. As it nears us, a young woman deals with depression and the pressures of life. The Tree of Life and The Fountain are twins of a sort, both of which examine the role of God in our day to day lives, however mundane or grand they may be.

We also have, in movies, a great way of exploring whether or not God even exists. The Seventh Seal and Doubt ask the question early and often, while movies like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Fantasia, The Exorcist, and Contact answer the question with a resounding yes, and that God is kinda scary. Fantasia and Throne of Blood explore non-christian religions through sometimes creepy and sometimes glorious imagery. Haxan, too, has a terrifyingly beautiful vision of hell, while Contact‘s heaven might be some distant planet. Holy Motors posits that movies are our new religion where we can make our own heavens and hells and realities. That’s the one that appeals to me most, I think. Cameras and projectors as instruments of revelation. That’s my kind of religion.

That’s enough for this subject, I think. I hope you voted. I’ve compiled this list on Letterboxd as well, so you can check off what you’ve seen. If you have any thoughts on what I’ve shared here, or a movie you think might fit this topic that you love, or anything at all, please leave a comment below! Tune in soon for a new topic of consideration.

Top 100 Films List (2012 edition)

Surprise bonus list! Every year I revise my top movies list and this year I didn’t spend much time on the ordering, outside adding in ten new movies and dropping out ten old movies. The new movies are underlined. Click the movie title if it’s a link for a full review. I decided to not go into the full detail that I did last year, because those are still available for you to peruse at your leisure. I did pick out a new quote for each entry, though, so I hope you still enjoy it. Here we go.

100. Scream

“Sidney, how does it feel to be almost brutally butchered? People want to know. They have a right to know! How does it feel?”

99. This is Spinal Tap

“May I start by saying how thrilled we are to have you here. We are such fans of your music and all of your records. I’m not speaking of yours personally, but the whole genre of the rock and roll.”

98. A Serious Man

“You understand the dead cat? But… you… you can’t really understand the physics without understanding the math. The math tells how it really works. That’s the real thing; the stories I give you in class are just illustrative; they’re like, fables, say, to help give you a picture. An imperfect model. I mean – even I don’t understand the dead cat. The math is how it really works.”

97. The Lion in Winter

“You’re so deceitful you can’t ask for water when you’re thirsty. We could tangle spiders in the webs you weave.”

96. The Fly

“I’m saying… I’m saying I – I’m an insect who dreamt he was a man and loved it. But now the dream is over… and the insect is awake.”

95. All the President’s Men

“You’re both paranoid. She’s afraid of John Mitchell, and you’re afraid of Walter Cronkite.”

94. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

“You could have dinner with us… my brother makes good head cheese! You like head cheese?”

93. Mother

“There’s a meridian point that can loosen the knots in your heart and clear all horrible memories from you mind.”

92. Days of Heaven

“You know how people are. You tell them something, they start talking.”

91. Exit Through the Gift Shop

“I think the joke is on… I don’t know who the joke’s on – really. I don’t even know if there is a joke.”

90. To Kill a Mockingbird

“There just didn’t seem to be anyone or anything Atticus couldn’t explain. Though it wasn’t a talent that would arouse the admiration of any of our friends, Jem and I had to admit he was very good at that – but that was *all* he was good at… we thought.”

89. Apocalypto

“I am Jaguar Paw, son of Flint Sky. My Father hunted this forest before me. My name is Jaguar Paw. I am a hunter. This is my forest. And my sons will hunt it with their sons after I am gone.”

88. Once

“What’s the Czech for “Do you love him”?”

87. How Green Was My Valley

“Everything I ever learnt as a small boy came from my father, and I never found anything he ever told me to be wrong or worthless. The simple lessons he taught me are as sharp and clear in my mind as if I had heard them only yesterday.”

86. Punch-Drunk Love

“I have to get more pudding for this trip to Hawaii. As I just said that out loud I realize it sounded a little strange but it’s not.”

85. Paths of Glory

“I apologize… for not being entirely honest with you. I apologize for not revealing my true feelings. I apologize, sir, for not telling you sooner that you’re a degenerate, sadistic old man. And you can go to hell before I apologize to you now or ever again!”

84. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

“Maybe you don’t have to do this all by yourself, mate.”

83. Manhattan

“I had a mad impulse to throw you down on the lunar surface and commit interstellar perversion.”

82. In Bruges

“Number One, why aren’t you in when I fucking told you to be in? Number Two, why doesn’t this hotel have phones with fucking voicemail and not have to leave messages with the fucking receptionist? Number Three, you better fucking be in tomorrow night when I fucking call again or there’ll be fucking hell to pay. I’m fucking telling you – Harry.”

81. The Godfather

“You talk about vengeance. Is vengeance going to bring your son back to you or my boy to me?”

80. Metropolis

“There can be no understanding between the hand and the brain unless the heart acts as mediator.”

79. A Fish Called Wanda

“To call you stupid would be an insult to stupid people! I’ve known sheep that could outwit you. I’ve worn dresses with higher IQs. But you think you’re an intellectual, don’t you, ape?”

78. The Proposition

“I know where Arthur Burns is. It is a God-forsaken place. The blacks won’t go there, not the tracks; not even wild men. I suppose, in time, the bounty hunters will get him. But I have other plans, I aim to bring him down – I aim to show that he’s a man like any other. I aim to hurt him.”

77. Repulsion

“I must get this crack mended.”

76. The Shop Around the Corner

“Well I really wouldn’t care to scratch your surface, Mr. Kralik, because I know exactly what I’d find. Instead of a heart, a hand-bag. Instead of a soul, a suitcase. And instead of an intellect, a cigarette lighter… which doesn’t work.”

75. Hot Fuzz

“You wanna be a big cop in a small town? Fuck off up the model village.”

74. The Conversation

“I’m not following you, I’m looking for you. There’s a big difference.”

73. RoboCop

“Let me make something clear to you. He doesn’t have a name. He has a program. He’s product.”

72. Young Mr. Lincoln

“I may not know much of law Mr. Felder, but I know what’s right and what’s wrong. And I know what you’re asking is wrong.”

71. Brazil

“Listen, this old system of yours could be on fire and I couldn’t even turn on the kitchen tap without filling out a 27b/6… Bloody paperwork.”

70. Eyes Wide Shut

“I have seen one or two things in my life but never, never anything like this.”

69. The General

“Heroes of the day.”

68. Catch Me If You Can

“For the last six months, he’s gone to Harvard and Berkeley. I’m betting he can get a passport.”

67. A Streetcar Named Desire

“But some things are not forgivable. Deliberate cruelty is not forgivable! It is the one unforgivable thing, in my opinion, and the one thing of which I have never, never been guilty.”

66. Synecdoche, New York

“I know how to do the play now. It will all take place over the course of one day. And that day will be the day before you died. That day was the happiest day of my life. Then I’ll be able to live it forever. See you soon.”

65. Moonrise Kingdom

“I love you, but you have no idea what you’re talking about.”

64. The Mortal Storm

“I’ve never prized safety, Erich, either for myself or my children. I prized courage.”

63. The Truman Show

“If his was more than just a vague ambition, if he was absolutely determined to discover the truth, there’s no way we could prevent him.”

62. The Night of the Living Dead

“We may not enjoy living together, but dying together isn’t going to solve anything.”

61. The Brothers Bloom

“This was a story about a girl who could find infinite beauty in anything, any little thing, and even love the person she was trapped with. And i told myself this story until it became true. Now, did doing this help me escape a wasted life? Or did it blind me so I didn’t want to escape it? I don’t know, but either way I was the one telling my own story…”

60. The Wicker Man

“You’ll simply never understand the true nature of sacrifice.”

59. Children of Men

“And now one for all the nostalgics out there. A blast from the past all the way back from 2003, that beautiful time when people refused to accept that the future was just around the corner.”

58. Hellboy II: The Golden Army

“Demon! What are you waiting for? This is what you want, isn’t it? Look at it. The last of its kind. Like you and I. If you destroy it, the world will never see its kind again… You have more in common with us than with them.”

57. The Quiet Man

“No patty-fingers, if you please. The proprieties at all times. Hold on to your hats.”

56. Fantastic Mr. Fox

“Why a fox? Why not a horse, or a beetle, or a bald eagle? I’m saying this more as, like, existentialism, you know? Who am I? And how can a fox ever be happy without, you’ll forgive the expression, a chicken in its teeth?”

55. 7th Heaven

“I work in a sewer but I live near the stars.”

54. 2001: A Space Odyssey

“I know I’ve made some very poor decisions recently, but I can give you my complete assurance that my work will be back to normal. I’ve still got the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in the mission. And I want to help you.”

53. The Incredibles

“No matter how many times you save the world, it always manages to get back in jeopardy again. Sometimes I just want it to stay saved! You know, for a little bit? I feel like the maid; I just cleaned up this mess! Can we keep it clean for… for ten minutes!”

52. A History of Violence

“This isn’t a completely dead eye, it still works a bit. The problem is, the only thing I can see with it is Joey Cusack, and it can see right through him… right through your husband, Edie. I see what’s inside him, what makes him tick. He’s still the same guy. He’s still crazy fucking Joey! And you know it, don’t you? How much do you really know about your husband, Edie? Where he’s from, where he’s been, his life before he met you some 20 years ago?”

51. Mulholland Dr.

“It’ll be just like in the movies. Pretending to be somebody else.”

50. Out of Sight

“I’ve, uh, vertically integrated myself. You know, diversified and shit, and now I’m into the occasional grand larceny, home invasion… shit like that.”

49. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

“Hold fast to the human inside of you, and you’ll survive”

48. The Grapes of Wrath

“Tom, you gotta learn like I’m learnin’. I don’t know it right yet myself. That’s why I can’t ever be a preacher again. Preachers gotta know. I don’t know. I gotta ask.”

47. The Social Network

“I think if your clients want to sit on my shoulders and call themselves tall, they have the right to give it a try – but there’s no requirement that I enjoy sitting here listening to people lie. You have part of my attention – you have the minimum amount. The rest of my attention is back at the offices of Facebook, where my colleagues and I are doing things that no one in this room, including and especially your clients, are intellectually or creatively capable of doing.”

46. The Prestige

“You never understood, why we did this. The audience knows the truth: the world is simple. It’s miserable, solid all the way through. But if you could fool them, even for a second, then you can make them wonder, and then you… then you got to see something really special… you really don’t know?… it was… it was the look on their faces…”

45. Die Hard

“You know my name but who are you? Just another American who saw too many movies as a child? Another orphan of a bankrupt culture who thinks he’s John Wayne? Rambo? Marshal Dillon?”

44. Chinatown

“After you’ve worked with a man a certain length of time, you come to know his habits, his values – you come to know him – and either he’s the kind who chases after women or he isn’t.”

43. Where the Wild Things Are

“Happiness isn’t always the best way to be happy.”

42. Throne of Blood

“Admirable, my Lord. You, who would soon rule the world, allow a ghost to frighten you.”

41. My Darling Clementine

“I ain’t gonna kill you. I hope you live a hundred years… so you’ll feel just a little what my pa’s gonna feel. Now get out of town – start wandering!”

40. 12 Angry Men

“Well, I’m not used to supposin’. I’m just a workin’ man. My boss does all the supposin’ – but I’ll try one. Supposin’ you talk us all out of this and, uh, the kid really did knife his father?”

39. Black Swan

“Perfect? I’m not perfect. I’m nothing.”

38. Reservoir Dogs

“If you shoot this man, you die next. Repeat. If you shoot this man, you die next.”

37. Zodiac

“Do you know more people die in the East Bay commute every three months than that idiot ever killed? He offed a few citizens, wrote a few letters, then faded into footnote… Not that I haven’t been sitting here idly, waiting for you to drop by and reinvigorate my sense of purpose”

36. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang

“I tell him about destiny; he’s shaking his head. About dreamgirls; he doesn’t care. I mention the underwear thing? He has a *fucking conniption*. And you? How ’bout it, filmgoer? Have you solved the case of the – the dead people in L.A.? Times Square audiences, please don’t shout at the screen, and stop picking at that, it’ll just get worse.”

35. The Thing

“I dunno what the hell’s in there, but it’s weird and pissed off, whatever it is.”

34. North by Northwest

“Now you listen to me, I’m an advertising man, not a red herring. I’ve got a job, a secretary, a mother, two ex-wives and several bartenders that depend upon me, and I don’t intend to disappoint them all by getting myself “slightly” killed.”

33. Princess Mononoke

“Look, everyone! This is what hatred looks like! This is what it does when it catches hold of you! It’s eating me alive, and very soon now it will kill me! Fear and anger only make it grow faster!”

32. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

“Liberty Valance defeated. D-E-F-E-E… T-E-D? The unsteady hand betrays. What’s the matter, Mr. Peabody? Are you afraid? The answer is indub… yes. No courage left. Well, courage can be purchased at yon tavern. But have we credit? That is the question. Have we credit? Well, credit is cheap. Wait for me, old servant of the public wheel. Our shining hour is yet to come. As for you, Horace Greeley, go west, old man, and grow young with the country.”

31. Hoop Dreams

“Four years ago that’s all I used to dream about was playing in the NBA. I don’t really dream about it like that anymore. You know, even through I love playing basketball, you know I want to do other things with my life too.”

30. 127 Hours

“Aron from Loser Canyon, Utah. How do you know so much? Well, I’ll tell you how I know so much. I volunteer for the rescue service. You see, I’m something of a… well, a big fucking hard hero. And I can do everything on my own, you see? I do see! Now… Is it true that despite, or maybe because you’re a big fucking hard hero… you didn’t tell anyone where you were going? Yeah. That’s absolutely correct. Anyone…? Anyone. Oops… Oops. Oops.”

29. The Night of the Hunter

“You know, when you’re little, you have more endurance than God is ever to grant you again. Children are man at his strongest. They abide.”

28. Fargo

“There’s more to life than a little money, you know. Don’tcha know that? And here ya are, and it’s a beautiful day. Well. I just don’t understand it.”

27. Sunshine

“For seven years I spoke with God. He told me to take us all to Heaven.”

26. Inglourious Basterds

“I love rumors! Facts can be so misleading, where rumors, true or false, are often revealing.”

25. Halloween

“I watched him for fifteen years, sitting in a room, staring at a wall, not seeing the wall, looking past the wall – looking at this night, inhumanly patient, waiting for some secret, silent alarm to trigger him off. Death has come to your little town, Sheriff. Now you can either ignore it, or you can help me to stop it.”

24. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

“Well, if you’ll pardon my saying so, I guess it is interesting, the many ways you and I overlap and whatnot. You begin with our Daddies. Your daddy was a pastor of the New Hope Baptist Church; my daddy was a pastor of a church at Excelsior Springs. Um. You’re the youngest of the three James boys; I’m the youngest of the five Ford boys. Between Charley and me, is another brother, Wilbur here, with six letters in his name; between Frank and you was a brother, Robert, also with six letters. Robert is my Christian name. You have blue eyes; I have blue eyes. You’re five feet eight inches tall. I’m five feet eight inches tall. Oh me, I must’ve had a list as long as your nightshirt when I was twelve, but I’ve lost some curiosities over the years.”

23. Shaun of the Dead

“Lizzy, how can you put your faith in a man you spectacularly binned for being unreliable? A man whose idea of a romantic nightspot and an impenetrable fortress are the same thing? It’s… This is a pub! We are in a pub! What are we going to do now?”

22. Fantasia

“What you will see on the screen is a picture of the various abstract images that might pass through your mind if you sat in a concert hall listening to this music. At first, you’re more or less conscious of the orchestra. So our picture opens with a series of impressions of the conductor and the players. Then the music begins to suggest other things to your imagination. They might be, oh, just masses of color or they may be cloud forms or great landscapes or vague shadows or geometrical objects floating in space”

21. The Lady Eve

“You don’t happen to be a mouthpiece, do you? You talk like a law school.”

20. Toy Story 3

“Now Woody, he’s been my pal for as long as I can remember. He’s brave, like a cowboy should be. And kind, and smart. But the thing that makes Woody special, is he’ll never give up on you… ever. He’ll be there for you, no matter what.”

19. His Girl Friday

“Walter, you’re wonderful, in a loathsome sort of way.”

18. The Exorcist

“Have you ever heard of exorcism? Well, it’s a stylized ritual in which the rabbi or the priest try to drive out the so-called invading spirit. It’s been pretty much discarded these days except by the Catholics who keep it in the closet as a sort of an embarrassment, but uh, it has worked. In fact, although not for the reasons they think, of course. It’s purely a force of suggestion. The victim’s belief in possession is what helped cause it, so in that same way, a belief in the power of exorcism can make it disappear.”

17. The Long Day Closes

“Erosion is the cumulative effect of a great variety of processes – full stop. In general, these can be divided into five groups. One. River erosion. Two. Rain erosion. Three. Glacial erosion. Four. Wind erosion. And five. marine erosion. Life also cooperates in the work of destruction.”

16. The Fall

“What a mystery this world, one day you love them and the next day you want to kill them a thousand times over.”

15. Three Comrades

“So long as you don’t give in, you’re bigger than what happens to you.”

14. Miller’s Crossing

“All in all not a bad guy – if looks, brains and personality don’t count.”

13. Adaptation

“You and I share the same DNA. Is there anything more lonely than that?”

12. Jaws

“You know that was the time I was most frightened… waitin’ for my turn. I’ll never put on a lifejacket again. So, eleven hundred men went in the water; 316 men come out and the sharks took the rest, June the 29th, 1945. Anyway, we delivered the bomb.”

11. City of God

“A kid? I smoke, I snort. I’ve killed and robbed. I’m a man.”

10. The Searchers

“Well, Reverend, that tears it! From now on, you stay out of this. All of ya. I don’t want you with me. I don’t need ya for what I got to do.”

9. Alien

“I admire its purity. A survivor… unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality.”

8. Lucky Star

“You’re a cannibal and a dirty, no-good low-down little thief!”

7. Jurassic Park

“You never had control, that’s the illusion! I was overwhelmed by the power of this place. But I made a mistake, too, I didn’t have enough respect for that power and it’s out now. The only thing that matters now are the people we love. Alan and Lex and Tim. John, they’re out there where people are dying.”

6. The Shining

“I think a lot of things happened right here in this particular hotel over the years. And not all of ’em was good.”

5. There Will Be Blood

“Drainage! Drainage, Eli! Drained dry, you boy! If you have a milkshake and I have a milkshake and I have a straw and my straw reaches across the room and starts to drink your milkshake. I drink your milkshake! I drink it up!”

4. Blade Runner

“Not very sporting to fire on an unarmed opponent. I thought you were supposed to be good. Aren’t you the “good” man? C’mon, Deckard. Show me what you’re made of.”

3. Raiders of the Lost Ark

“You and I are very much alike. Archeology is our religion, yet we have both fallen from the pure faith. Our methods have not differed as much as you pretend. I am but a shadowy reflection of you. It would take only a nudge to make you like me. To push you out of the light.”

2. Pan’s Labyrinth

“You’re getting older, and you’ll see that life isn’t like your fairy tales. The world is a cruel place. And you’ll learn that, even if it hurts.”

1. Magnolia

“Want to know the common element for the entire group?… I’ll tell you the answer: I’ll tell you, ’cause I had that one. I had that question… Carbon. Carbon. In pencil lead, it’s in the form of graphite and in coal, it’s mixed up with other impurities and in the diamond it’s in hard form. “Well… all we were asking was the common element, Donnie… but thank you for all that unnecessary knowledge… haha, kids! Heads so full of useless knowledge. Thank you. Thank you.” And the book says: “We may be through with the past… but the past is not through with us!” And… no, it is not dangerous to confuse children with angels!”

Make a Movie, Dammit!

Ridley Scott on the set of Blade Runner

It’s art. Anything is anything – Ron Swanson, Parks and Recreation

My good internet friend, Corey Atad, just posted a blog entry about what he wants from a movie. It’s called Tell Me a Story, Dammit! and I think you can tell what he’s talking about from the title of the post but you should go read it anyways because it makes some good points. Movies have been about storytelling for most of their existence. They’re a medium that does work particularly well to get a story to the viewer. The combination of sight and sound and motion makes a kind of Frankenstein’s Monster of books and music and photography. All of those mediums (media?) can be used to tell a story, though that is not a requirement of them. Music must have notes, books must have words, and photography must have images, and these elements are usually employed to tell a story. But must they? And must movies tell a story?

If you’re reading this you’ll probably agree with my statement that film is an art. It’s a way for an artist – or several artists – to get their point-of-view to you, the audience. Generally, that happens through a combination of the story the movie is telling, the words used to tell it, and the visuals and sounds that accompany the words and the story. But only one of these elements are essential to film as an art form. Take away one and the others remain to carry the slack. Film started as a silent medium, where the sounds were provided in-house and therefore not a permanent part of the experience. Each version of the film was different because the accompaniment was provided by a different musician and therefore the audio element cannot be taken as a a part of the art at that point. After sound became a standard feature it has stuck around, though this year’s silent film The Artist has been getting a lot of buzz. Maybe it will revive the silent film as a cultural force, though that’s probably just wishful thinking on our part.

Take Fantasia as an example of a film that doesn’t use words to get its point across to the viewer. Sure, there are a few bits of dialogue in the interstitial element where the conductor sets up the next section of the film, but those could just as easily be cut out of the film and we’d still understand exactly what’s happening in the film. Dinosaurs and demons are pretty self-explanatory.

So that leaves us with a story and visuals as the remaining elements of film. I think you might be able to guess which isn’t essential in my estimation. Almost all movies have a story. This is undeniable. I can’t think of a movie that lacks a story, save for experimental films like the ones Corey uses in his article. There are movies that are made of visuals and sounds and nothing else. Pretty colors on a screen do not tell a story. But they do present a point of view, a way of seeing the world. They must, because they are an artist making a work of art. That’s the whole point. They need not wrap their worldview around a story. And it is still a film. It’s still light captured and then projected in quick sequence. That’s film. That’s movies.

In the end, I’d twist Corey’s words a bit. I think movie makers owe us movies that mean something. Movies that share with us their point of view so we can see if ours is changed or affirmed. So we can understand a different way to see the world. So we can experience different things. It should have images that move, even if they are simply juxtapositions of stills – I’m looking at you, La Jetée – and anything else is icing on the cake. Maybe all of the movies I like have stories in them. Maybe most have a dedicated soundtrack and words. But I’m not going to limit the medium and say that they must include those elements. What if the next movie to enter my Top 100 List is a silent, wordless, characterless, storyless sequence of pictures? What if we missed out on the greatest film of all time because we demanded that all movies have a story? Wouldn’t that be sad.

Top 100 Films: The _2’s

The penultimate segment of the list! A lot of physical films this time around. Only two were released after the year I was born, though only two are in black and white. Many of the films take place in only a few locations. Also, they’re all great.

92. The Wrestler (2008)

Directed by Darren Aronofsky. Starring Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei

And now, I’m an old broken down piece of meat… and I’m alone. And I deserve to be alone. I just don’t want you to hate me.

That this film and Black Swan were once the same script makes total sense. Both examine how the body suffers from performance and willpower. The Wrestler is more grounded and heartfelt, though not sentimentally so. Rourke and Tomei give great, real performances and Aronofsky keeps everything immediate.

82. Days of Heaven (1978)

Directed by Terrence Malick. Starring Richard Gere and Brooke Adams

Nobody’s perfect. There was never a perfect person around. You just have half-angel and half-devil in you.

Malick loves him some voice-over and pretty pictures. This tale of depression-era farming and a simmering romance is beautifully shot and told. The locust scene is spectacular filmmaking.

72. A Fish Called Wanda (1988)

Directed by Charles Crichton. Starring John Cleese and Jamie Lee Curtis

Now let me correct you on a couple of things, OK? Aristotle was not Belgian. The central message of Buddhism is not “Every man for himself.” And the London Underground is not a political movement.

One of the smartest movies I’ve seen, A Fish Called Wanda is a hilariously absurd film that manages to get some real emotion in while crushing dogs under pianos. Kevin Kline won an Oscar for his performance as the monumentally stupid and confident Otto and he deserved it.

62. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

Directed by Elia Kazan. Starring Vivien Leigh and Marlon Brando

I don’t want realism. I want magic! Yes, yes, magic. I try to give that to people. I do misrepresent things. I don’t tell truths. I tell what ought to be truth.

The key word for this movie is heat. There’s the obvious and overwhelming sense of heat in terms of temperature but the real heat comes from the characters. There’s something boiling under everybody’s surface and as the film goes on it gets closer and closer to exploding. Kazan cleverly changes the room where the majority of the film takes place to get more and more claustrophobic as the movie progresses.

52. 7th Heaven (1927)

Directed by Frank Borzage. Starring Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell

Chico… Diane… Heaven.

Though I don’t like it as much as Lucky Star, 7th Heaven is another fantastic film pairing Gaynor and Farrell under the direction of Borzage. There’s a lot about levels and rising and falling, along with some terrific romance and Borzage’s typical miraculous ending.

42. Die Hard (1988)

Directed by John McTiernan. Starring Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman

“And when Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer.” Benefits of a classical education.

Yes, for those of you that didn’t know, my blog name is a quote from Die Hard. It’s the best of the 80’s and 90’s action films, mostly because of Willis and Rickman and their superb bantering. Die Hard is a movie that will never age.

32. North by Northwest (1959)

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Starring Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint

No. No. Mother, I have not been drinking. No. No. these two men, they poured a whole bottle of bourbon into me. No, they didn’t give me a chaser.

Cary Grant is one of the best people ever. This is scientifically proven. Here he gets to be caught up in a smuggling plot and a delightfully devious romance. When I finished watching it I remarked that it felt very modern and retro at the same time. I could see Steven Soderbergh doing a remake like he did the Ocean’s movies. But they wouldn’t have Cary Grant and that would be a travesty.

22. Fantasia (1940)

And then we hear the “Ave Maria”, with its message of the triumph of hope and life over the powers of despair and death.

Fantasia was supposed to be the beginning of a continued experiment where Disney would create a visual accompaniment to a work of classical music every year and put it on the front end of their flagship releases. That, unfortunately, didn’t happen. Fantastia is a fantastic work of art in its own right, though. Each piece works for me and the animation is beautiful and compelling. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait 60 years for another sequel.

12. Jaws (1975)

Directed by Steven Spielberg. Starring Roy Scheider and Richard Dreyfuss

Martin, it’s all psychological. You yell barracuda, everybody says, “Huh? What?” You yell shark, we’ve got a panic on our hands on the Fourth of July.

If you haven’t seen Jaws I don’t know what you’re doing reading this list. The original summer blockbuster, it has a lot more depth than most of the crap we get during the summer now. It is superbly directed and the acting is just great. Where is the Quint speech about the Indianapolis in Transformers or the restraint about showing the bad guy in the later Pirates films? Yeah, the shark they built didn’t work so Spielberg couldn’t show it but the way he handled that technical glitch created one of the most terrifying monsters in cinema history.

2. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

Directed by Guillermo del Toro. Starring Ivana Baquero and Sergi López

The moon will be full in three days. Your spirit shall forever remain among the humans. You shall age like them, you shall die like them, and all memory of you shall fade in time. And we’ll vanish along with it. You will never see us again.

More of a war drama than a fairy tale, Pan’s Labyrinth subverts expectations at every moment. The real world horror is worse than any fantasy could be, thanks to an all-time great performance by Sergi López as the evil step-father and fascist general. Whether the fantasy world exists outside of Ofelia’s head isn’t important because it is entirely her story and it is real for her. Another film where I wouldn’t change a thing.

The other parts of the list:

The _0’s section

The _9’s section

The _8’s section

The _7’s section

The _6’s section

The _5’s section

The _4’s section

The _3’s section

The _2’s section

The _1’s section