Thursday, December 31, 2009

1 - The Birth of a Nation

Happy New Year!! I can't believe it's 2010, and with the new year comes resolutions, my biggest being this. Sorry for not posting this yesterday. Internet problems would occur on January 1st=/.
In my history of media arts class last semester, we would watch one movie a week. While we were on silents, I noticed that there were two students who would bring their ipods and listen to their own music while watching the film. While the music they chose most likely did not go along with the action of the film in the way that the chosen orchestra music did, I always thought it to be a pretty clever idea. I've only ever seen bits and pieces of "Birth" and have enjoyed most of what I've seen, however, since it is a three hour long, racist movie that probably isn't on anyone's top ten list, I might just adopted their method.
After: I have to admit, (of course, ignorance, racism, and blackface aside) I can understand why Birth of a Nation is hailed as Griffith's, as well as early silent's, masterpiece. The coloring was supreme, setting the tone where music today would do the job. And the mere fact that Griffith was able to make such an elaborate time period piece in 1915 is almost baffling. Think of the other films being made at that time, Chaplin's 32 min "The Tramp" which created his still famous character cannot compare. My only complaint with Birth (again, ignorance, racism, and blackface aside) was the length, 300 minutes of anything will get tired quickly (I'd advise watching in two separate blocks). Otherwise, Birth is a humorous movie that still has the ability to entertain to this day.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Merry Christmas

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! Two of the gifts I received pertain to my conquest in movie watching. One, a dvd titled "American Cinema - 100 Years of Filmmaking," offers over 500 minutes of interviews with filmmakers on American movies throughout history; the other gift is a subscription to Netflix. As a result of the latter present, I decided to change the order in which I watch the movies. I'm going to start with family movies: musicals, epic, things I watched when I was a kid. Then I'll move into Blockbuster hits and from there, comedies, dramadies, romantic comedies and dramas. After that, I'll transition into dramas, war movies, and westerns. I'll end the year with crime, sports, and mystery movies. Anyways, I'm still starting with The Birth of a Nation on January 1st, so... yea, wish me luck.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Scratch That - The Final List

Alright, so two days ago my analytical side kicked in and I realized that my list was way too subjective and has no real basis. So instead I decided to compile five lists: AFI's 100 greatest movies, Entertainment Weekly's Top 100,'s top 100, the 100 highest grossing movies (adjusted for inflation), and the sixty movies that won and were nominated for the most Academy Awards (without repeating those on both lists). There were 101 movies that repeated twice or more between these lists. Theoretically, these are the 101 greatest movies ever made according to critics, viewers, and the industry combined. Obviously I started this as the 100 movies in one year, however, given that there is only one extra movie, I will watch all 101 movies and then from there, decide if the 100 greatest films ever made are on that last.
Over the last month, as I've been compiling my list, there have been so many signs that I need to stay at school. For one, I've gotten a job working as a production assistant and assistant director on a grad student's thesis film. We start filming the third weekend in January and end the third weekend in February. Hopefully it goes well and will be a great experience to go along with my viewings.
Anyways, until then, here is the list of movies that will keep me preoccupied.

1915 - The Birth of a Nation
1916 - Intolerance
1925 - The Goldrush
1927 - Sunrise
1930 - All Quiet on the Western Front
1931 - City Lights
1933 - Duck Soup
1933 - King Kong
1934 - It Happened One Night
1936 - Modern Times
1937 - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
1938 - Bringing Up Baby
1938 - The Adventures of Robinhood
1939 - Gone with the Wind
1939 - Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
1939 - Stagecoach
1939 - The Wizard of Oz
1939 - Wuthering Heights
1940 - Fantasia
1940 - Rebecca
1940 - The Grapes of Wrath
1940 - The Philadelphia Story
1941 - Citizen Kane
1941 - Sergeant York
1941 - The Lady Eve
1941- The Maltese Falcon
1942 - Casablanca
1942 - Yankee Doodle Dandy
1944 - Double Indemnity
1946 - It's a Wonderful Life
1946 - Notorious
1946 - The Best Years of Our Lives
1948 - The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
1949 - The Third Man
1950 - All About Eve
1950 - Sunset Boulevard
1951 - A Place in the Sun
1951 - A Streetcar Named Desire
1951 - An American in Paris
1951 - The African Queen
1952 - High Noon
1952 - Singin' in the Rain
1953 - From Here to Eternity
1953 - Shane
1954 - On the Waterfront
1954 - Rear Window
1955 - Rebel Without a Cause
1956 - The Searchers
1957 - The Bridge on the River Kwai
1958 - Touch of Evil
1958 - Vertigo
1959 - Ben-Hur
1959 - North by Northwest
1959 - Some Like it Hot
1960 - Psycho
1961 - West Side Story
1962 - Lawrence of Arabia
1962 - The Manchurian Candidate
1962 - To Kill a Mockingbird
1964 - Dr. Strangelove
1964 - Mary Poppins
1964 - My Fair Lady
1965 - Doctor Zhivago
1965 - The Sound of Music
1966 - Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
1967 - Bonnie and Clyde
1967 - The Graduate
1968 - 2001: A Space Odyssey
1969 - Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
1969 - Easy Rider
1969 - Midnight Cowboy
1969 - The Wild Bunch
1970 - MASH
1970 - Patton
1972 - The Godfather
1973 - American Graffiti
1973 - The Sting
1974 - Chinatown
1974 - The Godfather II
1975 - Jaws
1975 - Nashville
1975 - One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
1976 - Rocky
1976 - Taxi Driver
1977 - Annie Hall
1977 - Close Encounters of the Third Kind
1977 - Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
1979 - Apocalypse Now
1980 - Raging Bull
1981 - Raiders of the Lost Ark
1982 - E.T.
1982 - Tootsie
1984 - Amadeus
1990 - Dances with Wolves
1991 - The Silence of the Lambs
1993 - Schindler's List
1994 - Forrest Gump
1994 - Pulp Fiction
1997 - Titanic
2001 - The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
2003 - The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Preliminary List

I came up with a list of one hundred movies that may or may not be the greatest movie ever. These are definitely up for debate. And if there is actually anyone out there reading this, I would love for some in-put. Let me know what you think. I'm still debating a number of titles on the list, don't worry, "Big Daddy" is one of those in question.

1930 - All Quiet on the Waterfront
1934 - It Happened One Night
1936 - My Man Godfrey
1938 -You Can't Take it With You
1939 - Gone with the Wind
1939 - Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
1940 - Rebecca
1940 - The Grapes of Wrath
1940 - The Philadelphia Story
1941 - The Maltese Falcon
1946 - It's a Wonderful Life
1946 - Notorious
1946 - The Killers
1948 - The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
1949 - The Third Man
1950 - All About Eve
1950 - Sunset Boulevard
1953 - From Here to Eternity
1953 - Roman Holiday
1954 - On the Waterfront
1954 - Singin' in the Rain
1957 - The Bridge on the River Kwai
1958 - Gigi
1958 - Touch of Evil
1959 - Ben-Hur
1959 - North by Northwest
1959 - Pillow Talk
1959 - Some Like it Hot
1961 - West Side Story
1962 - How the West was Won
1962 - Lawrence of Arabia
1962 - The Longest Day
1964 - A Hard Day's Night
1964 - Dr. Strangelove
1968 - The Producers
1972 - The Candidate
1974 - Blazing Saddles
1974 - Chinatown
1974 - Dog Day Afternoon
1974 - Young Frankenstein
1975 - Monty Python and the Holy Grail
1975 - One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
1976 - Taxi Driver
1977 - Annie Hall
1980 - Airplane!
1980 - Raging Bull
1982 - E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
1983 - Terms of Endearment
1984 - Amadeus
1986 - Platoon
1987 - Full Metal Jacket
1987 - Moonstruck
1987 - Raising Arizona
1987 - The Last Emperor
1988 - Rain Man
1989 - Driving Miss Daisy
1989 - When Harry Met Sally
1990 - Dances with Wolves
1990 - Ghost
1990 - Goodfellas
1993 - Schindler's List
1993 - Sleepless in Seattle
1994 - Forrest Gump
1994 - Pulp Fiction
1994 - The Lion King
1994 - The Shawshank Redemption
1995 - Braveheart
1995 - The Usual Suspects
1996 - That Thing You Do!
1997 - As Good As it Gets
1997 - Good Will Hunting
1997 - Titanic
1998 - Dead Poets Society
1998 - Shakespeare In Love
1999 - American Beauty
1999 - Big Daddy
1999 - The Cider House Rules
2000 - Almost Famous
2000 - Erin Brockovich
2000 - Gladiator
2000 - Memento
2001 - Moulin Rouge
2001 - The Royal Tenenbaums
2002 - Catch Me if You Can
2002 - Chicago
2002 - Gangs of New York
2002 - My Big Fat Greek Wedding
2003 - Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
2003 - The Lord of the Rings: the Return of the King
2004 - Crash
2004 - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
2004 - Million Dollar Baby
2005 - Brokeback Mountain
2005 - Good Night and Good Luck
2005 - Joyeux Noel
2006 - Little Miss Sunshine
2006 - The Departed
2007 - Lars and the Real Girl
2008 - Slumdog Millionaire
2008 - The Dark Knight

One last note about this list and it's subject to change, I've seen 56 of these movies, so I'll most likely be switching out some that I've seen for some that I haven't.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The "Citizen Kane" Debate

So I watched Citizen Kane two weeks ago in my film history class... for the third time. Greatest movie ever made? I think not, although I will say that each time I watch, it gets better and better. Knowing and understanding the history and progression of the development of film helps greatly in appreciating this movie. The influence various schools of film had on Welles and this movie are very apparent, like expressionism, my favorite. *Sarcasm really does not bode well in text* I do, however, very much appreciate his use of deep focus, long shots, and intense lighting which do make the movie enjoyable and a completely different experience each time I watch.
While it may have been the greatest movie of its time, and certainly the most innovative, it does not hold up to today's standards . Really now, you wouldn't expect me to watch "Birth of a Nation" simply because Griffith was the first to combine intercutting and narrative techniques, would you?

With that in mind, don't be surprised if you read my list and find the following missing from it:

Citizen Kane (see above)
Double Indemnity (the only thing worse than Barbara Stanwyck as a blonde is the awkward dialogue of this so called Film Noir "Classic")
2001: A Space Odyssey (I can only take so much of Kubrick's pretentious nonsense)
Rashomon (You've seen it once, you've seen it four times)
The Bicycle Thief and all other Italian Neorealist films (don't get me wrong, a movie about nothing does sound appealing...)
Nosferatu (need I bring up expressionism again?)
The Battleship Potemkin (20 mins of people getting trampled on stairs isn't exactly my idea of a good time)
Tootsie (I'm not too keen on watching Dustin Hoffman dress as a woman)
The Godfather part 2 (The Godfather is one of my favorites, part II, however, lost me when Michael had Fredo killed, and besides can it really be The Godfather without Brando?)
The Harry Potter films (they are a disgrace to Rowling's empire and movies in general)

Never fear if your favorite movie is on here! I am still compiling the list, and some, perhaps even all, of these could possibly still make it on. And hey, if you do see a favorite on this list, fight for it, change my mind, show me the true value of it!
*Side note: I have seen ALL of the films on this list, and am fully aware of why exactly they are considered classics.

What Defines a Great Movie

Over the past week I have gone through countless lists online of the supposed top 100 movies, lists from AFI, BFI,,, and various others. As I read through the lists, I found that my eye would be drawn to the movies I have already seen and I would be tempted to put those on the list first and foremost. But the whole point to this project was to watch movies I've never seen, granted there will be some I have seen before, and to determine whether or not they are truly the greatest movies ever made.
This task that I have set for myself, however, is proving to be a bit more difficult than I was expecting. How am I supposed to determine what the supposed 100 greatest films are without ever having seen the majority of them? This list is going to be completely based off of other lists. It will have to be a compilation of movies that cross over from list to list in my attempt to find the greatest movies. A question that does arise in the picking and choosing however, is the question about the great films that don't make it onto the top lists published. And what do I do with foreign films? Also, once I actually do watch them, what exactly is it that makes a great film better than others? Is it plot, dialog, acting, cinematography, or some combination of all four, or is it just a movie that entertains?
I think I need to establish some guidelines for this little adventure, so they are as follows:
  • only American films will make it onto the list
  • they must be present on at least one of the major "top 100" lists (i.e. AFI, imdb, etc.)
  • they must be recommended by someone of substantial film credibility
  • films will be chosen based on descriptions/background, even the one's I have already seen (I will attempt to pretend I have never seen them while compiling my list)
  • a great movie will be one that genuinely entertains over and over
  • is visually and aesthetically a masterpiece
I'm hoping I'll be able to follow these guidelines; only time will tell.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Goal

So, I am a freshman in college; its my first semester and already I am considering my options, basically whether or not to drop out. I have never liked school very much, all of the assignments that must be handed in, all of the grades that must be had. Since I was little, I always wondered why I could never just learn, why it always had to be about the assignment or the test, why the thing that mattered most was the number you received at the end of the year. Now that I am in college, I feel like, rather than continue to complain, I should take matters into my own hands. As I continue to work towards earning a degree from a four year liberal arts college in the northeast, I am going to simultaneously take my education into my own hands.

Last week I began reading "The Film Club," a memoir by David Gilmour. The book chronicles a father and son after the son drops out of high school upon his father's approval. As an alternative education, the father (Gilmour) requires his son to watch three movies a week of Gilmour's choosing. Raised by a movie buff father and as a screenwriting major myself, I figured this book would be right up my alley. Little did I know, the book came at exactly the right time. More than half way through my first semester at college and, just as with high school, I hated the physical act of "school." I wanted to quit. When I picked up the book, I expected to be reading about some of the greatest films ever made; instead, I was getting a life lesson on what happens when you deviate from the norms of society, with the movies as a mere side note in each chapter. Although I have not yet finished the book, I have become inspired to commit a similar act; to watch, what I believe will be, the 100 greatest movies in one year.

I am going to spend the rest of 2009 accumulating my list of movies. I am going to utilize "The Film Club" as well as other books on film history and criticism. I am going to scrutinize dozens of lists by various publications and web site. And, if there is anyone out there actually reading, I would LOVE any suggestions you may have. I will begin the watching on January 1, 2010 (at midnight) and hope to have the 100 movies watched by December 31, 2010. This blog will be used to document my adventure as I compile the list and then as I go through watching each movie. At the end of next year, we will see if those were, in fact, the 100 greatest films of all time.