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Films ranked 101-1000 
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Post Re: Films ranked 101-1000
Yeah, I stopped too. Why post about The Purple Rose of Cairo here when it'll only get 20% of the readership as in the General forum? On the other hand, fewer people subjected to my writing can only be a good thing (for them and me) so I'll re-join this mutha.


Thu Jan 13, 2011 12:02 am
Post Re: Films ranked 101-1000
Right, a promise is a promise and last night I caught another of the top 1000 films in Fritz Lang's Destiny (1921) (#796 in the current list).

First, this is really, really old. That should be obvious based on the time period but the difference in the picture quality between this and Metropolis (made only six years later) is massive. The story begins in a little village where a new resident is the talk of the town. This odd individual dresses in all black and insists upon purchasing the land next to the cemetery for his "garden". Shortly thereafter he erects a massive wall around the structure with no doors, gates or windows. In short: the citizens have no idea how anyone could ever get in (or out for that matter). The audience soon discovers that this man is Death (literally) and the only people who enter the structure are the spirits who pass through the walls before moving into another realm (the explanation ends here however, and the structure is of little consequence afterwards). Living in the village are a young couple who are very much in love. Death, however, takes the young man. His girlfriend sees his spirit enter the structure and decides to "follow" by killing herself. Death wants to send her back because it's not her time. She insists that she won't leave without her boyfriend so Death decides to play a game. Three men are scheduled to die soon. If she can prevent any of the three deaths he will re-animate her boyfriend, otherwise she must leave. In some aspects, this is where the picture really starts. We're treated to 3 different stories within the story. In each story, there's a woman who must save her lover from death and in each of those stories the woman and lover are played by the original woman and lover.

Here is where the picture is at its most interesting. The changes are jarring, but in a good way. We're transported to an Islamic country during the holy month of Ramadan, Renaissance era Italy and historical China. Each of the segments has a different tone and shows different culture, fashion and architecture.

It's easy to see that Destiny is a hugely influential film. According to imdb, Alfred Hitchock listed it as his favourite movie. There's a strong sense that some things like the woman battling with Death were a big influence on The Seventh Seal. Apart from the film's thematic influence there are also a lot of technical accomplishments. For instance, the walking "spirits" are translucent and when a magician casts a spell the lettering is imprinted on the screen. Altogether it's difficult to deny the film's importance in the history of cinema but I struggle to consider it a very good one.

For one thing the pacing is often off. I was indifferent at the start until the girl kills herself and meets Death. It takes a good 30 minutes for those events to transpire. And, after the end of the third challenge with Death there is a protracted final segment that takes place in the real world. There's also a fair bit of unintentional humour throughout. The best (worst?) example occurs towards the end of the third segment in China.
[Reveal] Spoiler:
The girl has her last opportunity to protect her lover. She also has one remaining use of a magic wand. When a single assassin arrives she decides that it's a good idea to protect herself and her boyfriend by transforming herself into a statue and her lover into a tiger. The assassin looks confused, kills the tiger with an arrow and leaves. The girl, whose life is inconsequential in these segments, lives. Her boyfriend dies for the third time and she fails.


Despite several misgivings, I still recommend checking this one out. You'll certainly notice how influential, and at times thrilling, it is. Unfortunately, you'll probably notice the bad parts too. 6/10 would probably be right, but I've bumped it one higher in recognition of its influence. 7/10.


Mon Jan 17, 2011 4:48 pm
Post Re: Films ranked 101-1000
#343 - Easy Rider

Pete wrote something about it right here: viewtopic.php?p=79971#p79971

You have to admire the concept of using song lyrics to advance the thesis, at least. Really. There's something to be celebrated in Fonda, Hopper and Terry Southern thinking "why have the characters say what lyricists have said better?" That's an old trick... so old that, in 1969, it must have seemed a downright antiquated idea. How goeth Shakespeare goeth... Dennis Hopper? Okay...

To break the tension (will he like it? Is this going to be a positive notice?) I'll write straight off that I liked the film more than Pete. I recently read Herman Wouk's critique of the American Dream in Youngblood Hawke and, coming off that cheerful cynicism, it was pleasant to see a film that sets up two apathetic nothings as figures in the image of Moby Dick and down-and-out bums sponging off the dreams of others. You see, Wouk figured that the American Dream amounted to dying for the sake of one's own profound "individuation". And dying unsatisfied, no less.

Hopper's vision is foggier, very clearly influenced by a happy helping of drugs, but maybe a bit more hopeful. Not for the two leads, naturally, but for the rest of the America they're not really paying attention to. Fonda (or Wyatt or Captain America) recognizes this (push that Christ angle, Hopper) and it's no wonder... that beautiful boy is getting older, man. But death here is the death of what? Not freedom, as Nicholson's George would have attempted to (drunkenly) convince the martyrs. Death here is at least an identifiable transition for these two losers. Ciao, apathy.

I prefer Hopper's vision to Wouk's because at least the American Dream survives in Easy Rider. It survives in a screwball LSD trip in a cemetary (with a whore named Mary, of course), in an overlong theft of New Wave styling, and in an abrupt but predictable conclusion.

So, no, I wasn't in love with Easy Rider. But if this is counterculture than culture must be one crazy, wild trip. I found it entertaining and, to my surprise, more opinionated than legend would have me think. And not so loosely "mad hippie" opinionated but reflecting the insights of guys that were 29 (Fonda) and 33 (Hopper). Or, guys that knew they were too old to be playing the tune-out of Captain America and Billy. Cool. Nicholson has the best scene in the movie as a drunk lawyer stumbling out of his haze to find himself sleeping it off in the county jail. That scene is the movie in a neat and clean nutshell.


Tue Jan 18, 2011 10:14 pm
Post Re: Films ranked 101-1000
ed_metal_head wrote:
Fritz Lang's Destiny (1921) (#796 in the current list).


Cool stuff. The premise sounds intriguing, although it does damper my enthusiasm a bit to hear that it takes so long to get going.

Out of curiosity, how many Lang movies have you seen now? You seem to really like him. I've heard Scarlet Street is a really good noir. Seen that one?

majoraphasia wrote:
#343 - Easy Rider


Damn. 2 days before I saw the movie I posted in this thread after you agreeing to get it going again. I didn't even bother to check if this was on the list. Hell, I didn't even bother to think about it. Of course this movie would be on the list. Stupid me.

majoraphasia wrote:
You have to admire the concept of using song lyrics to advance the thesis, at least. Really. There's something to be celebrated in Fonda, Hopper and Terry Southern thinking "why have the characters say what lyricists have said better?"


It's an interesting idea, but I think it's really tough to execute. In instances like these I'm always reminded of something I read David Simon say in an interview. I don't remember the exact quote but he was talking about the use of music in The Wire and said how you want the music playing to indirectly nod at the narrative, not tell the story for you. I read that probably 5 years ago, but it's stuck with me because, well, I agree. Letting the music tell the story in film just seems so difficult to do without being heavy-handed. In this movie, those musical interludes are just too frequent. I can take one or two, but Hopper fell in love with the tactic. It just seemed lazy.

My biggest complaint about the music was I felt like the tactic of narrative-through-music was in direct contrast with the feel of the rest of the film. Hopper films the movie to give the sense of the audience being right there with the characters. We're supposed to be living thier life with them for those 90 or so minutes. The movie was going for some sort of drug-fueled realism. Yet, those interludes screamed inauthentic and theatrical.

majoraphasia wrote:
Hopper's vision is foggier, very clearly influenced by a happy helping of drugs, but maybe a bit more hopeful. Not for the two leads, naturally, but for the rest of the America they're not really paying attention to. Fonda (or Wyatt or Captain America) recognizes this (push that Christ angle, Hopper) and it's no wonder... that beautiful boy is getting older, man. But death here is the death of what? Not freedom, as Nicholson's George would have attempted to (drunkenly) convince the martyrs. Death here is at least an identifiable transition for these two losers. Ciao, apathy.

I prefer Hopper's vision to Wouk's because at least the American Dream survives in Easy Rider. It survives in a screwball LSD trip in a cemetary (with a whore named Mary, of course), in an overlong theft of New Wave styling, and in an abrupt but predictable conclusion.

So, no, I wasn't in love with Easy Rider. But if this is counterculture than culture must be one crazy, wild trip. I found it entertaining and, to my surprise, more opinionated than legend would have me think. And not so loosely "mad hippie" opinionated but reflecting the insights of guys that were 29 (Fonda) and 33 (Hopper). Or, guys that knew they were too old to be playing the tune-out of Captain America and Billy. Cool. Nicholson has the best scene in the movie as a drunk lawyer stumbling out of his haze to find himself sleeping it off in the county jail. That scene is the movie in a neat and clean nutshell.


There's a lot of good stuff in the movie. Like you said, Nicholson's scene in the jail cell is the highlight. It's a great example of synecdoche in film. I also enjoyed the scene towards the beginning that parallels Wyatt and Billy to the old farmers. Wyatt is reparing his motorcycle while the farmer repairs the shoe on his horse. It's a nice moment full of admiration and respect for the older ways of life when they sit down to dinner with the farmer and his family. Then, the moment is ruined when Wyatt patronizingly utters the lines, "You've got a nice place. It's not every man that can live off the land, you know. You do your own thing in your own time. You should be proud." Yeah, we got it you patronizing fuck!

I felt like much of the movie was ruined with these sort of over-explanations. An assured director would let the film speak for itself. Hopper didn't seem to have the confidence to do that. Granted, he was a first time director and ended up proving he wasn't that good in the first place. He likely taught Christopher Nolan this trick because Nolan loves doing the same shit (see the end of The Dark Knight when Batman, Gordon, and Two-Face literally explain the film's themes before Two-Face's death). Yes, I realize that was an unrelated, unnecessary shot at Nolan, but it pisses me off and this made me think of that. So there you have it.

As for the American Dream and the implications towards it, I'm not so sure the movie is on the side of survival. Wyatt and Billy want freedom, their freedom is just the freedom of choice. They want to choose apathy, or at least have the right to. If we're really, truly free, shouldn't that be a valid choice? Instead, it's met with contempt, anger, and violence. If the two are to be martyrs, and serve as a cautionary tale for the rest of America's youth, why celebrate their life if it isn't a valid pursuit?

The film, like Bonnie and Clyde, are the definitive examples of New Hollywood, so I understand why it has such a reputation. It was a huge money maker for BBS, and helped them produce a couple films that are much better, so I'm thankful it exists. It's an influential film, but not one I especially cared for, obviously. As imperfect as it is, and considering I didn't really like it, I can respect its ambition and consider it a worthy entry. If all films tried as hard as this one, we'd all be much better off. That's an ironic statement concerning a film that's cares so much about not caring.


Wed Jan 19, 2011 12:47 pm
Post Re: Films ranked 101-1000
PeachyPete wrote:

My biggest complaint about the music was I felt like the tactic of narrative-through-music was in direct contrast with the feel of the rest of the film. Hopper films the movie to give the sense of the audience being right there with the characters. We're supposed to be living thier life with them for those 90 or so minutes. The movie was going for some sort of drug-fueled realism. Yet, those interludes screamed inauthentic and theatrical. .


I say "old-fashioned" and a bit phony but you say, if I might, "phony and theatrical". I didn't mind the phoniness because (a) it was 1969 and my expectations were of a 1969 film and (b) the lyrics mapped out the acontexual characters for them. I always enjoy when the audience is invited in as participants in the story.
PeachyPete wrote:
majoraphasia wrote:
Hopper's vision is foggier, very clearly influenced by a happy helping of drugs, but maybe a bit more hopeful. Not for the two leads, naturally, but for the rest of the America they're not really paying attention to. Fonda (or Wyatt or Captain America) recognizes this (push that Christ angle, Hopper) and it's no wonder... that beautiful boy is getting older, man. But death here is the death of what? Not freedom, as Nicholson's George would have attempted to (drunkenly) convince the martyrs. Death here is at least an identifiable transition for these two losers. Ciao, apathy.

I prefer Hopper's vision to Wouk's because at least the American Dream survives in Easy Rider. It survives in a screwball LSD trip in a cemetary (with a whore named Mary, of course), in an overlong theft of New Wave styling, and in an abrupt but predictable conclusion.

So, no, I wasn't in love with Easy Rider. But if this is counterculture than culture must be one crazy, wild trip. I found it entertaining and, to my surprise, more opinionated than legend would have me think. And not so loosely "mad hippie" opinionated but reflecting the insights of guys that were 29 (Fonda) and 33 (Hopper). Or, guys that knew they were too old to be playing the tune-out of Captain America and Billy. Cool. Nicholson has the best scene in the movie as a drunk lawyer stumbling out of his haze to find himself sleeping it off in the county jail. That scene is the movie in a neat and clean nutshell.


There's a lot of good stuff in the movie. Like you said, Nicholson's scene in the jail cell is the highlight. It's a great example of synecdoche in film. I also enjoyed the scene towards the beginning that parallels Wyatt and Billy to the old farmers. Wyatt is reparing his motorcycle while the farmer repairs the shoe on his horse. It's a nice moment full of admiration and respect for the older ways of life when they sit down to dinner with the farmer and his family. Then, the moment is ruined when Wyatt patronizingly utters the lines, "You've got a nice place. It's not every man that can live off the land, you know. You do your own thing in your own time. You should be proud." Yeah, we got it you patronizing fuck!

I felt like much of the movie was ruined with these sort of over-explanations. An assured director would let the film speak for itself. Hopper didn't seem to have the confidence to do that. Granted, he was a first time director and ended up proving he wasn't that good in the first place. He likely taught Christopher Nolan this trick because Nolan loves doing the same shit (see the end of The Dark Knight when Batman, Gordon, and Two-Face literally explain the film's themes before Two-Face's death). Yes, I realize that was an unrelated, unnecessary shot at Nolan, but it pisses me off and this made me think of that. So there you have it.

As for the American Dream and the implications towards it, I'm not so sure the movie is on the side of survival. Wyatt and Billy want freedom, their freedom is just the freedom of choice. They want to choose apathy, or at least have the right to. If we're really, truly free, shouldn't that be a valid choice? Instead, it's met with contempt, anger, and violence. If the two are to be martyrs, and serve as a cautionary tale for the rest of America's youth, why celebrate their life if it isn't a valid pursuit?

The film, like Bonnie and Clyde, are the definitive examples of New Hollywood, so I understand why it has such a reputation. It was a huge money maker for BBS, and helped them produce a couple films that are much better, so I'm thankful it exists. It's an influential film, but not one I especially cared for, obviously. As imperfect as it is, and considering I didn't really like it, I can respect its ambition and consider it a worthy entry. If all films tried as hard as this one, we'd all be much better off. That's an ironic statement concerning a film that's cares so much about not caring.


I hope those quotes turned out right because I'm not going to fix them.

The scene at the dinner table, with Fonda remarking "nice place" and such isn't meant as patronizing. It's the first time we witness Wyatt questioning the trip and it culminates in his saying "we blew it" some 90 minutes later. I believe he's expressing some envy and the evidence supports this: we don't get a reaction shot from the crowd, just Fonda looking tired and maybe a bit introspective.

Hopper was an amateur, obviously, but he tells the story in a familiar way -- spare, inelegant (what can you do? he was high) but clear. The vision of the film, co-scripted by the fellow who wrote Dr. Strangelove, is decidedly pro-American Dream in that the two figures who fall victim to it are the lazy second-coming of Christ in apathetic clothing. I'm not saying that Hopper honors the rednecks that kill Wyatt and Billy but I'm saying that the Dream was doing just fine prior to the disengagement of men who should have known better. Again: they're martyrs for the cause of apathy. It's a shame that Wyatt has to die, I guess, but that was Hopper's way of nailing down that Christ comparison.

And on Freedom: it isn't always used to any real advantage. So the movie does a fine job illustrating that this nebulous concept isn't in the greatest shape in 1969. Boys were off fighting a war, farmers were farming... what are these guys doing? The freedom to be lazy and take it easy-like. They're fighting for inertia and others eventually choose to deprive them of that. So it goes.

The style of the film reminded me of Oliver Stone's settled, schizoid style and Stone clearly owes a debt of gratitude for the silly graveyard scene. But I saw a movie that believed something and wanted to bring it the audience in a loud (in 2011, obnoxious) way and for that I say "semi-success!" The movie doesn't serve as a cautionary tale for America's youth but a cautionary tale for those baby-boomers who rest on laurels of their parents. It's a bit of a slap to the audience, actually.

But this is all making me sound like I'm a supporter of the picture. It's one of those slightly-above-average movies that reads better as a memory/stunted philosophy than an actual theatrical experience. It had some nice ideas, some great scenery, and lots of obnoxious clutter. That's what I expected and that's what I got.


Wed Jan 19, 2011 1:26 pm
Post Re: Films ranked 101-1000
majoraphasia wrote:
The scene at the dinner table, with Fonda remarking "nice place" and such isn't meant as patronizing. It's the first time we witness Wyatt questioning the trip and it culminates in his saying "we blew it" some 90 minutes later. I believe he's expressing some envy and the evidence supports this: we don't get a reaction shot from the crowd, just Fonda looking tired and maybe a bit introspective.


That's fair, and I don't mean to say I think Hopper intended the scene to be patronizing. I think he wanted it to feel authentic. The scene, itself, is a good idea, and felt authentic until that line. It just felt, to me, that Fonda was saying "Good for you, old-timer. I could see myself doing something like that were I from your generation, but I'm not and I have better things to do." Not exactly pretentious, and maybe patronizing was a poor word choice, but it had an air of superiority to it that I didn't like. Plus, people don't say that crap. The scene was good enough to speak for itself, yet that line made me feel like Hopper wanted to hammer the point home. I admit that my distaste for this particular scene may be nitpicking, but while watching the film I rolled my eyes to myself.

majoraphasia wrote:
Hopper was an amateur, obviously, but he tells the story in a familiar way -- spare, inelegant (what can you do? he was high) but clear. The vision of the film, co-scripted by the fellow who wrote Dr. Strangelove, is decidedly pro-American Dream in that the two figures who fall victim to it are the lazy second-coming of Christ in apathetic clothing. I'm not saying that Hopper honors the rednecks that kill Wyatt and Billy but I'm saying that the Dream was doing just fine prior to the disengagement of men who should have known better. Again: they're martyrs for the cause of apathy. It's a shame that Wyatt has to die, I guess, but that was Hopper's way of nailing down that Christ comparison.


I'm really glad you wrote, a little further down, that the film was a slap to the audience. My initial reaction to the film was just that, but I couldn't divorce the image of Dennis Hopper being representative of the counterculture movement. I even typed a lengthy post in here this morning about how the film exposes their lifestyle as the bullshit that it is and shows how impossible it is to live, in practice. I deleted that post simply because I always thought Dennis Hopper was supposed to be an icon of this particular movement. Why would he be criticizing it? I thought I had misread the film. Maybe he isn't the icon I thought (and to be frank, I'm not really sure where I got that from in the first place).

I'm still not sure about labeling them martyrs, because Wyatt, at least, seemed to realize that they "blew it". They were wrong to attempt the journey/lifestyle because eventually you'll need the system, however fucked up it may be. Apathy doesn't necessarily solve anything, it just removes you from the problem. It felt more like a punishment or indictment than martyrdom. That was the gist of my deleted post. I'm kind of a pussy for not trusting my gut.


Wed Jan 19, 2011 3:35 pm
Post Re: Films ranked 101-1000
PeachyPete wrote:
ed_metal_head wrote:
Fritz Lang's Destiny (1921) (#796 in the current list).


Cool stuff. The premise sounds intriguing, although it does damper my enthusiasm a bit to hear that it takes so long to get going.

Out of curiosity, how many Lang movies have you seen now? You seem to really like him. I've heard Scarlet Street is a really good noir. Seen that one?


I like him well enough but there are better directors out there. Destiny is the 6th film I've seen from him but out of those six I'd only call Metropolis and The Big Heat "great" movies. The latter is one that I think you'd really like and I consider it to be among the better noirs I've seen (I haven't seen Scarlet Street yet). I'll also put in a good word for Fury which is a really interesting take on revenge. Kunzy has talked favourably about it before. The others are all worth a go, but I wouldn't advise you to actively seek them out (I saw the decent Ranch Notorious on the Westerns channel so it's worth a DVR if you notice it in the guide.)

It's been a while since I've seen Easy Rider but the great discussion is jogging the memory a little. Let's see if I can contribute...

majoraphasia wrote:
And on Freedom: it isn't always used to any real advantage. So the movie does a fine job illustrating that this nebulous concept isn't in the greatest shape in 1969. Boys were off fighting a war, farmers were farming... what are these guys doing? The freedom to be lazy and take it easy-like. They're fighting for inertia and others eventually choose to deprive them of that. So it goes.


I'm not trolling when I ask: so what's so wrong with that? Why can't these guys grow their hear, drop acid, smoke week and ride their bikes? Why is everyone so hung up about what they're doing? Everytime they hit a town someone has some complaint about their hair. The film, when I saw it, represented the death of individuality and experimentation in culture. Society wanted them to conform. They didn't, so they had to die. Did their cause have to be noble? No. They just wanted to be.


Wed Jan 19, 2011 3:58 pm
Post Re: Films ranked 101-1000
Recall, if you will, a scene where our heroes are at a diner being subject to appraisel by every patron. Our heroes take in every word, observe amongst themselves that they're being appraised, and nervously leave.

They are not defenders of freedom, they didn't even have that notion prior to Nicholson drunkenly informing them that others would "hate them for it." I have no problems with the pair growing their hair, doing drugs, and riding motorcycles. I think THEY, particularly Fonda, have a problem with it. They're self-conscious and clumsy, aphilosophical and aimless. The real long-hairs are trying to grow crops in sand and our heroes are lumps of unthinking observation. They look and that's all.

So they are martyrs -- for the cause of doing nothing. I don't hate them for it, they can use freedom any way they like, but they are alone... pretenders to the hippie fortune through good ol' American industry. Drug trade, in this case. They know it, we know, the people that jeer them know it. Their death is the death of apathy and looking for all the not-seeing. Film as ironic substantiation of American principle. They are not experimenters, they are not individuals... they are heirs.


Wed Jan 19, 2011 5:09 pm
Post Re: Films ranked 101-1000
How is Au revoir, les enfants not on this list? :(


Thu Jan 20, 2011 12:05 am
Post Re: Films ranked 101-1000
JJoshay wrote:
How is Au revoir, les enfants not on this list? :(


They have some bizarro algorithm that excludes films that haven't been properly catalogued by specific web-based critical tankamathings. And then there's volume and weight so, once everything is factored in, a movie such as Videodrome can place higher than Army of Shadows, Bergman's critically-beloved Smiles of a Summer Night and so forth. The rankings should, and do, mean nothing. Exclusion means nothing.

John Waters' Pink Flamingos ranks higher than Larry Olivier's Hamlet, for chrissake.

The Terminator has a respectable position in the top 300, Au Revoir, Les Enfants isn't on the list. Volume and critical weight, volume and critical weight.


Thu Jan 20, 2011 12:50 am
Post Re: Films ranked 101-1000
majoraphasia wrote:
JJoshay wrote:
How is Au revoir, les enfants not on this list? :(


They have some bizarro algorithm that excludes films that haven't been properly catalogued by specific web-based critical tankamathings. And then there's volume and weight so, once everything is factored in, a movie such as Videodrome can place higher than Army of Shadows, Bergman's critically-beloved Smiles of a Summer Night and so forth. The rankings should, and do, mean nothing. Exclusion means nothing.

John Waters' Pink Flamingos ranks higher than Larry Olivier's Hamlet, for chrissake.

The Terminator has a respectable position in the top 300, Au Revoir, Les Enfants isn't on the list. Volume and critical weight, volume and critical weight.


The exclusion is still surprising. I did a quick check and there are several Malle films on the list, just not this one. It's not even among the films that were on the list and dropped off at some point (like 2 other Malle films).


Thu Jan 20, 2011 3:50 pm
Post Re: Films ranked 101-1000
ed_metal_head wrote:
majoraphasia wrote:
JJoshay wrote:
How is Au revoir, les enfants not on this list? :(


They have some bizarro algorithm that excludes films that haven't been properly catalogued by specific web-based critical tankamathings. And then there's volume and weight so, once everything is factored in, a movie such as Videodrome can place higher than Army of Shadows, Bergman's critically-beloved Smiles of a Summer Night and so forth. The rankings should, and do, mean nothing. Exclusion means nothing.

John Waters' Pink Flamingos ranks higher than Larry Olivier's Hamlet, for chrissake.

The Terminator has a respectable position in the top 300, Au Revoir, Les Enfants isn't on the list. Volume and critical weight, volume and critical weight.


The exclusion is still surprising. I did a quick check and there are several Malle films on the list, just not this one. It's not even among the films that were on the list and dropped off at some point (like 2 other Malle films).


Malle has two films listed, according to the downloadable spreadsheet. The exclusion of Atlantic City, My Dinner With Andre, Enfants and basically anything else after Lacombe, Lucien (1974) is due to some technicality, I'm guessing.


Thu Jan 20, 2011 5:37 pm
Post Re: Films ranked 101-1000
Alain Delon is a perfect little angel in Luchino Visconti's hugely disappointing Rocco and His Brothers, currently the 161st Greatest Movie of All Time.

This one came to me via my admiration of Mr. Delon (see: my avatar) and his acting chops in any number of French classics + Francis Ford Coppola's admiration for the film + the influence this had on such classics as The Godfather and other tales of Italians in America. In Rocco he's there because he's pretty (and looks just like the little Saint he's supposed to be) but Delon, native French speaker that he is, has his entire vocal performance dubbed by Someone. Add to this the shitty transfer on Image's disc, the poor subtitles (spelling, grammar mistakes aplenty) and the fact of 90 minutes of story packed into 176 minutes of movie and you get one of the bigger let-downs of the past six months. For me, not necessarily for you.

The story concerns the Parondi family, country folk that make their way to the big city of Milan after the death of patriarch. Vincenzo, the eldest, is already in Milan and it's his mother and four younger brothers (Rocco, Luca, Ciro and Simone) that are the ones that have 176 minutes to adapt to life in the city. Much is made about how the family has "escaped" the effectively-indentured servitude of living off the country soil and how, to catapult themselves into the modern era, they must conquer the city and the affectations it forces upon this tidy lot.

Guess who wins? The city. Simone aims to become a boxing champion, Ciro gets a job building Alfa Romeos, Vincenzo is barely a character (one of a handful of great scenes has him squabbling with his future wife; she slaps him, defends her honor, he plays the part of country boy... it's an early promise that the movie fails to deliver on. GAH!), and Luca is a little kid that has more symbolic significance than anything else. Oh, I'm joking. All the characters are more symbolic significance than anything else! Simone is The Corrupted, Rocco is The Saint (and Delon played Tom Ripley the very same year...), Luca is The Future, Vincenzo is The Past Grappling With The Present. Forgive me for being so glib.

It doesn't take a keen eye to see how this one influenced The Godfather and it doesn't take but a semblance of sanity to say that, no matter how influential this may have been and no matter how controversial it was at the time of its release, this story was improved upon many times over the past fifty years. There's a cheap soap operatic feel to Rocco with its high highs and low lows. That it still manages to earn its tragic final 10 minutes is more a testament to the power inherent in watching a family dissolve than Visconti's sloppy execution.

If it was Visconti's sloppy execution. This movie suffered from many alterations that Visconti was apparently unhappy with; the violence was toned down, a full 30+ minutes were completely edited out, and none of this is aided by Image's terrible disc. The video looks washed-out, the audio is more often than not out-of-sync and there's the glaring problem (what can you do? Delon was French.) of some rogue actor dubbing all of Rocco's lines. The film just doesn't have much power to it -- boxing, prostitution, flirtations with homosexuality, domestic drama... all are the stuff of potential greatness but nothing comes together with any triumph in Rocco and His Brothers. And it's so choppy! Nobody should have been happy with the edit job this one got.

But in Annie Girardot's excellence performance as love-interest/prostitute/family-destroyer Nadia I saw what the movie would have been in 1960. Simone's downfall is certainly dramatic but, as presented, too abrupt. Rocco is a dullard, Luca is a bookend... this isn't the same movie that Visconti wanted to give audiences, I'm sure of it. It was re-released a few years back in a restored 35-mm print and I would one day like to see that version of the film. Until that version is widely available I'm advising you skip right ahead to the 162nd Greatest Movie of All Time: Cries and Whispers.


Tue Jan 25, 2011 2:04 am
Post Re: Films ranked 101-1000
majoraphasia wrote:
Alain Delon is a perfect little angel in Luchino Visconti's hugely disappointing Rocco and His Brothers, currently the 161st Greatest Movie of All Time.

This one came to me via my admiration of Mr. Delon (see: my avatar) and his acting chops in any number of French classics + Francis Ford Coppola's admiration for the film + the influence this had on such classics as The Godfather and other tales of Italians in America. In Rocco he's there because he's pretty (and looks just like the little Saint he's supposed to be) but Delon, native French speaker that he is, has his entire vocal performance dubbed by Someone. Add to this the shitty transfer on Image's disc, the poor subtitles (spelling, grammar mistakes aplenty) and the fact of 90 minutes of story packed into 176 minutes of movie and you get one of the bigger let-downs of the past six months. For me, not necessarily for you.

The story concerns the Parondi family, country folk that make their way to the big city of Milan after the death of patriarch. Vincenzo, the eldest, is already in Milan and it's his mother and four younger brothers (Rocco, Luca, Ciro and Simone) that are the ones that have 176 minutes to adapt to life in the city. Much is made about how the family has "escaped" the effectively-indentured servitude of living off the country soil and how, to catapult themselves into the modern era, they must conquer the city and the affectations it forces upon this tidy lot.

Guess who wins? The city. Simone aims to become a boxing champion, Ciro gets a job building Alfa Romeos, Vincenzo is barely a character (one of a handful of great scenes has him squabbling with his future wife; she slaps him, defends her honor, he plays the part of country boy... it's an early promise that the movie fails to deliver on. GAH!), and Luca is a little kid that has more symbolic significance than anything else. Oh, I'm joking. All the characters are more symbolic significance than anything else! Simone is The Corrupted, Rocco is The Saint (and Delon played Tom Ripley the very same year...), Luca is The Future, Vincenzo is The Past Grappling With The Present. Forgive me for being so glib.

It doesn't take a keen eye to see how this one influenced The Godfather and it doesn't take but a semblance of sanity to say that, no matter how influential this may have been and no matter how controversial it was at the time of its release, this story was improved upon many times over the past fifty years. There's a cheap soap operatic feel to Rocco with its high highs and low lows. That it still manages to earn its tragic final 10 minutes is more a testament to the power inherent in watching a family dissolve than Visconti's sloppy execution.

If it was Visconti's sloppy execution. This movie suffered from many alterations that Visconti was apparently unhappy with; the violence was toned down, a full 30+ minutes were completely edited out, and none of this is aided by Image's terrible disc. The video looks washed-out, the audio is more often than not out-of-sync and there's the glaring problem (what can you do? Delon was French.) of some rogue actor dubbing all of Rocco's lines. The film just doesn't have much power to it -- boxing, prostitution, flirtations with homosexuality, domestic drama... all are the stuff of potential greatness but nothing comes together with any triumph in Rocco and His Brothers. And it's so choppy! Nobody should have been happy with the edit job this one got.

But in Annie Girardot's excellence performance as love-interest/prostitute/family-destroyer Nadia I saw what the movie would have been in 1960. Simone's downfall is certainly dramatic but, as presented, too abrupt. Rocco is a dullard, Luca is a bookend... this isn't the same movie that Visconti wanted to give audiences, I'm sure of it. It was re-released a few years back in a restored 35-mm print and I would one day like to see that version of the film. Until that version is widely available I'm advising you skip right ahead to the 162nd Greatest Movie of All Time: Cries and Whispers.


I'd like to contribute, but I've never even heard of this movie. Ummm, nice write-up? That's all I got, sorry man.


Tue Jan 25, 2011 11:33 am
Post Re: Films ranked 101-1000
^ what he said. Also: I might have Cries and Whispers at home so I suppose I'll check it out. At least I think I have it at home. Sometimes I mix those titles up.


Tue Jan 25, 2011 1:35 pm
Post Re: Films ranked 101-1000
PeachyPete wrote:
I'd like to contribute, but I've never even heard of this movie. Ummm, nice write-up? That's all I got, sorry man.


ed_metal_head wrote:
^ what he said. Also: I might have Cries and Whispers at home so I
suppose I'll check it out. At least I think I have it at home.
Sometimes I mix those titles up.


You guys didn't know that Rocco and His Brothers has a huge camp following? Yeah, totally. People dress up as the characters, improvise lyrics for the score, and have a "Brother Auction" before most screenings. You know how sometimes you'll hear someone sscream "You're being such a fucking Luca!"? It comes from this movie! Or, if you've ever murdered a prostitute, someone will say "You pulled a total Simone, dude." And they're right 'cause they're referencing this midnight classic.

But, yeah, I hadn't heard of it before last year. When the whole "Melville" thing was getting into gear over on the forum.


Tue Jan 25, 2011 4:02 pm
Post Re: Films ranked 101-1000
As promised:

No. 740 - The Virgin Spring

Of the 4 Bergman's I've seen, this was by far the one with the strongest sense of narrative. That's neither a good nor bad thing, but in my post-viewing reading it seems that this is one of his more straightforward films. It's the right choice given the material. The story itself is powerful and engaging, while dealing with a myriad of deeper themes. There's really no reason to dress it up as anything else.

There's no need for a plot summary, as there's already been a thread devoted to the movie on the forum, and others have posted about it in this thread as well. If you're reading this, you've likely either seen the movie or are familiar enough with it (or The Last House on the Left) to know the general story.

After reading the Criterion essay (I, like Zeppelin, did not make the Christianity/Paganism connections initially), I was struck by how the contrast between the two forms of religion is all over the movie. It's especially prevalent in the way Karin and Ingeri are presented. The Christian Karin is portrayed as a beautiful, naive innocent. She's a sign of purity, while Ingeri, and her Pagan faith, is shown dirty, pregnant, and corrupted. The contrast is even shown in how the 2 dress, one in elegant, expensive robes, the other in drab, old clothing.

The most interesting thing about the movie is the world view it shows from Bergman. After The Seventh Seal, I wondered whether the man was an atheist, and thought he had some major issues with God. This film has the same questioning of God, but he doesn't remain silent. He answers, and there's hope at the end despite all the tragedy. The film had a surprising, somewhat hopeful ending that I wasn't really expecting.

No. 168 - Trouble in Paradise

Thanks to Ed and calvero for pointing me in this man's direction. This was the lesser of the 2 Lubitsch films I saw over the weekend, but it's still pretty fantastic. There's a pretty great Criterion essay authored by Mr. Armond White here (surprising, right?):
http://www.criterion.com/current/posts/1073-trouble-in-paradiselovers-on-the-money

It's one of those rare screwball comedies that works solely as a genre exercise, but can touch on some heavier themes without directly acknowledging them. That's a rare and difficult feat. The movie, like To Be or Not To Be, moves with force. The narrative just goes and goes. It pauses to eviscerate class and materialism, and general shallowness. It's characters revel in their own shallowness and greed, only to let their emotions get the better of them in the end. Clever and witty are perfect descriptors of the picture. The film even goes so far as to literally dismiss the lone Bolshevik who comes into the film preaching his diatribe. Only a film as acutely self-aware as this one could get away with something like that. It tells the audience exactly what it's about by overtly dismissing what it's about. That's kind of genius.

Lovely, fun, smart film.


Mon Jan 31, 2011 1:50 pm
Post Re: Films ranked 101-1000
PeachyPete wrote:
As promised:

No. 740 - The Virgin Spring

Of the 4 Bergman's I've seen, this was by far the one with the strongest sense of narrative. That's neither a good nor bad thing, but in my post-viewing reading it seems that this is one of his more straightforward films. It's the right choice given the material. The story itself is powerful and engaging, while dealing with a myriad of deeper themes. There's really no reason to dress it up as anything else.

There's no need for a plot summary, as there's already been a thread devoted to the movie on the forum, and others have posted about it in this thread as well. If you're reading this, you've likely either seen the movie or are familiar enough with it (or The Last House on the Left) to know the general story.

After reading the Criterion essay (I, like Zeppelin, did not make the Christianity/Paganism connections initially), I was struck by how the contrast between the two forms of religion is all over the movie. It's especially prevalent in the way Karin and Ingeri are presented. The Christian Karin is portrayed as a beautiful, naive innocent. She's a sign of purity, while Ingeri, and her Pagan faith, is shown dirty, pregnant, and corrupted. The contrast is even shown in how the 2 dress, one in elegant, expensive robes, the other in drab, old clothing.

The most interesting thing about the movie is the world view it shows from Bergman. After The Seventh Seal, I wondered whether the man was an atheist, and thought he had some major issues with God. This film has the same questioning of God, but he doesn't remain silent. He answers, and there's hope at the end despite all the tragedy. The film had a surprising, somewhat hopeful ending that I wasn't really expecting.

No. 168 - Trouble in Paradise

Thanks to Ed and calvero for pointing me in this man's direction. This was the lesser of the 2 Lubitsch films I saw over the weekend, but it's still pretty fantastic. There's a pretty great Criterion essay authored by Mr. Armond White here (surprising, right?):
http://www.criterion.com/current/posts/1073-trouble-in-paradiselovers-on-the-money

It's one of those rare screwball comedies that works solely as a genre exercise, but can touch on some heavier themes without directly acknowledging them. That's a rare and difficult feat. The movie, like To Be or Not To Be, moves with force. The narrative just goes and goes. It pauses to eviscerate class and materialism, and general shallowness. It's characters revel in their own shallowness and greed, only to let their emotions get the better of them in the end. Clever and witty are perfect descriptors of the picture. The film even goes so far as to literally dismiss the lone Bolshevik who comes into the film preaching his diatribe. Only a film as acutely self-aware as this one could get away with something like that. It tells the audience exactly what it's about by overtly dismissing what it's about. That's kind of genius.

Lovely, fun, smart film.


Nailed it.

The reason that The Virgin Spring has been remade as grindhouse fare is obvious: it's an entertaining revenge flick and is not overtly artistic. There are deep issues to consider but they aren't as obvious here as in The Seventh Seal. A viewer could actually switch the brain off and could almost enjoy this on entertainment alone (and the man wrestles a fucking tree!). Our Bergman tastes seem pretty similar since this is also my second favourite after Wild Strawberries. Of course, I've only seen a handful so that's liable to change.

Glad you liked Trouble in Paradise and it's exciting to hear that To Be or Not to Be is even better. Did you get a Billy Wilder vibe from the dialogue too?


Mon Jan 31, 2011 2:52 pm
Post Re: Films ranked 101-1000
ed_metal_head wrote:
Glad you liked Trouble in Paradise and it's exciting to hear that To Be or Not to Be is even better. Did you get a Billy Wilder vibe from the dialogue too?


Yes, the way the dialogue is fired off between the leads was very Wilder-esque. It moves with the same kind of controlled madcap fun that Wilder could sometimes tap into. This does it better than most of his movies. Although, for pure pace, I still think One, Two, Three is the most unrelenting movie I've ever seen. Trouble in Paradise is probably a better overall film, though.

I'm excited for you, and other forum members, to watch To Be or Not To Be. It's a 4 star, 10/10 film. I'm going to write something up here in a bit for the movie's thread. I was blown away by that one. The dialogue has the same zest, but there's a bit more substance to that one. I literally can't wait to watch the other 3 I have recorded from the man. I'll knock one out tonight, I'm sure.


Mon Jan 31, 2011 3:27 pm
Post Re: Films ranked 101-1000
PeachyPete wrote:
No. 740 - The Virgin Spring

Of the 4 Bergman's I've seen, this was by far the one with the strongest sense of narrative. That's neither a good nor bad thing, but in my post-viewing reading it seems that this is one of his more straightforward films. It's the right choice given the material. The story itself is powerful and engaging, while dealing with a myriad of deeper themes. There's really no reason to dress it up as anything else.

There's no need for a plot summary, as there's already been a thread devoted to the movie on the forum, and others have posted about it in this thread as well. If you're reading this, you've likely either seen the movie or are familiar enough with it (or The Last House on the Left) to know the general story.

After reading the Criterion essay (I, like Zeppelin, did not make the Christianity/Paganism connections initially), I was struck by how the contrast between the two forms of religion is all over the movie. It's especially prevalent in the way Karin and Ingeri are presented. The Christian Karin is portrayed as a beautiful, naive innocent. She's a sign of purity, while Ingeri, and her Pagan faith, is shown dirty, pregnant, and corrupted. The contrast is even shown in how the 2 dress, one in elegant, expensive robes, the other in drab, old clothing.

The most interesting thing about the movie is the world view it shows from Bergman. After The Seventh Seal, I wondered whether the man was an atheist, and thought he had some major issues with God. This film has the same questioning of God, but he doesn't remain silent. He answers, and there's hope at the end despite all the tragedy. The film had a surprising, somewhat hopeful ending that I wasn't really expecting.


Man, it's reallllllllllllllllaeeeallelelal far down on the list! 740. This one, alongside his potentially speciously-labeled trilogy, came toward the end of a prolific run for the writer/director and there's a bit of homogeneity in his films from 1960-1964 (his comedy All These Women, unseen by me, is apparently a sign that he'd exhausted himself of the God Sure Is Quiet theme) starting after The Virgin Spring.

What's important about this film, aside from whatever the film speaks to the viewer, is that it wasn't written by Bergman. This is, if I'm not mistaken, the only major Bergman that resulted from his working from a script written by someone else. The film also marks the beginning of Bergman's long-term (they'd worked together before but, after TVS, they were an exclusive pairing for a long time) filmmaking relationship with cinematographer Sven Nykvist. Nykvist's impact on Bergman's films is fairly enormous.

So Bergman picks up someone else's script and this is the movie that resulted. The film is a bit more (dictionary definition) offensive than his others and it's also a rarity in his filmography in that it's just plain hopeful. We get the same lines of questioning that his other pics gave but Virgin is, as has been pointed out, more a visceral thrill than meditative humbler. I believe the movie works best as a ride; it's quiet in places, frustrating throughout and shows humanity in actual Reaction. His movies are frequently labeled 'cold' but this film is dedicated to roping the audience in and getting them to want some blood. Traditional storytelling. The dedication to character is mixed with an actual strong narrative and the results illustrate what it would have been like had Bergman more frequently spun the words of others. The movie shows focus and a lot of playfulness (says I) on a grave topic... this didn't happen with Bergman too often. His comedies aren't the best-loved thing about his output but, despite the fact that it isn't funny, The Virgin Spring is a comedy in the strictest sense. I also think it's one of his most indispensible films.


Mon Jan 31, 2011 8:12 pm
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