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Your Top Three Films? 
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Post Re: Your Top Three Films?
JamesKunz wrote:
YES said evaluation will of course be subjective to a degree, but the key is that you are evaluating on perceived merit rather than meaning or important to you personally.

Therein lies the crux of the biscuit--at the end of the day, they're one and the same. You can challenge yourself to look at them in different ways, but it's still you doing the looking. The arbiter of merit is, and always has been, you, glorious you.

And that's not a bad thing.

In a sense, your students are screwed, because they might fare better if they had a teacher whose tastes and standards are less careful and eminently well-founded than your own. The observer determines the experience, and your observation determines how well their work comes across--though you have been fair to them to the best of your ability, have challenged yourself to limit your perception of their schoolwork to the stuff that you find to be academically relevant.

I mean, if you factored in the times they've groused to you about their grades, or the incessant Bieber fever, or, god help them, their taste in movies...



I do take your larger point though, that to a certain extent we are treating "best" in a heuristic sense--not to be placed under too fine a microscope. The trouble is that I think a lot of people don't hold to that proviso. They really do make the distinction between "favorite" and "best" in a sense of internal vs. external considerations, and they blithely carry all the baggage that those terms imply. To me, that's unconscionably sloppy criticism: the unexamined idea that some movie-related critera are truly observer-independent, that there can be such a thing as a movie (or an element of a movie) that is better or worse, in the independently confirmable sense. We would nuke a lot of misconceptions about criticism if this topic were given more airtime.



On a related note, anybody who hasn't read Paul Schrader's "film canon" essay should check it out. Schrader describes how he challenged himself to take his own prejudices out of the equation and form an elite top 20 list of movies, and how the more he delved into the preparation for it--taking classes on aesthetics, sorting through potential criteria--the less sure of himself he became.

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Tue Jun 04, 2013 12:57 am
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Post Re: Your Top Three Films?
First off I'm going to extend it to five (ALA whar RottenTomatoes does http://www.rottentomatoes.com/news/columns/five_favorite_films/)

Secondly to me it's hard to determine what the greatest of all-time is. I'm willing to wager that Orson Welles himself couldn't define it so who am I, a mere mortal, to even try.

So I intend this list as my personal favorites. Not my only favorites. To get all my favorites I would need a list of 20 at the very least. But here are five films I love. Five I would definitely take to a desert island.

Taxi Driver: Depending on the day I might choose this or Goodfellas. Both represent Scorsese at his best. Goodfellas is my all-time favorite crime film. No question. As for Taxi Driver, it's the best cinematic portrayal of alienation and an effective character study.

Boogie Nights: To me, this has everything a film should have. Great script, great direction, superb acting. Genuine drama, well-placed humor, one of the most tense scenes EVER put in a movie. All this and a well-chosen soundtrack.

Chinatown: The best film noir of all-time. Jake Gittes may very well be my favorite film character of all-time. Towne's script and Polanski's direction combine perfectly to give us a film that could only have been made in the 1970s. But was set in an earlier period yet managed to evoke the feelings of the era in which it was made and still be relevant to this day. The absoulte last line is a way more eloquent way of saying that life often sucks.

Do The Right Thing: Brilliant combination of comedy and anger. The film brilliantly manages to make larger points about the world in the context of telling a personal story. The ending always takes a piece out of me when I watch it. Spike Lee has made films that are just as good (Malcolm X, 25th Hour). But he's never made a better one. This is the movie that the good but overpraised Crash wanted to be.

Monty Python And The Holy Grail: When I rented this in the summer of 1997 I was immediately convinced that it migh be the funniest movie I had ever seen. Even almost 20 years later, even in the face of some tough competition, my opinion has not changed. But it's not just the humor. This film was an influence on me in that it should me that one can make a film where there are no rules whatsoever.

A few runners-up

Aliens: My all-time favorite blockbuster
Apocalypse Now: Best cinematic fever dream/nightmare.
Blue Velvet: Intense as hell. Effective mix of dark comedy and terrifying thriller. WIthout a doubt the best film to shed light on the dark side of suburban America.
Dark City: What sci-fi would be like if Dostoevsky got a hold of it.
Dazed And Confused: Best teen movie of all-time and one that was influential on me in becoming a filmmaker.
Precious: Best harrowing yet inspirational film ever.

JamesKunz wrote:
This is one of the things I don't understand at all...why would your favorite films be the best movies ever made? Isn't that exceptionally arrogant, bordering on solipsistic?

For years my favorite movie was Zulu. It meant a great deal to me, I had a personal connection to it, I loved every minute of it...but that doesn't mean it's a perfect film. Why should the two always be connected? Maybe they are sometimes (Pan's Labyrinth is an all-time great film, and it's one of my all-time favorite films) but even 14 year old James Kunz knew that Predator was a personal favorite, but not really one of the all time bests.


Agreed to an extent. There's a lot of goofy stuff that I would put on a favorites list ranging from The Blues Brothers to Ghostbusters to Blazing Saddles as well as movies that I like a great deal (Hustle And Flow just to name one) that wouldn't quite make an all-time best of list. On the other hand, I would have no problem putting Magnolia on such a list. I know a few people that would agree with that assesment. But I also know a few who loathed Magnolia, found it incredibly talky and self-indulgent. In some ways I can see where they're coming from in that argument even as I totally disagree with it.

My dad's personal all-time favorite film is Casablanca. One that's usually in the top 5 of most best of lists. That's a choice I can't really argue with. Or take the one that usually tops most of these lists: Citizen Kane. I find it to be a great movie definitely deserving of classic status. But greatest of all-time? In some ways I don't think we'll ever reach a consensus on that until a time comes when movies are no longer being made.

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Tue Jun 04, 2013 1:05 am
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Post Re: Your Top Three Films?
Jeff Wilder wrote:
Apocalypse Now: Best cinematic fever dream/nightmare.

I absolutely love this description.

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Tue Jun 04, 2013 1:08 am
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Post Re: Your Top Three Films?
JackBurns wrote:
I didn't mean to open a can of worms here.


Well you did, but that is a good thing. I like, and agree with, the diuscussion so far: both the suggested movies and the healthy discussion about how one should approach the concepts of "best" and "favorite" movies.

The one thing I won't (and didn't) do is listing a movie which I just can't make myself to like and sit through, even though I fully recognize its merits. A movie, in my universe, can't be brilliant if I can't like it. It would be hipocrisy to mention it, and arrogant, because the motivation would be to appear more educated and refined than I actually am.

On the other hand, if I would go by "movies that truly had an impact on me, and remain personal favorites" I would have included Jaws. At the time, the "you are there" location cinematography and the (then new to me) realistic acting approach of Richard Dreyfuss and Roy Scheider, completed by over the top Robert Shaw, simply blew me away.
...

Just to make it clear (I was a bit fuzzy): I fully understand that in many cases sall-to-wall cheezy pop tune soundtracks work best (say, Goodfellas) and in others an "undergroundy" electronic soundrack is by far the best choice (say, Hanna - yep a recent, minor movie but I couldn't think of a better example). No way even the finest traditional orchestral scores, even atonal scores, would fit. But that doesn't mean I have to love it. I don't. I cringe each time I hear stuff like "come on let's twist again", no matter how well it might fit. One exception being A Clockwork Orange, Wendy Carlos' synth score not just fits perfectly, it is also pleasing to my poor ears, screwed up by many years cheezy techno and post punk non-music.


Tue Jun 04, 2013 7:43 am
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Post Re: Your Top Three Films?
Taxi Driver

Because I loved it at 16 and I love it at 31, albeit for very different reasons. A friend of mine recently described it as "lonliness in a world of scum". It may seem a dumb description, but I love it.

The real reason I like this film so much is the moral question it asks. Is Travis mad to intervene? Or is it madder still to tolerate the shit going on around him?


Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

I love this film, and I still think it strangely underrated. I'm not a fan of the dumb RomCom genre because it studiously avoids all the issues this film takes pain to look straight in the eye. How many of our problems are the result of living inside our befuddled minds? And it impressively prioritises individual action and consequence over trite notions such as "fate" - the way Joel has to squeeze onto the train to go to the beach. Bollocks to serendipity, consequence is forged by people flunking work and near killing themselves to do something different. The Direction is superb; cinematography beautiful; and the, perhaps counter-intuitive, casting works sublimely.


The Big Lebowski

I've discussed this at length in the past. Wonderful!

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Tue Jun 04, 2013 9:27 am
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Post Re: Your Top Three Films?
NotHughGrant wrote:
Taxi Driver

Because I loved it at 16 and I love it at 31, albeit for very different reasons. A friend of mine recently described it as "lonliness in a world of scum". It may seem a dumb description, but I love it.

The real reason I like this film so much is the moral question it asks. Is Travis mad to intervene? Or is it madder still to tolerate the shit going on around him?


Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

I love this film, and I still think it strangely underrated. I'm not a fan of the dumb RomCom genre because it studiously avoids all the issues this film takes pain to look straight in the eye. How many of our problems are the result of living inside our befuddled minds? And it impressively prioritises individual action and consequence over trite notions such as "fate" - the way Joel has to squeeze onto the train to go to the beach. Bollocks to serendipity, consequence is forged by people flunking work and near killing themselves to do something different. The Direction is superb; cinematography beautiful; and the, perhaps counter-intuitive, casting works sublimely.


The Big Lebowski

I've discussed this at length in the past. Wonderful!


Excellent choices (I love all three movies), but would you rank these as the best movies from your point of view or as the movies which you like most because they mean something to you? The difference between both have been discussed and put into words way better than I ever could in this thread. Anyway: excellent choice (but that is my opinion).


Tue Jun 04, 2013 9:39 am
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Post Re: Your Top Three Films?
My top three would have to be on the list of movies I can watch over and over and over… I’d read somewhere that a great movie is three or more really good scenes connected by an interesting plot –or something like that. If I didn’t read that somewhere, I just wrote it, so you can claim to have read it somewhere. These three movies have more than their share of great scenes. I’m noting that all of them are period pieces. Interesting…


I’ll not synopsize as I’m guessing everyone here has seen each of these countless times.

A Christmas Story Captures a series of vignettes from around 1940 held together by Ralphie’s quest for a BB gun. Facets of life that were probably miserable at the time; hard starting cars, furnace fighting, blow-outs, neighborhood dogs, belligerent department store santas, are presented in such a way to arouse reminiscence among those who weren’t even born then. Can any portrayal of “the good old days” be any more rich and flavorful? I love this movie enough to buy any future “anniversary” release that will come out, and I will someday go here:
http://www.achristmasstoryhouse.com/


Raiders of the Lost Ark If Deus ex Machina worked in reverse and a new threat to life and limb dropped in at every tense moment… If a man’s incredible efforts and unbelievable good luck could be so greatly punished as to revoke his prize at every turn… If there was ever a musical score more perfectly matched to action, peril and romance without ever becoming orchestral sound-effect… If ever there was a fantastic comic book come to life… it would be Raiders. A great example of pacing, I believe you could create a clock, the hands of which being advanced by the tightening and relaxing grips of the armrest.

Tie between Unforgiven and The Good the Bad and the Ugly because I refuse to choose between them. Both capture the grittiness of how we perceive the old west. In films this was a time when a six-shooter solved problems, oftentimes problems created by six-shooters. If someone didn’t arm themselves, well, they should’a armed themselves. Dynamite helps, so do cannons, and if you don’t have bullets, you dig.

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Tue Jun 04, 2013 12:53 pm
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Post Re: Your Top Three Films?
it's possible in my opinion to have a personal favourite film due to it resonating emotionally, historically (in your own life, i.e. watching e.t. at an impressionable young age) and culturally (really capturing your generation's own fears/troubles/etc.) and much more and yet knowing that it's not a particularly 'good', thoughtful, considered film-making.

and by the same token i think it's possible to not particularly like a film but respect it due to it's theme, technical prowess, acting, and so on. i'm a big fan of a bout de souffle but i don't particularly think it's great entertainment. it just strikes a chord for me on a visceral level.

just my two cents.


Tue Jun 04, 2013 2:33 pm
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Post Re: Your Top Three Films?
Threeper -

Quote:
Excellent choices (I love all three movies), but would you rank these as the best movies from your point of view or as the movies which you like most because they mean something to you? The difference between both have been discussed and put into words way better than I ever could in this thread. Anyway: excellent choice (but that is my opinion)


Cheers for that. Although I think all 3 films stand up objectively speaking, the choice is very personal. I would struggle to argue objectivlely that The Big Lebowski is better than Schindler's List; or that Eternal Sunshine is better than The Godfather - but in my own befuddled mind they are.

Which leads me to ...

OtherBen -

Quote:
it's possible in my opinion to have a personal favourite film due to it resonating emotionally, historically (in your own life, i.e. watching e.t. at an impressionable young age) and culturally (really capturing your generation's own fears/troubles/etc.) and much more and yet knowing that it's not a particularly 'good', thoughtful, considered film-making


100% yes!

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Wed Jun 05, 2013 4:09 am
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Post Re: Your Top Three Films?
NotHughGrant wrote:
Taxi Driver

Because I loved it at 16 and I love it at 31, albeit for very different reasons. A friend of mine recently described it as "lonliness in a world of scum". It may seem a dumb description, but I love it.
I prefer to think of it as "things we do to make ourselves lonely... in a world of scum".

Full disclosure: I'd seen Taxi Driver earlier, but I only came to love it around age 20. (I'm 28 now.) Actually, I don't know if "love" fully describes the depth of feeling I have for this movie.

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Wed Jun 05, 2013 4:43 am
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Post Re: Your Top Three Films?
I’m fascinated with the moral question of Taxi Driver. For instance, had Travis been a functional (or at least conventional) kind of guy, with a mortgage, wife, kids, all that jazz, there’s no way he would have put himself in the position he did. He’d have too much to lose. And therefore Iris would have probably have died as a teenage (probably drug-addicted) prostitute.

But it just so happens that he’s the war-veteran, outcast - not bad per se - but socially stunted and remote enough to believe a middle-class woman would appreciate going to a porn theatre as a first date. Travis is a pathology; the logical consequence of a perfect storm of disenfranchisement.

His turning point is interesting. You can almost see the smile on his face when he realises that he has the power and now the will to wipe the scum off the streets.

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Wed Jun 05, 2013 6:58 am
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