- The Cecil the Lion story? Jimmy Kimmel's response was pretty good. I have newfound respect for him. I also like his use of “vomitous.”
- The Associated Press, along with MovieTone news, has made one million minutes of history available on YouTube. For some reason the piece is written in the future tense while the YouTube channel is already available. I guess AP might need a CE.
- In the wake of Lafayette, Adam Gopnik writes about Obama's evolving outrage on guns, but doesn't give quite the evidence I would've liked. But the piece does raise this thought: Do we have the right to not to have to bear arms? Not according to the NRA, which treats every innocent victim in every schoolyard, movie theater or recruitment center as if they were the saloon owner in “Unforgiven,” saying, essentially: Well, they should've armed themselves, so they got what's coming. Assholes.
- A video of Obama in Africa arguing for African leaders to step down after their term is over. He says the law is the law, and he himself is looking forward to serving in other ways and having a smaller security detail. But what made news? Saying if he ran again he thinks he could win. He'd have my vote.
- The more loutish Donald Trump gets, the more popular he becomes within the GOP. Tim Egan isn't sympathetic, saying: “The fault, dear Priebus, is not in your stars but in yourselves.”
- Speaking of fault: The New York Times really flubbed it with that Hilary story last week.
- Six years before the controversial publication of “Go Set a Watchman,” Malcolm Gladwell wrote a critique of Atticus Finch and the old style Southern liberalism he represented. In a way, it anticipates “Watchman.” Or it indicates how the hero of “Mockingbird” could become the tarnished father of “Watchman.”
- I agree with Jeff Wells on the one-sided debate on the way men and women look at (and reject) one another. It's one-sided because the way men reduce women (traditionally: into sex objects) has been a longtime cause for complaint, while the way women reduce men (by job, status, wealth, fame and/or looks) is hardly mentioned. Opportunity for someone, I suppose. Maybe me. Maybe you.
- Yesterday I posted my top 10 American movies in answer to the BBC's top 100. Jeff Wells did me one better. OK, 150 better.
How Two Men Connect the Battle of Fredericksburg with Today
The following quote is from Charles Leerhsen's biography “Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty.” I'm at the point in the book shortly after Ty Cobb is besmirched in a 1926 betting scandal on a 1919 baseball game, and thus forced out as player-manager of the Detroit Tigers, the only team he'd ever known, and shortly before he would play two years for Connie Mack's Philadelphia Athletics, where he would hit .357 and .323 (w/OPSes of .931 and .819), before retiring for good after the '28 season.
This is the quote:
Connie Mack, who was born a few days after the Battle of Fredericksburg and who would live long enough to manage a game called by Vin Scully, had already been around a long time at that point.
I like these throwaways from Leerhsen that bend the mind a bit. Mack was Mr. Longevity as a baseball manager just as Scully was in the broadcast booth. Both exuded/exude class.
Mack was born in 1862, played professional baseball for 10 years (1886-1896), then managed the A's from 1901 to 1950. He died six years later at the age of 93. Essentially he managed from before the Wright Bros. to after breaking the sound barrier; from cannonballs to the atom bomb.
Scully, meanwhile, was born in 1927 and began broadcasting Dodgers games in 1950 when they were in Brooklyn. He's still doing so 65 years later.
But wait. Dodgers are NL, A's AL. Did Scully announce a game managed by Connie Mack?
Yes. Here's what he told Mariners' announcer Rick Rizzs about the first game he announced:
I think the very first one was an exhibition game and we were playing the Philadelphia Athletics and the manager that year was Connie Mack. Now the next year Jimmy Dykes became the official manager but my first broadcast was with the A's in Vero Beach with Mr. Mack right there in the black suit, and the celluloid collar, and the straw hat. I remember in that game I think Ferris Fain was the first baseman and it seems to me there was a triple play which Red Barber called and I remember sitting there thinking, “He made it sound so easy,” and I was scared to death.
Anyway, that's how we get from the Civil War to today, and from baseball in 1886 to today. Takes two men who were good at what they do and loved doing it.
My Top 10 American Movies, as of July 28, 2015
The dark side of the American dream: war, profits, and the death of the working class. None of these movies wound up on the BBC list.
I'll have a few more posts about that BBC list of the top 100 American movies as chosen by 62 international critics, but, as a reminder, each of the 62 chose their own top 10, with No. 1 being worth 10 points, 2 worth nine points, and so on. Since I'm a bit critical of the list, I thought I'd come up with my own Top 10. Haven't done it in a while. And never from a wholly American perspective.
It's not easy. This is what the BBC says about its process:
What defines an American film? For the purposes of this poll, it is any movie that received funding from a US source. The directors of these films did not have to be born in the United States – in fact, 32 films on the list were directed by film-makers born elsewhere – nor did the films even have to be shot in the US. ... Critics were encouraged to submit lists of the 10 films they feel, on an emotional level, are the greatest in American cinema – not necessarily the most important, just the best. These are the results.
I went after movies that say something deep and real about life. And if they say something deep and real about American life, all the better. “The Godfather,” after all, is about the dark side of the American dream (first line: I believe in America) and so is “All the President's Men.” I guess most of these films are, now that I think about it. Even “Breaking Away.” It's lighthearted in tone but it's about the death of the blue-collar working class. It's about owning your epithet (nothing is more American than that), and, in a very funny way, it's about the American talent for reimagining yourself—in this case as a non-American; as an Italian.
I also tried to pick movies that I've watched at least five times and would like to watch again. Like right now.
|My Rank||Movie||Director||BBC Rank|
|1||The Thin Red Line (1998)||Terrence Malick||n/a|
|2||The Godfather (1972)||Francis Ford Coppola||2|
|3||The Insider (1999)||Michael Mann||n/a|
|4||Casablanca (1943)||Michael Curtiz||9|
|5||Annie Hall (1977)||Woody Allen||23|
|6||Breaking Away (1979)||Peter Yates||n/a|
|7||All the President's Men (1976)||Alan J. Pakula||n/a|
|8||Amadeus (1984)||Milos Forman||n/a|
|9||Singin' in the Rain (1952)||Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly||7|
|10||Monkey Business (1931)||Norman McLeod||n/a|
- It's a very '70s-centric list but it could have been more so: “Chinatown,” “Cuckoo's Nest,” “Love and Death,” “Jaws,” “The Godfather Part II.” The '70s were a good decade for American film and I was coming of age during it.
- Six of my 10 aren't on the BBC's top 100.
- When will “The Thin Red Line” get its due? When will “The Insider”? (I have no hope that “Breaking Away” will ever get its due.)
Feel free to post your Top 10 (or 5, or 3) below.
Box Office: 'Ant-Man' Wins Weekend, Game Over for "Pixels' (and Sandler?)
It's Jurassic's world but it's still Cameron's universe.
Several milestones this weekend:
- “Jurassic World” earned another $7 million domestically and surpassed “Marvel's The Avengers” for third place on the all-time domestic charts. It's at $624.08 million. Ahead is Cameron Country: “Titanic” at $658.6 and “Avatar” at $760.5. Has a shot at “Titanic.”
- Even if you adjust for inflation, “Jurassic” is at 27th all-time, just ahead of “Thunderball,” and just behind “Grease” and “Mary Poppins” and “The Godfather.” Good company.
- “J-World” also surpassed “Marvel's The Avengers” on the worldwide chart, with a $1.541 billion haul against “MTA”'s $1.519. Again, ahead of it is Cameron Country, but you can barely make it out it's so far ahead. “Titanic” is at $2.1 billion, “Avatar” at 2.7.
- “Inside Out” earned another $7.4 mil domestically and is now at $320. In pure domestic gross, it's the third-highest-grossing Pixar flick (after “Toy Story 3” and “Nemo”); adjust for inflation, it's seventh (but since 2004, only “TS3” is bigger); while worldwide it's eighth (but Pixar movies tend to open slowly abroad). All in all, a huge success. Moneywise. Quality-wise, it's already a success.
Did anyone pick “Pixels” in the summer box office sweepstakes? I hope not. It earned a mere $24 mil, not even enough to unseat “Ant-Man” from the top spot. The diminutive superhero grossed another $24.9 mil and is now at $106. Meanwhile, the third weekend of “Minions” finished in third place with $22.9 (for a $262 total), while the second weekend of “Trainwreck” earned another $17.2 (for $61 total).
Jake Gylenhaal's counter-programming boxing movie, “Southpaw,” opened in fifth place at $16 mil, which is better than I thought it would do, while another teen movie, “Paper Towns,” opened in sixth with $12.
BTW: In my search for box office predictions, I came across Entertainment Weekly's summer 2015 forecast, which ... whatever. The point is the pointed commentary by a guy named Andrew about their predictions:
A lot of these predictions are way off in my opinion. They're saying that Trainwreck will make over $100 million but Pixels and Tomorrowland won't? No chance. I also don't see Magic Mike doing quite that well and I think Ant-Man can crack $200 mil. Especially coming directly after Avengers 2. Never underestimate Marvel.
“Tomorrowland is at $92 and not budging while ”Pixels“ probably won't quadruple it's opening weekend. ”Trainwreck“? Still has a shot at 100. Women-centered movies tend to open more slowly than the male version. But Andrew did nail ”Magic Mike XXL," which EW had at $155 and is currently floundering in the 60s.
Movie Review: While We're Young (2015)
In Noah Baumbach’s “While We’re Young,” Josh, a struggling, 40-something documentarian and his wife Cornelia (Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts) become friends with Jamie, a 20-something film student and his wife Darby (Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried), and anxious humor and personal revelations result. Except the humor isn’t that humorous and the revelations aren’t that revelatory. Plus Baumbach confuses the generational (illegal downloads, et al.) with the universal (assholes get ahead).
At the start, Josh is in a rut. He’s been working on his next big documentary, “about America” and its class system, for nearly 10 years. He has 100 hours of footage, a six-hour doc, and hasn’t paid his assistant in years. His father-in-law, the great documentary filmmaker Leslie Breitbart (Charles Grodin), actually watches the six-hour version and makes helpful comments, which Josh rejects violently. He’s 44 but remains as sensitive to criticism as a 22-year-old.
Then after one of his sparsely attended film lectures, an attendee, Jamie, compliments him, and talks up Josh’s first and painfully obscure documentary, which he says he found on eBay. He’s a true fan and Josh is enthralled. “I wanted to be admired,” he says near the end. “I wanted a protégé.”
The couples become friends, and tend to do what the younger couple does. They go to a street party, foodie restaurants (Josh always picks up the check), and an Ayahuasca ceremony (don’t ask). The older couple struggles to keep up. Josh wears a hipster fedora (w/o having read his George W.S. Trow), and rides a bike in the city (then discovers he has arthritis), while Cornelia is always a step behind in hip-hop dance class. They lose their older friends who don’t get what’s become of them. Neither do we, really. We suspect early that Josh is being played, that Jamie is an opportunist who is using any connection to get ahead, and that early sense is corroborated to the tenth degree. Jamie is a massive douche. But Josh is enamored. “I loved you,” he says to Jamie at the end. Meaning the story is a love story that makes no sense. Love stories that make no sense may feel true—we’ve all wondered over the bad partners of good friends—but they’re rarely interesting as stories.
Here. I’m 52, eight years older than Josh and much less successful, but the only thing of Jamie’s I covet is Amanda Seyfried, which is the one thing that Josh doesn’t covet. He likes Jamie’s energy, even if Jamie is all ironic energy. He wants to help him with his documentary, even though he thinks the concept is stupid.
Actually, let’s talk about that documentary for a second.
Jamie tells Josh, whom he keeps calling “Joshy” and “Yosh,” that he’s never been on Facebook, but he’s going to create an account and then visit in person whoever friends him. The first one to do so is a guy named Kent (Brady Corbet), a high school friend who had everything going for him. They all show up at his front door in Poughkeepsie, camera rolling, but Kent’s sister tells them he’s not there; he’s in a hospital because he tried to kill himself. Turns out he’d been a soldier in Afghanistan. He’d both fought there and fought against the U.S. being there. He’s a true hero who won a Purple Heart. Josh finds all of this information online. And suddenly the stupid documentary has life. More than life. There’s a poignant scene where Jamie tells Kent about his own mother dying of ovarian cancer, and, as Josh films him, Jamie, with a remote, zooms in on himself. Leslie even agrees to help out with the doc. Everything is falling into place and Joshy is getting passed by.
But it’s all a lie. Jamie knew about Kent’s Afghanistan service from the get-go; the Facebook thing was just a front. In fact, Kent was Darby’s friend, not his, and it was Darby’s mom who died of ovarian cancer. And Jamie finding Josh’s first documentary via eBay? Bullshit. Josh was just Jamie’s excuse to get to Leslie. Josh finds out all of this at the 11th hour and then rushes to a black-tie honorarium for Leslie, which Jamie is attending, with the evidence. Except, at Leslie’s table, no one gives a shit. Jamie fesses up, but in a way that minimizes the damage, while Josh is bursting at the seams with the indignity of it all, the lack of integrity. No one else cares. “I think he’s an asshole,” Cornelia says, “but the movie’s pretty good.”
Which is fine. Assholes get ahead. Way of the world.
Except later, outside, she parses it further:
It doesn’t matter if it was rigged. Because the movie isn’t about Afghanistan or Kent. It’s about Jamie.
This is backwards. If the doc is about Kent’s service in Afghanistan, which is real, then how Jamie found him is irrelevant. But if the doc is ultimately about Jamie, then Jamie’s lies do matter. He’s on film talking about his mother dying of ovarian cancer, yet his mother is still alive? He’ll be the James Frey of documentarians; he’ll take Leslie down with him.
“While We’re Young” has some good lines. “It’s like their apartment is full of everything we once threw out, but it looks so good the way they have it.” I like a lot of the issues raised, particularly how cutthroat and opportunistic you have to be to succeed. Charles Grodin is wonderful, as is Naomi Watts in a small, thankless part. But Josh’s angst isn’t interesting angst. It’s obvious what’s wrong with him in the beginning, and it’s obvious his solution to what’s wrong with him (Jamie, youth) is the wrong solution, and the resolution to all of this is both muddied and untrue. I think Noah Baumbach’s a pretty good guy, but his movie’s an asshole.
Movie Review: Trainwreck (2015)
Everyone is calling “Trainwreck” an Amy Schumer film since she’s the hot new thing, but it really is a Judd Apatow film. It feels like a Judd Apatow film. It’s funny, avoids many of the obvious grooves and pitfalls of the genre, and gives us moments of genuine interaction between people. Not bad. Then it’ll push the envelope for comic effect. Characters will riff too long, and the movie itself will go on too long. This thing is 125 minutes, about a half hour longer than it should be, but not bad for Apatow. Cf., 134 minutes for “This is 40” and 146 minutes for “Funny People.”
Does Apatow even have an editor? Couldn’t you, for example, have cut the intervention scene with LeBron, Chris Evert, Matthew Broderick and Marv Alpert and lost nothing? Couldn’t you have cut a lot of LeBron’s scenes? LeBron, playing himself, is good, startlingly so, and the line about watching “Downton Abbey” that night because “I’m not going to practice tomorrow and all the guys are talking about it and I’m left out,” well, that made me laugh out loud. But his character is two-note and the two notes are kind of contradictory: 1) He’s super-sensitive that his friend will be hurt—in the way of women looking after their friends—and, 2) his advice to his friend is always from LeBron’s rarefied realm. Meaning for multimillionaire celebrity-athletes who fend off groupies.
At the same time, “Trainwreck” is different from other Apatow films in two related ways. It’s the first movie he directed that he didn’t write (Schumer did), and its lead is a woman behaving badly rather than a man behaving badly. In this way it’s considered transgressive.
Woman behaving badly
Schumer plays Amy, a girl who sleeps around like a guy. She hates to cuddle, never stays over, and receives more than she gives.
She’s also a journalist at a lad mag called S’Nuff and a favorite of the Tina Browne-ish editor there, Dianna (Tilda Swinton, inspired and awful), even though she’s a lousy journalist. At an edit meeting, she comes up with no new ideas but is handed somebody else’s: a feature profile on a sports surgeon, Aaron Conners (Bill Hader). When she finally visits him in his office, she’s done zero research. She doesn’t know that his client list includes the biggest names in the game, and when one of those names, LeBron James, steps in for a quick chat (about, among other things, “Downton Abbey”), she doesn’t know who he is.
Then she sleeps with her subject before she’s written the piece.
But journalistic ethics aren’t the point of the movie. The point is she changes. She likes Aaron. He makes her want to be a better woman. Wait, scratch that. She actually keeps trying to break it off. Plus there are subplots:
- She and her sister, Kim (Brie Larson), talk about moving their curmudgeon father (Colin Quinn), into a cheaper assisted living facility.
- Kim is more staid and goody-two-shoes, and the two sisters generally clash.
- Her editor doesn’t like the piece on Aaron because he’s boring.
Per the rom-com formula, Amy and Aaron have to break it off to set up the final act. So Amy leaves a ceremony where Aaron is receiving a “Doctors Without Borders” award for a phone call from Dianna; then she argues with Aaron all night even though he has to operate on Amar’e Stoudemire the next day. When Aaron asks for a temporary break in their relationship, she uses it as an excuse to exit the building completely. Cue: montage of each in their separate world.
Why does she get fired from S’Nuff again? Oh, right. She sleeps with an intern (Ezra Miller), who turns out to be 16. Mostly, though, it’s because it’s the formula. She has to leave the soul-destroying job in order to get back her soul. Then she rewrites the piece on Aaron and sells it to Vanity Fair. She fails up as a journalist in the digital age. Done and done. With the drinking, too. She cleans out bottles, and that’s that. Finally, she wins Aaron back by dancing with Aaron’s clients, the Knicks City dancers. Yes, she becomes a cheerleader, but an Amy version of a cheerleader.
That’s our happy ending. Because no one does “Annie Hall” anymore.
Slightly outside Amy Schumer
- Bill Hader, who might be the best actor to ever come off of “Saturday Night Live.” Yes. He was completely believable as the younger, gay brother in “The Skeleton Twins,” and he’s completely believable here as a staid, well-meaning celebrity surgeon. He feels like a doctor. I would go to him if I had pain in my knee. I don’t know how Hader does that.
- Tilda Swinton, who is virtually unrecognizable as Dianna.
- Amy’s eulogy for her father, which is more honest and heartfelt than 99 percent of anything you will see in the movies this year.
- Amy’s relationship with her sister, which seems real. Plus she and Brie actually look like sisters.
- Most of the familial relationships. Apatow does family well.
I saw “Trainwreck” with two women, both of whom loved it. For me it was mixed, for the reasons stated above, and because simply switching genders on the douche-guy role isn’t that interesting. It’s not as transgressive as Schumer’s own comedy, for example. Maybe eventually.
E.L. Doctorow: 1931-2015
He was one of my guys—the starting left fielder of my literary nine. Now only three are left. The bench is being depleted. My scouts are on hiatus.
I keep returning to three of his books: “The Book of Daniel,” “Ragtime” and “World's Fair.” They share qualities. Sometimes they even share scenes: a small boy seeing the aftermath of an accident—a woman carrying groceries hit by a car—and watching the milk mix with blood. That's in both “Daniel” and “World's Fair.” First it was Daniel's burden, then Edgar's. Both boys are small criminals of perception.
“Ragtime” begins with an epigraph, an admonition, from Scott Joplin: “Do not play this piece fast. It is never right to play Ragtime fast ...” I always felt guilty because “Ragtime” is such a breezy book, so dense and interesting and readable, that I could never not read it fast.
Here's an example of the style of “Daniel.” It's a nothing moment, a nothing memory, made fascinating:
In a window an advertising cutout faded from the sun: a modern housewife, smartly turned out in a dress that reaches almost to her ankles. She has her hand on the knob of a radio and does not look at it but out at you, as she turns it on. She is smiling and wears a hairdo of the time. She is not bad looking, with nice straight teeth, and she obviously has a pair though not trying to jam them in your face. She is in green, faded green. Her dress, her face, her smile, all green. Her radio is orange...She is a slim, green woman for whom the act of turning on an orange radio is enormous pleasure. Maybe it was a defective radio and gave her a jolt. Maybe she was turning it off. I never thought of that.
A lot of his other books either seemed surprisingly lightweight (“Lives of the Poets,” “Waterworks”) or incomprehensibily heavy (“City of God”). The three above are his sweetspot. Or so it seems to me at the moment.
His words are part of my life:
- “And it's still going on, Danny. In today's newspaper, it's still going on. Right outside the door of this house it's going on.”
- “We should have talked, we should always have talked.”
- “I can live with anyone's death except my own, man.”
- “Most freelances are nervous craven creatures, it is such a tenuous living after all, but this one was prideful, he knew how well he wrote, and never deferred to my opinion.”
That last was a tagline of sorts on the first website I created back in 1998—until a friend suggested it seemed too combative, too prideful, and I took it off, nervous craven creature that I am.
Did I begin to study history because of him? I wanted to write, but I didn't know anything, and I figure I needed to know more. I think I got this into my head when I'd taken a break from college and was working at a bank near the university. I was 20 or 21 years old and re-reading “Ragtime” or “Daniel,” or maybe “Loon Lake” for the first time, in a rundown apartment in a sketchy part of Minneapolis.
Years later, I interviewed Frederic Silber, the general counsel at Paul Allen's Experience Music Project in Seattle, and he was describing his upbringing. In the '40s and '50s, he and his parents went to hootenannies led by singers like Leadbelly and Woody Guthrie. Pete Seeger used to come by their house, a “middle income cooperative apartment” on the lower east side of Manhattan:
Silber: So it was that kind of prototypical, Jewish, middle-class, urban New York upbringing. Jewish leftist intellectual background: that's what I claim.
Me: I immediately think of “The Book of Daniel” by E.L. Doctorow.
Silber: And you wouldn't be far wrong. [Smiles.] Although my parents were not atomic spies.
I wonder if I would even make that comment today. Or would I assume no literary knowledge on the other end of the conversation? I used to assume it; I assumed serious literature was central to the culture, as it kind of was, even into the 1970s, when Bill Veck, running the Chicago White Sox, held a “Ragtime Night” at old Comiskey Park, giving away copies of the novel to the first 10,000 people through the turnstiles. The digital world has set me straight. All the programmers and coders and hackers and businessmen.
He wrote one the sexiest scenes I've ever read. It's from “World's Fair” when Edgar goes to the 1939-40 World's Fair with his friend Meg and her mother Norma, and he discovers that Norma actually works there as an underwater bathing beauty. But more. It's a kind of peep show. He's not supposed to watch it, or know about it, but he's a small criminal of perception. She swims in a giant tank of water and has her bathing suit slowly removed by a man in an octopus suit. It's a fantasy come true. It also recalls Edgar's earlier thoughts on the idiocy of Lamont Cranston's Shadow. I'd give you a sample of the scene but I don't have my copy of “World's Fair.” I must've loaned it to somebody.
He also wrote one of the saddest scenes I've ever read. It's early in “The Book of Daniel. Two of the central characters, Daniel and Susan Isaacson (nee Lewin), the children of a fictionalized Rosenberg couple, are being led by a well-meaning lawyer to a left-wing protest rally in New York City. But then Susan gets something in her eye and they have to stop. Daniel, with the lawyer muttering impatiently, leads Susan to a doorway, away from the wind, to try to remove the object. He cajoles her and teases her and promises to play with her. He's just a kid himself at his point, no more than 10 or 11, and Susan is younger, and both are beginning to feel ostracized because their parents are national traitors. And it suddenly becomes too much for her. She cries. But this is what's needed; her tears remove the object. At which point she looks back at Daniel and asks, ”Will you still play with me?“ That's the sentence that killed me. When I reread the book in the 1990s, I just stared at it and tears began to well up in my eyes, and I went to share it with my girlfriend at the time. I wanted to share it with the world.
I want to reread him all again now. I want to try the later books I didn't get into. Surely there's something there for me. I feel guilty that I've let it all sit, that I haven't come back for more.
We should have talked. We should always have talked.
My guy. My books.
That BBC 100 Greatest Movies List, By Genre
In BBC's list, crime is strong, comedies are holding their own, but musicals are way over yonder in the minor key.
OK, another post about BBC's list of the 100 greatest American films, as chosen by 62 international critics.
First thing I noticed? Not a lot of musicals. Also not many animated movies: one, to be precise. A superhero movie made the list, which is new, plus two documentaries. And an experimental short from the 1940s? OK. I guess. But one wonders how.
Which genres did well? That most American of genres, the western, did OK. So did crime drama and film noir, both of which are wholly American, despite the latter's French nomenclature and the European pedigree of many of its most famous practitiioners.
(Side thought: How many of the directors on this auteur-heavy list of great American movies are foreign-born?)
Comedy did OK, with some interesting choices (ex: “Groundhog Day”), while horror got the usual nods (Hitchcock, Kubrick) plus one unusual one (“Night of the Living Dead”). The critics weren't loving the war movies. In fact, there's more of what I call “mystery thriller w/perverse sexuality” than there is of war.
This last comment indicates a problem with even attempting what I'm attempting. What genre is “The Tree of Life,” for example? Or “Casablanca”? Or “Crimes and Misdemeanors”? Is this last a crime drama? A crime drama with comedy? A comedy with crime and drama? What's the difference between a crime drama and a film noir? Entire books have been written on that subject. I can't help recalling James Baldwin's great line about how our passion for categorization, our attempt to order the world neatly, has “boomeranged us into chaos; in which limbo we whirl, clutching the straws of our definitions.” That's me, here. But I keep doing it. Or attempting it.
Proviso stated, here are the genre numbers. (I've added the “mystery thriller w/sex” subgenre into the “thriller” category):
- Drama: 31
- Comedy: 16
- Western: 10
- Film noir: 9
- Thriller: 7
- Musical: 5
- Sci-fi: 5
- Action: 3
- Horror: 3
- Romance: 3
- War: 3
- Documentary: 2
- Animated: 1
- Superhero: 1
- Short: 1
Essentially it's a dark brooding list with a few oddities, like “Forrest Gump” at No. 74. (I put that one in its own category: “drama, comedy.” It seems a drama to me first. You could go: “drama, fantasy” or “drama, history,” too.)
For a list that ends with “Citizen Kane” at No. 1 and “The Godfather” at No. 2, it's also a fairly hip list, which makes “Gump” an even odder inclusion. Maybe it's getting its hipster fans now, who are reacting to my generation's overall shrug on the subject.
In the meantime, for masochists, the list as sorted by genre (or its best approximation):
|84. Deliverance (John Boorman, 1972)||action-adventure|
|82. Raiders of the Lost Ark (Steven Spielberg, 1981)||action-adventure|
|38. Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975)||action-adventure|
|86. The Lion King (Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff, 1994)||animated|
|95. Duck Soup (Leo McCarey, 1933)||comedy|
|83. Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks, 1938)||comedy|
|71. Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis, 1993)||comedy|
|67. Modern Times (Charlie Chaplin, 1936)||comedy|
|50. His Girl Friday (Howard Hawks, 1940)||comedy|
|44. Sherlock Jr (Buster Keaton, 1924)||comedy|
|30. Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959)||comedy|
|18. City Lights (Charlie Chaplin, 1931)||comedy|
|17. The Gold Rush (Charlie Chaplin, 1925)||comedy|
|55. The Graduate (Mike Nichols, 1967)||comedy, dark|
|42. Dr Strangelove (Stanley Kubrick, 1964)||comedy, dark|
|24. The Apartment (Billy Wilder, 1960)||comedy, dark|
|58. The Shop Around the Corner (Ernst Lubitsch, 1940)||comedy, romance|
|32. The Lady Eve (Preston Sturges, 1941)||comedy, romance|
|23. Annie Hall (Woody Allen, 1977)||comedy, romance|
|56. Back to the Future (Robert Zemeckis, 1985)||comedy, sci-fi|
|69. Koyaanisqatsi (Godfrey Reggio, 1982)||documentary|
|53. Grey Gardens (Albert and David Maysles, Ellen Hovde and Muffie Meyer, 1975)||documentary|
|73. Network (Sidney Lumet, 1976)||drama|
|63. Love Streams (John Cassavetes, 1984)||drama|
|31. A Woman Under the Influence (John Cassavetes, 1974)||drama|
|26. Killer of Sheep (Charles Burnett, 1978)||drama|
|25. Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1989)||drama|
|14. Nashville (Robert Altman, 1975)||drama|
|59. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Miloš Forman, 1975)||drama|
|29. Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese, 1980)||drama|
|22. Greed (Erich von Stroheim, 1924)||drama|
|74. Forrest Gump (Robert Zemeckis, 1994)||drama, comedy|
|79. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)||drama, coming of age|
|57. Crimes and Misdemeanors (Woody Allen, 1989)||drama, crime|
|93. Mean Streets (Martin Scorsese, 1973)||drama, crime|
|81. Thelma & Louise (Ridley Scott, 1991)||drama, crime|
|28. Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, 1994)||drama, crime|
|20. Goodfellas (Martin Scorsese, 1990)||drama, crime|
|19. Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976)||drama, crime|
|10. The Godfather Part II (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)||drama, crime|
|6. Sunrise (FW Murnau, 1927)||drama, crime|
|2. The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)||drama, crime|
|94. 25th Hour (Spike Lee, 2002)||drama, crime|
|46. It’s a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946)||drama, fantasy|
|99. 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)||drama, history|
|97. Gone With the Wind (Victor Fleming, 1939)||drama, history|
|65. The Right Stuff (Philip Kaufman, 1983)||drama, history|
|39. The Birth of a Nation (DW Griffith, 1915)||drama, history|
|27. Barry Lyndon (Stanley Kubrick, 1975)||drama, history|
|11. The Magnificent Ambersons (Orson Welles, 1942)||drama, history|
|1. Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941)||drama, history|
|47. Marnie (Alfred Hitchcock, 1964)||drama, psychological|
|87. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004)||drama, sci-fi|
|48. A Place in the Sun (George Stevens, 1951)||film noir|
|100. Ace in the Hole (Billy Wilder, 1951)||film noir|
|92. The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)||film noir|
|89. In a Lonely Place (Nicholas Ray, 1950)||film noir|
|72. The Shanghai Gesture (Josef von Sternberg, 1941)||film noir|
|54. Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, 1950)||film noir|
|51. Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 1958)||film noir|
|35. Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944)||film noir|
|12. Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974)||film noir|
|85. Night of the Living Dead (George A Romero, 1968)||horror|
|62. The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980)||horror|
|8. Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)||horror|
|88. West Side Story (Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, 1961)||musical|
|80. Meet Me in St Louis (Vincente Minnelli, 1944)||musical|
|70. The Band Wagon (Vincente Minnelli, 1953)||musical|
|7. Singin’ in the Rain (Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, 1952)||musical|
|34. The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, 1939)||musical fantasy|
|61. Eyes Wide Shut (Stanley Kubrick, 1999)||mystery thriller w/sex|
|60. Blue Velvet (David Lynch, 1986)||mystery thriller w/sex|
|21. Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, 2001)||mystery thriller w/sex|
|3. Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)||mystery thriller w/sex|
|43. Letter from an Unknown Woman (Max Ophüls, 1948)||romance, drama|
|9. Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942)||romance, drama|
|37. Imitation of Life (Douglas Sirk, 1959)||romance, weepy|
|91. ET: The Extra-Terrestrial (Steven Spielberg, 1982)||sci-fi|
|76. The Empire Strikes Back (Irvin Kershner, 1980)||sci-fi|
|75. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Steven Spielberg, 1977)||sci-fi|
|36. Star Wars (George Lucas, 1977)||sci-fi|
|4. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)||sci-fi|
|40. Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid, 1943)||short, experimental|
|96. The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008)||superhero|
|13. North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959)||thriller|
|33. The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)||thriller, psychological|
|68. Notorious (Alfred Hitchcock, 1946)||thriller, romance|
|90. Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979)||war|
|78. Schindler’s List (Steven Spielberg, 1993)||war|
|15. The Best Years of Our Lives (William Wyler, 1946)||war|
|98. Heaven’s Gate (Michael Cimino, 1980)||western|
|77. Stagecoach (John Ford, 1939)||western|
|66. Red River (Howard Hawks, 1948)||western|
|64. Johnny Guitar (Nicholas Ray, 1954)||western|
|52. The Wild Bunch (Sam Peckinpah, 1969)||western|
|49. Days of Heaven (Terrence Malick, 1978)||western|
|45. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (John Ford, 1962)||western|
|41. Rio Bravo (Howard Hawks, 1959)||western|
|16. McCabe & Mrs Miller (Robert Altman, 1971)||western|
|5. The Searchers (John Ford, 1956)||western|