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Old 04-27-2012, 10:36 AM   #1
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Roger Ebert's S & S list...which would you choose?

http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2012..._all_time.html

Aguirre, Wrath of God (Herzog)
Apocalypse Now (Coppola)
Citizen Kane (Welles)
La Dolce Vita (Fellini)
The General (Keaton)
Raging Bull (Scorsese)
2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick)
Tokyo Story (Ozu)
The Tree of Life (Malick)
Vertigo (Hitchcock)

Now if you could narrow down the ten most transformative movie experiences you've had what would they be?
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Old 04-27-2012, 12:12 PM   #2
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I've said this elsewhere, but as someone who's been a devoted Ebert reader for over 25 years, I think his inclusion of Tree of Life is absolutely boneheaded.

People are free to submit what they want, but including such a new film less than a year after its release is beyond jumping the gun. And I consider it a masterwork. But until one has the perspective that time provides, putting it up among the greatest films ever committed to celluloid is an insult to all of those masters.

And Purpleoscar, I'm not sure I'm onboard with the way you've phrased that question, if your intent was to pose the same question Sight & Sound is asking its panel. "Transformative" does not necessarily equal "greatest". The poll is for the Greatest Films Of All Time. Not favorite, not most moving, personal, transformative, etc. It's meant to request an objective survey as possible.

From Ebert's list, I believe that Kane and Vertigo are no-brainers. 2001 isn't something I have a problem with being on their either. I haven't totally warmed to Tokyo Story yet after one viewing, for some reason preferring some of the ones in my Late Ozu set (though I thought they were all great in one way or another).

The General is certainly important and influential, but there's no way I'd put Keaton on the list ahead of Chaplin, who was a superior filmmaker.

Apocalypse Now is likely a divisive choice, but I do agree with Ebert's reasoning why he chose that over either Godfather film, and as it's my #1 of all time it would certainly be on my ballot, perhaps just behind Kane.

I'm not sure if La Dolce Vita is Fellini's best, or if I'd put any of his work on the ballot. Tough call. And I love the Herzog, but Ebert is one of his fanboys and is a little biased here. Plus, I think Fitzcarraldo is better anyway.
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Old 04-27-2012, 01:11 PM   #3
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Lessons of Darkness all the way, baby.
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Old 04-27-2012, 01:19 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by lazarus View Post
And Purpleoscar, I'm not sure I'm onboard with the way you've phrased that question, if your intent was to pose the same question Sight & Sound is asking its panel. "Transformative" does not necessarily equal "greatest". The poll is for the Greatest Films Of All Time. Not favorite, not most moving, personal, transformative, etc. It's meant to request an objective survey as possible.
Yes that's what I mean. If you were asked to vote in the Sight and Sound poll what 10 titles would you choose as the greatest 10 films? Transformative is a hint on the criteria I'll use along with re-watchability for my selections. I like it when my psychology and awareness improves from a movie. What criteria others use for "the best" will be part of the fun on who chooses what and why as I expect a variety of choices.

I definitely would like to know WHY people choose these films. It doesn't have to be a long write up but I'm sure everyone will benefit if they've seen a movie before and can view another person's angle or just confirm why they don't like the film. If titles appear that people haven't seen it will spike curiosity on a title. I'll use spoilers for my descriptions if people just want to see a list.

I do agree that it is probably premature to include Tree of life but with sites like this I can see why some are tempted:

http://reviewingtreeoflife.blogspot....max-results=10

I probably will avoid putting it in because 10 slots will have HUGE competition.
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Old 04-27-2012, 01:28 PM   #5
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I think the boneheaded thing about these lists and discussions is the pretense of objectivity in ranking or prioritizing art. There is none, or at least one has to lay out a pretty clear criteria with which the individual making such a list is using to place any given film above another... which still isn't objective, but it helps narrow the infinite possible qualities with which any given person could define something as the "best" or "better" than others, as those words mean literally nothing in this realm of conversation. Ebert's journal entry is interesting at least because he explains his thought process and it's not merely "Here are the ten greatest films of all time" because that would be asinine, as would suggesting a film from last year shouldn't count because it hadn't stood the test of time. Because that shouldn't necessarily be a criterion of "greatness." Though it could be important for a list like this, or not. I'm rambling a little, but this has always been an issue that's bugged me. I'm not saying anything like this is necessarily a list of someone's personal favorites or should be, but lets not be deluded enough to believe an arbitrary criteria for a film being "best" is anything close to objective. Really I think it's just poor semantics anyway, so I should shut up.

Mainly I'd like to see what anyone contributing to this tread would believe makes a film worthy of such a discussion (another personal judgement) then maybe see reasoning for each pick.
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Old 04-27-2012, 01:33 PM   #6
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I'm not making this thread too serious. I don't believe we have to convince others that our lists are scientific. I agree with Ebert that it's propaganda in that you would pick 10 movies you think are the best and the fun in it is seeing how people are affected by these choices. It's nice to know that La Dolce Vita has such an affect on Ebert and reading that review in 2002 helped me enjoy the movie when I first watched it.
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Old 04-27-2012, 01:47 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Lancemc View Post
I think the boneheaded thing about these lists and discussions is the pretense of objectivity in ranking or prioritizing art. There is none, or at least one has to lay out a pretty clear criteria with which the individual making such a list is using to place any given film above another... which still isn't objective, but it helps narrow the infinite possible qualities with which any given person could define something as the "best" or "better" than others, as those words mean literally nothing in this realm of conversation. Ebert's journal entry is interesting at least because he explains his thought process and it's not merely "Here are the ten greatest films of all time" because that would be asinine, as would suggesting a film from last year shouldn't count because it hadn't stood the test of time. Because that shouldn't necessarily be a criterion of "greatness." Though it could be important for a list like this, or not. I'm rambling a little, but this has always been an issue that's bugged me. I'm not saying anything like this is necessarily a list of someone's personal favorites or should be, but lets not be deluded enough to believe an arbitrary criteria for a film being "best" is anything close to objective. Really I think it's just poor semantics anyway, so I should shut up.

Mainly I'd like to see what anyone contributing to this tread would believe makes a film worthy of such a discussion (another personal judgement) then maybe see reasoning for each pick.

Well, one can "respect" a film more than one likes it, no? There's no pure objectivity but there is the potential for recognition of ones own tastes and biases.

Over half the films in my personal Top 10 aren't ones that I feel are the best examples of cinematic art that deserve placement in some kind of pantheon. And Citizen Kane, which I do feel is the best film ever made, is nowhere near that list.

And I'm not backing down on the time thing. There's no fair way to judge something that one's only been familiar with for such a short period. So many things can play into how we experience something at a certain point in our lives. To suddenly proclaim a film one of your favorites is one thing, but the supposed "best" films are the ones that continue to display their merits with such intensity for years and years afterwards.
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Old 04-27-2012, 03:15 PM   #8
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Well of course one can "respect" a film more in such a way. But then we have to ask ourselves questions like, why exactly do we respect this film, and why does that answer qualify it for this abstract notion of "greatness?" Also worth asking if that itself is more important, or at least relevant, than ones own personal taste.

I just think there's such a degree of subjectivity in any of this, not only in suggesting that a film's "greatness" should in part be defined by its historic influence, complexity of themes, technical ambition or aptitude, etc, but also what marks significance in any of those individual traits, as every single person is going to have something slightly different they value in what marks historic influence or formal accomplishment, and so on. Anyway, it's good you're so adamant about the time thing, as that's a good clear barometer for feting these sorts of things. Then again it's not something I find terribly important so it makes for a good discussion. Of course I place almost complete importance on personal taste and subjective analysis. I think if I were to make a top 10 list based completely on my own feelings it would consist almost entirely of films from the past 20 years, maybe with one of two exceptions, and that's if I'm limiting myself to one per artist.

I'd like to try and make one along the lines of Ebert's here though, taking similar things into consideration, though I'm not sure I'd ever land on something I'm completely happy with.
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Old 04-27-2012, 06:29 PM   #9
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I think Aguirre is Herzog's best film. And I've seen all but three of them (seen all of the other docs, short films, etc.), so it's not a ridiculous choice from his oeuvre. And on an objective level, hardly a "fanboy" thing to have it in a Top Ten. Frankly, his list isn't all that suprising.

As for 'Tree of Life', my girlfriend and I both agreed that it wasn't the best film of 2011 for either of us, but it's certainly the one that film scholars will look back at the most from that year. Just for completing a production that takes on so much and achieves mostly incredible results should have earned that team the Best Picture Oscar last year...and Mallick not winning for Best Director was criminal. Hell, I'd even argue that it has Brad Pitt's finest performance. That film will carve a deep place in cinematic history. Trust me.
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Old 04-27-2012, 06:59 PM   #10
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This list may not vary from too many other lists but it's hard to replace these titles with others at the moment.

1. Citizen Kane
 
I remember watching this on videotape with my family when I was a kid. I found it to be boring for the most part but I remember the imagery and it stayed with me until I could view it again as an adult. Roger Ebert’s commentary also added layers of technical knowledge that increased my appreciation even more. The lighting, editing, news montages, deep focus photography, dialogue and acting are great. The greatest magic trick of the movie for me was seeing a character go through his entire life and seeing how certain decisions lead to paths he regretted. Much like the often quoted Robert Frost poem, the regretful childhood remembrance of happiness with the Rosebud sled shows how one can view a choice made can “make all the difference” (good or bad). This is especially true when the choice was not your own. I also enjoy how a character (based on Hearst) that the screenwriter hated in real life could be given a full dimension so one could sympathize with him instead of heavy handedly demonizing him. This is such a full movie. The only mark against this movie is how depressing it can be and how it can be hard to be in the mood for repeat viewings.

William Friedkin on CITIZEN KANE - YouTube


2. Casablanca
 
This film reminds me how few movies have great quotable dialogue. It has the iconic actor and actress in lead roles. Throughout the runtime interesting characters and their trapped situations provide despair and comic relief making it so entertaining from beginning to the end. Greenstreet and Lorre steal scenes along the way. The ending develops that sense of loss and sacrifice for a higher ideal that releases the tension of the romantic relationship at the end. For those who don’t like the ending they can go watch The English Patient instead where the main characters selfishly pursue their love at the expense thousands of others. The updated blu-ray has a more film-like transfer than the previous one that averaged out the grain.

Casablanca La Marseillaise - YouTube


3. Vertigo
 
I love the symbolism of the green dress and the green aura when Novak is kissed by Stewart after he perversely treats her like a dress up doll. It symbolizes for me the danger of idealism in relationships and how you can be in love with your idea of a person as opposed to who they really are. When I first watched it the ending felt a little rushed because of how much information was conveyed but after more viewings I feel it’s a great ending now. By the end the audience buys into Novak actually being in love with Stewart.

Here's some hilarious grotesque added details from Hitch himself talking to Truffaut:

Shocking Secrets of VERTIGO! - YouTube

Martin Scorsese on VERTIGO - YouTube



4. Sunrise
 
This film for me is very moving every time I watch it. The simple real emotions along with great sets and lighting make this my favorite silent film. It's a great reminder of what temptation can do to derail your life. Fabulous acting!

A Song of Two Humans Video Essay 1/2 - YouTube
A Song of Two Humans Video Essay 2/2 - YouTube


5. Lawrence of Arabia
 
For me this is the ultimate epic. I watched this first at the theatre with the 1989 restoration when I was young. I didn’t quite understand the politics of it then but the score and cinematography blew my mind especially When Omar Sharif came out of the mirage filled desert. Later on I got to appreciate the development of Lawrence as an ego-maniac and a man with an almost pathological thirst for adventure, constantly trying to prove himself. In the end trying to survive the desert was actually easier than surviving the politics. The script is intelligent enough to show both the benefits and disasters of pride.

Martin Scorsese on LAWRENCE OF ARABIA - YouTube
Lawrence of Arabia - Conversation with Stephen Spielberg.VOB - YouTube


6. The Godfather part II
 
This is probably the best sequel ever. I love the setup of the Mafia boss at the beginning and the payoff when he meets his end to DeNiro. I love the challenges that immigrants face and the double standard that they are greeted with. The chiaroscuro cinematography lends an even darker atmosphere than the first film. The main score is there but more nuanced. I love that rooftop assassination scene. The time jumps between the Corleone’s adds that rags to riches feel and shows the many moral lines you have to cross to achieve more and more success. The ending is so quiet and hollow it's like Al Pacino turns into a bitter shell.

William Friedkin on THE GODFATHER, PART II - YouTube


7. 2001: A space odyssey
 
A movie that upped the quality of space special effects and allowed a huge time jump cut intimated how far we’ve come and how far we could go as humans. The optimistic sc-fi movie had the U.S. and Russians working together and predicted both technology that has either been surpassed by 2001 or is woefully behind. What I liked about this story is how it showed some of the challenges we have to face with our improved knowledge and technical expertise (Artificial Intelligence) and the optimism to keep evolving ourselves. The final image of an evolving fetus with Also sprach Zarathustra in the background adds Nietzschean “Superman” qualities that I didn’t understand at first. The alien involvement in human evolution was also something I didn’t understand until reading the book. Because the alien intelligence clues are only hinted at in the movie it allows other interpretations of the ending. The movie has so little dialog it's almost a silent movie. The use of well known classical compositions was perfect.

2001 A Space Odyssey - YouTube


8. Star Wars
 
The quintessential blockbuster. This movie (including the rest of them) will be watched again and again. When I was a kid most of my friends and I wanted to be Luke Skywalker. Watching the series on BetaMax and then VHS happened a few times every year. The story of overcoming your fears to achieve heroism was almost like brainwashing back then. It was an experience that often left older movies in the dust with the kind of fun it had. You would watch the movie and then go outside with your friends and act out the scenes or play with your Star Wars toys. Of course that could lead to a blockbuster-itis disease where you could only like action movies from Lucas and Spielberg and any nuanced dialogue movies would never get a chance. Today I admire how just about every religion can project itself into the idea of the “force”. I love how the entire feel of the movie (despite being futuristic) is that of World War II. I don't think the ancientness of the special effects will deter future generations from finding their way into it. If anything many people will want to see what the original effects were.

Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth with Bill Moyers | Star Wars | PBS - YouTube


9. Singin’ in the rain
 
My favorite musical (which is coming out in blu-ray this year ), has some of the greatest choreography in a musical and comedy that is still timely in our celebrity obsessed culture. As much as I love “The Artist” this movie captures the changeover from silent to sound just as well with even more entertainment value. As amazing and iconic as A Clockwork Orange was, its use of the title song cannot tarnish the feeling that’s expressed when a man finds “the one” for him. Rain can’t dampen his spirits. Oh I just noticed. Having this movie below Star Wars would probably piss off Debbie Reynolds.

Debbie Reynolds on SINGIN' IN THE RAIN - YouTube


10. The good, the bad, and the ugly
 
It’s my favorite western and it still is years after when the DVD was first released. Tuco is the best example of greed for me. The score is one of the best ever and the dreamlike atmosphere hasn’t been surpassed in any other western I’ve seen. Eastwood is so iconic that you want to be him. The man with no name is such a resourceful and resiliant character that he’s up there with Odysseus in awesomeness. I prefer the original cut to the new DVD/Blu-ray cut with extra Tuco scenes but they don't harm the movie badly.

The Good The Bad And The Ugly - The Ecstasy of Gold (1966) - YouTube
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Old 04-28-2012, 05:39 AM   #11
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Casablanca is a crowd-pleaser. It's not great art.

Curtiz is a hack and nothing by him should be in the running among films from the true masters.

And you know, it's telling that in your little capsule you say nothing about the direction, or mention his name.
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Old 04-28-2012, 05:40 AM   #12
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As for 'Tree of Life', my girlfriend and I both agreed that it wasn't the best film of 2011 for either of us, but it's certainly the one that film scholars will look back at the most from that year. Just for completing a production that takes on so much and achieves mostly incredible results should have earned that team the Best Picture Oscar last year...and Mallick not winning for Best Director was criminal. Hell, I'd even argue that it has Brad Pitt's finest performance. That film will carve a deep place in cinematic history. Trust me.

I don't disagree with any of this.

But it's still too soon.
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Old 04-28-2012, 05:44 AM   #13
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Also, Purpleoscar, good to know that all 10 of your picks are either Hollywood films or at least in the English language.

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Old 04-28-2012, 06:43 AM   #14
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I'm pretty sure all of mine would be ...

Though I think that if I were to pick Greatest movies instead of Favorite, my list would be a lot different than normal, and then, perhaps I would have some different inclusions. Probably Rashomon, The Seventh Seal and possibly Spirited Away would be there. I might even end up having Blade Runner on a list of "Greatest", though I think my opinion of that film is pretty well known.
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Old 04-28-2012, 12:01 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lazarus
Casablanca is a crowd-pleaser. It's not great art.

Curtiz is a hack and nothing by him should be in the running among films from the true masters.

And you know, it's telling that in your little capsule you say nothing about the direction, or mention his name.
Who are you fooling? Curtiz is not a hack. He's not an auteur director with a special visual style yet he directed Sea Hawk, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Casablanca and The Adventures of Robin Hood. Even if the rest of his movies aren't near that he still isn't a hack. Renny Harlin, or Paul W.S. Anderson are hacks. Casablanca is a movie that's more about the screenplay much like Billy Wilder movies are or Network for example.
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