Boring top ten list – film edition

When I was a teenager I fancied myself something of a film buff. As I transitioned to adulthood, most of my obsession withered away. But in recent months I’ve been watching a lot more movies lately, and some of my earlier interests seem to be reviving.

In lieu of that, and in lieu of the fact that I want to produce content without it having to be too thoughtful (exams, papers, etc.), I have decided to foist one of those top ten lists upon you people. Admit it; you like them too.

The ordering is semi-arbitrary, but becomes less so as it approaches #1.

10. Jurassic Park (1993, Steven Spielberg)

This was my first monster movie. Perhaps it is not the work of art that, say, the original Gojira is, but, well, nostalgia is a helluva drug. For what it’s worth, it gave us the Goldblum laugh.

9. Army of Darkness (1992, Sam Raimi)

Look, I’m as tired of hearing about BOOMSTICK as you are, but this is still a timeless classic on par with Citezen Kane. Additionally, priests who are tempted to ad lib parts of the Mass after ordination may find the movie’s discussion about the proper use of words helpful.

8. Paprika (2006, Satoshi Kon)

The whole, “let’s develop technology that will enable us to enter into peoples’ dreams no one will ever misuse this,” angle could have led to a movie that was little more than a string of trippy sequences with little substance, but the late, lamented Satoshi Kon knows how to write a thriller. He’s also more of a film buff than an otaku, and his love for cinema is pretty infectious.

7. The Night of the Hunter (1955, Charles Laughton)

My thoughts on this one can be found here.

6. Andrei Rublev (1966, Andrei Tarkovsky)

This is a 3.5 hour foreign movie about a Russian Orthodox iconographer. If that description doesn’t scare you, then you should watch this movie.

5. Ratatouille (2007, Brad Bird)

I really like this movie because it takes an idea I’m not too crazy about (talking animal character who doesn’t fit in needs to find his place in life), and turns it into a statement about what it means to be an artist, not surrendering to mediocrity – art as a vocation, in short. It’s also the prettiest computer animated film made yet, and features a nice villainous turn by Peter O’Toole to boot.

4. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982, Nicholas Meyer)

If you pay attention during the scene where Khan is introduced, you can see books like the Bible, Paradise Lost, and King Lear sitting on Khan’s shelf. This movie really, really wants to be epic Shakespearean tragedy. It wants to transform William Shatner and Riccardo Montalban into Wagnerian opera divas. It is willing to invoke Amazing Grace and be totally serious. Somehow it accomplishes all that, because it believes in itself or something. Cumberbatch shmumberbatch.

3. Dr Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Stanley Kubrick, 1964)

I find Dr. Strangelove and 2001: A Space Odyssey to be eminently rewatchable. The rest of Kubrick’s oeuvre…much less so. Still, even if he only made this one movie, he’d be high up in my books. This is the best comedy ever. The dialogue is golden; it contains, like six great performances more funnier than Seinfeld (three of which are played by one actor). It would take us until Neon Genesis Evangelion to get an apocalypse as neurotic and weird as this one.

2. Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, 2001)

My assumption is that, if you read this blog, you probably already have a good idea of why this would be on the list.

1. The Red Shoes (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1948)

“A dancer who relies upon the doubtful comforts of human love can never be a great dancer. Never!”

This film is magic. It is like bathing in the dream-sequence of an aesthete, or drinking amarone and smoking a good cigar. Perhaps I oversell it; perhaps the subject matter is not to your taste – a story about a fictional ballet company somewhat inspired by Sergei Diaghliev’s Ballets Russes. Or, more particularly, about a ballerina and composer who are on the rise, and an almost Nietzschean impressario who is ruthless in his attempts to cultivate beautiful things. Perhaps you find the Technicolor a little too Technicolor. Perhaps you think the surrealistic ballet dance that goes on for nearly 20 minutes a bit too artsy or something. Perhaps you think that Moira Shearer shouldn’t have gotten involved in film. Perhaps you don’t like dancing.

Well then this clearly is not the movie for you.

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About Josh W

A Catholic. Likes to write stuff and draw pictures.
This entry was posted in pop culture and its discontents, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Boring top ten list – film edition

  1. Army of Darkness was a lot of fun! Not what I’d call a great movie, but a lot of fun nevertheless. I find myself curious about the film on the iconographer. How can they make a movie about someone who practices a tame profession interesting?

    If you like the surrealism of Satoshi Kon’s movies, Perfect Blue is even better than Paprika. He merges reality and fantasy so well in that film that I lost track of what was real. It really absorbs one into the heroine’s state of mind.

    • Josh W says:

      Perfect Blue was actually my first Satoshi Kon movie.

      As for Andrei Rublev, Rublev himself is a passive character who for the most part just observes what is going on around him. But the Medieval Russian world he occupies is vividly portrayed, full of incident and interesting characters. So in a sense it would perhaps be more fair to say that the movie isn’t about Rublev so much as it is that he provides the glue that keeps things together.

      It’s still a difficult movie; Tarkovsky doesn’t like to play by the rules. But it’s one of the better meditations on faith out there.

  2. wgosline says:

    You’ve definitely piqued my interest in finally watching The Red Shoes. M. Scorsese attributes his love of film partially to this movie.

  3. jubilare says:

    I’ve seen less than half of these, but the fact that Spirit Away is so high on the list makes me interested in the ones I haven’t seen. That film… it would be high on my list, too, if I thought I could make a list.

  4. Tom says:

    Jurassic Park – Great choice.
    Wrath of Khan – Excellent choice.
    Ratatouille – Haven’t seen it in years, but I liked it.
    Spirited Away – Saw a huge chunk of it. …Too weird for me.
    The rest – I’ve either seen small bits or haven’t seen them at all (I may review movies, but I haven’t gotten around to expanding my horizons to artsier or more heavily R-rated stuff yet.)

    Have you seen Jaws? I think it’s a big step above Jurassic Park. I’ve seen it only once, but I think I’d already put it in my top ten. I wrote a review for it too.

    • Josh W says:

      Jaws is one of those movies which I have never sat all the way through, but have caught enough bits and pieces of over the years on TV and the like to feel like I have watched it.

      Actually, the other Spielberg that I was debating to put in that slot was Raiders of the Lost Arc, which is a much better movie. But I think, at the end of the day, I still have more fun with JP.

      • Tom says:

        I’d actually seen bits and pieces of Jaws beforehand, including the ending, but nothing compared to seeing it in full.

        Last time I watched Raiders, it seemed kind of slow and bland. I’d like to say that it’s a better movie than Jurassic Park, so maybe I have to watch it again.

      • Tom says:

        Actually, now that I’ve rewatched Raiders and Jurassic Park, the former ended up being good and the latter ended up being bland.

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