Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Movie Literate

There is a list of movies outlined by Jim Emerson on Roger Ebert's website that he considers a sampling needed for someone to be movie literate.

...they [are] the movies you just kind of figure everybody ought to have seen in order to have any sort of informed discussion about movies. They're the common cultural currency of our time, the basic cinematic texts that everyone should know, at minimum, to be somewhat "movie-literate."

AJ and Patrick have both shared which movies they have seen. I'm into pop culture so I thought I'd share my list also. The ones with the astericks (*) are ones I have seen. I was going to include commentary, but this is going to be long already.

* 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) Stanley Kubrick
The 400 Blows (1959) Francois Truffaut
8 1/2 (1963) Federico Fellini
Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972) Werner Herzog
* Alien (1979) Ridley Scott
All About Eve (1950) Joseph L. Mankiewicz
* Annie Hall (1977) Woody Allen
Apocalypse Now (1979) Francis Ford Coppola
* Bambi (1942) Disney
The Battleship Potemkin (1925) Sergei Eisenstein
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) William Wyler
The Big Red One (1980) Samuel Fuller
The Bicycle Thief (1949) Vittorio De Sica
The Big Sleep (1946) Howard Hawks
* Blade Runner (1982) Ridley Scott
Blowup (1966) Michelangelo Antonioni
* Blue Velvet (1986) David Lynch
Bonnie and Clyde (1967) Arthur Penn
Breathless (1959) Jean-Luc Godard
Bringing Up Baby (1938) Howard Hawks
* Carrie (1975) Brian DePalma
* Casablanca (1942) Michael Curtiz
Un Chien Andalou (1928) Luis Bunuel & Salvador Dali
Children of Paradise / Les Enfants du Paradis (1945) Marcel Carne
* Chinatown (1974) Roman Polanski
* Citizen Kane (1941) Orson Welles
* A Clockwork Orange (1971) Stanley Kubrick
* The Crying Game (1992) Neil Jordan
The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) Robert Wise
Days of Heaven (1978) Terence Malick
Dirty Harry (1971) Don Siegel
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972) Luis Bunuel
* Do the Right Thing (1989) Spike Lee
La Dolce Vita (1960) Federico Fellini
Double Indemnity (1944) Billy Wilder
* Dr. Strangelove (1964) Stanley Kubrick
* Duck Soup (1933) Leo McCarey
* E.T. -- The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) Steven Spielberg
Easy Rider (1969) Dennis Hopper
* The Empire Strikes Back (1980) Irvin Kershner
* The Exorcist (1973) William Friedkin
* Fargo (1995) Joel & Ethan Coen
* Fight Club (1999) David Fincher
Frankenstein (1931) James Whale
The General (1927) Buster Keaton & Clyde Bruckman
* The Godfather, The Godfather, Part II (1972, 1974) Francis Ford Coppola
* Gone With the Wind (1939) Victor Fleming
* GoodFellas (1990) Martin Scorsese
* The Graduate (1967) Mike Nichols
* Halloween (1978) John Carpenter
* A Hard Day's Night (1964) Richard Lester
Intolerance (1916) D.W. Griffith
It's a Gift (1934) Norman Z. McLeod
* It's a Wonderful Life (1946) Frank Capra
* Jaws (1975) Steven Spielberg
The Lady Eve (1941) Preston Sturges
Lawrence of Arabia (1962) David Lean
M (1931) Fritz Lang
Mad Max 2 / The Road Warrior (1981) George Miller
The Maltese Falcon (1941) John Huston
The Manchurian Candidate (1962) John Frankenheimer
Metropolis (1926) Fritz Lang
Modern Times (1936) Charles Chaplin
* Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) Terry Jones & Terry Gilliam
Nashville (1975) Robert Altman
The Night of the Hunter (1955) Charles Laughton
Night of the Living Dead (1968) George Romero
* North by Northwest (1959) Alfred Hitchcock
Nosferatu (1922) F.W. Murnau
On the Waterfront (1954) Elia Kazan
Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) Sergio Leone
Out of the Past (1947) Jacques Tournier
Persona (1966) Ingmar Bergman
Pink Flamingos (1972) John Waters
* Psycho (1960) Alfred Hitchcock
* Pulp Fiction (1994) Quentin Tarantino
Rashomon (1950) Akira Kurosawa
* Rear Window (1954) Alfred Hitchcock
Rebel Without a Cause (1955) Nicholas Ray
Red River (1948) Howard Hawks
Repulsion (1965) Roman Polanski
The Rules of the Game (1939) Jean Renoir
Scarface (1932) Howard Hawks
The Scarlet Empress (1934) Josef von Sternberg
* Schindler's List (1993) Steven Spielberg
The Searchers (1956) John Ford
The Seven Samurai (1954) Akira Kurosawa
Singin' in the Rain (1952) Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly
Some Like It Hot (1959) Billy Wilder
A Star Is Born (1954) George Cukor
A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) Elia Kazan
Sunset Boulevard (1950) Billy Wilder
Taxi Driver (1976) Martin Scorsese
The Third Man (1949) Carol Reed
Tokyo Story (1953) Yasujiro Ozu
Touch of Evil (1958) Orson Welles
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) John Huston
Trouble in Paradise (1932) Ernst Lubitsch
* Vertigo (1958) Alfred Hitchcock
* West Side Story (1961) Jerome Robbins/Robert Wise
The Wild Bunch (1969) Sam Peckinpah
* The Wizard of Oz (1939) Victor Fleming

Wow! Only 37. That's pretty sad. I thought I'd do much better. Well in order to try to correct that. Here are the ten movies I'll try my best to see. Taxi Driver, A Streetcar Named Desire, Singin in the Rain, The Seven Samurai, On the Waterfront, The Manchurian Candidate, The Maltese Falcon, La Dolce Vita, Lawrence of Arabia, and Rebel Without a Cause. Pretty much all movies from the fifties. So how do you score?

18 comments:

Mrne said...

Definately put Lawrence of Arabia on your short list as it is a brilliant epic film. We saw it again this year (on DVD) and it was still amazing.

jason palma said...

I would wait until the chance to view lawrence in the silver screen presents itself; Lawrence is larger-than-life, and his story demands the dimensions of a movie screen.

And i'd have to suggest that you watch ikuru (another film directed by kurosawa, and perhaps his best)before you watch seven samurai. The tone of ikuru will inform your viewing of seven samurai, bringing to the fore a compassionate, humanistic tone so often missed by others who view seven samurai for the first time. I cannot deny the sheer energy that kurosawa portrays in seven samurai--it's certainly part of its appeal. But his compositions say so much more....

jason palma

mare said...

73. I miss out on mostly those American movies from before the 60s.

Here's what I haven't seen. And a lot of tghose movies I probably never will see, since I prefer to see them ina cinema. These old movies are just too slow to watch on a small screen. OK maybe my TV is too small.

All About Eve (1950) Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Bambi (1942) Disney
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) William Wyler
Bringing Up Baby (1938) Howard Hawks
The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) Robert Wise
Double Indemnity (1944) Billy Wilder
Frankenstein (1931) James Whale
Intolerance (1916) D.W. Griffith
It's a Gift (1934) Norman Z. McLeod
The Lady Eve (1941) Preston Sturges
The Maltese Falcon (1941) John Huston
The Manchurian Candidate (1962) John Frankenheimer
The Night of the Hunter (1955) Charles Laughton
Night of the Living Dead (1968) George Romero
On the Waterfront (1954) Elia Kazan
Out of the Past (1947) Jacques Tournier
Red River (1948) Howard Hawks
The Rules of the Game (1939) Jean Renoir
Scarface (1932) Howard Hawks
The Scarlet Empress (1934) Josef von Sternberg
The Searchers (1956) John Ford
Some Like It Hot (1959) Billy Wilder
A Star Is Born (1954) George Cukor
A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) Elia Kazan
Sunset Boulevard (1950) Billy Wilder
Tokyo Story (1953) Yasujiro Ozu
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) John Huston
Trouble in Paradise (1932) Ernst Lubitsch

Frank said...

Thanks mrne & jason for your comments. Maybe I'll watch Lawrence of Arabia once when I'm at my dad's. He has a bigger TV. We saw Nemo on it and the experience was completely different.

mrne, yes I noticed that many of the movies I had not seen were from before my father was an adolescent so unless I actively searched them out, I probably didn't see them. Maybe another thing is that I'm not big on violent films like Godfather or Goodfellas. Or tear-jerkers either. Epics are OK because of the escapism which is really something I look for in a film (such as Amelie). That or something that makes you think like Night on Earth or Momento. I also like thrillers and dumb comedies. Have I missed anything?

Frank said...

mare, sorry I got you confused with mrne. Must be the black background. 73! That's impressive since you're not from North America. That's the score I was hoping for. I always said I should see many of the older movies. This gives me a little push (and a list) to check out more of them.

jason palma said...

I've seen only 59 of the films, but the list seems to elide what it is to be cinematically literate. I'd argue that a cinematic literate understands the language of film; that is to say, how the cameraman composes his/her shot, how the editor splices the sequence of films to form a whole.... how the craft and techniques of film fundamentally shape our experience as viewers.

Jason Palma

Mrne said...

My score was 44, but I don't go to the movies much and I rarely watch television at all.

I agree with Jason that Lawrence (Awrence as they said) is huge and has the greatest impact on the silver screen. Unfortunately though you might not get the opportunity to see it that way. A really big TV, as you say, might do in a pinch.

John said...

I scored 75 and looking at my Netflix queue a lot of the 25 I haven't seen are sitting there waiting to be bumped above lighter, more recent fare.

I second Jason's recommendation of Ikuru over Seven Samurai as a starting point for Kurosawa. I'd also recommend Tokyo Story before Seven Samurai as well, as its tone and subject is closer to Ikuru than Seven Samurai. Sticking with Japanese films, the biggest glaring omission on the list is Ugetsu, though I guess this guy isn't going for great but rather oughta.

Here's the ones I need to see to be "movie literate":

Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972) Werner Herzog
All About Eve (1950) Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Children of Paradise / Les Enfants du Paradis (1945) Marcel Carne
The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) Robert Wise
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972) Luis Bunuel
La Dolce Vita (1960) Federico Fellini
Double Indemnity (1944) Billy Wilder
Frankenstein (1931) James Whale
Gone With the Wind (1939) Victor Fleming
Intolerance (1916) D.W. Griffith
It's a Gift (1934) Norman Z. McLeod
The Lady Eve (1941) Preston Sturges
Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) Sergio Leone
Out of the Past (1947) Jacques Tournier
Persona (1966) Ingmar Bergman
Rebel Without a Cause (1955) Nicholas Ray
Red River (1948) Howard Hawks
Repulsion (1965) Roman Polanski
Scarface (1932) Howard Hawks
The Scarlet Empress (1934) Josef von Sternberg
A Star Is Born (1954) George Cukor
The Third Man (1949) Carol Reed
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) John Huston
Trouble in Paradise (1932) Ernst Lubitsch
The Wild Bunch (1969) Sam Peckinpah

Frank, you said "...escapism...is really something I look for in a film....That or something that makes you think...I also like thrillers and dumb comedies."

With that in mind, here's the ten movies I would recommend for you: Days of Heaven, The General, The Manchurian Candidate, The Night of the Hunter, On the Waterfront, The Rules of the Game, The Searchers, Singin' in the Rain, Taxi Driver, Touch of Evil.

jason palma said...

I'm ambivalent towards Tokyo Story. To be sure the theme is timeless; however, even Ozu chides himself for his sentimentality. And yet, as i grow older, I find it more difficult to adopt a critical stance against sentimentality. I'm coming to believe that any such stance is a sign of either emotional immaturity or machismo posturing. The fragility and fleetingness of human flourishing seems all to real now.

and the final scene in Ugetsu more than trumps any of the moralism that diminshes its value; that scene continues to haunt me.

I'm more interested, however, to hear the films that inform your lives...

Mrne said...

I don't know what the criteria was for putting a movie on the literacy list, but for sheer powerful story telling I think To Kill a Mockingbird and The Shawshank Redemption should be on the list. Add Contact to that.

Just my non-movie-buff 2¢.

jason palma said...

To follow john's thread of suggestions, that is to say for sheer escapism and cinematic value, I suggest Kurosawa's (oddly enough) Yojimbo and Sanjuro; despite the diminutive stature of the Japanese, both of these films stands heads above the genre. And for a revisionist reconsideration of the samurai flick, i'd suggest Taboo (years ahead, I might add, ahead of Brokeback Mountain).

John said...

Well, I typed a nice long response to mr. palma about films that have shaped my understanding of cinema, but then I hit the wrong key or something and the next thing I know it's all gone.

So I'll just list 'em, in alphabetical order:

Annie Hall
City Lights
The Conversation
Days of Heaven
Do the Right Thing
House of Games
La Jetee
Paris, Texas
Rear Window
Rules of the Game
Taxi Driver
Visions of Light

There's probably much more, but that's all I can think of right now.

Mrne said...

The Empire Strikes Back is on the list, so allow me to wish everyone a Happy Star Wars day. Um, you know, MAY the FOURTH be with you.

jason palma said...

Why stop at four kurosawa films? I'll also suggest his flim The Hidden Fortress, the film from which Star Wars sprung.

Jason

Jack Ruttan said...

I'd like it if everyone's movie path was different. I mean, some people will get more from "National Velvet" than "The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad," but each one is somebody's favourite film.

I've seen most of those (too lazy to go back and check), but I was a film librarian with time on his hands.

Jack Ruttan said...

Wow, out of these I haven't seen:

Trouble in Paradise
Tokyo Story
Streetcar Named Desire
Out of the Past
Nashville
The Lady Eve
Intolerance
A Hard Day's Night

I really dig Hiroshima Mon Amour, for its late night in a strange city vibe.

Frank said...

Wow! 16 comments. Thanks everyone for your recommendations. I'll definitely have to start with kurosawa and apparently not ones on the list. Jack, I agree. I get alot out of some Jim Jarmusch films, where most others find them boring.

Anonymous said...

There are no Pasolini films in your list. He was one Great Ones. Ranks up there with Fellini. Go see.