Thursday, June 28, 2007

Steven Spielberg

I've been thinking about Spielberg recently, and thought I'd open it up for discussion here. Spielberg is inarguably one of the most accomplished and celebrated directors in the history of film. That's not to say he hasn't done some stinkers. That's also not to say he's on everyone's favorite list -- there are definitely people who, on the whole, aren't fans of his. However, I'd bet most everyone could look at his body of work (I'm talking as a director) and find at least one movie that, if you didn't love, you liked a hell of a lot.

So what's your favorite Spielberg movie and why?
Top five?
Least favorite?
Where does he rank for you in the pantheon of famous directors?

Friday, June 22, 2007

Round up the usual suspects

Definitely on-topic, the American Film Institute has issued an updated version of its 100 Best Movies list, and Casablanca is at Number Three, edged out of the Number Two slot by The Godfather.

I followed a link that followed a link, but it led me only here, to some fellow's blog. Still, he does reproduce the whole list and the previous one, which dates from 1998, so I don't know what else you would need. But if someone wants to add in the AFI link, feel free to make an edit.

In the interests of brevity, here's the Top Twenty from each list (links are to reviews of the films in question). My own comments after the listings:


1. Citizen Kane (1941) (1)
2. The Godfather (1972) (3)
3. Casablanca (1942) (2)
4. Raging Bull (1980)(24)
5. Singin' in the Rain (1952)(10)
6. Gone With the Wind (1939)(4)
7. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)(5)
8. Schindler's List (1993)(9)
9. Vertigo (1958)(61)
10. The Wizard of Oz (1939) (6)
11. City Lights (1931)(76)
12. The Searchers (1956)(96)
13. Star Wars (1977)(15)
14. Psycho (1960)(18)
15. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)(22)
16. Sunset Boulevard (1950)(12)
17. The Graduate (1967)(7)
18. The General (1927)
19. On the Waterfront (1954)(8)
20. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)(11)


1. Citizen Kane (1941)
2. Casablanca (1942)
3. The Godfather (1972)
4. Gone With the Wind (1939)
5. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
6. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
7. The Graduate (1967)
8. On the Waterfront (1954)
9. Schindler's List (1993)
10. Singin' In the Rain (1952)
11. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
12. Sunset Boulevard (1950)
13. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
14. Some Like It Hot (1959)
15. Star Wars (1977)
16. All About Eve (1950)
17. The African Queen (1951)
18. Psycho (1960)
19. Chinatown (1974)
20. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)

Those I'm at a loss to see why Schindler's List is included at all, let alone in the Top Twenty. The story of Oskar Schindler is a fine one, but the film, where it's not dull and static, is tacky and gimmicky, not at all in keeping with its subject. Likewise, what are Kwai and Some Like it Hot doing here? The African Queen? Who voted for that, Sheridan Morley?are all (except Schindler) gone by the time of the new list, which nevertheless stubbornly retains The Graduate (just because it launched Hoffman doesn't make it per se a great film) and It's a Wonderful Life. Billy Wilder stays in the rankings with Sunset Boulevard, which is a far better film than SLIH, and a better example of Wilder's work.

So what do you all think? Better now or then? Omissions? Howlers?

Monday, June 18, 2007

Casablanca Discussion

1. Rick and Lazlo are both portrayed as heroes, just different types of heroes. What are your perspectives on their similarities and differences? What are their motivations behind their heroism? Is one more heroic than the other? More courageous? How does Ilsa affect their heroism?

2. What makes Humphrey Bogart's performance in this movie so damn intriguing and powerful? Or, if you're not a fan of his performance here, why?

3. Any other performances jump out at you as stellar? Or the opposite -- anyone not carry his/her weight?

4. Do you agree with Sour Grapes, who posted in the comments two posts below that Casablanca is not an allegory, but merely a cheesy love story that pulls the right strings?

5. Why has this movie taken on a cult status, and why is it still loved by so many? Is it simply because of the romance, or the performances, or the film-making? Or is there more to it than that?

6. Were there any moments from a film-making perspective that made you take notice? In other words, any particular moments of cinematography, or lighting, or framing of shots, or use of shadows, or props/sets?

7. If this movie were to be remade today (heresy, I know!), and you were able to hand-pick the director and stars, who would they be and why? (let's go with the roles of Rick, Ilsa, Victor, Captain Renault, Ugarte and Sam)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

"I Do's and Don'ts"

As June is an uber-popular month for weddings, and inspired by, the topic of discuss is, "The best, and worst, movie weddings".

My pick for best, Muriel's Wedding. I don't know which I love more, ABBA's "I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do" in place of the traditional wedding march, or the bridesmaid who left a "ring around the groom".

The worst? "My Best Friends Wedding". A snooze fest from start to finish, with the exception of the "I Say a Little Prayer" sing-along. Both female leads, absolute bores and the entire movie hung on a union I could care less about.

Monday, June 4, 2007

June Movie: Casablanca

Let's watch and discuss the winner of March Movie Madness! I'll post some thought prompters in a few days.