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Dom D
05-09-2012, 09:41 PM
... or rather the ones you don't quite understand the rabid admiration for.

I was thinking about this while watching the Seven Samurai the other day. It's a damned good film. Solid setup, well told story, good characters, definitely in my top couple dozen samurai films of all time. By why does it frequently make the list of the Top 10 films ever? The Sight And Sound poll comes out this year and this as likely a contender as pretty much anything other than Citizen Kane.

I just don't see it. It's a good samurai flick. Has some problems. Like when they ask the first samurai how many samurai he'll need to defend the village he does the sums and decides on seven. So they go and get seven. Bad storytelling because he's a wise old samurai and we believe what he says so once they have 7 samurai then you figure you figure it's all going to be okay. Not a lot of tension there. Have him do the sums and say with that with 45 bandits he'll need at least 15 samurai and then only be able to find 7. Now you've got tension with a small band facing impossible odds.

You read stuff like "the final battle in the rain has never been bettered". Well there really isn't much of a final battle. They whittle the bandits down by letting them in one at a time and then slaughtering them with masses of villagers. It's staged okay. The extras look nervous around the horses which makes things a bit awkward. Far from "never been matched" this part is really not much better than just acceptable.

Anyway... just random thoughts really. Suppose the question I'm wondering is do you think the generally agreed greatest movies of all time are actually the greatest and we just sometimes personally can't see it in them or are they the greatest just because people have been saying they are for a long time?

Mark Tolch
05-09-2012, 09:59 PM
I don't know why they're considered the greatest movies of all time...in the case of say, some of Scorcese's, Coppola's, and Kubrick's titles for example, I usually agree. But I also know that Casablanca is well done, and bores me to tears. I find the acting very cookie-cutter in relation to the era...

Dom D
05-10-2012, 01:22 AM
I actually prefer the pre-Brando style of acting. I'm a big fan of Casablanca. It's not one of humanities great artistic achievements but I think it makes lists for the same reason films like Gone With The Wind and Singing In The Rain do; they're examples of Hollywood doing what Hollywood does very well.

Todd Jordan
05-10-2012, 07:53 AM
Rocky Horror Picture Show. The movie stinks, I hate the singing, and I will never understand the draw to it.

Ian Jane
05-10-2012, 08:58 AM
Rocky Horror Picture Show. The movie stinks, I hate the singing, and I will never understand the draw to it.

See it in a theater, it's fun. It's never been critically acclaimed or considered great though.

Casablanca completely works for me. I find it awesome and romantic and exciting and well made and I get sucked in everytime I watch it. Gone With The Wind, however - that's one that I never really latched on to. I appreciate the production values and that the performances are good and that it's very well made but it does absolutely nothing for me.

Alex K.
05-10-2012, 09:31 AM
Rocky Horror Picture Show. The movie stinks, I hate the singing, and I will never understand the draw to it.

Same. I just hate musicals (except for anything involving Trey Parker and Matt Stone).

As far as generally accepted to be great films that don't click with me. Godfather part 2. I just didn't think the backstory was that interesting and the ultimate revelation that Fredo betrayed him was drawn out.

paul h.
05-10-2012, 02:23 PM
Fredo spoilered.



Gone With The Wind is a great example, and the book ain't so hot either. Um...also Dances With Wolves, and How Green Was My Valley.

Marshall Crist
05-10-2012, 02:32 PM
Pretty much anything in the IMDb Top Ten. SHAWSHANK, GODFATHER 1 & 2, DARK KNIGHT, LOTR. Zzzzzzzz......

Also, general rule: DAWN OF THE DEAD is the only film over two hours long that doesn't need about an hour cut out of it.

Ian Jane
05-10-2012, 02:34 PM
LOTR. Zzzzzzzz......

This. I tried three times to get through the trilogy and never made it.

Barry M
05-10-2012, 02:43 PM
Not Frodo spoilered. Yet.

Todd Jordan
05-10-2012, 03:14 PM
This. I tried three times to get through the trilogy and never made it.

I love the LOTR movies. LOVE THEM.

And Ian..I was responding to Dom's first line in his first post when I said Rocky Horror. Just so you know.

Ian Jane
05-10-2012, 03:55 PM
Understood. But in the context of 'great films' you're not likely to see RHPS pop up on anyone's list. Fun films or ridiculously popular, sure. But that's different.

Paul L
05-10-2012, 03:55 PM
Pretty much anything in the IMDb Top Ten. SHAWSHANK, GODFATHER 1 & 2, DARK KNIGHT, LOTR. Zzzzzzzz......

Also, general rule: DAWN OF THE DEAD is the only film over two hours long that doesn't need about an hour cut out of it.
I agree about THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, Marshall. That film has never 'clicked' with me, and I remember seeing it on its first cinema release. There are about a dozen far better (imo) prison films that I'd go to before watching SHAWSHANK: A MAN ESCAPED, LE TROU, ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ, BRUTE FORCE, COOL HAND LUKE, THE HILL, THE LONELINESS OF THE LONG DISTANCE RUNNER, RIOT IN CELL BLOCK 11, PRISON ON FIRE, etc, etc. SHAWSHANK always struck me as a distillation of the themes of a number of, much better, prison films.

Alex K.
05-11-2012, 05:28 PM
Pretty much anything in the IMDb Top Ten. SHAWSHANK, GODFATHER 1 & 2, DARK KNIGHT, LOTR. Zzzzzzzz......

Also, general rule: DAWN OF THE DEAD is the only film over two hours long that doesn't need about an hour cut out of it.

I agree but I liked Godfather part 1 (and part 3) and Dark Knight. I think Dark Knight plays better once you accept that the characters are like Ayn Rand characters that clearly explain their philosophy. Same reason why I like Batman Returns despite the silliness of it, but it feels like an opera.

I think Dawn is overrated and Day is superior. I totally agree with LOTR, I don't get the appeal. Then again, I really hate Star Wars and Star Trek and all that. I just don't get the appeal of that shit.

Toyboy
05-11-2012, 08:36 PM
This. I tried three times to get through the trilogy and never made it.

Did you watch a little bit of each one, or make it thru part 1, part 2, and then step out of part 3? Or did you only watch 3?

Honestly, watch the battle of Helms Deep battle scene with High on Fire blasting on the stereo and you're good.

Ian Jane
05-12-2012, 08:50 AM
I made it through one, thought it was dumb.

Made it through two, thought it was better than one and kinda dug the giant tree monster guys.

Never made it through three, fell asleep each time I tried.

I never thought about throwing HOF into the mix but it makes sense.

Robin Bougie
05-14-2012, 03:23 AM
If I were making an overrated "great" film list, these five Academy "darlings" would be on it:

GLADIATOR (Soooooooo overrated. Great soundtrack though.)
SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION (It's been the highest rated film on IMDB pretty much since they started the site. Fuck me.)
DANCES WITH WOLVES (What a lump of excrement. This was back when the critics loved anything Costner was in. That all changed after Waterworld)
FORREST GUMP (This was excruciating.)
SHAKESPEAR IN LOVE (This slight trickle of shitmeat won 7 Oscars. SEVEN. OSCARS.)

And while we're at it: Two good films that routinely get unfairly pooped on simply as a reaction to the way they were overhyped upon their initial release:
BLAIR WITCH PROJECT
LOST IN TRANSLATION

Paul L
05-14-2012, 05:56 AM
FORREST GUMP (This was excruciating.)

Two good films that routinely get unfairly pooped on simply as a reaction to the way they were overhyped upon their initial release:
BLAIR WITCH PROJECT
LOST IN TRANSLATION
Definitely agreed on FORREST GUMP - patronising, bland fortune cookie nonsense that stretches for resonance and meaning but comes back with only a handful of cliches. ('Life is like a box of chocolates', indeed!) If anything, A BEAUTIFUL MIND was even worse: I thought it was an utterly horrible 'respectable' film and an obvious plea to be taken seriously, by both Howard and Crowe. (It seems that if an actor wants to show that they're serious at 'acting', they'll play someone with a mental illness - Hanks, Crowe, Jamie Foxx in the recent THE SOLOIST. There's nothing more irritating - imo, of course ;) )

I have to say that I've never got on with LOST IN TRANSLATION, but I can see why people like that particular film.

Todd Jordan
05-14-2012, 07:43 AM
SHAKESPEAR IN LOVE (This slight trickle of shitmeat won 7 Oscars. SEVEN. OSCARS.)

Slight trickle of shitmeat...heh heh!! That sounds like it came from The Book of Paul.

Dom D
05-14-2012, 08:55 PM
Most of these are more sort of fan favourites. What I was talking about was more the capital "G" Greatest Films of all time. The critics darlings that most people haven't seen that will make any critic constructed list of the few dozen best films ever made. The supposedly definitive word on what are the great films goes to the every-ten-year Sight and Sound poll and it's both a very strange list and also a very consistent one with returning films decade after decade.

Tokyo Story has been on the Sight and Sound poll for the last couple decades and will be again this year. Is it actually legitimately a film you can make an argument as being one of the 10 greatest films ever made or has it just been agreed upon through some arcane process we're not privy to?

It's an odd film. The cumulative effect of it is quite powerful but in it's individual moments it is very slow and tedious to the point of being pretty fucking painful at times. Critics go out of their way to point out that it's very slow, not for general audiences but undeniably one of the greatest films ever. I don't buy it. A master filmmaker could have told the story in a way that had the same emotional wallop while filling it with entertaining scenes. A movie about uninteresting and boring people does not have to be uninteresting and boring. It almost seems like critics add this film to the list as a kind of a pat on the back for themselves, "I suffered through this film but took something from it so thus it must be art."

But that's just one example of the sort of film that makes these sort of polls. Singing In The Rain will make the Sight and Sound list again with dozens of votes but likely no other musical will get even one. Who decided Singing In The Rain was The musical? I prefer some of the others.

"Sunrise" has made the last couple of lists. Technically very interesting to compare it to early sound films but on what level is this one of the greatest films ever made? Merely technical or does it have some other claim? I don't think you can claim a film as one of the greatest because of nice camera moves. It's sure as hell not getting there on the basis of it's story.

Anyway just things I'm thinking through myself. I'd love to have some sit down time with a Roger Ebert or such who gets to be one of the opinion maker to pick their brain. Here's Ebert puzzling through his greatest films. It's all Greek to me: http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2012/04/the_greatest_films_of_all_time.html

Alex K.
05-14-2012, 08:59 PM
I agree completely dude.

Barry M
05-14-2012, 09:43 PM
If you're even thinking about this, you may already be a film critic.

Paul L
05-15-2012, 03:34 AM
Most of these are more sort of fan favourites. What I was talking about was more the capital "G" Greatest Films of all time. The critics darlings that most people haven't seen that will make any critic constructed list of the few dozen best films ever made.
I see. There're two or three ways in to defining whether something is considered 'great' or not: (1) the notion of an 'instant classic', a film that is bestowed with awards and praise upon its release (eg, FORREST GUMP, with its Oscar wins); (2) films that have become defined as classics (ie, part of the canon of great cinema) with the passage of time, despite often being somewhat neglected at the time of their release (eg, CITIZEN KANE, with its Oscar losses to John Ford's HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY); (2) and the 'fan favourites' which have a strong cult following. Sometimes the latter two categories can bleed together, possibly depending on the size of the fanbase and the power wielded by the film's fans (as is the case with THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, I'd argue).

I'd say that generally, I understand films in the latter two categories (ie, those which have acquired a following or a level of critical praise over time) more than I do the former category (those which are heavily praised from day one of their release), so I find it easier to criticise films in the first category than those which might fall into the latter two categories.

On the other hand.... Kurosawa's HIDDEN FORTRESS. I love most Kurosawa; I really do. But after a great set-up, THE HIDDEN FORTRESS just dra-a-a-g-s in its second half (imo, of course). I rewatched it about a fortnight ago, and my feelings towards it have stayed the same. Bergman's THE SEVENTH SEAL is another film that I find a chore to sit through, even though I understand its 'greatness'. In fact, I'm lukewarm on a lot of Bergman's movies. That doesn't make me a Philistine, mind ;)

Oh, and for the most part I don't understand the praise for Michael Haneke either. I loved THE WHITE RIBBON and enjoyed CACHE, but everything else of Haneke's has left me cold. I tend to find most of his films patronising and preachy; I remember seeing FUNNY GAMES back on its initial release in the late 1990s and finding it incredibly mealy-mouthed.

On the other hand, I love Murnau's SUNRISE. It's a tragic film that really 'clicks' with me :)

Alex K.
05-15-2012, 09:41 AM
If you're even thinking about this, you may already be a film critic.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdDMrncAy4U

Dom D
05-15-2012, 07:40 PM
On the other hand, I love Murnau's SUNRISE. It's a tragic film that really 'clicks' with me :)

I very much enjoyed Sunrise too I just can't justify it as one of the Great films- most of the films I'm talking about I like a lot but I just don't see why anyone would call them the best. It's reasonably engaging and as a technical achievement it's great. Visually very interesting to watch but that can't be enough otherwise your greatest movies ever would be the likes of Suspiria and Touch Of Evil. The plot is super basic and kind of a bit all over the place. James Cain territory this is not. Obviously characterisation is pretty limited- tough to get in depth in a silent film. There's no insight into the "human condition". It's just a fun, technical marvel. If we're counting this then surely Avatar can't be too far of the lists either?