This Is a Blog: Kris and Adam Discuss AFI’s Top 100: Filling in the Gaps II

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Kris and Adam Discuss AFI’s Top 100: Filling in the Gaps II

Kris Jenson, with whom I've had the best discussions of my life, is an old friend of mine from Boston. We had been talking about the American Film Institute's Top 100 when he got a job at  Dig Boston, writing about just that. Instead of letting the conversation end just because he's a big, fancy writer now, I'm going to write responses to his articles. I can't keep up with his movie watching, so I'm only responding to the ones I've seen.

I commend the hell out of Kris. Writing about old movies week in, week out is kind of tedious and tiring. Every week, I read his new article and percolate over what I want to say. Then I sit down at my computer and nothing happens. The "Rebel Without a Cause" response I just posted, I actually wrote in December, but it took me four months to muster up the motivation to edit and finally post it.

But here I go, trying to get caught up once again:

Fantasia - I'm sorry, Kris. I have to disagree with you. It's not cynical that the Disney corporation financed a whole movie just to re-invigorate its star character. It's transcendent art that a company whose sole purpose was to pump money back into a cartoon mouse could churn out a movie with such depth and artistry. Disney will always be a soulless corporation that exists to suckle money from the pockets of babes, but there's no denying the company's power to make real art in the process. (side note - I don't really like this movie very much)

MASH - Honestly, all I remember of this movie is that the football thing seemed really out of place.

The Sound of Music - I have seen this movie dozens of times. My grandmother has a huge collection of videos, but for some reason, when I was a kid, I only wanted to watch this and "The Parent Trap." That opening number still gets me every time.  I completely agree with you about "Climb Ev'ry Mountain." As a kid, I assumed it was one of those songs I'd appreciate when I was older. Now I know that, no, it's just boring.

Amadeus - or "The Torment of Salieri." I think everyone who wants to work in a creative field needs to see this movie. We can't all be Mozart, and there's nothing wrong with being Salieri. And yes, Mozarts are usually assholes, but if they can create like that, let 'em be assholes. Good things don't happen to good people, they happen to talented people. Welcome to the real world, now go paint me something that expresses how this makes you feel.

The Philadelphia Story - I hated, hated, hated this movie. These are just rich people with annoying rich people problems. I'm so glad movies like this don't get made anymore. Subject matter aside, it is a very tighly written and very well acted movie. But God, I just don't care. Shut up!

Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid - I don't like Westerns. Have I said that already? I love this movie, and it has nothing to do with where it's set. I wish circumstances would have allowed Robert Redford and Paul Newman to team up in more movies. Kris nailed all the good points, and since I really have nothing bad to say about it, I will just move on. Except to say this... Sporcle, seriously, when I guess this movie in a quiz, can you just accept it when I write the first name? Butch & Sundance 2 will never be an answer. There will never be a movie about Butch Cassiy & Some Other Asshole. I have a time limit here, can you just take my answer already?

Jaws - I read an article recently that says people's creative abilities wane as we age. The brain settles into its patterns and it's harder to come up with something new. "Jaws" makes me sad to watch newer Spielberg movies. When his creative juices were firing on all cylinders, that made could even turn a turd of a disaster of a shoot based on a schlocky piece of pulp literature into a masterpiece. I liked "Minority Report," but it's not a Spielberg film. "War Horse?" What the fuck? The first person who comments with, "What about 'Crystal Skull'?" gets a punch in the ear.

Taxi Driver - I was thinking about what to write, and Kris' article blew it all out of the water. He's absolutely right. "Taxi Driver" is like a proto-super-hero movie. All the elements are there.

A Clockwork Orange - This is another movie made better by the Hollywood Forever Cemetary viewing experience. Maybe I was too young when I saw it the first time. Maybe what I needed was an audience full of smarter people to cue me into how much of this movie is out-right hilarious. so much attention gets paid to the cool as hell styling of the first half hour, but what gets missed is how deeply fucked up this movie gets AFTER the rape. Everything about this movie is perfect. Malcolm McDowell is the best villain ever, and Stanley Kubrick is crazy genius.

A Streetcar Named Desire - Just a question, would anyone care about this movie if Brando wasn't in it?

Rear Window - Am I the only one who prefers creepy Jimmy Stewart to heart warming Jimmy Stewart? That is only the tip of the iceberg that is this movie's unending originality and transcendence. It's ballsy in ways only Hitchcock could ever pull off. He loved playing with movie conventions. While "Rope" was a single shot, it was a boring shot that reminded everyone why editing is great, "Rear Window" takes a similar gimmick and runs with it as many ways as possible. It's so good, the gimmick all but disappears from your mind by the end. SPOILER: the moment Thorwald walks in on Grace Kelly, you know why you're watching one of the best damn things you've ever seen.

West Side Story - This movie is a part of my life. My Dad loves it, and he used to sing the songs with a voice that would fill every inch of the house. Songs like "Maria" and "Somewhere" speak to something so universal, even without context, they hit somewhere so personal. My one criticism is that the dubbing over Natalie Wood's lack of singing ability in "I Feel Pretty" is laughably awful. Also, Leonard Bernstein's father was from my home town and co-founded my synagogue. Awesome.

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