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Top Ten Films

Long time, no blog.

When I first saw the film “High Fidelity” my wife jabbed and poked at me throughout the entire film. “That’s you,” she said, referring to the John Cusack character.

One of the things that made her say that (besides my ongoing obsession with music and making mix tapes) was the Cusack character’s penchant for making Top Five lists. I never read the book upon which this movie was based; I understand, though, that in the book the character actually makes Top Ten lists. These were apparently halved to facilitate cinematic efficiency.

Well, yes: as an enjoyable little side exercise in my life, I make Top Ten lists. Besides being a fun pasttime for me, Top Ten lists provide a quick snapshot or index of someone’s tastes and passions. They also infuriate my family (which I find hilarious) because, in mock-arrogance, I proclaim these lists to them as absolute truths. “How can you say that these are the ten greatest films of all time? How can you even make such a list? What about John Ford? Howard Hawks? John Huston?” they exasperate. “Hey, just tell me where I’m wrong,” I respond. So, from time to time, I will pepper my journal with some of these lists. Hopefully, they’ll turn you on to something wonderful you might have missed. Maybe (like my family) they’ll really piss you off. Anyway, here’s the first.

(In no particular order except for the first one)
1. King Kong
2. Walt Disney’s Fantasia
3. The Wizard of Oz
4. Fellini Satyricon
5. It’s A Wonderful life
6. Sullivan’s Travels
7. The Shawshank Redemption
8. Brazil
9. Sunset Boulevard
10. Citizen Kane

If you’ve read this far and are still interested, Blow-Up sits at #11, Bladerunner is #12, Dersu Uzala is #13, The Man Who Would Be King #14. For a long time Women in Love and Morgan – A Suitable Case for Treatment were on the list, but they’ve been bumped by Shawshank and Brazil. If there are any movies on this list you haven’t seen — well, get on it! You won’t be disappointed.

I found the Top Ten Films list one of the easier lists to compile. Very few films truly stand the test of time and repeated viewings. At a certain point with even a lot of the best films, their resonance begins to diminish (that’s why Morgan and Women in Love got bumped, yet Bladerunner and Dersu are waiting in the wings). There are a lot of great films (like John Ford’s and Howard Hawks’ movies) — but, great as they are, I just can’t watch them over and over with any frequency and still get a substantial creative or inspirational buzz with each viewing. Or, over time they accumulate a quaint datedness that the quality of the film no longer seems to overcome.

I’ve been asked to write a critical appreciation of King Kong for a book on that subject. I’ll post that here on my Journal after it’s finished. From time to time I’ll also add essays about the other nine films and tell you why I think they deserve to be on this list.

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