Thursday, August 09, 2012

Greatest Movies of all Time?

I haven't said much about the Sight and Sound poll because how can I take a poll of the top 100 films seriously that does not include a film by Luis Buñuel? [The top 100 are at the top of this page.]

I've been aware of the list for years as most critics have and all the films are so familiar at this point that I am not sure they are the greatest so much as a bunch of titles carved in stone. What we call the canon. If anything this list just reaffirms the prevailing critical view. 

I like many of the films on the list but I'd like to know what they mean by greatest. Historically important? Ultimately it's just a game to which most critics choose to play along with by nodding in agreement. I'll be more interested to see the individual critc's lists. [As well as the director's lists. Some are here].

Plenty of people will have an issue with Vertigo being #1. But is there any film that could be in the #1 spot and not cause some criticism? I understand why some of the films make the top ten list but am puzzled by others.

Vertigo, Citizen Kane,Tokyo Story, La Règle du jeu, Sunrise, Man with a Movie Camera - yes

 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Passion of Joan of Arc, 8 1/2 - maybe

The Searchers - no. I've tried to like it three times. It doesn't do it for me and other than a few directors who like it I don't see how it influences anyone. Stagecoach, My Darling Clementine and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance are much better in my view.

With regards to the top 50

After that the next 42 films get interesting. There is no way to make the list politically correct or fair but how does Godard get 4 films and Buñuel gets none? Tarkovsky has 3 films thus out-pacing Bergman in the eyes of the critics. Also there are only three films from the 1930's and three from the 1940's and yet also three from the 1990's.

There are 15 films from the 1960's. We're the 1960's the best decade in cinema? No way. A provocative era that, no doubt, has struck the fancy of many critics who were growing up then.

The list is a starting point for those who have yet to delve into the history of cinema. With that in mind it is acceptable. But I really hope no one takes it literally. I'd be more interesting in seeing a top ten personal list of favorite films.

[Here is the Fandor link where there are links to all kinds of discussions]


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