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‘Best of’ Lists

Recently I have felt like I am in a phase of transition. It has a been a period of reflection on my part regarding the actual knowledge I have built up as an aspiring cinema and media scholar. This can be attributed to two things; applying to PhD schools and those gosh darn ‘best of’ lists.

I have always thought of myself as a movie buff and early on I made it a point to watch recommended films, blockbusters and any movie that might add to my collective film knowledge. Over the past several years I realize there are a vast amount of films that I have never come close to watching or even think about seeing.

While applying to PhD programs I have been taking ‘breaks’ by watching films from a seemingly endless list of ‘best of’ or ‘100 greatest lists.’ By and large I have seen the films that comprise the American Film Institutes’s (AFI) 100 series, however, within that group there are inevitably a handful from each I have not seen. In fact the comedy list from a few years ago is comprised with a majority of film from the 30’s and 40’s which I have never seen. Also, the combined Sight & Sound Best 10 polls over the past sixty years add another 20 films. Listing these films would be mundane, but anyone familiar with even a basic knowledge of cinema history will have seen or heard of these pictures.

I am pleased to report that I have made significant progress on these various lists and am increasingly encouraged by how wonderful cinema can be. Interesting enough many of these lists ignore Japanese and Asian cinema sans the absolute most well-known films or directors. Granted the AFI lists are composed only with US and some co-opted UK films (Third Man cough cough).

Anywho, since I have been making headway on these film lists I thought I would start posting comments. Not a review or critical analysis just a light sketch of impressions or things which stood out. In the past week I have seen quite a few so I will try to start posting them soon. Tonight, coincidentally is a Jack Nicholson double feature, Easy Rider (1969) and Chinatown (1974). In high school I purchased a VHS of Chinatown and have a vague recollection of seeing the film, but I feel it warrants another viewing. For instance I can only recall Nicholson’s nose being cut by a seedy character and the uber famous closing line of the film. Also, I only remember that line from a Simpsons reference where Moe tells homer, “Forget it Homer, it’s chiro-town,” in reference to an underhanded chiropractor ring that had been running through Springfield. (UPDATE: I totally forgot that the ‘seedy character’ is in fact director, Roman Polanski, a very ‘duh’ moment of recollection on my part)

To wrap up the goal of watching all these films is to provide this aspiring media scholar with a proper foundation in the most revered or well-known cinema which I have ignored up to this point. Hopefully this will result in less, “Oh I have heard of that and I need to see it” or the classic “I saw it a long time ago (see: NEVER), but I have forgotten large portions.” Most of all I do not want to be told a film is so ‘Godard’, ‘Fellini’ or ‘Melville’ again and doubt my own knowledge of film or question if they are just full of shit (when in doubt I go with the latter).

So this is the goal, lets see where the road takes us…

Until next time, Cheers!