Thursday, June 21, 2007

Fut the whuck?

Last night, The American Film Institute did a thing on TV about the best 100 movies of all time. They do this every decade, updating the list, and I'm surprised to say, I'm enough of a movie geek I remember watching the last time they did this, and I remember the time before THAT, a friend had cut the list out of a magazine and we all read through it and argued over the chocies.

Apparently I'm something of a movie buff. This is kind of news to me; I'm more about books, I thought.

The American Film Institute exists, I was told last night, to forward the idea of movies as art. After more than a hundred years of moviemaking, I'd thought that question had been settled in the affirmative and the discussion was over. But then I'm the person who thinks the Chrysler Building is art, too, so what do I know? At any rate, it's a group of artistes, often with their noses in the air, discussing Great Movies while you roll your eyes.

I recorded the entire three hour show on the DVR, but switched over and watched the top ten live as they unveiled them. (This was not an edge-of-my-seat thing, more an eye-rolling thing while I was knitting.) Without further ado, here is AFI's top ten greatest movies of all time.

1. Citizen Kane, 1941 (unchanged for the three decades I've been paying attention)
2. The Godfather, 1972 (sure, it's a good movie, but SECOND?? OF ALL TIME???)
3. Casablanca, 1942 ('the greatest movie romance of all time' they said; 'quit smoking crack', I said)
4. Raging Bull, 1980
5. Singing in the Rain, 1952 (Gene Kelly dancing probably belongs in the top 10)
6. Gone With the Wind, 1939 (Scarlett, you bitch)
7. Lawrence of Arabia, 1962 (LawRENCE, LawRECNE, LawRENCE)
8. Schindler's List, 1993 (good choice on this one, should be higher)
9. Vertigo, 1958 (Hitchcock should be on the top 10 for sure, not positive this is the one, though, what about North by Northwest?)
10. Wizard of Oz, 1939

See something missing? Me too. No comedies. NONE. You telling me a good comedy hasn't been made in the last HUNDRED YEARS that can hold up against that group? No Abbot and Costello, no Bing and Bob, no screwball comedies, no Monty Python, nobody? Nothing? No laughs? Two musicals, a lameass romance, or three, but no comedy?

I hadn't realized art was such serious business.

In fact, now that I've gone through all kinds of horrors with AFI (setting up an account, logging in to the web site, and then having their idiotic .pdf file crash my computer - they can't list a hundred fuckin' movies on a regular old web page?) I've now looked at the list of all 100 movies, and there are only seven comedies on the entire list. Three of those are social commentaries disguised as comedy (Dr. Strangelove, MASH, and Tootsie), and two of them are Marx Brothers. While I am a HUGE fan of the Marx Brothers, I don't see why two of their movies were included at the loss of all the other classic comedy teams that crossed over from vaudeville. Can you say Abbot and Costello Meet the Mummy?

Here's the full list of comedies in the top 100 - I've actually seen them all, which also makes me suspicious. I'm not the Great Movies type, and I'm positive there's a lot of great stuff out there I've never seen, particularly if it was made before 1985.

22. Some Like it Hot - Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon, and Tony Curtis. This is the one where the guys go in drag for most of the movie.

35. Annie Hall. A Woody Allen production. Way too neurotic for me. And I didn't think it was that funny. But other people say it's a comedy, so whatever.

39. Dr. Strangelove. I don't care how fucked up and funny this movie is, it's not a comedy, it's a satire and social commentary. And it was good. But it ain't comedy.

54. MASH. Ditto from above. This is a movie about the horrors of war, even if it is funny and listed as a comedy.

60. Duck Soup. The Marx Brothers. Grouch Marx is declared dictator or king or whatever of a small, bankrupt nation. People have been mining this movie for ideas for 80 years.

69. Tootsie. Funny as hell in some places, but it's still social commentary, I don't care how funny the scene is where he declares he's a man, on camera.

85. A Night at the Opera. More Marx brothers. I've always wondered if this movie is where The Producers got the idea from (using the theater biz to fleece people), and now that I've looked at the dates, I think it's highly likely. (Opera was made in 1939, Producers in 1968. Entirely possible.)

That's it. No more comedy. So remember, if you're creating art, you better be serious. (Oh, geez.) No laughs, no fun, no approachability, and we're back to hanging art on church walls and playing it on pipe organs. Those idiots.

Oh, and Lord of the Rings? Fellowship of the Ring came in at #50. The other two aren't listed at all. There are almost no post-1977 blockbusters listed. Fellowship, Star Wars (number 13, I think), and Raiders of the Lost Ark (in the eighties?) were the only three I remember seeing. So if you're making art, it better not be popular, either.

Lists like this give art a bad name. I'm thinking I should get the baby's Nerf balls and have them on hand for the hubby to throw at the TV, when we watch this show.


All night, I knit away on my pinwheel jacket. The yarn is (I think) six strands of mercerized cotton and the twist hasn't been set hardly at all, not with sizing or with steam or anything else. So it's going slower than it could, and when I get tired, the yarn splits horribly. I love the finished fabric enough to persevere, but for those of you who hate that kind of thing, you might wanna stay away from this yarn (Lara, from Elann). This is how much I had done when I gave up and went to bed last night:

I'm doing the provisional cast-on thing, then going back and finishing the center like the top of a hat. And since this is the state fair entry, the yarn joins have to be invisible, which means going through my technique books to remind myself how to splice yarn. (At least the splittiness will work in my favor, then.) I hate splicing yarn. Wah.


NeedleTart said...

What? No "Bringing Up Baby"? Those bastards!

Katie K said...

I guess we're talking about the 100 best (basically)American films, which is NOT the same as best 100 films.

Roxie said...

Yeah! I would totally vote for Bringing up Baby!! but really, if you want something considered to be "Art", it has to be a downer.

I am so glad you don't compete in my state fair. Your work would knock me right out of the ring!

Lee said...

I didn't know you could splice cotton so be sure to let us know what you do.

Julie said...

Ah, yes, the foreign film issue. I assume since it's "The American Film Institute" that it's American films they're talking about. But they could have spelled it out a little better, couldn't they, the snobs?

Catie said...

what pattern (if any) are you using for the pinwheel jacket again?

Netter said...

I do really want to know how to splice cotton. I thought splicing only worked for fibers with scales.

Bunny Queen said...

Have you considered a Russian join for your joins? I like it for fibers that won't felt together. You can see a good how-to here:

Louiz said...

Whilst Dr Strangelove is one of my fav films, you're right its not a comedy. Obviously something like a pratfall is not adult and grownup and therefore not artistic. Mmmm I reserve judgement I think!

Sheepish Annie said...

I'm guessing that The Exorcist and Night Of The Living Dead probably didn't make it either. ::sigh::

amy said...

I thought the same thing on "American." I suppose Monty Python is automatically disqualified. No Princess Bride? Should I be embarrassed how much its terms have entered my everyday speech?

Also curious on the cotton splicing. Can't wait to see this project take shape. It's such a beautiful pattern.

debsnm said...

You missed Charlie Chaplin's movie, and a Buster Keaton movie, and the Philadelphia Story, one of the best movies ever. All 3 were in the top 40 someplace. I can't freaking believe Citizen Kane STILL #1????
Horrible movie, who's only even slightly modest value is the grief it gave William Randolf Hearst. Where is An Affair to Remember? The best romance of all time - didn't see it on the list. Gone with the Wind should have at least been in the top 3. I wanna know who hires these jerks!!

Mary Lynn said...

These must be the same people who often pick the Academy Award nominees. Usually, my husband picks who is going to win the Oscar based solely on how horrible we think it is.

Amy Lane said...

Seriously, I've been having this same damned discussion on discussion sites for freakin' ever. If being popular, funny, or interesting means it ain't art, then why are we teaching kids Shakespeare and Dickens, because these guys were the pop-stars of their day. (A Fish Called Wanda? The Incredibles? The Philadelphia Story? Bringing Up Baby? My daughter watched Bringing Up Baby--my 12 year old, watching a black and white movie!--and she laughed her ass off. What kind of world doesn't put that in the top 100? At least Wizard of Oz was there.)

Bells said...

is it just an American thing that they don't take in foreign films? Maybe it's just that Australia is a fairly outward looking nation but our lists of top films nearly always include many of the films on the AFI list. Interestingly, we have our own AFI here - the Australian Film Industry.

Probably it's also that we're a smaller film industry and coming up with 100 great films, while possible, would be tough.

As for comedies, you'd have to put Muriel's Wedding on the list. I'm pretty sure that got a lot of serious international attention - definitely in the black comedy field though.