Saturday, January 31, 2009

60s Films

Gaston's Films

8 ½
Lawrence of Arabia
2001: A Space Odyssey

Honorable Mention:

Azimuth's Films

1. Lawrence of Arabia
2. The Graduate
3. Psycho
4. 2001: A Space Odyssey
5. Dr. Strangelove

Notable Films, 1960-1969

6. To Kill A Mockingbird
7. Easy Rider
8. The Apartment
9. 8 1/2
10. Midnight Cowboy


T. Azimuth Schwitters said...

Hmm...once again, we've got three movies in common (although in a different order) and 2 movies that are so different, it might be hard to reconcile them. Starting with the locks:

1. LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. Top 10 movies, ever. Amazing performances, the most beautiful movie ever shot, and still relevant. Just a breathtaking motion picture, and Lean's best.

2. 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. It's hard to think about this as Kubrick's "best" film, but I guess it is: certainly, this is the movie where his attention to detail and his intense control over the filmmaking process is both at its most effective and at its most 'meta': what better parallel to the way Kubrick made movies than a movie about space travel and human evolution? Again, this movie is gorgeous, thought provoking, challenging, affective...if there's a knock, it's on the performances--nothing spectacular anywhere here. But then again, that's not really what this movie is about, is it? Anyway, another lock.

3. PSYCHO. We disagree on whether or not this is Hitch's best, but I think we both agree it's his best film of the '60s. Again: totally iconic, maybe Herman's best score, hugely successful, terrifying...a 'must' on this list.

To the debatables:

4. L'AVVENTURA vs. 8 1/2. The way I see it, we can't have two Italian flicks in a top 5 for the decade-as great as this period is for that nation, there's just no matching the sheer volume of Hollywood's output or its enormous cultural influence. Between these two, I'll go with 8 1/2...because I've never seen L'AVVENTURA. You've seen both, so you make the call here. We'll definitely include one of them.

5. THE GRADUATE. In my mind, this is the best comedy ever made and one of the most personally moving films I have ever seen. I could lavish more praise or point you to awards, but it just comes down to this: is there a better movie about finishing college and/or entering adulthood? I know that's not the most essential 'genre,' but it is certainly one of the most common life experiences for audience members, and this just nails it so, so well. I love it. I really love it. You can be they jury here, but I would really want to hear your argument against it.

6. DR. STRANGELOVE. I'll let this go, as we've already got a Kubrick on the list.

7. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. A great flick, but not 'essential' in the sense we've been using.

8. EASY RIDER vs. MIDNIGHT COWBOY. These movies are both important, I think: EASY RIDER has some serious historical cache we need to contend with, and it's also a pretty damn good movie. MIDNIGHT COWBOY also has a significant place in film history (only X-Rated Best Picture winner, etc.). It's also the more emotionally affecting of the two, and in some ways, the better overall film. I think both movies represent the '60s counterculture well, and we should talk about whether the films that came out of that particular political/historical moment deserve lasting props or not. We can also talk about whether or not THE GRADUATE serves these same ends or not.

Here's my rundown of the final list (to be taken up and debated):

4. 8 1/2

Honorable Mention: THE GRADUATE

Gaston Monescu said...

Before I go to work here, I just want to point out that my lists IN NO WAY reflect a particular order. I don't roll that way. If I wanted to 2001 to be #2, then I would have put #2 by it. Take my lists with the implied "no particular order" tag I've become so fond of. I'll make enough of a call to say that the Honorable Mention is de facto #6, but that's it.

On to the show:
1. L'A versus 8 1/2. There are those who would argue that L'A shouldn't even be the Antonioni on this list, that we should be talking about Blowup instead. I didn't love L'Avventura the first time I saw it, but now I think it's the best Italian film I've ever seen. Everyone who talks passionately about this film claims it changed cinema entire, no small claim. Blowup, while fascinating, is ultimately more philosophically than cinematically intriguing. You need to see L'A, perhaps two or three times. But, speaking of final shots, this film has the best one out of the Italian lot...and that's saying something. Stark, gorgeous, breathtaking, almost as winsome as The Searchers...just amazing.
So...what do we do with Fellini? I say we kick him to the curb. 8 1/2 is great and all, but...sigh...if I never watched it again it would be alright. I guess it's been behind any auteur's self-reflective autobiographical work (Charlie Kaufmann, Woody Allen, Terry Gilliam anyone?), but so what. I'm content to let Mr. F into the Honorable Mention pile. Geez, we went through the 50s and didn't mention Trauffaut ONCE. So take your two Honorable mentions, Fellini, and like it.

2. The Graduate - PLEASE take this and not Midnight Cowboy, which I think is overrated. I don't "get" The Graduate, but that's fine. It's an important American comedy, and it deserves some respect. I liked the soundtrack. And the tassles. That's all I've got.

3. So, are you telling me that Yojimbo gets no play? Are you going to do to it what I did to Great Dictator, thoroughly dismiss it as 5th wheel Kurosawa (that would be Throne of Blood)? I still like watching Yojimbo the best out of all his films. There, I said it, and I'd say it again. Also, we didn't have any Ozu, and if you've seen Tokyo Story, you know this is no small thing. So many films...

My list:
Lawrence of Arabia
The Graduate

Honorable Mention:
8 1/2

T. Azimuth Schwitters said...

I'll take your word on L'AVVENTURA, but I think if we use that, we need to forsake Fellini all together here in order to make room for (if not MIDNIGHT COWBOY) EASY RIDER. I think we need at least one of the products of the counterculture revolution in Hollywood in the '60s, and EASY RIDER is a solid pick: independently financed, a career launching pad for 2 of its leads, a crazy and intriguing (if, at times, indulgent) movie, with an awesome ending. Do I love to watch it? No. But it's the best of the c-c lot, and it should be on here (esp. at the expense of a second Italian film).

Yes, I'm slighting YOJIMBO as 5th wheel. RASHOMON, SEVEN SAMURAI, RAN and THRONE OF BLOOD (asshole) are all better. Consider it 'kicked.'

The list (I think):


Hon. Mention

Gaston Monescu said...

Screw Easy Rider and the motorcycle it rode in on. The Graduate is counter-culture. It's youth against plastics. It's a square youth finding out he's not nearly cut out for the square world his parents and his parents' friends have carved out for him. That high flying finale is about as counter-culture as you can get, and it doesn't come with all the baggage of Dennis Hopper shilling for Mutual Funds or appearing in American Carol (yep, he's in there, check IMDB). If we can't have two italian films, why do we need two American films from the end of the 60s? I'm not buying it. I demand Easy Rider get removed, even from the coveted honorable mention slot.

As for Yojimbo, it's better than Throne or Ran. That's saying something. I actually like Ran. But Yojimbo basically sets the stage for any action film of the next forty years, the solitary anti-hero poised between two factions, working against his own good conscience. If Seven Samurai created the "troop" film, then Yojimbo paves the cinematic way for the action stars of the 80s.

T. Azimuth Schwitters said...

Okay, what if we sub DR. STRANGELOVE in for EASY RIDER in the honorable mention slot? I can get behind that move...even if it is a second Kubrick film.