Orwell Reviews Hitler
52 Guitars: Week 36

Your Favorite Movies

Rob G suggested in a comment on another post that a discussion of favorite movies would be interesting. I agree, so here you go: list your top five, or top ten, or top fifteen, or some reasonable number--I always find hitting a specific number in games like this to be kind of a problem.

For me, the ones that come instantly to mind are several by Bergman and one or two by Antonioni:

  • Winter Light
  • Wild Strawberries
  • The Seventh Seal
  • The Virgin Spring
  • Blow-Up

That'll do for a start. I'd have to do some thinking about others. Perhaps L'Avventura or L'Eclisse. Something by the Marx Brothers, but I'm not sure which one. How about American classics like Casablanca? Tough decisions....when I start thinking like this, it starts to become a desert island list, and so I want to cover multiple styles and genres. I'll be very interested in seeing what you pick.


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I tend to be fond of Technicolor flicks, issued ca. 1957

African Queen, Nine Hours to Rama, A Boy Ten Feet Tall

Romantic comedy, ca. 1969

Sweet November, Cactus Flower, Pete 'n' Tillie.

Film Noir

Double Indemnity

French language, ca. 1990

Tatie Danielle, May Fools, Chateau de Ma Mere


Paper Moon, Chasing Amy, Ghost World, The Station Agent.

I do not think I've been in a cinema in ten years.

This is fun. Of the films you listed, Mac, the only one I've seen is The Seventh Seal. I really need to make a point of seeing more of Bergman's films.

I haven't seen any of Art's favourites except Double Indemnity.

Here is my list. These are films that have become touchstones for me in one way or another, and that I am always ready to revisit.

The Tree of Life (2011) [Malick]
Magnolia (1999) [Anderson]
Groundhog Day (1993) [Ramis]
Fargo (1996) [Coens]
The Thin Red Line (1998) [Malick]
Die Grosse Stille (2005) [Groning]
Ostrov (2006) [Lungin]
Much Ado About Nothing (1993) [Branagh]
Adaptation (2002) [Jonze]
The Princess Bride (1987) [Reiner]
Roman Holiday (1953) [Wyler]

That's 11. It pains me a little to see that these cluster mostly in the 1990s and later, but I can't help it.

My first five come pretty readily to mind, as four of them have been at the top of the list for years:

Ran (1985) - Kurosawa
Vertigo (1958) - Hitchcock
Mulholland Dr. (2001) - Lynch
Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) - Leone
The Tree of Life (2011) - Malick

The latter is the most recent addition, but I'll have to rack my brain to think about what it knocked out of the top five. My next five or ten might be a bit more difficult and will need some time for thought!

I find that I get very indecisive after the first instant ones pop into my head. I actually had forgotten Tree of Life. It made a huge impression on me on the one viewing, but I haven't given it that much thought since. I'd have to see it again. Mulholland Drive might make my top dozen or two, also, and several of those on Craig's list.

Art, I thought African Queen was black and white. Is that just because I saw it years ago on b&w tv, and never since?

I do love movies (and movie lists), gotta chime in here. (It's been awhile since I've checked in, hello! Good to see the blog's still going.)

Babette's Feast
Johnny Guitar
Punch-Drunk Love
The Goonies
Only Lovers Left Alive
Under the Skin
Paris, Texas
Nights of Cabiria
The Act of Killing

A couple of these I've only seen once, but the impact they had was such that I have to mention them in any list like this. (For instance, The Act of Killing. WOW. An unbelievable experience.)

Anyway, there are lots more, but there's a good sample.

p.s. My favorite Marx Bros movie is their first one, The Cocoanuts.

I thought it was AQ was black-and-white too.

Noah, that is a very eclectic list. Somehow I've never thought of Babette's Feast and The Goonies in the same year.


Yea, I recently saw The Goonies on the big screen (again). Just such an entertaining movie. And, a classic (for my generation at least).

I can't believe what a hard time I'm having with this. I had about decided that I didn't have any favorite movies so I looked at my Netflix queue to see what I could find. And I found Trip to Bountiful and Tender Mercies which are definitely two of my favorites. Then Babette's Feast I'm sure, although I couldn't watch again at the moment.

You know, I re-watched Mulholland Drive a few months ago, and I found the experience really dispiriting. It really impressed me the first time I saw it, especially Naomi Watts in the lead role, but on this second viewing the film just seemed to be a mess. Maybe I need to give it another try. I realized on second viewing that I truly have no idea what is going on in that film!

Noah, I agree with you about The Act of Killing. It's an almost unbelievable film; can such things be? For all that Hollywood occasionally boasts of its "brave" (meaning, usually, transgressive) filmmakers, the director of The Act of Killing must be the real deal, a truly courageous man. Apparently he has made a follow-up film which will premiere this week in my city. (But I won't be able to see it.)

Almost anything by Majid Majidi, probably The Willow Tree most.


And, okay, a guilty pleasure, I love Groundhog Day and You've Got Mail. They make me laugh and YGM has a great soundtrack.

I think that most of my favorite movies are miniseries.


Oh dear

Yea, I'm not a huge fan of David Lynch, though I did enjoy Mulholland Drive (especially her performance). As far as the courage of The Act of Killing director, I can't imagine many things more courageous, filmmaking wise. Truly in a category of it's own.

I thought it was AQ was black-and-white too.

No, in color. I certainly saw it the first time 'ere Ted Turner turned his technology on old films.

My tastes tend to run on the light side, especially musicals. My favorites are ones that I would want to watch again. There are other movies that I do watch again because everyone else is, so I’m stuck.

It’s a Wonderful Life: I never saw this until I was over 35. I watch it every year.
West Side Story. Best musical. I also like The Sound of Music and Fiddler on the Roof.
Hunt for Red October. Pure enjoyment. No depth.
Groundhog Day
Double Indemnity
Twelve Angry Men. It was made for TV, but I could watch it over and over.
Lion King. I’m not big on animation, but this one is a cut above the rest.
The Third Man. Orson Wells and Graham Green. What a combination!
The Court Jester. My Princess Bride.
The Maltese Falcon. I love Peter Lorre. Too bad his life ended the way it did.

My least favorite
Dead Poet’s Society
Breakfast Club
The Color Purple

As for Princess Bride, I think it terribly funny, but I wouldn’t watch it again except that my kids love it, so we watch it regularly. Something about it doesn’t seem right, though. I can’t put my finger on it.

I hereby exempt us from putting titles in italics, even though it sort of pains me not to. Gets to be a lot of trouble in a discussion like this.

Nice to hear from you again, Noah.

I don't think Groundhog Day is a guilty pleasure at all. I think it's excellent, and really quite profound.

The Third Man might be my choice if I could only pick one b&w noir-ish film. Double Indemnity is a great story but somehow I never entirely believe the characters. I think it has to do with other associations with Barbra Stanwyck and Fred McMurray. I like Out of the Past (Mitchum) better. Also Postman Always Rings Twice. Love Maltese Falcon, too.

I'm with you on Dead Poets Society, Robert. Actually, I hated it. The teacher struck me as a showboat, and the whole too-sensitive-for-this-world thing is not something anybody should be encouraging in young people.

I was thinking earlier that I might include My Fair Lady, though I don't generally care much for musicals.

I don't say these are the greatest movies (though I could argue for some of them), but here are my favorites:

What's Up Doc - I grew up watching this over and over on VHS (my father was an early adopter) - when I bought the DVD 20 years later I would start laughing before they said their lines.

Forbidden Planet - I won't claim it's the greatest movie ever, but I could (and have) watch it repeatedly.

The Thin Man (and After the Thin Man - they go down later)

Casablanca - I first saw this when I was in my thirties and I knew a surprising amount of the dialogue from Loony Toons, but it's still a great movie.

The Godfather/The Godfather II

Shadow of a Doubt

The Third Man

King Kong - the original. I hate most modern movies that are all about special effects, but a 1933 movie all about special effects is fine.

That's true what you say about Groundhog Day, Maclin, and I thought about that when I wrote it. It's really more You've Got Mail that's guilty. It's pretty morally bankrupt, but it has some very, very funny dialogue which makes me laugh every time we watch it, and since Bill wants to watch it a lot, I've seen it many time. And I love the music.

I know you just said that about italics so you wouldn't have to keep turning them off when I messed up. ;-)

On the way home I was talking about this with Bill and he reminded me of Majority of One. I love that movie. It's definitely one of my favorites, although some of the actors are dreadful.

Agree about Dead Poet's Society.

At one point, I probably would have said that An Affair to Remember was one of my favorites, but one of the bad things about our easy access to films nowadays is that you can watch them until your sick of them. I think if I don't watch it for 5 or 6 years, I'll probably like it better again.

My Fair Lady was great. Audrey Hepburn was the cutest thing I've ever seen.


Re: italics. I was just being lazy. And I was in a hurry.

I really like your list, Robert. I should have put a musical on mine, probably The Sound of Music would be my favourite. (Although Magnolia is also a musical, of sorts?)

I especially like this bit:

Hunt for Red October. Pure enjoyment. No depth.

Heh, heh.

Janet, I admit your little mishap was a factor in my italic dispensation. Not your omission of them, Robert.

Red October is really good for what it is. Which reminds me of another action-sort-of movie that is really fine on those terms and to me goes beyond it, too: The Great Escape.

I've never seen You've Got Mail.

One reason I reacted against Dead Poets is the suggestion that to be sensitive and intelligent makes one intrinsically superior to baboons like the dead boy's father. I had that tendency when I was young, on into my twenties I guess, and came to regard it as a poison. Again, not something that should be praised and encouraged.

I'll do this tomorrow - or rather, much later today, but only today I was thinking how much I liked the Ocean's 11 movies. I liked them a lot, but all of them contain a little blasphemy, as do a lot of movies I like, so I've decided I really don't want to watch them any more.


Thinking over my other favorites it seems that 'Tree of Life' knocked Kurosawa's 'Ikiru' (1952) out of my top five. It's a solid #6, however. :-)

A couple years ago some friends and I were discussing the change in cinema that occurred in the mid-60's, with the rise of "modern" film and the trending away from more traditional types of filmmaking. At the time I came up with a list of my favorite pre-1965 and post-1965 movies, that year being a somewhat arbitrary dividing line between the old and the new. I looked for the list and found it last night.

Pre-65 (not prev. mentioned):

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) - Mulligan
Fallen Idol (1948) - Reed
The Third Man (1949) - Reed
The Browning Version (1951) - Asquith
Track of the Cat (1954) - Wellman

I'd also include a few classics like Ben-Hur, Goodbye Mr. Chips, Citizen Kane, and It's a Wonderful Life.

Post-65 (not prev. mentioned)

The Road Home (1999) - Zhang
Sling Blade (1996) - Thornton
The Machinist (2004) - Anderson
Manhunter (1986) - Mann
Michael Clayton (2007) - Gilroy
The Big Lebowski (1998) - Coen
Hero (2002) - Zhang
Inland Empire (2006) - Lynch
To The Wonder (2012) - Malick

I also really, really like 'The Grand Budapest Hotel,' but it's too new to list -- need to give it a little time!

I thought about The Road Home and Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles.

Since I started to watch foreign movies and indie movies, I've really gotten to like slow-moving movies. Maybe that's why I like Malick.


I've not seen a lot of Bergman, but 'The Virgin Spring' is definitely a great movie.

When 'Mulholland Dr.' first came out I was so struck by it that I went back and saw it the next night, then again a couple nights later. I put together a tentative explanation after those three initial viewings, as I felt that there was more going on there than just a semi-surreal Moebius strip. Later reading on the film bore out my interpretation as a valid one (although certainly not the only valid one). I've watched it at least five times since, and I've stuck with that original interpretation.

(Spoiler alert)

This is a super-abbreviated version, so it obviously won't explain all. The first 2/3 of the film are Betty/Diane's "dream version" of the true events of the narrative, which make up the last third of the movie (the transition occurs when Rita opens the blue box, and immediately afterwards when "The Cowboy" tells Betty/Diane that it's time to wake up.)

The rest of the movie after that transition tells what "really happened" -- everything up to that point being Diane's exculpatory "dream," justifying to herself her failure in Hollywood, and her failed relationship with and subsequent murder of Camilla. Unable to deal with her guilt, her subconscious spins out this elaborate, delusional tale of how everything occurred outside of her participation.

Thus, a lot of the things that seem inexplicable in the first part of the film are explained, at least somewhat -- keeping in mind Diane's fractured mental state -- by things we see in the second part. In a way it's like 'Rashomon,' except that Lynch doesn't give away the fact that you're getting two versions of the same story, let alone that one version is being told by an extremely unreliable narrator.

More later, but just quickly: one of the major landmarks of that ca. 1965 shift (which is definitely real) is Bonnie and Clyde. A somewhat sick affair in several ways.

Thanks for that basic map, Rob G. It's obvious that the movie is giving alternate versions of the same events, and that the first is considerably sunnier than the second, but I've been stymied as to how they relate to one another. I will consult your comments the next time I watch it.

Naomi Watts' acting in the first 2/3 remains one of the most impressive performances that I've seen in a film. The way she manages to be naturalistic, yet covered over with a subtle sheen of unreality, a false sunniness that is actually unsettling, is remarkable.

I am frankly amazed that you put Inland Empire on your list! I had incredible difficulties with that one; I don't think I got through to the end. The sheer ugliness of its aesthetic, and the way it distorted the faces of its characters, sickened me. And, of course, I had trouble following what was happening. Perhaps Lynch and I just don't get along.

Absolutely right about B&C, Mac. In a lot of ways that really was the turning point (although I also lay some blame at the feet of my man Leone, for inadvertently bringing then-current European levels of violence into American theaters).

You're right about Watts in M.D., Craig. Amazing performance -- in that scene where she does the screen test, it's not just the folks in the film that have the "holy smokes!" reaction!

More on Inland Empire in a bit.

I would definitely add To Kill A Mockingbird to my list. Which makes me think of The Scarlet and the Black, which I also like to watch again and again. This makes me think of The Cardinal, which has some great moments, but is a bit overblown in its Kennedy worship. I know, it was in the air at the time. I'm thinking of Ven. Fulton Sheen's Kennedy accolades, for instance.

The Cardinal made me think of a movie I can't believe I didn't put on my list, Man for All Seasons. Its not only a great film, but it has Welles!

Another on my list of movies I hate: Grease.

I forgot to include The Burmese Harp (1956) on my pre-65 list. I've only seen it once, about a year ago, but it made a powerful impact on me. Need to watch it again.

Yes, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Man for all Seasons are both greath.


I hate it when I have stuff to say and I have to work.


Films that I've watched again and again are:
The Big Sleep
Sink the Bismark
The Third Man
Seven Samurai
Terracotta Warrior (which is an anti-colonial remake of The Mummy, with Zhang Yimou in the Boris Karloff role, as the hero rather than the villain)
A Chinese Ghost Story, the 1987 one (by any standards quite a silly film, but one dear to me)
Once upon a Time in China (which in terms of plot is even sillier, but it has some wonderful set pieces of light and colour and movement)
In the Mood for Love (for the costumes and music and cinematography)
Dien Bien Phu (again, for the costumes and music and cinematography)
Cyrano de Bergerac (the one with Gerard Depardieu)
A Man for All Seasons
The Mission

"A Chinese Ghost Story"

Ha! Just rewatched that the other night. Fun stuff! Some of those Asian action/comedies are hugely entertaining. Last week I watched "Journey to the West" (Stephen Chow) and laughed out loud practically the whole time. Ditto Sammo Hung's "Spooky Encounter."

Annie Hall
Hannah and Her Sisters
Howards End
Mulholland Drive
An American in Paris
Lone Star
Once Upon a Time in the West
Young Frankenstein
Silver Linings Playbook

What is said somewhere above my post about Mulholland Drive does seem to be Lynch's premise. So many movies that all of you are mentioning are so great. I do love movies so. Sorry to put two Woody Allen films on my list, but I watch them over and over again.

Rob's understanding of Mulholland is pretty much the same as mine, too. When we got it from Netflix several years ago (4? 5? 6?), we watched it once, and then again the next night. There was something really enthralling about it, and of course also mysterious and puzzling. I'd like to see it again. Not so Inland Empire, which seemed to be the Finnegan's Wake to Mulholland's Ulysses.

The only other movie I can recall immediately re-watching like that also belongs in this discussion, although it could hardly be more different: Napoleon Dynamite. For sheer eccentric fun, with a happy love-conquers-all ending, it can't be beat.

I second the admiration of Magnolia, but I didn't really *like* it as much as some of you do. Just a matter of personal taste, maybe.

Another marker in that '60s transition was Dr. No, the first James Bond flick. It was released in the UK in late 1962, in the U.S. mid-1963. I didn't see it then (I was 15), and saw it for the first time ten years or so ago. I was really struck by how sexed-up it was, and the generally somewhat cynical and anti-hero-ish quality of Bond, somehow different from, say, Humphrey Bogart's anti-hero in Maltese Falcon.

No one's mentioned anything with Yves Montand in it.

A number I've forgotten. The Dark at the Top of the Stairs (Robert Preston, 1960) is actually an ace film.

Some films can be engaging as period pieces of various sorts. The Front Page (1931) is one. David and Lisa (1962) is another. The romantic comedies named above (as well as Oh a Clear Day, You can See Forever are period pieces, to a certain extent, though. You put Walter Matthau or Yves Montand in something and it's generally worth seeing.

Neglected the small Whit Stillman oevre, especially the first, Metropolitan.

Stand By Me (1986) is a good example of the coming-of-age genre. Aspects of the ending I do not care for, of course.

I did not find The Breakfast Club objectionable.


The film version of The Bad Seed is worth seeing.

I was really struck by how sexed-up it was, and the generally somewhat cynical and anti-hero-ish quality of Bond,

I've always found the Bond films uninteresting and the character unappealing.

You wound not exactly say you enjoyed Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, but it was well-executed.

I meant to say that I love The Station Agent -- someone mentioned that somewhere near the top. The film with Peter Dinklage and Bobby Cannavale and a woman whose name I am forgetting. What a wonderful movie!

Yes, The Station Agent is really good.

So many excellent movies y'all are reminding me of. And a lot that I haven't seen but might like.

I've always thought The Dark at the Top of the Stairs was a great title. Have to see the movie.

I remember liking Hannah and Her Sisters when it came out, but don't remember much about it. Speaking of Woody Allen, I recently saw Sleeper (or is it Sleepers?), and thought it was pretty funny.

I like Annie Hall and Hannah and her Sisters too, but my favourite Allen films tend to be those in which Allen himself does not appear, or has a minor role. Two from the past ten years that fit that bill are Match Point and Midnight in Paris, both of which I thought were excellent.

The most recent Bond films, with Daniel Craig, are, for me, by far the most palatable in the Bond canon, which isn't saying much.

A lot of great viewing ideas in this thread. Thanks, everybody.

'Inland Empire' seems to be about two things: adultery and Hollywood. Lynch, I think, is drawing a connection between the betrayal and falseness on display in Hollywood, and the betrayal of love exhibited in adultery. Remember that the subtitle of the film is "A Woman in Trouble." Both of Laura Dern's characters, the actress, and the woman she's playing in the movie being made, are cheating on their husbands. Reality and fiction overlap.

I think the thing with the distorted faces has something to do with the idea that both adultery and Hollywood distort the reality of personal contact: people "lose" their true faces. I wouldn't bank on that though -- just a hunch.

It's also important to note that despite all the darkness in the film, the ending does very much put forward the idea that love and forgiveness are the answer, so to speak, to the distortion and desolation of life. Lynch seems to want to impress on the viewer, though, the fact that that's a very hard lesson.

I agree that it's a much more difficult film than 'Mulholland Dr.' and that some of the unsavory bits are quite off-putting. The sense of tension is unrelenting (I remember reading one review that said the film was rated 'R' for "ubiquitous menace"). As such it's difficult to recommend to anyone who's not simpatico with Lynch's vision. He's definitely a strange bird, and I haven't liked all his movies. But he seems to have a soft spot for "women in trouble" of various sorts, and his empathy towards his female characters is something I find quite positive.

Did we discuss my recent viewing of Lost Highway? I didn't care much for it at all. The best I can say for it is that it had a few good moments.

I may try Inland Empire again some day, or maybe not. I guess I could say I'm simpatico with certain, or many, elements of Lynch's vision. But there are times when he's really too much for me. Btw I have in mind to watch Twin Peaks sometime in the not too distant future.

I wasn't even aware of the existence of Stephen Chow's Journey to the West. I'll have to look into that. And I don't think I've heard of Magnolia before either.

Even though, as I said, Magnolia is not a personal favorite of mine, it's arguably a must-see.

I guess I didn't really get The Big Lebowski. It was entertaining but it certainly didn't make the impression on me that it has on a lot of people.

I was surprised by how many of mine were foreign, especially French so I had better put the English movie at number 1

1) Henry V with Olivier
2) Fargo
3) The Lives of Others
4) Jour du Fete (Tati)
5) Mon Oncle (Tati)
6) La Belle et La Bete (Cocteau)
7) Au Revoir les Enfants
8) Les Enfants du Paradis
9) The Diary of a Country Priest (Bresson)
10) The Colour of Paradise

Just below that I would put Pasolini's Gospel according to Matthew, The Bicycle Thief, Slingblade, Jean de Florette, Manon des Sources, Danton, The Road Home, Ikiru, What's up Doc, Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles, Into Great Silence, Of Gods and Men,
The Children of Heaven, The Willow Tree. Another, more recent excellent Iranian film is The Separation. Ostrov is also wonderful.

I meant to mention Ostrov, too. I've seen the majority of those you mention, and liked them all. As with The Big Lebowski, I don't entirely get why many people are as taken with it as they are. Definitely a good movie, but...I don't know, other than the bizarre spectacle, I didn't really take much away from it.

I have to chime in on Hero, too--if I'm not confusing it with another similar film, I thought it was the most purely visually beautiful movie I'd ever seen. I want to see it again.

I'm also one of those for whom "The Big Lebowski" didn't make much of an impression. I'm not sure why it has become a cult classic.

Since I recommended "Magnolia", I feel obliged to point out to first-timers that it is pretty much saturated with coarse and (especially from one character) obscene language. That sort of thing usually puts me off, but this film arguably justifies itself by fitting it all into a moral framework. Still, I am always a little hesitant about recommending it, despite its many dazzling virtues.

Thanks for that explanation, Rob. I don't think I got far enough to see the moral perspective emerging. What a strange filmmaker. His new film also premieres this week at our film festival. (But I won't get to see it.)

I just re-read my 9:43 comment above, and I see it doesn't make any sense. The "it" referred to was meant to be Fargo.

If I had put any American comedies I would have probably had something with Walther Matthau in it - either the Front Page, as AD says, or the Odd Couple. But I am also extremely fond of Some Like it Hot.

Well, here's the closest I've come to an active disagreement with anyone's picks: I found Some Like It Hot disappointing. My expectations were high, but when I posted about it here a while back I think I said something like "mildly amusing at best." I think it's because I have *never* been able to see the humor in cross-dressing. A lot of people seem to find it intrinsically funny, and so if you add jokes on top of that you get Very Funny Indeed. But it just doesn't produce any reaction in me.

The Marx Brothers are the acme of American comedy to me.

Some of mine are:
The Castle
Strictly Ballroom
Emma (1996)
The Lord of the Rings
Into the Silence
The Princess Bride
The Passion of the Christ
Master and Commander

Others which I've seen only once of twice, but would be very glad to see again:
Babette's Feast
The Godfather
The Mission

I have never seen "It's a Wonderful Life"!

I also don't like Grease.

You should see It's A Wonderful Life! It's great.

Babette's Feast would definitely make my top 20 or so. I'm not keen on the Lord of the Rings movies, though I mostly enjoyed them at the time.

To Rob in particular: the "not too distant future" in which I was going to watch Twin Peaks arrived last night, when we watched the pilot. I really hadn't planned to, but it was in our Netflix streaming list and there was enough time to watch more than an hour.

Anyway, it was definitely interesting. Having seen Fire Walk With Me, I know who done it, which will no doubt give me a very different experience from what one would have not knowing that. I wonder what the average viewer made of it at the time. It's not full Lynchian bizarre, but much of it is just off enough to have been puzzling or irritating to a lot of people, while not being so weird that they would have just fled.

I will definitely watch It's A Wonderful Life. I must check to see if it's on Netflix etc.

I'd be shocked if it's not. It's still very popular. It's set at Christmas so it gets played a lot then. It's sentimental in some ways but it has a very solid core.

'Lost Highway' is one of the Lynch films I don't care much for, the other being 'Wild at Heart.' And while I appreciate 'Eraserhead' as a cinematic experiment, I can't say I "like" it.

(Speaking of "experiments," the recent movie 'Locke,' with Tom Hardy, is a very good film. Takes place in real time with Hardy's character alone in his car on an English motorway. All of the drama comes from the conversations on his hands-free during the trip. Sounds tedious, but Hardy's performance and Stephen Knight's taut direction make it work beautifully, not to mention the really fine performances of the actors at the other end of the phone, including Olivia Colman and Ruth Wilson, whom you never see, only hear.)

Re: 'Twin Peaks,' the first season is definitely better than the second (Lynch and Mark Frost having less control over the show in the 2nd) excluding those episodes of the latter which Lynch himself directed. The episode in which the killer is finally revealed is imo one of the best, most intense hours of TV drama ever.

I've seen The Big L at least 10 times and have large sections of the dialogue memorized, just as with 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail' when I was in college. A couple friends and I have discussed the appeal, and we all agree that it has to do with the cleverness of the script juxtaposed with the inanity of the main characters and the ludicrousness of the plot. The hyper-prominence of the F-bombs (intentionally?) distracts from how intelligent the script really is. It's as if David Mamet wrote the screenplay for 'Dumb and Dumber.'

Oh wait, I said Lost Highway, but it should have been Wild at Heart. I haven't seen Lost Highway. I probably will eventually, in hope of it having at least some good moments. But not Eraserhead.

I like LH better than WaH, but not enough to really recommend it. It's very creepy in parts, which is good, but it's got a subplot related to pornography that I found troubling.

Don't think anyone mentioned any of Herzog's films. I'm not a huge fan of his, but 'Aguirre, The Wrath of God' definitely packs a wallop -- great film.

I echo the enthusiasm for 'It's a Wonderful Life.' It's become a holiday cliché, unfortunately, but that shouldn't take away from how good a movie it truly is.

"[Lynch's] new film also premieres this week at our film festival."

Didn't know he had one out. Is it a short film, by chance?

I remember being surprised by your lack of enthusiasm for Some Like it Hot.

Forgot The Best Years of Our Lives (1946). Quite a portrait of the immediate aftermath of the war.

Generally do not care for the sociological genre, but Rebel Without a Cause is satisfactory (and engaging as a period piece).

Well, I did like Marilyn Monroe. And not just for the obvious reason--she was rather sweet.

I saw Rebel Without a Cause ten or twelve years ago and was rather disappointed. I don't remember a lot now, except a general sense that it seemed too obviously informed by then-contemporary psychology.

One thing I *do* remember, though, and quite vividly, is seeing it at the time it came out, when I would have been no more than eight, which seems odd--maybe it had a re-release. I would have guessed twelve. That raises a question I've sometimes wondered about: how common was it, pre-video-cassette, for movies to be revived after their initial release had come and gone?

Anyway--I remember most especially the game-of-chicken scene, and in general found the whole thing somewhat disturbing.

I limited myself to films I've rewatched at least twice, to have some objective criterion to go by, but films I've only seen the once that made quite an impression include Au Revoir les Enfants and Babette's Feast. While I rewatched The Front Page several times 20 years or so ago, I don't think I'd be much interested in seeing it again now. I could say the same about Odd Man Out.

I've seen It's a Wonderful Life one and a half times. I happened upon it halfway through on telly one night, years ago, and couldn't make much sense of it. Then just a few months ago I got the DVD out of the local library to watch through (as a result of something one of Janet's daughters posted on Facebook, I think it was), and before the end was laughing and crying. It's too recent to call it a favourite, but I add my voice to those recommending it to Louise.

A Taxing Woman is another that I remember very clearly nearly 20 years after only seeing it the once.

Oops: my mistake about the new "David Lynch" movie. The one I was thinking of is actually directed by David Cronenberg. They're both called David, and they're both a little odd, but they are definitely not the same person.

Well, only two episodes, plus the pilot, into Twin Peaks, and it has already gone full-Lynchian-weird. I really wonder what the reaction to this was in the living rooms of unsuspecting viewers. I guess anyone who'd watched preceding episodes wouldn't have been *totally* unsuspecting, but there hadn't been anything this bizarre.

I think Babette's Feast would make my most-favorite list. I haven't seen it for a long time. Hadn't heard of A Taxing Woman.

I wasn't sure how It's A Wonderful Life would look outside the U.S., so your reaction is interesting, Paul. The thing I admire so much about it is that although it does have that sentimental surface, it faces the question "is life worth living?" in a very forceful way.

I watched Twin Peaks about 20 years ago and liked it up until the very end. I won't say more than that, to avoid spoilers.

I only liked it as much as I did b/c my friend told me it was a spoof of soap operas. From that POV I found it pretty satisfying.

"They're both called David, and they're both a little odd, but they are definitely not the same person."

Yeah -- some surface similarities exist, but I've never been a Cronenberg fan at all. The only film of his that I've come close to liking is 'A History of Violence.' He's a horror director first and foremost, and I think that unfortunately comes out in all his movies.

I saw 'Inland Empire' in the theatre in the spring of 2007 (Easter Sunday actually!) and remember tightly clutching the armrests for almost the entire 3 hours. Scariest thing I ever saw -- it felt like being stuck in someone else's nightmare. The relief at the end was palpable, a combination of the film's resolution and the simple fact that it was over! Roller coaster rides are awesome, but three-hour ones can be draining. ;-)

I hadn't thought of TP as a soap-opera spoof, but I guess it is partly that. It is weirdly funny in places, shocking and disturbing in others.

I don't think I could have handled Inland Empire in a theater. Maybe not Mulholland, either.

The only Cronenberg I've seen is The Fly, which I rather enjoyed, but wouldn't rate as a great film by any means.

Is it bad that the only David Lynch movie I've seen is Dune?

The only Lynch movie I have seen is Straight Story. I like that one very much.

We would like to hear your views on Mulholland Drive, Grumpy. Or Twin Peaks. I think Straight Story is atypical.

It's not *bad* to only have seen Dune, but you've missed some rather interesting experiences. I saw Dune, but aside from some pretty bizarre visual stuff I mainly remember thinking it was a big mistake to try to put that book into a movie.

It occurs to me that we haven't heard from Marianne for some time.

'Dune' was a disaster, largely studio-created, and Lynch made great efforts to distance himself from the finished product, which apparently was far from what he had envisioned.

'Straight Story' is atypical in that it depicts the positive side of Lynch's vision without the surreal, disturbing stuff that often accompanies it. Like Stephen King there's a certain facet of Lynch's personality that shows him, at heart, to be a bit of an old softie.

There's something in him, despite the weirdness, that sees love, forgiveness and reconciliation as the keys to human harmony. That sounds vapid, but in his vision the harmony achieved is never facile -- it's always earned, and usually through very difficult means.

I bought the DVD of Mulholland because you are always raving about it. But I have not watched yet. I will watch one day this week when I get a chance.

Be prepared, Grumpy. MD is very different from Straight Story!

It must have been disconcerting for people acquainted with Lynch's other work to see Straight Story. I know I would have been waiting for the weirdness to start, and maybe even seeing it when it wasn't there.

The "woman in trouble" motif that you mentioned, Rob, is certainly very much present in Twin Peaks.

This discussion reminds me of the early days of Catholic blogging when people would post "memes" with questions of this sort. So, every blog would wind up posting on what their favorite movie was or 60s rock group or 9th century saint or whatever.

I started blogging July 24, 2002. My first post was a list of 127 reasons I stay Catholic. It was a list of Catholic authors. Blogs and lists go together.

I suppose so. And I guess I enjoy lists, anyway, up to a point. 127 authors is a lot!--how long did it take you?

Not very long. It was just a list. If you want to see it, it is here: http://robertgotcher.blogspot.com/2002/07/why-stay-catholici-recently-wrote-to.html

Watched a really fine French film last night, The Well-Digger's Daughter. It's a 2012 remake by Daniel Auteuil of a 1940 film. Superb acting, great Alexander Desplat score, beautifully filmed, and no objectionable material whatsoever. One of the reviews quoted on the box says "This is the kind of film they don't make anymore, only here it is." Very true!

If you liked Straight Story, The Road Home, or The Trip to Bountiful, this is one for you!

I think that most of the people would have realized going in to Straight Story that it was going to be different. After all, it was rated 'G' and released by Disney! Still, I know what you're saying.

"The 'woman in trouble' motif that you mentioned, Rob, is certainly very much present in Twin Peaks."

Yeah, definitely. And in Blue Velvet, M.D., and Inland Empire as well. Other than 'Straight Story,' I do think that's a prominent theme in his best work.

That's quite a list, Robert. I don't think I've read a word by more than about 10% or so of them. Maybe 15%. Of course some of the ones I'm familiar with I'm *very* familiar with.

The Well-Digger's Daughter sounds really good. And it reminds me of another group of films that deserves mention--that "color" trilogy by the guy with the Polish name who makes movies in French. Is it red, white, and blue? Red and blue at least, I'm pretty sure. Anyway, those are really fine.

Heard good things about those but have never seen them. I think it is red, white & blue, but not in that order.

I haven't read them all, either, although I have read something by more than 100 of them. John Wayne isn't an author, but I can't think of a John Wayne movie I've ever seen unless it is that one where he played the centurion at the foot of the cross.

You definitely should see those, Rob. It's been a while since I did so I don't remember many details, but they are extremely well done. I think there was one I liked significantly more than the others, but I'm not sure which one it was. Maybe Blue. Here's the Wikipedia entry for the trilogy (no plot summaries):


I was going to be surprised if John Wayne had written a book (unless maybe one of those as-told-to autobiographies). But if he's not an author and you haven't seen any of his movies (with that one exception), why is he on the list?

The point of the list is pretty shallow--there are some cool Catholics out there.

John Wayne movies to see:

The Searchers
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
The Quiet Man
Rio Grande

All five were directed by John Ford. The first two contain what are generally considered Wayne's best performances. 'Stagecoach' was his breakthrough picture, and is still very entertaining despite being 75 years old. 'The Quiet Man,' a non-Western, is just great fun, and 'Rio Grande' is a top-notch 50s Western, and the first pairing of Wayne with Maureen O'Hara.

I'll definitely put those on my list, Mac. I've only had a 19" TV for the last few months, but have recently graduated to a 32". I feel like I can watch some "big screen" stuff now without missing things because of the picture size.

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