Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Yes, Ferris Bueller

I have just been taken to task for my apparently too trite movie list.

First I have to say this: The challenge was “list your Top Twenty Movies.” Not “important” movies, or “directorial tours de force.” There was no criterion specified at all. So here was mine: It is a list of movies that I can happily watch over and over and over again.

Half the movies on my list I’ve seen at least five times. Most are movies that, once finished, I have reached over, pressed play and watched the whole thing again.

Yes, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy was a great movie. But I don’t ever need to see it again.

Maybe it’s a girl thing. (Most of the lists I got back were from men.) In general, I like movies with lovable, quirky characters that are unpredictable and intriguing. It’s not too far off from how I choose my friends.

I am always surprised when Ferris takes the car; always surprised when he gets away with his “day off.” It’s movie magic. If that makes me lowbrow, so be it.

That said, should everyone want to spend the evening with Sissy Spacek watching her put her house in order before she blows her brains out? Probably not.

I love that people have posted their own lists. (Although, if I may say so, if you add honorable mentions or “if there were a 21…” that’s a little like cheating. The reason it’s hard is because you have to leave some movies out.)

One day I might have to switch out Raising Arizona for Good Will Hunting. But not today.


  1. I figure "top 20 movies" means "top 20 movies"--taking all the criteria for great movies into account. My brother and I had a similar back and forth a year or so ago when he listed the Sean Connery submarine adventure "The Hunt for Red October" as one of the best ever. Huh? His explanation was the same as yours: That he really really likes watching that movie and sees it whenever it comes on. I feel that way about "Where Eagles Dare", the Clint Eastwood/Richard Burton actioner. But I would never ever list that in a top 20 list. I would say that what you were really calling people to list were like "cinematic guilty pleasures." In which case my list would have things like "Son of Kong" and "The Great Escape".

  2. Apparently I never succeeded in posting my original diatribe, so here it is:
    You have GOT to be kidding me!
    Okay, first of all I am very acquainted with the notion of having unexpectedly deep conversations with handymen. I hired a guy to come over and fix my gutters on my roof, and we had an amazingly deep conversation about singer/songwriters in general and the latter works of Bob Dylan in particular--how this or that post-80s album had this great song or that one and we were both able to quote obscure lyrics to back up our positions.
    It was a revelation and led to me starting my Slog (song blog) www.billburnettsongmine.com.
    But your list!
    Ferris Bueller as # 1?? Are you serious? Yes it is a tour de force for Matthew Broderick that he never again achieved, and yes it's an enjoyable film to watch. But FIRST!? As in the movie you would most want to see again and again and again and again....
    Then Woody Allen's Manhattan, which is at least defensible.
    But Juno? Juno????!!! The trendy feel good movie of 2007? I mean, with an entire library of movies at your disposal (which is what we all have now thanks to Netflix and downloading and libraries and video stores) you would choose Juno as your #3 favorite film??? And Littlle Miss Sunshine, from 2006, panting close behind? And Crash (I assume you mean the vapid 2004 Paul Haggis movie and not the kinky, slimy David Cronenberg film) and Lost In Translation, Sophia Coppola's somewhat pitiable 2003 attempt to live up to the promise of her lineage. And Legally Blonde? Puhleeze....

    We have the entire history of film at our disposal for this question, no? How can you put out a list that is 90% films of the last two decades? and 2nd and 3rd rate films at that. (Legally Blonde!!!!!!!!!) Let's get real...

    1. Godfather part I and II (It's really one movie) Arguably the finest marrying of writing, directing, and acting in all of cinema
    2. Citizen Kane--Remember that kid Welles in his 20s INVENTED a lot of what we now take for granted in film
    3. Woman In The Dunes--Hiroshi Tehsigahara's 1964 masterpiece, an amazing metaphor for how people get trapped in their lives and trap others
    4. McCabe and Mrs. Miller--Robert Altman's 1971 triump
    5. Buster Keaton "the General" or you pick any of six other great films
    6. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligary-1920 Robert Weine
    7. The Wizard of Oz--Not a day goes by that you don't hear it quoted
    8. Chinatown--Roman Polanski
    9. Rosemary's Baby- Roman Polanski
    10. Brazil--Terry Gilliam
    11. Blade Runner--Ridley Scott
    12. Lady and the Tramp--Disney
    13. Howl's Moving Castle--Miyazaki's incredible feature animation
    14. The Sweet Hereafter-Atom Egoyan's deep, disturbing 1997 film
    15. Lord Of The Rings III--Peter Jackson's finale to this trilogy arguably the best film of this type ever made
    16. A Shot In the Dark--Blake Edwards, the second and I think the best of the Peter Sellers Inspector Clouseau movies
    17. Roshoman--Kirusawa's masterpiece
    18. A Streetcar Named Desire- Elia Kazan's brilliant interpretation of Tennessee Williams play
    19. North By Northwest--Hitchcock, possibly the best thriller of its type ever filmed
    20. Network -- Paddy Chayevsky's rant...more meaningful today than ever.

    All my best

  3. I've given this sort of thing a lot of thought both personally and professionally (I did some consulting for HBO and Cinemax). I feel like a good movie is one I want to watch again. It's not about its lasting import or the effect it had on society. It's a matter of would I watch it now, given the opportunity.

    The example I used at Cinemax was Schindler's List. Great film. Important. Very moving. But I don't ever want to see it again.

    Compare that to Bikini Car Wash 3. (not Bikini Car Wash 2, but the vastly superior sequel!) Is BCW3 a great piece of cinematic art? Of course not! But when you're in the mood for that kind of film there's no better example. If you're laying in bed trying to fall asleep do you pop in Slumdog Millionaire and watch the first half as you get drowsy? Or do you re-visit Bikini Car Wash 3 for the tenth time?

    I rest my case.

  4. Lighten up Francis (Stripes 1981)... I mean Bill.

    Leave "Lost in Translation" alone.
    One of the few movies I've actually paid
    money to own. As a traveling crew guy, I can
    tell you, she got the bittersweet across just fine.

    I would have thought at least someone would have mentioned "Living in Oblivion".

  5. Griff here - besides being Jessica's contractor, I have become the defacto top tewenty movie compiler, the keeper of the master list. The hub of all this activity is the Colonial Bar in Morristown, a tavern not unlike CHEERS, where everyone knows your name. Up until now almost 30 people have made lists of their top twenty movies, and they are people from all walks of life, male and female, old and young. There are four teenagers, and two couples have submitted their lists jointly. As Jessica has pointed out, these are movies that are your personal favorites, there is no right or wrong, no pretensions, no one-upmanship . . . . that is the beauty of it all. I have taken the liberty of incorporating Gary, Peg, MG, Carlos, and Bill's movies into the master list. All are welcome. Bill . . . for our purposes, Godfather 1 & 2 are separate and distinct movies, I have left #2 off the list unless you want to delete one of the others. MG . . only one Buster Keaton movie, not all.

  6. Griff again - Jessica has the new and updated master list if you all want to look at it, or you can email me at Herk0056@aol.com. I am forwarding Jessica's blog to the other participants . . . . .

  7. Favorite Keaton...I am going to say "Sherlock Junior"

  8. I saw "Seven Chances" in a theater and the seats literally shook, there was so much laughter from the audience.

  9. Hey Jess - if you are going to add Good Will Hunting(with my full support) don't take out Rasing Arizona (I should add it to my list). I watched Raising Arizona so many times it is embarassing to admit how many, but who could resist: "We're a family".

    Glad to see you stick to your top 20 list (and yes I was one of the cheaters with an honorable mention list:-( )I took this exercise as my (me myself and I) favorite movies. Not debateable with anyone other than me (which is usually a good fight).

  10. I don't do lists well. I don't have a favorite color (it's the same thing, really or same part of brain/heart). but one that will always be on my list of 20 films is L'iceberg (2005) written, directed and starring Dominique Abel and Fiona Gordon.