What’s So Great About…

A Blockbuster stands alone... even it's poster stands alone...

A Blockbuster stands alone… even it’s poster stands alone…

A few weeks ago I was given a list of 100 “Must See” movies for my upcoming graduate studies at University of Southern California. One of the best parts of studying film production is having lots of excuses to sit on the couch and watch films:

“What’s that? Oh, I’m watching a movie and it’s totally for class.”

Going down the list I was a little bit ashamed to realize that I had only seen thirty nine of the titles. That didn’t seem like a very good track record. But on the other hand I was pleased that those thirty nine titles were spread across the entire list which was in chronological order from 1925 to 2009. So while I hadn’t seen a majority of they films I at least had a good wide sampling of the titles that I had seen.

For someone like me there is nothing like a list to throw down the gauntlet of challenge. I immediately added every title that I hadn’t seen to Netflix and upgraded my account so that I could do both streaming and DVDs in the mail. I’ve been happily grinding my way through this list ever since. (I’m up to forty six titles now).

And there was much eating of popcorn.

And there was much eating of popcorn.

When you start moving out of the realm of Blockbusters and into the realm of Must See movies there is a bit of a shift that takes place. This is not to say that a Blockbuster can’t be a Must See movie and that a Must See movie can’t be a Blockbuster, but I am beginning to realize that a Blockbuster movie stands well on it’s own and a Must See movie is often made significant by the context in which it was made. Blockbusters are the Impressionists and Must See movies are Modern Art.

The best art  class that I ever took was called Surrealism to Pop Art which explained the evolution of modern art from the post-Impressionists through Expressionism, Futurism, Surrealism, Cubism, and all the other ” -isms” of the twentieth century. It completely opened up my mind to an entire wing of the art museum that I had never enjoyed before: once I knew what the artist was trying to accomplish I suddenly enjoyed seeing the fruit of his or her attempt to accomplish it.

But before I took that class I thought Modern Art was lame.

I’m having a similar problem with some of the films on this Must See list. Every few films I will see one where I find myself wondering what it is that made this film a Must See film. Sometimes a movie will be beautifully shot but have a clunky storyline and difficult-to-hear audio. Other times the story never resolves. And so on.

For example: I hated “Citizen Kane”. Like, ALL THE WAY hated it, but it’s a classic for a reason and it feels important that I at least understand why. I wasn’t keen on “The Godfather” either because I couldn’t hear it very well- but if I knew what was important about it I might be more willing to forgive Marlon Brando’s mumbling. (God how I hate Marlon Brando’s mumbling!)

I often find myself trying to read up about the film on wikipedia while trying to watch it so that I know what to look for and catch the things that are significant about it. I wish there were a website or a blog called “What’s So Great About [Title]” that could put these films in context quickly and using small words.

Does any such page exist? Let me know if you find one.

For more minimalist movie posters I recommend: http://brickhut.wordpress.com/2010/09/16/minimalist-film-posters-part-two/

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on July 22, 2013.

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