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January 30, 2008

Film Literacy

I'm embarrassed to say that I took a film literacy assessment the other day in my 434 workshop... and came up lacking. There are a ton of foundational films which I've never seen. Anyway, I have the list now and I need to add them to my Netflix queue and try to make amends. I'll post the list after the link if you want to watch them too.

Update: If you want to see what my queue looks like now, so you can know what order I'm watching them in, click here. There are also films in there which are recommended by Howard Suber, who is teaching a "film structure" class based on patterns he's detected in 80 of the most memorable films. Also, I was prescribed a certain order for the films below, a first tier that I needed to see first.

I'm bolding the ones I've already watched.

Part One: English Language Films

A Clockwork Orange
All About Eve
Annie Hall
Ball of Fire
Blazing Saddles
Blow Up
Bonnie & Clyde
Boyz ‘N the Hood
Breaking Away
Broadcast News
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Carnal Knowledge
Citizen Kane
City Lights
The Conversation
Die Hard
Double Indemnity
Dr. Strangelove
Easy Rider
E.T. The Extra Terrestrial
The Exorcist
Frankenstein (1931)
The French Connection
The General (Buster Keaton)
The Godfather, parts 1 and 2
Gone With the Wind
The Graduate
The Grapes of Wrath
A Hard Day’s Night
High Noon
His Girl Friday
The Hustler
In the Company of Men
It Happened One Night

The Lady Eve
The Last Picture Show
Little Cesar
Local Hero
Mad Max
McCabe and Mrs Miller
The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek

The Maltese Falcon
Mean Streets
My Darling Clementine
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Ordinary People
The Postman Always Rings Twice
The Producers (1968)
Pulp Fiction
Raging Bull
Reversal of Fortune
Red River
Rosemary’s Baby
The Searchers
Sense and Sensibility
Sex, Lies and Videotape
The Silence of the Lambs
Singin’ in the Rain
Some Like it Hot
Stranger Than Paradise
Sullivan’s Travels
Sunset Boulevard
Terms of Endearment
The Third Man
Three Days of the Condor
Tom Jones
Touch of Evil
2001: A Space Odyssey

The War of the Roses
When Harry Met Sally
White Heat
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wollf?
The Wild Bunch
Working Girl
Wuthering Heights (1939)

Part 2: Foreign Language Films
The Battle of Algiers
Beauty and the Beast (Cocteau)
The Conformist
The Damned
Grand Illusion

8 ½
The 400 Blows
Jean de Florette/Manon of the Springs
La Dolce Vita
La Femme Nikita
La Strada
La Terra Trema
Open City
Scenes from a Marriage
Seven Beauties
The Seven Samurai
The Seventh Seal
Shoot the Piano Player
Swept Away (1975)
Throne of Blood
The Wages of Fear
Wings of Desire
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

Posted by jason on January 30, 2008 12:14 AM


dang, that's gonna take some time!

you've really never seen pulp fiction?

Posted by: bsweber on January 30, 2008 01:48 AM

of the english films i've seen 32 of them

Posted by: paul on January 30, 2008 02:00 AM

Yeah, can you believe it? I haven't seen any Tarantino films... and I'm in film school. Seems wrong.

Posted by: jason on January 30, 2008 02:00 AM

Paul – Nice, I'm 12 films behind you...

Posted by: jason on January 30, 2008 02:20 AM

so which couple are you going to watch first?

my suggestion: Pulp Fiction, Godfather, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and Die Hard.

Posted by: paul on January 30, 2008 02:24 AM

I have an first tier I have to get through, and none of those are in it... check out my queue in the post.

Posted by: jason on January 30, 2008 02:36 AM

I don't think I can have any more communication with you until you watch the movie Die Hard . . .

Posted by: Xerxes on January 30, 2008 05:08 AM

die hard is 43 of 475 in jason's queue..

Posted by: paul on January 30, 2008 12:36 PM

die hard is one of those movies where I've seen clips here and there and enough to never want to actually rent it because I feel like I got the essence of it already. Terrorists take hi rise, witty cool hero gets it back.

Posted by: jason on January 30, 2008 12:38 PM

I have actually watched all those movies. And I memorized any notable lines.

I am a cultural genius.

Posted by: ian on January 30, 2008 01:34 PM

you will never watch west side story

Posted by: Anonymous on January 30, 2008 04:45 PM

i thought of you as an authority on movies, and now the truth come out. what a noob...

Posted by: Anonymous on January 30, 2008 06:03 PM

Wow. SOMEbody needs to start watching mad movies.

I count 23 that I've watched all the way through. Probably the biggest names that I haven't watched are Citizen Kane, Dr. Strangelove, MASH, Psycho and Raging Bull.

Posted by: SnakeMan on January 30, 2008 06:07 PM

Just got netflix for christmas! I'd love to see you review the movies on netflix, even briefly, as you get through your queue. Pity I don't have a lot of time to watch movies, I would appreciate some kind of filter. So not interested in watching a lot of those oldies unless someone tells me they're worth it first.

Personally I liked diehard but don't think you're missing anything. SPOILER ALERT: And the terrorists turn out not to be terrorists.

And am I the only one who thinks Tarantino movies are well done but so nasty as to not be enjoyable?

Posted by: Anonymous on January 31, 2008 01:51 AM

Snakeman, Ive watched most of your big misses. You HAVE to watch Citizen Kane, Psycho and Raging Bull.

Anonymous: I'll post little reviews as I go through, if people will find that helpful.

Posted by: jason on January 31, 2008 02:12 AM

i disagree, die hard is a must see, especially for someone going into the business. it sets the basis, which is why it's on the list, for many of the action movies of the 90s.
and if not for the historical sense, for the great lines: yippee kai ay

other than pulp fiction, i've never been a big fan of tarantino. i don't like his style much.

Jason, what are your favorite movies?

Posted by: paul on January 31, 2008 02:40 AM

It's hard for me to pick a favorite movie because I honestly enjoy most movies that I see. I really like a whole lot of movies.

Let me name some that come to mind, ones that I really liked:
Pixar Movies
Star Wars New Hope and Empire Strikes Back
LOTR trilogy
Spiderman 1 and 2
Remains of the Day (Merchant Ivory films in general)
Batman Begins
Office Space
Big Lebowski
No Country for Old Men
Coen Brothers movies in general
Shawshank Redemption
Jaws / Spielberg movies in general
Sixth Sense / Signs / The Village
Lion King / Aladdin / Beauty and the Beast / Good Disney Animated Films
Whale Rider
Garden State
A simple plan
Sling blade
Citizen Kane
Drop Dead Gorgeous
It's a Wonderful Life
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

All these films are SO different in tone I just don't see how I could pick a favorite. I have pretty wide ranging tastes, I like adventure, comedies, dramas, indies, foreign films, kids films.

Posted by: jason on January 31, 2008 02:51 AM

jason, that is an interesting list. we do have a couple in common.
my would be something like:
no county for old men
LOTR trilogy
children of men
fight club
knocked up
the harry potter series
city of god
Schindler's List
A Streetcar Named Desire
The Silence of the Lambs
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Little Miss Sunshine
Twelve Monkeys
Legends of the fall
3:10 to Yuma
As you can see my taste more toward drama and action, and there's probably more, that's from the top of my head.

Posted by: paul on January 31, 2008 03:21 AM

Yeah, I like all of those too except the ones I haven't seen which are 3.10 to Yuma, Butch Cassidy, Streetcar named Desire, Knocked up, and Harry Potter movies. All the others are very very good films. And I'm sure the ones I haven't seen are good too.

I actually had problems with the end of little miss sunshine but really liked the movie overall. I just can't understand what kind of grandfather teaches his daughter to do a strip tease. That's like... criminal and really messed up. But the rest of the movie was so strong that I still thought it was excellent.

Posted by: jason on January 31, 2008 03:46 AM

um...maybe a grandfather on heroin?

Posted by: Anonymous on January 31, 2008 12:38 PM

Yeah, but they didn't really set him up as a "troubled addict" he was kind of a stabilizing presence in that family. And I'm fine with the stabilizing presence in a family being flawed, so long as it's clear that despite his flaws he still wants the best for the ones he loves. But no matter how you look at it, sexualizing an 8 year old just isn't adorably flawed or anything, it's like Michael Jackson material.

Posted by: jason on January 31, 2008 01:03 PM

Well, I actually saw it coming. I seriously thought to myself, he taught her a dirty dance and she's gonne do it and it's going to be hilarious.

One point for me.

I don't know what to read into me seeing it coming, but I suppose that would dispute your argument that they didn't set it up.

My favorites in no order, and I reserve the right to add more...

Fight Club
Office Space
Searching For Bobby Fischer
The Matrix
The Game
Saving Private Ryan
High Fidelity
It's A Wonderful Life
12 Angry Men (the original)

I could keep going, but then we start getting into movies I really, really liked but aren't neccessarily favorites... I'm also hesitant to put recent movies on this list, Little Miss Sunshine for example. I guess I want to watch them again before I grant them such lofty status.

Posted by: SnakeMan on January 31, 2008 07:51 PM

Just watched 3:10 to Yuma. I thought it was pretty good... except for the ending. I thought the ending blew.

Posted by: SnakeMan on February 2, 2008 01:55 AM

Well what can I say... I guess I am a fan of movies.

I have seen 123 of the movies on your list and there are a lot more on there that I would like to see.

Posted by: Collin on February 6, 2008 09:18 AM

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