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Thursday, June 15, 2006

AFI's 100 Most Inspirational Movies

What I watched last night instead of the Red Sox getting shelled.

http://www.afi.com/tvevents/100years/cheers.htm
Everytime I watch one of these AFI 100 countdowns I find the movie snob in me coming out. To self essentially "These are the movies the experts have chosen. So how many have you seen?" Then of course, I get into this stupid defensive battle with myself. "Well, I've seen more of these than the average movie goer who sees 10 times more movies than I do," comes the retort, since in the bottom 50 I've barely seen a third of them.
I am proud to say that as we get closer to the top my batting average continues to rise. It doesn't help keeping score though when your memory has become swiss cheese. "I thought I'd seen that but the highlights don't look familiar." For instance, Shane, though I still feel strongly that I did see it but so long ago I've forgotten most of it.
I obviously have some issues with what's on the list, particularly where. I know the list is called most inspirational (rather vague criteria) but a large part of the listing has to be based on the quality of the movie, not necessarily the number of tissues gone through. So Rocky being ahead of Grapes of Wrath (Steinbeck snob) is ludicrous, as well as that Rocky and ET are even in the top 25 when Glory is 31st and Spartacus is 44th. I could rant on this issue forever but it's pointless and boring.
So even though this is not a list of the best movies ever, I am still proud to say (snob hat firmly centered) that I have seen 19 of the top 25. Maybe the snob hat shouldn't be so firm but I think that's pretty good, especially for someone who's so picky about movies that I'm lucky to see a handful in the theater each year and a few dozen on TV.
Many of these movies are examples of the best art this country can produce, and I think we could use a tad bit more culture. So check the list and make an effort to improve your batting average, at least that way you'll be arguing less with your snob. My batting average needs to be improved by watching Gandhi, Sullivan's Travels and The Best Years of Our Lives. Did I mention I've seen each of the top 7?

5 comments:

Karen said...

At quick count I have watched 18..Not sure about the "Inspire" part, several of those would inspire me to cry (not why I watch movies) or inspire me to turn off the TV..Some of those flix are so depressing. However I am now inspired to watch some of the other ones..Mr Smith (live Jimmy)...How did a cartoon movie about a pig get on any list?? (admitting I have never seen it)

AA said...

I've seen a good number of these but I wouldn't characterize a good number of them as "inspirational" unless they inspired me to leave the room (as Karen also suggested). And some of the choices are just weird, like "2001". There no argument that it's one of the greatest movies ever made, but inspirational? I guess it might compel someone to take a few extra bong hits but I can't imagine what else.
The only one of these AFI lists that holds any water for me is the original "100 Greatest American Movies" list. At least that one isn't based upon some arbitrary sub-genre, and i'd say it's the only one to reflect the true merit of it's selections. It's certainly the only one of the AFI lists that would inspire me (sorry) to try to pick off those which I haven't seen. The rest of the lists seem much more specifically subjective (and thus rather silly) in comparison.
Having said that, I did appreciate the inclusion of "Breaking Away" in the top 10 of the inspirational list because I have always thought of it as an unjustly neglected yet extremely well written (and yes, inspirational) classic.
Just my two cents.

Aaron

Zebster said...

I haven't seen Breaking Away. Yeah, I agree it's nebulous and I liked the Greatest list very much.

I like depressing if they're accurate and honest. I like my music the same way.

AA said...

Re: "Breaking Away".
I've always loved this for it's consistently funny yet poignant and heartfelt screenplay. (The script deservedly won the Oscar.)
Additionally, even though the climax adheres to the typical "big showdown" routine found in all of these sports films, it's mcuh more exciting than most because it's so well done in a technical filmmaking sense. (The final lap of the big race is shot in a single take which incorporates the whole track with the crowd in the background. It seems absolutely real. And I don't even like biking...)

Aaron

Zebster said...

Did I gather correctly from the clips and bio of that movie the other night that there's another aspect of the biking team that made them different?
The final lap sequence you just described I remember very recently being raved about in another movie, but for the life of me I can't remember what movie but perhaps Chariots of Fire.
And I missed when they were talking about Close Encounters, which I've seen. What about that movie was inspirational?
Glory is so underrated.