8.21.2009

MCF vs. The Tarantino Twenty

I caught an interesting video over at Sean's the other day, in which Quentin Tarantino lists his favorite 20 movies since 1992, the year he started directing:



For some reason I thought Tarantino had been directing a lot longer, but then again 1992 was 17 years ago. He was only 29 then. I was graduating from high school. I've gone through college and three jobs since then. Tarantino has directed 5 or 6 films, been involved others, and promoted some that he just liked. That's one thing I like; he's a genuine fan, one with influences that he's incorporated as he's enjoyed success, even as he maintained his own enjoyment of the art of film itself. I'm just a spectator, and I'm always looking for new lists to conquer. It's interesting to see just how much my viewing habits have coincided with his. I've seen 13 of the following 20, and here's how my opinion compares with Tarantino's:

1) Battle Royale:
I haven't seen it, but since it not only made this list but was his definitive #1, I'm going to have to check it out, certainly before an apparent remake. I think we're too quick to remake foreign films over here, and it seems unnecessary. Battle Royale is only 9 years old. I still can't believe there's a remake of Death at a Funeral in progress within 2 years of the first one, which was in English.

2) Anything Else:
I'm looking at the cast and the description of this one, and I have no idea how it slipped under my radar. I will be correcting that.

3) Audition:
Here's yet another title I've neither seen nor heard of. The description is intriguing....

4) The Blade:
I watch movies; honestly I do. Sooner or later I'll get to some of them on this list.

5) Boogie Nights:
Finally, here's one I've seen, and in the theater too! It has an outstanding cast and includes such highlights as a naked Heather Graham in rollerskates, and Mark Wahlberg singing The Touch. This prompted such an enthusiastic response on my part, that in explaining the song's origin to my girlfriend in the parking lot after the movie, I was probably waving my geek flag a little too proudly and hammering the first nails into the coffin of our relationship. At least the movie was timeless.

6) Dazed and Confused:
I get what Tarantino is saying about this being a great hangout movie, and I did enjoy it, but I don't think I related to it as much as he did, being a decade too young to fully appreciate it. D&C captures the ‘70s, but it was films set in the ‘80s like Fast Times at Ridgemont High or television shows like Freaks and Geeks that I related to more. Ferris Beuller's Day Off probably contains my all time favorite group of ‘80s friends to hang out with.

7) Dogville:
I've heard of it; I don't know much about it. I'll have to check it out.

8) Fight Club:
The first rule of Fight Club, is that I do not talk about why I love Fight Club. Not surprisingly, that's also the second rule. But man, even without the twist I won't spoil ten years later, it'd still be a hip, stylish, and badass flick that turns our idea of sanity and order upside down. We find comfort in the routines of our rat race, but we may find madness as well.

9) Friday:
It's the first comedy on this list that I've seen, and as the first in a series it's still the best. I love a good character driven piece, and this is basically a slice of the lives of two guys sitting around on their porch in the hood. You can't go wrong with Cube and Tucker. Here was a time before the former was making bad family films and before we knew that the latter really talked like that. At the time, it was just a great act....

10) The Host:
I'm amazed at not only the effects in this film, but how it blends comedy and tragedy so seamlessly. In terms of flavor, District 9 is the most recent and best comparison, while some drew parallels to Cloverfield due to the similarity of an amphibian emerging to terrorize those on land. Ultimately, The Host is a unique animal and the film that made me aware of the growing Korean film industry.

11) The Insider:
It's not bad, and definitely well-acted. It's not as flashy as some of the films I like and probably wouldn't be memorable enough to make my own top 20, and that's a shame, because it has a really strong message and more people should be aware of the corruption in things like the tobacco industry.

12) Joint Security Area:
It's neither the JSA I'm thinking of nor a film that I've seen, so I'll have to rectify that.

13) Lost in Translation:
It was the film that restored Bill Murray even as he reinvented himself as a viable independent film star. It probably wasn't much of a stretch for him to play a down-at-the-other-end-of-his-career actor reduced to humiliating gigs and commercial spots to pay the bills, but I still admire the pathos he brought to the table.

14) The Matrix:
I can't say that I agree with Tarantino about the sequels. Were they as good as the original? In some ways, no. Did they ruin the original? I don't think so. I think part of the problem is that the first one left so much open to interpretation, and in the days before I had my own blog I remember writing essays to friends in e-mails for weeks after seeing the film. It lit a fire in my brain as I delved into layers of reality. It was, at the time, a TRON for philosophers. Maybe too many questions were answered in the subsequent chapters, or maybe they weren't the answers we were hoping for. In any case, it's still one of the more stylish sci fi journeys of our time.

15) Memories of Murder:
It's another one of the 7 movies on this list that I didn't see...yet. Moving on...

16) Police Story III/Supercop:
Was this the last great Jackie Chan import before his career took up root in the West? It brought us all the action and humor of his early work, along with the stunts and the outtakes at the end where the stunts went wrong. And for some of us, it was our first sampling of Michelle Yeoh.

17) Shaun of the Dead:
And a little further West, Simon Pegg would make a name for himself in America with this a quirky zombie comedy genre blend. There really aren't enough zombie comedies if you ask me. I doubt it will hold a candle to Shaun of the Dead, but I'm personally really looking forward to Zombieland.

18) Speed:
I can't believe there's more than one Keanu Reeves movie on this list. I can't believe I agree; at the time, it was a unique edge of your seat thrill ride before “unique edge of your seat” thrill ride became a cliché and everybody was joking about something blowing up if it slowed down. Then Jason Patric got on a boat, and no one was laughing. I think some of Keanu's best roles have been in law enforcement, and I'd probably include the equally underrated Point Break on a list of my own.

19) Team America:
It's so ridiculous. It's wrong. It's offensive. It's puppets. It's hilarious. Honestly, there was no other way this story could have been told, not with actors, and not with animation. I think of scenes like the “signal” and the marionette flailing its limbs, and it still cracks me up. That would not have worked in any other format. I could probably have done without the extended alley vomit scene, but then this is a film with a puppet sex scene. Every film doesn't have to be a masterpiece when compiling a personal list, only reach you in some personal way.

20) Unbreakable:
The fact that Tarantino gets what Shyamalan was doing with this film gives me new respect for him. I'm surprised by how many people either miss or don't appreciate the subdued magnificence of this treatment of the superhero archetypes, and I agree that it contains one of Bruce Willis' finest performances.


Some of these I want to see again. I can imagine picking up on nuances and hints in Fight Club that would further its brilliance. I know I bought Unbreakable a few years ago, and despite the long list of movies I haven't even seen once, I have a strong urge to dig through my DVD stacks now. But my list is long and, after hearing Quentin's, it looks like I'm adding 7 more. I'll have to do a top 20 myself one of these days. An all-time list would be tough, and even within my own lifetime would be a challenge. Perhaps I'll break it down into 20s per decade. I'll have to think about it....

4 Comments:

Blogger Rey said...

There's only a few movies that surf-trap me when they show up on tv. My wife comes into the room and asks "didn't you just see this?"

Unbreakable is one of those.

8/21/2009 8:09 PM  
OpenID swanshadow said...

Unbreakable was the first movie I ever reviewed for DVD Verdict. (Actually, it was the second review I wrote for them, but the first that was published.) I wasn't crazy about it then, and revisitings in subsequent years haven't changed my mind.

I think you either love Shyamalan, or you don't. I'm a don't.

8/22/2009 3:07 AM  
Blogger Lorna said...

I'm a do---and Unbreakable was a heartbreaker. I don't know many of these but like the ones I've seen

8/23/2009 8:35 PM  
Anonymous Krispy said...

After watching Unbreakable I had two thoughts: One, I loved the film. Two, maybe five other people were going to love it, too. I'm glad to see that I was wrong. There must be at least fifteen of us.

Battle Royale is so gory and violent that I couldn't get past that aspect of the film. I finished it thinking that I was unqualified to recommend it one way or the other since I was clearly not part of the target audience.

Audition is WONDERFUL. A slow boil that comes together with one big WHOOOSH! at the end and leaves you breathless. For the first two thirds or so I was thinking "Hmmmm... I hope this is going somewhere..." and then the final act had me going "OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD!" Don't miss that movie. (Hope I didn't just oversell it.)

8/24/2009 6:22 PM  

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