Matthew Preston | June 21, 2007
AFI has updated it's list of the 100 greatest films of all time. Citizen Kane still remains #1.

Article here

I would link to AFI's website directly, but they require registration to view the list.

Lori Lancaster | June 21, 2007
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Jackie Mason | June 21, 2007
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Lori Lancaster | June 21, 2007
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Steve Dunn | June 21, 2007
Funny story...

My buddy Jeff has made it his mission to see all the films on the AFI Top 100 list. So one day he comes over with "The Jazz Singer" starring Neil Diamond and insists it's on the list. So we watch it. I like a few Neil Diamond songs, but the movie was weak. Midway through, after a particularly ridiculous scene, I declared there was no frickin' way this was one of the 100 greatest movies of all time. So we checked it out.

Jeff had gotten confused with "The Jazz Singer" starring Al Jolson.

Jackie Mason | June 21, 2007
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Matthew Preston | June 22, 2007
Steve - great story! Although neither will make it to the top 100 list, I often wondered if anyone ever confused (rented) Jack Frost with Jack Frost.

In the late 90's when Scott and I were roommates, we attempted to watch all of the original AFI top 100 movies with our friend Jason, from the bottom up. We made it through number 99 before it fizzled out. But at least "Yankee Doodle Dandy" provided us some comic relief for a few days.

Scott Hardie | June 22, 2007
And that's strictly "off the record."

Jackie Mason | June 22, 2007
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Matthew Preston | June 22, 2007
Just out of curiosity I counted how many of the top 100 films I've seen... 52. However, if movies are included that I've partially seen or could talk about the plot in detail, it bumps that number up to 65.

Scott, you tried to show me "Easy Rider" on more than one occasion... only now do I regret not being able to count that film in either of the above categories.

Has anybody on here viewed all 100?

Jackie Mason | June 22, 2007
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Mike Eberhart | June 22, 2007
I've seen 33 of the movies on that list. There were a few others on there that I could probably see, but some of the others, I just have no interest in.

Lori Lancaster | June 22, 2007
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Steve West | June 22, 2007
I've seen 80 from beginning to end and, like Matt, seen portions of a few others. Can't say that I liked them all, in fact am borderline rabid over the inclusion of some. The Wild Bunch... please. I'm embarassed to say that I've never heard of a few of these. Sunrise? Swingtime? Intolerance? Need to brush up on the silents. Although I have seen two of the Chaplins - great stuff. Now I know what the rest of my summer will entail. Only 20 to go!

Kris Weberg | June 23, 2007
I've seen 53 of them by my count, and I too am incensed by some of the movies that make the list -- for one thing, that's a whole lot of Chaplin -- three films! I assume that in both Chaplin's case, it's the result of different subsets of voters choosing just one or another of his films.

I can see why The Wild Bunch is up there; it's the first really modern action movie, pioneers a number of techniques that were widely used thereafter, and anticipates the non-American anti-Westerns of the 1970s that made Clint Eastwood a star. Titanic, on the other hand...is that really a movie that'll be revered or iconic even a decade from now?

And the inclusion of Intolerance is a shamefully political inclusion; it's D. W. Griffith's apology for the racism of the genuinely cinematically pioneering Birth of a Nation, and is far less respected in film circles than its predecessor. The only way I can imagine its being on the list is as the result of a misguided desire by AFI voters to acknowledge Griffith without acknowledging his cinematographic masterpiece because of its (admittedly horrifyingly racist) content. Surely a list of great films regardless of nation could not omit the despicable Triumph of the Will; this list should not whitewash (so to speak) the probelmatic alliance of great artistic technique with indefensible content in American film history.

Scott Hardie | June 23, 2007
56 here. My interest in seeing more great movies was recently diminished by some boring ones, sad to say, but I'll make it through the list someday.

On one hand, I feel like I should clarify that this is AFI's list of the greatest American films, not all films. But on the other hand, is Fellowship of the Ring American? It was made in New Zealand by a local production company.

Next time we get together, Matt, Easy Rider is on.

Titanic is one of those movies that struck a nerve in a huge number of people when it was released, and for them that event became a cultural landmark. Think Psycho, Jaws, and Star Wars. The difference between it and those other films is that nobody else outside of that group of people seems to think much of it. I'm one of those people and it remains a favorite of mine, but I'm skeptical whether we'll see it on 2017's list.

As for Intolerance, same problem as the 1997 list. AFI took a lot of flak for going with the easy, mainstream selections instead of the real greats, but they didn't learn from it and now they're getting the same flak again. Well said.

Fellowship and The Sixth Sense made it on the list. Am I too much of a geek by wondering why The Matrix didn't make it? Hmm. Would Matrix have made the list if its sequels weren't so hated? Similarly, would Fellowship have made the list if its sequels had become as hated as the Matrix sequels were? And for that matter, isn't Return of the King easily the best of the trilogy anyway? All right, enough; I have to stop this line of reasoning and go back to hiding in the geek closet.

Amy Austin | June 23, 2007
Wow, there are some real film buffs here... I can only count 44, not including piecemeal knowledge of a few others.

BTW, Jackie... love the new photo -- and it's perfect in this discussion! ;-)

Lori Lancaster | June 23, 2007
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Tony Peters | June 23, 2007
damn I've seen 72 of those movies....I'm surprised that Blade Runner was so low I would have expected it to be higher considering the impact that it had on so many Sci-Fi films after it

Kris Weberg | June 24, 2007
Regarding Titanic, I understand the spectacular power of the sinking scenes, but the weakness of the script and the backlash against its success strike me as things that will, as Scott says, not prolong its reputation in this world. The movie also suffers in some people's estimation, perversely enough, because it allegedly "wastes" Dicaprio and Winslet; in fact, the ship is the star, and the actors and story are just there to make sure we see all of her before her co-star the iceberg turns up for the climax. But if you don't watch it that way, it's simply a melodrama against a backdrop of amazing historical spectacle.

Frankly, Gone with the Wind was that sort of film a long time before Titanic. And GWTW shares a basic problem with Titanic: its effectiveness as a spectacle wanes with the waning of public consciousness of history, or at least with the mythic sweep that can sometimes be evoked by history. Both movies are diminished over time precisely because the history is diminished in the popular mind. If this seems to be happening in accelerated fashion with Titanic, it may also be because the American Civil War is quite a lot more important historically than the sinking of the S.S. Titanic.

Jackie Mason | June 24, 2007
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Kris Weberg | June 24, 2007
I didn't care about it one way or another until seeing the last half-hour of it in a hotel room. I thought it was brilliantly-visualized, beautifully-filmed, and atrociously written.

Jackie Mason | June 25, 2007
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Kris Weberg | June 25, 2007
The love storyline wasn't bad, but it also wasn't good. It's a stock romance plot, to be honest.

Jackie Mason | June 25, 2007
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Tony Peters | June 25, 2007
I'll agree that Celine Dion was part of the problem that I had with the movie (I truely detest that womans voice) but in truth even now I would rather see City of Angels (came out at the same time) than Titanic...

I'm surprised that Akira didn't make the list

Amy Austin | June 26, 2007
Titanic doesn't have anything specatular like that really.

What?!?!?!

I'm king of the woooorld!!!

Scott Hardie | June 26, 2007
You can be blasé about some things, but not about Titanic.

Atrociously written? If you want atrocious dialogue, listen to a porn movie, or go read old FIN posts. Hollywood turns out hundreds of godawful, bottom-feeding, straight-to-DVD releases every year. No way Titanic even approaches that level of badness. Of course its characters are archetypical and its dialogue is corny and unironic – it's a traditional romantic epic, meant to evoke the way that people pretended to sound confident back then. I don't hear people bitching that Gone with the Wind's dialogue is trite, even though its characters were decades out of style themselves. Just because cinema has embraced naturalism since then doesn't mean that a movie intentionally told in an artificial style is inherently bad for it.

Do I think Titanic is a great love story? Of course not. It's an average love story elevated to its stature by the film around it. It serves no purpose but A) gluing together the rest of the movie and B) wetting the eyes of audience members inclined towards traditional romance epics.

The ten-year backlash against Titanic has irritated me because, as Jackie said, many of the people who claim to hate it haven't seen it. There are few quicker ways to reveal your own idiocy than to criticize what you remain proudly ignorant of. When AFI published their list and one web critic bragged that he'd spent years bashing the "overrated" Citizen Kane despite never seeing it, it marked him as a knuckle-dragging anti-intellectual whose further claims deserve no consideration. Sure, everybody gets tired of a phenomenon before long, and to resent Titanic's success is fine (not to mention that damn Céline Dion song), but to call it bad requires more reasons.

Titanic did have memorable lines, such as "I'm the king of the world" and "a woman's heart is a deep ocean of secrets." The former made AFI's own list of best quotes: (link)

Scott Hardie | June 26, 2007
As for Akira, it was a Japanese movie, and this is a list of great American movies. Akira is one of my favorites, but I don't think it would have made this conservative of a list anyway even if it was American. :-\

Jackie Mason | June 26, 2007
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Tony Peters | June 26, 2007
Titanic.....Sorry but the movie was over rated garbage, whose redeeming features were the sinking of the ship, some borrowed (from Bob Ballard) footage and the fact that Leonardo DiCaprio dies....actually the best dying hollywood prettyboy scene though has to be Brad Pitt in "Meet Joe Black" but I digress.....chessey plot line stuffed into a historical backdrop, like some harlequin romance....hell the love story was better done in "some kinda wonderful" Cardboard characters, where's the treasure????? please. And to top is off it was tooo f^@%$ long...yes I have seen it and it was a waste of three hours of my life that I will never get back.

Opps Scott I forgot that the AFI list was only USA in origin films so no Akira

Amy Austin | June 26, 2007
Fuck you, Tony -- I agree with Scott. ;-P (Excellent use of another great quote, too, Scott... and as you can see, Tony can be blasé about damn near anything, even ratcheting it up a notch to downright supercilious at times.)

Lori Lancaster | June 26, 2007
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Steve Dunn | June 26, 2007
Huh, I thought Titanic was a pretty good movie. Certainly better than several of the ones that made the top 100 list.

However, you may feel free to discount my opinion, certainly after I reveal that I'm also a huge fan of Dances With Wolves. Yeah, that's right, Dances With Wolves. Bring it on, haters. You have no effect on me. You're just not human if you don't choked up in the snowy scene at the end when Wind In His Hair screams "Do you see that I am your friend?"

Sniff.

As for the list, Pulp Fiction should be rated a lot higher. And Annie Hall is overrated.

Anna Gregoline | June 26, 2007
What's wrong with Dances with Wolves?

Kris Weberg | June 26, 2007
Erm, I think Gone with the Wind is rather overrated as well, but as I said earlier, I forgive its trespasses more readily than Titanic's because the history it retells is genuinely epic, and the perspective it adopts is (perhaps unfortunately) a widespread romanticization of the antebellum South that had political significance for decades. It is the record in its way of an entire strain of American history, and of the ongoing construction of a mythic South in its own late 1930s production period. Titanic attempts to do some of this with class, yes, but its romance is hardly about history in the way that Rhett's and Scarlett's (noncoincident) romances are.

Mythologized as the Titanic's sinking is, its myth is not historically or politically meaningful in the way that the Southern romantic version of the pre-Civil War South is meaningful. That is why Titanic's corny romanticism grates so much for me; it is in the service of nothing larger or more interesting than corny romance. Both GWTW and Titanic are kitsch; but GWTW at least points to something more than its own excess. Or, to put it in different terms, GWTW is corny and its moral viewpoint is wrong, but in interesting ways. Titanic is corny and its moral viewpoint may even be somewhat "right," but not in particularly interesting ways.

Pulp Fiction and Tarantino in general are horribly overrated, and most of his films -- I except Kill Bill -- are going to be painfully dated within a generation or so. Violent hipsterism is not an aesthetic whose trappings survive their period well. And Annie Hall is a fantastic comedy, but it's not one of the great movies of all time.

Dances With Wolves is...well, it's alright. A bit overlong, with a few stirring scenes, but with a rather inane view of history that's as monodimensional as the equally inane view of history held by the Westerns and frontier romances that it responds to. There are Entirely Good Indians (the Lakota), Entirely Bad Indians (the Pawnee), and Entirely Bad White People (with the sole exception of Kevin Costner). Quite how that improves upon the Western's categories of Entirely Good White People (cowboys and sherrifs), Entirely Bad White People (outlaws and corrupt sherrifs), and Entirely Bad Indians (with the sole exception of the hero's sidekick or guide) is unclear to me. It's also another item in the long list of narratives about a white man meeting the ethnics and eventually becoming a better version of the ethnics, superior to them in terms of their own skills and cultural values. But as with GWTW, these are at least interesting sins.

There, now I've pissed everyone off but good.

Lori Lancaster | June 26, 2007
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Tony Peters | June 26, 2007
Grave of the fireflies was very good along with Perfect Blue you all but forgot that you were watching Anime with those films. Ghost in the Shell is good because it's Mamoru Oshii, the Stand alone Complex series were good but lacked the meat of the original. I'm also a fan of Hayao Miyazaki works seeing Howls moving catsle in Japan was probably the best. After reading the Translations of Hideyuki Kikuchi's Vampire Hunter D series for the last few years I wish they had gotten a better director to bring his stories to the screen. I liked Akira because of when it was done and how much it still translates as a good movie but you are right it probably translates better to men than women.
Dances with wolves is another movie that I can take or leave the filming is spectacular but the story doesn't do it for me Being a photographer though I can sit back and watch it for the filming unlike Titanis. But for western/indian pieces I was more intrigued with Last of the Dogmen

Amy.....supercilliuos or not the movie just annoys me, Celine Dion was just gasoline on the fire

Scott Hardie | June 27, 2007
Jackie: Good point. Some of the people who think they don't need to see Citizen Kane believe that because they know "the ending," that is what Rosebud turns out to be, they already understand the movie completely. As if a film widely hailed as the greatest of all time would be entirely explained by one simple shot at the end and have nothing else to offer. If a movie that has only a twist ending to support it was considered good, Ehren Kruger would have a mantle full of Oscars.

Tony: That's a better defense (offense?) of a negative opinion about Titanic than most I've read. Matt and I are also big fans of the Meet Joe Black death scene. Ghost in the Shell has flaws, foremost all the gratuitous nudity, but it's a good movie. Perfect Blue isn't. The constant unveiling of yet another new reality, like the old sitcom gags where a character wakes up from a dream and then wakes up again, just becomes too gimmicky after a while, too much so to take the movie seriously. I think if it was made as a live-action American film, it would be lumped together with the other disappointing twist-ending would-be mindfucks turned out by, well, Ehren Kruger.

Lori: Part of Akira's appeal may be to people who haven't seen anime but are ready to dip their toes in the water. It would seem as if a more mainstream story like Grave of the Fireflies would be the way to introduce them, but I think a lot of people aren't yet ready to make that kind of an emotional connection with a cartoon unless it's for kids, and Fireflies makes the death of Bambi's mom look like the kid stuff it is. Akira has ideas and drama, but it's not really supposed to make you think or make you feel, it's just supposed to be exciting entertainment, and it succeeds. Those who like it dig deeper in the genre until they come across the other titles you mention, which (I hope, you tell me) have reputations as better films.

Steve and Anna: I'm not ashamed of my appreciation for Dances with Wolves either. How many people dislike it because Kevin Costner's aura faded soon afterwards, and how many because its racial politics seem simplistic in hindsight? It's sometimes blunt, but it's another favorite of mine.

Kris: Another good criticism of Titanic. I can live with that. I don't know about Pulp Fiction though – it's well past its hipness date and the violent imitators have finally died down, and people still respect it. Nobody except a small cult of fanboys still thinks Tarantino exists among some rarefied level of filmmakers and that anything he makes is special, but his magnum opus is different: It IS special, or at least AFI thinks so. (I wonder if Tarantino still thinks he's going to top it. He still tries. I kind of like that Paul Thomas Anderson has openly said that he'll never make another movie as good as Magnolia and has settled into quiet semi-retirement; that's so arrogant and humble at the same time.) Anyway, about Tarantino imitators: I just watched Smokin' Aces last weekend, and a number of critics called it a Tarantino knockoff. There were many, many such imitators in the years following Pulp Fiction, but have we seen so many of them that we now call every crime ensemble with a vague air of hipness a Tarantino knockoff? I see very little else in common between them.

New question: What's with all the bashing of American Beauty that I've read lately? Just a coincidence I guess, but if you're going to pick on undeserving Best Picture winners, it was flanked by Shakespeare in Love and Gladiator, which don't hold a candle to it.

Tony Peters | June 27, 2007
You to huh Scott....I would not call Smoking Aces a Tatentino knock off in any way....people died in odd ways throughout the movie and from begining to end I really wasn't sure what was going to happen....I had only figured out 1/3 of what was really going on at the end....and i wish they had used the alternete ending

in answer to you "Next Question" Scott I think that American Beauty won precisely because it was in the company of such week films "The Cider House Rules" "The Green Mile" "The Insider" "The Sixth Sense". of them all Green Mile is the only real movie of substance, the Insider is to docu-drama. Cider house rules is a great book and while I love Charlize basing a movie on an illict love affair between her and Toby Maguire well that's hardly beleivible is it? Sixth sense was cool but horror films don't win oscars

i won't comment on Shakespeare in love because I haven't really watched it end to end yet but Glatiator was very well done and showed a sides of rome that were noble, dirty, and violent in ways that man didn't think posible.

Jackie Mason | June 27, 2007
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Tony Peters | June 27, 2007
ewwwwwww

Lori Lancaster | June 27, 2007
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Steve Dunn | June 28, 2007
You get Costner butt at one point.

Anna Gregoline | June 28, 2007
Well, I don't approve of Costner butt.

I LOVE Pulp Fiction. Not because of the violence, really, but because of the violence paired with all the freaking hysterical dialogue. It's a movie I've seen many times and I do love it. Cracks me up over and over again. It's the juxtaposition between those two extremes - the mundane attitudes of the killers paired with their violent acts - that make the movie for me. Other than that one, I don't think I've ever liked another Tarantino film.

Lori Lancaster | June 28, 2007
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Anna Gregoline | June 28, 2007
I think it's a reveal thing - guys in Hollywood must protect their weiners at all costs - people would lose interest once they see the "full monty" type thing.

Oh, and also, the ratings board, which is completely unfair in general, does not approve of genitalia. So you'll never see a penis in mainstream cinema.

Also, in response to Scott - I honestly think most people don't like Dances with Wolves because they found it boring. It IS long, but it's a rich story and worth seeing.

I really don't know that "The Sixth Sense" belongs on there. I certainly think the Matrix deserves it more than that. I'm grateful Goodfellas is on there. Toy Story is an interesting one - were they giving a throw out to an animated feature? I think the movie is great but it seems out of place compared to some other ones on there.

Denise Sawicki | June 28, 2007
I think the foreign and independent films seem to have more male nudity... Sometimes in a non-sexual sense like a guy taking a bath or something. I don't really make a study of these things but I do think I've seen it a couple times :)

Anna Gregoline | June 28, 2007
I've seen it a couple of times, but the amount pales in comparison to full-frontal female nudity or breasts. Which annoys me to no end.

But then again, most films are still dominated by male filmmakers, so what can we expect?

Steve West | June 28, 2007
Full frontal male nudity has such limited aesthetic appeal for me. After seeing Bad Lieutenant I walked away with the thought, "I really didn't need to see that." I like Harvey Keitel but really don't need to know him that well.

Steve West | June 28, 2007
And please, no "Methinks the lady doth protest too much" comments. Thank you.

Scott Hardie | June 29, 2007
And nobody comments on the Andrew Martinez goo? Such restraint!

Smokin' Aces: I predicted some of the "surprises" revealed at the end of the movie, but what I really didn't like about the ending was the act of "heroism." Not only should this film not have any heroes (does anybody get film noir any more?), but if the heroic character did what he did to avenge someone, then he got it backwards and made that person die for nothing. It just felt really wrong. But maybe I misinterpreted the scene, and instead of being a hero, the character is just being a complete asshole.

1999 Oscars: I don't know about those Best Pic nominees because I haven't seen them all, but goddamn 1999 gave us a lot of awesome movies. Not just American Beauty but The Sixth Sense, The Matrix, Fight Club, Election, The Blair Witch Project, South Park, The Green Mile, Being John Malkovich, Office Space, Man on the Moon Run Lola Run, The Insider, Boys Don't Cry, Sleepy Hollow, Galaxy Quest, even eXistenZ. Has there been a better year since? Anyway, I thought American Beauty won in part because Spielberg pushed it so hard to avenge Miramax stealing his Oscar the year before (when Weinstein successfully pushed Shakespeare in Love over the much better Saving Private Ryan), but I also think it was a deserving winner. No, it wasn't profound – pulling the lid off of suburbia and exposing its discontent was an ancient cliché – but it was good, and it still is.

Kevin Costner: Whatever. He used to show his ass in every movie for a while, just like Bruce Willis. Kevin Bacon and Harvey Keitel and Ewan McGregor showed more than that in numerous films. Somebody cast these five guys in a Full Monty sequel so none of the male users of this site will see it. :-)

Male nudity: It's possible that political correctness will last long enough to pressure Hollywood to even out the amount of frontal nudity on screen, but I doubt it. For better or worse (I say worse), Hollywood reflects the mores of our nation. It's the same reason you see extreme, horrific violence in a film like 300 or Hostel: Part II get a mere R rating that a pair of breasts also gets. Janet Jackson incident aside, as a country, we're more relaxed about seeing topless women than nude women, and more relaxed about seeing nude women than nude men. That's slowly changing, but you can't blame Hollywood for giving paying customers what attract them.

Toy Story: Its placement on the list is probably a nod to computer animation like Lori said, but I agree with Anna, it's just not as good as the rest. I know we're not talking about the best, we're talking about the greatest, the ones with the most important legacy, but Toy Story just happened to be there to break the all-CGI-movie ground. Without it, maybe Pixar wouldn't be quite as successful today, but otherwise all-CGI movies would be the same today.

Jackie Mason | June 29, 2007
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