Movie Mission Accomplished…


Mission Accomplished.

As tarnished as that phrase has become, it’s fitting in this instance.

I’ve just finished going through all the movies listed in Roget Ebert’s “The Great Movies.”  This was the second list of movies I’ve finished.

The first was the 1998 American Film Institute list of the 100 greatest American films of the twentieth century (even though the 20th century still had a little ways to go when they published it).  I have always loved movies and saw that I had not seen most of the films on the list… I watched them.

It took me five years, but I eventually saw every single one of those 100 films. Along the way I saw some wonderful movies that I would have never taken the time to see. For example:
Amadeus – two hours about Mozart, really? I dreaded this movie and it was the last of the 100 I watched….and it was wonderful.

Bringing Up Baby – a screwball comedy from 1938 – it’s genuinely laugh out loud funny.

Casablanca – I’d never seen it before I started the list…and it really is one of my all time favorites. I’ve never enjoyed it more than when my wife watched it for the first time.

High Noon – Gary Cooper in a western about how people really, really suck.

My least favorite:
Birth of a Nation – a three hour silent movie released in 1915. It’s a tough movie to get through and there is no reason for anyone other than film students to watch it.

Once I finished the AFI list, I dove into Ebert’s “The Great Movies.” His is not a list of the best movies of all time, it’s simply a list of great movies in alphabetical order. He includes his review of each. This list includes about 40 foreign films – literally opening up a whole new world to me. If you can’t deal with subtitles, this list isn’t for you. But, I’ve found some real gems in the foreign pictures.

Some of my favorites:
The Up series (English) – a group of 7 documentaries covering 14 people from age 7 on – the director has revisited these people every 7 years since 1964. I saw 49 Up with a friend and we had the exact same reaction “Our friends are back.” I can’t wait for 56 Up to see what all these folks have been up too.

Aguirre The Wrath of God (West German) –  about a Spanish soldier who leads a group of conquistadores down the Amazon in search of El Diorado. Supposedly the production was so difficult, that the directory actually pulled a gun on the cast and crew to get them to finish the production.

Wings of Desire (German) – about an angel who gives up immortality for color, taste, smell and touch. Peter Falk makes a cameo. My favorite movie of all time. The sequel is fun, but not so much a sequel as a totally different kind movie with the same characters.

Woman in the Dunes (Japanese) – trapped in a sand pit – do they dig to survive or survive to dig?

The Decalogue (Polish) –  A ten hour mini-series all set in the same apartment complex. The series looks at moral uncertainly with respect to the ten commandments. It’s not a commandment-by-commandment list…some of the films deal with more then one commandant at a time. Some of the characters overlap but none are the principals subject in more than one film. Ten hours of movies in polish but it was well worth my time.

Next up for me?

The Great Movies II” by Roger Ebert of course.

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