Sunday, January 8, 2012

Desert Island DVD's

What can I say, I am a cinematic sheeple, and when I see a post by Jim Emerson and a post by Matt Zoller Seitz, follow along and 'bah-ram-you' all night long.

So, per THE RULES for this game... here goes:

1) "Fanny and Alexander" (Ingmar Bergman, 1983)ONLY the television cut, which is five hours and twelve minutes of un-diluted Bergman power.  It sums up everything the director said in a career, but he says new things, and like any good innovator he still makes up some rules to break them.  The writing is full of heart, humor, terror, soul, mysteries that are still hard to unlock after multiple screenings, and real intellect.  It sums up what makes life worth living, and not, and why it should be worth living again: family, and the fuckers who make it suck.

2) "Taxi Driver" (Martin Scorsese, 1976).  Yes, GoodFellas is a 'better' film, Raging Bull probably more daring, and if I wanted more time with film in general I could just pick up 'A Personal Journey Through American Movies with Martin Scorsese'.  But Taxi Driver is the one I keep returning to over and over throughout the years.  There's a visceral power to the script, and also the imagery, and the acting as well.  The mood of the film is so perfect, yet it is imperfect in how it approaches style deliberately.  It nails subjective perspective, and it is the ultimate statement on self-imposed loneliness.

3) "Zodiac" (David Fincher, 2007) Because it's the one David Fincher film that is so goddamn interesting and yet I've only seen it twice in my life so far.  A couple dozen more times couldn't hurt to snag into the procedural mystery of the murder of several people over the course of some years in the late 60's/early 70's in the San Francisco bay area.  The characterizations so vivid, the plotting so precise, and the mystery so impenetrable.  And it's not the case I think where we're made to be the audience through just one person - we can pick if we want Jake Gylenhaal, Robert Downey Jr or Mark Ruffalo.  I love that.  And I could watch that building being built to Marvin Gaye's "Inner City Blues" on a loop.

4) "Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace & Music - Director's Cut" (Michael Wadleigh, 1970)  I'm not a full-fledged hippie by any sense, and there are a couple of acts (John Sebastian mostly and Joan Baez though I'm starting to warm up to her set) that I just skip entirely.  But the presentation, the editing, the interviews, it's all so fantastic and pulsating, particularly when Santana hits the stage for the ultimate music performance with 'Soul Sacrifice' (also featured in Zodiac btw, I wouldn't mind having that song in my head while I walk around the island).  I also love how off-guard a lot of the performers are and humbled by how many people are in the audience.  Ironic then that the closing finale should show so little of the audience, but then again Hendrix went on Monday morning.  All the same, I throw this on in the background sometimes while I write, so I wouldn't mind it in the fore or background there.

5) "Coffee and Cigarettes" (Jim Jarmusch, 2003)  I don't know in a sense if this is cheating since it is a series of short films, but since I saw it originally as one full feature (and it's how the director intended for people to see it) I think it counts.  I don't love the film, or rather love it overall at the moment, but it's the kind of work I could see myself loving over a period of time.  "Down by Law" is better, but maybe a little gloomy for an island unless if it's in Sweden or something.  The segments I love (Waits/Pop, Murray and Wu-Tang, Coogan and Molina) I'd hopefully love more, and some of the more low-key segments might come to life over time.  It would also be crucial for me to remember Jack White's line: "He perceived the Earth as a conductor of acoustical resonance."

6) "The Last Detail" (Hal Ashby, 1976)  Jack Nicholson is my favorite actor, and the more I think about it my favorite 'bad-ass' performance has to come from playing a character named 'Bad-ass'.  I love the editing, I love the humor, and I love the existential dread in the scenario.

7) "Dawn of the Dead" (George A. Romero, 1978)  The 137 minute director's cut.  The most entertaining horror film ever made and the one I feel most connection with aside from The Shining.  I could watch a zombie pie fight on an endless loop, and it's so quotable too.  "I SEE YOU!  CHOCOLATE MAN!"

8) "Dr. Strangelove" (Stanley Kubrick, 1964)  Two reasons - 1) I'd be remiss if I didn't bring Stanley with me, and 2) it would help remind me that things could be worse - I could lose all of my precious bodily fluids(!)  The perfect satire - Peter Sellers in his three greatest performances, George C. Scott hamming it up to a degree that is apocalyptic brilliance, and Sterling Hayden is my pleutonic husband.  Oh, and we'll meet again, don't know where, don't know wheeeeeeeen....

9) "The Gold Rush" (Charlie Chaplin, 1925)  This may be because I recently saw it, but I'd have to have something on an island that I can feel some joy with.  Sure, "City Lights" is deeper and better, as is "Modern Times", but I don't think a film has made me feel so joyful at a man with so little as the Tramp/Prospector.  He has such hope, and yet he has so little, and the scene where he goes to the bar and is standing around as the girl he is attracted to talks to another man means so much to me, especially how the scene plays out as a whole.  Oh, and he makes one of the great musical numbers with dinner rolls.  That makes the man godly in and of itself, but Chaplin's action sequences are golden, chiefly involving him in a chicken costume and a cabin on the edge of forever. 

10) "The Dreamers" (Bernardo Bertolucci, 2003)  It is technically 'Last Tango' for my age group, but it has Eva Green in it in her most attractive (and naked) role.  I gotta be frank, if I'm on a desert island I need my spank material, and this has it to the Nth degree.  That it's also a loving letter to cinema, cinephiles, being pretentious and French (yes being critical of that as well), and a mixed reaction to 1968 makes it something I love to return to whenever it's on TV, and it may be the most compulsively watchable of Bertolucci's films, sex/nudity aside (though that *certainly helps*), albeit not as masterful as Last Tango or The Conformist.

SHORT FILM - I wish I could be more original, but Un chien Andalou for me, for pure entertainment value, and so I can study how the couple is buried in the sand at the end and copy it to the best of my ability.

TV SHOW (season 1) - MTV's THE MAXX- since it was only one season, and it was the perfect animated cartoon to be introduced to as a pre-teen/adolescent.  The colors and themes are just sensational, and it has really deranged, surreal images and dark humor..

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