Monday, August 10, 2009

Movies I love: a (possibly self-revealing) list

There are plenty of movies I like; but this is a list of movies I love. I think the difference is a measure of emotional engagement. I think there are critical reasons to like all these movies, of course. But in fact, the way I like them implies a kind of abandonment of critical detachment, a kind of total immersion that, from a certain point of view, is the goal of the moviemaker’s art. I’ve included a few miniseries but not television shows (although there are some of those that I love too, like certain seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The X-Files). “Xiao ao jiang hu” counts as a miniseries for its bounded narrative arc, despite being told in 40 episodes (it is the film version of a novel that was first published in serial form in Hong Kong newspapers, which is an interesting parallel in print to this kind of Chinese long-form miniseries).

I’m sure there are others, or have been others; other selves (at other times) would have come up with a different list, and this is partly informed by the movies I’ve seen recently, and with my husband. At any rate, here are the ones I could think of, in no particular order (except that I think the first might actually be my favorite movie). The question I have now is, what can I learn from this list?

  • Cold Comfort Farm
  • Stage Beauty
  • Angels in America (HBO miniseries)
  • The Fifth Element
  • Galaxy Quest
  • Singin’ in the Rain
  • Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
  • The Mummy Returns
  • Keeping the Faith
  • Horatio Hornblower (the miniseries)
  • Onmyoji (1 and 2)
  • Shaolin Soccer
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • Pride and Prejudice (Ehle/Firth version, natch)
  • Strictly Ballroom
  • The Brothers Grimm
  • Secondhand Lions
  • The Cider House Rules
  • Hot Fuzz
  • Xiao ao jiang hu (miniseries)
  • Sabrina (both versions, for different reasons)
  • Mary Poppins


Melinda Hsu Taylor said...

this is a great list. Did not expect to see Hot Fuzz crack the top 20. I love Horatio Hornblower too! I think the unifying theme in the list (at least the parts I'm familiar with) is: people who are serious about their careers. And/or who are British. :)

SEB said...

In retrospect I'm not 100 percent sure Hot Fuzz belongs, but I wanted to make the list without overthinking it too much, as a way of getting at the movies that really pull me in, rather than those I think I should like. There's a whole category of Netflix movies that I've returned unwatched because I realized that I put them in the queue because I thought I should want to see them, not because I actually did (see: Rachel Getting Married, etc).

As for Anglophilia, well, you were there when it happened.

Tommy said...

We've not talked much of movies, though they're a big part of my aesthetic life. What surprised me about your list is how very different it is from what mine would be. You've mentioned five I've never seen, two I've never heard of (Stage Beauty, Shaolin...), some of my guilty pleasures (Galaxy Quest, Secondhand Lions, Brothers Grimm), some I like (Cold Comfort ..., Singin'..., Keeping the Faith, Raiders..., Onmyoji, Xiao... and especially Ballroom) and some I actively dislike (The Mummy Returns (but I loved the first one), Cider House..) but nothing that would make my top 50. I would somehow expect that we'd coincide more.
Mary Poppins?
I'm going to check out Hot Fuzz and Stage Beauty.