Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Does It Register?

People are talking about the Golden Globes nominations, but they mean nothing. Sure, it's a fun party, but otherwise, who cares?

On the other hand, the 25 films just added to the National Film Registry, they're worth talking about.  So let's do that.  Here's the list, alphabetically, with my comments.  These films, by the way, are chosen due to their cultural, historical or aesthetic significance.

Atomic Cafe (1982).  A collection of government films from the early days of the nuclear age.  Worth including.

Ball of Fire  (1942)  I recently wrote about this.  One of my favorite Hawks comedies, and underrated.  There are already plenty of Hawks films in the Registry, but there's always room for more.

The Beau Brummels (1928)  A short from the early days of sound, starring the comedy team of Shaw and Lee.  Just by chance I recently saw it.  It's fun, but of mostly historical interest.

The Birds (1963)  Famous, and memorable, if not top-tier Hitchcock.  Why not, though I'd rather see more Hawks than Hitch.

Blackboard Jungle (1955)  No classic, but historically important, if nothing else, for breaking the song "Rock Around The Clock" and giving a boost to the rock and roll fad.

The Breakfast Club  (1985)  Ugh.  A dumb movie that apparently means a lot to people (who are now old enough to make decisions about the Registry).

The Decline Of Western Civilization (1981)  Penelope Spheeris documents the early world of L.A. punk rock. She'd make sequels, but this one is still the classic.

East Of Eden (1955) Overrated, like all of James Dean's films (he starred in three), but I guess an inevitable choice.

Funny Girl (1968)  I don't think that much of it, but as the film that introduced Barbra Streisand to the movie audience, I guess it's worth something.

Life Of An American Fireman (1903)  Film isn't yet a decade old and you can see how it's moving forward with this Edwin S. Porter short.

The Lion King (1994)  Not my favorite Disney animated film of the second golden age, but one of their biggest hits, and good enough to make the list, I suppose.

Lost Horizon (1937)  A long and hollow film by Frank Capra, and I love Capra.  Some have mistaken it for a classic.

Musketeers Of Pig Alley (1912)  A short by D. W. Griffith. Important in the development of film, and still has power.

Paris Is Burning. (1990)  An inside look at New York's drag scene a quarter of a century ago. Haven't seen it since it came out--I wonder how it plays today?

Point Blank (1967) A fascinating if flawed film by John Boorman, starring Lee Marvin at his Lee Marvin-est.

The Princess Bride (1987)  After commencing his directing career with three fine films, Rob Reiner stumbled with this one, which, while it has some laughs, doesn't quite work as fantasy, adventure or romance.  But there sure are a lot of people who disagree with that.

Putney Swope (1969) A comedy from Robert Downey Sr. that's not particularly good.  Perhaps its racial politics made it more striking in its day.

Rushmore (1998) Just by chance I watched it today.  We can see the beginning of the patented Wes Anderson style.  I never quite warmed to it, but there are some nice moments.

Solomon Sir Jones films (1924-1928)  A documentary about black life in the 20s.  Never seen it.

Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928)  One of Buster Keaton's best.  Can't go wrong with this pick.

Suzanne, Suzanne (1982) A short documentary about a young black woman who had to deal with her physically abusive father.  Never seen it.

Thelma & Louise (1991)  Not a great film, but certainly a memorable one.

20,000 Leagues Under The Sea (1916)  The earliest version, and I've never seen it.

A Walk In The Sun (1945)  A World War II picture from Lewis Milestone.  I didn't know it was so highly regard these days.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)  A fun film from Robert Zemeckis that also was a technological step forward (though soon CGI would leave it in the dust).


Blogger New England Guy said...

Tangentially, I just finished (literally yesterday) listening to the audiobook of 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea*-I would not recommend the format- too easy to zone out on the listing of sea species and nineteenth century explanations of certain scientific (some of which I believe are made up) but an enjoyable romp all the same and I was looking into renting the 1950s Disney version which I recall having been taken to see by grandfather as a wee lad (and featuring recent centenarian Kirk Douglas)** but maybe I will need to check out this earlier version which is, per Wikipedia, more faithful to the source material.

* 20,000 leagues refers to the horizontal distance travelled while under the sea. Being actually 20,000 leagues under the ocean's surface would put you all the way through the earth and out into the atmosphere above the opposite hemisphere.

** My memory is we walked in to the theater in the middle of the movie (in the middle of a fight scene) and then watched to the end and waited for the film to start again and took off where we had entered and that didn't particularly bother me and lots of other folks did it too. Of course movies were more like TV back then I think. I scoff at the "spoiler alert" types of the modern era

6:34 AM, December 14, 2016  
Anonymous Denver Guy said...

What is Rob Reiner's best film? From a director's standpoint, my recollection is that Princess Bride tracks the book almost word-for-word. Not too much directing to do, I suppose.

8:26 AM, December 14, 2016  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Rob Reiner's first three films are This Is Spinal Tap, The Sure Thing and Stand By Me. His first film after The Princess Bride is When Harry Met Sally. Those are his best films. If I had to pick one I suppose it would be Stand By Me.

I haven't read the Princess Bride, but I've read about the making of the movie, and from what I understand, it was a tricky novel to adapt, and Reiner's was only the last of many such attempts.

9:58 AM, December 14, 2016  
Blogger ColumbusGuy said...

You mean there are several versions of Princess Bride?

12:28 PM, December 14, 2016  
Blogger LAGuy said...

There were many attempts to make a movie out of Princess Bride, but it seemed unfilmable until Rob Reiner cracked it.

1:02 PM, December 14, 2016  

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