Sunday, April 29, 2012

MY LIST of THE 10 GREATEST FILMS OF ALL TIME!, and OTHER THOUGHTS AS WE ANXIOUSLY AWAIT "SIGHT AND SOUND"'S POLL RESULTS!



Critics, filmmakers and cinephiles alike are anxiously awaiting the results from the "Sight and Sound" poll of the greatest films ever made. I was for some reason, not invited to participate in the poll, and that needless-to-say pisses me the hell off, they think so little of me, that I'm not even allowed to contribute a list. Me, one of the foremost film bloggers working today, can you believe it!?

(Lawyer's note: David Baruffi is NOT one of the world's, nor the country's foremost film bloggers. He has a blog, and he writes about film. He's been doing it for less than a year, he does it for no money, and currently, his blog has had less than 6,000 hits in the nine months he's been doing it. Granted, he's seen a steady climb in his readership over this time, but still, he's not consider a major source of anything in the filmworld at large. Thank you).

Okay, enough kidding aside. Yes, part of me hopes to one day vote in that poll, but another part of me, finds the idea unnerving. Yes, I have a list of every film I've ever seen, but that is only exhibit A in the absurdity of making such a list. Much less having to narrow down such a list, to a mere ten films. For those who aren't familiar with this list, it's a poll taken by the London-based "Sight and Sound", one of the oldest and most prestigious film magazine's in the world. (It's published by the BFI, the British Film Institute) They've done this list every ten years, starting originally in 1952. That year, Vittorio DiSica's film "The Bicycle Thief", which was released four-years earlier in '48, won the inaugural honor. In 1956, after years of not being shown to the public, "Citizen Kane," was finally re-released for the first time since it's original 1941 release. It has since won the honor in every poll since, and that includes both the critic's list, and the new director's list, who they started polling back in '92. I think it's unlikely that "Citizen Kane," will now, or ever be knocked off the top of that list, although many in the media and press might be waiting and wondering "what if," I'm gonna save you all the trouble and tell you it's gonna win again. There's some question though, on what other films will make the list. "Sight and Sound," publishes every poll they take by the way, there's no secrecy, and there shouldn't be. Many critics are already writing articles and blog similar to this one outlining their choices, and if possibly their reasons for them.

It's an intriguing little game. You have to be true to yourself with the films you pick, but if you come with up ten films that are better than "Citizen Kane," you'd better explain why they're better. I know a lot about film, and frankly, like many people, I'd be lying if I said that "Citizen Kane," was anywhere near the top of my favorite films list, but even on my best day, maybe I can make an argument for, three films that are better, and all those arguments, would, well, they wouldn't hold up. Still, you can name ten films without naming "Citizen Kane," and your choices would make perfect sense, and be perfectly valid. A lot of people tend to name 7 or 8 that are more classically respected as great films, while naming one or two lesser-thought-of titles, so that those films will be given some second or third looks at. Maybe give a movie some publicity that maybe the critic believes it rightfully deserves. Especially if it's a film that's newer than most, he might be predicting about how a film will be percieved years later. A for-your-future-consideration vote, possibly. I think there's gonna be a lot of votes like that for "The Tree of Life". It deserves them, although it's not on my list. Actually, my list... hmm,... I'm still making it and debating it personally. It's really such an absurd and sick little game, ain't it. Narrowing something down to a top ten of all-time, especially films. I'd have a difficult time if I had to narrow such a list down to 100, much less ten. Of course, I do like making lists, the Aquarius I am.

Alright, my list of the ten greatest films of all-time, 2012 version. Before we begin, there's a small rule change this year. Ten years ago, both "The Godfather" and "The Godfather Part II" were grouped together, and made the list at number 4, you're not aloud to do that this year, you can only vote for one film. For instance, you can't have one spot for the "Star Wars" trilogy, you'd have to have one for "Star Wars," one for "Empire..." and one for "...Jedi". Same goes for all series. This f***s me up, because one of my top ten is Kryzstzof Kieslowski's "The Decaloge", which is actually ten short films put together, so that would literally take up my entire list. I say there should be a Kieslowski film on here. I could put "Red," but that's part of his "Three Colors Trilogy" of films, along with "Blue" and "White". That leaves me "The Double Life of Veronique", and as much as I love that film, I can't claim as a top ten of all-time.

So, no Kieslowski. Let's go with the ones that will be on my list. "Citizen Kane," yes. "Casablanca," yes (And I'm amazed that "Casablanca" has never ranked on this list), then, "The Godfather", yes. I'm not gonna rank "The Godfather Part II". Maybe it's a better film, but I give a slight preference to the original, and if at all possible, and I agree with Roger Ebert's thoughts on one film/per director on this list. That means no "Apocalypse Now," also, and that's a shame, but as much a unique vision that movie it is, "The Godfather," is too personal and too much apart of the American lexicon for me to ignore it. I'm gonna need to replace it though, with a similarly distinctive filmgoing experience. Insert "2001: A Space Odyssey", which also means, now I have my Kubrick. Alright, that's four. Five, I'm adding "The Maltese Falcon". Created a genre, (film noir), best film of it's genre, best film by a legendary director (John Huston),... I rank it that high, so I'm putting it that high, how about that. I'm adding "Rashomon". I could add an Ozu, like "Floating Weeds," but... and personally my favorite Kurosawa film is "Ikiru," but "Rashomon," is his best, and most important film. I'm adding Fritz Lang's "Metropolis", especially since we've found  after 75 years, the film has finally been completely restored, it's clearer now more than ever how great a film it is. That covers my silent film quota, and although I would've liked to have thrown in a Chaplin like "Modern Times," but really, nothing compares to "Metropolis", it's time has come. I know, personally, I should find a spot for Fellini or Bergman, but, if I can't have "The Decalogue," than I have to put Wim Wenders's "Wings of Desire" on. 

Okay, let me start ranking what I've got so far.

1. Casablanca (Michael Curtiz)
2. The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola)
3. Citizen Kane (Orson Welles)
4. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick)
5. Wings of Desire (Wim Wenders)
6. The Maltese Falcon (John Huston)
7. Metropolis (Fritz Lang)
8. Rashomon (Akira Kurosawa)

That leaves me two spots. I thought about "12 Angry Men," but I don't know now. I'm looking at what I got, and I'm not sure it ranks. Alright, strike "12 Angry Men," and replace it with...

9. Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino)

It's time on that one too. It's all these films, time. It's a feeling thing, more than anything else. That's really the only standard I'm using, and any other argument I make is just justification. I mean, I'm not gonna pick blindly all the films I love, personally, but I you can when a movie is in that echelon. "Pulp Fiction," and all of these movies are there for me, and that's gonna be the standard I pick my last film on. Just to give you an idea, here's what this decision-making process looked like:

LAST FILM
Before Sunrise
Red
Magnolia
Adaptation.
Sunset Blvd
12 Angry Men
Lost in Translation
Crimes & Misdemeanors
Annie Hall
La Dolce Vita
Apocalypse Now
Mulholland Drive
Psycho
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Ikiru
Nashville
My Dinner with Andre
Persona

I've been crossing and uncrossing names off this list for two days, but I've made up my mind now.

10. Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola) 

Well, I ended up with two Coppolas after all. All these films do something unique and different, but what it really came down to is that, of those things that make each film different and unique, I can't think of any other film that does anything close to what "Lost in Translation" does that's different and unique. There it is, my Top Ten. Think this was easy to do? You should make your own list then. You think I like having a great film list with no Hitchcock, Wilder, Bergman, Fellini, Woody Allen, Scorsese, Spielberg, Ozu, Herzog, Kiselowski, Ford, Renoir...? I don't. But those all the rules, and those are my Top Ten.  
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