Friday, April 20, 2012

My Movie To-Watch List

I rarely have enough time to do what I want. When I think I have an hour, suddenly that hour turns into a few minutes, then it's just a few seconds. Even time that feels neverending is foiled by an eternal struggle between want-to-dos and have-to-dos.

The problem is that I want to do so much. When I don't have responsibilities I spend my time arguing with myself over how best to spend my time. Then out of frustration I resort to doing something that wastes the time instead of uses it efficiently.

My dorm's small screening room when it was cool.
So I watch movies. A lot of them.

On a personal level I don't believe watching movies is a bad use of my time. Maybe it is not the most cerebral art form, but the enjoyment I get out of film makes the experience worth the lost seconds, minutes and hours.

Which is why I've decided to compile a list of what I need to see. It is by no means comprehensive, nor is it entirely specific, but it outlines one of the great troubles in my life: the omnipresence of all my life goals - swatting and poking at my brain until I feel like bursting from the pressure - and the desire to always be escaping responsibility with media.

In a way, film has become a goal in itself. I set standards for myself - what I want to watch (like I'm doing here) - and then pursue those goals like I would any other. But in fact I don't pursue them like I would any other, because I put even more of my soul into them.

So with all that said, let's take a look at some of the required viewing that I will add to my To-Watch list:

1. The lost Disney films

So there aren't really any lost Disney films, except perhaps those which have been put in The Vault (the saddest invention of all time in my opinion), but there are plenty of films made by Walt and his production company that I just have not seen. Growing up near Disneyland and watching The Little Mermaid at least four dozen times in my youth makes this an inexcusable fault.

Why haven't I seen The Sword in the Stone all the way through? Or The Rescuers? Wherefore have I not watched Chitty Chitty Bang Bang or The Love Bug? Though I claim to love all things Disney, I've never made a sincere effort to know all there is to know about Disney. This must be rectified.

Goal Films: The Rescuers, The Sword in the Stone, The Black Cauldron, Brother Bear, Home on the Range

2. Coen brothers failings

First let me say that the title of this section is not a reflection on the Coen brothers. I love the Coen brothers. True Grit was an amazing movie. I loved A Serious Man and Burn After Reading. But for some reason I've never seen most of the Coen brothers' most famous films - including Raising Arizona, Fargo, The Big Lebowski and O Brother, Where Art Thou?. So what kind of fan am I?

Theirs is a style that I really enjoy - a kind of black comedy that treats you to laughs, but also makes you re-examine life a bit after watching. So it's high time I start learning more about these two filmmakers who I purport to be among my favorites in the entire industry.

Goal Films: Fargo, The Big Lebowski, O Brother, Where Art Thou, No Country for Old Men

3. Gangster oversights

Again, the title is misleading. Gangster films have not been notoriously overseen for anything. They are popular movies, usually rated highly by critics and by general audiences. But for me, this just hasn't been a genre to explore. I watched The Departed because at the time I was going through a Leonardo DiCaprio kick, but to this day I have never seen any of The Godfather films, nor have I watched Goodfellas.

Most of my Marty Scorsese knowledge consists of his colorful comedies (or is After Hours his only true comedy?) and historical dramas. Of his films I've seen After Hours (which I loved), Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed and Hugo. But somehow during this process, I've overlooked quite a few of his most lauded films. I will fix this. And I will probably turn down the sound on my computer while I do so because gunshot sounds freak me out.

Goal Films: Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, The Godfather, Scarface (1932)

4. Those trilogy and "however-many" films

I tried a few times to sit down and watch The Lord of the Rings. By about 15 minutes into each viewing I was having some of the best naps of my life. I never continued with The Fellowship of the Ring and I spent most of the other films staring blankly at the screen with no brain function.

One of my problems with trilogies is getting started with them at all. I feel as though once I've seen one I will feel obligated to see them all. It happened with Star Wars once I started watching the initial three films (I have still not seen Episode VI, though, so maybe I'm just paranoid). Another thing that keeps me away are the stereotypes of trilogy or series films. They're usually action/adventure or fantasy. Other than Harry Potter (and I guess Twilight back when I cared), these genres have never appealed to me much. But I know there is merit to them - or at least that's what my Introduction to Film professor thought when he showed us plentiful clips from The Matrix.

Goal Films: The Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, The Bourne Trilogy, The Godfather (one film series, two categories!), maybe the last Back to the Future film (I've seen the other two)

5. I'm sorry, Mr. Hughes

For a long time I refused to believe that Ferris Bueller's Day Off was a John Hughes film. I despised The Breakfast Club and didn't enjoy Pretty in Pink as much as I thought I would, so I was unable to accept that my favorite film was made by this director of cheesy teen films from the 1980's. It must have been someone else, I told myself.

But it was John Hughes and for that I must apologize to the man and pray that he will grant me forgiveness from his director's chair in heaven. I misjudged Hughes and his films. Pretty in Pink, upon a few rewatches, is a good film. Home Alone (which he produced) is one of the best children's movies of all time. Even Sixteen Candles and Weird Science have great reputations.

Even some of the best directors have stinkers, but John Hughes had the potential for some amazing cinematic creations. I finally see that now.

Goal Films: Sixteen Candles, Weird Science and Planes, Trains and Automobiles

A lot of my oversights in film come from my constant need to distract myself not with new entertainment, but with what I already trust will keep me preoccupied and distracted from work. It's why I've seen movies like Pride & Prejudice (2005) at least 100 times and why I didn't see Citizen Kane until last year.

Sometimes I feel silly knowing certain scripts word for word and not knowing a thing about the plot of an Orson Welles movie. But I excuse myself because during the few moments that I do get a chance to do what I want - I usually want to just enjoy the mindless entertainment of a film I've already seen.

But I forget that most films are an escape for me, not just ones that I've seen dozens of times. So it really is time to branch out, and it'll happen.

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