Friday, April 14, 2006

I am through with grades (plus, an assortment of favorite films)

Well, at least, I'm through with grading films... for now. Attentive eyes may notice that the "A" I gave to A History of Violence has recently disappeared. This can be read as a sign that I don't think I'll be grading films regularly anymore. Not that I was all that stringent about it anyway. But now I find myself doubting and stressing over the grades I give films, and I think that's just kind of silly and irrelevant to anything truly important (i.e. I need to be more concerned with grades I'm getting in school right now than the grades I'm giving films... plus, hello, where is my life?). Plus, the subjectivity and inexplicable nuance of it all is overwhelming me.

aHoV, for example, is something I initially felt inclined to give an "A" to, but then on reviewing it, it does seem (as Glenn said) like it's a film with "A" moments but no unifying "A" grandeur. But then I can't seem to place it in either the "A-" or "B+" zone either, so I really don't know WHAT to make of it now. It was a good film with some great moments, along with some intangibles that I find intriguing... and that's all I know.

And then there's stuff like The Squid and the Whale and Junebug, both of which I respect the hell out of, and one of which I even kind of love (Junebug)... but which both just feel sort of too small and specific for the big "A" (i.e. better than good, but not quite GREAT). These types of films, to me, immediately scream "B+"... but then I get to thinking, "in a way, I think Junebug is really a better film than aHoV and maybe even better than BBM... but it's just so small and slight... I don't get those goosebumps while watching it." I dunno. It's all very strange... to the extent that I have trouble taking it seriously anymore.

Even Brokeback Mountain, which I love immensely, falls short in some ways. It gives me the goosebumps like few films ever have, but then there are some parts where I'm just like "eh... get to the good stuff... this is boring (i.e. some of those later scenes with the men and their families)." I know that sounds silly and shallow, but there are a few truly amazing (one might even say "perfect") films where this is never EVER the case. Thelma & Louise, for example. I find it phenomenally entertaining from start to finish. There is never a full moment. I could watch it everyday. It has the grandeur, the action, the sights, the sounds, the writing, the acting, the archetypal-story-with-a-timely-twist, the music that gives me shivers, the humor, the sexiness, the EVERYTHING one could want in a film... plus Susan, Geena, and Brad Pitt's naked ass. This is one film I'd have no problem giving an A+. But these are few and far between.

Anyway... I just think I'll be giving the grades a rest for a while... they are killing my life... besides, if I do a top ten list at the end of this year, it'll be much harder to predict this way (always a plus). For the record, though, here are some of my all-time favorites, with random notes/context/info:

Practically perfect in every way: Thelma & Louise

Practically perfect, but for it's obviously meager production budget:
Heavenly Creatures

Practically perfect, but maybe not quite as rewatchable: Amadeus

Practically perfect, but maybe a little dated: Cabaret

Practically perfect, but maybe not quite as "deep" as the above films, since it is first and foremost a comedy: Tootsie
(bonus points for remaining the funniest film I've ever seen)

Might enter Tootsie's league once I see it again, which I will, because I just bought it: Moonstruck (bonus points for starring Cher)

I still love it, but I can see how some might find it stale: Far From Heaven

Funny and moving in their surrealism and/or zaniness:
Being John Malkovich,
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,
Edward Scissorhands

Will always have a special place in my heart as the big gonzo musical and the little gay musical I fell in love with the year I came out:
Moulin Rouge!,
Hedwig and the Angry Inch

The best musical EVER, despite Rita Moreno's one obviously dubbed-over song and Natalie Wood's inability to pass as Puerto Rican: West Side Story

Another great musical, and the gold standard in wholesome family entertainment: The Sound of Music

Divine and life-changing if not exactly psychologically healthy: Dancer in the Dark (bonus points for being THE film that taught me how to love musicals, to which I have since devoted my life)

The film has some dull moments, but the whole "Llorando" sequence is transcendent: Mulholland Dr.

A childhood favorite I rediscovered as a young adult, which I'll love come hell or high water: The Witches (I just LOVE this movie... Anjelica Huston as the Grand High Witch... I mean... there really are no words...)

That perennial children's movie that just never gets old, despite the very real possibility that it's technically not actually very good:
The Wizard of Oz

As good as glam rock gets: Velvet Goldmine

...and my new obsession, a new addition to the gay canon, and one of the saddest, most romantic films I've ever seen:
Brokeback Mountain

Alright... I think that's enough.

I guess the focus of this post has changed... so I'll end with, "what are some of your favorite films, dear readers, and why do you love them so?"


Blogger Kamikaze Camel said...

Ooh, people will be finding out my faves soon enough (plus a top 10 is available on my blog)

I have given an A+ to rougly 15 films. I know that might seem like way too many (how can 15 films be the epitome - how, how awful is my spelling? - of perfection? Well, simple. When I watch them, they're the ones that I just get so wrapped up in them that I wouldn't want to change a single frame.

11:16 AM  
Blogger Kamikaze Camel said...

Oh, and nice to know I have some leveredge (again with the spelling?) on how people consider film grades. lol.

I'm an obsessive grader though, I think.

11:17 AM  
Blogger Patricia said...

congratulations on including Heavenly Creatures and Velvet Goldmine
Awesome Awesome films!

Have you seen any of Peter Jackson's earlier work: he is accredited with the genre splatstick, with such films as Bad Taste, Braindead (released in the US as Dead Alive) and my personal favourite Meet The Feebles - a must if you enjoy musicals

1:04 AM  
Blogger adam k. said...

No, I've only seen Lord of the Rings and Heavenly Creatures... but I've heard Jackson's earlier stuff is really interesting.

1:34 AM  

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