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AFI Lists

For some reason, I've found myself reading the AFI top ten films in ten genres. I usually try to stay away from such lists because, well, they're usually ridiculous.

It's no different this time out. You know you're reading something idiotic when the very forgettable comedy Caddyshack is listed at number seven in the top ten sports films, and Rocky is number two, beneath Raging Bull. Now, I know a lot of people like Rocky, but frankly, it's own made reasonable by the sheer insanity of including Caddyshack which is not by any stretch of the imagination a film about sports. You could probably argue that it's not really a film. Likewise, the animation section, which basically features Disney films, is a laugh, too--Walt Disney's frozen head must be sending out cheques to people who made that list. The Western section doesn't make mention of Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man, the sci-fi section reveals why science fiction is pretty much for children, and on and on...

But the thing that struck me is that here, in this list, are the top ten American films. Taste is subjective, but taste reveals a certain insight about a culture, and what is it that you can say about a society that would list Ben Hur, Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, and The Ten Commandments? Well, if you were like me, you might argue that there is a certain conservatism in these tastes, a certain Christian, straight, nuclear family morality that, while more than apparently in the Jesus flicks referenced, strings itself across into the Searchers--where, to a degree, it is subverted--and into It's a Wonderful Life, Miracle of 34th Street and even, though it may seem impossible that I am reference two minor Bill Murray flicks, Groundhog Day, which is about a man becoming a good person and winning the heart of a girl to find true happiness and love and kindness and all of that rubbish.

Which means that the AFI list is showing you everything that's wrong with American cinema and why it's so fucking boring these days.




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Jun. 19th, 2008 05:08 am (UTC)
It's funny - I popped over via your link and checked out the Top 10 Animated features, and the only one that jumped out as really not deserving of the AFI's acclaim was Shrek, which was the one film on the list not released by Walt Disney Pictures.
Jun. 19th, 2008 05:20 am (UTC)
i dunno, man. theres a lot of needless repitition in there, imo. reference one of those old disney flicks for the sheer beauty of how they look and the work that went into it, but four? seven if you count the older ones? it's just the same flick again and again, and you're just giving props to one kind of film.
Jun. 19th, 2008 05:37 am (UTC)
I can see your point.

My point was that I kind of went "Good film, good film, good film, Shrek WTF?!"
Jun. 19th, 2008 06:45 am (UTC)
i dunno, i'd see BAMBI gone before SHREK.
Jun. 19th, 2008 06:46 am (UTC)
Yeah but that's cause you have no heart. : )
Jun. 19th, 2008 06:47 am (UTC)
Jun. 19th, 2008 05:29 am (UTC)
I freakin LOVE Caddyshack! And Groundhog Day
Jun. 19th, 2008 05:34 am (UTC)
number one on your top sports films, hey?
Jun. 19th, 2008 05:35 am (UTC)
yeah. Its probably the only sports film I've ever seen
Jun. 19th, 2008 05:36 am (UTC)
oh, wait -- kickboxing is a sport, right. I dig kickboxing flicks.
Jun. 19th, 2008 05:37 am (UTC)
ohmygod--i just realised, there was no steven seagal films there!
Jun. 19th, 2008 05:37 am (UTC)
Jun. 19th, 2008 01:28 pm (UTC)
And you'd think Jean-Claude Van Damme's "Kickboxer" would at least crack the top 5 by virtue of its extended kickboxing scenes! Their lists are definitely not my lists.
Jun. 23rd, 2008 07:34 pm (UTC)
The list is not representative of all us Yanks
Ugh. It does bother me that the U.S. has managed to export an appearance of gun-toting, flag waving, bible thumping, jingoism to the rest of the world. But then again, its not really that far off I guess. But there is an increasingly silent minority left that hate NASCAR. Hate conservatives. Hate evangelicals. And hate most films released in the last 8 years. As a consumer of stories both foreign and domestic (in relation to the U.S.), I find films from other places refreshing. Mostly I think because they don't have to conform the blatant commercial money making formula of nudity (but only female, and usually only above the waist), violence (lots of explosions), easy to identify villains (they're the ones who don't look like us and/or talk funny), characters as deep as mud puddles, the obligatory love interest sub-plot and a general plot that has as many twists and turns as laser pointed aimed at a power point presentation of the following Hollywood business plan of 1) Boobies; 2) ???; 3) Profit.

I feel strangely compelled to share my thoughts on the list.

Animation: Of course Disney. If you don't love Disney you're un-American. Or so it seems. I think the list could have used a "Spirited Away" or "Persepolis". To me animation as a genre doesn't have to appeal to kids.

Romantic Comedies: Ok here, I'm fairly handicapped as this genre is not my preferred viewing. But I'd have to say "Shaun of the Dead" is my favorite.

Westerns: "Dead Man" starring Johnny Depp.

Sports: Another genre with which I am at a loss. The AFI list is bland. I'd have to say if forced to pick one (because I couldn't list 10), I'd pick, nothing. Nothing jumps to mind. Ok I'll pick one..."Karate Kid". Wax-on.

Mysteries: I have to say the AFI list isn't too bad with the exception of having too many Hitchcock films. This leads credence to my theory the people making the list were trying to appear hip and well rounded by choosing the equivalent of Shakespeare for this genre in American film making. However I think puzzle movies like "Memento" are better.

Fantasy: Ah finally a genre I can sink my teeth into and take a juicy bite. The AFI list doesn't appear bad, however again I think the people who compiled the list are trying to appear smarter than they are by picking a few movies undeserving mention. Perhaps myself, having put together a counter list with obscure, well more obscure films, is attempting to accomplish the same thing, only the reader can decide. Like "Field of Dreams", which I guess if you squint a bit, could be considered fantasy. From a personal preference something like "Excalibur", "Dragonslayer", or "Conan the Barbarian" while perhaps not being high brow do actually tell an interesting story. Hell I found "Clash of the Titans" more entertaining than "Its a Wonderful Life". "The Fountain" would be another good one or "Donnie Darko".

Sci-Fi: My genre of choice. I would remove "E.T.", "Back to the Future", and "Terminator 2: Judgment Day". I'd replace them with "Primer", "A Scanner Darkly", and either "Dark City" or "City of Lost Children". Props to them for listing "A Clockwork Orange".

Gangster: Guess I can't argue too much with their choices. However I'm a fan of what I call way of the gun films. Like "Snatch", "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels", "I Went Down", and "Reservoir Dogs".

Courtroom Drama: Gah, moving on.

Epic: I would have added the Lord of the Rings trilogy, oh wait their definition of epic isn't any grand film but one covering something from the past. Oh well. Epic according to their definition, I guess I would add "The Last Tempation of Christ", or is that not epic? "Shogun" is another personal favorite, but that was a TV mini-series, so I guess it doesn't count.

On a closing note. Hello from CubeZoo!
Jun. 24th, 2008 02:56 am (UTC)
Re: The list is not representative of all us Yanks
i reckon some of those films can't be added because they need to be american, yeah?

(though it does make it strange that LoTR is listed in fantasy. guess jackson is still white ;p)

i mean, western wise they missed all the sergio leone films, which are what make eastwood's UNFORGIVEN work. if he hadn't made those, the film wouldn't be as interesting or powerful, i reckon.

you're on your own with the fantasy films, though. CONAN was never on any list of great films.

though it did inspire THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK. which. you know, was a shame.
Jun. 24th, 2008 04:31 pm (UTC)
Re: The list is not representative of all us Yanks
Yeah I guess it had to be American, but some of their films (like LotR) weren't American so I applied the same standard as they did. :)

I guess you could sub CONAN for LEGEND, but Tom Cruise went all scientologist I somehow managed to block out his films (maybe Thetans?).
Jun. 24th, 2008 04:35 pm (UTC)
Re: The list is not representative of all us Yanks
I guess you could sub CONAN for LEGEND, but Tom Cruise went all scientologist I somehow managed to block out his films (maybe Thetans?).

you're on your own there, man. i never dug that flick.

there's some really cool russian fantasy flicks, actually, but right at this moment i can't remember any (i'm not talking about stuff like NIGHTWATCH, which while filled with neat images, doesn't much hold together as a narrative).

maybe the thetans don't like russians, too, and that's why i can't remember tho...
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