Doan Courant

The semi-whenever newsletter for one of the many Doan Families.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A cinephile's grumblings

I think I am being swindled by my Blockbuster video store. Every time I return a DVD, they charge me a $1 rewind fee. I have a hunch this isn't legit. Thankfully, I don't rent too many movies from them. Most of the movies I watch I get from Blockbuster Online. I like this program because it is inexpensive (I can get 8 movies a month, which includes 4 free in-store movies) for a mere $9.95. That boils down to around $.85 per movie. I also like this program because the selection online is far broader than the selection in any store I have entered. I can get the obscure 1950's Italian films that only I like. Most of the movies I see on the shelf at the video store look ridiculously stupid. Yet, they are on the shelf because people watch them, and some people actually like them. At work every weekend they show the guys there a movie. Most of them are really, really bad, like "Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift", "Hulk", and "The Transporter 2"--the last one being a thoroughly idiotic and absurd action-fest. Some of the guys like these movies. Some of you may like these movies (the movies listed are just a minimal sampling). Why? They aren't good. They don't mean anything. They may be entertaining in an anti-brain activity, cartoony sense. Americans today do not know what a good movie is. I have taken upon myself the task of educating fine young Americans in truly worthwhile cinema, and dispelling the notion that many explosions and CGI = many thumbs up.
Following is a list of 5 (or so) great movies that everyone needs to go out and see right now.
1. Casablanca--You can look at any legitimate list of greatest films, and this is sure to be in the top ten. Everything about this film is great. The acting is amazing. Every person delivers his/her performance as well as it can be delivered. The story is engaging. This isn't merely a love story. It is also a spy story, a patriotic war story, and redemption story all wrapped into one fascinating masterpiece. The dialog is crackling. There exists no other film with better dialog. It is smart, sarcastic, sentimental, and unforgettable. The music is delightful. This is a great film. Go out and watch it right now.
2. To Kill a Mockingbird--Only monkeys and New Yorkers can watch this film without feeling a tug on their heartstrings. This film is sentimental without being heavy-handed. It is such a sincere, touching drama. Gregory Peck's Atticus Finch is rightly regarded as one of the greatest heroes of American cinema. They story here is so simple yet so effective. Anyone who has every had a role model in their life, or anyone who has ever grown up, must see this film.
3. Psycho-- I could have put any number of Hitchcock films here, including Strangers on a Train, Notorious, Rear Window, North by Northwest, Vertigo, The Birds--all of which are masterpieces. Alfred Hitchcock is the most influential filmmaker of all time. If kids today have not seen one his films, they have seen the influence of one of his films. "Psycho" is one of my favorite. Hitchcock is the master at manipulating his audience. He shows you only what he wants to see so that you think exactly what he wants you to think. This film has been so often imitated and parodied, it is hard for us to understand the initial impact of the film. It is highly entertaining.
4. The Searchers--I might chose another John Ford film here, like The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, which I like as much. "The Searchers" is considered by many to be the greatest western ever. It is one of John Wayne's best performance. John Ford, the director, is probably the second most influential filmmaker of all time. He had a tremendous impact on Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. Some of the comedy of the film is a bit hokey, but overall it is a masterpiece.
5. Citizen Kane--This is it. This is the greatest film ever made. This is the most influential film ever made. Many people will not like it. Many people, including myself, cannot watch it enough. I enjoy ever single frame of the film. I like ever line of dialog. I find this film highly enjoyable, though it is important for its innovations (nearly every shot in the film was innovative). People ought to see this film.
There are many other great films. These are some of the greatest. These are some of the essentials. Go and watch these films.
That is all.

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