Monthly Archives: June 2013

Some woefully incomplete favorite films lists…

I made these lists about two or three years ago for my other blog. I will probably revise them in the near future, as there are several films I MUST add to the lists below.

Truth is, I do not like top ten lists at all, not one bit, but I do love them because they’re candy. I have avoided jumping into the ever present top-ten-film-list milieu because, I say, I just don’t see the point. Fact is, I really want to, but can’t make up my mind. And the more I look at the list below, the more I realize I’ve missed some that should, should, should be there.

I also cannot rank films – I mean, it’s like choosing between steak and lobster, how can I pick a favorite? So what I have is a top 25 “pool” of films that seem to constantly swirl around my consciousness, that I find myself returning to over and over, and that send me into the closest thing to a religiously ecstatic experience I can find. This pool is also fed by underground springs and winding tributaries, and it empties into larger and larger pools until it connects with a vast ocean where all the films swim. Huh?

My top 25 favorite films (in alphabetical order):
Andrei Rublev (1966)

Andrei Rublev: The Casting of the Bell

Andrei Rublev: The Casting of the Bell

Apocalypse Now (1979)
Au hasard Balthazar (1966) See my post on this film.
BDR Trilogy (The Marriage of Maria Braun, 1979; Lola, 1981; Veronika Voss, 1982)
Boudu Saved from Drowning (1932)
Breathless (1960)
Hiroshima mon amour (1959)
La Dolce Vita (1960)
L’avventura (1960)
Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday (1953)
Nights of Cabiria (1957)
Rashomon (1950)
Rules of the Game (1939)

Singing in the Rain (1952)
Stalker (1979)
The American Friend (1977)
Bicycle Thieves (1948)
The Blue Angel (1930)
The Godfather (1972)
The Godfather II (1974)
The Last Laugh (1924)
The Searchers (1956)
The World of Apu (1959)
Vertigo (1958)
Wings of Desire (1987)

25 films is really not a lot. If I had the inclination I could come up with a lot more, but to what end? At some point all cinephiles end up mentioning most of the same films over an over, and then throw in a few odd ones as if to say “I’m also a unique cine-hipster.” The truth is, great films are objectively great on some level. To recognize those films is to be human and, in some instances, thoughtful and observant too. So the above list isn’t really all that insightful. Consider it a kind of common ground.

But I can’t just stop there, for movies are like potato chips, and I gots the cravings…

My 25 favorite “makes-me-want-to-be-a-filmmaker” films that are not in my top 25 (in alphabetical order):
A Man Escaped (1956)
Alice in the Cities (1974)
Ashes and Diamonds (1958)
Catch-22 (1970)
Citizen Kane (1941)
Diamonds in the Night (1964)
Dog Star Man (1960s)
Goodfellas (1990)
Harlan County U.S.A. (1976)
Jaws (1975)
La Strada (1954)
La Terra trema (1948)
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Life of Oharu (1962)
Mirror (1975)

Orpheus (1950)
sex, lies, and videotape (1989)
Street of Crocodiles (1986)

Sunrise (1927)
The 400 Blows (1959)
The Civil War (1990)
The Crime of Monsieur Lange (1936)
The Seventh Seal (1957)
Vagabond (1985)
Week End (1967)

“Why stop there,” said the voice in my head, “you know you don’t want to.”

My 25 favorite films “no one” ever lists on their all-time favorite films lists (in alphabetical order):
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954)
A Room with a View (1986)
Airplane! (1980)

Barcelona (1994)
From Russia with Love (1963)
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Halloween (1978)
La Belle Noiseuse (1991)
Jean de Florette (1986) & Manon of the Spring (1986)
Meshes in the Afternoon (1943)
Mindwalk (1991)
Monsoon Wedding (2001)
My Dinner with Andre (1981)
My Life as a Dog (1985)
Rear Window (1954)
Scenes from a Marriage (1973)
Stealing Beauty (1996)
Strozyek (1977)
The Boxer and Death (1963)
The Decameron (1971)
The Golden Coach (1953)
The Road Warrior (1981)
Vampyr (1932)
Vanya on 42nd Street (1994)
Window Water Baby Moving (1958)

I have come to the conclusion that top whatever film lists are like tee-shirts and bumper stickers – they have everything to do with telling others about oneself, of staking out some psychic and moral turf and saying “this is who I am… for now.” It’s also like a banker wearing a suit or a professor wearing a sweater with elbow patches; it’s a way for other like minds to say, “ah, you’re one of us!” You can take it or leave it, but when I look at the lists above I see an awful lot of myself up there.

…wait a minute, where are Dr. Strangelove? Umberto D.? The Earrings of Madam d…? Star Wars? Last Tango in Paris? Manhattan? Mulholland Drive? How could I have left them out? And where are Man with the Movie Camera? The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp? The Man Who Skied Down Everest? El Capitan? I just realized I haven’t listed a single film by the Coen brothers! And there’s not one film by Terrence Malick — and I could add ALL of his films and put them near the top of the list. Oh Lord, what have I done?!

I just don’t know where to stop. Or maybe I really don’t know where to begin. I vow in the future I will craft a true top ten list and stand by it… for a while. (or not)

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My first Eucharistic adoration

Yesterday, in response to Pope Francis’ request that all Catholics do one hour of Eucharistic adoration on the feast day of Corpus Christi, I went to our local parish church and sat before the Blessed Sacrament for an hour in silence.

This was the first time I’ve ever done anything like that. I had to research what one is supposed to do for Eucharistic adoration. I knew nothing of the etiquette or expectations. I am also not yet a Catholic, but I figured this would be a good thing for me to do and experience. It was.

I found a chair in the dim church interior, and quietly looked around. I had with me my small New Testament Bible and a small notebook in which I keep track of prayers. I read from the first letter of St. John, prayed, and just sat there looking at the Host. We ended with a song and quietly left.  I cannot say I had a big spiritual experience; no revelation of mind or soul, but I am learning more and more about the Real Presence and about meditative prayer and contemplation. There was something good and right and centering about the experience. And it is good to adore our Lord. I hope to do more adoration as time goes by, and I hope to continue to grow in my understanding.

Interestingly, there were not many of us at the church. On the west coast the time was 8 a.m., so it was easy for us to fit into our schedules, and I expected more to show. Perhaps if it had been at some more difficult time, say 1 a.m., more would have shown, if only because difficulty draws us in sometimes. I also thought more might respond because not only did the Pope call for it, but also because it was a chance to come together around the world at the same time, to be in a special kind of communion with our fellow believers. Oh well, I continue to learn more and more about the Catholic Church.

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For as often…

For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. (1 Corinthians 11:26)

Why would we want to celebrate the Eucharist only once a quarter, or even only once a year, if we could do it more frequently? I grew up in Protestant churches. Some celebrated communion quarterly, others much less frequently. Even though for Protestants the Eucharist is only symbolic, I still feel that symbolism can have a profound influence on the individual. Ever since I was a child I loved taking communion.

There is a good trend happening in evangelical Protestantism where the bread and wine is there each Sunday. Though still only symbolic, it is nonetheless and in its own way a remembrance and a proclamation of Christ’s body and blood.

I am in-between these days. That is, I am no longer Protestant, but cannot yet take the Eucharist as Mass. So I go up for a blessing. Still, in my small and insufficient way, I proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes as I honor the Eucharist. And then, as I go out from Mass, I try to proclaim the death and resurrection of our Lord, as St. Paul says in many places elsewhere, in how I live for Christ.

“For as often…” Make it often.

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