Thursday, July 29, 2010

Writing, Blogging, and Critiquing Films.

For as long as there has been art, there have been critics. Everyone seems to have an opinion and so many feel the need to share their opinions with others. Christopher Nolan's latest film Inception has been the subject of countless critiques and debates by both estimable film critics and average moviegoers. The film has sparked so much discussion that it has instantly become THE must-see movie of the summer.  Much of this buzz is owed to the writing of critics and bloggers, whatever their opinions may be.

Personally, I am not much of a film writer, or even a critic. I would call myself an appreciator of films. Some movies might be better or more enjoyable than others, but I respect movies even if I don't love them. Admittedly, there are more and more movies being released that just look unbearable, prompting me to avoid them at all costs. Out of sight, out of mind. Some movies, however, are worth the endless discussion that film critics and bloggers take part in. Writing about a film is probably the most effective way to share the experience of watching one.

Despite my disinterest in being a film critic, I would like to archive my thoughts into a more substantial form. Too often do I allow my thoughts on films to settle in my mind. I realize now that writing about film does not necessarily mean critiquing it. It can mean appreciating it and sharing it and revisiting it.  Beginning with 1961, I'd like to write brief notes on all the movies I watch. Collecting my thoughts, compiling them into a brief essay form, and sharing it all with other film lovers is, perhaps, the most important thing I can do as a film lover.

I imagine it's easy to get lost in the sea of critics and bloggers. Standing out and being heard are not my objectives. Instead, I'd merely like to find others like me who share the same appreciation for film and film culture. Through writing and blogging, I hope to find my voice and my audience, as well as gain the opportunity to share and discuss the absolute joy that film gives me. I can't wait to be a part of it all.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Top 100 Films (1900-1959)

In 2002, I began a project that took me through a chronological journey (or, as I've dubbed it, 'adventure') beginning in 1900 and working its way forward. Now that I'm 'adventure'ing through 1960, I thought I'd take a moment to create a 'master' list of the movies that have really made an impression.

Arranged chronologically, I had to sort through 1300 movies that I'd watched over an eight-year period to find my top 100. I'd very much like to revisit the majority of them, which makes them all the more impressive to me. A curious lack of silents indicates my urgent need to see more of them. That will be another project.

The Sheik (1921)
Nosferatu (1922)
The Thief of Bagdad (1924)
The Gold Rush (1925)
Metropolis (1927)
Un Chien Andalou (1929)
All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
City Lights (1931)
Dracula (1931)
Frankenstein (1931)
Freaks (1932)
Grand Hotel (1932)
Duck Soup (1933)
King Kong (1933)
It Happened One Night (1934)
March of the Wooden Soldiers (1934)
The Thin Man (1934)
The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
Modern Times (1936)
My Man Godfrey (1936)
The Awful Truth (1937)
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1938)
A Christmas Carol (1938)
Grand Illusion (1938)
Gone With the Wind (1939)
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
Only Angels Have Wings (1939)
Stagecoach (1939)
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
The Ghost Breakers (1940)
The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
The Philadelphia Story (1940)
Pinocchio (1940)
Pride and Prejudice (1940)
Rebecca (1940)
Citizen Kane (1941)
Dumbo (1941)
Hold That Ghost (1941)
How Green Was My Valley (1941)
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
The Wolf Man (1941)
Saboteur (1941)
Yankee Doodle Dandy (1941)
Casablanca (1943)
Double Indemnity (1944)
Going My Way (1944)
Laura (1944)
Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
Leave Her to Heaven (1945)
The Lost Weekend (1945)
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
The Big Sleep (1946)
Children of Paradise (1946)
It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
Ivan the Terrible: Part I (1947)
Ivan the Terrible: Part II (1947)
Miracle on 34th Street (1948)
Rope (1948)
Stray Dog (1949)
All About Eve (1950)
Sunset Boulevard (1950)
The Third Man (1950)
Alice in Wonderland (1951)
A Place in the Sun (1951)
A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
The White Sheik (1951)
High Noon (1952)
Singin' in the Rain (1952)
From Here to Eternity (1953)
I Vitelloni (1953)
Julius Caesar (1953)
On the Waterfront (1954)
Rear Window (1954)
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)
Diabolique (1955)
East of Eden (1955)
Pather Panchali (1955)
Picnic (1955)
Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
Giant (1956)
The Killing (1956)
The Searchers (1956)
Aparajito (1957)
The Bridge on the River Kwai (1956)
The Seventh Seal (1957)
Throne of Blood (1957)
12 Angry Men (1957)
Witness for the Prosecution (1957)
Ashes and Diamonds (1958)
The Hidden Fortress (1958)
Mon Oncle (1958)
Touch of Evil (1958)
Vertigo (1958)
The 400 Blows (1959)
The Lovers (1959)
North by Northwest (1959)
Rio Bravo (1959)
Sleeping Beauty (1959)
Some Like it Hot (1959)
Wild Strawberries (1959)

How many have you seen?  I'm curious to hear what you think of these films. If you'd like to know what films were left out, visit my massive archive. 1960 is taking longer than usual, but it also offers the most titles than ever before.

Consider this a personal suggestion of movies to see, as well as a foundation for my blog. I'd like to write more about these movies and their place in culture. Of course, I'd like to focus on the present as well, and am ready to put more energy toward writing about it and discussing it.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Why I Am a Dave Matthews Band Fan

I saw Dave Matthews Band in concert for the first time on June 25, 2005. Five years later, I've seen them eleven times in four different states. I've seen them through the death of their saxophone player, Leroi Moore, and through the release of two studio albums. My experiences are nothing compared to most hardcore DMB fans I've met, but I've experienced enough of the band's unbeatable fusion of rock, jazz, and blues to declare myself a fan for all seasons.

Why do I enjoy them? The main theme throughout all of their songs is love. Love in all forms. Love of life, love of self, love for a lover, love for a child, love of country, etc. Each song explores this theme with a pleading passion that I think is soul-stirring.  The bottom line, though, is that they really know how to get my ass shakin'.

My latest show was this past Friday in Hershey, PA. It ranks high among my other shows mainly because of my proximity to the stage. Somehow, general admission seats escaped my until this year. Excellent investment!  Of all the shows, I'd say that the 2006 show at Boston's Fenway Park is my favorite.  A great setlist, memorable venue, and the fact that it was released as a live album each make it all the more novel.

The Song That Jane Likes, One Sweet World, Granny, and The Stone are, among the many greats, my all-time favorite DMB songs. I've only seen One Sweet World and Granny live.  I'll chase the other two for years if I have to.  I find it kind of exciting that there are still songs to look forward to seeing live.  I've seen the band eleven times and I suspect I'll continue to do so until they decide to stop touring.

With the announcement that DMB is taking a break from touring in 2011, I have two years or so to prepare for my next show. Show #12 in 2012?  Looks like something to plan for.