Thursday, June 23, 2005

The AFI: Predictable as Hell

So, some how I got sucked into the three hour extravaganza on Tuesday night, "100 Years, 100 Quotes." This was where the American Film Institute counted down what was in the 1400 members' opinion, the 100 greatest movie lines. And when it was over, I couldn't figure out why I wasted my time.

From the beginning, I knew number one would be "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." Because I'm psychic? No. Because every countdown they've had over the past eight years have been predictable as all get out. Was anyone really surprised when eight years ago, "Citizen Kane" was voted the best movie of all time or when "Casablanca" was voted the best love story of all time? Or how about when "Some Like it Hot" was voted the best comedy of all time? It's not that any of these are bad choices, there just the typical choices. It's no different than why the Oscars have been predictable for who knows how many years. The only two real surprises at the Oscars I can remember in my lifetime were "Silence of the Lambs" sweeping the major awards in 1991 and "Shakespeare in Love" beating obvious favorite, "Saving Private Ryan" in 1998.

Like I said, I'm not knocking all of the films, actors, or I guess, quotes chosen. I can understand why "Citizen Kane" is considered to be the greatest film of all time. In it's own way, "Citizen Kane" changed movie making. You could arguable classify the art of film as Pre-Citizen Kane and Post-Citizen Kane. That's why I've always thought that while everyone has their favorite films of all time, there could also be a list of what you think are the greatest films of all time. A lot of times your favorites are for more personal reasons than the technical aspects of a film. They're nostalgic, meaningful, or just hit you in that way that no other film does. Then there are the films that while you might not be able to rewatch them over and over till you know every line of dialouge, you have great respect and admiration for what they have acheived on technical level. And there is nothing wrong with that. My favorite film of all time is "Halloween." Does that mean that I think "Halloween" is a better made film than "The Godfather?" Hell, no. But "Halloween" has more of an overall effect on me. I could have only the audio for "Halloween" on and I could describe in detail the scene that is unfolding.

If I were to do a list of my ten or twenty favorite films of all time you would see titles like "Halloween," "Jaws," "Dog Day Afternoon," "Crimes and Misdemeanors," "Ghostbusters," "A Few Good Men," etc. If I were to make a list of the greatest made films of all time you would see titles like "The Godfather," "Schindler's List," "Casablanca," "81/2," and even "Citizen Kane." So, in the long run, I can't figure out why these list shows are ever successfull, but yet, I watched all three hours the other night. Maybe it was because I wanted to be wrong, even though I knew I wouldn't be.

So, even with the understanding that with the quotes they were only going to pick those that have been worldwide phenomenon's on their own and have made their way into everyday pop culture and life. "What we have here is a failure to communicate," "Here's looking at you, Kid," "I coulda been a contender." I still didn't understand some of the choices such as Gary Cooper spouting Lou Gherig's line, "Today I consider myself the luckiest man in the world." That was said by an actual person in real life. That wasn't a creative gesture from a writer; that wasn't Gary Cooper giving a hell of a line reading. That was something that Lou Gherig said in real life. So, how does that fit.

It also annoyed me when they would only pick the best remembered lines from certain movies but not the best. While "Show me the money" is very memorable, the best line in that scene is "I love black people." In "Forrest Gump" everyone always remembers "Life is like a box of choclates," but what about "I gotta pee," or "I know what love is." Wouldn't it have been better if they had picked the best written movies of all time and included a lot of quotes from those movies?

Granted, like everyone elses, this is just my opinion, and I'm not saying that only my quotes should have been included. It just seems like they could have come up with some more creative quotes than the ones they threw at us, or at least had a little more variety. They had six freaking quotes from "Casablanca" alone; not to mention two from the "Terminator" movies, two from "The Godfather," two from the "Dirty Harry" movies, two from "The Wizard of Oz." That's 14 quotes out of 100 from only five movies. They only had one quote from the "Star Wars" films which surprised the hell out of me, but that was of course, "May the force be with you." No "Luke, I am your father?" Give me a break.

And where was "Son, you got a panty on your head?" Where was "Royale with Cheese;" I don't remember one quote from a Tarantino film. And not a single quote from "Ghostbusters," the most quotable movie of all time. "No one steps on a church in my town." "Who you gonna call." "And the flowers are still standing." "Let's show this prehistoric bitch how we do things downtown." "So, she's a dog." "Are you the key master?" "Back off man, I'm a scientist." "They hate it when I do that." "What did you do Ray?"

I could go on and on, and I'm sure all of you have your favorite quotes. I read back about a year ago or earlier this year where you guys went through some of your favorites. I don't even know if I have much of a point here. The whole thing just kind of annoyed me. And it made me realize how annoyed I've gotten with the Oscars and all other awards shows. But these AFI things are just getting preposterous. How much in need of something to put on are they when there resulting to three hours of quotes. "Frankly, my dear, I just don't give a damn."


At 6/24/2005 03:23:00 AM, Blogger Chris said...

The whole idea of "greatest lines" is ridiculous, anyway. Most lines aren't memorable for what they are on paper, but how the actor says them.

And of course the most common greatest lines make that top 10, because it's made for a wide audience to digest and assimilate like the little pop culture robots they are. If AFI took a daring stance on this, people would be outraged...How can "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn," not be in your top 10?! While it's certainly one of the most recognized lines in it really the greatest? Hell, if you gave me PULP FICYION and JACKIE BROWN I'd probably find 50 quotes in those 2 movies alone that are better than the ones on the list.

And boy, do I love GHOSTBUSTERS, too. "Cats and dogs, living together...mass hysteria!" and "Yes, it's true...this man has no dick." And about "And are you menstruating right now?" and "You're right, no human being would stack books like this." Geez...that movie is so friggin' great.

GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS also has a number of great lines. I've probably quoted that whole movie at some point.

At 6/24/2005 04:06:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scent of a woman: "You've been the sugar business for so long, you've forgetten the taste of real honey!".. "When in doubt... fuck".. and of course "HOO-HAH".

Mallrats: "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned for Sega".

At 6/24/2005 06:50:00 AM, Blogger Jonathan said...

I can't believe I forgot to mention "Glengary Glen Ross." A few other quick ones; we could do this forever.

"I'm a lawyer and an officer in the United States Navy, and you're under arrest you son of a bitch."
-A Few Good Men

"I'm the dude."
-The Big Lebowski

"Son of Jorel, kneel before Zod."
-Superman II

"And I'm supposed to care because she's wearing a backpack."

"I came to town to do two things. Chew some gum and kick some ass, and I'm all out of gum."
-They Live

"And you know what that means. You're shit out of luck."
-The Dead Pool

"You're the antichrist."
-The Devil's Advocate

"Sorry, Kid. I don't believe in fairy tales"
-A Nightmare on Elm Street 3

"I love my dead, gay son."

At 6/24/2005 07:48:00 AM, Blogger MaraJade said...

Ooh, I wish I had seen this, but I probably would have been just as disappointed in it as you were.

Glengary Glen Ross <--- I STILL have not seen this movie.

Because I can't resist - some of my favorites:
That kid is back on the escalator again. . .I hope his pants get caught and a bloodbath ensues. -Mallrats

Excuse me ma�am, do you know where all the high school girls hang out?? �Swingers

I don't doubt myself because of you. I feel like the best version of myself when I'm around you, and that makes me doubt everything else. �Keeping the Faith

What, my dear Lady Disdain! Are you yet living? �Much ado about nothing

Chancellor Gorkon: I offer a toast: The Undiscovered Country. . . the future.
Spock: Hamlet. Act three, scene one.
. . . . .
General Chang: We need breathing room.
Captain Kirk : Earth. Hitler, 1938. -Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country

Sooo many more, but I'll stop there. What fun. I may have to make my own quotes blog entry.

At 6/24/2005 09:25:00 AM, Blogger Kennelworthy said... are right on the money. I think we can say the same stuff about any and all of the AFI lists. Their ridiculous. But they get people like us talking about movies, and that ultimately helps the AFI's cause, I'm guessing.

-A few points: Ghostbusters rules.

-Glengary has some of the best lines ever. It is quotable from now to eternity. I would likely have made half the top-ten be Glengary quotes. "See this watch? This watch cost more than your car!" I love that movie, even if there's not really a redeemable character in the whole lot.

-I can't believe how many times the AFI chose the wrong quote from a great movie. They choose the wrong Star Wars quote. They choose "Roads, where we're going we don't need roads" from Back to the Future, when I would have chosen from a host of others: "1.21 gigawatts!?!?!" "McFly!" or the one I listed in our previous quotes discussion, "Last night Darth Vader came down from the planet Vulcan and said that if I didn't take Loraine to the dance than he'd melt my brain!"

-Loved that quote, Mara, from Undiscovered Country--the best Trek film ever in my opinion. The music is amazing, the story and mystery are compelling, the action is great. From that same scene, I like, "You've not experienced Shakespeare until you've read him in the original Klingon." Or, "There is the old Vulcan proverb: only Nixon could go to China".

-I personally claim there is a movie quote (or Simpsons quote) for any and all situations in life...and I use them daily like real conversation.

-Tarantino deserves about half those slots in the top 100 quotes list. Freaking genius at dialogue.

-There's not a single Jimmy Stewart quote on that top 100 list. I just think that's a shame.

-I think our favorite quotes are, in part, based on our favorite movies from how all of us love the quotes from Ghostbusters. Similarly, I could quote the entirety of The Princess Bride...and once on a long road trip with friends...I did. That movie, to me, is full of gems.
Same with So I Married An Axe Murderer, Fletch, Blazing Saddles ("Where all the white women at?!"), Indiana Freaking Jones for Pete's Sake!

-I'd heard for years that Citizen Kane was awesome. Blah, blah,'s great, it's amazing, it's ahead of its time. Then my brother (whose opinion on film I trust more than any other person besides Chris) said, "Watch it, you idiot." I rented it. Damn. It IS amazing. It IS ahead of its time. Wells is doing things in Kane that directors today (Fincher) think are original, like panning the camera through things like signs and windows. It really blew my mind. If you haven't seen it, watch it. Then remind yourself that it was made in freaking 1941!!

-We seriously could go on and on about this forever...and, honestly, I wouldn't mind.

At 6/24/2005 10:47:00 AM, Blogger Kevin Rector said...

All I know about Citizen Kane is that it bored me to tears.

Anybody want a peanut?

At 6/24/2005 12:08:00 PM, Blogger Kennelworthy said...

That's the beauty of something so subjective as film! I can love Citizen Kane while you hate it. You can love something such as...say, Spice World.

And we're both right.

(please note for the record: i am not suggesting Kevin loves Spice World, it was just a bad movie I picked out of the air as an example...though there have been rumors...)

At 6/24/2005 06:43:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

Christopher Plummer's delivery of "To Be or not to be." in "The Undiscovered Country" is better than in any "Hamlet" adaptation I've seen. That would be one of the few quotes stolen from another play/film that I would have included in the top 100. As far as that being the best "Star Trek" film, I've still got to go with "Wrath of Khan." Speaking of which where the hell was "KHAN!!!" in their list.

At 6/24/2005 08:20:00 PM, Blogger MaraJade said...

"(please note for the record: i am not suggesting Kevin loves Spice World, it was just a bad movie I picked out of the air as an example...though there have been rumors...)"

Kevin loves Spice World??? What scandal.

I've never even seen Citizen Kane. Nor have I seen Casablanca, Gone with the Wind. . .I worked in a video store, but I spent most of my time trying to convince the 15 year olds that Star Wars and Star Trek were "true" cinema. Well, that and Grace Kelly movies. I don't think it caught on.

We should all have a movie night. And write down our favorite quotes. But then of course there's the problem of where to have it. . .

At 6/24/2005 10:06:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

Nothing wrong with some Grace Kelly. Too bad she had to become a princess and quit the acting. But we'll always have "To Catch a Thief."

At 6/25/2005 02:54:00 AM, Blogger Chris said...

I have read your bio, MaraJade, and you are from a region that I have longed to visit: New England. What strikes me about your hometown is Franklin, Mass. A couple of us are from Franklin, Tennessee. You know, it truly would be great if we could find a way to pick out a day--work be damned, and just have a night out. It's sort of a pipe dream, but it's fun thinking about.

At 6/25/2005 07:59:00 AM, Blogger MaraJade said...

People seem to love New England. I'm not sure what it is. In Autumn we get to deal with the "foliage tourists". Those are the worst. They drive slow on our major highways and force the rest of us bad mass drivers to run them off the road and hide the bodies. ha ha. . . . .

Never been to TN, but that's funny about the Franklin thing.
Sure, all the noters on your blog will find a middle ground for a night on the town. Three hour flight? Ha, that's nothing. lol.

At 6/26/2005 12:15:00 AM, Blogger Jonathan said...

I've lived in Tennessee all 29 years of my life. You're not missing a damn thing.

At 6/27/2005 01:07:00 PM, Blogger Kennelworthy said...

Hey, I'm from Indiana and now that I live in Tennessee...I love it! Except for the heat and humidity...and the rednecks and idiot drivers...and the lottery and state government...and, wait a second, Jonathan's probably right. You're not missing anything.


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