AFI's Top 100 Movies Chooch Movies

One Hundred Movies, Finally

I’m happy to report that I’ve finally started watching the American Film Institute’s Top 100 Movies, and I owe my thanks to Christiana Ellis. Chooch and I have talked about going through the list before but we never actually started. Now that Christiana has started her new podcast endeavor, Watching 100 Movies, we’ve finally gotten started.

Christiana and her usual partner in media consumption discussions, Mike Meitin, have already released three episodes discussing the first six films (numbers 100 through 95). We are behind their schedule, but have now gotten our Netflix queue in order to hopefully catch up, but at least follow along. We’ve watched 100 – 98, and I thought I’d give short posts on my thoughts of the movies. I’m hoping this will keep me from getting too far behind, or from stopping when a cluster of unappealing movies are next. There, now I have accountability.

My next post will be about the first three movies on the list. Before that, I thought I’d briefly tell you about my movie tastes.

  • I love movies, especially in the theater. I think the suspension of any interruption to be almost necessary for immersion into the world that I’m watching, except for the most exceptional films.
  • I will see anything and everything starring Kevin Spacey, Audrey Hepburn, Johnny Depp, Sandra Bullock and Denzel Washington. I’m sure there are others, but these are the first that come to mind.
  • I love some musicals, including “West Side Story”, “My Fair Lady”, “Moulin Rouge” and “Sunday in the Park with George”.
  • I find war movies, all of them, particularly difficult to watch. While I’m not a pacifist, I do have great difficulty watching mass numbers of humanity get blown to pieces. Empathy/sympathy/whatever overwhelms me and so it is extremely rare that I’m able to get past that to enjoyment.
  • This same issue is why I have trouble with some other films, such as “Meet The Fockers”, “Falling Down” and “Pursuit of Happyness”. I never finished watching any of these. In fact, since the standard theme in Ben Stiller movies is for terrible thing after terrible thing to happen in a ridiculously long string of unlucky events, I also tend to avoid his movies. I find that the continual beating down of a character unenjoyable, even when I know that eventually the tide will likely turn to his or her favor.
  • That said, I have a particular love of dramas. When a film or actor’s performance is able to reach out and touch my soul in a resonating way? Heavenly, even if I’m sobbing.

Expect a post sometime this week on films 100 (Ben Hur), 99 (Toy Story), and 98 (Yankee Doodle Dandy).

Thanks to Christiana and Mike for motivating us to finally watch all these movies!


You Must See "Inception", And Here's Why (No Spoilers)

I saw it on Thursday with my thirteen year old son. I had heard rave reviews from some pretty tough critics (my friends), so I was happy when he chose it. I didn’t remember the trailer and knew nothing about it, other than Leonardo DiCaprio starring in it.

I feel no shame in admitting that I was pretty damned lost for the first ten minutes or so, but not in an irritating way. No, I was riveted.  You realize pretty early on that you’re watching Something Important, and neither of us took our eyes off the screen. (Okay, okay… I did look at L.T. every so often to see if he was bored. He wasn’t.)

My brain is still processing much of what I saw, and L.T. and I happily differ on how the movie ended. I love both of these facts. For those complaining that they wanted a clear-cut ending, too bad. It was artfully done, and in a way that still has me scratching my head and soothing my aching heart.

I’ve only really been this insistent with one other movie in recent years, and that was “Up”, which had one of the most poignant and beautiful love stories I’ve ever encountered. If you haven’t seen it yet, then you have cheated yourself out of love, laughter and beautiful animation.

“Inception” also has a powerful love story, and some of the most exhilarating action scenes I’ve ever seen. I was literally on the edge of my seat at some points, and holding my breath at others.  If L.T. can be believed, I was even so carried away that I dropped the F-bomb at some unknown point of the movie. He was shocked but couldn’t tear himself away from the story to chastise me, but rather told me as we walked to the car. I’m amazed that I have no recollection of it, but that is to the credit of the story, I suppose.

You won’t be surprised to hear that Leo does a great job in his role. In a completely unfair way, we expect him to always be that believable and to sweep us away with his immersion into his character.  And while I don’t rush out mindlessly to see his movies, I’ve probably seen nearly all of them because I know that he will give a powerful performance. His tortured character in this film is easily my favorite of all his performances, and there were even a few times that I had to look away because I couldn’t bear what I thought was coming his way.

“Inception” also stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ellen Page. I felt both of their characters to be one-dimensional, but their acting was superb. Now, I loves me some Ellen Page, but this movie didn’t allow her to shine the way that “Juno” did. It’s just as well, because it would’ve detracted and I’m happy to wait for another movie to really showcase her talents.

To my surprise, Joseph Gordon-Levitt was amazing. No, I wasn’t a fan of “Third Rock From the Sun” and was one of the few people I know that disliked “500 Days of Summer”. (Not even my straight-girl crush on Zooey Deschanel helped on that one.) If you saw Joseph on “Saturday Night Live” around the time that “500 Days of Summer” came out, then you saw his pretty amazing dance skills during the monologue. Imagine my surprise when one of his action scenes in “Inception” made that dance routine look like a clumsy, drunken stomp. He quietly rocked his role, as much as there was room for him to do so.

So, not that you asked, but I think you really need to go see it. It’s definitely worth the money.

And if you have seen it, what did YOU think?