Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Stanley Fish is really old

I suppose my first clue should've been the fact that he's named Stanley- I don't think I've ever met anyone close to my age named Stanley; I feel that name should've peaked in the '50s after "Streetcar Named Desire" came out.

My second and third clue should have been his picture, and the fact that I read Stanley Fish on the regular, so when I saw he had done a Top 10 list of the "Best American Movies" my mind decided not to do the smart thing and remember that old people like old things (I don't hold this against them though; I know I'm going to be the same way) but I love lists and movies and so I couldn't help myself.
Here's his list

1) The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
2) Sunset Blvd. (1950)
(and the rest were "tied for third")
T-3) Double Indemnity (1944)
Shane (1953)
Red River (1948)
Raging Bull (1980)
Vertigo (1958)
Groundhog Day (1993)
Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945)

So 8 of his 10 best american films of all time were between 1944 and 1958. I must say I have to respect him for so thoroughly and proudly displaying his epochal provincialism, but still I have to agree with the first (FIRST!1) commenter :

Do you really believe American Cinema peaked in the 40s and the one moment of inspiration since has been Groundhog Day?

Ok that’s weird.

For reals. Groundhog Day wasn't even Bill Murray's best movie (it probably was Andie Macdowell's though; either that or "Green Card", since I can'y name nothing else she's been in.)

That is a tough undertaking, and one I shy away from whenever I'm asked about it (unless I'm drunk, of course) naming a top ten best anything, especially something which can be so subjective like film, and I've only seen about 60% of the films he listed so I won't be too harsh.

All I will say is, I'll admit it- I don't get Scorsese. I mean I enjoy his films enough but, in my mind there is no way Raging Bull is the 4th greatest film ever (the only "great" part of the movie to me, that I really enjoyed is when LaMotta is in jail and is pounding his fists into the concrete wall and then crying over what his life has become- so I'll give Scorsese that.) But there are people who swear by and worship his movies, who write theses about his films and search for answers about life and I don't understand that. To be unfairly general, his "great" films all seem to be about men who have anger issues who end up committing acts of violence.
Though to be fair maybe I'm not smart enough to "get" his films*- I have to admit after seeing Taxi Driver and then reading some essays about it, I enjoyed it about 10% more the next time I saw it. Totally better than Raging Bull.

*I kinda loved Rocky Balboa, not gonna lie; it made me cry. So that's the "authority" you're dealing with)

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