« Jean-Luc Godard, Robert Brasillach, and Anti-Semitism: Some observations (updated) | Main | En attendant Breillat »

June 26, 2008


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

John Svatek

Not listening to a single Henry Cow record today? I'm outraged!

Now that you are free of your corporate overlords, I expected "The 100 Greatest Henry Cow Songs" to be posted by now. Or at least, given your presumed expertise with clippings in all media, "The 10 Greatest Dagmar Toenail Clippings of All Time."

Your Public Wants To Know!

ps--I know you must be playing "Winter Songs" now--stop it! Art Bears are hopelessly commercial sellouts! I've got the single to prove it!

pps--any one know of any soundtrack work by any H. Cow members?

Stephen Whitty

That EW list was not to be tossed aside lightly. It was meant to be thrown with great force. (Thank you, Mrs. Parker.)

Seriously, I think there were two -- TWO -- foreign-language films there, "Wings of Desire" and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." TWO.

So, I guess the last quarter-century of Hong Kong, French, Italian, Iranian, Mexican and Romanian cinema was pretty much a wash, eh?

Call it the best of the last 25 years of American cinema, if you want. Call it the best of the last 25 years of cinema for people who can't read subtitles. But best BEST?

Glenn Kenny

John, turn over a Sally Potter soundtrack and you'll find at least one contribution from Fred Frith. Lindsay Cooper also scored some of Potter's early film work. Prior to that, Potter was a singer and librettist in some Cooper ensembles. Chris Cutler scored a Belgian film named "Change" in 2001; a concert by Cutler is the subject of the concert doc "June 12, 1998," directed by Shinji Aoyoma of "Eureka" fame. Either of these pictures is just a Netflix queue position away...NOT.

Stephen, the four other foreign language pictures I mentioned are in the final-fifty section of the list. There are no descriptions of these in the print version but they do have blurbs on the website.

Stephen Whitty

Ah, thanks Glenn. Hadn't gotten to the fine print. Still find it amazing, though, that even with that extra nifty-fifty they can't seem to find room for one damn movie in Farsi. Sheesh.

Nathan Duke

Some lists - 1,001 Movies to See Before You Die, for example - can provide interesting debate. Others- the recently upgraded AFI 100 list, the EW list - not so much. Of course, EW was going to include Pulp Fiction, Blue Velvet, etc. And deservedly.

But Napoleon Dynamite, Office Space, Fatal Attraction, Austin Powers, Swingers, The 40 Year Old Virgin, Men in Black, Clueless, Shrek, The Bourne Supremacy, Spiderman 2 and Casino Royale? Really? And did I mention Napoleon Dynamite (!) ?

While, at the same time, no Decalogue, Mulholland Dr., Gangs of New York, Magnolia, Being John Malkovich, Kiezlowski's Color Trilogy, Jackie Brown, Chungking Express, Dead Man or any Jim Jarmusch film for that matter, Talk to Her, any film by David Cronenberg, Almost Famous, Traffic or The Thin Red Line?

And, although they were obviously not as widely seen, any number of films by: Bela Tarr, Hou Hsiao Hsien, Claire Denis, Theo Angelopoulos, Aleksandr Sokurov, Tsai Ming Liang or Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

I guess this begs the question of what "classic" means- most widely viewed at a specific moment in time or most influential over a period of years?

Glenn Kenny

Nathan, "1001 Movies to See Before You Die," not to mention David Thomson's "Have You Seen?..." are less likely to provoke offense right off the bat for two reasons: wider scope and less hierarchical.

The first set of films you cite is actually pretty staggering. Leaving "Being John Malkovich" off of the movie list is as dicey a move as leaving "Infinite Jest" off of the book list.

But then, I think this all speaks to my initial point. (Not that we should stop talking about it!)

Nathan Duke

I agree with you - lists are bullshit. Occassionally interesting bullshit, but bullshit nonetheless.

That being said, did they leave "Infinite Jest" off the list? I think my brain exploded after I noticed their omission of "White Noise" and "Blood Meridian."

And I'd venture that Nirvana's "MTV Unplugged in NY" would likely make many people's Top 100 CDs In a Dusty Box on the Closet Floor List.


I don't want to be a defender of stupidity, but maybe calling these lists "New Classics" is meant to be different from simply calling them "the best." Maybe they're judging by how often TBS, AMC, USA, and Comedy Central will run them over the next decade, fooling us all into thinking that a mediocre-at-best entertainment is really a treasured piece of our shared cinematic heritage. The book list, however, seems so ridiculous that I won't even look at it. No "Infinite Jest"? Really?


Heh, thanks for weighing in.

I should state here that I don't have the highest opinion of EW, but I understand that they're a mainstream pop culture rag. So really, I approached the list as "OK, it's going to be a list of mainstream pop culture movies that everybody knows."

Even so, by those standards? Yikes, somebody dropped the ball big time. Why "T2" when you could have the original "Terminator"? Why no "Princess Bride"? And for the love of God, can we please forget about "The Lion King"???

That said...at least they left off "Independence Day."

Tony Dayoub

Personally, I love lists for all the reasons you stated, but especially for provoking debates. Unfortunately, I'm surrounded by friends and family that don't share my love of cinema, and the arrival of lists like these are the only occasion for me to debate about the relative merits of movies.

That being said, My favorite lists are the ones that introduce me to films I was previously not familiar with.

But I do appreciate the AFI lists that you criticized. They may leave a lot of films off (especially foreign). But if you take it as a given that it is anglo-centric, they do serve as a great primer for the film neophyte.


I wasn't sure if I'd be the only one furious about the absence of Infinite Jest.

Nice to know I'm not alone.

And the DeLillo, too.

Ernesto Diezmartinez

"the last 25 years of cinema for people who can't read subtitles". Touché. Seriously: why americans don't read subtitles?


Because if Joe Moviegoer wanted to read, they'd buy a book-- only I don't think they'd buy a book.


"Lists are silly. There, we said it. You know it, we know it, and you're still flipping through this book, aren't you? Because making lists - and arguing over them - is some kind of fundamental, genetically encoded human itch." - Taken from the introduction to Entertainment Weekly's "100 Greatest Films of All Time" book, published in 1999 (the intro, I believe, was written by Ty Burr). Incidentally, a far more interesting and inclusive list than the "New Classics" one.

But Glenn, sounds similar to your intro to this post, no?

This is what we do. We make lists. Then we bitch about making lists, and about lists that other people make. Then we make more lists.

By and large, we as a movie culture - be it Joe Six-Pack or wizened movie buff - are often incapable of judging films on their own, and feel the need to compare them to other movies to make sense of them. I'm as guilty as anyone of this, and there are certainly exceptions. But it's a tough habit to break.

That being said, Pulp Fiction at #1? 10 years ago I would've said sure, fine, whatever. But has anyone watched it recently? Doesn't hold up that well. I thought we were at the point of pronouncing Jackie Brown Tarantino's best movie. Moving on...


I don't make lists. I've tried. First, as you say, they're a bitch to put together. Second, I can't possibly know if I've left something important off because I haven't seen every film ever made. That's the only way a list won't be at least 100% bullshit. Third, whose to say I have good taste? Fourth, I'm not selling anything, so I don't need them to generate income. Finally, I can find plenty to talk about regarding movies without needing the tired, insipid help of a list.

So there. I feel better now.


A 'ballsy move' putting Blue Velvet at 4? Maybe for the readership they're aiming at but a ballsy move to me is putting nothing less than Inland Empire there!

The problem with lists is that I feel at least three times removed from them. Sure Citizen Kane deserves to be at the top of a list over The Godfather - and why do we have to pander to the no-nothing youth anyway! - or Cary Grant deserves his position more than George Clooney, say. But to be honest even Citizen Kane and Cary Grant are middle-of-the-road safe choices, just older safe choices - you aren't going to see an upset for Jean Gabin or Louise Brooks any time soon, and even they are the most accessible of 'old' stars!

(I'll buck the trend and vote Donatis Banionis as my greatest movie star!)

And even this argument is getting outdated as I get the impression that most young audiences wouldn't watch The Godfather now they have Goodfellas and The Sopranos or maybe even Clooney now that hes gotten all serious on them!

Jackie Brown - wasn't it pronounced QT's best movie ten years ago and became established fact and therefore old news 9 years ago?(!)

(Sorry for the abruptness, you might all be able to tell that I'm in a grumpy mood today!)

Herman Scobie

By including only six foreign-language films, EW is telling its reader they are right to boycott subtitles, and we all knew those filthy foreigners have nothing to say to us anyway. Couldn't a clearer head have suggested that international cinema deserves at least 10% and found four more, such as Three Colors, Amelie, Raise the Red Lantern, and Infernal Affairs? Meanwhile, the most obvious omission for me is Local Hero. At least Terms of Endearment, Amadeus, American Beauty, Crash, and similar Oscar winners aren't there.


Oh dear god. That Anderson Cooper remark ... a freaking CNN anchor said that? We're doomed. Where are my smelling salts? No, forget it, where's the pocket flask?


I miss Premiere too Glenn. The 20 year collection is safely stored in boxes in my flat. I miss the long-form film coverage more than anything.


Entertainment Weekly was less mainstream in its initial incarnation. For example, it gave "Pretty Woman" an "F." Then, a few months in, the critic who came up with the concept of Entertainment Weekly, Jeff Jarvis, was fired, and EW became a handmaiden of Hollywood.


A month later, I'd like to chime in supporting that older Entertainment Weekly list. Some questionable standings to be sure and the upper reaches were fairly predictable, but any list that manages to slip in "Last of the Mohicans" and "Celine & Julie Go Boating" (2 great films which - for very different reasons - rarely make top 100 lists) within 4 or 5 spaces of each other is OK in my book. Speaking of the latter movie, I'll have to check out Thomson's Have You Seen... Like these neverending lists, Thomson and Rosenbaum are critics I'm thankful for the opportunity to roll my eyes over, (though their views are certainly more edifying than the AFI's). Like the uncle you call crazy but take every opportunity to visit.


Indeed Citizen Kane is the best movie ever made.

generic tadalafil

hello fellas, I just want to emphasize the good work on this blog, has excellent views and a clear vision of what you are looking for.

Soft Cialis

I really like this blog, you are very good making them. I say that the issue discussed in this blog is quite interesting and of high quality.


Thanks for the review. I think this all speaks to my initial point. We glad to see you at edrugstore.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Tip Jar

Tip Jar
Blog powered by Typepad