February 13, 2010

Cine-Smackdown: #91 - #100

Well, I've made it to some sort of landmark in this crazy goal -- ten movies down! So now, for a retrospective.

91. Sophie's Choice
The French Connection
Pulp Fiction
The Last Picture Show
Do the Right Thing
Blade Runner
Yankee Doodle Dandy
Toy Story

I had seen five of these previously (Sophie's Choice, Goodfellas, Pulp Fiction, Blade Runner and Toy Story), and I definitely took more away from each one this time. I'm not sure if that can be attributed solely to the critical lens that I'm trying to use with this diablogue; it might just be time. Sure, Pulp Fiction was awesome when it came out, but marvelously it's still awesome now. It holds up well.

Of these ten, which would I move further up the list?
This is a hard first question, as it's the first ten, but I'd say in terms of overall achievement, either Pulp Fiction, The Last Picture Show or Toy Story. Do the Right Thing and Ben-Hur could get added if you went solely in terms of cultural significance and historical relevance, but overall I enjoyed those first three the most. This is what's gonna get difficult about this project: how do you choose just one when none of them can be compared?

Of these ten, which would I get rid of?
This is a little easier, because there's one film that sticks out like a sore thumb to me: The French Connection. William Friedkin made a better film than this one that had a larger impact on American cinema (The Exorcist isn't even on the list), and in terms of crime dramas/thrillers on the list, I'm not sure what really sets this one above the rest. Sweet car chase, though.

Who in these movies do I want as my best friend?
Andy from Toy Story seems like a good kid; I think if I was the age I was when I saw the movie originally, he and I would be total pals. It probably wouldn't hurt to befriend his toys either. George M. Cohan (Yankee Doodle Dandy) would be a fun guy to know but he's so busy with his career he probably wouldn't give me the time of day.

Who in these movies do I want to have my back in a bar fight?
Definitely Jules (Pulp Fiction) quoting imaginary scripture passages and being the world's most singular badass. Ben Hur and Radio Raheem (Do the Right Thing) are probably my runners-up, but they could be in the entourage.

Who in these movies is your worst frienemy?
Might be Duane Jackson (The Last Picture Show) because he seems like good, solid best-friend material ... but he's too proud and too excited to go and ditch me for the Korean War.

Who do I take home to Mom?
I'd say Sonny (The Last Picture Show) but I'm afraid he has a thing for older ladies so I don't know if that's such a good idea. If I was 100% sure that Rachael (Blade Runner) wasn't a Replicant I might consider that. Woody (Toy Story) is pretty charming, but he does have that pull string, and it's a little too short for me.

You're going on a date with these movies. Who do you agree to meet for coffee but never call again?
Maybe Blade Runner. It's awesome, but I don't really think we have that much in common. Or Ben-Hur: that date was just a chore to sit through.

Who do you agree to meet for coffee, and then say you'll call but never do?
I hate to say this, but it might be The Last Picture Show. I had a really nice time, and we had a few laughs, but by the end of the date you were sort of a downer. You're really cute, though!

Who do you agree to meet for coffee, and then not show up?
I would say Goodfellas but I'm afraid he would send Tommy DeVito after me. You don't disrespect those guys. Is it terrible to say Sophie's Choice is probably used to rejection?

Who do you meet for a first date, ends up staying the night and makes you breakfast in the morning?
Genevieve the waitress in The Last Picture Show, and not just because she makes a mean cheeseburger, but also because she's sweet and kind, and she probably has to get to work pretty early. She basically runs that restaurant by herself, you know.

Who do you meet for a first date, ends up staying the night and then leaves in the morning without saying goodbye ... and steals your favorite sweater?
Without a doubt: Honey Bunny and/or Pumpkin (Pulp Fiction).

What other questions would you have asked about these movies? I'd love more ideas! Leave your thoughts, reactions, passionate defenses and harsh critiques in the comments!


  1. I've waffled about posting this comment ever since you first posted about it because I feel like it makes me sound soulless and scroogey, but, um: Hi. My name is Lauren Hoffman and I hate Toy Story.

    I see Toy Story's inclusion on the list a lot like Snow White's -- they're safe choices of animated films to include, because when the films' (um, many) flaws come to light, there's the niggling justification of, "Well, yes, but it was the first of its kind, so..." Sure, both films were seminal in their right, and I can appreciate them in that respect, but hold them up against, say, Monster's Inc. and Beauty and the Beast, and they don't really stand up to scrutiny.

    I think my problem with Toy Story is that it lacks the focus on storytelling of Pixar's later movies. I'd argue that if Toy Story was a "conventionally" animated film, it wouldn't be anywhere NEAR this list. It's a cute animated film with visual techniques that hadn't ever been seen before, and I respect it for that, but one of the 100 best movies OF ALL TIME?

    Give me a freaking break.

    (I can't wait for you to get to Snow White so I can rail against the tragedy of Beauty and the Beast's exclusion. BRACE YOURSELF.)

    Love your face and your smart smart movie brain.

  2. While I agree that Toy Story maybe isn't the best of the canon, it certainly did represent the birth of a new form of animation as well as a new way of thinking about theme and story in children's cinema. When I return your lovely birthday phone call, hopefully in the next week or so, we shall talk at length about this.