March 16, 2010

Cine-Smackdown: #81 - #90

Twenty movies in and it's time for another cine-smackdown!

81. Spartacus
Easy Rider
A Night at the Opera
12 Angry Men
Bringing Up Baby
The Sixth Sense
Swing Time

I had seen four of these previously (Titanic, 12 Angry Men, Bringing Up Baby and The Sixth Sense). More so than the first cine-smackdown, I'm struck by how different all these films are. No matter how you try to categorize them, none of them seem to line up with each other. Three comedies, all from the 30s, still all seem so markedly different in what they're trying to do, in their styles. I guess it just goes to show that trying to compare films against each other in this list is going to be a tricky task. This is part of why I'm making these smackdowns easy on myself by making them a little silly.

Of these ten, which would I move further up the list?
I hadn't given this thought until this moment (probably best), but the one that sticks out to me here is Bringing Up Baby. The fantastic, fantastical performances combined with the breakneck speed and the well-constructed story seem to provide the best fusion of elements of these ten to me. Ask me on another day and it might be different, but somehow that comedy seems to ask for more recognition than it gets.

Of these ten, which would I get rid of?
At this point, it's still relatively easy to dig and find things I didn't like about each film (that will get hardly, presumably, the further up the list I get), but it still feels wrong to take one out. That said, I think it might A Night at the Opera: while it's a classic, long sections of it feel extraneous and counter-intuitive to the Marx Brothers' philosophy of comedy. I don't remember Duck Soup well enough to say if I like it better, but I feel like it might sum up their comedic style better and without the extra crap.

Who in these movies do I want as my best friend?
It's probably unwise to make friends with pretty much anyone in #s 81-84 or #86. I still wouldn't say no to being friends with Kate Winslet in probably anything, though. Anyway. John "Lucky" Garnett from Swing Time is a hoot, adorable and a lot of fun to boot. Plus, he can dance. If that means Penny Carrol has to come along, so be it. It'd be sorta fun to get high with the guys from Easy Rider but if I learned anything from that movie it's that I should probably stay in my hippie commune and not follow them on a motorcycle.

Who in these movies do I want to have my back in a bar fight?
Jack Dawson from Titanic probably wouldn't back down, and his sense of loyalty would come in handy for sure. Juror #3 from 12 Angry Men would probably be a good asset, too. While they might not be packing the biggest punch, any of the brothers in A Night at the Opera or Susan from Bringing Up Baby could probably create a diversion while I slipped out the back. Lynn Sear in The Sixth Sense would pack a punch.

Who in these movies is your worst frienemy?
Sgt. Barnes in Platoon, Batiatus in Spartacus and The Woman from the City in Sunrise would totally betray me, no question. If those chumps showed up at my door, I'd want nothing to do with them.

Who do I take home to Mom?
Varinia in Spartacus is totally fine, with a great baby bucket and a weakness for sensitive guys. Juror #8 (12 Angry Men) and John Garnett (Swing Time) would also probably charm the pants off my mom.

You're going on a date with these movies. Who do you agree to meet for coffee but never call again?
Platoon: this didn't seem like a good idea in the first place, and you kept getting distracted during our date, spilling your coffee nervously and glancing around like someone was after you. Sunrise: you seemed nice but you weren't much of a talker (oops lame joke).

Who do you agree to meet for coffee, and then say you'll call but never do?
A Night at the Opera: we had a lot of fun on our date, but when I went home I couldn't help but think you'd try to deceive me by wearing a false beard the next time we met. Plus, I'm rehearsing a show right now and I have a feeling if we started dating you might show up and ruin it with your hijinks.

Who do you agree to meet for coffee, and then not show up?
Spartacus: I just don't think it's gonna work out.

Who do you meet for a first date, ends up staying the night and makes you breakfast in the morning?
David Huxley in Bringing Up Baby and The Wife in Sunrise would probably both think that was the proper, right thing to do, if they stayed that long. Jack Dawson would probably make an omelette. John Garnett would take me somewhere fancy.

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?
Billy from Easy Rider. I hate to say it, but he seems like that kinda guy. He would also take all my coke... and probably leave me a VD. Thanks a lot!

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!

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