Saturday, November 10, 2007
It makes you feel happy like an old-time movie.
Over the past five years I've struggled to answer a very simple question: What is my favorite movie? I know, I know, that question isn't as simple as it may seem, but at its heart it is not very complex. It is as simple as asking what film I value most, or what film could I simply not live without. In the last few years of my young adulthood my answer has floundered about.
I held up Doctor Zhivago as a perfect blend of romance and epic, while capturing the time and feel of its setting marvelously, especially with its use of color and light, and for a time this was what I would call my favorite film. Over the years though, my love for it has decreased. Despite the power at which Strelnikov's arrival still has over me at the end of the first half of the film, the films slow-but-steady pacing has begun to wear on me, making the experience of a film more like a chore, despite its appeal. It is like a change machine that, upon entering a single dollar bill, you get a dollar and fifty cents in quarters back. it certainly is a profitable experience, but I'm not quite sure I want to expend the time necessary for that sort of profit margin.
Ask anyone I knew in my first few years of college what movie I held most dear, and they'd likely tell you that I was a Fight Club sort of guy. As I aged my appreciation of the subtler message of the film grew, and it became clear that Palahniuk's story was less an anti-consumerist statement and more an anti-extremism one. Despite the appeal of the acting, and its surprising longevity (considering that it is a film with a twist ending) it simply has never been enough to make my number one spot. Maybe it's because that while I get to associate The Pixies with the film, I also have to remember that Taking Back Sunday co-opted it, and in a drastic turn of heart my love for those two bands has been dramatically inverted in the time between the film's release and now. Take a guess which one I still like.
Even though, in fact perhaps despite, that it is a comedy, I have also made clear that my love of Woody Allen's proto-mockumentary Take the Money and Run is nearly unparalleled. Even among the filmmaker's later, more serious works like Annie Hall, Hannah and her Sisters, and more recently Melinda and Melinda (all films I also cherish), this is the one that to me most adequately illustrates Allen's genius. This is the first film that he appeared in, acted in, and directed, and the passion for the work oozes out in every scene. The writing is crisp and surprising, and even today I'm taken off guard by how funny bits I've already seen still are. Even still, the shallow nature of what is at base a comedy alone coupled with my sometimes elitist nature (and general interest in more than just laughs) has thus far, and will continue to keep it out of my number one spot.
There are others that make it close. Recent contenders include City of God and The Departed, both of which provide the pacing I desired from Zhivago, but an inkling of doubt that they'll remain evergreen nips at the back of my mind. Classics like Chinatown and M easily make the top ten (and even top five on a good day), but fail to break into the very highest tier.
So, what is my favorite film of all time? Well, I guess that it should have been obvious to me from the get go. And only recently have I come to realize that I'm out of my gourd for not coming to this conclusion more recently. There's a hint in this post's picture, but you'll you'll have to wait until my next update for confirmation, and as full an analysis as I feel it deserves from me to boot.