Sunday, January 08, 2012

Desert Island DVDs

Via Jim Emerson, Matt Zoller Seitz has initiated a new kind of meme - Movies for a Desert Island. The rules are simple enough - "You can list 10 feature films, one short and a single, self-contained season of a TV series" - and "Every slot on the list must be claimed by a self-contained unit of media." So - no combining Godfather movies, that sort of thing.

It's a fun exercize - and comes in time for my Sunday Screen Grab, which is an invitation, I suppose. So up first - a short? there are good choices, but I am going to stick with something necessary - Buster Keaton's One Week. Holes, you know...

As for TV - in the end, this is not very hard: Season 2 of Monty Python's Flying Circus. That's the Piranha Brothers and Silly Walks, the Spanish Inquisition, Blackmail, Scott of the Antarctic, Archeology Today, the Dirty Hungarian Phrasebook, the Lifeboat sketch (how long is it?) It's great stuff, and beats out the nearest competition (the first and third year of Mpnty Python, I imagine), by a hair.

And now to movies. This gets a bit complicated - there are certainly more than 10 films I don't want to live without. But I guess the fun of a thing like this is the pain of separation, and the joy of choosing what you choose. So - here goes, with comments and pictures, most of the time.

1. I'm going to start out cheating, sort of. It's a film I have never, in fact seen - and I don't think it's actually available anywhere, at least not legally: it's Out One: Noli me Tangere - 13 hours of Jacques Rivette? Oh yeah, I'd take that sight unseen without worrying that I'm wasting a slot.

2. Next up, something obvious - It's a Wonderful Life. I waffled on this, to tell the truth - I've seen it many many times, to the point of memorizing it just about... I could take something else, I thought, and memorize it. But then - I will be trapped on a desert island; whatever I take, it won't be long before it is as familiar as this is. And will it (whatever that film is, that I leave off in favor of this - say - Seven Samurai) be as endlessly revelatory as the Capra? Well - probably - but which will I miss more? No - how better to remember what you had (and what you're finally free of) than It's a Wonderful Life?

3. The Maltese Falcon - another one I've seen many many times and considered skipping - in favor of, oh - a Hawks? (His Girl Friday?) Yeah but - proof is in the pudding, I still have to watch this every few months. (Same with His Girl Friday, of course, but what can you do? there are only 10 films.)

4. M - this is another one I have seen many times, but I would never for a second consider leaving it off.

5. McCabe & Mrs. Miller - another film that never seems close to exhausted.

6. Early Summer - I'm not going anywhere without Ozu.

7. Duck Soup - here, I think I'm moving more into the comfort food section. Some of the films above can be kind of rough sledding - but this is plain joy. I don't think I have to defend this, though.

8. Bride of Frankenstein - similarly - I put this on and am happy with the world. Just to listen to the voices, even...

9. Finally, a couple recent films - Rushmore.

10. O Brother Where Art Thou - I also considered Big Lebowski, but in the end, this is better, and more fun, and more - moving. And a musical.

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