writing writing writing
It is the end of Week 7 and it’s time to reflect on what I’ve seen so far that is on the 100 Best Films list of critics/academics and historians and directors. Only 8 in 7 weeks, although I did watch Tokyo Story (1953) and Man with a Movie Camera (1929) in the two weeks before the project started. Technically eight, but actually ten. The General (1926), Sunrise (1927), Man with a Movie Camera (1929), Tokyo Story (1953), Wild Strawberries (1957), The Seventh Seal (1957), Persona (1966), The Godfather (1972), Taxi Driver (1972), Fanny and Alexander (1982).
This has been a week where I have tried to further determine my objectives and goals and to listen to feedback. The premise is still there, but the circumstances have altered in a few minor ways.
- I have lots of notes and lots of thoughts and no really realized essays. If I don’t start working on the notes and start making them into something, the year will have gone by and I will have watched 200 films and have notes which tell me that I liked The Silence and The Godfather and Taxi Driver but still found Fanny and Alexander (1982) was executed well but didn’t sit in an important place in my history of film, and nor did Sunrise (1927). There will be no sense of the continuity I want to bring to the films by grouping them. So, I decided, it is time to start writing and analysing.
- My website’s format for the first seven weeks makes navigating the daily blog and the section on thoughts and the current films I’m screening – difficult. So I upgraded my hosting to a higher level, allowing better navigation, where you can jump from one section to another by a link rather than by scrolling. I didn’t have any great ambition to make it easy. I thought that the interest of diehard people in the material would make people scroll and scroll and scroll to look at the different sections.
- I’ve worked on making and expressing my own categories of evaluation as I watch the films. I watched Taxi Driver and The Godfather, and also watched Casino and The Cotton Club. Four films by two directors with two indisputably great films and two others failing to live up to that exceptional level but being good or very good (in my opinion).
Now I have clearly defined markers by which I reflect on films I’ve watched in the 100 Greatest Films Ever.
- Working on my own questions or categories led me to do something I adamantly didn’t intend to do, which was to rank the films I’m watching in my own – unpublished – order. The questions I ask in the evaluation process have their own way of making inadvertent rankings. So I arrived at a guiding system – for myself – to asking, ‘how exceptional or extraordinary are these films in different categories?’; or when looking at different levels or layers of meaning or craft.
- Week 8 reinforced that I need to be flexible, pliable, and go with the flow, while still maintaining the touch points of the 100 greatest films. This led to writing some detailed thoughts on a few films (The Outsiders, Winter Light) and publishing them. This further led me to be mindful of the pitfalls and advantages of looking at a list of films other people think are great – and the pitfalls are few and the riches are already abundant. My spreadsheet of the different list of films started broadening, in Week 3 as I came across more and more lists, but with very few movies adding to the length of the list. Consensus is a quite tight bond between different people. Looking at Critics, Academics, Directors and print media (TIME magazine, HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, EMPIRE) and Popular (like IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes), there is a wonderful crossover of film fans and film fanatics.
Fans and fanatics are of course the same thing as fan is a contraction of the word fanatic. Except they’re not. I reckon that the word fan actually means lover, and fanatic means more obsessive. In the way we use the word fan and fanatic in common language, with a broadly consistent meaning, fan actually means lover, and fanatic means approaching obsessive.
It’s like the difference between someone who thinks there’s really good coffee, and someone who does a Barista course and learns why some coffee-making is really good and becomes obsessive about the pursuit of good coffee – fresh beans, tamping, water pressure, froth, foam, execution.
It’s like the difference between someone who has their favourite brand of pasta and someone who learns how the people who make the pasta make pasat (the Italian carbohydrate, not the VW automobile), and what makes the difference making it yourself and creating great pasta and Great pasta, and then obsessively pursuing the location or creation of the best pasta thereafter.
It’s like someone who has their favourite Thai restaurant until they find (accidentally) another one that is even better, but then does an all-day cooking course in Thailand, and makes 20 Thai dishes from scratch in one day – that would be moi and moi wife – and now knows what real Thai food tastes like.
It’s like someone who sees every film that screens in accessible cinemas (fan) and someone who goes out of their way to find (in addition to those films) more films, which are more esoteric (fanatic) – and someone who hunts down even more obscure films – in libraries, on Amazon, online, on the BFI Player (obsessive, compulsive – and probably an actual disorder).
When film watching becomes a disorder or neurosis – obsessive compulsive film disorder (OCFD).
The list of what I’ve watched so far for the top 200 is:
TOKYO STORY (1953)
MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA (1929)
THE GENERAL (1927)
THE SEVENTH SEAL (1957)
FANNY AND ALEXANDER (1982)
HOUR OF THE WOLF (1968)
CRIES AND WHISPERS (1972)
SMILES OF A SUMMER NIGHT (1955)
SCENES OF A MARRIAGE (1974)
WILD STRAWBERRIES (1957)
THE GODFATHER (1972)
THE CONVERSATION (1974)
THE COTTON CLUB (1984)
TAXI DRIVER (1976)
THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY (1961)
WINTER LIGHT (1963)
THE SILENCE (1963)
That leaves 90 films (in the 100) to watch in 44 weeks.