Flaws in the List, Or: How I Learned To Accept that None of My Favorite Movies Appear on “Best Of” Lists and Accept the Challenge

bcta

For me, there is no better movie than Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice. I have encouraged everyone who comes to my home to watch it with us, and most of the time, it makes a big impact on new viewers. It’s a patient movie. It stands up to (endless) viewings.

I will post Brian’s Netflix review of it below, but first, the reason for posting this. Everyone has movies they love that they can’t imagine their lives without. For me, B&C&T&A holds that spot. I have quite a few films that are truly special to me, but there is no competition for the number one spot. Paul Mazursky wrote and directed a beautiful film, and the entire cast is luminous. The sparing soundtrack is perfect. It is simply a perfectly crafted film that allows you to get to know the characters without forcing, with long scenes of actual conversation, human connections, and lives unfolding. I am a fan.

However, the movie has become (and maybe, always was, to some) a punchline. A t-shirt slogan that no one under 50 understands. People mistakenly think it’s a movie about swingers, or wife-swapping. It would probably bore a younger audience to tears, since very little actually “happens.” No lens flares. No one gets hit. No one is degraded. If they remade it, the longest scenes would be of the two female stars having graphic sex. There would be 150 short scenes, music cues included in every scene to tell you how to feel, and to ensure you would want to purchase the soundtrack. It would be ruined in a multitude of ways.

Now, here is my trouble with any “Best Of” list of movies. I love movies. I love all kinds of movies: good, bad, and forgettable. I love reading about movies. I love talking about movies, and sharing favorites with friends. My mom has an endearing trait of describing every movie she ever watches as “my all-time favorite!” I feel like that, sometimes. I can find good in most movies. If someone took the time to make something that sticks, I appreciate it. They don’t all stick, and they aren’t all my “all-time favorite,” but I can find value in most movies.  The movies I love do not fit onto a list of “The Most Important Movies to Watch Before You Die,” or “The Greatest American Movies.” My list would be called, “Movies that Give Natalie the Deepest Feelings,” or “Top 100 Movies to Watch 100 Times in My Lifetime.”

But as I searched the lists prepared by “people who know movies,” I was saddened to know that practically none of my favorites made their way onto any of them. AFI doesn’t seem to think that the Joseph Bologna/Renee Taylor film, Made for Each Other is as important as five different John Wayne Westerns. Alfred Hitchcock holds a dozen spots on most of the “Top” lists, but if you look for anything starring Jill Clayburg, or something written by Neil Simon, you will be out of luck. It’s confusing. I understand that these lists are meant to guide you to discover the history of film, and to deepen your understanding of film techniques. By listing movies that made the biggest social impact (12 Angry Men and Platoon come to mind), we are being encouraged to discover real truths about humanity, through film. I get it. That’s why we are attacking this list of 120 films that would have otherwise remained unwatched by us.

Still, it hurts to know that the movies that matter the most to me, that have made the largest impact on my personal life, could be lost to time. So many films that I love have never, and because of studios going bankrupt, rights being muddled, and lack of knowledge or interest, probably will never, make the transition from VHS to DVD (or streaming, as the case may be), and therefore, will be lost. Last year, the last VHS players were made. Going forward, the challenge of finding those lost gems will become more and more difficult. I already have friends who have abandoned DVD and Blu-Ray, and do not own any tangible film media. For someone like me, who has a collection of beloved VHS tapes, it’s a sad time. Hell, “they” won’t even release more seasons of Fantasy Island on DVD due to lack of interest, so what are the odds that Chilly Scenes of Winter will ever make the transition to DVD?

Tonight, as we pick our first movie from the jar, I will appreciate the fact that we can access these movies easily. Their inclusion on these lists almost guarantees that they will be available to anyone, easily, in the future. And I will lament the loss of “Natalie’s Top 100-Classics-Best Ever-Movies to See Before You Die.”