Hey Kids! See These Films Before You Get 2B 14!

I love lists!  I mean, I LOVE lists!!  They are the gateway to educated choice.  You how "they" are always selling you something?  Well, it's because they have learned that when you don't really know what you want, it's much easier to make you act on impulse.  When you know what you want, you don't give away your money stupidly.  Informed choice allows you to get more of what you want.  Informed choice makes you more satisfied and thus happier.  Who wouldn't want to have more stuff they like and to be happier?

So you have to learn what you want.  And that is where lists come in.  I have lists that are so full I have more than enough films to keep me satisfied well past my life expectancy. I won't run out of movies I WANT to watch until I am 110.  And since they are going to keep making them, by the time I am 110 I will probably have enough movies I have CHOSEN to see to carry me past the age of 200.

So what do you want to watch?  Or, perhaps, what do you want your children to watch?  Did you know that the British Film Institute has a list of the Top 50 Films To See Before You Are 14?  It's darn awesome.  And there are some on that list that I still haven't seen and I am almost 50.  I better live to be 110.  I am going to start exercising just so I can watch more movies.

These are the BFI's Top Ten To See Before You Turn Age 14:

But you know what?  The BFI is not the only entity that has made a supercool list of movies to see.  Filmmakers Mark Cousins and Tilda Swinton made some great lists and then did it up one step better, helping really cool kids everywhere organize parties around great flix.  A party AND a movie?  Does it get much better than that.  Check out 8 1/2 Foundation now!!!!!!!

One last question: why are all these lists from British institutions? Where are the American counterparts? Or Swiss? Or Chinese? Or Australian? Help!

Wow! This is great! "Please Say Something"

Thanks to IFC's Independent Eye I have now seen my favorite film of 2009.  David O'Reilly's PLEASE SAY SOMETHING won the Golden Bear for short films at Berlin this year.  It's about ten minutes long but packs a wallup of emotion, innovation, and experimentation into those ten minutes.  My day has been made.

IFC has some more information on their site, along with excerpts from an interview with O'Reilly.  Check it out.

Classic Comedy #2: The Eating Machine

Not eating your vegetables?  Not a member of The Clean Plate Club yet?  Better hope the parents don't pull a page out of the Modern Times guide.

Charlie Chaplin was the first true king of comedy on film.  Sure his movies are silent, but all you need to do is watch in order to laugh until your sides hurt.
In this clip, The Little Tramp has gotten a job at a new factory, which for then was the height of modernity.  For some reason, those in power always want to find ways to be more efficient, particularly when it comes to others.  They pick Charlie to test out their latest idea...
Unfortunately I couldn't find a clip that wasn't messed with, so you must endure the Blue Danube Waltz as the slapped on score here...  To get the true pleasure, go back to the original and watch MODERN TIMES (recommended viewing).

The Rube Goldberg variations

As I said,  Rube Goldberg was one of my first favorite cartoonists. He drew these wild machines that were soooo complicated but did simple things.

And his cartoons have inspired one of our favorite short films of all time: THE WAY THINGS GO. Definitely Recommended Viewing.

The Way Things Work have in turn inspired a series of commercials which are pretty darn fun. Here's one:

And Rube, The Way, and these commercials have inspired a whole slew of wonderful homemade contraptions that all over the internet. But we will look at those later.

Recommended Viewing #3: Nausica Of The Valley Of The Wind

NAUSICA OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND (1992) was the first film of Studio Ghibli (even before they were Studio Ghibili!).  It's got everything in it, from the first seeds of steampunk, robots, a great female youthful heroine, and an environmental message (plus another one of how aggression is often a cry for love...).  We've watched it numerous times, have the figures, and our very own pet fox-squirrel.

Recommended Viewing #2: Pom Poko

The greatest animation company ever, Studio Ghibli, produced this fantastic movie in 1992.  You can tell the makers of OVER THE HEDGE watched it but, boy, does their movie stink in comparison!  They missed all of the fun, ideas, and greatness of POM POKO.  Being a Racoon was never so much fun -- nor was pranking the humans.  It's a great tale of resistance and rebellion.  There's a couple of spooky sequences and you can see the creatures' private parts, but still we think it's appropriate for age 6+.

One Of The Top Films Of All Time: Chris Marker's La Jetee

Chris Marker's LA JETEE haunts many filmmakers' work.  When I went to NYU, it was required viewing and I think you can see it's influence in many grads' work.  Its marriage of form and content has rarely been equaled.  His film SANS SOLEIL has also forever provoked me to deliver a true Essay Film -- and I will one day.  Both are Required Viewing.  

One of the beautiful things about his work is that its effect runs far beyond the work at hand; he changes how we look at things, makes us reflect upon our own choices.  Marker is a true believer in the power of the dialogue between screen and audience. He recognizes how some of the best work is created when our imagination fills in the gaps.  Today far too much is actually shown, preventing us from becoming complicit in the narratives. His great essay on Hitchcock's VERTIGO makes clear his passion for this process.  If only others could follow this lead...

There's a lot of great writing on this film out there. Here's Senses Of Cinema's...

Recommended Viewing #1: My Beautiful Girl Mari


Lee Seong-kang's MY BEAUTIFUL GIRL MARI (2002) was one of our great film discoveries this year.  The animation is beautiful and inventive.  It's the story of a young boy who seems to have everyone around him always leaving him.  He seems to find a solution by entering a dream world, where he meets Mari.  Seeing it's set during his summer vacation there's no better time to watch it than right now.  We'd say appropriate for age 7+.