I was going to make another list. But it’s easy to make a list. It requires only the most superficial of thought, and once it’s written then it’s written and one simply moves on to the next one. And I realised that if something is worthy of being put in a list of good things then it is worthy of deeper discussion. So here I am, embarking on a foolhardy series of fifty posts about films I like that will take me well into the next year and in all probability until the end of my life.
I’m adding a touch of variety to the series by not choosing the order of the films myself. I have arranged them chronologically for my own reference, but will decide which one to write about next by means of a random number generator. Maybe the element of the unexpected will help me to approach these films as if anew.
What’s in the list? Well, we’ll find out as we go along. I don’t want to give everything away in this first post. OK, fair enough, but what are my rules for inclusion? Is there anything I have had reluctantly to omit? My, you’re full of questions today.
By no means can every one of my choices be described as a great film – some are merely very good – but I love them without exception. If I were a true cineaste the list would of course include names like Fellini, Bergman, Ray, Kurosawa, Welles, Ford and Renoir. You will find none of them here. It’s not that I don’t like them, it’s just that my knowledge in certain areas is lacking (as may be my taste). There are a number of films I would tentatively claim to love but which I have omitted because of feeling my acquaintance of them is too slight. These include Sunset Blvd., Casablanca, Brief Encounter, The Godfather, The Man who Shot Liberty Valance, Amadeus, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Chinatown. The list goes on. To express it succinctly, of all the great films that have failed to make the list, the ones I know enough I don’t love enough and the ones I love enough I don’t know enough.
Some statistical observations. There are three directors who get two films in the list. No director has three. The films I have chosen, I think, show a tendency towards lightness rather than darkness and levity rather than earnestness. Truffaut makes the list, for example, while Godard doesn’t (Le Mépris just missed the cut). My preoccupation with childhood and childishness is probably reflected quite heavily, though none of the films I have chosen was made with a predominantly child audience in mind. Twelve of the films are in a foreign language, more than half of these French. Three fifths of my choices come from the period 1955-1975, while only four of the films were made in the last twenty years. My passion for the British Character Actor is likely to become quite apparent.
This could be fun, and I may get something useful out of looking at these films more closely myself. I’m very much a layman at the moment. I hope to emerge from the project wiser, a little sadder perhaps, but ultimately older.