I’m a movie fan. I really like Star Wars. I even made a feeble attempt to break it down in a previous post. For the most part, though, I am your average summer blockbuster lemming. I go to movies and get wowed by the special effects (“Whoaaaa…them’s la-ZERS!”). Who cares about a plot when they’re blowing s**t up, I say.
I have a friend, though, who is much more intelligent about movies than I am. Pantene loves movies. Loves talking about them, thinking about them, repeating famous lines. I think she even enjoys watching them a little bit.
And I really like Pantene’s criteria for what makes an all-time favorite movie. Her take on it is accessible but not shallow. And it’s for movie watchers, not movie makers or industry types. So I asked her to jot it down and email it to me so I can post it here.
And as to why she’s named after a shampoo: I’m very vague on the the details, but what I heard is that it involves a yellow dress, a raffle ticket, and a wild night at a strip club in White River Junction, Vermont. Perhaps they should make a movie out of that.
Below is Pantene’s take on what makes an all-time classic movie.
Pantene on All-Time Classic Movies
There are several elements a movie must have to make it Great; “The Best of the Best”. Can you guess what the following have in common?
- The Unforgiven
- The Shawshank Redemption
- The Godfather, Part I
- The Godfather, Part II
- The English Patient
- Schindler’s List
A Good Script.
Strong, believable, unpredictable dialogue. I hate it when the writers insult my intelligence.
An Epic-Like Story.
I want to feel completely invested in the whole shebang: the people, the location, the story, the struggle. I also want a little complex “moral imperative”; a little gray.
When evil is sooooo evil and good is sticky sweet, I get bored. Again, with “insulting my intelligence”. I don’t want cookie-cutter characters. Give me dimension, flaws, humility, honesty, “un-categorizable” people if you will. Let me digress a little here: Take a good look at “The Hunt for Red October” again. Not a phenomenal film, but a great action flick nonetheless. You’ll see that there’s no evil senator, no bad-ass general, etc. It’s a battle of wits so to speak. They forgot about this kind of subtlety when they made “Patriot Games”. Oooo, it’s a mean, volatile, greasy-haired bad Columbian drug lord. Gee, do you think he’s the bad guy?
That is each and every actor is spot-on no matter the size of their role. They don’t have to scream and yell to make themselves believable. Once again, subtlety is key. That’s why Pacino is so goddamn good in Parts I & II (closing the door in Diane Keaton’s face, twice.) and soooooooo shitty in Part III. Parts I & II were made before Al started screaming all his lines. He should take a page from the Ralph Fiennes book on How to Act. How can we forget the German Commandant Amon Goeth (Schindler’s List)? “Whatcha doing with that rifle, Amon? Um…Amon, why don’t you put the gun down and finish your coffee? Um, you’re not really going to shoot… OH MY GOD!! YOU BASTARD!!” With one swift yet apathetic act Ralph Fiennes’ character was able to epitomize the evil of the Third Reich. More noteworthy performances: The interaction between Gene Hackman and Sir Richard Harris’ characters in The Unforgiven…I suggest watching the jail scene again.
Need I say more?
Movies that come very very very close-but-no-cigar to meeting ALL these needed elements, that is, movies that I feel still kick-ass but are not going to be included with the above mentioned are listed here in no particular order:
- The Searchers
- Dances with Wolves
- Lawrence of Arabia
- Lord of the Rings, Two Towers
- Gone with the Wind (how can you not?)
- Mississippi Burning
- Million Dollar Baby
- Pulp Fiction
And of course there are movies that are great indies (Lost In Translation, Magnolia), great comedies (When Harry Met Sally), great action adventures (Raiders of the Lost Ark), great love stories, (Breakfast at Tiffany’s) great thrillers (Sixth Sense) and great guilty pleasures (Ocean’s Eleven, Showgirls).
Check out AFI’s Top 100 Films. I agree with 95% of their list (That’s ’cause I’ve seen only 95 of the movies listed.) To pull a few of my personal favs:
Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon, The Third Man, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, & Rear Window. I could go on and on and on…To Kill A Mockingbird, The Graduate, The Big Sleep, Alice, Dead Poets Society, Sound of Music, All The President’s Men, Cry Freedom, Stalag 17, Walk the Line, Fish Called Wanda…..
How’s that Jack?