The Internet Movie Database, for those who live in a cave.
So, I’ve recently been looking for a project of some kind. The Greatest Director thing didn’t really pan out. Turns out it can be hard to follow one director in rapid succession, as it really dulls the pallet. Regardless, I’ll do the same, just not ‘as a series’, just out of loop. So I’d been looking for something since. Recently Tyson Carter of Headinavice.com who I’m sure many of you are already acquainted with, decided to end his IMDB Top 250 project. It’s a large, clunky, and hard to tackle project, but I’d like to give it a go. I tracked down the elusive Tyson, and he was nice enough to write a few words of perspective for this introduction, of which I’m very grateful. Here’s what the bastard had to say:
When Sam got in touch and did the polite thing of asking me if I would mind him taking over the IMDB Top 250 Project, I initially just assumed he wanted all the fame, fortune and girls that came with doing it. He assures me it’s not that, and he didn’t even want to steal the reviews I had already stolen, and simply wanted to start from scratch. Maybe he felt our work wasn’t good enough…
Anyway, the challenge outgrew my site, and I had to stop it. As tough as that decision was, I had to get my site back to what I wanted it to be. Since Sam has no objective or goals for his blog and is just coasting through, this project will be perfect for him and will get his lazy ass writing. So this is me, passing the proverbial torch. Please join me in wishing him all the best in reviewing 250 films, on his own. This will be a long old project and I hope he does better than me 🙂
As jovial as always. Yes it’s true, I’ve decided to take on this big mammoth of a project. I plan to review all 250 of the Internet Movie Database’s top rankings of user voted films. Why you ask? that’s simple. I don’t really like the IMDB ranking system. People always use it as a means to justify a film choice, or to assert it’s good. I mean sure, if something’s good by committee then most of the time there’s a defensible argument behind it. What I seek to prove by this basically is that a lot of the films here probably don’t deserve their place over different films. And obviously that’s up for debate, everything is. That’s the whole enjoyment of it, really. I may even be proven wrong (To be fair I have seen a large chunk of them in my own experience, but not recently and not the majority of them).
So, obviously this is a big project. But i’m fairly determined, and i’m relatively certain I’ll enjoy it too regardless of the commitment needed. As for how I’m handling it, I’ll generally do one as every other post, along with contemporary releases and older films as I always do. As for the rating, I always found Tyson’s system appropriate for this kind of thing, where as I don’t typically use one. So I’ve decided to judge these as follows, I’ll be using a fairly basic rating system with 3 essential judgments along with a conclusion of how I decided that. In addition I may comment on it’s ranking in the decimal system and whether I find it appropriate.
Deserving – Obviously self-explanatory, deserves its spot among the Top 250, or perhaps even higher along the ranking.
Debatable – A sound entry, but one that’s not necessarily spectacular and could be replaced by several better films, or films similar to it.
Undeserving – In no way does this film deserve to be crowned as one of the elite, nor is it notably unique.
As well as announcing the project, this’ll stand as a starting point essentially. Since the start of my blog, I’ve reviewed the following films among the Top 250:
#51: Django Unchained. (2012)
#100: Raging Bull (1980)
#143: The Sixth Sense (1999)
#141: Casino (1995)
#158: Annie Hall (1977)
#191: The Graduate (1966)
#203: Life of Pi (2012)
However, obviously they’re all missing some relevant discussion about their place in the rankings, why they are there, and the fundamental verdict in the system I just explained. So, In addition to announcing my intent, I’ll add an addendum here to each of my reviews that can be found above. Let’s start with Django.
Django Unchained (2012) is a fairly notable film. It’s fantastically crafted by Tarantino into a sensationalist tale of exploitation, whilst being a very exhilarating, culturally relevant experience. The screenplay and script are excellent, and they are only elevated by the fantastic cast and performances within Django, particularly that of Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Cristoph Waltz. The score is also pretty fantastic, a mass of homage to the original Django (1966) along with elements of modern music. Particularly that of black music culture, such as recording artists James Brown, and 2Pac Shakur which fleshes out the exploitation motif. Django Unchained is an original, action-packed, cultural and nostalgic experience all in one and truly deserves it’s spot. I’d say 51 is a fair number.
Judgment – Deserving.
Raging Bull (1980) is a brutal, and immersive look into the past of real-life boxer Jake LaMotta from the ever-talented Martin Scorsese. For me it really defined the biographical picture, and is one of the only films to really capture the true grit and tragedy involved in Boxing. Featuring unforgettable performances from Robert Deniro, and the debuting Joe Pesci, the film boasts some timeless star power even now. The direction is raw, intense, and truly powerful as we follow Jake to his unobtainable highs as middleweight champ, to debilitating lows as a lonely, bloated bum. For me there’s no real question if Raging Bull is deserving of it’s place among the Top 250. It’s number 100, is probably a bit low. For me, Raging Bull will always be among my top 10 and I’m honestly quite surprised to not see it further up.
Judgment – Deserving
Sixth Sense (1999) is a twist-based supernatural thriller from generally mixed director M.Night Shyamalan. The film toys with ideas of voyeurism as a little boy is haunted by visions of ghosts. A shamed and now distant psychologist tries to cure and guide the boy through his journey of discovery. The problem is, the film is entirely dull once you know about it’s twist and has little replay value in my opinion. In addition it’s twist is generally known, and is a running joke in popular culture. For me I felt the pacing was quite bland, and I didn’t really connect with the films storyline, and the major twist (as many Shyamalan films have) was spoiled for me years ago. I don’t feel Sixth Sense is a notable film, or that great in any sense though not by a lack of trying from Bruce Willis.
Judgment – Undeserved.
Casino (1995) is a gritty gambling epic also from the mind of Martin Scorsese. Similarly it also stars Joe Pesci and Robert Deniro. Like Raging Bull it has elements of the biographical, but focuses more highly on the drama of gang corruption and elements of a seedy nature within the world of casinos and high life in Vegas. Casino doesn’t pack the brutal punch of Raging Bull, but instead it has a highly stylized and textured feel to it’s very suiting aesthetics and surroundings. It’s a masterclass of building the epic, with it’s use of long winding, yet still intriguing plot-lines and ensemble cast with crucial supporting characters. Casino and it’s gripping tale of dice, drugs, and power easily earns it’s spot among IMDb’s Top 250.
Judgment – Deserved
Annie Hall (1977) is a satirical romantic comedy from witty auteur Woody Allen. The film feels like a last hurrah in some ways, given his filmography and the very artistic direction he took following the success of Annie Hall. The film follows a comedian who recalls one of the greatest loves of his life, and how he fears he may never be able to forget her. Woody Allen stars as his comedic persona once again, alongside long time collaborator Diane Keaton. The story is told in a very vivid, and complex way as to make it feel a lot more fluid and snappy as opposed to melodramatic. I’m not so certain about Annie Hall’s conclusion in the Top 250. I can see it’s appeal, and how it it’s kind of the pinnacle of the rom-com. However I feel mostly opposed to it, just because some of Allen’s other work has so much more soul. I suppose that’s just personal bias.
Judgment – Debatable
The Graduate (1966) is a coming of age (kind of?) drama from Mike Nichols. It features Ben, a fairly lost graduate who comes home from college and questions the path he should take next. He is seduced by Mrs.Robinson, whilst also taking a liking to her daughter Elaine. It questions why we live, and why we make the decisions we do. The story sounds relatively unspectacular, but the finished product is incredibly entertaining. It’s a much more unforgiving and remorseful look at life than most Hollywood pictures. It’s also the mainstream debut of Dustin Hoffman. A particular element I found notable in the Graduate, was it’s use of sound. Simon and Garfunkle’s ‘The Sound of Silence’ haunts the films meaning, and lingers around the film’s bittersweet tones. The Graduate is perhaps not the most original film, but it’s certainly finely honed.
Judgment – Deserved
Life of Pi (2012) is a fantasy drama from visual master Ang Lee. In my eyes it’s one of the most aesthetically beautiful films there probably ever will be, and certainly has been so far. It’s story details a man known as Pi Patel, who tells a story of his untraditional childhood to a writer who’s lacking in inspiration. Pi’s father owned a zoo, and he sought to move from India, and to do so he would have to cross the sea with his animals. The story unfolds as a freak tidal storm would strand Pi, making his future uncertain. It’s a stunning visual spectacle, supported by a story, about storytelling. The visuals mesh together so well with the inner workings of the story, and ultimately calls back upon the imagination and storytelling that led to cinema’s birth in the first place.
Judgment – Deserved
So that’s my first 7 I guess. It feels marginally Lazy, but my analysis of the film’s would be the same, and this addendum gives some context, and gets the ball rolling at least. The next will be regular sized reviews. I think I’ll probably start with Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys. But i’m not certain. Anyway. I’d like to thank Tyson for writing a few words again, and hope many of you’ll join me as I trudge through this ambitious project. Thanks for stopping by, and follow my exploits at Sams_Reel_Views.