1969: Movies Sorted By Tier

  • Loved

  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

  • Really Liked

  • None Yet
  • Glad I Saw

  • Andrei Rublev

    ... This one pretty much epitomizes the "best" vs. "favorite" problem I grapple with. I know several folks here think the two are equivalent, but I just can't get there. I couldn't possibly put this movie on a "favorites" list, but I certainly think it's great. The cinematography is fantastic, the narrative is artfully disjointed and complex, and there are scenes of undeniable power (the whole bell-casting story was terrific). And yet I just couldn't embrace it wholeheartedly (probably because huge chunks of it flew over my head). But how can I make a "Best 100 Movies" list when I'd have to leave this off in favor of Groundhog Day? I'm going to have to stick with drawing the line and make a "Favorite 100 Movies" list some day. For what it's worth, I'm thinking I'd make this a tier 3 entry were I to rewatch it, and it might move up a tier with each rewatch after that, but I'm going to give myself a few years or more. A much better movie about art than Dr. Zhivago, in my opinion. Oh, I'm betting there's no way this movie could put a "no animals were harmed" label at the end; consider yourself warned.
  • Midnight Cowboy

    ... I've never kept it secret that this film era is not my favorite, and I saw quite a few amateur reviews that pegged this as "dated." So my expectations were low, but undeservedly so. Perhaps the clothes and society has changed, but since when is naivete dated? Or friendship? Anybody who watched Anaconda should watch this to be reminded that Jon Voight used to have some serious game. Not to mention Dustin Hoffman, in an iconic role. The flashback sequences are particularly effective and at times disturbing, and either demystify or muddle why our "hero" acts the way he does, depending on how you interpret them. Coming in '69, I have to imagine this movie helped set the stage for everybodys (present company excepted) favorite cinematic decade.
  • The Wild Bunch

    ... There are so many interesting things about this film: hearadling the death of the Western, both cinematically and in the time period it portrays, and the feel of classic acting combined with modern realistic violence being just two things that make it noteworthy. That said, many great movies I have to watch twice to appreciate, and this is almost certainly an example. In my first viewing all I saw was the brutality. Perhaps in a second viewing I'll have a better picture of what constitutes the outlaw code of honor.
  • Z

    ... I'm guessing this was the prototype for those 70s political muckraking movies like All the President's Men. Terrific documentary feel in this account of the collapse of Greek democracy. I was particulary struck by the delayed impact; it wasn't until the final 5 or 10 minutes that I really started to feel the pent up sense of loss and frustration. It's disturbing how democracy can appear to be only gradually eroding and then suddenly it's gone.
  • Could Have Missed

  • Take the Money and Run

    ... Should have been titled Take Three Scenes and Run. The marching band cello scene, the soap gun scene, and the illegible holdup note scene are all great. The rest of the movie peaks at mildly amusing, and I struggled to stay awake during the last 30 minutes.
  • Should Have Missed

  • None Yet
  • El Sucko Grande

  • None Yet

Now that I've seen the film, I love your comments about Andrei Rublev. It was a bit too long (mostly, early scenes that were purely philosophical musings should have been cut) for my tastes, but it's also THE BEST direction and cinematography I've ever seen (or, at least, my favorite), BAR NONE. Rivals Citizen Kane, even, in those departments. There were SO many fantastic moments and images (I'm about to make a blog post about these).

And, some great acting. I remember one moment where a warrior of The Raid is talking to a woman about how he has 8 wives but not a Russian wife, while the woman is looking at herself in the reflection on his breastplate, and then she stares up at him. Also, earlier when another woman with a birthmark on her lip is crying, and then picks up some straw and walks out of the church slowly. Not to mention the few 'potentially insane' characters and all the lead characters.

The animal violence also stood out to me, from the savage beating of a dog, lighting a live cow on fire, tripping a horse down some stairs and then stabbing it with a spear... couldn't make that in America, but it looks fantastic and only makes me madder we can't attempt those things in American film.

One thing, though: what version of the Bible were they quoting throughout the film? The DVD subtitles were quoting the King James, which wasn't around in the 1400s. And the Geneva Bible wasn't even close to what the subtitles were reading to me. I wonder if the film (in Russian) was quoting from a Russian translation of the King James Bible (then translated back into English for the subtitles). Who knows, I'm certainly not up on my 1400s Russian Bible history.

And, I think I enjoyed the film a tad more than you did. For me, the best vs. favorites problem is epitomized by The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.

Thanks for the comments! I'm looking forward to giving the movie another try in a few years to see if I'm ready to appreciate it more. I know there are a few Listologists around here that love it, so hopefully they'll see this post of yours (although I'm not sure how they'll feel about your proposed cuts :-).

As for the animal scenes, I agree those were shocking and viscerally beautiful, and I'm mostly all for artistic freedom, but I'm glad we have animal rights rules in place here (tangentially, I applaud John C. Reilly for walking off of Von Trier's forthcoming movie in protest of the on-screen killing of a donkey).

Finally, as long as you're scratching your Tarkovsky itch, I know Stooky was trying to get folks to watch and discuss The Mirror awhile ago. Very intersting movie, and very different from Andrei Rublev.