Monday, November 06, 2006

Ebert's Best: 1968 & 1969

1968

1. The Battle of Algiers
2. 2001: A Space Odyssey
3. Falstaff
4. Faces
5. The Two of Us
6. The Producers
7. Oliver!
8. The Fifth Horseman Is Fear
9. Rachel, Rachel
10. Romeo and Juliet

It shames me to admit I've seen neither Zefferelli's Romeo and Juliet or The Battle of Algiers. It seemed after 9/11 you couldn't read any of the wags without getting at least one reference to TBOA before segueing into "Should we torture?" And Oliver! was one of those Saturday afternoon movies on our old b&w TV set. I can't comment on it, except to say that ever since, it takes very little prompting (from my children -- my wife stopped long ago) to get me to raise a knee and jig down the street.

Man, does Ebert ever love The Producers. This movie must qualify as one of those "You had to be there" moments, because I've seen it a couple of times, and it just doesn't soar until Springtime For Hitler finally takes to the stage. And while I understand some people's hestitance to have a laugh at the Nazis, I think there's a qualitative difference between this and Hogan's Heroes. Mind you, I think Werner Klemperer pulling in a paycheque for doing Hogan's Heroes is rather fitting. Where does this end? In any case, this flick launched the career of Brooks, and the world is a happier place for it.

You can't beat seeing 2001 on the big screen. Anything smaller, though, is snooze-inducing. Lots of terrific scenes inspiring lots of terrific send ups.

Moving along...

1969

1. Z
2. Medium Cool
3. Weekend
4. if...
5. Last Summer
6. The Wild Bunch
7. Easy Rider
8. True Grit
9. Downhill Racer
10. War and Peace

What a year. I've contended that, in this post-Wild Bunch day and age, it nearly amounts to a moral outrage when filmmakers mount another Western. Still, I'm glad True Grit was released in TWB's bloody wake. Wayne's Oscar comment -- ""If I'd known this was all it would take, I'd have put that eyepatch on 40 years ago" -- is satisfyingly self-depracating, but a little off the mark. The Duke's Rooster Cogburn reminds me of my father-in-law, an association I don't make with any of Wayne's other roles.

Easy Rider is a bit of a kick to see. I can't think about it now, though, without remembering my wife's reaction to On The Road. This was early in our marriage and we were, in fact, on the road. I was reading the book to her, and for the first hundred pages or so everything was fine. But at some point, these guys entice one of their brethren away from his wife and crying baby, and my wife said, "What a pack of bums!" I couldn't agree more.

Ebert's defense of Easy Rider as a Great Movie can be read here.

3 comments:

ジョエル said...

I recently saw TBOA and it is worth seeing. It was even a good movie, so it wasn't a chore to sit through it

Whisky Prajer said...

Yeah, I think it's high time I take the Netflix plunge.

DarkoV said...

You must see "Battle of Algiers".

Then, Netflix "Syriana". Which is real, which is true?

No clue. Both are such strong and alarming movies, except the latter has preetier faces.