Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Nature vs. Nurture: The Director's Cut

I'm really starting to slack off on these posts, huh? I need some more inspiration: someone better start pissing me off big time or this blog is gonna grind to a halt. And I know that my readers in Sweden (I'm really digging ClustrMaps) would be horribly disappointed.

So here I am at work with a little time to spare. Let's see what I can whip off.

There are a few movie buffs in my particular work area and we have taken to exchanging DVDs that we own. There's this one guy who seems to know quite a bit about dark, indie European films but - get this - borrowed Top Gun from me.

He'd never seen it.

Now this guy is about the same age as me, so not having seen that particular piece of 80s gold is rather unusual.

He now has a paper desk sign/name plate that reads: "Maverick".

It got me thinking about how different people have different influences; even film buffs. I can't believe the number of times I run across someone who hasn't seen a flick I consider a classic.

"Whaddaya mean you haven't seen Mr. Mom? You grow up in Iceland or somethin'?"

I have friends who haven't seen Jaws, or The Godfather or even Star Wars for Pete's sake. I wonder smetimes at how our lives have differed as a result. Hell, after seeing Jaws, I didn't want to swim alone or open my eyes underwater for fear of what I'd see.

Who knows? If I hadn't seen it, maybe I would have been the next Mark Spitz or somethin'.

What I don't understand is, how can you enjoy movies like Not Just Another Teen Movie or Scary Movie if you haven't seen the movies being spoofed or referenced? I mean, nowadays, so many movies rely on the fact that audiences share certain cultural influences. What could possibly have been appealing about the first 5 minutes of Chicken Run if you haven't seen The Great Escape? (one of my all time favourite flicks, by the way) That particular movie also got spoofed in the Simpsons episode where Maggie got dropped off at a day care (to name just one of many other references).

Is it still funny if you don't get the joke?

Alright you movie slackers, the following is a short list of films I believe you must see in order to "get" most of the movie references out there (in no particular order):

- Jaws
- Star Wars
- The Godfather
- West Side Story
- The Wizard of Oz
- Casablanca
- Citizen Kane
- 2001: A Space Odyssey
- The Great Escape
- E.T.
- Dr. Strangelove
- Pulp Fiction
- Forrest Gump
- Psycho
- Alien
- It's a Wonderful Life
- A Streetcar Named Desire
- Taxi Driver
- Cool Hand Luke
- Rear Window
- The Outsiders
- Terminator
- Gone With The Wind
- The Graduate
- Deliverance
- The Matrix
- Apocalypse Now
- The Silence of the Lambs
- The Blair Witch Project
- Rocky
- The Shining
- The Breakfast Club
- Raiders of the Lost Ark
- (at least one movie featuring Rambo, Dirty Harry, James Bond...)

These are not the best movies of all time, necessarily (though most would no doubt make my list), but they're the ones I think get referenced the most in pop culture.

You can find the American Film Institute's top 100 list here.

A more interesting and quite different Time Magazine top 100 is here.

If you haven't seen most of these movies then for the love of Mike get off your ass, get to a video store and rent them.

...Then get back on your ass, I guess.

"You go inside the cage. Cage goes in the water. You go in the water. Shark's in the water ... Our shark. (singing) Farewell and adieu to you fair Spanish ladies..."
- Robert Shaw as Quint in "Jaws"


SH said...

Maybe people have reasons for not watching these movies. I have three: I didn’t grow up in a city where it was easy to get to a movie theatre; I wasn’t allowed to watch any movies that were over a G-rating until I was well into my teens; and, I read books, many of which have cultural references too.

Ken Breadner said...

Holy crap am I deprived.
There were eighteen movies on that list I've never seen, and a couple I've never even HEARD of.
I ran your list by my wife--who has seen maybe twice as many movies as I have, maybe more--and she ALSO had not seen eighteen, albeit a different eighteen. Feel free to shit all over me.
My excuse? I read books. Lots of them. There was a period from 1990-1993 or so when I saw pretty much everything Hollywood put out (had money to burn, back then), but nowadays, for me to go to the theatre, it has to be something I know I'm going to like. And as for renting older stuff, I don't have an excuse. I just never seem to get around to it.