Iro's Top 100 Movies v3.0

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Ah, my absolute favourite film of all time. BTW, spoiler alert should you look at my 100.

It seems to be on a bit of a rollercoaster on your countdowns, Iro? What happened in 2013? Why the big gain/drop? Do you have any idea?

It's the only film I've watched multiple reactions to. It's like a shorthand version of the film and I can 'relive' it in that condensed way and get that feeling of having seen it. It's been about 4 or 5 months since I last watched the whole thing, but it still does it for me and it's still the best.
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5-time MoFo Award winner.



Welcome to the human race...
Mostly it's other titles making their own unrelated gains (or being new additions altogether) rather than anything particularly wrong with Jaws itself - my process is to take a film, start at the bottom of the list, ask myself "is it better than [the film at the bottom of the list]", then keep going up the list until I reach a point at which I don't think it's better, and then that's where it ranks.
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I really just want you all angry and confused the whole time.
Iro's Top 100 Movies v3.0



Victim of The Night
My favorite Spielberg film.
Easily.



My favorite Spielberg film.
I liked it a lot, but I still maintain that it loses something when it's on dry land...





Welcome to the human race...
#36. Jackie Brown
(Quentin Tarantino, 1997)



"Here we go. AK-47. The very best there is. When you absolutely, positively got to kill every motherf*cker in the room, accept no substitutes."

It almost feels like hedging your bets to make your favourite film by a director the one that's actively preoccupied with maturity and ageing - it confers a certain timelessness that'll presumably allow it to endure through the years where less mature works will fall by the wayside, or at least that's the idea. That Tarantino followed up the juvenile pleasures of Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction with an adaptation (his only one as of writing) of a story about the eponymous middle-aged stewardess (Pam Grier) who has to supplement her meagre salary by working for black-market arms dealer Ordell (Samuel L. Jackson) is at once very much keeping in touch with his established criminal milieu but vastly different when it comes to actually approaching these characters and how they see themselves existing in this world. Such an unorthodox approach is certainly distinct enough to confound audiences that he's spent much of his subsequent career continuing along a more juvenile streak, but so much of what makes his better post-Jackie films work can be found in an elemental stage here. Of course, a lot of what makes Jackie work on its own terms is down to how it devises another great collection of impeccably-acted characters, chief among them Robert Forster's Max getting drawn into Jackie's complicated life and ultimately trying to help her get out. An epic tale of alliances, double-crosses, and extremely valuable MacGuffins allows Tarantino to build on his earlier features and encourages him to (slightly) temper quirks such as anachronic storytelling and retro soundtracks as he shows that he at least somewhat understands that the story is ultimately more important than his idiosyncrasies.

2005 ranking: N/A
2013 ranking: N/A



I adore Tarantino's emotionally stunted man-child impulses, but a good argument can be made that Jackie Brown is his best, and then lament what his career would have looked like if he had ever decided to grow up.



I loved Jackie Brown. I don't know if I would now, but I certainly think it'll be top 3 or 4 considering how I feel about the rest of what I've seen of his. I think one thing which holds JB back a little for me is it was the first time I realised that QT needed an editor to step in and make thing tighter (for want of a better word. Something I now also think about Pulp Fiction, but I hadn't realised it back then) and everything of his I've seen since Reservoir Dogs, which I think is a tight as a drum probably because he literally couldn't afford it to be any thing else.

I certainly agree that it's the most grown up I've seen QT (but remembering I've not seen his last couple) but that's probably because it's someone elses story and as it was a novel, the script was already laid down to an extent. His own flourishes obviously colour it and are littered throughout, but it feels like he added to something rather than constructed it himself and, therefore, it's unlike anything else he's done.



Jackie Brown is the only Tarantino film I actually love and where I don't feel the artist's sensibilities infringing on the narrative in a negative way. Something about his dialogue just clangs in my ear in a way that other distinct writing (like, say, the writing in a film such as The Pit and the Pendulum) doesn't.

Having read Rum Punch, the novel on which it's based, I think it's also a pretty solid adaptation. I think that Pam Grier's performance is absolutely fabulous.



QT needed an editor to step in and make thing tighter

The last thing I want with the Tarantino we have (man child) is for his films to be tighter. If anything, give him even more rope. Let all of his movies be four hour, indulgent opuses.



What makes QT great is his boundless enthusiasm. Watching his movies is like listening to a kid tell twenty minute story about a dog they saw on their walk home from school. Yes, they will include a lot of unneccessary details, but if you just hone in on what's important narratively, we lose that unleashed excitement. And that's what Tarantino is at his essence. A kid spilling everything he knows about cinema (which is a lot) out with every stupid and redundant revenge tale he tells.


Do I really want a movie like Django Unchained told soberly and with restraint? Good god, no. I just want a Django Unchained without a horrible Australian accented QT cameo.


Originally Posted by Takoma
Something about his dialogue just clangs in my ear

I personally think waaaaaaay too much is made of QT the 'writer'. I think his dialogue is very important to his style, in that it has his idiosyncratic fingerprints all over it. And he has his characters say some occassionally great, chewy dialogue. But....yes it 'clangs'. It is this weird hybrid between trying to achieve pure naturalism while simultaneously being so deliberately sculpted into a Taratinoesque style, that it doesn't really work as either. It lives in this purgatory where I'm expected to treat these characters as real living things, while also having to hold them at arms length and just see them as cinematic artifacts of QT's making.


Even though he is hardly any intellectual, I believe the best lens to look at a Tarantino film is through a Godardian one. Where everything is cast with a deliberate artificiality where we are constantly reminded what we are watching is 'cinema'. NOT real life. Treating his world with any kind of natural reverence is a mistake since, just like with any kind of brain stunted savant like him, he doesn't really understand people or the world around him. He only understands humans through what he's picked up in movie watching. THAT is what is exciting about Tarantino. A life lived in the shadows. Watching, not people, but characters. Learning, not how to be a socially adapted person, but the infintiely malleable rules of genre.



That's why Jackie Brown is such a revelation. Because it lives in our world and only gives us fragmentary glimpses of Taratino's askew vision. Usually, when he tries to introduce real feeling and pathos it lets the audience down (like the scene with the little girl in OUATIH, which should be the emotional centre of the whole thing, but for me misses the naturalism it needs to truly work). But in Jackie Brown, Pam Grier and Robert Forrester and Robert Deniro and Briget Fonda are living and breathing characters. We kind of know who they are, simply because Tarantino isn't constantly tinkering with them to make them sound 'cooler' or more in keeping with his ethos (which is normally both his genius and his downfall)



I personally think waaaaaaay too much is made of QT the 'writer'. I think his dialogue is very important to his style, in that it has his idiosyncratic fingerprints all over it. And he has his characters say some occassionally great, chewy dialogue. But....yes it 'clangs'. It is this weird hybrid between trying to achieve pure naturalism while simultaneously being so deliberately sculpted into a Taratinoesque style, that it doesn't really work as either. It lives in this purgatory where I'm expected to treat these characters as real living things, while also having to hold them at arms length and just see them as cinematic artifacts of QT's making.

Even though he is hardly any intellectual, I believe the best lens to look at a Tarantino film is through a Godardian one. Where everything is cast with a deliberate artificiality where we are constantly reminded what we are watching is 'cinema'. NOT real life.
To me, like I wrote, it doesn't work either way. Even in that mode of accepting artificiality and trying to meet it there, I cannot make it work. It's like astronaut ice cream: I'm not wanting it to be real, I don't need it to be real, but it would be nice if it didn't taste like chalky garbage.

Some actors really make it work and they bring their own enthusiasm to it, and that gives it a lift. But generally speaking it's the kind of artificiality that relentlessly calls attention to itself and never lets me sink into the film. Aside from Jackie Brown, it's like I can't relax and watch his movies. It's the equivalent, for me, of seeming a boom mike constantly dipping into the frame.



Victim of The Night
I liked it a lot, but I still maintain that it loses something when it's on dry land...


Huh. I'm the opposite, I think the best scenes in the film are the character scenes, either in the Brodies' kitchen, on the docks, or in the street (Mrs. Kitner remains my favorite scene in the film).



Victim of The Night
Even though I have lost any love I had for Tarantino and am with crumbsroom in wishing he had grown up and not had his directorial maturity forever stunted by success, I still try hard to understand why so many people 'round these parts have Jackie Brown has their favorite.
To me it is the bottom of his good films. For all the things that do work in the film for me, there are just as many that don't. Especially DeNiro, but that's really just one thing over and over. There are more. I like the movie enough but it really feels like the script needed a couple more re-writes before they shot or maybe it could have been "saved in the edit". And by saved I just mean elevated from a pretty good movie to a great one.
Anyway, it's certainly better than the likes of Django Unchained, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, and The Hateful Eight, or for that matter, even the ridiculous Inglourious Basterds, but I would have to put it behind PF, RD, KB, and I actually enjoy Death Proof more as well, to be honest, though I certainly wouldn't try to call it a better movie.



Victim of The Night
The last thing I want with the Tarantino we have (man child) is for his films to be tighter. If anything, give him even more rope. Let all of his movies be four hour, indulgent opuses.
Ugh.
This notion makes me nauseous until I remember that I don't have to watch Tarantino's films if I don't want to.

To me, Tarantino's filmmaking, sometime I think during Kill Bill, though it didn't manifest until DP, but that one was supposed to be just this, and then everything after that was just "Man, an economically relevant number of people sure love to watch me masturbate, gimme two or three years to build up an interesting new stack of my favorite (vintage cinematic) porn and I'll film it!"



Ugh.
"Man, an economically relevant number of people sure love to watch me masturbate, gimme two or three years to build up an interesting new stack of my favorite (vintage cinematic) porn and I'll film it!"

In other words, some people like to watch the thing he likes to do. And that he does extraordinarily well.



Some artists are great refining their talent into a fine point. Like Alfred Hitchcock. Or Stephen Spielberg. Or Billy Wilder. Or even a really artsy farter like Robert Bresson. They have a specific thing they want to communicate. A message, a story, a mood. That is what they want to do. That is what they become good at.

Other artists are better served pushing everything past the edge. And thank Christ for them because indulgence is what allows cinema to take on increasingly weirder and shaggier forms. They are willing to let their wonkiest ideas take the driving wheel at times, trust their instincts, take risks, dare us to hate them. And as egomaniacal as this may seem, there is also tremendous vulnerability in them going to these places. They allow themselves to become ridiculous. Misunderstood. They give us not so great scenes that step on the toes of their best scenes. Are sometimes their own worst enemies.


And to all of that I say good, good and more good. Because for us that love them, this makes artists like this all the more endearing. It pushes everything else out of the way and allows us to just ride the wave of their pure talent. Weeeeeee! Why would we ever need anything else?



Tarantino, PT Anderson, John Cassavetes, Jean Luc Godard. All of them completely at ease becoming pure cinema. Putting everything of themselves there. Not hiding behind perfectly rendered narrative beats or worrying if everything adds up all nice and tidy at the end. It's just about those images they've got on the film, and letting them unspool all over the audiences faces. Believing in themselves completely even in moments where they maybe should have had pause. And bless their hearts for this (in particular, bless QT, as he's done this all in full view of the mainstream, and been tremendously successful at making his extraordinarily weird films become part of the zeitgeist...even people who hate him should be celebrating him for this victory, it's an absolute miracle)

Even though I get why people aren't all going to flock to his movies, its still weird to me that people want him to tone it down. To get back on track. And sometimes I wonder why people become so offended by his success at taking the kind of risks he does (and generally succeeding with them). I think the issue might be (outside of the fact that he's an ******* in real life) seems to be that we can sense the 'better' movie 'we want to see' amongst the clutter of all his thousands of ideas. It's clear he's not just a masturbatory, self obsessed artist, but also a craftsman in hiding. Could be a real crowd pleaser. And for those who love Jackie Brown, that more than any other film is the evidence that he could have made perfectly constructed films as well as anybody. Sober, reflective, melancholic. The kind of movie that resonate on the emotional scale, in a really honest, fairly unaffected way.


Now, would I trade in all of the great movies he made since then (and, yes, all of them are to varying degrees great). Nope. Not a chance. But does it make me pause for a moment and wonder what could have been if he had just dialled it back and showed restraint? Sure. It would have probably been pretty marvellous as well.



But generally, I think restraint mostly sucks and being economical with storytelling is usually a waste of my time. So I definitely don't lose any sleep over it.



Also, DeNiro is great in Jackie Brown. It's one of his last great performances.



IMO, creative genius often works best with constraints. It pushes them and makes a demand of them to be more inventive. That restraint might be financial, graphic or interferemce 'from above' or something else, but it makes them solve a problem with their creativity. Being totally induldged can work, but for most geniuses for most of the time, it doesn't work as well.



Welcome to the human race...
It's been noted that Tarantino's films have gotten a little messier with the passing of his long-time editor Sally Menke - Django was the first film to drop after that happened and it definitely feels like a wonky, overlong mess (I might well consider it my least favourite work of his for that very reason). However, it seems more popular than the subsequent films he's done (which I'd argue do more to earn such bloated runtimes) so what do I know.



Welcome to the human race...
#35. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
(Tobe Hooper, 1974)



"My family's always been in meat."

My unifying theory of horror movies is that the best ones are still worth watching even after the initial shock and terror of seeing them has worn off - watching is rewatching and all that. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is arguably my prime example of such a film because it is so dedicated to creating a relentless horror experience, but at the same time there is something so artistically pure in how it builds upon what sounds like yet another crass exploitation premise. The tale of five youths running afoul of a family of cannibalistic serial killers is inspired by true crime and stages itself less as re-enactment than as documentary, lingering on everything from mundane conversations to unpleasant interior decoration in order to drown a viewer in such backroads horror. That much is certainly accomplished by the film's minimal production value lending everything a tactile guerrilla feel that is most definitely felt in everything from the blistering cinematography to the groaning atonal score, giving the film an atmosphere you could drink whether you want it or not. It's not technically a slasher and is early enough in horror history to avoid conforming too directly to established tropes, making this less a matter of cosmic punishment than a raw emission from an uncaring universe. What it all adds up to ends up being a matter of some conjecture - Vietnam War allegory? Capitalist critique? Kill all hippies? - but that's definitely a sign that a film that looks like it exists only to titillate viewers with blood and guts ultimately elides it in order to go for raw-nerve discomfort and frame it in an impressively abstract light. That's what it is to be a masterpiece.

2005 ranking: N/A
2013 ranking: #99



Just wondering, I've always been curious by what people mean when TCM isn't a slasher. Maybe it's because we have a distinctive killer, but I just always think of it as being a slasher. The biggest difference in formula that I can think of is, the killer didn't come stumbling upon them looking for someone to kill, but rather, the youths stumble upon the killer's hideout and now he has to dispose of them.



Victim of The Night
In other words, some people like to watch the thing he likes to do. And that he does extraordinarily well.



Some artists are great refining their talent into a fine point. Like Alfred Hitchcock. Or Stephen Spielberg. Or Billy Wilder. Or even a really artsy farter like Robert Bresson. They have a specific thing they want to communicate. A message, a story, a mood. That is what they want to do. That is what they become good at.

Other artists are better served pushing everything past the edge. And thank Christ for them because indulgence is what allows cinema to take on increasingly weirder and shaggier forms. They are willing to let their wonkiest ideas take the driving wheel at times, trust their instincts, take risks, dare us to hate them. And as egomaniacal as this may seem, there is also tremendous vulnerability in them going to these places. They allow themselves to become ridiculous. Misunderstood. They give us not so great scenes that step on the toes of their best scenes. Are sometimes their own worst enemies.


And to all of that I say good, good and more good. Because for us that love them, this makes artists like this all the more endearing. It pushes everything else out of the way and allows us to just ride the wave of their pure talent. Weeeeeee! Why would we ever need anything else?



Tarantino, PT Anderson, John Cassavetes, Jean Luc Godard. All of them completely at ease becoming pure cinema. Putting everything of themselves there. Not hiding behind perfectly rendered narrative beats or worrying if everything adds up all nice and tidy at the end. It's just about those images they've got on the film, and letting them unspool all over the audiences faces. Believing in themselves completely even in moments where they maybe should have had pause. And bless their hearts for this (in particular, bless QT, as he's done this all in full view of the mainstream, and been tremendously successful at making his extraordinarily weird films become part of the zeitgeist...even people who hate him should be celebrating him for this victory, it's an absolute miracle)

Even though I get why people aren't all going to flock to his movies, its still weird to me that people want him to tone it down. To get back on track. And sometimes I wonder why people become so offended by his success at taking the kind of risks he does (and generally succeeding with them). I think the issue might be (outside of the fact that he's an ******* in real life) seems to be that we can sense the 'better' movie 'we want to see' amongst the clutter of all his thousands of ideas. It's clear he's not just a masturbatory, self obsessed artist, but also a craftsman in hiding. Could be a real crowd pleaser. And for those who love Jackie Brown, that more than any other film is the evidence that he could have made perfectly constructed films as well as anybody. Sober, reflective, melancholic. The kind of movie that resonate on the emotional scale, in a really honest, fairly unaffected way.


Now, would I trade in all of the great movies he made since then (and, yes, all of them are to varying degrees great). Nope. Not a chance. But does it make me pause for a moment and wonder what could have been if he had just dialled it back and showed restraint? Sure. It would have probably been pretty marvellous as well.



But generally, I think restraint mostly sucks and being economical with storytelling is usually a waste of my time. So I definitely don't lose any sleep over it.



Also, DeNiro is great in Jackie Brown. It's one of his last great performances.
In short, yes. And some people like to watch clowns spin plates on sticks.
I am not saying he is not good at masturbating for a sympathetic audience, au contraire, he's arguably the best cinematic masturbator I have ever seen, Numero Uno. And, honestly, if he could stop making self-congratulatory faces at the web-cam while he does it, even I might love watching him do it.
Alas, instead I have to settle for watching him nearly make great movies but ruin them with meandering self-indulgence instead. When I think what Inglourious Basterds (sigh, numerous masterful scenes that hinted at a masterpiece) could have been if he hadn't kept shouting, "now I'm gonna put my balls on your face!" over and over again.



Victim of The Night
IMO, creative genius often works best with constraints. It pushes them and makes a demand of them to be more inventive. That restraint might be financial, graphic or interferemce 'from above' or something else, but it makes them solve a problem with their creativity. Being totally induldged can work, but for most geniuses for most of the time, it doesn't work as well.
I believe this is why so many "great directors" do their best work early in their careers (looking at you Spielberg, Lucas, Scorsese, Tarantino, etc.). When either there isn't enough money to indulge every single notion or there is someone who's been around and is invested in the film and not in the self-expression of the director is there to occasionally nudge it back on track.