The first 2 Godfathers
Bridge on the River Kwai
the Great Escape
On the Waterfront
I really dug 300
the first Alien
Last Picture Show....
Now, in a lot of ways, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that list. It's a real good, rock solid list. In fact, I'd say that if you gave that list over to someone to use as a guide for filling their Netflix queue, they'd be in for one great movie after another (with the exception of 300; sorry, Bruce). More importantly, what does this list say about Bruce Willis? Well, my first impression is that Bruce likes "guy movies", because with the exception of THE LAST PICTURE SHOW, there isn't a single film on this list you couldn't show on Spike TV. It's also a little obvious that he's a fan of Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorsese and Steve McQueen and that's all very cool, because they all made great movies. He seems to like action, certainly doesn't have a problem with violence in movies and digs widescreen spectacles. Hey, I do, too! Maybe Bruce Willis and I could hang out some time and watch movies. After all, we're both from New Jersey.
So what's your favorite movie? What's in your all-time top ten? In truth, I'm not asking and I don't really want to know. The Internet is filled with favorite movie lists of all types from people from all over. Amazon seems to have the market cornered on such a thing, along with the IMDB, MySpace and, well, Blogger. I kinda avoid these things because it's a little too easy to look at these things and then jump to conclusions about these people. Someone only likes foreign films from the 50s and 60s? Then they must be some kind of snob. They only like violent horror movies? That person must be really immature and potentially dangerous. Only care for fantasy epics and sci-fi movies? Same thing, and on and on and on. We could do this all night long and come up with a 10 million different conclusions. Some of them may be right, some of them may be wrong, but we're not really going to know each other that much better when all is said and done. It's easy thing to think you know someone based on their favorite movies, but we never really know anyone, even those closest to us, now do we? If we did, we'd all get along a hell of a lot better and would be a lot less shocked when Uncle Frank gets arrested with that transvestite prostitute (sorry to break it to you, but Uncle Frank is a real perv).
In going over Mr. Willis' list, there was one comment I feel I should make, and if you want to make it seem like I'm criticizing Bruce himself, then go ahead. It's a very safe list. You don't see Bruce sticking his neck out for Bela Tarr, Robert Bresson or Andrei Tarkovsky, you know? Maybe Bruce doesn't know who these guys are or maybe he's not that big a fan, nothing wrong with that. Bruce's list even has a bit of crossover with the 2002 Sight & Sound poll, but there isn't anything in this list (other than 300) that hasn't already been declared a classic. Even RESERVOIR DOGS, due to its tremendous influence, is considered a contemporary classic. Willis' list may not be your list of favorite films, but these titles probably show up on most of the top ten list you find online. In fact, it's a lot of the same titles that show up on these lists, and that's what bugs me. There's no right way or wrong way to have a top ten list, because it's all about the movies that speak to you, and to be honest, a lot of those all-time "classic" films are not the ones that speak to me. Yeah, CITIZEN KANE is a great film, but I don't have it in my top ten. I love Hitchcock and I love VERTIGO, but I prefer THE BIRDS. I've never really understood the appeal of John Ford, but I can't deny the power of THE SEARCHERS or THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE. However, there are numerous westerns (the works of Budd Boetticher, Anthony Mann, Sergio Leone, Howard Hawks and even Sergio Corbucci) that mean more to me. Whenever I see some top ten list with all the usual suspects (SEVEN SAMURAI, 8 1/2, 2001, ect.), I can't help but be bored by it. Either people are only looking at the films that the status quo deem "great" or they're just not looking in the right places.
I usually try to avoid telling people what my favorite films are because the list is always subject to change. I've seen more films of so many types in the last ten years then I did before in my lifetime that my perception of film has changed drastically. Certainly, many of the films I grew up loving have remained absolute faves (YELLOW SUBMARINE has stayed with me my entire life and I'll probably die with a place for it in my heart) and new favorites pop up all the time. I always have this ray of hope for all the new movies to come because I know one or more of them will capture my imagination and perhaps bowl me over in such a way that I will need to rewrite the list. Last year I saw Katsuhito Ishii's FUNKY FOREST - THE FIRST CONTACT and I just fell in love with it. It was new and fresh and different and unique and I wanted to know where it had been all my life. Because of it, I had to move the list around a little. And just imagine what will happen when I catch up to all those movies on those top ten lists that I have yet to see? Things always change and nothing stays the same.
They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. They also say that variety is the spice of life. But when it comes to great films, I think people are only picking from the variety pack and not really venturing out on their own. Stray out of your comfort zone and you never know what you'll find. It's not so much knowing where to look, it's a matter of keep on looking.