Friday, August 10, 2012

The Perpetual Chase of the Latest and Greatest Films

Vertigo tops them all

Last week Sight & Sound magazine unveiled their list of the Top 50 Greatest Films of All Time. The list, which is revised once each decade, was compiled from the ballots of eight hundred and forty six critics, programmers, academics and distributors. As to be expected with any list of this nature, there has been much debate amongst film lovers about the rankings of the films and the ones omitted all together. Some have hailed the list as the definitive list of important cinema works and others have chastised the list for its lack of more modern (i.e. post 1968) works. The fascinating thing about all of this is that when Sight & Sound polled directors, such as Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen and Quentin Tarantino, for the Directors Top Ten films, the consensus was different from Sight & Sound’s Top 50. Things get even more interesting when looking at each director’s individual top ten selections. While everyone seems to be debating which list is the most accurate, the only thing that came to mind for me when reviewing them was “geez, I now have even more films to add to my already extensive list of films to see.”

As a film lover there is a weird self-imposed need to see as many films as possible. Whether it is a cinematic classic like Citizen Kane or a mindless film like Uwe Boll’s Blubberella, I have no qualms about sitting down and giving any film a chance. The problem is trying to narrow down what films get priority viewing. Frankly, there just never seems to be enough time to squeeze in everything. As I face increasing responsibilities at both work and home, it is tougher and tougher to find time to clear my Netflix queue let alone hit the local theatre to see the latest release. The downside to being a film lover, and a blogger about films, is choosing what types of films will be “chased” next.

Whether it is trying to keep up with the latest summer blockbusters, or the critically lauded award season titles, or catching up with revered foreign works, it seems like I am always chasing something. My current “chase” is to catch up on the numerous classics that I have missed, which has now been expanded greatly thanks to Sight & Sound. This is one of the reasons I have slowly been working on filling my cinematic blind spots with both the Blind Spot series and The Must See Lists series. Aside from the obvious need to catch up on stuff that I have missed, I have a genuine interest in expanding my knowledge of cinema overall. The release of the Sight & Sound list is just another reminder that I still have so much to see and learn.

Though I know that these perpetual “chases” are ultimately futile, as there is no way to see everything, I find myself caught up in it nonetheless. The high of discovering something truly artful or emotionally impactful is the drug that keeps me going. Sure there are times when I may be re-watching a film, that I have seen fifteen times, when I say to myself “I should be watching one of the many Kurosawa, Ozu and Renoir films I still need to see” instead. However, every chase needs a moment of pause now and then. Right now I have several different chases on the go and will have to find a way to incorporate some of the films I have discovered from the Sight & Sound list into them. While I may not have much spare time, even a modified chase is a chase nonetheless.

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