Your wise friend that you wish would post more stuff.
Kai and I were having a text-message conversation about movies recently, and I’ve decided to answer his last point with a long tumblr post.
Years ago I posted something about a fun conversation-generating movie question I came up with: Suppose you met a grown adult who had recently been introduced into society after living his/her whole life in isolation from pop culture, and had never seen a movie or even been told what they were. Tasked with selecting the first five movies this person would ever see, which movies would you pick?
Of course it’s very subjective, even for a person as educated about movies as I am. But my strategy is based on selecting movies that require as little context as possible, and stand on their own as effective pieces of entertainment. Each of my choices should also show off different techniques movies employ in order to tell a story. And each of my choices is a movie that, in my opinion, feels really good to watch. So here is what I currently consider my final list:
Notice I have included movies that demonstrate how directing choices, writing choices, special effects, musical score choices, comedy acting, dramatic acting, and suspense all help make a story better.
And I felt it was important to have one of the five movies be an animated feature. And I didn’t want a musical. The Iron Giant is about as triumphant as a movie can get as far as making you love the entire world after watching it, but you might ask, “Hey! Bob! You crazy cock! You bald idiot! You insufficiently-deceased abomination upon this planet, why in god’s green FUCK did you not pick a Pixar movie? Like, say, for instance, oh, I don’t know, um, let’s see, hmm, what would be, maybe, how about, oh, THE GREATEST ANIMATED MOVIE OF ALL TIME WHICH OBVIOUSLY ON EVERY EMPIRICAL LEVEL IS UP??!?!?! You tit.”
And yes, maybe you’re right about all of those things. This very thing, though perhaps more politely, did Kai suggest to me just recently. And believe me, I had thought about replacing The Iron Giant with Up on my list. I mean, let’s face it, Up is so good that you pretty much just stumble around for a while after watching it, completely exhausted from your own joy. Which is what this list is going for.
But what Kai was specifically referring to was the first ten minutes, even arguing that that first ten minutes is like the best short film of all time, and just that part of the movie should be in the list. And admittedly, the first ten minutes of Up could potentially end any war. But of course I don’t want just ten minutes of a movie in my list. Plus also, there would need to be some cadence to end that ten minutes to make it really feel like the end of a short film.
The rest of the movie is memorable enough, and beautiful and fun to watch. But I decided not to put it on my list because it blows its wad well before the end. The last 30 minutes are kind of just-okay. At least by the standards of my list. Whereas the last moment of The Iron Giant gives you tha feelz.
Plus also, appreciating the faux-newsreel at the beginning of Up requires context, which I said I was avoiding. Also, a lot of the humor of Up has a quirk factor that I think would be just beyond the comprehension of someone who is new to movies. I already have an outstanding quirky comedy in the list, and I think that’s as far into kooky as I want to go in my list of five.
And in closing, I just want to say that I enjoyed writing this post, and if you clicked “Read More” and read this far, then you are the best person in the world.