Monday, February 2, 2009

Eight days of favorite films: wrap-up

Now that I've finished my coverage of my favorite films as sorted by genre, I'd like to run through various other genres which didn't materialize into list format.

Part of the issue I have with the use of "genre" is that it's mainly to market films or organize video stores. To wit:


Well, I didn't cover romance per se but plenty of the movies in my lists are romance films, notably the various Cary Grant comedies (Bringing up Baby, Philadelphia Story). But I'll also give a shout-out to Grosse Point Blank (1997) if only to confirm that I have watched films younger than Robert Byrd.


What exactly does "epic" mean? A three-hour running time, historical timeframe, widescreen photography, cast including a dozen famous names? If you want to call Ben-Hur (1959), Spartacus (1960), Gladiator (2000), Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970) or even Saving Private Ryan (1998) an epic I won't argue with you, but it seems like more of a compliment than a style of film. I believe in a basic equality amongst films, so I rate the "epics" alongside the indies, the studio factory-produced and the b-pictures.


Which reminds me of a sub-set to the epics - the Biblical Epic. I do like a number of Bible-based films; Jesus of Nazareth (1977) remains my favorite adaptation of the life of Christ (although it's technically a mini-series and was thus omitted from my lists). I also liked the Passion of the Christ (2004) and I enjoy Ben-Hur (1959) and the Robe (1953), although they aren't actually drawn from scripture.


I don't like exploitation films. I like exploitation homage films even less (exploitation parody can be fun though). I've seen some exploitation films which I thought were okay, but not enough to mention their names.


These usually fall into the Mystery/Suspense genre. There are some particularly good movies based around heists and the like - the Killing (1956), Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998), the Great Train Robbery (1979) - but I prefer to match them with the larger genres.


To me at least, "foreign" is not a category. I'm from Canada, virtually everything I watch is "foreign!" Possessing subtitles does not inhibit the likes of Run, Lola, Run (1998), Rashomon (1950) or the Seven Samurai (1954). Once again, they belong with the other genres.


This is only a film style; it's a wonderful archaic style, but I wouldn't feel right including it just to ensure that the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), Nosferatu (1922) and Metropolis (1927) have their due. They're all wonderful films, but in the ages which have passed since then, new filmmakers (like Hitchcock) have built upon their foundations.


Again, this is a style, not a genre. Animated films are really holding their own with the other genres these days, with legitimate science fiction (WALL-E), fantasy (Nausicaa) and action (Incredibles) films. They belong with the other genres.


Where does biography end? I've enjoyed movies which are obvious bio-pics: Man of a Thousand Faces (1957), the Hiding Place (1975), Malcolm X (1992)...but what about films which take serious liberties with the people whose lives they recount (ie, 2000's Shadow of the Vampire)? What about a bio-pic that fits another genre more ably (ie, Yankee Doodle Dandy, a musical-bio)?

And there are many, many, more. Every movie has its fans (even 'Manos' the Hands of Fate) and as they link their favorite film to another, then another, new "genres" spring up to explain these connections. Which is all well and fine - but I'm content to stick with the eight genres I covered here on the blog, they're wide enough to fit most movies in.

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