Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Doc vs. The AFI, Part Three

(Confused? You can find parts One and Two here.)

At this point in the show, I felt that the AFI lists were okay but not anything to write home about. But I wasn't going to give up on my challenge. I'd challenged myself to make my predictions for these lists, and I was going to see that challenge through. Besides, it made watching the show more fun. Unfortunately for me, the genres and movies selected just got more and more ridiculous.

Official Definition: AFI defines "mystery" as a genre that revolves around the solution of a crime.
My Thoughts: Not so good. First of all, a traditional mystery could be about solving a crime, but not all movies about solving crimes are mysteries. Heat, for instance. Part of it is about solving or preventing crimes, but there's no mystery to it. And then there are mysteries that aren't about crimes at all. There are fewer of these, but movies like Shamalyan's Sixth Sense and Unbreakable are good examples. They're mysteries, but not about solving crimes. I'm not sure my definition will be flawless either, but how about "The Doc defines "mystery" as a genre that deals with a puzzle that must be solved." Not perfect, but I think it's better.

What I Got Right:
10. The Usual Suspects. (And nice to see.)
7. North by Northwest.
6. Maltese Falcon. (I think this should be higher, but at least it's not any lower.)
5. The Third Man.
1. Vertigo. (I picked this over Rear Window. I figured there was no way there would be more than 3 Hitchcock films on the list, and one of my other picks wasn't considered - see below.)

What I Missed:
9. Dial M for Murder. Okay, this movie? IS NOT A MYSTERY. I know it's Hitchcock, and it's good, but it's not a mystery. There's a difference between mystery and suspense.
8. Blue Velvet. I left this off because I thought it was too weird for most people to even consider. Shows what I know.
4. Laura. Don't know anything about this movie.
3. Rear Window. Okay, seriously. I love the guy, but this is too much Hitchcock on one list (3/10 seemed reasonable, but 4/10 seems like too much.).
1. Chinatown. Well this one was on my gangster list, so...I'm taking it as half a win for me.

What I Guessed:
The Sixth Sense - I just assumed it'd be on the list because it was popular and I hadn't read the definition ahead of time (it's not about a crime to be solved). I'm kind of glad it's not, though: there are better mysteries out there.
The Big Sleep - However, I am surprised this wasn't on their list. It's a classic Hollywood picture, with the immortal Bogey/Bacall pairing, and pretty good to boot.
Murder on the Orient Express - The film version of one of the best-known murder mysteries ever made doesn't make the cut? I don't like it. It could be because it too "British", but if Lawrence of Arabia is "American", then this should be too.
The Thin Man - I really thought Nick & Norah Charles would get some love.
Rebecca - This just gets so much good word of mouth, I figured it would be on the list. (Plus, this was my third Hitchcock pick.)

Other Comments: 50% on this list, 55% if you subscribe to my Chinatown theory, but I'm feeling pretty good about that considering one of the ones that I missed isn't a mystery. (Still a little miffed about that.) Some really good movies on the list, though, with Blue Velvet and The Usual Suspects making a good showing for some more modern mysteries.

Romantic Comedy:
Official Definition: AFI defines "romantic comedy" as a genre in which the development of a romance leads to comic situations.
My Thoughts: So close. In a romantic comedy, the development of a romance does not need to LEAD TO comic situations. The romance can COME FROM the comic situations. As long as they're not independent, I think it's okay.

What I Got Right:
10. Sleepless in Seattle.
7. Adam's Rib. (I knew there had to be a Spencer/Tracy vehicle, and I picked the right one.)
6. When Harry Met Sally. (One of my favourites.)
5. The Philadelphia Story.
3. It Happened One Night. (My favourite.)
2. Annie Hall.

What I Missed:
8. Harold and Maude. Awesome. In this case, I'm not angry I guessed one wrong.
7. Moonstruck. Well, that explains why we've been seeing Norman Jewison this whole evening.
4. Roman Holiday. I feel stupid for not even considering this one.
1. City Lights. Oh, AFI. Your definitions astound and delight me. It's a comedy, and it's romantic, and it is an amazing movie, but it is so different from the rest of the movies on this list that it's like seeing a zebra in a horse race. This is the odd man out on this list.

What I Guessed:
Pretty Woman - Thank you, AFI, for having some taste.
Tootsie - Was just a fill-in spot. My dark horse.
The Apartment - Really? The AFI decided that the needed no Billy Wilder zaniness?
The Lady Eve - And no Preston Sturges? The man was a genius!

Other Thoughts: 60% on romantic comedies, something some guys wouldn't be too proud of but I'm just fine with it. And about City Lights. All nine other movies have their roots in screwball comedy. City Lights has its roots in vaudeville and melodrama. I love City Lights, but I don't think it's a romantic comedy in the strictest sense of the word. A lot of the comedy has nothing to do with the romantic subplot; they aren't as intertwined as in the other selections. It's a comedy movie with romance in it, but not a romantic comedy, if that makes any sense. Other than that, not much to say (besides the fact that Annie Hall is WAY too high on the list).

Courtroom Dramas:
Official Definition: AFI defines "courtroom drama" as a genre of film in which a system of justice plays a critical role in the film's narrative.
My Thoughts: More than Animation, more than Sports, this is the biggest genre stretch of the night. You might as well have picked "police procedural" or "diaster" as genres, which are about as valid and narrow. With all the other genres they left off, this one just seems insulting. I needed to use the IMDB just to THINK of ten courtroom dramas.

What I Got Right:
10. Judgement at Nuremburg.
7. Anatomy of a Murder.
6. Witness for the Prosecution. (Needed IMDB for this one.)
5. A Few Good Men.
2. 12 Angry Men.
1. To Kill a Mockingbird.

What I Missed:
9. A Cry In The Dark. The only reason I've even heard of this movie is because when I was in Junior High, my friends would shout "A DINGO ATE MY BABY!" randomly at the top of their lungs. I've still never seen it.
8. In Cold Blood. Never seen it.
4. The Verdict. Never seen it.
3. Kramer vs. Kramer. Okay, this one I can see. Didn't even think of it, which is silly.

What I Guessed:
Paths of Glory - One of the best legal movies I've ever seen, plus it's Kubrick. I'm really shocked this wasn't on.
Caine Mutiny - No reason, mostly a placeholder. I used IMDB to think of this one, too.
The Firm and The Client - I just picked them because John Grisham's popular and I figured I'd score with one of them.

Other Thoughts: I'm really surprised I could come up with 8 courtroom dramas on my own, let alone predict 60% of them. And that's the problem: how many courtroom dramas spring to mind compared to, say science fiction. Also, I know I'm going to take a little flak for this, but I don't think To Kill A Mockingbird is a courtroom drama. To me, the movie's about Scout, not Atticus and the trial. The trial's an important part of the movie, but not THE MOST important part. Your mileage may vary. Overall, though, I think this genre is a ridiculous choice and should be tossed.

I was 58% accurate on these three lists, bringing me up to 59% overall. I was really depressed at how predictable these lists were: why bother making a three-hour television special about it at all (aside from the obvious answer: money)? At this point I was on my way to trying to overhaul the whole list, and the last category clinched it for me. Check back in a couple more days for Part 4: the last Top Ten list, my proposed facelift, and more random thoughts.

1 comment:

Gina Damberger said...

These are fun! Thanks, Dev!