Matt Zoller Seitz devotes his final Friday Night Seitz slideshow at Salon (he's starting as New York Magazine's TV critic Monday -- most deserved congrats!) to a list of his "Movies for a desert island." His rules: ten movies only, plus one short and one single season of a TV series, for a total of 12 titles. "Part of the fun of this exercise," he writes, "is figuring out what you think you can watch over and over, and what you can live without."
Matt's titles include "What's Opera, Doc?," Season One of "Deadwood," Bob Fosse's "All That Jazz," Terrence Malick's "The New World" (surprise!), Terrence Davies' "The Long Day Closes" (my #1 film of 1992), Joel & Ethan Coen's "Raising Arizona" (a movie I like, but consider among their lesser efforts) and Albert and David Maysles' "Salesman." Click here to see the complete list and Matt's comments.
OK, I'm game. So, the challenge, as MZS sets it up, is not just to pick "favorites," but to choose pictures that will stand up to repeated viewing since nobody is going to get you (or vote you) off the island and "It is assumed that you'll have an indestructible DVD player with a solar-recharging power source, so let's not get bogged down in refrigerator logic, mm'kay?"
Q. Big problem arose last night for me at Spielberg's "Lost World: Jurassic Park." When T-Rex goes storming through San Diego, there's a brief shot of a group of Japanese businessmen fleeing along with the rest of the crowd. I laughed aloud (as did many others in the house). My spontaneous outburst, in appreciation of what I saw as Spielberg's tip of the hat to a convention of Japanese monster movies, set my fiancee off on a tear that began with an elbow in my ribs and a warning to behave myself, and a berating as soon as the house lights came up. Her reason: The folks seated to her left were Asian--and my applause was an indication of racism. Roger, look at that scene: It's shot from the same low, three-quarters behind the characters angle, with the characters' faces turned to look back as they flee (running slo-mo), just like any Godzilla, Rodan or Mothra movie. It is a tribute to the genre; use of a cinematic convention. She says it's a stereotype--because bad monster flicks "are all they make in Japan" and that Spielberg is no better for including it than I am for liking it. (Gerard Farrell, Bay City, TX)
Conventional wisdom has it that the Motion Picture Academy likes to honor Feel Good films with its Oscars. Gritty and violent movies may be nominated for the best picture award, but the winner will be a movie that embraces traditional values and leaves us with a warm glow. That theory has certainly held true over the past 10 years, during which the only really Feel Bad movie that won as best picture was "Platoon." I do not count such Feel Good About Feeling Bad movies as "Terms of Endearment."