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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Confessions of a Listy

OK, I admit it: once upon a time, I actually got excited when some magazine or newspaper would put out a list of the best of something. Rolling Stone magazine put out far more lists than this article would suggest. There were earlier lists of greatest albums and songs, I'm certain. At some point in the mid-1990s, I know there was a list of greatest albums of the 1980s. I remember because I owned 9 of the top 10, and I received the 10th, Richard and Linda Thompson's Shoot Out the Lights (#9) for my subsequent birthday. But the overkill in recent years has diminished the thrill.

Likewise, when the AFI came out with 100 years, 100 movies (1998) or 100 years, 100 legends (1999), I was interested, but when they went after laughs (2000), thrills (2001), passions (2002), heroes & villains (2003), etc., the formula started to wear on me. The one exception was the movie quotes in 2005, only because they have so influenced the language. (The whole AFI list of nominated films and winners can be found here.) There's a new one tomorrow night on CBS, "100 years, 100 cheers". Eh. Maybe I'll record it to watch later in the summer when even JEOPARDY! is in reruns. BTW, "Due to licensing restrictions, the telecasts of the AFI 100...100 Series are not available for distribution or purchase on DVD or VHS." In case you were looking.

Entertainment Weekly came out with the 25 most controversial films last week. I saw the cover on the floor and tried to guess some of the choices. Interestingly, the first two I thought of were "Last": "Last Temptation of Christ" and "Last Tango in Paris", both of which were on the list, and neither of which I have seen. My third was "The Life of Brian", which I saw, but which was not on the list.
The full list, with the few I've seen in italics:
1. The Passion of the Christ (2004) - directed by Mel Gibson
2. A Clockwork Orange (1971) - directed by Stanley Kubrick
3. Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004) - directed by Michael Moore
4. Deep Throat (1972) - directed by Gerard Damiano
5. JFK (1991) - directed by Oliver Stone
6. The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) - directed by Martin Scorsese
7. The Birth of a Nation (1915) - directed by D.W. Griffith
8. Natural Born Killers (1994) - directed by Oliver Stone
9. Last Tango in Paris (1956) - directed by Elia Kazan
10. Baby Doll (1956) - directed by Elia Kazan
11. The Message (1977) - directed by Moustapha Akkad
12. The Deer Hunter (1978) - directed by Michael Cimino
13. The da Vinci Code (2006) - directed by Ron Howard
14. The Warriors (1979) -directed by Walter Hill
15. Triumph of the Will (1935) - directed by Leni Riefenstahl
16. United 93- directed by Paul Greengrass
17. Freaks (1932) - directed by Tod Browning
18. I Am Curious (Yellow) (1969) - directed by Vilgot Sjoman
19. Basic Instinct (1992) - directed by Paul Verhoeven
20. Cannibal Holocaust (1985) - directed by Ruggero Deodato
21. Bonnie and Clyde (1967) - directed by Arthur Penn
22. Do The Right Thing (1989) - directed by Spike Lee
23. Kids (1995) - directed by Larry Clark
24. Caligula (1980) - directed by Tinto Brass
25. Aladdin (1992) - directed by Ron Clements and John Musker
I was glad to see this list, if only because it reminded me of films that had slipped my mind (Freaks, The Message), or that I did not know about at all (Baby Doll, Cannibal Holocaust).

Finally, I happen to know, by heart, the list of the greatest home run hitters in Major League Baseball (numbers as of end of Sunday):
Henry Aaron 755
Barry Bonds 716, and counting (OK, kvetch because I know you will)
George Herman Ruth 714
Willie Mays 660
Sammy Sosa (juiced?) 588
Frank Robinson 586
Mark McGwire 583 (probably juiced)
Harmon Killebrew 573
Raphael Palmiero 569 (caught being juiced)
Reggie Jackson 563
Mike Schmidt 548
Ken Griffey, Jr. 547, and counting
Bonds and McGwire were supposedly mortal locks to pass Aaron, as was Griffey, before he started getting hurt. The steroid controversy has diminished the home run, but I'm convinced it has also made certain players more vulnerable to injury, notably McGwire. (I've never heard allegations about Griffey, though.) And at the rate he's been hitting homers this season, Bonds will never pass Hammerin' Hank, either, which is all right by me.


Scott said...

I have always liked lists, too. And agree that they have been overdone as of late.

Now that you brought it up, I am surprised that "The Life of Brian" isn't on the list, yet "Aladdin" is for a song lyric.

As for Griffey, his physical appearance leads one to believe that he has not used steroids. I have always liked him and wanted to see him go far.

tomthedog said...

You know how much I love lists. I remember being completely captivated by that best of the 80s issue from Rolling Stone. I still recall #1: The Clash, London Calling. (Which was technically released in late '79.) I used to own so many of those albums, probably over half; now I bet I don't have more than a half dozen left in my collection.

You're right about AFI overdoing the whole list thing, to the point now where it just feels like they're picking names and categories out of a hat.

I've seen 15 of those controversial movies, including Cannibal Holocaust. I think you'd really enjoy Last Temptation of Christ, but that's just a hunch. It's a truly beautiful and deeply moving film, even for a non-believer like me; the controversy over it seems silly to me, but that's what you get when people who haven't even seen a movie have knee-jerk reactions.

I remember the time when Griffey seemed guaranteed to be the home run king. So young, so great. But then he got stuck in that revolving door back and forth from the DL. I'm amazed he's made it that far up the list.

Greg said...

You just don't like Bonds because he's black! Can't you feel the racism?????

Nik said...

Yeah, it's an interesting list. Of them I've seen #2, 3, 5, 8, 9, 17, 19, 21, 22, and 25 (Aladdin? come on!)

Will Pfeifer has some good thoughts on it on his blog:

Roger Owen Green said...

Scott- Aladdin is a silly choice, I think.

Tom- I DO want to see Last Temptation; my not seeing it was circumstance, not antipathy.

Greg- I like Bonds, have since he came up. I thought he and Bonilla would be for the Pirates what Mantle and Maris were for the '61 Yankees. Felt badly when his dad died, a bit of tranference, I'm guessing. Which is why the (alleged) steroid use is so disappointing. I read somewhere that if his HR pace from the beginning of his career, through 1998 (when he allegedly was jealous of McGwire) were extended through 2005, he'd be at least in 4th place on the HR list.

Nik- thank's for the link. That video (which I saw a long time ago, somewhere) is a piece of work.

Chris Allen Gaubatz said...

I like a good list, as long as they are top 5's or top 10's...some people put out Top 100's- way too much for me. Odorous Jr has a great top 10 of the best horror movies ever. By the way, Cannibal Holocaust was released in 1980, not 1985.
OJO's Top 10 Horror