May 8, 2010

"Mrs. Ann, do you have (or could you produce) a list of 'DVD's you deem essential?'"

C Black sees a phrase I used and makes a request. I'm here to answer your questions, so, based on a quick scan of the shelf and probably leaving a few things out, here's my list (in alphabetical order) of 40 DVDs I'd try to get you to watch if you lived with me:
32 Short Films About Glenn Gould
American Movie
Aguirre the Wrath of God
Clockwork Orange
Coffee and Cigarettes
Divorce Italian Style
Don't Look Back
Dr. Strangelove
Fast, Cheap & Out of Control
Fight Club
Grave of the Fireflies
Grey Gardens
Grizzy Man
It's a Gift
Modern Times
My Dinner With Andre
Nights of Cabiria
Pulp Fiction
Room with a View
Rosemary's Baby
Royal Tenenbaums
Serial Mom
Spirited Away
Streetcar Named Desire
The Blood of a Poet
The Shining
The War Room
The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl
Wisconsin Death Trip
Wuthering Heights
Now, you may wonder which of these movies Meade had already seen and which ones have I succeeded in getting him to watch. You may wonder which ones, once watched, produced a negative reaction and about which ones did we see eye to eye. I'll leave that for Meade to say in the comments if he wants. The rest of you are welcome to guess, to produce your own lists, or to opine about mine.


Ann Althouse said...

(Actually, I don't have a DVD of "It's a Gift." I am surviving without it....)

David Walser said...


I'm surprised that there are so many movies on your list I've never seen (and will never see) and so few on your list that would also be on mine. I'm surprised because I find I am frequently simpatico with much of your cultural commentary.

Perhaps the difference largely can be explained by the slight difference in our ages (we're about 10 years apart). I listen to music from the 70's and you listen to the 60's. (I'm not an exclusive 70's music guy anymore than you don't listen to music from other periods. However, more often than not, when I'm listening to satellite radio, it's the 70's channel.) How much of our taste in movies comes from what we saw in our youth?

Meade said...

I've seen 15 off your list. Of those 15, 7 were with you. I'd watch any of them with you again plus any of the ones I haven't seen yet. But don't ask me to watch "Wisconsin Death Trip" again. I found it disturbing.

Ann Althouse said...

"But don't ask me to watch "Wisconsin Death Trip" again. I found it disturbing."

We don't need to watch it again. We are living it, baby.

Meade said...


LonewackoDotCom said...

I pretty much hate movies, so I've got lots of free space. Here's a music DVD I'd recommend.

danielle said...

can someone explain the appeal of 'clockwork orange' to me, please ? i once dated a guy who loves that movie, insisted we watched it, and it disturbed me ... and eventually i grew to find him very disturbing too.

Ann Althouse said...

@David This isn't a list of my 40 favorite movies, but (other than "It's a Gift") the things I happen to have on DVD that I'd suggest to someone who was hanging around the house with me. I stopped buying DVDs at one point, so it's a bit of a crapshoot which old movies I have in that form. I watched a lot of movies from Fall 1969 to 1973 when I was in college, but most of these were old classics. I watched a lot of new movies throughout the 70s and 80s and 90s.

Ann Althouse said...

*breaks glass*

traditionalguy said...

You left out On The Waterfront. That was about Lake Mendota when Jimmy Hoffa was still getting a cut of the Pension Plan.

rhhardin said...

Get Smart is on sale today at amazon link lots off.

My only DVD.

Meade said...

Man, in all of popular music is there a bigger douchiner than Natalie Merchant?

LonewackoDotCom said...

Aw, Meade's just trying to get my goat. Isn't that cute?

Kirstin said...

I have a memory from "Slacker": One person apologizes for being late, and the other person says it's okay because time doesn't exist.

I may be way off about that. It's been years.

Triangle Man said...

Man, in all of popular music is there a bigger douchiner than Natalie Merchant?


Lem said...

I have an Idea for incentivising (i dont think there is such a word) Meade to catch up.

Meade cant have any rightwing lettuce until he sees one DVD.. and then when he does see one can he have one more and so on until he will have seen them all ;)

You can do it Meade.

Triangle Man said...

Aw, Meade's just trying to get my goat. Isn't that cute?

I tweeted about goat getting last month. You should have seen it and then agreed with me.

kalmia said...

I would add Atom Egoyan's "The Sweet Hereafter."

blake said...

This is a Serious Movie List.

Why so serious?

We kind of talk in a lingo around here that is a patois of Coen Bros (especially The Big Lebowski), Mike Judge (Office Space, Idiocracy, King of the Hill, Beavis and Butthead), Ed Wood (You're Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!), various Ben Stiller/Owen Wilson/Will Ferrel/Judd Apatow comedies, and an odd assortment of other watchable (if not exactly good) flicks (like Bedazzled, Super Troopers, One Crazy Summer) as well as the classics (Wizard of Oz, Casablanca) etc.

So, yeah, I'm with LoneWacko: Movies suck.

But if not for them, I wouldn't have anything to say at all.

kcom said...

I've seen 6 or so, of those on your list. Not in a huge hurry to see any of them again, or any of the other ones you have listed. Some I've never heard of so I don't know if I'd want to see them or not.

I did see "My Dinner with Andre" back in college and while I found some of it pretty insufferable (the part in the forest, perhaps?) I do remember semi-enjoying some of it (can't remember what those parts were now, though). Which is not to say I regret seeing it, but I'm not in a hurry to foist it on someone else.

Mostly, I think people should make up their own minds on what they want to watch. I just finished watching "Ran" by Akira Kurosawa after paying Netflix for the privilege of having it sit on my table the last few months, while meaning to get to it. I did enjoy it but I'm certainly glad I won't be paying for it on an ongoing basis any more.

wv: riding - a straight up word

blake said...

Though, I don't really know who Natalie Merchant is, this video of Natalie Imbruglia makes me think she's pretty cool.

I don't know who Natalie Imbruglia is, either, though, so if she's a Nazi or something, I want to state up front, that I don't approve of that sort of thing.

Ron said...

Ann, you and Meade should make videos of yourselves as Vincent and Jules from Pulp two decide who is who...

"I'm goin' through a period of transition and I don't want to kill you."

"That's that Hawaiian burger joint?" (which everyone would spin as commentary on the POTUS)

Go for it!

Michael McNeil said...

Miyazaki's Spirited Away but no Howl's Moving Castle?

Christopher said...

Spirited Away as in Miyazaki? Great to see that on your list. Other than my Japan-crazed brothers and nephews, I thought I was the only one.

policraticus said...

There is a lot of stuff to chew on here. Good stuff. But, Ann... no Mel Brooks??? Could you truly stand to be with a man who has never seen Blazing Saddles?

edutcher said...

You're more highbrow than me, Madame. 8 1/2 and "Six Days that Changed the World" are about as esoteric as I've ever gotten.

"Fast, Cheap & Out of Control"?

You're a Russ Meyer fan?

If it's not one of his, it oughta be.

PS Ever go to the Bandbox in Upper Darby? A little out of your way, but a real "movie-going experience."

Tom Tucker said...

No Coen Bros? You seem to have a sense of humor, this list doesn't...

The Drill SGT said...

The War Room???

The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl???

Triumph of the Will, now that is a memorable movie. Both beautiful and horrible at the same time.

Triangle Man said...

On my list
"Mother, Jugs & Speed"

C Black said...

Thanks for the response! I'm always on the look-out for new ideas from people I enjoy. I've seen 20 of those and heard good things about some of the others. And as I longtime lurker; I know I should see "My Dinner with Andre". Also regarding my original comment, I see Kubrick well represented (though my list has 2001 on it as well). And I'm more a "Rushmore"-guy than "Royal Tenenbaums". BUT, all of Anderson's movies are good. Thanks for the feedback!

WV: enteons: the measure of time between absolute eternity and merely 'eons'. ex. "I went to the DMV today and it took enteons for me to see anyone."

GMay said...

Gotta agree with whomever said this was an awfully serious list.

Hell, toss in a Python flick or something to brighten things up.

Freeman Hunt said...

I wonder which one of these will be kicked off the list by 'Babies'.

Freeman Hunt said...

'Bottle Rocket' is the best movie of that series. I watched that so many times in high school and college that I had it memorized. And once that happens, why go to the trouble of watching it with a television when you can watch the parts you want to see in your mind.

In other non-news, Get Smart was my favorite television show until I went to college, and then it was reruns of Law & Order on A&E. Just the reruns; the newer ones weren't as good.

Freeman Hunt said...

As for this list, I like it. I've seen most of these and would watch them again.

Makes me want to make a list.

But not enough to do it while typing on a phone.

C Black said...

@danielle: There's loads of reviews online for "Clockwork" that would expound on the various reasons it's so often added to lists of "must-see" films. First and foremost: it's Kubrick and Kubrick is kinda shorthand for "must-see" in many film critic's eyes. I only saw it once and, yes, there are many disturbing aspects of this film (Spoilers: Casual rape, casual violence, more casual violence, casual brainwashing, Beethoven-scored sex acts, etc.). I am intrigued by your (Spoiler: horrible gender-assumptions coming) potentially "female" response to the film. It's understandable. And I see where you're coming from; but I don't believe that thinking it's a must-see movie is ipso facto creepy. That said, Alex is (beyond) creepy. And the treatments for Alex are creepy. And the results from those treatments are creepy. And when you start juggling all that (thematically reduced for time) stuff together you get at the ambiguities of the film and the ways it teases out the harder, more uncomfortable questions that Kubrick (and probably Burgess) want to pose about violence and society and sex and responsibility. And also, Kubrick has a h***-on for mocking "civil"-authority & military figures and solutions (see: Dr. Strangelove, Full-Metal Jacket)
Sorry for the long post! I got on a roll.

WV: termi: that exact moment when termination begins, but before that exact moment when termination ends; see also: nated.

C Black said...

@danielle: Oh, and I really wasn't being completely sarcastic when I made that "gender-assumption" remark. I can use my imagination and come up with a few ways to tweak the characters and situations in the movie that would make me (as a male) even more *uncomfortable* than the movie already was for me as well. So, I get it. I was just trying to give a response to your query.

@freemanhunt: Bob: Why is there tape on your nose? Dignan: Exactly!

WV: inest: our hermetically-sealed pods created by Apple-COR (known simply as "Apple" in the early 21st century) that provide all needed life-apps for the ibirth, ilife, and ideath requirements. Available in black or white.

Jeff said...

Seems to be a distinct lack of SciFi--I did appreciate the Miyazaki with Spirited Away, but not even 1 Kurosawa film????

Freeman Hunt said...

I second Jeff's Kurosawa. There would be at least three (Ikiru, Seven Samurai, Ran) on mine.

Theo Boehm said...
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danielle said...

@c black -- appreciate it ! the themes came out more clearly when i read the book, and I could appreciate the themes ... but still, the movie i found quite jarring. i dont know if most women dont like the movie; it is on Ann's list.

The Crack Emcee said...

I've seen 27 of these 40.

Needless to say, I like "creepy" (The Devil's Rejects, or Naked, or Kids anyone?) and lots of foreign stuff, like Jean de Florette and Manon of the Spring, Ran, or Songs From The Second Floor. Needless to say, Grizzly Man is a particular favorite - not enough movies, with a critical focus on NewAge, have been made - though I'll gladly watch almost any non-advocacy (read: Michael Moore) documentary.

Really, just like with music, I've seen and like too many films, of all kinds, to really discuss them with casual viewers.

t-man said...

I've seen 19 of the films, and only one Aguirre the Wrath of God" based upon Althouse recommendations. Out of the ones I have seen, Nights of Cabiria is my favorite. Is there any American actress who compares to Giulietta Masina?

The Crack Emcee said...

Anybody else into Charlie Kaufman's "wind-up" movies - Being John Malkovich, Human Nature, or Adaptation?

Theo Boehm said...
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C Black said...
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William said...

A list without a Clint Eastwood movie is like an egg without salt. Without an MGM musical, like a day without sun. Why would anyone want to watch 32 Short Films about Glenn Gould twice? Why would anyone want to watch Grey Gardens once? After studying law obsessively, it must be relaxing to sit back, unwind, and watch the lives of other obsessives fall apart. If we study obsessives hard enough, we will be able to avoid their sad fate.

kynefski said...

C'mon, this is way too casual. Cut the list to ten, and include movies for which you don't have a DVD. Ten movies you really think everyone should see.

That's what would encourage folks to offer their own lists, with which I would be fascinated.

Heather said...

Grave of the Fireflies

Sniff, I can no longer eat lemon drops.

I would add Shawshank Redemption.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

That's right, Th. Best to stick with the pleasantries. Good night.

Oh, and BTW, as any good sophist should know, it's hoi polloi, no definite article necessary. In Greek, hoi is the definite article.

But I'm sure you already knew that.

Good night.

Ann Althouse said...

8 1/2 I have on DVD but I didn't put it (or La Dolce Vita) on the list. I just know i wouldn't push it on somebody.

C Black said...
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C Black said...

@ann althouse: Yeah, Fellini is something I kinda just stumbled upon by accident in college watching the Bravo channel one night (when it was still a mostly ad-free oasis of art and cinema and before it was all BS reality shows)**.

WV: celti: OK. word verification is just abjectly abbreviating real words. see: celtic.

** Not that all reality shows are necessarily BS. But come on; Bravo had such a good basic cable product ruined by ratings-chase that I still get a little nostalgic for the loss.

Paul said...

That list of movies sort of quashed my secret Althouse crush.

That's okay, it was never meant to be.

peter hoh said...

Tonight I watched Stranger Than Fiction with a relative who is in hospice care. As a result, it will rank a lot higher on my movie list than had I not seen it tonight.

As for movies I have pushed on others, when we were dating, I took my wife to see My Dinner with Andre. She didn't make me see any particular movies, but I had to see a country before we got married.

Among the movies I have heartily recommended:
A Grand Day Out with Wallace and Gromit
Being There
Groundhog Day
Harold and Maude
Knick Knack
Okie Noodling
My Neighbor Totoro
Seven Samurai
Strangers in Good Company
Street Fight

howzerdo said...

Thanks for this list! I've seen 22, and agree most were very good, but I can't say I loved them all. Two were due to Althouse recommends (Grey Gardens and My Dinner with Andre - bought both, and especially liked Grey Gardens). I've tried to get 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould after seeing it recommended here a while ago, but netflix doesn't have it.

What would I add? A Mighty Wind, What's Eating Gilbert Grape, Moonstruck, Bend it Like Beckham, Jerry MacGuire, October Sky, Life is Beautiful, Peggy Sue Got Married.

But then, I confess I like Natalie Merchant's music.

Mr. Forward said...

Speaking of Living the Life... "Stranger Than Fiction" was the best movie with commercials I've seen since I got my antenna oriented.

Revenant said...

I have only seen 13 of these movies.

Kurt said...

I've only seen 11 of these, though there are some I've seen portions of on TV on occasion, enough to get the idea, but not enough to want to see the whole film. Of those 11, I really like five of your choices: Election, Heathers, Memento, My Dinner with Andre, and Pecker. The last two are also among my favorite movies

Theo Boehm said...
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Largo said...

I would distinguish between (1) intriguing and well worth seeing and (2) essential. There is more room for idiosyncrasy (on the part of the listmaker) with (1) than with (2).

I loved Crumb myself. But essential? I'm not sure in what significant sense I might consider it such.

"Spirited away" rather than "Howl's Moving Castle"? I agree. But it is nice that films in such a list can stand as proxy for some range of others. A list of "essential directors" might be interesting.

Largo said...


R.e. Glenn Gould

Bach > Mozart >> Radio Documentaries

sane_voter said...

I've only seen six on the list, and of those Dr. Strangelove would be the one I most recommend followed closely by Clockwork Orange. The others being The Shining, Room with a View, Psycho, and Rosemary's Baby.

Interesting note about Dr. Strangelove that I only heard about recently: The crazy general played by George C. Scott is supposedly a whack at Curtis LeMay, the father of the Japan bombing plan in WWII and the modern Strategic Air Command.

sane_voter said...

to clarify above, it was the incindiary bombing of Japan cities, not the atomic bombs that LeMay orchestrated.

Jason (the commenter) said...

I much preferred Herzog's Rescue Dan and He White Diamond to Grizzy Man.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Serial Mom? That's the John Waters film you would pick? Not even Female Trouble?

Here's my top-ten, not bothered by subtitles, list:

Pink Flamingos
Old Boy
All About My Mother
Scorpio Rising
The King of Kong
Kill Bill Vol. I
In the Mood for Love

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Wow. Most of those I have never heard of and many I have zero desire to EVER see much less own on DVD. Most of those that I HAVE seen: I have no desire to ever see again...Once is plenty

Dr Strangelove
*Pulp Fiction (I own this one and would watch again)
Rosemary's Baby
Royal Tenenbaums
*Streetcar Named Desire (worth watching over)
*The Shining (if on television and there is nothing else to do with my life I might watch again)
Wuthering Heights (yuck)

@David. I don't think the list has anything to do with Ann's age, since we are almost the same age. Probably the difference has to to with lifestyles, jobs, geography, favorite memories and a lot of other things.

(Just uneducated opinion and no offense meant) Althouse is immersed in academia and liberal thinking styles due to her previous marriage (until Meade) and career choice.

I didn't notice any comedies either.

I consider comedy essential.

c3 said...

Prof. Ann Althouse
not a romantic

mRed said...

THX 1138

William said...

The list is heavily freighted in movies about obsessives whose intelligence and focus ultimately undermines their quest for personal happiness and/or a better world. Glenn Gould, Aguirre, Andre, Dr. Strangelove, Humbert, Leni Riefenstahl all have this in common: their intelligence was more suited to creating problems than to solving them. The more they concentrate, the more fucked up their life becomes.....There's no great, good list. Any list will be as idiosyncratic as a fingerprint. Nonetheless, any list of great Elizabethen plays must include Shakespeare. Our era doesn't have metaphors; it has special effects. Any list of the great works of our age must include the fine work of Roland Emmerich, Peter Jackson, and James Cameron. Roland, in particular, has destroyed LA convincingly on several occasions and has never attracted the critical success that he deserves for his work in this genre.

roesch-voltaire said...

Interesting list, as I film fan I have seen most of them. I guess I would gift to you Totoro, in addition to Spirited Away; I love watching both with my five-year-old granddaughter.
For more edge in Japanese films you could add something by Oshima-- Death by Hanging raises interesting issues. I am surprised you have nothing like Singing in the Rain, which my daughter and I still like to watch together, for the sheer energy of body in motion. And given your background, I wonder why you don't include the Sorrow and the Pity, by Marcel Ophuls?

The Crack Emcee said...

I just discovered a new documentary on NewAge that I think everyone should add to their viewing list.

section9 said...


No "The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly"?

No "Ghost in the Shell"?

I'm calling for a Boycott! Who's with me?

Titus? Anybody?

William said...

The bet here is that Althouse owns Fitzcarraldo and has memorized large chunks of the dialogue.

Ann Althouse said...

I don't have "Fitzcarraldo." Saw it when it came out (in the theater), but didn't like it very much. I love "Aguirre." I'd much rather own "Burden of Dreams" than "Fitzcarraldo"... or "My Best Fiend." (Those are 2 documentaries about Herzog and Kinski.)

Ann Althouse said...

@Crack Have you seen "Safe"?