Monday, February 15, 2010

Act II & III: AFI versus Cait

Before I post my first official installment of the project, I want to explain a little bit about AFI's criteria and the list itself, and later just what exactly I'll be looking for and writing about these movies. You know, just a good old fashion get-to-know-your-next-door-blogger type deal.

AFI made their top 100 list as a part of a "100 years of movies" series of genre related lists in 1998. This list was then updated in 2007, swapping out 25 movies for either movies released after 1998 (The Sixth Sense, for example) or previously overlooked films such as Who's Afraid of Virgina Wolfe? (1966).

The AFI criteria may seem a daunting, but when you think about it's very well rounded. 

There are 7 major components that each film must have to be eligible for one of these coveted spots.

1) Feature Length, Narrative Format
Well, that's nice, but that's the majority of films most people see and make anyway.

2) American Film, majority of creative or financial elements must be from the US.
Alright, that's good, otherwise, Kurosawa, Fellini and Truffaut would have dominated this list.

3) Critical Recognition

4) Award Winner
see response to number 3.

5) Popularity over time, including home sales and rentals.
In a nutshell, is it still making money 60 years later?

6) Historical Significance, "a film's mark on the history of the moving image through technical innovation, visionary narrative devices or other groundbreaking achievements"
This would explain why both Toy Story and Ben Hur are on this list.

7) Cultural Impact, "a film's mark on American society in matters of style and substance"
This one is easily my favorite. Maybe I give popular culture too much credit, but when something from a movie becomes "quotable" it's really quite an achievement. In a world with so many different people with differing tastes and senses of humor, the notion that something can be universally effective at affecting us is amazing to me. And certainly makes a movie top 100 worthy.

AFI's criteria is really good to have in mind when watching these films. However, there are a few other things I need to consider.

1) Have my friends seen it? How many? 
(I'm going to do a little survey among my friends just to see how popular it is today.)

2) Has it been re-released in DVD in either "Collector's Addition" or "Director's Cut" version?

3) How many times does this director appear in the list?

4) Has it been notably spoofed or referenced in any other piece of pop culture?
This one will take some research, or reader feedback!

5) Can the first billed actor be linked to Kevin Bacon in less than six steps?
How could I resist that golden opportunity?

If you come up with any additional interesting questions to consider per film let me know! I'd love to have some reader participation this time around. 

I will be posting my first entry on numbers 100 and 99 on Wednesday and I hope you'll check it out!


Act I: What's this all about?

Well, I'm glad you asked! So this project is, in essence, the "Julie  & Julia Project" of movies. And I know what you're thinking, but no I do not expect a book deal, and no I do not expect a movie deal because well, the "Julia" of my project is the American Film Institute, and they hardly have the charm of Mrs. Childs and couldn't be portrayed by the even more charming Meryl Streep.

So I've told you why I am not doing this, (as you'll learn I like to break bad news first) but what I'm about to tell you is why I am doing this. Of course Julie & Julia was an inspiration, and I also have to credit a former classmate from high school doing her version called "Every Last Cookie" as she bakes her way through Martha Stewart's acclaimed cookie cookbook. I've also been inspired by the numerous other blogs that have popped up in a similar vain as J&J.  (The SF Bar experiment comes to mind.) Sure it's a trend of sorts, but I think people are setting goals for themselves, and trying to have fun, and connect with people while achieving them.

After announcing this project on my other blog,  State of Uncool, I planned to start January 1st. Unfortunately I was unable to do so. I hit a couple of metaphorical road blocks, but now we're in February and the leftover Valentine's day chocolates are on sale, so naturally, I'm gettin' real with this thing.

I'm well aware that the task before me is not to be taken lightly. These are, after all, movies, and movies and the movie business require the utmost respect from us spectators. Sure I'm not curing cancer, or "going green" or any other bleeding heart liberal ambition, but I'm watching 100 movies dammit. And I'm gonna watch 'em long and hard with the openest of open eyes and the keenest of critical analysis skills, and I swear to God, if I catch a boom in the shot, I will not hesitate to write about it.

And now it begins.