29 February 2008

The Doctor Is In--and Fading Fast

Last night I began to watch the 1965 epic film "Dr. Zhivago." I love Omar Sharif and Alec Guinness. I love Russian and Soviet history. I love epic films, particularly during their hayday in the 60s. The score, particularly the well-known "Lara's Theme," is absolutely beautiful. But I cannot stand "Dr. Zhivago." I've tried to watch this film THREE TIMES and I simply cannot get through it. Last night I was praying for death after 20 minutes. It doesn't help that the film is 57 hours long (and TCM plays their films without commercial breaks). 56 hours of those is staring. Staring at each other, staring after someone, staring at the landscape, staring at grass growing. I consider myself a patient filmgoer, but I can stand only so much staring after a while before I curse the filmmakers. After each attempt at this movie I wait a few years, afterwhich I've forgotten why I hated it so much. I think that perhaps I was just tired when I last watched it, or I wasn't in a good mood, or whathaveyou. I decide to try it again afresh and I actually get excited at the prospect of perhaps actually enjoying it this time around. The film begins as we're welcomed by the sight of Guinness, who has never performed poorly in a film in his life. "This is the time!" I say to myself. By the time Omar Sharif finally takes the screen at around 10 minutes in I hate it all over again. "YOU SUCK," I yell at it. "YOU'VE LIED TO ME FOR THE LAST DAMN TIME. YOU'RE AS ENTERTAINING AS MY WRISTWATCH." Fortunately, The Daily Show was on by then, saving my TV screen from further scorn and ridicule. That is, until three years from now when I wonder why I don't like "Dr. Zhivago" and decide to find out why.

Speaking of films, I've decided to make a list of my favorites. Why? Because I can.

*Musical: "Gigi" (1958: Leslie Caron, Louis Jourdan); "My Fair Lady" (1964: Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison)

*Classic Comedy: "The In-Laws" (1979: Peter Falk, Alan Arkin); "The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming!" (1966: Alan Arkin, Carl Reiner, Jonathan Winters)
*Modern Comedy: "Groundhog Day" (1993: Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell); "Office Space" (1999: Ron Livingston, Jennifer Aniston)
*Black Comedy: "Kind Hearts and Coronets" (1949: Alec Guinness, Dennis Price)

*War Drama: "Stalag 17" (1953: William Holden, Otto Preminger); "Bridge on the River Kwai" (1957: Alec Guinness, William Holden); "Twelve O'Clock High (1949: Gregory Peck)
*War Comedy: "Mister Roberts" (1955: Henry Fonda, Jack Lemmon, James Cagney); "No Time For Sergeants" (1958: Andy Griffith, Nick Adams)

*Western Comedy: "Support Your Local Sheriff!" (1968: James Garner, Harry Morgan)
*Western Drama: "High Noon" (1952: Gary Cooper, Gracy Kelly)

*Science Fiction: "The Empire Strikes Back" (1980: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher)
*Non-Star Wars Science Fiction: "Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie" (1996: Michael J. Nelson, Trace Beaulieu, Kevin Murphy)

*Epic: "Lawrence of Arabia" (1962: Peter O'Toole, Omar Sharif, Alec Guinness); "Spartacus" (1960: Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Tony Curtis)

*Documentary: "The Fog of War" (2006: Robert McNamara)
*Mocumentary: "Best In Show" (2000: Christopher Guest, Parker Posey)

*Fictional Historical Drama: "Empire of the Sun" (1987: Christian Bale, John Malkovich); "The Power of One" (1992: Stephen Dorff, Morgan Freeman)
*Nonfictional Historical Drama: "Thirteen Days" (2000: Bruce Greenwood, Kevin Costner)

*Action/Adventure: "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (1981: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen)
*Dystopic: "Equilibrium" (2002: Christian Bale, Emily Watson)
*James Bond: "Goldfinger" (1964: Sean Connery)

*Sports: "Cinderella Man" (2005: Russell Crowe, Renée Zellweger); "Field of Dreams" (1989: Kevin Costner, Ray Liotta)

*Chick-flick: "Return to Me" (2000: David Duchovny, Minnie Driver)
*Romance: "The Scarlet Pimpernel" (1982: Anthony Andrews, Jane Seymour, Ian McKellen)

*Horror: "The Changling" (1980: George C. Scott); "28 Days Later" (2002: Cillian Murphy, Christopher Eccleston)
*Hitchcock: "Strangers on a Train" (1951: Farley Granger, Robert Walker); "North By Northwest" (1959: Cary Grant)
*Suspense: "Gaslight" (1944: Ingrid Bergman, Charles Boyer); "The Others" (2001: Nicole Kidman)

*Foreign Language: "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" (France, 1964: Catherine Deneuve, Nino Castelnuovo); "Raise the Red Lantern" (China, 1991: Gong Li)

*Silent Feature: "Safety Last!" (1923: Harold Lloyd); "The Cameraman" (1928: Buster Keaton)

*Holiday: "White Christmas" (1954: Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye)

*Animated Disney: "Sleeping Beauty" (1959)
*Live-action Disney: "Summer Magic" (1963: Hayley Mills, Dorothy McGuire)
*Pixar: "Toy Story" (1995)
*Non-Disney Animated: "Anastasia" (1997)

*Parody/Satire: "Airplane!" (1980: Robert Hays, Leslie Nielson); "UHF" (1989: Weird Al Yankovic, Michael Richards)

*Cult Classic: "The Princess Bride" (1987: Cary Elwes, Robin Wright); "Napolean Dynamite" (2004: Jon Heder)

*Independent: "Saints and Soldiers" (2004: Corbin Allred, Kirby Heyborne)


Misty D. said...

Oh my heck, I have the same problem with The Doctor that you do. So, I'm thinking we need to watch this together, mocking it the entire time, a 'la MST3K.

Yes, this is a great plan.

You did forget some movies:
Gross Pointe Blank
O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Benteti5 said...

What are you, like 57? I have only seen 3 movies on your list. I do find David Duchovny sexy somehow. Best all-time comedies if you're in the SNL mood, Clean Slate and Corky Romano. Just cracks me up every time.

Stephanie B said...

Holy cow, you had catergories that I had never thought of. You and Trav should get together to watch movies.

I concure about Gross Pointe Blank and O Brother. I would also add The Man Who Knew Too Little - much better than Groundhog's Day, that's just my opinion.

Ryann said...

You watch a lot of movies! Again, I have seen very few of them. And about Zhivago-57 hours? I could not imagine sitting there for that long to watch TV! Good for you for shutting it off!

Abby said...

These are not the only movies I've seen, people. These are just my all-time favorites--the films that I can and have watched repeatedly and love just as much the 45th time around as the first time I saw them. Some of these get only better with repeated viewings as something new catches your eye every time.

So yes, I did enjoy Gross Pointe Blank, and O, Brother (I own it) and The Man Who Knew Too Little (I own it). I've seen Corky Romano on TV and that's as much as I ever want to see that again. I've never heard of Clean Slate.

Sounds like I'm better friends with Travis than you are, Steph. That's creepy.

I won't say I'm a film snob, because I'll watch just about any dang thing at least once. But I do consider myself somewhat choosy when it comes to my favorites. They come from all eras. Why restrict oneself to films made within the last ten years, particularly when many of those movies both suck AND blow? Good films were made before you were born. Do you think there are age limits on these things or something? One of my favorite actors is Harold Lloyd, a silent film comedian for most of his career. He was far superior to Chaplin and Keaton in nearly every sense. Am I not permitted to enjoy his work because I'm not 100? Branch out a little, folks. Explore the world beyond your comfort zone and what your friends tell you is acceptable to enjoy.

And Dr. Zhivago is actually only 3-4 hours (I've never made it all the way so I don't know), but it sure seems like 57. Sheesh.

Misty D. said...

I so totally like old films. What about The Neverending Story, Legend, Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal! Those were made in the 20th century!

One of my favorite movies of all time, which I'll watch no matter what the season is It's a Wonderful Life. And Gone with the Wind. And anything with Gene Kelly, except Xanadu.

Benteti5 said...

How could I forget Tommy Boy. I guess I love the SNL flavor of the early to mid-90's back when all the funny guys were there. I can't get into the old movies. They're slow and I have a hard time staying awake through a commercial that lasts more than 20 secs.

Stephanie B said...

I actually think I have seen Dr.Z when I was in High School. I finished it and was like, "Well that was a waste." To this day I can't even tell you the premise. That's quality.

Abby said...

Are you saying you don't love staring at people staring at other people for over three hours of your life? What's wrong with you?

This only goes just because something's nominated for Best Picture (and in some cases wins) doesn't make it a good movie. The English Patient was one of the worst films I've ever seen in my life. The Seinfeld episode about how much Elaine hates it is my favorite.

Karie said...

Support Your Local Sheriff! I love that movie. And Groundhog Day--I've come to love that movie after repeated viewings--it's one of The Hub's favorites.

Your favorites are much more organized than mine, I have to admit.