Goal #26: Watch the AFI Top 100 movies.
Note: The AFI released two lists, one in 1998 and one in 2007. I’ll consider this goal finished if I complete one of the lists, but I’ll probably aim for both of them.
This week I watched:
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner is one of those weird movies that only could have been made 1967-1969. It’s half early ’60s problem picture, very earnest and speech-y. And it’s half very contemporary, a movie about the Civil Rights Movement falling apart when people have to come to grips with the reality of it instead of the philosophy about it. Of course, today it looks dated; like American Graffiti, it’s one of those films which captured the zeitgeist perfectly but that later critics have less and less of a connection to as the years pass. Guess Who‘s star fell quickly even between the release of the 1998 list and the 2007 one; attitudes on integration and “color-blindness” being the cure-all to racism have changed. And while I did tire of the film’s preaching, here’s one speech that I did love: Hepburn’s, when she and Tracy are in the car eating ice cream:
“You know for us it’s all been great . . . but you know what was the best time of all? It was in the beginning when everything was a struggle, and you were working too hard, and worried, and sometimes frightened. And there were times when I felt–when I really knew–that I was a help to you. That was the very best time of all for me.”
Apocalypse Now: After all that whining last week about “boxing movies,” I loved this one. I’m not sure if we ended up watching a re-mastered version of this or what, but the shots were all so gorgeous, so crisp and modern that I couldn’t believe this was filmed in 1979. (It helps that 1979’s mustaches are back in fashion.)
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?: Hands down, the most painful entry on the list so far. Imagine going out with your couple-friends who always get drunk, fight with each other, try to drag you into it, reference the most inappropriate things and try to humiliate each other by mining their partner’s deepest insecurities . . . That’s this movie. If I wasn’t doing this project, I would have turned it off ten minutes into it. I get that it was groundbreaking both in Liz Taylor’s performance as something other than a sex kitten and in the role it played in dismantling the production code, but Christ, how did this get to be such a sell-out success of a play that it was made into a movie in the first place? Who would willingly subject themselves to this?