Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Top Ten Movies (give or take)

Today, a couple of my students asked to post my top ten movie list. While I imagine they wanted the list all at once for a quick peruse, I've decided to post a separate entry for each (not too long, don't worry). And just to make matters worse, I'm even going to throw in a couple that aren't even in the top ten (but certainly near the top). I keep a list, with ratings from 0 to 5 stars, of all the movies I've seen (a couple thousand) , and less than a 100 have received 5 stars. While I'm not going to write about all of these (you're welcome), I am going to start with the most recent film I've seen that I gave 5 stars to:

Scenes from a Marriage
, 1974, written and directed by Ingmar Bergman

Ingmar Bergman, hands down, is the greatest observer and communicator of human emotion that cinema has ever seen. And Scenes is certainly one of his best and most painful to watch. The theatrical release was an edited version of a six part series made for television. The film traces the marriage, divorce, post-divorce relationship, and eventual affair of Johan and Marianne. The opening scene, of Johan and Marianne being interviewed by a journalist, sets the table beautifully, as a shy Marianne keeps subtly elbowing Johan every time he says something that she finds embarrassing. I think the most amazing thing is that it's never clear whether the film is a condemnation or a tribute to marriage. The marriage fails and ends in divorce, yet on another level the marriage succeeds, surviving everything, including divorce.


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