Tuesday, August 29, 2006

150 SOUL FOOD MOVIES: A List

I guess you could say my Soul Food Movies book started as a list. I began jotting down the films which seemed to have the most to do with my faith. Obviously "spiritual" films, like THE MISSION or CHARIOTS OF FIRE or TENDER MERCIES. Also, movies that might not be explicitly spiritual, which might not deal with God or the life of faith in any direct way, but which had had a strong spiritual effect on me.

I added films I'd seen (or hadn't seen) that had affected other people that way, even if I maybe hadn't cared for the film all that much, or perhaps liked it but didn't personally experience it as being particularly spiritual. Friends, or writers, or whoever. I added films whose descriptions sounded as if they might have some sort of spiritual interest, however obscure.

After a while I decided I had the makings of a pretty nifty book. At least, one that I'd want to read, even if nobody else would. Kept building the list.

I started participating in an online film discussion, kept coming up with new titles. Among those folks, organized the first "Arts & Faith 100" poll, to come up with a hundred "spiritually significant" films. Nominees, winners - all grist for the mill.

I've been writing away on the book for a couple years now, and am hoping to move toward publishing sometime in the not unforseeable future.

But these past couple days, I've gotten the "list bug" again, and decided to mess around with creating my own Hot 100. Looks like it'll take 150 to include the Soul Food movies I'm most excited about.

So here's my first real stab at it. Utterly subjective: lots of peculiar choices, and ranked by how much they matter to me personally, and how much they connect with me spiritually, not by any assertion that these are the finest (or even most spiritual) films ever made, in any objective sense. I'm definitely making no claim that ABOUT A BOY is a better, or even more spiritual film than, say, THE DIARY OF A COUNTRY PRIEST. Only that it connects with me, personally and spiritually, in a particularly powerful way, and, in fact, has become part of my life - as embarassing an admission as that may be! I don't for a minute maintain that MOST will be in the top twenty the next time I take a run at this ranking, or that TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL won't drop to #75 the next time I watch it, or CRASH ascend to the top ten. All subject to change without notice. (Mr Norman will note the strong influence of his own list-making philosophy here.)

Even within the list, I wouldn't want to argue very hard for specific rankings. I'm pretty solid on the first three films, after that it gets progressively more provisional. Do I really want to rank RIVERS & TIDES above ANDREI RUBLEV, and both of them just below VANYA ON 42ND STREET? I could rearrange their order and still be satisfied. But all three (almost) certainly are more essential to me (in a specifically spiritual way) than, say, SOPHIE SCHOLL, which in turn belongs higher on my list than, say, BROADWAY DANNY ROSE. But SOPHIE and DANNY shouldn't take that personally: I've loved a lot of movies, and the past few years have been specifically focusing on "soul food" movies, so to be in the top 150 or so...

Many of the changes to this list over the coming months (years?) will happen when I rewatch a film and rediscover (or more fully appreciate, or lose confidence in) its merits. Many more will come when I view films I haven't seen yet: indeed, there are so many intriguing films in the Strong Contenders (or even Long Shots) I Haven't Seen Yet, I think I'll add a whole bunch of those after my main list.

BUT... To de-emphasize the ranking, which seems unduly idiosyncratic and ultimately a bit "so what," and mostly just because it's kind of fun to tackle it a new way, I'm going to group them into some off-the-top-of-the-head categories.

So here, for what it's worth. As of August 29, 2006...

*

150 MOVIES THAT FEED MY SOUL

CANON FODDER
1 Tender Mercies
2 Magnolia
3 Dogville
13 Chariots Of Fire
14 The Mission
17 Dead Man Walking
39 Crimes and Misdemeanours
57 Fearless
58 Babette's Feast
78 Wings Of Desire
90 Amadeus
96 The Apostle

THE MASTERS
4 Ikiru
6 The Son (aka Le Fils)
11 Andrei Rublev
12 Au Hasard Balthazar
18 L'Enfant (aka The Child)
43 A Man Escaped (aka Un condamne a mort s'est echappe)
66 Diary of a Country Priest
70 Dekalog, aka The Decalogue
73 The Sacrifice (aka Offret)
110 La Promesse
111 Rosetta
142 Three Colors: Red

STRAIGHT-AHEAD SOUL FOOD
28 Les Miserables
29 Les Miserables du vingtieme siecle
42 The Third Miracle
49 After Life
51 Grand Canyon
62 The Sixth Sense
74 Amistad
79 A River Runs Through It
95 Witness
99 The Hiding Place
108 The Elephant Man
118 My Dinner With Andre
137 A Cry In The Dark

NEW
22 Lord Of The Rings
47 Sophie Scholl: The Final Days
76 Millions
122 The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
150 Crash (2005)

OVERLOOKED
20 Most (aka The Bridge)
32 Personal Velocity
40 Not Of This World
41 The Novena
46 The Man Without A Past (aka Mies vailla menneisyytta)
55 The Man Who Planted Trees (aka l'Homme qui plantait des arbes)
64 Forgiveness
84 The Dreamlife Of Angels (aka La Vie Revee des Anges)
93 Sounder
129 Eighth Day
134 In Your Hands (aka Forbrydelser)
135 Saving Grace
143 The Gambler (1997)
148 Red Balloon

PEOPLE'S CHOICE
19 O Brother, Where Art Thou?
23 Field Of Dreams
24 The Matrix
35 The Shawshank Redemption
114 Forrest Gump

VINTAGE
86 On The Waterfront
106 It's A Wonderful Life
107 A Christmas Carol
140 Stars In My Crown
145 Lilies Of The Field
149 Whistle Down The Wind

DOCS
10 Rivers & Tides
27 Close-Up
128 Stevie
133 Gates Of Heaven
147 Hell House

BIBLE DRAMA
33 The Passion of the Christ
61 The Last Temptation of Christ
65 Jesus Of Montreal
80 Miracle Maker
88 Jesus of Nazareth
92 The Gospel According to St. Matthew (aka Il Vangelo Secondo Matteo)
124 Hail Mary (aka Je Vous Salue, Marie)

STAGE TO SCREEN
67 Becket
72 Merchant of Venice
81 Shadowlands (1993)
82 Shadowlands (1985)
83 Molokai
98 The Big Kahuna
100 A Man For All Seasons (1966)
117 You Can't Take It With You (1938)

BECAUSE OF THE BIG SCENE
9 Vanya on 42nd Street
30 Smoke
31 Run Lola Run
75 Jacob's Ladder
103 The Princess & The Warrior
104 Places In The Heart
116 Broadway Danny Rose

PERSONAL PICKS
7 The Year of Living Dangerously
8 About A Boy
15 The Trip to Bountiful
50 Dog Nail Clipper
54 Days of Heaven
101 Harold & Maude
113 Around The Bend
115 Clueless

HUMAN SCALE
25 Italian For Beginners
26 Pieces of April
34 You Can Count On Me
48 The Straight Story
59 Barcelona
77 Metropolitan
124 The Station Agent
131 The Last Days of Disco

SPIRITUAL?
91 Schindler's List
94 The Big Country
105 Secrets and Lies
127 Yi-Yi
130 The Quiet American
136 Contact
141 The Truman Show
144 Central Station

SOME WOULD ARGUE
5 American Beauty
21 13 Conversations About One Thing
52 About Schmidt
53 Election
102 Pleasantville
112 Tears of the Sun
119 Chocolat
120 Changing Lanes
121 The Exorcism of Emily Rose
139 What Dreams May Come

YOU'D BE SURPRISED
36 Joe Versus The Volcano
37 Cat People
38 Groundhog Day
44 I Walked With A Zombie
45 Sling Blade
60 Brother Sun, Sister Moon
63 A Walk To Remember
69 Bruce Almighty
71 Waking Ned Devine
125 Charlie Brown Christmas
146 Curse Of The Demon (aka Night of the Demon)

UGLY
16 Bad Lieutenant
56 The Woodsman
68 The Believer
87 The Addiction
89 Hardcore
109 Unforgiven
132 Fight Club
138 Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me

...AND JUST PLAIN WEIRD
85 Songs From The Second Floor
97 The Rapture
126 The Last Wave

*

And in case you've already seen all those, here's a few more for you, bubbling under the Hot Hundred and Fifty...

THE SEVENTY-FIVE UNSEEN (BY ME) MOVIES MOST LIKELY TO CRASH THE SOUL FOOD PARTY

CANON FODDER
Gandhi

THE MASTERS
Seventh Seal, The ("Det Sjunde Inseglet," 1956, Sweden, Bergman)
Virgin Spring, The ("Jungfraukallan," 1959, Sweden, Bergman)
Wild Strawberries (1957, Sweden, Bergman)
Pickpocket, The (1959, France, Bresson)
Trial of Joan of Arc, The (1962, France, Bresson, w/ Florence Carrez)
Angels of the Streets ("Les Anges du peche," 1943, France, Bresson))
Ordet ("The Word," 1955, Denmark, Dreyer, fr Kaj Munk)
Passion Of Joan of Arc, The ("Le Passion de Jeanne d'Arc," 1928, France, Dreyer))
Nights Of Cabiria (1957, Fellini)
Three Colours: Blue (1993, Poland/France/Switzerland/UK, Kieslowski)
Idiot, The (1951, Japan, Kurosawa, Dostoyevsky novel)
Green Ray, The ("Le rayon vert", AKA "Summer," 1986, France, Eric Rohmer)
My Night At Maud's (Ma Nuit Chez Maud, 1969, France, Eric Rohmer)
Open City, aka Roma, Citta Aperta
Europa 51 ("The Greatest Love," 1952, Italy, Rossellini)
Flowers of St Francis, The (Francesco, 1950, Italy, Rossellini)
Stromboli (1949, Italy, Rossellini)
Voyage to Italy (1953, Italy, Rossellini)
Germany Year Zero (1947, Rossellini)
Solaris (1972, USSR, Tarkovsky)
Solaris (2002, Soderbergh)
Green Room, The ("La Chambre verte," 1978, France, Truffaut)

STRAIGHT-AHEAD SOUL FOOD
Romero
Spitfire Grill, The (1996, USA Lee David Zlotoff)
Black Robe
Au Revoir, Les Enfants
Amen. (2002, France/Germany, Costa-Gavras)
Revolt Of Job, The (Job Lazadasa)
Cry The Beloved Country (1995, Darrell Roodt, wr Ronald Harwood fr Alan Paton)
Matewan
Train of Life
Kolya
Where Is My Friend's Home? (1987, Kiarostami)

NEW
Hawaii, Oslo
Ninth Day, The (2005?, Volker Schlondorff)
Land Of Plenty (2005?, USA, Wenders, Scott Derrickson)

OVERLOOKED
Repentance (Russia)
Wind Will Carry Us, The ("Bad Ma Ra Khahad Bord," 1999, Iran/France, Kiarostami)
Chambon, le
Funeral, The (1996, USA, Ferrara, w St John)
Scarlet And The Black, The (1983, Jerry London, w/ Peck, fr J.P. Gallagher's The Scarlet Pimpernel of the Vatican)
Therese (1986, France, Alain Cavalier)
Pascali's Island
Man Dancin' (2003, UK, Norman Stone)
Homicide (1991, USA, David Mamet)
Tales from the Madhouse
House Is Black, The (1962, Iran, Forugh Farrokhzad - short)
Eureka (2000, Japan)

PEOPLE'S CHOICE
Dogma
Sister Act
Monsoon Wedding

VINTAGE
Inspector Calls, An (1954, England, Guy Hamilton)
Night Of The Hunter (1955, USA, Charles Laughton)
Love Affair (1939, USA, Leo McCarey)
Cry The Beloved Country (1951, Zoltan Korda, wr Alan Paton fro Alan Paton)
Leon Morin, Priest (1961, France, Jean-Pierre Melville)
Awful Truth, The (1937, USA, Leo McCarey)
Joan of Arc at the Stake (1954, Rossellini)
Monsieur Vincent (1947, Maurice Cloche)
Satan Never Sleeps (AKA "Flight From Terror," 1962, UK/USA, Leo McCarey from Bearl S. Buck novel)
Dersu Uzala
Sansho The Bailiff ("Sansho Dayu," Japan, Mizoguchi)
Sunrise (1927, F.W. Murnau)

DOCS
Forgiving Dr. Mengele

BIBLE DRAMA
Ricotta, La (in "RoGoPaG," 1962, Italy/France, Pasolini)
Son Of Man
He Who Must Die (Celui qui doit mourir, 1958)

STAGE TO SCREEN
Man For All Seasons, A (1988, Charlton Heston, fr Robert Bolt)
Wit (2001, USA, Mike Nichols fr Margaret Edson)

BECAUSE OF THE BIG SCENE
Waking Life

YOU'D BE SURPRISED
Francesco (1989, Italy/Germany, Liliana Cavani, fr Hermann Hesse)

UGLY
Breaking The Waves
Exorcist, The

AND JUST PLAIN WEIRD
Koyaanisqatsi
Werckmeister Harmonies, The (Bela Tarr)

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Watch The Passion of Joan of Arc here Free

Amber said...

You didn't mention Varda's "The Gleaners and I" with your soul food documentaries. Based on your list, you may really like it.

Ron Reed said...

GLEANERS is a film I've long been interested in, but haven't seen. After your comment, I've moved it to the top of my Videomatica queue. Thanks, Amber.

And thanks for reminding me that this post should be updated. Lots of great Soul Food discoveries in the past couple years!