Archives For Back to the Future

There have recently been a spate of articles and blog posts discussing whether certain movies require multiple viewings. It’s all spurred by Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, a film that many critics and cinephiles have claimed requires multiple viewings in order to reveal its many layers and ultimate meanings. Dana Stevens wrote about watching the film three times, and how that made the experience of The Master a more complete one. Stephanie Zacharek wrote a piece at the AV Club questioning the notion that certain films require multiple viewings as well as the notion that certain film are more self-evidently deserving of such treatment. Today, Ryan McNeil wrote a post comparing re-watching movies to listening to a song over and over before finally falling in love with it.

I saw The Master twice. I’m biased immediately. In fact, I watch lots of movies twice, sometimes three times, sometimes even more, often seeing films multiple times in theatres. I also saw Looper twice. I saw The Dark Knight Rises five times, including three times in 15/70mm IMAX. I saw Paranorman twice, Brave twice, Prometheus twice, Moonrise Kingdom three times, The Avengers twice, Monsieur Lazhar twice, 21 Jump Street three times, The Cabin in the Woods twice, and that’s all re-watches in theatres and only this year so far. (To be fair, I work at a theatre, so most of these re-watches were free.) But why would I watch these movies so many times? What do I get out of re-watches? Click to read more.

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In this age of side-taking and constant arguing, I think what gets lost “appreciation” film is that love of sharing. Sure, it’s fun for me to tell my friend, Ryan McNeil, how wrong he is about films, and getting into arguments is fun, too. But you know what’s more fun? Enjoying a film together with someone else. Sharing an appreciation. This is doubly true as a film lover who often gets other people to watch films I already love.

My mom, for example, is particularly open to watching all sorts of films. Sharing films with her is a joy because she’ll actually watch most anything I recommend to her. She won’t like everything, but she’s open, and I’m usually pretty good at figuring out what she’d like. For example, a couple weeks ago we were looking for a movie to watch on Netflix, without even really asking her or telling her about it, I put on The Skin I Live In. The name “Antonia Banderas” was enough to pique her interest—stupid, sexy Antonio—and so she gladly sat down to watch it with me. About thirty minutes in, with the disturbing elements of the film making themselves known, she said, “I’m not sure I like this film.” But guess what? She stuck it through. She watched the whole thing, and when the final, gut-punching scene came around, all she could was was, “Wow!” Click to read more.

As if you needed more proof that Back to the Future is an amazing film, apparently it’s so good that Michael J. Fox sometimes thought he was still playing Marty McFly while shooting other films. This video is pretty hilarious. I kind of hope Fox used to shout, “DAAAAAAC,” on all the movies he made, especially Doc Hollywood.

(Thanks to Reddit for leading me to this video)

I just listened to a discussion about the death of film on the latest /Filmcast episode. I think the discussion was well-reasoned, and I liked that the guys didn’t take the luddite approach that I feel Scott Tobias mostly advocates. There is a place for nostalgia, but it’s not like we make movies with hand-cranked cameras for that beautiful variable frame rate and flicker anymore. Technology improves and changes and artists change and adapt to keep up.

There is one area that I think they did sort of gloss over, and which I think wasn’t perfectly expressed in the otherwise great LA Weekly article that set off the discussion, and that’s that this whole conversion to digital is being forced by studios for reasons of cost savings, but also sheer laziness. Digital filming and projection is the kind of change that needs to happen, but it can’t be pushed so forcefully before it’s 100% ready. While this conversion is the biggest the industry has seen since the advent of colour, colour film didn’t need brand new projectors and screens and server systems to run. But why would the studios care? The end cost generally falls on exhibitors. The studios give up very little. Click to read more.

Because you can’t do a blog that focuses mostly on movies without having some sort of “Best Films of All Time” list.

Except, I have a love-hate relationship with those types of lists. I find there’s something terribly artificial and arbitrary about them. I love reading them, and disagreeing with them, or find out about new films from them, but I hate writing them, and ultimately I don’t value them as true representations of how anybody actually feels about the films they watch.

I think in the last year alone I’ve mentioned over 100 films as being in my “Top 100”, and this is despite never in my live having compiled any such list. I have attempted to compile a Top 20, but beyond the first ten it’s usually a wash, and even the rankings within that first ten are all over the map.

And then there’s another problem entirely, which is the Best vs. Favourite dilemma. In my mind there are two ways of considering a film’s quality. They definitely overlap, and they can be nigh impossible to separate, but I still find that I have to make a distinction. For example, there is no doubt in my mind that my favourite movie of all time is Back to the Future. I love it to death and I have watched it more times than anybody should probably watch any movie. But is it the best movie I’ve ever seen? Can such a distinction be made? I have held for many years that the best movie ever made is Apocalypse Now (and I’m one of those crazy people who prefers the Redux).

What does that mean? Would it be more correct to say that I think Back to the Future is the best movie ever made simply because it’s my favourite film to watch? Should I call Apocalypse Now my favourite film simply because I think it reaches heights of artistic expression not equalled by any other film I’ve seen? I’d say that the distinction must be made, but cannot be properly defined. This only makes the process of creating a ranked Top 100 even more frustrating and more arbitrary, which renders the actual rankings inherently meaningless.

All this is to say that I have decided to completely forgo a Top 100 list in favour of something very different. I’m calling it ‘The justAtad Essentials’.

The justAtad Essentials will be an ongoing collection of films that I consider essential viewing. These are the films that, if I had a Top 100 or 200 or 300, would likely make the chart. The way I’ll be breaking the list up is quite simple. The first entries will form a list of twenty films that I would generally consider my “Top of All Time”. These will be a mixture of that “favourite” and “best” that I was talking about, and they will be left unranked.

Following those initial entries, I will continue to post unranked lists, but instead of simply throwing them up on the blog under the ‘Essentials’ title I will place them into categories. The categories will be thought up as they come to me, but examples might include ‘Essential Westerns’, ‘Essential Adventure Films’ and ‘Essential Romantic Comedies’. The categories will likely get more specific and esoteric as I go along, but don’t get too invested in them. I’m not using the categories to necessarily delineate the very best films of a particular genre. I’m simply using these categories to create lists of films I consider essential viewing while also connecting them by recognizable themes or features.

Alright? Everything settled? Let’s get started then! Click to see the list.