Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sunday Showdown: AFI vs. IMDb (#72)

#72: Shawshank Redemption vs. Back to the Future

I would like to say that this week’s Sunday Showdown is so late because I had such a hard time deciding which movie was better. But please. There is no universe in which Back to the Future is better than The Shawshank Redemption.  It’s only #72 on AFI’s list, but it is the #1 movie on the IMDb list – much closer to where I think it should be.

Really, what got me all discombobulated and thinking this week is a friend of mine calling Back to the Future a “perfect movie.” He defied me to find something wrong with it.  It has a little bit of everything, my friend argued:  action, fantasy, comedy and romance.  It reeks of Robert Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg. And what a pleasant smell that is.

Too goofy for perfection
But perfect? No.  For me, the movie has a kind of goofy vibe that isn’t terribly appealing – something similar to, but not exactly the same as, slapstick comedy such as The Three Stooges.  I like Michael J Fox as much as the next person, but he’s not masculine enough a hero for me, there’s never any real sense of peril in the film, and the romance is between the kid and his… mother?

So no, not perfect at all. I hadn’t seen the movie in probably 20 years. That just shows how perfect it’s not. For me, at least.

When my friend says Back to the Future is a “perfect movie” what I think he means is that it is a favorite movie of his. But favorite seems like too tame a term for how good he thinks it is. (He’s probably seen it a dozen times, owns it on blu ray, and writes about it in his private diary.)

Of course, I am not mocking him for his delight in Back to the Future, even though I don’t share it.  If perfection is measured by how many times you’ve seen a movie or writing about it in your super-secret diary, well then The Matrix and The Fifth Element are absolute perfection in my book.

AFI’s Top 100
IMDB’s Top 100 (as of 1/1/12)

The Gold Rush (1925)
Memento (2000)

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Back to the Future (1985)
Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid (1969)
The Prestige (2006)
Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
In the Heat of the Night (1967)
Raging Bull (1980)
Forrest Gump (1994)
Cinema Paradiso (1988)
All the President’s Men  (1976)
Singing In the Rain (1952)
Modern Times (1936)
Some Like it Hot (1959)
The Wild Bunch (1969)
The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
The Apartment (1960)
Rashomon (1950)
Spartacus (1960)
All About Eve (1950)
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)
Amadeus (1984)
Titanic (1997)
Once Upon A Time in America (1984)
Easy Rider (1969)
The Green Mile (1999)
A Night at the Opera (1935)
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Platoon (1986)
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
12 Angry Men (1957)
Inglorious Basterds (2009)
Bringing Up Baby (1938)
The Great Dictator (1940)
Sixth Sense (1999)
Braveheart (1995)
Swing Time (1936)
The Bicycle Thief (1948)
Sophie’s Choice (1982)
The Apartment (1960)
Up (2009)
Goodfellas (1990)
The French Connection (1971)
Downfall (2004)
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Gran Torino (2008)
The Last Picture Show (1971)
Metropolis (1927)
Do The Right Thing (1989)
The Sting (1973)
Blade Runner (1982)
Gladiator (2000)
Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
Toy Story (1995)
Unforgiven (1992)
Ben Hur (1959)
The Elephant Man (1980)

Next week is Saving Private Ryan vs. Monty Python & the Holy Grail.  Believe it or not, I have never seen Saving Private Ryan.  It is the type of movie (sad, realistically graphically violent) that I tend to avoid whenever possible. I successfully avoided it for 14 years, but doesn’t look like I’ll be able to any more.  I can’t see how it wouldn’t beat Holy Grail. That’s a funny movie, but really just sheer nonsense.

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