Tag Archives: american movie
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)
Directed by Stephen Herek
Written by Chris Matheson & Ed Solomon
Very mild spoilers.
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure is almost perfect. It’s very original, the characters are cleverly constructed, there are some cool visuals, the ride is a lot of fun, and there’s even a few touching moments. But it’s missing a certain fundamental piece of storytelling, the absence of which prevents it from being transcendent. Instead, it’s merely a bonafide classic (which is still pretty damned good).
The cinematic powers-that-be tend to decree that Citizen Kane is the best movie ever made, or sometimes Raging Bull. I don’t have a problem with that appraisal. It’s fun. Lists are fun—they expose people to cool movies they may not have heard of, and cause debates over who’s the most badass horror villain from the 80s, or what the best movies for libertarians are.
However, what is annoying is that whenever these movie freemasons decide that Vertigo is the third-best movie of all time or something, it causes all the opinion-scavenging cinephiles-in-training to rant their little hearts out about how The Rules of the Game or whatever really deserves to be ranked third-best. These lists also do a good job of tricking people into thinking The Godfather is artistically superior to Back to the Future, which is ridiculous.
Audience of One (2007)
If you follow my posts at all, you’ve probably noticed that I’m fascinated by cinema vérité. In fact, someone once told me that I used the word ‘vérité’ too many times in one of my pieces. Well fuck that. What else are you supposed to call it? Anyway, the concept is interesting to me: you tell a story by just filming people in their daily lives. How do you know when to stop shooting? Or start, even? How much does your observation have an effect on what’s happening? (I have a theory that Mark Borchardt finished Coven BECAUSE he was being followed by Chris Smith’s camera in American Movie).
Vérité is one of the most naked modes of storytelling. You’re out there without a script or even an outline, you shoot on instinct and rely on your wits and intuition to build the story in your head, only to stitch it together later in your editing suite.
I was fortunate to sit down with Mike Jacobs, whose documentary, Audience of One, is one of the most fluid, interesting, and hilarious examples of cinema vérité ever made. It’s about a pentecostal pastor, Richard Gazowsky, who receives a message from God that he has to make the biggest science fiction epic of all time, telling the story of Joseph. He then embarks on this lofty pursuit with the help of his congregation, and of course, their donations. As one might assume, they run into many, many ups and downs along the way.
A Rebuttal to a Rebuttal: Favorite Equals Best, or, Why Back To The Future is Better Than The Godfather
I’ve been interested in movies for as long as I can remember. The story I tell is that Jurassic Park started it all. It certainly didn’t hurt, but movies had definitely been on my mind for way longer than that. And my parents and grandparents were both movie buffs, so when the AFI released their ill-conceived 100 Best Movies of the First 100 Years of Movies, it was the talk of our family for an entire Thanksgiving dinner. I was ten or twelve at the time. By the time I was fifteen, I had seen 92 of the movies listed.