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AFI 100 Update: The Bottom Quarter (76-100)

For those of you just joining us, Samantha and I are in the midst of an ongoing project to watch the American Film Institute's Top 100 films from the first century of American film (1896-1996). We started our project over three years ago and we are now one quarter of the way through. Well, actually, we're farther than that -- I'm behind on my reviews. But still -- 25% done deserves a recap.

Our journey thus far has, more or less, been what we expected. We've seen 25 movies from a variety of eras and genres, with not a lot in common among them. Of course, they all are examples of high quality film making (at least relative to the time). Many of them have featured outstanding acting performances, controversial themes and technical advances -- but not all of them, and not all the time. For several, we have had to throw our hands up and assume that we're not film-nerdy enough to truly appreciate them. In that same vein, we have made it a game of sorts to try and figure out why each was included on the list, and we've been fairly successful in identifying one or several reasons for each film, even for the ones we don't "get."

We are hoping that the 'duds' (if you can call them that -- we're still learning a lot from the ones we don't enjoy) will become fewer and farther between as we work our way up. In the meantime, here's some highlights and lowlights.


  • The Apartment (#93). I think this one was straight-up the most fun to watch. Superb acting, heart-tugging plot, excellent direction.
  • City Lights (#76). Maybe there's hope for the film nerd side of me yet. I really enjoyed all of the Chaplin films we've seen so far and this is the best of them. Classic in the best sense of the word.


  • Easy Rider (#88). Mostly just really painful to watch. I'm not of the right generation, I think.
  • Platoon (#83). Though it wasn't as difficult to watch as The Deer Hunter, it was less redeeming. An ugly movie for an ugly war.

Exceeded Expectations:

  • Giant (#82). Then again, I wasn't sure what to expect, but the description on Netflix didn't really sell me. But it was an outstanding film.
  • A Place in the Sun (#92). A film that ended in an entirely different fashion than we were lead to believe after the first half an hour. Fascinating to watch.

Failed to Meet Expectations:

  • Frankenstein (#87). We at least were hoping for something entertaining. It wasn't even really that.
  • The Jazz Singer (#90). The first talkie, right? Well, not quite. Not even a fun musical -- just sort of a weird blend of two movie making styles.

How's that for some crazy recap action? More reviews coming soon. I may be doing two in a row from time to time in an attempt to erase my backlog. You have been warned.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 29, 2008 1:11 PM.

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