zerode – a sensibility


film, music, text, city, spectacle, pleasure

Dining on Crow, with a Side of My Own Words, for Thanksgiving

Mea culpa. I was wrong, apparently. Earlier, I implied that Planes, Trains and Automobiles would be inconceivable as an entry in any list of “must see” movies. No sooner had I written that, though, then up popped Roger Ebert with a review of it as one of his Great Movies:

Planes, Trains and Automobiles: Some movies are obviously great. Others gradually thrust their greatness upon us. When “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” was released in 1987, I enjoyed it immensely, gave it a favorable review and moved on. But the movie continued to live in my memory. Like certain other popular entertainments (“It’s a Wonderful Life,” “E.T.,” “Casablanca”) it not only contained a universal theme, but also matched it with the right actors and story, so that it shrugged off the other movies of its kind and stood above them in a kind of perfection. This is the only movie our family watches as a custom, most every Thanksgiving… (via :: Great Movies.)

No only is it – according to Ebert – a great movie, but it is also a particularly “Thanksgiving” movie, a genre which for me pretty much started and stopped with Home for the Holidays (1995), starring Holly Hunter.

I guess I’ll have to add it to the Fellini movies as films I need to rewatch. In fact, I think I’ll watch it this Thanksgiving – instead of La Strada. But I’ll keep Home for the Holidays in reserve, just in case.

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More on Must See Movies

The more I look at the issue of “must see” movies and try to assemble my own list, the more complications emerge. For one thing, there are so many lists already out there, from so many different perspectives, of “best” and “greatest” and  “must see” movies.

Wikipedia has a quite useful entry that provides links to various lists elsewhere, includes highlights from many of these lists, and summarizes some of the issues involved: Read the rest of this entry »

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More on “Must See” Movies – including those of a “Rightwing Film Geek”

I’m been mulling over this issue of “must see” movie lists since posting on it last week. Obviously, it’s not the first time I’ve thought about it. I’ve had many discussions about such lists over the years – it’s pretty much a standard topic when film buffs are hanging out.  Usually in a more restricted form though – such as, must see Hong Kong movies or Westerns.

Henry Fonda in John Ford's My Darling Clementine

Early last week, someone asked me what I thought were the five best movies ever, and I was still trying to come up with an answer a few days later when I stumbled across the list on The Hal Blog, so I’ve been thinking a lot since then about this notion of what I would consider “must see” movies in a global sense, rather than for this or that genre, a particular director or the current year.

(By the way, as part of that thinking process, I spent some more time going through the Hal Blog list and I owe the creators an apology. There are many more Japanese films than I noticed initially; I might still quibble here or there – more Mizoguchi, say, and no Miike – but I clearly made a real mistake in singling out this genre/area for criticism in my original discussion. It actually looks like one of the most comprehensively and intelligently covered national cinemas in their list. My bad.)

Ozu's Tokyo Story (1953)

But thinking about the sub-set of their list that was “must see Japanese movies” and working on my own list raised for me interesting questions about the nature and character of “must see” lists. The Hal Blog list apparently has as its aim to “do justice to the art and entertainment of cinema” – which is obviously a laudable goal. In working on my own list, however, I realized that there were movies I considered “must see” Westerns and Musicals – to take just two examples – that I did not think necessarily merited inclusion on a list devoted to the best of cinema, or at least not a list of any kind of reasonable length. Read the rest of this entry »

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What are your “must see” movies? (updated)

Over on The Hal Blog (named in honor of the computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey – one of my “must see” movies), they’ve posted a long list of “Must-See Films” – 830 of them, on two separate lists.

MUST-SEE FILMS Part 2 «: Five friends and I decided to put together a quick list of what we personally considered “Must-See Films.”

There have been other film lists passed around the internet, but we felt they were often such contemporary, mainstream lists of films that they, well, quite simply didn’t do justice to the art and entertainment of cinema. We also wanted to acknowledge films that were remakes, originals and/or alternate cuts. And while there are TONS of great films NOT mentioned here, the ones that ARE mentioned certainly show a wide range of tastes, styles and interpretations of “Must-see.”

This will hopefully be an ever-growing series of lists. Both from the original six and many other “special guests.”

The idea is to check off all the films you’ve seen in the brackets before each title (x). Pass ‘em around, compare with friends, start seeing the films you have yet to experience… (via The Hal Blog.)

This sort of list making is – as Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity makes so clear – a central part of a particularly male approach to popular culture.

It’s something I do, with great pleasure. Favorite Side 1/Track 1s? I’ve got a playlist for that. In minor ways, it takes place all the time. When you start dating someone who’s never seen a real Japanese movie – something beyond The Ring or a Godzilla movie – and you try to figure out what to show them, a certain kind of list making goes on unconsciously: “best movies for introducing someone to classic Japanese cinema,” say, or perhaps simply “favorite Japanese movies.”

Of course, lists such as these “must-see films” are also powerful invitations to debate – from minor quibbles to outraged attacks. Is that really the best “Three Stooges” short? How could you possibly leave out/include…? Read the rest of this entry »

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zerode by nick chapman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

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is an over-caffeinated and under-employed grad school dropout, aspiring leftwing intellectual and cultural studies academic, cinéaste, and former poet. Raised in San Francisco on classic film, radical politics, burritos and soul music, then set loose upon the world. He spends his time in coffee shops with his laptop and headphones, caffeinating and trying to construct a post-whatever life.


What's in a name... The handle "zerode" is a contraction of Zéro de Conduite, the title of Jean Vigo's 1933 movie masterpiece about schoolboy rebellion.

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