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Secret Shame: Classic Films We Haven’t Seen…

One of the things about having a blog is the fact it takes a significant amount of self-confidence to publish. I mean, even if you’re just doing it for own sake, it still takes a great deal of faith to put something out there for others to see and read. To be honest, I’m not sure I properly consider myself a “critic” and certainly not an “expert”, at least not in a sense that requires big inverted commas. I don’t like to think that I make statements of cinema, and I hope (perhaps with a hint of arrogance) that I might contribute in some way to some discussion about cinema somewhere. Still, I’m always a little bit embarrassed at all the great films I haven’t seen. I feel like it diminishes me in some way, not even as a blogger or any nonsense like that, but as a film fan.

Getting in deep with my classic movies...

This came to mind as I was browsing in HMV on Friday. As my better half will sadly relate, a Friday night DVD/blu ray browse is a pre-weekend recreational activity for myself. I’ll typically keep it (relatively) brief, as dinner or a movie or (if we’re being particularly cultured) theatre awaits. I’ll browse the new releases and maybe price check something that popped into my head earlier in the week. Again, I try to make it a quick visit, even if my movie love does cause me to wander randomly like a kid in a condy shop through their DVD section.

And then I saw it. Apocalypse Now. On blu ray. I know that this whole shifting formats thing that home entertainment does every few years has us all a bit flustered. Even a geek such as myself will concede the quality leap between DVD and blu ray is nothing compared to the jump from VHS to DVD. Many will argue it’s a waste of money, and I’ll concede that – for some – it is. Still, and this is me talking personally, the difference in picture and (particularly) sound make it a worthwhile investment for me. I know tonnes of people who would disagree, and I can see their points.

Apocalypse However you want it...

Still, the best part of this “blu ray revolution” that the studios are pushing (and I’m about to betray myself as a cinema nostalgic), is that it pushes classic movies to the fore. When the new platform arrives, it’s always about pushing the big names to the front for the buying public to be won over. I am a staunch opponent of “double dipping”, but even I happen to own The Godfather trilogy on both blu ray and DVD. If a nice Sergio Leone release comes out, I may even break my “one rule” twice. But we never know. Still, personally, the best thing about the studios pushing a new format is that these old films get pushed to the front of the shelves and end up staring me right in the face as I ramble through the aisles.

I have never seen Apocalypse Now. Of course, I’d heard about it. But, for some reason, it had never stayed in the front of my mind long enough for me to reach out and grab it. I’d never placed an order on-line for it – not because I didn’t want to see it, but because I simply hadn’t got around to it. Putting that movie on a stand in front of me, with two versions of the film and two discs of special features, made it downright impossible for me to resist. I did pay attention in Business Studies. I know I’m an “impulse buyer.” I know I probably could have run home, ordered it on-line and saved a few euro, even factoring in postage. But it was there, and I figured I’d pick it up.

Shelf life...

Still, I kinda wonder how many classic films I have left to see. After all, I don’t think there’s really any particular consensus on what constitutes a classic film, once you get outside maybe a hundred titles. To give you an example, I’d long intended to watch The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across The Eighth Dimension, but simply never got around to it – yet I doubt too many film critics would consider it essential viewing. A few weeks earlier, while doing a routine search through the digital movie channels, I’d managed to hunt down Rollerball, another film I’d hoped to catch for quite a while.

There are a lot of films that fall into that particular net. The zone where they aren’t so pressingly important that you won’t actively hunt them down, rent them or buy them, but still smile about when you find them either directly in front of you at HMV or on at 2am on MGM HD. I think those are the really tricky ones. Any films like Sergio Leone or The Godfather trilogy I’d hunted down years ago, but there are still films each week from decades past I’d always wanted to see but never really got around to. I do love that sensation though, because it’s always a pleasant surprise. It’s not really something you set out intending to find, but is just something nice you happened to stumble across.

Hat's off to those classic blu ray collections...

I guess, at the end of this ramble, the closest thing to a conclusion I can give you is that there will be an Apocalypse now review up hopefully shortly. And, if I like it, maybe even an Apocalypse Now Redux review. What do you think? Do you have any films like that? That you’re looking for, but aren’t really looking for?

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9 Responses

  1. My philosophy with classic movies is the same as with more modern movies: never see it on reputation alone. I watched the movie Chinatown a few weeks ago. Maybe it’s just that I’m not a big fan of film noir and detective movies, but the movie didn’t do much for me (despite being a classic). On a side note, movies where I’m told “don’t learn anything about the movie before watching it” always seem to burn me. Chinatown, the Usual Suspects and even the Machinist weren’t more enjoyable for not knowing anything ahead of time. Oh well.

    That being said, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly falls into the category you’re talking about for me.

  2. I used to have a long list of them, but I decided a couple of years ago to hunt them all them and put them behind me, like classic movies in the category “must-see-because-everybody-is-referencing-them” i.e. movies like Casablanca, Citizen Kane, Gone with the Wind and Dr Zhivago.

    And since I’m from Sweden I HAD to catch up on some Bergman..

    Next up on my list is Cinema Paradiso and a bunch of Sidney Lumet movies.

    Oh, and “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across The Eighth Dimension”. I haven’t seen it yet, but it made my friend Janne the Director’s Favorite Rare Movies Top 100 List!

    http://wp.me/py41M-2Dn

  3. I haven’t seen anything by Bergman, Kurasawa, and 12 Angry Men.

  4. I would recommend anything of Apocalypse Now that isn’t Redux. Why they added a french whore house is beyond me.

  5. Good stuff. I am sorely lacking in seeing a lot of film classics, and this is something I have been gradually working on. Earlier this week I compiled a list of 50 movies from 1931 to 2007 that I plan to watch before the end of the year.

    Do you have an account on icheckmovies.com? I have found that website to be an excellent resource for finding movies to watch.

  6. This should be a continuing series. In fact, I might straight-up steal this idea from you and do this myself.

    Might not be a bad blog event either. I think a lot of people could stand to humble themselves by admitting they haven’t seen X ridiculously iconic and classic movie. Full disclosure: I’ve never seen The Godfather 2. Ever.

  7. It took me until last fall/winter to get around to Apocalypse Now. Unfortunately, it was the Redux version, and while I recognize the greatness, the movie was just so overstuffed.

    There are a good number of classics from the 70s and 80s that I am ashamed that I haven’t watched yet. Next time I go on deployment, I’m going to make sure I have at least 200 “classics” on my hard drive before I leave.

    • Yep, I watched both. They are both great and epic films, but I think I prefer the shorter one. It just “flows” better, I think.

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