Thursday, October 22, 2009


A couple years ago I commemorated my 32nd birthday by producing a list of the 32 most influential films of my life. The next year I added a 33rd and then also produced a list of my top 33 works of fiction. Figured I'd make this an annual tradition. Its good to look back on things, and I don't mind having an excuse to do some lists for my sidebar. This year my 34th has come and gone but don't think I forgot! Here are this year's additions:

Great Fiction: I wrote about this book not too long ago, and won't say much more about it here except that it managed to be gripping and frightening both without really pressing the drama or the thrills too hard. Somehow by this subtlety, however, McCarthy managed to make a page-turner out of what could have been so cliche. Remarkably, this he did while simultaneously making me often scared to turn the page! But the thing that impressed upon me most from this story came simply from the two main characters--by the end something about their journey had made me want to walk my own more resolutely.

Great Films: Truth is, this could have been on the list of "Films I Take With Me" long ago, but I never quite knew what to do with it. I do hesitate to recommend it, simply because I have a pretty wide readership and I don't want anyone walking into this film unaware: The language is about as brutal as you can imagine, and then some. I have hung out in a lot of locker rooms and don't really bat an eye at "swearing" all that much, but there are some scenes in here that I still found hard to take. But that's kind of the point, I'm afraid.

Magnolia depicts reality. It just does. And also something like hope or redemption. I have rarely been moved so deeply and felt so richly about life, death, and everything. I should say more about it than just talk about the language, but if you want to understand this film's influential quality in my life a bit more, a friend of mine talked about it here recently, and I can't put it much better.

In the next while (like before I turn 35) I hope to post my new list for this year. I've been toying with doing this one for a long time but haven't figured out how I'm going to do it exactly. I want to do the soundtrack to my life. But that's a bit of an undertaking. So it'll be a top 34 albums or artists or something like that. We'll see. I'm sure you are holding your breath.


Matthew A. Wilkinson said...

Even after several viewings it can still feel like a bit of a punch in the gut to sit through. I think it's a testimony to its significance that you had to write, "I never knew quite what to do with it." It's that kind of a movie, isn't it!

The Road.
Great characters? Okay, I'm sold.

Philbert said...

man, you're old.