Friday, August 1, 2008

The 12 Movies Meme

So now I've been tagged 3 times for Piper's 12 Movies Meme. The premise is: comically overrated screenwriter Diablo Cody has been asked to chose 12 movies to be shown at the New Beverly Cinema. If she can do it, why can't we? Thanks to Piper for this great idea, and to the lovely people at Cinexcellence, Big Mike's Movie Blog, and MovieZeal for the tags.

I thought I'd respond to this meme with another meme, one which has been running through film since 1956:

Society is under siege. A woman has been kidnapped by the evil, "other" society that threatens our familiar culture. A man is dispatched to find her, and along the way must delve into that other society, at the risk of being contaminated and transformed by it. "He Had to Find Her, He Had to Find Her." Yep, it's The Searchers.

My 12 films are The Searchers and 11 other films that are The Searchers. I consider all 12 masterpieces, and all 12 are directed by one of the leading figures in the cinema or George Lucas.

12 Movies that are The Searchers


Let's start off with a bang - The Searchers. John Wayne's and John Ford's best film, the best western ever made, etc. And we'll pair it with Kurosawa's Hidden Fortress, which reimagines The Searchers as a battle between two samurai clans.

If you think that the Wachowski Bros. made The Matrix by putting Dark City and The Invisibles in a blender, and adding Keanu Reeves, you'll be even more blown away by how much Lucas ripped off both Searchers and Hidden Fortress for Star Wars. Then you can watch Close Encounters of the Third Kind to see a film which references The Searchers effectively without stealing everything in it. Star Wars is still better.


The Searchers has a controversial sexual undertone, which both Paris, Texas and Taxi Driver make explicit by having the lost woman be a prostitute. And you can marvel at how different these movies are, since they're both remakes of The Searchers that emphasize human alienation: Taxi Driver is intense, violent, and nihilistic, while Paris, Texas is slow, meditative, and offers Wim Wenders' characteristically irrational hope. If the last two days got you hyped up, Wednesday should leave you drained.


The Searchers goes to Asia in "Aging and Irrelevant Movie Star Addition." Sydney Pollack's The Yakuza is a highly underrated gangster film that takes the form of a meditation on the interaction between American and Japanese culture, starring old Robert Mitchum, chin dimple intact. Apocalypse Now is, well, Apocalypse Now. Marlon Brando's in it for about 5 minutes.


Since it's the weekend, we ratchet up the intensity. Die Hard: The Searchers in a building! Frantic: The Searchers in Paris! Harrison Ford and Bruce Willis step into John Wayne's shoes - Ford's second chance to do so.


For our first film, bring the kiddies: one of Pixar's finest films gives us The Searchers underwater, and removes the sexual element by creating a sweet, father-son story. Land of the Dead also removes the sexual element by making the lost lady a zombie killing tank called "Dead Reckoning." To the best of my knowledge, Land of the Dead is the only zombie version of The Searchers. It's also probably my favorite Romero film, which I understand to be an unpopular opinion.

Ok, I only have one tag: Dan at Film Babble Blog. Every other blog I read has already done this. I guess this is my penalty for being so late. Sorry Piper. But please, tell me that this means I didn't technically break the chain!


David Bishop said...

I always think of Pixar's A Bug's Life as their Magnificent Seven...or technically, it would be their Seven Samurai.

Fletch said...

A terrific list, but you won me over for sure by including Frantic. It's not an A+ film, but I really enjoy it, and almost no one has seen it. Plus, I'm a sucker for films made in Paris - I'm just pissed I didn't see the mini Statue of Liberty when I went there. Seeing it in Nat'l Treasure 2 stepped up that film a notch for me.

Ibetolis said...

The Searchers with Hidden Fortress. Inspired.

Taxi Driver with Paris, Texas. Brilliant.

What a great list. I'm buying a cinema and hiring you for scheduling.

Although Finding Nemo with Land of the Dead is borderline schizo.

You're hired.

Graham said...

David: Bug's Life is definitely Magnificent Seven. It's too short to be Seven Samurai.

Fletch: Glad you like it. I agree: Frantic's not some inarguable masterpiece or something, but it's a great movie with a wonderful performance by Ford and all kinds of suspence.

Ibetolis: I think Taxi Driver/Paris, Texas and Finding Nemo/Land of the Dead are my two coups: the first because they work so well, and the latter because they look horrible on paper, but that would be one fun night at the cinema.

Rick Olson said...

All Searchers, all the time. You could open up a mall store called "Just Searchers" where you sell only Searchers-related memorabilia, including John Ford signature sunglasses and the seven-degrees of Searchers trivia game, wherein even if a movie is not really "The Searchers" (which most of them are), a link can be found to it pretty damn fast. I'd buy that last item in a New York minute. Which is also the Searchers.

Graham said...

Rick: you've stated what made this so easy: most movies, post-The Searchers, are The Searchers, even Olsen Twins movies.

In fact, I'm pretty convinced everything is The Searchers. I can't even go to the grocery store without it being The Searchers.

Now I have to invent seven degrees of The Searchers, because that would be the greatest game ever.

Also, best mall store ever. I would love some John Ford sunglasses.

Caitlin said...

Graham, I'm SO glad to hear other people out there love the Searchers. For years, I thought it was actually an unpopular opinion to love it, given the amount of hate I saw thrown its way.

Your lineup? Is crazy good. Schizoid in an awesome way.