Top 100 Movies (well, 95 at least)

 Supporting a discussion elsewhere on social media, here are my top 100 films of all time, highly subjective of course, arranged alphabetically.  Cut it at 95 to leave some room for films I’ve probably forgotten about or which are on a near-term watchlist that have a chance to make it. Admittedly there’s a fair amount of junk and pop culture on here as I’m a product of my time, and I wouldn’t change the channel on any one of these. Sorry, no Citizen Kane. Documentaries would be a separate list.

      • After Hours
      • Alien
      • All the Presidents Men
      • Animal House
      • Annie Hall
      • Amarcord
      • Amadeus
      • Apocalypse Now
      • Armageddon
      • Badlands
      • Bacurau
      • Belle de Jour
      • The Bicycle Thief
      • Blow Up
      • Body Heat
      • Breakfast at Tiffany’s
      • Breathless
      • Boondock Saints
      • Brokeback Mountain
      • Casablanca
      • Claire’s Knee
      • Cleo from 5 to 7
      • Close-up
      • Coco
      • La Collectionneuse
      • Contempt
      • The Dark Knight
      • Day for Night
      • Day of the Jackal
      • Dead Poets Society
      • The Deer Hunter
      • Deliverance
      • The Departed
      • Do the Right Thing
      • Die Hard
      • Dr. Strangelove
      • Dog Day Afternoon
      • Easy Rider
      • Fargo
      • Field of Dreams
      • Forrest Gump
      • Gladiator
      • The Godfather (Part 1)
      • The Godfather (Part 2)
      • Goodfellas
      • The Graduate
      • The Great Escape
      • Hiroshima Mon Amour
      • House of Games
      • In the Heat of the Night
      • Lion King
      • Local Hero
      • Jaws
      • Jules and Jim
      • Jurassic Park
      • Kill Bill 1 & 2
      • Last Year at Marienbad
      • A Man for All Seasons
      • A Married Woman
      • The Matrix
      • Mean Streets
      • Memento
      • Moneyball
      • Mulholland Drive
      • No Country for Old Men
      • Ocean’s 11
      • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
      • Pirates of the Caribbean
      • Platoon
      • Pretty Woman
      • The Professional
      • Psycho
      • Pulp Fiction
      • Raging Bull
      • Raiders of the Lost Ark
      • Ran
      • Renoir
      • The Right Stuff
      • Rio Bravo
      • Rome: Open City
      • Scarface (1983)
      • Se7en
      • Shakespeare in Love
      • Silence of the Lambs
      • Swept Away
      • Taxi Driver
      • The Taking of Pelham 123 (original)
      • Toy Story
      • True Romance
      • Variety
      • Viridiana
      • Vivre sa vie
      • Without Limits
      • Working Girl
      • Z

Whiteness vs. the common good

Outstanding new essay by Gregory Rodriguez on where the partisan divide in American is and has always been–race, of course, but with the added dimension of assimilated “whiteness”–with a nuanced discussion of how Puritanical religious themes, and not the language of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, are used to reinforce white supremacy, deny not only race but ethnicity, and detour the abstract political idea of American patriotism into the fracture of self-interest we are experiencing today, manifested in the response to the pandemic. This is a serious and very worthwhile read.

“Once the glue to an imperfect type of social cohesion, whiteness now threatens to undermine the social contract altogether. The reluctance that we have witnessed over the past months of both millions of individuals to wear masks and for state and local governments to mandate it were just the most glaring examples of a trend that’s been building for decades. The massive loss of human life will do nothing to change this. The meaning of America, the role of race in it, and a peculiar brand of nation building have allowed the emptiness of whiteness to even pass as nationalism. And once again, as whites continue to shed any semblance of communal tradition, they grab onto patriotic symbols and ideology in an attempt to anchor themselves. But neither symbolism nor the constant attempt to reignite white cohesion by demonizing nonwhites both at home and abroad will make unhyphenated whites feel more secure in the world. The usual talismans will do nothing to keep them from falling through the latticework that is America. Meanwhile, they’re pushing the entire nation ever closer to the void.”


Rodriguez’ famous essay from 2003, Mongrel America, is still timely and also worth a re-read.

Before there is a final solution

Starting to make my peace with Toni Morrison after that unfortunate encounter in the ’70s, now best forgotten after her passing (about which, regrettably, I may have said some not nice things).

Picked up a release of her essays which included a portion of her speech on Racism and Fascism, delivered at Howard University in 1995. It’s the passage that famously starts…

“Let us be reminded that before there is a final solution, there must be a first solution, a second one, even a third. The move toward a final solution is not a jump. It takes one step, then another, then another.”

…and builds to this magnificent peroration:

“It changes citizens into taxpayers…it changes neighbors into consumers…it changes parenting into panicking…we find ourselves living not in a nation but in a consortium of industries, and wholly unintelligible to ourselves except for what we see through a screen darkly.”

Okay, I’m with her. Here’s the original video of the speech; she altered it slightly for publication (book below). After I’m done with that, may even have to pick up my copy of Song of Solomon again, which has been frozen in time since 1977 with a bookmark on page 109.

[from C-SPAN]


The book is currently widely available in paperback:

Our votes are not enough

Important essay. Our problems are huge and cannot be fixed with one vote.

“Viewing the solution to these problems as simply electing Joe Biden and Kamala Harris both underestimates the depth of the problems and trivializes the remedies necessary to undo the damage.”

[from The New Yorker]

Progress beyond politics

Very thoughtful piece by climate change activist Bill McKibben on how we can make progress the next few years.
First, take care of everyone during the shift: “Any plan needs to focus on making sure that workers currently building oil pipelines have something else to build instead.”

And second, realize that movements are stronger than politics, and with that strength politicians can be moved:
“The Sunrise Movement, in the wake of a tough primary loss for their guy Bernie Sanders, didn’t walk away. They partnered effectively with the Biden campaign, helping reach a shared policy platform and then delivering millions of phone-banking calls. They are, in other words, a power — probably the most important electoral force in the environmental movement at this point.”

[from YaleEnvironment360]

White supremacy, expanded and rebranded

“He also gave our unique brand of ugliness — rooted in racism, exceptionalism, recklessness, arrogance and a tendency to bully our way to power — a name. Trumpism is now rooted in the lexicon, and although white supremacy may be the better, more clinical term for what ails America, Trumpism is a useful, colloquial alternative. It encompasses an even wider category of people that includes not just avowed racists who have publicly supported the president but also those who downplay the problem, or align with it for personal gain, or are simply unwilling to acknowledge its history and persistence.”

The grandest illusion of them all

We can’t understand what we refuse to see. And America refuses to see beyond its front porch. Essay of the week.
“…merely adding a few unfamiliar names to the curriculum, something already fiercely resisted by the conservative and reactionary right, won’t advance global thinking, as distinct from the institutional aims of “inclusivity” and “diversity.” Something more radical and arduous will be required to avoid the total conceptual loss suffered by the Crow Indians: the interrogation of an intellectual tradition that distorts our sense of reality, and the relearning of world history, with the recognition that fundamental assumptions about the inferiority of nonwhite peoples have tainted much of our previous knowledge and analysis.”

Like it was yesterday

Because it was yesterday. Bleeding into today.
ESQ: How can we get the black people to cool it?
JAMES BALDWIN: It is not for us to cool it.
ESQ: But aren’t you the ones who are getting hurt the most?
JAMES BALDWIN: No, we are only the ones who are dying fastest.

[from Esquire]


Related, and later, and mostly about writing.

“I knew what it meant to be white and I knew what it meant to be a nigger, and I knew what was going to happen to me. My luck was running out. I was going to go to jail, I was going to kill somebody or be killed.” 

[from The Paris Review]

What’s at stake

Excellent 4-part blogchain about “What’s at Stake” for women of color in this election.

[from ZORA]


The fragile social order, about to explode

These aren’t the only guys who predicted our current situation, but they have pretty much nailed it. History repeats in cycles.
“Our model is based on the fact that across history, what creates the risk of political instability is the behavior of elites, who all too often react to long-term increases in population by committing three cardinal sins.
  • First, faced with a surge of labor that dampens growth in wages and productivity, elites seek to take a larger portion of economic gains for themselves, driving up inequality.
  • Second, facing greater competition for elite wealth and status, they tighten up the path to mobility to favor themselves and their progeny. …
  • Third, anxious to hold on to their rising fortunes, they do all they can to resist taxation of their wealth and profits, even if that means starving the government of needed revenues, leading to decaying infrastructure, declining public services and fast-rising government debts.
Such selfish elites lead the way to revolutions.”

[from NOEMA]

“Asylum is dead. The myth of American decency died with it.”

The headline on the page reads: “Asylum Is Dead. The Myth of American Decency Died With It.”
And it is true. First we constructed an asylum system to accommodate white Europeans as a means to embarrass Communist regimes. We never wanted to accommodate people of color from Central America that we put at risk through our (let’s be honest) criminal political activities, and through climate change–so then we just turned out backs, shut the door and left them to die.
‘In his book Other People’s Blood, Robert S. Kahn tells the unfathomable story of a Salvadoran woman who “had seen her daughter raped by Salvadoran soldiers after they forced her to execute her husband. To prevent her from applying for asylum, US immigration agents pushed Valium down her throat, then guided her hand to force her signature on form I-274, waiving her right to seek asylum.”’

Mother Jones


“We celebrate a diversity of tactics”

Interesting education on where antifa fits in the American political ecosystem.

[from The New Yorker]

The colloboration between nature, humanity, and…algorithms

To help understand the underlying mechanisms of surveillance capitalism in general and the topical antitrust lawsuit against Google filed today:

For years I recommended this 2011 TedTalk by mathematician Kevin Slavin about how algorithms shape our world, to graduate students at Northwestern University, when I was invited to be a guest lecturer at the Medill School of Journalism. This may be the most informative and interesting 15 minutes you spend this week in understanding how the world around us works and why The quickest way to find out what the boundaries of reality are is to figure where they break.

The information world war

‘This shift from targeting infrastructure to targeting the minds of civilians was predictable. Theorists  like Edward Bernays, Hannah Arendt, and Marshall McLuhan saw it coming decades ago. As early as 1970, McLuhan wrote, in Culture is our Business, “World War III is a guerrilla information war with no division between military and civilian participation.” ‘

That piece was actually part 3 of a 4 part blogchain called “The Feed” on RibbonFarm.

Part Four:

Part Two: 

Part One:

Crowds and Technology

Being better consumers of news on Election Day

If we want journalists to do much better during election coverage–and we do–then we have to do much better as consumers of news. Sharing this guide because what’s right for them is right for us. Either of us fall down, the consequences will be tragic and lasting.

The greatest perception hack of all

Very much starting to appreciate Biden and the effect he’s going to have on the country.