100 Favorite Films

100 FAVORITE FILMS(and a few additions)

Bloomed from a discussion started on the way to his 1/1999 nuptials with the demented, but well-meaning members of his wedding party, this list has been discussed, argued and playfully enjoyed over many cups of coffee and mugs of beer from New York to Los Angeles with a series of obsessives and shut-ins. It appears together for the first time for jamescampion.com with commentary from the author. This includes only English speaking films or documentaries, and just like the 100 Favorite Albums List jc reserves the right to edit at anytime due to not only new films, but difficult decisions.

1. The Graduate – 1968The Graduate“I want to be…different.”
A flawless work of art. Buck Henry’s screenplay is a masterpiece of generational apathy leaping into the sexual abyss, while also being damn funny. Director, Mike Nichols, a prolific writer and satirist himself, uses the camera as a window into the psyches of three perfectly cast actors; Dustin Hoffman, Ann Bancroft and Katherine Ross, set to the haunting songs of Paul Simon, and tied together with a memorable quilt of visual montages puncturing at the heart of alienation.

2. Oliver – 1968Oliver!“Consider yourself one of us.”

The first film I ever saw, and saw it often. The songs are fantastic and the choreography is mesmerizing, while also being a very worthy adaptation of Charles Dickens’s moving novel. A tale dominated by rogues and villains played aptly vicious and ironically lovable by Jack Wild as the Artful Dodger, Ron Moody as the venerable Fagin and Oliver Reed as the brooding and murderous Bill Sykes.

3. Annie Hall – 1977Annie Hall“Most of us need the eggs.”

If there is a better artistic example of the American male/female relationship in the latter half of the 20th century, you’d have quite a story. The best, most compact soup-to-nuts production by the genius of Woody Allen rolled into a film. If it wouldn’t be totally maudlin I’d put twenty of his films in here, but everyone needs a turn. Diane Keaton is as good as it gets here.

4. The Sting – 1973 The Sting“But my money’s in there!”

Until “Hannah And Her Sisters” and then years later, “Shakespeare In Love”, the finest of movie scripts. Its plot is flawless, while perfectly capturing the period of desperation and survival that was The Great Depression. Paul Newman and Robert Redford’s best work and a world-class soundtrack. I give my father full credit for not only taking me to see this against my prepubescent will, but for figuring out the dense setup before the sting.

5. The Godfather/Godfather II – 1972/1974The GodfatherThe Godfather Part II“I believe in America.”

If you were to put two films in a timecapsule for purposes of explaining the American dream’s foul underbelly, and the endearingly dark subculture of family life in the growth of the American century, then you’ve come to the right place. There is far too little time and adjectives to describe their beauty, but suffice to say Francis Ford Coppolla’s two-part anxiety-ridden opus coupled with his faith in the brilliant performances of the entire cast, including Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Robert Deniro et al, is a thing to behold.

6. Jaws – 1975Jaws“We need a bigger boat.”

Steven Speilberg has made better films, but none with the concise storytelling and humorous impact of this one. The plot is airtight, if not wonderfully predictable, with its battle between man and nature, but the visual delights buoyed by the film’s fantastic John William’s score and the Hitchcockian subterfuge of the looming villainous shark, make this a perennial thriller. Robert Shaw’s Quint is legendary stuff.

7. The Wizard Of Oz – 1939The Wizard of Oz“There’s no place like home.”

After 60+ years this still stands as the most satisfying fantasy in film history. Musically, it has few peers, and visually it not only dwarfed its time, but still influences generations of set designers and special effects gurus. Frank L. Baum’s novel is still the standard barer for satirical depth, but the film has merit in its splendid morality play, not to mention sporting the finest song ever written, “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”. Terrific performances and legendary moments, it cannot be left off anyone’s top ten list without denial or serious explanation.

8. Field Of Dreams – 1989Field of Dreams“Hey dad…wanna have a catch?”

Personally, this may be the finest film I ever saw in the theater. It touched me on so many levels it’s hard to say I’ve fully recovered. It is a magnificent story about the faith of oneself to achieve reconciliation and forgiveness in a world bent on keeping those concepts at bay. Simultaneously, it is a fun romp of commentary and fantasy with chilling moments of recognition for anyone who has missed oneself for even a minute. “Hey dad, you wanna have a catch?” is the best line in the history of American cinema.

9. Hannah And Her Sisters – 1986Hannah and Her Sisters“I cannot fathom my own heart.”

Probably Woody Allen’s best humor/drama effort, it is a plot/dialogue masterpiece infused with metaphor and literal imagery for ten more films. Michael Kane is ridiculously good in his roll as a middle-aged, sheepish lovelorn, stammering through an illicit affair on his doting wife (Mia Farrow). Her sisters, played ably neurotic by Barbara Hershey and Dianne Wiest run the gamut of Allen’s best female character flaws and strengths, while being author/director’s most accomplished of work on the celebration of life.

10. A Clockwork Orange – 1970A Clockwork Orange“I was cured all right.”

One of the few films, if not the only one, that expands, even improves on a significant novel. Eerily crafted in the best Stanely Kubrick style, this futuristic study of violence inside the fragile human spirit, and the way emotions are swept under the societal rug by the cold hand of progress, has never failed to cull the word “disturbing” from a single person I turn onto it. The use of liberally adapted Beethoven music into an eerie score makes this a timeless classic of contemporary satire.

11. American Beauty – 1999American Beauty

12. Sideways -2004

13. E.T. – 1982

14. JFK – 1991

15. Manhattan – 1979

16. Network – 1976

17. Forrest Gump – 1994

18. Magnolia – 1999

19. Planet Of The Apes – 1968

20. Gangs of New York – 2002

21. Monty Python And The Holy Grail – 1979Shakespeare In Love

22. Broadcast News – 1987

23.Shakespeare In Love – 1998

24. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – 2004

25. Do The Right Thing – 1989

26. Goodfellas – 1990Good Fellas

27. Saving Private Ryan – 1998

28. Raging Bull – 1980

29. Night Shift – 1982

30. Schindler’s List – 1993

31. The Great Escape – 1963 Malcolm X

32. Malcolm X – 1992

33. Being John Malkovich – 1999

34. Crimes And Misdermeaners – 1989

35. Elephant – 2003

36. Kelly’s Heroes – 1970Apocalypse Now

37. Immortal Beloved – 1994

38. Apocalypse Now – 1979

39. Pulp Fiction – 1994

40. The Hours – 2002

41. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest – 1975One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

42. Barton Fink – 1992

43. Napoleon Dynamite – 2004

44. Modern Romance – 1982

45. Midnight Cowboy – 1969

46. Star Wars – 1977Taxi Driver

47. Lost In America – 1985

48. Taxi Driver – 1976

49. Dummy – 2003

50. Natural Born Killers – 1994

51. The Royal Tenenbaums – 2001

Raising Arizona52. Sweet And Lowdown – 1999

53. Love Actually – 2003

54. Rain Man – 1988

55. Raising Arizona – 1987

56. 2001 A Space Odyssey – 1968

The Virgin Suicides57. Reservoir Dogs – 1992

58. Boogie Nights – 1997

59. The Virgin Suicides – 1999

60. Leaving Las Vegas – 1995

61. Broken Flowers – 2005

The Big Lebowski

62. The Purple Rose of Cairo – 1985

63. The Big Lebowski – 1998

64. World’s Greatest Dad – 2009

65. Dandelion -2005

66. A Very Long Engagement – 2004

My Life Without Me67. My Life Without Me -2003

68. Husbands and Wives – 1992

69. Miracle – 2004

70. Sling Blade – 1996

71. Talk Radio – 1988

My Own Private Idaho72. My Own Private Idaho – 1991

73. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid – 1969

74. Around the Bend – 2004

75. Criminal – 2004

76. What the #$*! Do We Know!? – 2004

Hoosiers77. Hoosiers – 1986

78. Party Girl – 1995

79. In The Bedroom – 2001

80. Garden State – 2004

81. Straw Dogs – 1971

Straw Dogs

82. Persopolis – 2007

83. The Taking of Pelham One Two Three – 1974

84. O Brother, Where Art Thou? 2000

85. Brick – 2005

86. Dopamine – 2003

Dopamine

87. Bully – 2001

88. Fargo – 1996

89. Defending Your Life – 1991

90. Grand Canyon – 1991

91. Pieces of April – 2003

Pieces Of April92. Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas – 1998

93. The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio – 2005

94. American Splendor – 2003

95. Searching For Bobby Fischer – 1993

96. The Station Agent – 2003

Station Agent97. Rocket Science – 2007

98. Frida – 2002

99. Spiderman – 2002

100. The Dead Girl – 2006

101. Breaking Upwards – 2010

Breaking Upwards102. HappyThankYouMorePlease – 2010

103. An Education – 2009

104. Two Lovers – 2008

105. Elegy – 2008

106. In Bruges – 2008

107. The Trotsky – 2010

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The Future of Comedy By The Numbers – Gonzo author, James Campion dissects underground comedy of late 90s’ local access television.

Genesis Magazine 1/98

PAST IS PRESENT(The Future of Comedy by the Numbers)

The world of comedy television is not unlike several other corners of the entertainment business. From music to radio, commercial literature to Broadway shows, the influence of one amalgamates into the other to form hybrids of unique art to which theme and style begin to fade into several like colors in the wash. However, the origin and destiny of their movements often lie in the darkest corners of America, and develop in the obscurity of a cult world bubbling over with the kind of originality networks could only dream about.

Today, a large portion of the comedy seed is grown in the garden of local and public access television, where the fantasy guffaw of Wayne’s World comes alive nightly throughout the fruited plain. Starving entertainers fill the free air space with the bizarre slant of life that longs to leap out of their heads. In the two biggest media sponges this country has to offer, New York and Los Angeles, the irreverent and the wise-cracking emerge from literally nowhere to gain notoriety.

Two classic examples of the type of programming that may seem frightening to network executives now, but will probably be the flavor of the 21st century are West L.A. Cable’s Colin’s Sleazy Friends and Time Warner Cable of Manhattan’s Exactly 29 Minutes.

Back in 1992, Colin Malone, a struggling stand-up comic, and his friend, Dino Everett, were two young men bored out of their minds working at a video store in L.A. when they decided to cause a ruckus talking about their bizarre personal lives on a half-hour television program of their own devise. The idea began with barely a whimper, then Malone decided to invite porn star, Ron Jeremy with the promise of a free lunch, and Colin’s Sleazy Friends was born. Five years, and a host of porn guests later, the show is one of the most talked about in Southern California, and now with the help of the True Blue Network, and satellite television, it is potentially viewed by millions.

“I’m the most famous poor guy in America, ” Malone laughs today. Every Wednesday at midnight on Channel 3 out of West L.A., a time slot which enables the twisted duo to steal from the Leno/Letterman channel surfers, the show pushes the obscenity envelope with X-Rated film clips and scantily clad porn actresses discussing the inner workings of the genre. But it isn’t just about smut for Malone. “It’s really a comedy show,” he says. “But we’re getting a lot of crap from the cable companies who try and force the obscenity issue.”

Malone, a sloppy, corpulent, long-haired slick talker with a rabid personality and keen sense of audience seduction, has built a mini-entertainment empire. Now mainstream celebrities Drew Carey and Jeanene Garafilo join cutting edge music acts like Danzig and Insane Clown Posse in calling themselves sleazy friends. “We’re hot right now,” Malone notes proudly. “Almost everywhere fans are having these ‘Colin Parties’ and I’ve already taken meetings with people from Fox to HBO.” Malone has even parlayed his infamy into a cameo on an upcoming episode of the number one sitcom on television, Seinfeld.

Exactly 29 Minutes, although no less inventive and determined, is on the other end of the popularity totem pole. Producer, writer, and head nut-case, Al Quagliata’s monthly character-driven romp through themes such as flem, masturbation, and old security guards whining about “the good old days” has been seen in New York homes from Manhattan to Westchester since the mid-80s’. Originally titled Zodiacs, Maniacs, & Just Plain Yaks, the half-hour sketch show has taken a page from the Monty Python-Second City style of featuring bit players willing to take on any character and attack subject.

“The show is a great source of exposure for my other work as an actor and stand-up comic,” says the 32 year-old Quagliata, who sites the late-great, Ernie Kovacks as his main influence. “But although we’re proud of the work we’ve done, dealing with cable outlets and bicycling the tapes all over becomes far too much work.”

Sometimes huge national fame and fortune is not the only legacy for the talented and ignored. Long before there was such a thing as local access, in fact, before cable became a household necessity and satirical comedy sketch shows ruled airwaves, a New Jersey native by the name of Floyd Vivino decided to branch out from his burlesque comedy roots and parody kiddie show format with his wild and wholly entertaining Uncle Floyd Show. Vivino and a cast of crazies worked, as he describes, “like animals” taping five straight hours weekly; sometimes in the middle of the night in order to fill a daily one-hour show packed with music, laughter, and mostly mayhem. “After awhile we realized the kids hated me, ” Uncle Floyd says today. kids, “They were frightened of us, but the adults and the older the college kids, they loved us.”

The Uncle Floyd Show was a pioneering effort in the world of local television. Vivino and his cast rented studio time and air-brokered space on channel 68 out of Newark. “I hate the word local access, ” he says. “We were professional all the way. Booked the time, brokered the space, and sold the time. We did it all.” It’s live to tape format with people screaming off camera and flubbing lines has now become a familiar staple on Saturday Night Live, Mad TV, and even wacky morning radio shows. Hip rock acts like the Ramones and David Johanson along with up-and-comers like Cindy Lauper and Bon Jovi frequented the tiny studio. “We had no idea that we were influencing a whole comedy generation,” Vivino says.”We were just trying to survive.”

Not only did it survive, but when it was all done The Uncle Floyd Show produced 6,000 programs of which only 300 still exist. “The people.at Shaneckie Video found about 84 shows from 980 that they’ve released regionally in two volumes,” Vivino, whose brother, Jerry plays in Conan O’Brien’s Max Weinberh Seven Band, delightfully announces, while remembering what it was like in those chatoic days of near banckruptcy and abuse from his detractors. “At least it was fun,” he chuckles. “It was always fun.”

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