Saturday, April 28, 2007

Conflict of interest at DC Filmfest?

The Washington Post's Desson Thomson has written an important and meticulously researched story about the Washington DC Film Festival that is respectful and understated, but raises disturbing questions about conflicts of interest and poor leadership of the annual event. Other regional festivals, including the DC area's own SilverDocs and Maryland Film Festival have surpassed it in measures like national (even international) reputation and budget, the DC Filmfest seems stagnant after more than two decades.

The Maryland Film Festival has tripled its operating budget in nine years, and is planning for a dramatic increase -- from about $350,000 to more than $1 million -- in the next two years. In its five years, the Silverdocs documentary film festival, sponsored by the American Film Institute and Discovery Communications, has evolved into a buzzed-about event that attracts filmmakers and media coverage from around the globe.

Yet Filmfest DC, a festival granddaddy after more than two decades, has seemingly refused to grow. Under the stewardship of its part-time director -- Tony Gittens -- its mission (bringing international films to Washington audiences), budget (about $410,000) and number of films (84 shorts and features this year) have changed only incrementally over two decades....

Does Gittens's status [as both festival director and executive director of the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities] present a conflict of interest? Is it self-dealing? At the very least, it presents an appearance of conflict, as the arts commission also provides grants each year to about half a dozen other film festivals, including the Environmental Film Festival and gay and lesbian Reel Affirmations.

Thomson concludes that the conflict of interest may be more one of appearances than reality, but that the real problem may be the limited time that Gittens has to devote to it because of his obligations at the Commission. Gittens receives no additional monetary benefit from running the festival, which has a more-than-healthy surplus in its bank account, though, predictably, other arts organizations in the city believe they are unfairly disadvantaged when they ask for money from the Commission. But as long as he has both jobs, it is difficult to ensure adequate oversight. He probably does not have the time to do the job right. He clearly does not have the vision, seeing no reason to expand the festival's reach and showing himself stunningly unaware of the needs and resources of the city he serves:

Washington, according to Gittens, is a city with unique challenges. "There's no private money here," he says, apparently discounting major corporations in the region such as Lockheed Martin, AOL, Sprint-Nextel, General Dynamics, Capital One and Marriott International. "There's not even any big foundations. . . . In Seattle you got the dot-com foundations. You go to San Francisco and you got [financier] George Gund and other sources to drive events."

Gittens says his mission is clear.

"A festival like ours serves a different purpose -- bringing great films to a great city. . . . We bring them in the spirit of celebration, to show films from around the world, stories of other cultures that never get seen in this country unless regional fests like us get them here. . . . It's a service we provide. People come back year after year. And we feel that we are doing some good."

And in terms of aspiring to the ranks of the higher-profile regional festivals, he says: "I don't have those thoughts."

Friday, April 27, 2007

Turn off your cell phone (Vader remix)

Entertainment Weekly's popwatch blog has a funny YouTube clip about a guy who makes the mistake of answering his cell phone in a very important meeting. Let's just say the Empire strikes back.

More on Whether Critics Matter -- From Time Magazine

Time's current issue focuses on "fanboy" culture, the defining role of

the typically geeky 16-to-34-year-old male (though there are some fangirls) whose slavish devotion to a pop-culture subject, like a comic-book character or a video game, drives him to blog, podcast, chat, share YouTube videos, go to comic-book conventions and, once in a while, see a movie on the subject of his obsession.

They're the new tastemakers," says Avi Arad, a producer behind this summer's Spider-Man 3 and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. "Hard-core fans represent a small piece of the viewing public, but they influence geek culture, journalists, Wall Street. You don't want them to trash your project." If these fans embrace a project, as they did 300 and Heroes, they can kick-start a hit.

Time movie critic Richard Corliss responds with a essay headlined "Don't Read this Column." It may be, as Variety editor Peter Bart notes, that critics have little impact on ticket-buyers for movies like "Norbit" and "Wild Hogs." Bart suggests that critics "take 'a sabbatical until September,' when Hollywood starts releasing artsy films in the pre-Oscar blitz." (Irony alert: Bart as editor presumably approves of his publication's critic Justin Chang, who recently called "The Reaping" "almost riveting in its silliness" and said of box office smash "Night at the Museum," "Rarely has so much production value yielded so little in terms of audience engagement.") Corliss says:

Implicit in Bart's argument is that a popular film is a good film, and vice versa. If critics can't validate that tautology, we're useless. That's why studios screen fewer and fewer of their films early, and if they do, they invite everyone but critics. Until the fall, that is, when they want their prestige releases on 10 Best lists. Those citations sell tickets and tip off the awards folks. In that sense, Hollywood uses us as heralds to our own constituency. We're the fanboy brigade for Oscar films.

Hollywood's marketers have become tremendously efficient at getting their core audience to see their big movies. They don't need critics for that. But critics have a larger utility: to put films in context, to offer an informed perspective, to educate, outrage, entertain. We're just trying to do what every other writer is doing: making sense of one part of your world.

So, dear reader: If our opinions on a movie don't coincide, I don't care, and neither should you. I'm not telling you what to think. I'm just asking that you do think.

Museum of the Moving Image's Film Critic Institute

I'm back from the Film Critic Institute sponsored by the New York Times Foundation and the Museum of the Moving Image. It was five days packed with panels, screenings, discussions, and homework. Every single bit of it was enthralling, thrilling, dazzling, and inspiring. I feel like I've been plugged into plugged into a super-duper recharger and at the same time being given a powerful new pair of glasses while someone has floored my gas pedal. Everyone -- presenters, organizers, and participants were all so smart and honorable and knowledgeable and dedicated. I felt like Kevin Costner in "Bull Durham" talking about his time in "the Show" where all the practice balls are white and all the women have long legs and money.

Just to give you an idea, our last day included a presentation by Mark Urman of ThinkFilm (very funny, very smart, very honest) and two hours with Martin Scorsese, prompting one of the participants to say, "If movies are our religion, we just met the pope."

It wasn't because he was a celebrity or even because he is a great director. It was because we had just spent two hours with perhaps the greatest and most knowledgeable lover of movies who has ever lived. I am quite certain he would happily still be talking to us if we had not somehow found the fortitude to let him go. He talked to us with great passion about movies he loves, from the very first films he saw ("Forbidden Planet" got only two stars!) to his grail-like search for the definitive prints of "Tales of Hoffman" and "Once Upon a Time in the West." And the experience of showing "Charlotte's Web" at his seven-year old's birthday party. (She has recently moved beyond her affection for "High School Musical," he was relieved to report.) His office is filled with Italian movie posters (the Italian posters for American movies are stunning) and he has beautiful, leather-bound volumes with the names of his movies, I imagine his annotated scripts. The two posters behind his desk are from movies about Hollywood -- "The Bad and the Beautiful" and "Sunset Boulevard." He has a photo of the big four -- himself with Lucas, Spielberg, and Coppola -- the night he won the Oscar. He talked about some of his movies and how he approached them and some of what went into making them. One of the problems created by computer editing is that the old-fashioned way, with physical cutting and pasting -- gave him time to walk around and think between edits. He almost made a movie based on the real-life story behind "Moby Dick," but then he said, "Me, on a boat? I can't do that!" Now he is working on documentaries about British film and about the Rolling Stones. And he said that when he is in the office he has Turner Classic Movies on all the time and will constantly interrupt whatever he's doing to have everyone watch, "This movie isn't very good, but this one shot is incredible. You have to come see it!"

Just outside his office is where his long-time editor and close collaborator, three-time Oscar-winner Thelma Schoonmaker, has all of her equipment. We sat in her office and she showed us some of the scenes she worked on (the famous no-edits entrance into the Copa in "Goodfellas," the plane crash in "The Aviator," several of the boxing matches in "Raging Bull") and talked us through the choices. There are elephant sounds in those boxing scenes! One of the other Institute participants told her how he had seen her late husband, the great British director Michael Powell, at one of his last appearances, at a screening of "Peeping Tom," and she told us she was there and how much it meant to him to see how enthusiastically the film was received by the audience.

We were all a little gobsmacked. So I don't think we were able to get the most out of our last stop, an art gallery with an exhibit drawing a connection between early cubism and early movies, though we did love the installation, which included a small screening space designed to look like a tiny Parisian theater from around 1906. Then some of us went to a rehearsal of "Passio," a beautiful choral piece by Arvo Part accompanying a film assemblage, clips from very old medical footage (some quite disturbing) and other oddities.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

MMI film institute homework -- a review of "The Pervert's Guide to Cinema"

One of my homework assignments was this review of The Pervert's Guide to the Movies:

It doesn’t get any more meta than this.

“The Pervert’s Guide to the Cinema” is a movie about movies. No, it’s a movie about movies about movies — or about dreams, fantasies, and stories of all kinds, and the movies that represent, exemplify, explore, and illuminate them. It is a critique of a critique of movies and of their critique of, well, pretty much everything, you name it, the human condition, the collective unconscious, essential dualities, the man behind the curtain, the fundamental conservatism of pornography, Pluto’s nightmare (being tried by a jury of cats) from Disney, the obscene, unkillable father, and of course the backed-up toilet.

Documentarian Sophie Fiennes (sister of Ralph and Joseph) has made a three-hour film of Slovenian philosopher and psychoanalyst Slavoj Zizek talking about films and what they mean. His passion for his theories and for the films he describes are so intense that he literally enters into them through meticulously re-created sets that place him in Norman Bates’ cellar, Neo’s chair opposite Morpheus, and the hotel bathroom from Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Conversation.”

Zizek sees film not just as art but as the expression of our collective unconscious. We may think of the term “dream factory” as referring to Hollywood’s aspirational gloss, the way we might dream of dancing like Astaire or punching like John Wayne. But Zizek sees films as our way of processing our deepest primordial conflicts, as we do in our literal dreams – and our nightmares. The film is essentially an illustrated lecture, kaleidoscopic in format, with a torrential barbaric yawp of ideas and images, some provocative, some insightful, some revelatory, some outlandish. Like Freud, however, he does not know much about what women want.

The film begins with an enchanting scene from 1931’s “Possessed” with Joan Crawford. As she walks toward the railroad tracks, a train rolls by, so close and so slowly that she can see through the windows of each passing train car a different scene of glamour, sophistication, and intrigue. An elegant couple in evening clothes is dancing. Another is sharing a romantic supper. Each tableau is more enticing than the last for the small-town girl, and they pass as though she is changing the channels on a television set. And then, at the end of the train, a man is drinking a cocktail. Unlike the others, he is not separated from her by glass, and he leans over to put a drink in her hand, inviting her into this dream, making her fantasy real. Zizek is doing the same for us. As our proxy, he enters into the movies, and we follow him the way Alice followed the White Rabbit. In some cases, he stands before a white screen, the personification of a Rorschach blot. In some, it is enough to recreate the set but in others he visits the actual real-life locations, as though the physical reality underlying the fantasy story will help him unlock its secrets and make it somehow more real, dissolving the separation between him and the movie, between us and the screen.

At times it feels like free-association , part ramble, part rant, as though Zizek is diagnosing and treating the collective neuroses of humanity as audience at the same time we are treating his, the silent psychoanalyst for his stream of consciousness.

Zizek dwells on dualities. In the literal (if internal) struggle with good/bad controlled/uncontrolled battling dualities, ”the obstacle is externalized,” as we see in films like “Fight Club,” “The Red Shoes,” “The Wizard of Oz,” and “Dr. Strangelove.” “The “uncastrated double” is the other, a projection of ourselves through the leading character who represents us and who must attempt to triumph over that nasty, headstrong id. We see literal (external) dualities in films like “Blue Velvet,” with a (blond) good girl and a (dark) bad girl, an impotent and ailing good father and a powerful and seemingly unkillable bad one. The ultimate psychological crime, Zizek tells us, is the father who will not die. We see the self splintered into three with the Marx brothers, Chico the crafty, calculating ego, Groucho the hyper-cerebral superego, and Harpo the ravenous id, at once childlike and innocent and primordially aggressive. “The combination of utter corruption and innocence is what the id is about,” Zizek tells us. We might come to the conclusion that Groucho and Chico also embody corruption and innocence and that, for example, more traditional straight man/comic duos like Abbott and Costello and Martin and Lewis might better exemplify the tension between superego and id, but the avalanche of images and words does not give us enough time to breathe, much less think.

All of this is in the context of the ultimate duality of fantasy and reality. The irony is that it is through fantasy that we work through this conundrum. “The Matrix” is a double-fantasy as its fictional world is outside the norms of time, place, and physics. In that film, Morpheus gives Neo the choice between the blue pill, which would allow him to continue to believe what he has always thought to be reality, and the red pill, which shows the truth. Will the movies be our red or blue pills?

Zizek sits in Neo’s chair as though Morpheus is making him the offer, and says, “I want a third pill.” He shows us how movies can be this third pill. Inherently fantastic, they can explore the reality of fantasy. In “Blue,” Julie loses her reality when her husband and child are killed. She loses her fantasy of what her husband was when she discovers that he lied to her. Her final achievement, her happy ending, is to acquire appropriate distance from reality –”life in its brutal meaninglessness” – to be able to appreciate fantasy (in a theater), but recognize it as such. In “Eyes Wide Shut,” real-life enactment of a woman’s fantasy is perversely un-erotic, destroying any imagined thrill. (Zizek might have also included films like Orson Welles’ “F for Fake” and “The Immortal Story.”)

And then there is the fantasy of our love object. Zizek’s superbly chosen example is Charlie Chaplin’s “City Lights.” The blind girl believes that the little tramp is a millionaire. He steals the money for her operation and when he gets out of prison she has no idea that the funny little man in rags is the one who made it possible for her to see, until she touches his hand as she gives him a flower. The movie wisely does not try for the fantasy Hollywood ending. We don’t know what the characters will do with this realization; as it ends, they do not, either. It is that very ambiguity on screen that brings us closer to resolving our own conflicts. “It is only in cinema where we get the critical dimension we are afraid to confront in reality.”

Zizek looks at film the way that Freud, Jung, and Joseph Campbell looked at myths. Film is modern myth, a dress rehearsal for our emotions and a way of using symbols and structure to make sense of that which is beyond the capacity of any boundary of meaning to enclose. Why a “pervert’s guide?” Because Zizek says that “Cinema is the ultimate pervert art. It doesn’t give you what you desire, it tells you how to desire.” This may be his greatest failure of insight. Desire is innate and one of the deepest desires is to make some sense of ourselves and our lives. Films thrill us when they satisfy, even for a moment, that desire, to give us, as Zizek says, that voice that we would otherwise be unable to access. In helping us recognize this — and in reminding us of films we should see or see again and questions to ask ourselves as we watch, he and Feinnes have made a film that is both entertaining and wise.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Force is Still With Us Three Decades Later

As the 30th anniversary of the original "Star Wars" release approaches, the official history is back under discussion. More material for film historians and "Star Wars" fanboys and all those in between.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Live music for silent movies

The MMI Institute participants just attended a screening of William S. Hart's 1916 silent film, "Hell's Hinges," introduced by Diane Kaiser Koszarski, the author of Complete Films of William S. Hart. The highlight was the haunting live musical accompaniment, part original, part adapted from traditional music of the era, performed by Donald Sosin, dressed in a cowboy shirt and jeans for the occasion.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Do we need critics?

EW's Whitney Pastorek asks a good question to think about as I go to NY for the film critics institute: "What's the critic's role in a comment-board world?"

Am I a Frank Rich or a Pauline Kael? HELL to the no. But I consider myself a proud part of that tradition. I've spent the better part of my adult life educating myself, cultivating opinions, learning about the journey of art through the ages. I take in almost-inconceivable amounts of music, movies, books, television, and media so that I can report on pop culture with an eye on its place in history. I also take time to craft that reporting, to shape my opinions. I take time to present them in a compelling way. I worry over commas, I fret over em-dashes. I use spell-check. I'm inspired by all those amazing voices that came before me, and, as with any craft, I aspire to be excellent at mine. And I believe that, if used properly and responsibly, it is a craft that has great value. I do not know that our society would be a better place if everyone was allowed to perform surgery or build skyscrapers or drive big-rig trucks just because technology came along that made those activities available to the masses at the click of a button. I don't see what makes cultural criticism any different.
This next sentence says it all, and should be recited by everyone with a keyboard and a blogger account.
Just because you can type into the little box and press "post" doesn't mean you should.

The MMI Institute

I am thrilled to have been accepted to the Institute in Film Criticism and Feature Writing, sponsored by the Museum of the Moving Image and the New York Times Foundation. There will be fifteen journalists from a wide variety of backgrounds who write for a wide variety of outlets. And the schedule they have for us is dazzling, with speakers and screenings. Monday we get to attend an editorial meeting at the New York Times. And Tuesday we hear from Martin Scorsese and his long-time editor, Thelma Schoonmaker.

We'll be very busy -- the institute has warned us there will be homework. But I will try to post some updates on this blog while I am there.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Miss Pettigrew

Doesn't this sound wonderful?

NEW YORK, April 16, 2007 – Production begins this week on location in the U.K. on Focus Features’ comedy "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day," starring Academy Award winner Frances McDormand in the title role. Focus CEO James Schamus made the announcement today...Ms. McDormand is executive-producing Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day with Frank Frattaroli and Paul Webster...Joining Ms. McDormand in the cast are Amy Adams (most recently seen in Talladega Nights, and an Academy Award nominee last year for Junebug), Ciaran Hinds (who recently wrapped There Will Be Blood), Shirley Henderson (of the Harry Potter movies), Lee Pace (a Golden Globe Award nominee for Soldier’s Girl), Mark Strong (currently in Sunshine), and screen newcomer Tom Payne.

In the 1939-set romantic tale, Miss Guinevere Pettigrew (Ms. McDormand), a middle-aged London governess, finds herself unfairly dismissed from her job. An attempt to gain new employment catapults her into the glamorous world and dizzying social whirl of an American actress and singer, Delysia Lafosse (Ms. Adams). Within minutes, Miss Pettigrew finds herself swept into a heady high-society milieu – and, within hours, living it up.

Many thanks to Gwendolynne Larson and the Emporia Gazette

Gwendolynne Larson's latest column for the Emporia Gazette has a nice compliment for my reviews. She says just what I hope for -- that I give her the information she needs to decide what is right for her son. Sorry he didn't get to see "Disturbia" with his friends this week, but I'm glad Ms. Larson feels she can rely on my reviews.

The Movie Mom's Dad -- Speeches that Changed the World

Vital Speeches magazine has produced a DVD of 25 speeches that changed the world, and I am very proud to say that my dad's "vast wasteland" speech is on the list, right there between Richard Nixon's resignation and Leonid Brezhnev's "Peaceful Co-existence."

Update: Today's Chicago Tribune has my dad's op-ed on the Imus mess.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Quite a treat for a cold and rainy April this week when DC film critics got to see a sneak peek at footage from next summer's "Hairspray." It boggles the mind to think that John Waters' film has become a hugely successful Broadway musical and is now back on film with John Travolta in the role immortalized by the divine Divine (yes, that's him in the picture). It looks like it is avoiding the pitfalls of "The Producers" and while it has lost some of its edge, it has tons of energy and spirit. Can't wait.

Mine Your Own Business

"This is not about global warming," we were crisply informed by Freyda Levy before the movie began. "It's about economic development." Levy is the president of the Moving Picture Institute, which supports film-makers and films "who are committed to protecting and sustaining a free society."

Not the usual movie screening. Instead of a movie theater or screening room, this one was held in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill. Instead of a dozen scruffy movie critics, the audience was about 70 Hill staffers wearing IDs with blurred photos on chains around their necks.

The movie was Mine Your Own Business, funded by industry, but made by journalists Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney, who retained editorial control. The premise of the film is that a responsible mining company has been thwarted from developing mines in some of the poorest communities by well-meaning but carpet-bagging environmentalists who have a romantic notion of "peasant" culture and are thus condemning these people to lives without opportunity for jobs, health care, and education.

The mining companies, of course, are carpet-baggers too, with their own ideas of what is best for these communities, not coincidentally what is best for the mining companies as well. But they make some good points and have some devastating footage. As a movie, it is ragged and amateurish. As advocacy it is further evidence that in the era of Michael Moore, "An Inconvenient Truth," and You Tube, a movie is worth a million words. And $10 million in lobbying.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Writer's Alamanac

When my children were younger and we had to get them to the schoolbus, I used to set my alarm to wake up to Garrison Keillor's Writer's Alamanac every morning on NPR. It was a wonderful way to start the day. I loved hearing each day's poetry selection in Keillor's hypnotically sonorous tones. I enjoyed hearing which writers were celebrating birthdays. And I always found his sign-off touching: "Be well, do good work, and keep in touch."

Now I get to sleep a little later, but I still get Keillor's daily poetry selection via email. Today is Billy Collins' poem about going to the movies.

The Movies

I would like to watch a movie tonight
in which a stranger rides into town
or where someone embarks on a long journey,

a movie with the promise of danger,
danger visited upon the citizens of the town
by the stranger who rides in,

or the danger that will befall the person
on his or her long hazardous journey—
it hardly matters to me

so long as I am not in danger,
and not much danger lies in watching
a movie, you might as well agree.

I would prefer to watch this movie at home
than walk out in the cold to a theater
and stand on line for a ticket.

I want to watch it lying down
with the bed hitched up to the television
the way they'd hitch up a stagecoach

to a team of horses
so the movie could pull me along
the crooked, dusty road of its adventures.

I would stay out of harm's way
by identifying with the characters
like the bartender in the movie about the stranger

who rides into town,
the fellow who knows enough to duck
when a chair shatters the mirror over the bar.

Or the stationmaster
in the movie about the perilous journey,
the fellow who fishes a gold watch from his pocket,

helps a lady onto the train,
and hands up a heavy satchel
to the man with the mustache

and the dangerous eyes,
waving the all-clear to the engineer.
Then the train would pull out of the station

and the movie would continue without me.
And at the end of the day
I would hang up my oval hat on a hook

and take the shortcut home to my two dogs,
my faithful, amorous wife, and my children—
Molly, Lucinda, and Harold, Jr.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®

Monday, April 09, 2007

Tagged by Reel Fanatic

I'm honored that Keith Demko of Reel Fanatic, a blog I admire very much and read several times a week, selected my blog as one of the sites that makes him think. Right back at you, Keith!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Quote of the Week -- Dana Stevens on "Grindhouse"

Of all the reviews I read, Slate's Dana Stevens best conveyed and illuminated the transgressive pleasures of "Grindhouse."

We've all experienced some degree of Tarantino fatigue since ["Pulp Fiction"], whether with the director himself (who sometimes seems to be using the screen as a place to play out his own airless adolescent fantasies) or with the endless imitations spawned by his particular brand of fast-talking, genre-savvy splatter (this year's dreadful "Smokin' Aces" is one latter-day example).

But Death Proof is a reminder of what there was to like about Tarantino in the first place: his uncanny ear for dialogue that's at once naturalistic and deliriously wordy, his kinetic action sequences, and his voracious love for cinema in all its incarnations, especially the sleazy ones. With its lean 90-minute running time and a near-complete absence of CGI, "Death Proof" feels like an experiment in austerity after more than a decade in which Tarantino had free run of the special-effects candy store. And it works fabulously, much to the surprise of this generally Tarantino-weary writer.


The Washington Post's first-ever Peeps diorama contest was a huge hit, with more than 350 entries. The winner and many of those selected for the website were inspired by movies. First prize went to this fabulous salute to Marilyn Monroe's "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend" number in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Runners-up included tributes to Soylent Green ("Soylent green is PEEPS!!!") and Mommie Dearest. There's an hilarious slideshow here.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Faux double features

The release of "Grindhouse" this week reminded me of another fake double feature that was a tribute to the movie-going pleasures of an earlier era, Stanley Donen's Movie Movie. Like "Grindhouse," it had two films and a coming attraction, but this one was set in the 1930's. There was a black and white drama about a boxer (Harry Hamlin) and a color musical. And, as in "Grindhouse," some players appeared in both. A terrific cast included George C. Scott, Ann Reinking (as "Troubles Moran" who almost makes the pure-hearted hero forget what's important), and a script co-written by "M*A*S*H"'s Larry Gelbart, it well deserves a release on DVD.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Guilty Pleasures

The Washington Post has a great salute to guilty pleasure movies. I try not to feel guilty about my pleasures...but I'll admit to loving "The V.I.Ps," Doris Day comedies like "The Thrill of it All," "Move Over Darling," "Please Don't Eat the Daisies," and "Lover Come Back," Douglas Sirk suffering-women-in-couture-clothes movies like "All That Heaven Allows" and "Magnificent Obsession," and unpretentious teen movies like "High School Musical" and "Stick It."

The Wilhelm Scream

Another reason to love the internet -- someone has taken the time to research and meticulously document the history of the Wilhelm scream, a popular sound effect that has now become something of an in-joke for sound engineers and movie fans. Reportedly, it was originally recorded by Sheb Wooley, best known as one of the bad guys in "High Noon" and as the writer-performer of the 50's novelty hit "Purple People-Eater." He also wrote the theme song for "Hee Haw." The distinctive scream has been used in many movies and You Tube has a clever compilation: