When it’s all said and done, John Carpenter likely won’t go down in history being spoken of in the same breath as Martin Scorsese, Orson Welles, John Ford or any other director whose name is synonymous with path paving, pioneering or inspiring future generations. Despite directing a few titles that have resonated with audiences enough to be re-visited and reshaped by others (Halloween, Assault on Precinct 13, The Fog), Carpenter has also directed his fair share of clunkers (pretty much his entire output since the 90s minus In the Mouth of Madness) or titles that aren’t easy to classify by the mainstream (Big Trouble in Little China, They Live).
Because of this, it’s easier for people to overlook Carpenter’s legacy or discredit his successes as anomalies than it is to admit that the man who wrote, “I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass, and I’m all out of bubble gum” is a skilled filmmaker. But if one wanted to prove that Carpenter’s success and worth were warranted, he or she would have to look no further than The Thing as Exhibit A, B and C.
Let’s all do ourselves a solid and pretend that it hasn’t been seven months since I wrote my last entry into my Top Ten Favorites, shall we? Good.
I was forthcoming at the outset of this blog series that subjectivity, as is the case with any Top Ten list, would play a key role in its formation. Despite the fact that this list is still in its infancy we’ve come to the entry in which, more so than any of the other films before or after, the immeasurable, personal factors – nostalgia, mood, time, place – play a significant role in the reverence I hold for it.
9. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
“Therefore what God has joined together, let no man put asunder.”
The ninth verse of the tenth chapter or Mark’s gospel is the go-to citation for anyone trying to Biblically justify the forbidding of divorce. At its heart the verse makes a lot of sense. As Christians we believe, to one extent or the other, that many of the significant turning points in our lives – choice of college, career path, marriage, etc. – are willed by God, individual breaks deliberately constructed into a path that is meant to lead to the fruition of His will for us. But removed from context, this verse has also been cited to induce shame, to bully weak minds and weaker hearts into submission and to ultimately justify greater evils, such as the acceptance of emotional and/or physical abuse, over lesser.
So, what happens when the words in that verse are flipped – “Therefore what God has put asunder, let no man put together”?
10. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
First and foremost allow me to apologize for the incongruity between my introduction, with its implications of a list soon to follow, and the disappointing realization of what turned out to be a long delay. A recent move across state lines has occupied both my physical and mental energies for an extended period that has only recently come to cessation, but luckily the dust has settled just in time for Halloween, which makes for an unintended but serendipitous segue into the first entry into my Top Ten Favorite Films list, Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
There’s something inherently and immediately enjoyable about lists. People are more inclined to spend the time to read a list with its easily digestible bites than they are an article with its in-depth eloquence and deliberate structure. While lists of the Top Ten Best This’s or Top Ten Worst That’s may have once been considered novelties or reserved for special occasions on websites in the past, internet lists are so often read that there are now entire websites dedicated to making lists. So, when Tyler asked the MTOL contributors if anyone wanted to tackle a Top Ten list inspired by his and Josh’s current stretch of minisodes, I jumped at the chance. But almost as soon as I agreed to write it, I began to wonder if I was capable of writing a worthwhile list.
I experienced something this year after reading the Oscar nominees that I haven’t experienced since I don’t remember when: concurrence. For as long as I’ve been (perhaps foolishly) watching the Oscars, I can’t remember a year in which my response was so even-keeled, so contemplative and – dare I say it? – so agreeable with what the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences had arbitrarily decreed as the highest quality cinema to have been released in 2012.
Christmas is my absolute favorite time of the year. I’m the guy who has the radio in his car set to the station that plays Christmas carols 24/7, the guy who enjoys stringing up half-burnt out multicolor bulbs in 20 degree weather, the guy who devotes more care to dressing up the presents he bought than he does to dressing himself. Yes, if Christmas were a drink, I’d proceed to get blackout drunk as soon as Santa closed out the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 24th and wallow in holiday delirium tremens all day December 26th.
In an event to curtail Netflix’s dominance over streaming services, Hulu has in recent years begun to adopt all sorts of motley programming into the fold, adding international obscurities and surefire major network pariahs to an already impressive array of successful syndicated TV titles. When it comes to regular, dedicated viewing though, audiences still turn to the major networks for their comedies (The Office, Modern Family, Two and a Half Men (for some reason)) and the minor networks for their intelligent dramas (Breaking Bad, Justified, Game of Thrones).
A few weeks ago I was talking to my Queue The Day podcast co-host about all the recent TV we had been watching and I mentioned how I was watching GCB for More Than One Lesson blogging purposes. We asked for my thoughts on the show, I responded with the knee jerk, “it’s the least offensive attack on Christianity I’ve ever seen.” At that point, I had only watched the pilot and seeing as one episode is never enough exposure to make any judgments about a theoretically long-running series (unless it’s Breaking Bad), my comment was more the result of a combination of the relatively unflattering picture that the mainstream media has historically painted of Christianity and GCB’s general lack of acerbity throughout its roughly 44-minute running time.