As a filmmaker and a film fan, I should agree with the American Film Institute as to which 100 American films (read: Hollywood features) are the greatest, right? Wrong. But that's part of the fun of these lists: disagreeing with them. Now, there are quite a few films on AFI's updated 2007 list that I never saw, and a few that I caught only when I was a child (such as #6 Gone with the Wind and #10 The Wizard of Oz), and even though I'm not convinced that I'd like those movies today, I'll withhold judgment until I can actually get around to seeing them.
- The Godfather (#2 on the AFI list). Before you put a horse head in my bed, let me explain that the phrase movies I didn't like doesn't necessarily translate into movies I think are bad. I've seen The Godfather at least twice, and while I think it's certainly well made - even flawless - it just doesn't move me. I find it a bore. Sorry.
- Raging Bull (#4 on the AFI list). I think Martin Scorsese has made a lot of great movies. GoodFellas, for instance. I also think much of his work is overrated, such as Raging Bull, a meandering story that, in my opinion, amounts to little.
- Lawrence of Arabia (#7 on the AFI list). David Lean's sweeping epic is way too long - and I'm not against long movies per se. And yes, I even saw the restored version in 65mm in a theatre, the way it was meant to be seen. Despite its desert heat, Lawrence left me cold.
- The Searchers (#12 on the AFI list). It's become trendy to love this John Ford Western. How trendy? Well, the original 1998 AFI Top 100 Movies list placed The Searchers way down near the bottom, at #96. That it shot up 84 slots within nine short years reflects critics' new-found appreciation for the film. But I saw it for the first time last year - again, restored and on the big screen - and I still think John Wayne couldn't act. Moreover, the rampant corny humor in the film distracts from the seriousness of the story.
- Some Like It Hot (#22 on the AFI list). Outside of the silent era, comedies don't age well. One generation's concept of "funny" is rarely another's. And while I can still laugh at Strangers on a Train and virtually anything that comes out of Cary Grant's mouth, I can't name a single actual comedy from the 1950s that I like, including the strident, leering, and not particularly clever Some Like It Hot.
- All About Eve (#28 on the AFI list). I love Bette Davis in this film - she turns in a brilliantly catty performance - but writer/director Joseph L. Mankiewicz was the Cameron Crowe of his day: a man so in love with his own dialogue that he was unaware of his ineptitude as a filmmaker. All About Eve is terribly overlong and stagy - and there's no excuse for its flat visuals, having come out at the same time as Sunset Boulevard and The Third Man, two masterpieces.
- The Godfather Part II (#32 on the AFI list). It's not that I hate Francis Ford Coppola. In fact, The Conversation - made between the two Godfathers and consistently ignored by the AFI's list - is one of my all-time favorite movies. But the qualities that made me check my watch throughout the first Godfather were even more prevalent in the sequel.
- Forrest Gump (#76 on the AFI list). Of the 100 titles on the AFI list, I love many, admire most, and only truly object to the inclusion of about 11 or 12 or them. Such as Forrest Gump. I think it's only a matter of time before the AFI agrees with me on this one. It simply isn't aging well.
- Titanic (#83 on the AFI list.) Remember how I said that the term movies I didn't like was to be taken with a grain of salt? Well, ingest this sodium-free sentiment: I hated Titanic.