Scott disappears world's greatest film!


Dargis drops it to third: These elites today! Often, they're in the framework-of-understanding business, sometimes in ways we may not fully see.

Last Wednesday, the New York Times co-chief film critics—Manohla Dargis and A. O. Scott—released their own lists of the world's ten greatest films. Their colloquy appeared in today's print editions—or at least, it appeared in the print edition we found outside our front door.

The pair were reacting to Sight & Sound's recent announcement that Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles was selected as history's greatest film in its latest survey of slighlty over 1,600 academics and critics.

What did the co-chief critics of the Times list as the ten greatest films? Scott presented his list in chronological order—and the world's greatest film wasn't there:

A. O. Scott, ten greatest films
The Gold Rush (Charlie Chaplin)
La Terra Trema (Luchino Visconti)
What’s Opera, Doc? (Chuck Jones)
Big Deal on Madonna Street (Mario Monicelli)
La Dolce Vita (Federico Fellini)
Cléo From 5 to 7 (Varda) 
Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One (William Greaves)
Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee)
Paris Is Burning (Jennie Livingston)
Happy as Lazzaro (Alice Rohrwacher)

That's right—Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One! It's one of the ten greatest films! 

For ourselves, we've seen three of those ten films, though possibly not to the end. 

Scott didn't include Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles on his list at all. It came in third on Dargis' list, which she said she was listing in order of merit:

Manohla Dargis, ten greatest films
1) Au Hasard Balthazar (Robert Bresson)
2) The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola)
3) Jeanne Dielman (Chantal Akerman)
4) Flowers of Shanghai (Hou Hsiao-Hsien)
5) The Gleaners and I (Varda)
6) Tokyo Story  (Yasujiro Ozu)
7) Killer of Sheep (Charles Burnett)
8) Little Stabs at Happiness (Ken Jacobs), 
9) There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson) 
10) Shoes (Lois Weber)

We've seen two or possibly three of those films, one about ten millions times.

Dargis' second greatest film is a giant popular favorite, at least here in the U.S. Her greatest film is about a donkey named Balthazar. It would strike most American viewers as amateurish and highly tedious, much as it struck some observers when it first appeared:

The New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael, however, wrote that although some consider the work a masterpiece, "others may find it painstakingly tedious and offensively holy." Ingmar Bergman also said of the movie, "this Balthazar, I didn't understand a word of it, it was so completely boring...A donkey, to me, is completely uninteresting, but a human being is always interesting."

Judgments like these are subjective. We do think it's interesting to note that the chief critics for the Times tend to favor films whose merits would be unrecognizable to most Times readers and which would very likely bore many Times readers to tears.

That doesn't mean that their judgments are "wrong." It does suggest a possible oddity concerning some of our modern world's high-end journalistic and academic elites.

Other journalistic elites work quite hard to dumb things down. More on this mishmosh to follow.


  1. So, one single Fellini (and not even one of his best), and no Milos Forman, the cuckoo's nest? if we needed more evidence that liberals are idiots...

    1. Milos Forman—> Amadeus

    2. The greatest film of all time is Lev Bronstein’s classic Dzhugashvili Vrag.

    3. Who says any of those film critics are liberals?

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  2. Only 1911 more critics to go…

  3. Ingmar Bergman is prejudiced against donkeys.

    1. You think such a remark is funny. Meanwhile, this is what is happening to black people just going about their lives:

      "A California man who allegedly shot a Black man who was walking to the grocery store in what prosecutors called an "unprovoked attack" has been charged with felony assault, NBC News reports.

      Mark Waters, 66, was charged felony assault with a semi-automatic firearm resulting in great bodily injury and personal use of a firearm. The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office says more charges may come as the investigation is looking into the incident as a possible hate crime.

      The victim, who is 21-years-old, left the Airbnb he was renting to walk to the grocery store. He then saw Waters exit a home and “quickly approach him while holding a black handgun." When the victim turned to run, Waters fired a single shot which struck him in the leg."

      Ha ha ha ha, racism is such a big funny joke.

    2. Bergman’s contempt for donkeys isn’t funny at all.

    3. @1:05PM - that particular case is terrible. However, many more whites are murdered by blacks than vice versa. And, the overwhelming majority of black murder victims were killed by black murderers.

    4. How many whites are murdered because they are white and happened to rent an airbnb in a black neighborhood? Most white people are killed by other white people.

    5. "Most white people are killed by other white people."
      Now, we'll never get to see David complain about black on black crime ever again. LOL.

    6. All crime is bad.

  4. If Somerby measured 100 people and found out they were all of different, heights, some varying more than others, it with be as earthshaking an observation as this one, that film critics have different opinions and like different films, some better than others.

  5. The unspoken assumption seems to be that critics should agree with each other, if they know their stuff. But is that really any part of their job?

    When you read a film review, you get an interesting perspective that is often different than your own. That is the point of reading such reviews. A critic needs to be capable of delivering those different insights, not repeating what untutored everyman would think of a film. Most people who don't like films and know nothing about them, are among those who walk out if there isn't a car chase or property damage or graphic sex in the first 3 minutes.

    I like to watch a film first and then compare notes with various critics about how they experienced it. If they all agree with each other, what is the point of reading more than one of them?

    1. “I like to watch a film first and then compare notes with various critics about how they experienced it. If they all agree with each other, what is the point of reading more than one of them?”

      Have you noticed what happens when Bob tries that?

    2. The difference is, Bob is a fool.

    3. I have seen no evidence that Somerby actually thinks about anything said by the critics he's been quoting. He uses their words to knock them, not broaden his own perspective.

  6. The one thing none of these lists ever, ever, touch is what does "great" even mean? These lists are just "look how much hipper I am than you" without some explanation of what the fuck they are talking about.

    1. They ARE hipper than you, if you don’t know what they are talking about. Where is it written you must know everything? Why should anyone have to pretend to be dumb to protect your feelings?

    2. Anybody who thinks Do the Right Thing and There Will Be Blood are among the best movies of all time is pseudo hip.

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  8. ...and incidentally, as for Godfather, that (we're guessing here) you, dear Bob, watched about ten millions times, it is not, in our humble opinion, a great movie.

    If we had to pick one from early 70s new-wave stuff, that'd be The Getaway, 1972, Sam Peckinpah...