A to Z of Films Meme (G)

How did I end up in this Golmaal (confusion)? ‘G’ stands for all that is good and great. So how does one select a winner from among so many deserving candidates? Does one simply give up and disappear, as if Gone With The Wind? How does one separate The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly? With so many Goodfellas, who is The Godfather of them all? The father of the nation, Gandhi? With my readers having Great Expectations, I risk becoming a Ganashatru (Enemy of the People) by choosing one over the rest.

Situations like these are when I am forced to evaluate films on factors beyond that of film-making. Which films stand up for a better world? Which films go beyond entertainment and mastery of the creative process of film-making to talk about something greater? Which films make ordinary people aspire to be good?


Groundhog DayGroundhog Day

Eternal déjà vu. A sci-fi premise used in a completely innovative way. A unique classic that has grown over time in its popularity, a testament to its multiple layers. Hilarious and yet extremely profound. Always enjoyable in repeated viewings. This is genius that is not immediately discernible. This is genius that is disguised as popular entertainment, winking an eye to those who eventually catch it.

Extremely intelligent editing. Remarkable performances if you think about enacting the same scene over again and again not for retakes but for different scenes, altering your behavior gradually in each new scene. Read my full review here.

In a way, this is one of the most spiritual films I’ve seen. I know I will be a better person if I am reminded of Groundhog Day in the morning when I wake up. How many films or art works in general can lay such a claim?

Runner Up

TheGreatDictatorThe Great Dictator

If you remember that The Great Dictator was written before Hitler invaded Poland, much before WWII, you will acknowledge that film-makers can be great philosophers. At the time the film was released, the scenes of storm troopers terrorizing the Jewish ghetto were viewed as ‘extreme’. Chaplin paid a price for his anti-fascist, anti-racist stance, by being suspected as a communist, and being exiled from the United States.

The ballet scene with the globe has permeated cultural consciousness across the world, beyond geographies, ethnicities, and cultures. The ego-games between the two dictators – Hitler and Mussolini, speak volumes more than dialogue can. The barber shaving a customer to the rhythm of classical music. Rodin’s Thinker with an arm raised in salute. There is so much to enjoy here!

This would have been my first choice if it were not for the out of sync speech at the end. It feels out of place, too long, and dilutes the comic entertainment of the entire movie. Chaplin probably felt very strongly about democracy and individual freedom, and was adamant in retaining the speech despite criticism. But considering his overwhelming contribution to cinema, I have no qualms listening to him, for he is, The Great Director.

Noteworthy Mentions

From you, my dear readers, in the comments! 🙂

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  • Look at you!:) I’m referring to the opening lines; very nice 🙂 I intended to comment on E & F first, but I just have to start here. But before that- you did me a great favor by not mentioning Ghajini, thank you!

    G movies off the top of my head:
    GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS (and all David Mamets, for that matter)

    and 2 of the ones you mentioned (Golmaal – the Amol Palekar one, & Gone w/ the Wind).

    Seen Groundhog Day. I think I must have something against Bill Murray – GH day and Lost in Translation are both well-liked, but for some reason I found them insipid in a strange way. Maybe I should watch them again.

    I’m sure a lot more will come to mind once I post this comment 😛

    Will look Ganashatru up, thanks!


  • Mahendra

    It may not surprise you but I have managed never to watch either Golmaal or Groundhog Day. Oh and Gone With The Wind (I have an aversion for “costume drama” in general and the only exception I have made is for Pride and Prejudice, the one with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth).

    The Great Dictator though does intrigue me but my own all time favourite remains Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner? A film that is being repeated in liberal drawing and dining rooms around the world even today.

  • Dottie

    I generally don’t like Bill Murray (Although I loved Lost in translation) but the review you wrote sold me.

  • Groundhog Day/My tweet – connected? 🙂

  • now i can comment for there are some movies (golmaal, gandhi, groundhog day) that I have seen. your past few posts make me realise i have so much to catch up on..

  • Interestingly enough, I’m plugging an Indian movie, Gamyam.
    It’s an independent film, and with your prowess you have most likely seen it. I haven’t been watching Indian cinema most of my life, so I can’t particularly tell you how it rates compared to other movies, and you may not find it that grand. But there were moments in that film where I was layed bare, completely touched. My favorite quote, (in English, I don’t know the mother tongue) from the movie is “love loves the love that’s unconditional love.”

    Another American movie that you might appreciate is As Good as it Gets featuring Jack Nickolson. Over the years I have never gotten sick of it, and come to love different aspects of it with age. My favorite quote from this movie is “You make me want to be a better man.” The manner in which this statement was illicited, however, is extremely ironic 🙂

    You have made me appreciate Groundhog Day much more fully with your review. Props! And now that you mention it, I have watched it entirely too many times and never gotten sick of it either.

  • Anand

    WOW. So many awesome movies listed here.

    The first time I heard about Groundhog Day was in a Toastmasters meeting when a guy talking about how he came out of depression said that he lived Groundhog Day by watching it everyday for a month.

    I agree with mystic_life about As Good As It Gets. I love the scene when Jack Nicholson verbally intimidates Greg Kinnear, slams the door, turns around and gives a ‘pat on his own back’ smile.

    I guessed many of the English movies here but missed Groundhog Day. With Hindi movies, I completely missed out Golmaal and narrowed down on Guide.

  • Anand

    BTW, talking about Great Expectations of your readers, I am assuming that you are keeping an xls with all the movies that you list as well as those that appear in the comments. Everyone is going to thank you for that in the end 🙂

  • Dev

    Mahendra, G was the most difficult for me too. So many great films start with G..Godfather 1 and 2, Goodfellas, good will hunting, Golmaal, Guide and many more..
    I think Goodfellas was Martin Scorsese’s best..if people had not seen it with Godfather prejudice, it might have been even bigger than Godfather..I know many people who still feel Goodfellas was better than Godfather..
    Will look for Groundhog day..
    Hey I was wondering you didnt mention Fargo in F..perhaps you didnt see it yet or Coen brothers are not your type..because if you like them, you cant forget Fargo..Many people consider it as an absolute American classic and I full agree with them..

  • Dev

    Mahendra, I was also not a fan of film noir until I watched Coen Brothers..because there stuff is much more than simple film noir, it’s lot about people and life too..in case you have time to read my full post on them, you will know what I mean..

  • great choices. loved Groundhog day – like the field of dreams – it is one of my favourite American films.

    other G’s
    there is Garam Hawa – which is one of the best Hindi films ever made. a stellar cast, a great story and a kick in your guts ending that leaves you (atleast left me) in tears. once again the story of hope 🙂

  • did u see gunda?
    i think it is a legend in its own right and space 🙂

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  • What about Gods must be crazy ?
    it is a movie i can never forget …

  • Anand had mentioned it in ‘H’ – yes, a gem of a movie!