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!