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Rants and Raves: Films to be Thankful For

This Thanksgiving What Films Are You Grateful For?

Jean Cocteau's

Credit: Criterion

Above: Jean Cocteau's "La Belle et La Bete."

Audio

KPBS Film Critic Beth Accomando provides a list of films to be thankful for.

Transcript

With Thanksgiving just a day away I've been thinking about films to be thankful for. Which ones are you grateful for? Listen to my radio feature, and click for links to trailers and clips.

On the Cinema Junkie Facebook page I have been posting a trailer a day representing films I am grateful for. But 30 days isn't nearly enough time and 3 minutes 50 seconds is even less but here goes.

Credit: Criterion

Jim Broadbent and Katherine Helmond in Terry Gilliam's "Brazil."

I'm thankful for filmmakers who cast spells on us and make us look up in wonder at the screen. I am thankful for Jean Cocteau's "La Belle et La Bete" for proving that cinema can be pure magic; to Japanese animator Hayao Miyzaki for showing us that the fantastical and the normal can exist side by side; to the French New Wavers for blowing the dust off stale conventions to invest the movies with a newfound rebellion; and to Terry Gilliam for proving that there are no limits to what can be imagined onscreen only the restrictions of narrow-minded studios.

Credit: Universal Pictures

Boris Karloff as the monster in James Whale's "Frankenstein."

I'm grateful for films that make us sympathize with the monster from James Whale's "Frankenstein" to Guillermo Del Toro's "Cronos" and "Devil's Backbone," films that made us feel compassion for a vampire and a ghost. And to the 1933 "King Kong" in which a giant ape was so endearing that I wept when he died.

CARL DENHAM: It wasn't the planes that killed him, it was beauty that killed the beast.

And thanks to Japan for making me fall in love with men in rubber suits masquerading as a giant monster known as Godzilla. I'm thankful for films that appeal to the thirteen year old boy in me like "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones."

Credit: Warner Brothers

Paul Newman as "Cool Hand Luke."

I give thanks to Paul Newman for the bluest blue eyes and for bucking the system with impertinence; to Errol Flynn for swashbuckling his way through adventures with a rogue's grin that could make me swoon; and to Robert Mitchum for lighting up a cigarette like no one else could. And to all the cinematic clowns who made me laugh till my sides ached starting with Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd who needed no words; to Hong Kong's Stephen Chow who mixed physical and verbal comedy with equal ease; to Carole Lombard, Barbara Stanwyck, and Jean Arthur for their sophisticated screwball comediennes; and to Mae West who could turn any phrase into a suggestive come on.

MAN: I shall die to make you happy.

MAE WEST: But you're no good to me dead.

And to the Marx Brothers and Monty Python for their comic anarchy and total lack of respect for authority.

KING ARTHUR: I order you to be quiet.

WOMAN: Order me? Who does he think he is?

KING ARTHUR: I am your king.

WOMAN: Well I didn't vote for you.

Credit: MGM

Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn as the title characters of "Pat and Mike."

I'm thankful for Myrna Loy and William Powell for letting the world see that marriage could be fun; to Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastrioanni for sexy Italian romance; to Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart for teaching us to whistle; and to Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn for showing us that men and women could be equals on screen.

MIKE: We're equal, partners. Five-0, five-0.

To people like Frank Capra, Billy Wilder, and Preston Sturges who created dialogue that, sparkled, zinged, and crackled. And to contemporary writers like Woody Allen, David Mamet, Sam Shepherd, Neil LaBute, and Hal Hartley who are less concerned with realism and more with creating rhythms and cadences that play like musical scores.

Credit: Criterion

Michelle Yeoh stars with actor, stuntman, and sometime director Jackie Chan in "Supercop."

I am thankful to filmmakers that put the motion in motion pictures: to Jackie Chan who could make any prop come to life; to John Woo who choreographed bullet ballets of heroic bloodshed; and to Gene Kelly who made dance athletic.

I offer my deepest gratitude to filmmakers who reject comfortable cinema and don't know how to cop out to a happy ending. To Takashi Miike for taking us beyond extreme; to David Lynch for making the mundane creepy beyond belief; and to David Cronenberg for knowing exactly how to make you squirm.

VERONICA: Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Credit: Golden Princess

Chow Yun Fat sliding down the banister with two guns blazing in John Woo's Hard-Boiled."

I'm thankful for zombies, femme fatales, film noir, and horror. I am thankful for moments in cinema that take my breath away – Chow Yun Fat sliding down a banister with two guns blazing in "Hard-Boiled;" Grace Kelly's kiss in "Rear Window;" Cyd Charisse's endless legs in "Singin' in the Rain;" the opening shots of "Blade Runner;" the intoxicating romance of Wong Kar Wai; and Slim Pickens riding a nuke at the end of "Dr. Strangelove."

COLONEL KONG: Yeee-ha!

I give thanks to the young filmmakers who were making their first films when I was most impressionable especially Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola. And to the recent upstarts like Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez.

Credit: Criterion

Orson Welles as the title character in "Citizen Kane," which he also directed.

Oh no! My 3 minutes and 50 seconds are up and there are still hundreds more things I'm thankful for. So let me just end with the man who gave us a piece of cinematic perfection: Orson Welles and his first film "Citizen Kane." He dazzled us with a film that still feels fresh today, and he displayed a passion for the medium that has rarely been equalled.

So thanks to all of the creative people and wondrous films that have given me so much joy in a darkened theater.

So what films are you thankful for?

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