Eric Barker

Shotgun Reviews

Ah, the Canon.

Well, it changes all the time, doesn’t it, a few usual suspects notwithstanding? I tend to look at films from a historical perspective, so even if I follow the auteurist’s line of reasoning – that the greatest films, or those most worthy of our attention, were made by groundbreaking directors who transcended commerce and the System – a good line of reasoning, I might add – I see a substantial body of outstanding cinema being continually overlooked because it was produced by “mere” craftsmen, or by filmmakers who only transcended their obstacles once or twice.

I also think that we film buffs, cinephiles and critics expend so much energy on promoting art, we too often leave the celebration of Fun – especially comedy – to people we think of as the groundlings, the “fan boys,” and our lists tend to be packed with darkness, cynicism and nihilism (as a matter of fact, so do the fan boys’ lists, and they wind up simply offering a competing darkness). The explosion of film noir’s popularity in the past two decades, and its retroactive application to anything filmed in black and white, has drowned out the investigation of real genres that once received much more attention, especially the musical, which is invariably a comedic vision of reality (with the obvious exception of West Side Story).

With this list, then, I try to highlight many films that transcend typical critical and scholarly notions of the great, dark, groundbreaking, horrifying, serious work of art. Such films are still included, of course, but I tried to give voice to other forms that rarely get attention. A few of the titles might be thought canonical, depending on who is asked, because they are recognized landmarks even when they fail to make the cut of many “best” polls. But the majority are simply beautifully crafted, which should never be seen as a detriment or weakness in any art form.

100 Films That They Rarely Get Around to Telling You Are Wonderful (and Some Are Even Great)

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