Jonathan Rosenbaum's Essential Films's comments

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Kasparius's avatar


Alpha, my point is not that the list is flawless. My point was simply, that someone who has seen 10 films out of the 1000 on this list, should really not emit an opinion on something he clearly has no possible knowledge of. I think my argument is very clear, it is not about the validity of the choices, or even the quality of the list, but merely about the definition of pretentious and what that word truly means. I completely disagree that it seems pretentious. Again, what does that even mean. To who does it seem pretentious? I think pretentious is one of those words that is thrown around, to dismiss anything that is outside of the realm of their accepted canon. A canon, I might add, that is getting smaller and less interesting by the minute. I for one do not care to see another film list with all the usual suspects that it might entail.

I think where you touched on something though, is when you say that I implied that the only person able to truly criticize this list would be someone with a profound knowledge of it.

I absolutely think that unless you have a profound knowledge of film, film history and the specific films present on this list then yes, your opinion on this list is pretty much useless.
Which, by its very nature, makes the list of people capable of such a thing very small. Is that a bad thing? Absolutely not.

In the current climate of anti-intellectualism and quick reviews, (stars, two thumbs up, "Awesome", "it sucks!!) I can see how a list such as this one, which is based on profound knowledge of film history and film criticism could tick people off.

I think terms like pretentious coming from people who have no culture or curiosity are deadly and should be avoided. As they point to their own ignorance and not to any flaw of the person or work they are criticizing. If you don't really have the knowledge to criticize something then leave it at that or investigate, learn, analyze and then make a learned comment. But to just come here and criticize something out of sheer stupidity is not to be tolerated.

I relish and treasure the unknown and people that shine a light on hidden gems or a different way of making films and for that very reason, no matter how many times I see a film I don't like on this list, I will defend it with all I got.
7 years 12 months ago
Kasparius's avatar


"JohnPrice said:

I haven't seen many of these movies, so I'm certainly not the right person to pass judgment.

Regardless, this list seems awfully pretentious to me. "

I Haven't read many of your comments, so I'm certainly not the right person to pass judgment.

Regardless, you seem like a remarkably close-minded person.

All joking aside, what is pretentious about it? The fact that you haven't heard of 99% of them?

If you're take on it was: "Wow I haven't heard of most of these, I might learn something by tackling this list a bit." I would find that to be a great approach to dealing with your apparent ignorance.

But your reaction is: "I've never heard of all these films and a lot of them are old, silent and foreign, therefore this list must be pretentious."

Definition of pretentious: "Attempting to impress by affecting greater importance, talent, culture, etc., than is actually possessed."

Ok so let's see. Jonathan Rosenbaum has been a film critic for many, many years. The amount of film he has actually seen is far greater than this list. These are the films he chose, that in his experience where essential viewing, from all the films he has seen in his many years as a film goer and reviewer. He has written extensively, thoughtfully and with great knowledge, talent and precaution about most of these entries.

Now in your opinion, based on the definition of pretentious, is that a correct analysis of this list?

Because in my opinion, this list, which I don't even claim to be an expert on, that was in one of Rosenbaum's many interesting books; has been prepared with a lot of love, care, talent, culture and humility.

And I really find that a person, who has only seen 1% of this list of over a 1000 titles, has the moronic audacity to come here and write that this list is pretentious, without knowing the first thing about it, is not only aggravating but also profoundly lacking in respect or basic intelligence.
8 years 2 months ago
Timec's avatar


Kasparius - Bravo. People are way too quick to scream "pretentious" on this and other sites.

I've never understand the mindset that condemns lists for containing films that aren't as famous as, say, "Citizen Kane" - that is, films that might lie outside of the canon. Film has been around for over a hundred years now, and it shouldn't be too outrageous to think that there might be some very good films that haven't gotten the exposure they deserve. One of the most rewarding things about lists like this is the chance of being introduced to something wonderful that, for whatever reason, hasn't made its way into the canon.
8 years 2 months ago
Kasparius's avatar


I think this list is more about shedding light on unsung or underappreciated films and filmmakers. People like Charles Burnett, Joris Ivens, Joseph Cornell, Oskar Fischinger, Mark Rappaport, Jean Rouch, Frank Tashlin, Ritwik Ghatak, Jacques Rozier, Bruce Conner, etc...

In the case of more famous Filmmakers I think it's giving a nod to lesser know, but still great, or at least, interesting works.
Ophuls; Everybody's seen Lola Montes, but what about La signora di tutti. Hawks, everybody has seen Rio Bravo, but who saw Fig Leaves or Red Line 7000.
I don't think Rosenbaum is saying these are better films then their most acclaimed work, I think he's saying they also deserve attention. And he's in position to give them that attention by creating this list and putting it out there. This might be part of the duty of a film critic or film historian, not to let films be forgotten; especially in this age where there are more films than ever. If he doesn't give these films a fighting chance, who will?
9 years 4 months ago
Paper_Okami's avatar


Currently reading the book right now, and it is fucking great.
6 years 11 months ago
allisoncm's avatar


I joined iCM for this list and it keeps getting better and better! Thank you.
7 years 3 months ago
joachimt's avatar


This list has just been updated. One title was missing "Olympia 2", but more important ... all the additional titles from the 2008-edition were added.
7 years 3 months ago
Kasparius's avatar


@boulderman, considering the small percentage of "his selections" you've actually seen, I would suggest you wait to make that statement.
9 years ago
Warrison's avatar


"The Wire" is on here. A TV show, not a movie..
3 years 5 months ago
jonassm's avatar


New update:
3 years 7 months ago
Armoreska's avatar


pleasantly surprised to see Howl's Moving Castle on here
6 years 4 months ago
joachimt's avatar


I think "Lumiere d'ete" and "Le ciel est a vous" (The sky is yours) are both on the list.
7 years 6 months ago
Ebbywebby's avatar


I wonder if this list has a wee mistake. In the past, I found a copy of this list on the Web somewhere and saved a copy. And that copy includes the Jean Gremillion film "The Sky Is Yours." THIS list includes the Jean Gremillion film "Lumiere d'Ete" instead.
7 years 7 months ago
Msainy's avatar


The second part of Olympia should be here too. This one
7 years 8 months ago
Msainy's avatar


The second part of Die Nibelungen should be added here.
8 years ago

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