I thought I’d break up the musical monotony with a movie. But this is not a recommendation, as you hopefully gleaned from the title.

First: what qualifies me? Well, I firmly believe the more you expose yourself to a subject, inherently, the better you become at identifying what is good and what is not. Having said that, I’ve also seen every movie on the Top 250 list on www.imdb.com. It was a long process, especially because the list changes, thought only slightly, on a daily basis.

The movie that most shocked me, based on simply it’s appearance not to mention it’s current rating in the Top 20, is Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West. I say this because I don’t take the list literally. I don’t look at it as the number one movie is “the number one movie of ALL TIME” but I look at all the movies on it as some of the 250 greatest or cinematically impactful movies made based on popular opinion. Yes, there are the blockbusters (Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Batman Begins) and the Silent Films (Nosferatu, The Gold Rush, Sunrise) the old foreign flicks (Metropolis, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Beauty and the Beast), modern foreign flicks (Oldboy, The Lives of Others, City of God), epics (The Godfather, Lawrence of Arabia, Gandhi), a plethora of Hitchcock (Shadow of a Doubt, Strangers on a Train, Vertigo), of course some Akira Kurosawa (Ran, Yojimbo, Rashomon), some Capra (It’s a Wonderful Life, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, It Happened One Night), plenty of Billy Wilder thank goodness (Sunset Blvd., Stalag 17, The Apartment), and even a smattering of the–hopefully–modern classics (Pan’s Labyrinth, Gladiator, Saving Private Ryan).

Taken as a whole the list itself is very legitimate, especially when looking at the overlap with Roger Ebert’s Great Movies List, or even just the AFI’s Top 100 American Movies, But there are some films on the list that, in my relatively well-informed opinion (or maybe it’s just a personal opinion, but whatever), just do not deserve to be there. The worst and highest-ranked movie being Once Upon a Time in the West.

It is a movie that is representative of everything Leone. The almost painfully long shots, the themes of evil, eventual death, the gorgeous location shooting, the purposefully ugly faces, the constant sweat and feeling of unbearable heat (as though everyone is already living in Hell), and the lengthy and twisting plot that confuses until too far into the film. The final shootout itself was painful for me to watch not because I couldn’t stand the slowness and had to get to the action (the intended effect), but because I was bored and simply wanted the film to be over. I had to connection to the movie, I felt for no character, understanding dawned on me so late in the film I had already lost interest and was simply waiting for the ending to arrive so I could be done with this.

What’s surprising is that I like other of Leone’s movies like Once Upon a Time in America (apparently he didn’t like to vary his film titles much) and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Though they were slow, they developed and then concluded. This movie doesn’t develop so much as simmer and then die down: a fire who’s spark was exhausted a long time ago and is now only waiting to slowly die out.

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