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Mulholland Drive
Ghost World
Tree of Life
Upstream Color
No Country for Old Men
Inside Llewyn Davis
A.I.
The Man Who Wasn't There
City of God
Spirited Away
Port of Call New Orleans
Zodiac
Talk to Her
A Serious Man
Grizzly Man
Take Shelter
Children of Men
Certified Copy
Memento
Her

So there's at least twenty in my top ten. I think with all of these I was left thinking "that was amazing." With those further down I also thought "and yet" for whatever reason was relevant, but it wasn't the sort of yet that interfered with the amazingness, just some limitation of scope or consistency or full emotional involvement.

Not far behind, in no order: Poetry, A Separation, Adaptation, The Ghost Writer, Rescue Dawn, Into the Abyss, Gosford Park, Napoleon Dynamite, Marcy May Marlene, Deep Blue Sea, Winter's Bone, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, The White Balloon, My Son My Son What Have You Done, Primer, You Can Count on Me, Once, Fog of War, Battle Royale, Eastern Promises, A History of Violence, Waking Life, Before Sunset, Sideways, The Piano Teacher, Michael Clayton, Monster's Ball, Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert For, In the Loop, A Single Man, Little Miss Sunshine, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, Borat, Bruno, The Kids Are All Right, Moon, Munich, War of the Worlds, The Terminal, The Incredibles, Toy Story 3, Wall E, Burn After Reading, maybe Inception. Doubtless forgetting at least several just as good.

I wonder where I'd fit The Wire and Breaking Bad in there. They hit higher heights than, say, Zodiac, but there's more filler or resting spaces. Movies have a shot at perfection.

Though the latter half of Breaking Bad pretty much hits that too. And if season 4 of The Wire doesn't I don't think anyone cares, given what it does hit. Perfect's not everything. Ask me which experience I'd rather have had, those tv shows or Zodiac, and I'd go with either show any day. By The Man Who Wasn't There I wouldn't be able to decide. Though by Mulholland Drive I'd be able again.
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Seven Samurai, Rashomon, Yojimbo, Sanjuro, High and Low
Dersu Uzala, Ikiru, Ran, Stray Dog, Drunken Angel

Fanny and Alexander, Scenes from a Marriage, Through a Glass Darkly, Shame, Summer with Monika
Wild Strawberries, The Seventh Seal, Cries and Whispers, Winter Light, The Magic Flute

Mulholland Drive, Blue Velvet, Straight Story, The Elephant Man, Lost Highway
Eraserhead, Fire Walk with Me, Twin Peaks, Wild at Heart, Inland Empire

Aguirre, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, Cobra Verde, My Best Fiend, Grizzly Man
Rescue Dawn, Little Dieter Needs to Fly, Heart of Glass, My Son My Son What Have You Done, Into the Abyss

The 400 Blows, Mississippi Mermaid, Small Change, The Story of Adele H, Two English Girls
Stolen Kisses, Woman Next Door, The Man Who Loved Women, Shoot the Piano Player, Jules and Jim

No Country for Old Men, Inside Llewyn Davis, The Man Who Wasn't There, A Serious Man, Miller's Crossing
The Big Lebowski, Barton Fink, Fargo, True Grit, Blood Simple

A.I., Schindler's List, Jaws, Saving Private Ryan, Munich
War of the Worlds, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Terminal, Empire of the Sun, E.T.

eXistenZ, Naked Lunch, Eastern Promises, Videodrome, A History of Violence
Spider, Dead Ringers, Crash, The Fly, The Dead Zone (don't even like the last two)

Dazed and Confused, Waking Life, Before Sunset, Slacker, Before Sunrise
School of Rock, Bernie, Fast Food Nation, Tape, Me and Orson Welles

The Tree of Life, Badlands, The Thin Red Line, Days of Heaven, The New World

Upstream Color, Primer

Chinatown, The Ninth Gate, The Ghost Writer, Bitter Moon, Macbeth
Repulsion, Frantic, Death and the Maiden, Rosemary's Baby, The Tenant

Stalker, Andrei Rublev, Mirror, Solaris

Need to see Boyhood, Before Midnight, Maps to the Stars, Cosmopolis, Oliver Twist, Venus in Fur, Where the Green Ants Dream, Encounters at the End of the World, Lessons of Darkness, The Quiet Duel, Madadayo, Rhapsody in August, Face to Face, The Rite, Autumn Sonata, After the Rehearsal, The Wild Child, Nostalghia, The Sacrifice, Ivan's Childhood, To the Wonder, War Horse and Lincoln.
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I don't know if I could settle on a top ten movies list, but I've been steady on these eight for a while now:

Fanny and Alexander
Chinatown
Mulholland Drive
Aguirre
400 Blows
Rashomon
Seven Samurai
Yojimbo

They just never fail.
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2006 was the move back East, the funeral, the graduation, two or three months' worth of travelling, and the just-ended month of houseguests. My back died and I read very few books--maybe twenty, mostly short, not counting plays. Eyes so tired, free hours so scant. I have no memory of what else happened, presumably a lot. Gave away c. twenty volumes of Crowley, got five or six people to actually read them.

2007 will be the other graduation, 0 to 2 weddings, hopefully just one month of travelling. I get to reread the better half (both senses) of Shakespeare for credit over the coming weeks. I now have an exercise bike and quesadilla maker set to battle over my soul.

I've never been so tired. But not in a bad, depressive way. Just too much activity. Yet, next to nothing accomplished, past fair grades and transplanted household.

Books left in limbo include:

Ulysses from 2005, 670/700
Murphy, 110/150
Underworld, 700/800
Franklin's Autobiography, 120/150
Uncle Tom's Cabin, skimmed last third
Walden, half-ish
The Orchard Keeper, 50/200
The Crossing, 50/400, now given away

Abandoned various class books to skimming, after whatever point: boring old Genji, scattered Pillow Book, intolerable Paris Peasant, amusingly morbid Temple of the Golden Pavilion, harrowing Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, that egregious Ruth Hall, the history textbooks.

What did I actually finish. For classes: Gradiva, Nadja, Daisy Miller (1.5 times), reread/skimmed Death in Venice & Dora; Kokoro, Vita Sexualis, Woman in the Dunes; Madame Butterfly; Song of Myself (twice)...a horrible play called Metamora, Douglass' Narrative, A Streetcar named Desire. For myself: Everyman; Blood Meridian, No Country for Old Men, All the Pretty Horses, Sunset Limited; His Dark Materials, Galatea; The Optimist's Daughter; Crying of Lot 49 for the 2nd or 3rd time; Mercier & Camier, Godot for the xth; finished 2005's Jude; lots of Mamet early on; Faust 1 for I believe the third. Odds and ends I forget. So, what, 25, mostly slim. No fair.

But I'm always reading. Poems, stories, first chapters, consultations, revisits. In darkest moments magazines. Just not books.

Not saying I want a year in bed but nights free would help. Another vacation like December and I am done for. I want to collect my thoughts. I forget what they even are.

GRE results today: 810. Clearly a different scale than the general test's, but good news anyway, I hope, for the application effort?

Why is my car still working. Why my body. I look forward to classes for the sitting.
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Favorite poets:
Shelley Spenser Goethe Wordsworth Dickinson
Browning Frost Bishop Hofmannsthal Morike
Machado Cernuda Hugo Swinburne Beddoes
Herrick Marvell E. Thomas Owen Housman
Carson Robinson Emerson Melville Ammons
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Favorite titles:

1. Blood Wedding

Can't possibly be as good in Spanish. Gets extra power from bloodletting, from wedding's homophony with wetting (in Midwesternese anyway), even from the dwed in the middle--Elmer Fudd for dread. The bl-- is like a spurt too, an eruption from nowhere, the --d its landing on your shirt. Wedding is the secondary dribble, inging into the dirt. Stark vomitous wet ruination death title. Love it.

2. He Knew He Was Right
3. Everyone Says I Love You
4. Bitter Moon
5. Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius

Because how could he possibly do it justice and he does.

There were others, what were they.

Oh:

6. Bleak House

Because of what it comes to mean.

7. Love and Death
8. How to Live. What to Do.

Forgetting lots of great Stevens ones doubtless.

9. She Done Him Wrong

I like that there's just one way to say it, shaking your head, firmly, no good will it come of it-ly. Smackin' that D off your palate.

10. Bad Day at Black Rock
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Plays I've seen, most to least recent:

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead
Hamlet
Love's Labor's Lost
As You Like It
Othello-Othello himself was silly, a ubiquitous TV actor; Iago was amazing.
Little Eyolf-The older woman from the sitcom Wings was the Rat Lady.
Andromache
The Importance of Being Earnest
The Tempest-A park production, ended five minutes early by a quite sublime actual tempest. A blue heron posed nearby picturesquely as the clouds gathered.
The Tempest-At the Globe, with Vanessa Redgrave as Prospero, projecting poorly; also Caliban ate and threw fish heads.
Much Ado About Nothing
Oliver!
The Rise and Rise of Daniel Rocket-Blech.
Godspell
Camelot
To Kill a Mockingbird
Iolanthe (I think?)
Some kind of Pirates of Penzance/HMS Pinafore amalgam.
Also various school sketch thingies over the years.

Attended readings by Maya Angelou and Gloria Naylor; Lilith Fair, concerts by Sarah Mclachlan and Luscious Jackson, various performances by friends' bands or local artists; and been dragged to all kinds of damn ballet things, including a Mark Morris one set to a Handel oratorio based on Milton's l'Allegro & Il Penseroso: and an 18C sequel, by some anonym, called Il Moderato. Too funny.

Couldn't handle the Louvre line. Did the Tates; the Washington and NYC museums multiple times.

Never been to an opera.
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Some things I will never stop finding funny:

1. Peter Schilling's space lyrics.
2. That brilliant last fight scene in Rashomon.
3. Jeffrey Masson, even though he's probably right.
4. The bar flashback in Airplane!, specifically:
a. ...when the music starts playing.
b. ...the shirt being thrown back.
5. "The coconut-like sound of their three heads colliding secretly delighted the bird."/"Aw yeah!"
6. The girl and hermit conversing in Watcher in the Woods.
7. The Dilbert where the nerds have to role-play as women for sensitivity training.
8. British Parliamentary proceedings.
9. Old Spiderman cartoons.
10. Thomas Hardy's poetry.
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Objects I've been pining for:

My very own pinball machine.
Handheld electronic Poker/Solitaire/Blackjack thingie.
A really tall bookshelf with pocket pb-size shelves.
A box of puppies.

Amphigorey Too
Amphigorey Also

Dickinson's 3v Letters--back from my sister.
Crowley's Love & Sleep
Valery's Poems, Bollingen
Morris' The Earthly Paradise
Swinburne's Posthumous Poems
Beddoes' Works, ed. Donner
(B.V.) Thomson's Poems
Carson's Economy of the Unlost
Goethe's Scientific Writings, Princeton
Hofmannsthal's Poems and Early Verse Plays
Mann's Essays of Three Decades
Borges' Bustos Domecq books.
Ammons' Collected Poems: '51-'71
The Oxford Ibsen, V1 & V2
Rest of the Longman edition of Shelley.

And these unreleased ones:

Summer With Monika and many other Bergmans.
Lost Highway, Widescreen
The Devils uncut, Mahler and other crazy Ken Russell films.

Melville's Poems and Manuscript Works, Northwestern
Amphigorey Again
Bishop's Edgar Allen Poe and the Jukebox
Bishop's long-lost books for children.
Carson's version of Euripides' Hecuba
The Crowley/Bloom/Peter Milton 25th Anniversary Little, Big.

If they ever come out, I'd like to glance at:

Twin Peaks, 2nd Season
Greenaway's Tulse Luper Suitcases
Jodorowsky's Holy Mountain
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Searched the internet for film recommendations. Surprising how many of the Time ones I haven't even heard of. These come up more than once: Tokyo Story, Mirror, Ikiru, Man w/ Movie Camera, Sunrise, Pather Panchali, Once Upon a Time in America, Ugetsu, Gandhi, To Kill a Mockingbird.

Sight & Sound 2002 Critics Poll (17/60): Tokyo Story, Sunrise, Au hasard Balthazar, Pather Panchali, The Story of the Late Chrysanthemums, Man with a Movie Camera, Ugetsu Monogatari, Greed, Intolerance, Mirror, Ordet, Pierrot le fou, Rio Bravo, Sansho Dayu, Shoah, The Travelling Players, Two or Three Things I Know About Her

Sight & Sound 2002 Directors Poll (7/50): Mirror, Tokyo Story, Amarcord, The Conformist, Once Upon a Time in America, Pickpocket, Sunrise

IMDB Top 250 (30): Once Upon a Time in America, To Kill a Mockingbird, Hotel Rwanda, Das Boot, Crash (2004), Downfall, Oldboy, Batman Begins, Amores Perros, The Green Mile, Hero, Glory (can't remember if I saw this), The Sea Inside, Ikiru, The Ceremony, The Grave of the Fireflies, For a Few Dollars More, Gandhi, Nosferatu, Sunrise, In America, Snatch, Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, Pirates of the Caribbean, Garden State, The Station Agent, The Brotherhood of War, The Battle of Algiers, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Spring Summer Fall Winter & Spring

Time Magazine Best 100 (34 or maybe 46): Aguirre, The Apu Trilogy, Baby Face, Bande a part, Camille, Closely Watched Trains, The Crime of M. Lange, The Crowd, The Decalogue (got through like one of these), Detour, Dodsworth (did I see this?), Drunken Master II, Ikiru, In a Lonely Place, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), It's a Gift (may have seen this one), Kandahar, The Last Command, Leolo, The Man with a Camera, Mon Oncle d'Amerique, Mouchette, Nayakan, Ninotchka (no clue), Olympia I & II (tried), Pyaasa, The Singing Detective (1986, TV, unwatchable), Tokyo Story, A Touch of Zen, Ugetsu, Ulysses' Gaze (beyond unwatchable), Umberto D (can't remember), White Heat, Wings of Desire (seemed pretentious)

AFI Top 100 (7): To Kill a Mockingbird, The Birth of a Nation, All Quiet on the Western Front, Rocky, Frankenstein, The Jazz Singer, A Place in the Sun (did I see all of this?)

BFI Top 100 (44 but who are they kidding): Kes, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Brighton Rock, The Long Good Friday, Whisky Galore!, The Full Monty, Gregory's Girl, Zulu, Room at the Top, Gandhi, The Italian Job, Local Hero, The Commitments (don't think I ever saw the ending), The Madness of King George, I'm All Right Jack, Performance, My Beautiful Laundrette, This Sporting Life, A Taste of Honey, The Go-Between (?), Passport to Pimlico, Sunday Bloody Sunday, The Railway Children, Mona Lisa, The Dam Busters, Goodbye Mr. Chips, The Day of the Jackal, The Cruel Sea, Billy Liar, Peeping Tom, Far from the Madding Crowd, The Draughtsman's Contract (I saw this but on tape, couldn't understand much of the dialogue), Distant Voices Still Lives, Darling, Brassed Off, Genevieve, Fires Were Started, Hope and Glory, My Name Is Joe, In Which We Serve, Caravaggio, The Belles of St. Trinnian's, Small Faces, Carry On Up the Khyber
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We don't get any watchable channels so we rent DVD sets. Recommendations that might save you some time:

Mr. Show: Season 3 is the great, great one; 1 is quite good; 2 is just watchable; 4 has genuinely great moments but lots of filler and a few excruciatingly bad sketches--much like the Mr. Show movie of a couple years later, Run Ronnie Run

Friends: 1 & 2 are quite good, everything thereafter is great until 9 which is a huge comedown; warning: sentiment gets more cloying as seasons pass

Seinfeld: hits stride in 3 also

Simpsons: ditto, 4 and 5 seem strongest so far

Futurama: great from the start, quality increases with season number

The Office: 1 sublime, 2 harder to watch as depressing elements predominate, short Season 3 ("Christmas Specials") excellent

Curb Your Enthusiasm: fun from the start, maybe getting slightly better as it goes

The Ben Stiller Show: watchable but rarely laugh-inducingly funny, most laughs toward the end of the series; some good parodies for those who remember the period

Murder One: unintentionally hilarious for a while and then gets junk-food good, either that or you inevitably get interested after enough exposure; one season-long murder trial

Law and Order: they released one recent season and are now going through in order; writing seems more consistent in the recent Sam Waterston-led episodes; great show for people who like to argue about Issues

Six Feet Under: 1 is great, especially the "Brenda" plotline; 2 is a terrible comedown; 3 mostly good again

Fawlty Towers: 1 rather fun, 2 is the great one


Avoid:

Deadwood: got halfway through, silly, slander on the past

Dead Like Me: got two episodes in, hopelessly derivative

The L Word: got like four in, dumb and offensive

Carnivale: just terrible
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A hundred plays I particularly love:

Late 20C: The Invention of Love, After Magritte; Krapp's Last Tape, Human Wishes; Old Times; The Duck Variations

Early 20C: Blood Wedding, Yerma; The Difficult Man, The Tower, The Mine at Falun, The Little Theater of the World; Spring Awakening; Back to Methuselah, Pen Poison & Petrification, Man and Superman; Long Day's Journey Into Night; Separate Tables; The Glass Menagerie; Brief Encounter; (Valery's) Faust; Bowl Cat & Broomstick; At the Hawk's Well; Masque of Mercy

Late 19C: St. John's Night, Love's Comedy, Emperor and Galilean, Peer Gynt, Brand, Lady from the Sea, John Gabriel Borkman, Master Builder, When We Dead Awaken; Trial by Jury, Pirates of Penzance, Engaged; The Cherry Orchard; Dance of Death, To Damascus, Ghost Sonata, The Father, Easter; A Month in the Country; Importance of Being Earnest, A Woman of No Importance; Atalanta in Calydon; The Power of Darkness

Early 19C: Faust, Iphigenia, Goetz von Berlichingen, Egmont; Danton's Death, Leonce and Lena; Lorenzaccio, Fantasio; The Robbers, Wallenstein, Don Carlos; The Broken Pitcher; The Borderers; Prometheus Unbound, The Cenci, Hellas; Cain, Manfred; Death's Jest-Book, The Bride's Tragedy

Renaissance to 1800: Othello, Love's Labor's Lost, A Winter's Tale, Richard II, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet; A King and No King, The Faithful Shepherdess, The Woman-Hater; Love for Love, The Double-Dealer, The Way of the World; Don Juan, The Hypochondriac; The Liar; Andromache, Phaedra; The Critic, The Rivals; Tamburlaine, The Jew of Malta; Comus, Samson Agonistes; The Revenger's Tragedy; The Broken Heart; Three Hours After Marriage, The What-d'ye-Call-It; Box and Cox; The False Confessions, The Dispute

Pre-Renaissance: Philoctetes, Electra; The Birds
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Another idle afternoon post.

I've never:

* been to Florida, New England, Wyoming or New Orleans

* eaten calamari or oysters

* finished a book by Mailer, Updike or Joyce Carol Oates

* seen the original Rocky or anything by Ozu or Bresson

* been on a roller coaster or motorcycle

* completely learned the Greek alphabet

* played rugby, lacrosse, hockey or any form of polo

* gotten the bra sizing system straight

* understood what Sociology departments teach
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A hundred works of fiction I particularly love (dates approximate):

Late 1900s: Little, Big, Engine Summer; Sabbath's Theater, Zuckerman Bound, My Life As a Man, "The Conversion of the Jews"; Vineland; Invisible Cities, The Baron in the Trees, If on a winter's night a traveler; The Violent Bear It Away, "Good Country People", "Revelation"; The Kingdom of This World

Early 1900s: Remembrance of Things Past; Women in Love, The Rainbow, Sons & Lovers, St. Mawr, The Virgin & the Gypsy, The Man Who Died, "A Fragment of Stained Glass"; Andreas; "God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen"; "Mysterious Kor", "Ivy Gripped the Steps"; The Magic Mountain, Lotte in Weimar, Death in Venice, Man and Dog; The Waves, To the Lighthouse, Mrs. Dalloway, Orlando (Ch. 1); Miss Lonelyhearts; Sanctuary, Light in August; "The Burrow", "Investigations of a Dog", "Josephine the Singer", "The Country Doctor"; Nostromo, Victory; "The Garden of Forking Paths", "The Order of the Phoenix", "The Immortal", "Death and the Compass", "Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius", "The Theologians", "The Circular Ruins"; "The Burning", "A Still Moment", "A Worn Path", "Why I Live at the P.O."

Late 1800s: War & Peace, Anna Karenina, Childhood/Boyhood/Youth, The Cossacks, The Kreutzer Sonata, Family Happiness, The Death of Ivan Ilych, "The Snowstorm"; Moby-Dick, Benito Cereno, The Encantadas, "Bartleby", "The Apple Tree Table", "I & My Chimney", "The Piazza"; Sketches from a Hunter's Album, Fathers & Sons, First Love; "Gusev", "The Kiss"; A Christmas Carol; Middlemarch; The Portrait of a Lady; Huckleberry Finn; "The Open Boat", "The Blue Hotel", The Red Badge of Courage

Early 1800s: Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship, Elective Affinities, The Sorrows of Young Werther, "Fairy Tale", "Novella"; The Charterhouse of Parma, The Red & the Black; Michael Kohlhaas; "Young Goodman Brown", "Earth's Holocaust", "Egotism, or: The Bosom Serpent", "The Ambitious Guest", "Wakefield"; Nightmare Abbey, Gryll Grange; Mozart On His Way to Prague; "The Nose"; Wuthering Heights; "Lenz"
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A hundred movies I particularly love (dates approximate):

'00s: AI, The Ninth Gate, Mulholland Dr., Titus, The Man Who Wasn't There, Talk to Her, The Piano Teacher

'90s: Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, Lost Highway, The Straight Story, eXistenZ, Crash, Naked Lunch, Exotica, The Sweet Hereafter, Heavenly Creatures, Eyes Wide Shut, The Thin Red Line, The Big Lebowski, Miller's Crossing, Barton Fink, The Insider, The Ice Storm, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Time Regained, Jackie Brown, Quiz Show, Howard's End, The Edge, Slacker, Dazed & Confused, Jesus' Son, Schizopolis

'80s: Fanny & Alexander (TV version), The Elephant Man, Ordinary People, Videodrome, Runaway Train, Coal Miner's Daughter, Brazil, Reversal of Fortune, An Angel at My Table

'70s: Scenes from a Marriage (TV version), Cries & Whispers, Chinatown, Love & Death, Stardust Memories, Carnal Knowledge, Mississippi Mermaid, The Man Who Loved Women, Small Change, Two English Girls, The Story of Adele H., The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, The Innocent, Badlands, Days of Heaven, All the President's Men, The Parallax View, The Last Picture Show, Last Tango in Paris, Jaws, Network, Mahler

'60s: Winter Light, Through a Glass Darkly, Jules & Jim, Stolen Kisses, The 400 Blows, Andrei Rublev, The Birds, Psycho, Cool Hand Luke, L'avventura, Yojimbo, Sanjuro, Two for the Road, The Knack and How to Get It, The Great Escape

'50s: Summer with Monika, The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, Smiles of a Summer Night, Othello, A Touch of Evil, Rear Window, Rashomon, The Seven Samurai

'40s: Great Expectations, Brief Encounter, Shadow of a Doubt, Bambi, The Heiress, Bringing Up Baby, The Big Sleep, Never Give a Sucker an Even Break

'30s: Modern Times, The Grand Illusion

'20s: Sherlock Jr.
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The 451 thing and a Half Price Books trip have put me in booklisting mode again. These are books I started but didn't finish, how far I got in, why I stopped.

Read more... )
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Ten stories I love:

The Piazza, Melville
The Open Boat, Stephen Crane
Investigations of a Dog, Kafka
A Fragment of Stained Glass, Lawrence
The Snowstorm, Tolstoy
Fairy Tale, Goethe
The Sect of the Phoenix, Borges
The Conversion of the Jews, Philip Roth
The Burning, Eudora Welty
Revelation, Flannery O'Connor
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Read these:
The Faerie Queene, Mutabilitie Cantos, Spenser
Remembrance of Things Past, Overture, Proust
"Bezhin Lea" from Sketches from a Hunter's Album, Turgenev
Peer Gynt, Ibsen
Orlando, Chapter One, Woolf
"Man and Dog", Mann
"The Piazza", Melville
"The Snowstorm", Tolstoy
"A Christmas Carol", Dickens
"The Witch of Atlas", Shelley

Hear these:
Pachelbel's Canon
Tristan und Isolde, Wagner, orchestral highlights by Solti
Albinoni's Adagio
Vivaldi's Guitar Concerto in G
Ashes to Ashes, David Bowie
Love Fool, The Cardigans
Swan Lake, Finale, Tchaikovsky
Starting Over, John Lennon
Kiss of Fire, Louis Armstrong
Call Me, Blondie

Watch these:
Great Expectations (1946)
Modern Times
Andrei Rublev
L'Avventura
Mississippi Mermaid
Heavenly Creatures
Fanny and Alexander
Schindler's List
The Straight Story
eXistenZ

Feel this:
La Pieta, Michelangelo

Then tell me what you think.
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I don't like to reread things and have undergone some pretty thorough changes of mindset in the last few years, but these are the works that I loved best as I read them:

Shelley's poems, of which the best are the verse play Prometheus Unbound, the middle-length constellation of The Triumph of Life, Adonais, The Witch of Atlas and Epipsychidion, and a horde of lyrics: Ode to the West Wind, Hymn to Intellectual Beauty, The Cloud, The Two Spirits etc.; if I had to single out two, not necessarily as best but as favorites, I'd pick The Witch of Atlas and The Cloud. Parts of his epic Laon and Cythna AKA The Revolt of Islam are amazing. There's some essays like A Defense of Poetry and On a Future State that match his best verse.

War and Peace, Anna Karenina. Tolstoy's short stories and novellas, especially the Childhood trilogy, A Snowstorm, The Cossacks, The Kreutzer Sonata, Family Happiness.

Ibsen's plays, especially Peer Gynt, Emperor and Galilean, Love's Comedy, Lady from the Sea, Hedda Gabler, When We Dead Awaken.

Those three are my favorites and I recommend every word they ever wrote. The next three:

Remembrance of Things Past AKA In Search of Lost Time, by Proust.

The Faerie Queene, by Edmund Spenser. Also his Epithalamion, Muioptomos, Prothalamion, some of his Amoretti sonnets.

Goethe's Faust, the Wilhelm Meister books, plays, poetry etc. Another author you read as an author and not a selection of masterpieces though.

Other works have meant a lot to me at the time but who knows if they would now? I pick things up again sometimes and they're just ash. But maybe that's just in my eye or in the day. Some:

The Red and the Black and The Charterhouse of Parma by Stendhal. Women in Love, Sons and Lovers, various novellas and stories by D.H. Lawrence. Kafka. Robert Browning's poems. Middlemarch. Bleak House. Some obscure Germans writing across genres: Eduard Morike, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Friedrich Holderlin, Georg Buchner. Virginia Woolf, William Faulkner, Thomas Mann. Borges. Turgenev I loved early, it was he that removed my reservations about literature.

Tons of poetry, of course: I started with Edward Fitzgerald's Rubaiyat, with Pushkin and Byron, with the English Renaissance poets and dramatists; moved on through the Romantic and Victorian poets, who as a group I still prefer (especially the better poems of Wordsworth and Tennyson, Thomas Lovell Beddoes, Algernon Charles Swinburne); through translated verse from Europe and elsewhere -- liking particularly Luis Cernuda, Antonio Machado, Michelangelo (in the right translations), Anna Akhmatova, Victor Hugo. Most recently have been obsessively reading the better American poets, especially Dickinson, Frost, Elizabeth Bishop... some Edwin Arlington Robinson, Emerson, Stevens, Melville. Went through a World War I British poets kick, liking Owen best, Edward Thomas and Rupert Brooke also.

Some books affect me powerfully but make me uneasy. But anything that can get to you through reservations is especially impressive. Dante, Leopardi, Kleist's Prince of Homburg. Flaubert's Sentimental Education (which hurt)... I get this especially with the better early 20th Century poets: Rilke, Lorca, Neruda, Montale, Yeats. This is something of my attitude to Blake... I actually like him a lot but he's too much work to wrestle with. Milton also absorbs your whole being for a couple weeks while reading him, but is very much worth it.

Strindberg and Dostoevsky are painfully, amusingly, brilliantly insane.

I've been on lots of kicks of course, whole months where I could only read one author. As a teenager I had a Camus phase, a Hemingway phase.

What's left? The only Metaphysical poet I can stand is Marvell, and he only shines bright in a couple poems. My especial dislikes are Chaucer, Hopkins, Samuel Beckett and Hardy (these two more for outlook than subject matter or manner) and most of the Bible. I have a moderate aversion to anything Medieval and a mild one to the 18th century.

There's a lot of books I can't seem to get through despite multiple sustained attempts, notably The Iliad, Don Quixote, The Republic, Ulysses & Finnegans Wake, Moby-Dick. I like all of them, have read other works by their authors, mean to finish them.

I'm not as knowedgable about philosophy, I mostly read -about- the famous philosophers. Exceptions are Plato and Bertrand Russell. Nietzsche is fun to read around in, though often another "Strindoevsky." Among essayists I like what I've read of Montaigne and Emerson.

I'm widest-read in the dramatic classics. My favorite Shakespeare plays are Love's Labor's Lost, Othello, Romeo and Juliet, A Winter's Tale; though this list shifts a lot. I like French drama but to me it feels like light reading: Moliere, Racine, Marivaux, Musset. I worshipped Shaw once and still like him. The British comedy tradition in general is superb. My favorite Greek is of course Sophocles. When it isn't Aeschylus.

I love Keats while reading him but hate him for eclipsing Shelley in reputation. Shelley just -eats- Keats whenever he wanders into Keatsian subject matter. Tolstoy seems to have similar invasive abilities: 90% of Flaubert, 50% of Stendhal, 50% of George Eliot, stray chunks of Balzac and Hugo, almost all of Turgenev, all are digested and effortlessly transcended in Anna Karenina.

Enough dizzying lists for now. I'll check back over this sometime, I must be forgetting a hundred things.

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