07 April 2006

I guess I'd better rant for a bit about the WGA's list of the greatest screenplays of all time. I don't really have any issues with their inclusions (at least they don't have Fight Club), but there are some perplexing omissions. There are only a couple of foreign films, for example, and no mention of The Seven Samurai, which is probably the most beautifully structured movie ever made. No Powell and Pressburger, of course. I'm used to it by now, but it's still a gross oversight. Maybe there's so much going on in The Red Shoes that the screenplay is relatively obscured, but surely The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp deserved some recognition.

Of course, you only need to look as far as Robert Altman and Wong Kar-Wai to realize that there's another level of cinema entirely where a good, well-structured screenplay is less of an asset than a handicap. A list of those movies would probably be a great deal more interesting.

Incidentally, and apropos of the Gospel of Judas, I recently realized that my favorite screenplay—narrowly edging out Casablanca and L.A. Confidential—is Paul Schrader's script for The Last Temptation of Christ. Scorsese and his cast weren't entirely able to do it justice, given the limited time and resources, but as an example of complex, intractably literary ideas expressed in vivid dramatic terms, I don't know anything else that even comes close. It's worth a rental, if you weren't able to get past the picket lines (or were in the third grade) in 1988.

No comments: