Podcast #55 – Part 1: Top 5, Top 5 and Top 5!

This Week: In an effort to celebrate an arbirtary hallmark, we figured we’d countdown our top 5 bunches of things, an idea that ended up taking a REALLY LONG TIME and requiring two parts – the first of which is something like 50 minutes – to do so. In this part you can look forward to hearing our top 5 Movies we Watch Over and Over Again, English Novels, and Movie Moments. Good times. Also, stay tuned to the end for our first ever blooper segment. (I keep my promises, Ben)

Every week, Richard Clark and Ben Bartlett sit back and discuss the posts of the previous week on Christ and Pop Culture, acknowledge and respond to the big issues in popular culture, and give a sneak peak at the week ahead. We love feedback! If you’d like to respond you can comment on the website, send an email to christandpopculture@gmail.com, or go to our contact page. We would love to respond to feedback on the show, so do it now! Subscribe to us in iTunes by clicking here. While you’re at it, review us in iTunes! We’ll love you forever!

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  • David Dunham

    happy birthday CAPC!

  • Carissa Smith

    I would just like to mention that part of Elizabethtown was filmed in northwest Arkansas, near where my parents live. Not that I’ve ever seen the movie. Orlando Bloom annoys me.

    Since The Dane asked the rest of us writers to contribute our Top 5 lists (at least I think I remember that he did), here are the Top 5 Movies I Watch Over and Over Again:

    1. Beauty and the Beast (the 1991 Disney movie)
    2. Pride and Prejudice (the 1995 BBC miniseries)
    3. Hot Fuzz

    –break here to indicate that I’m moving on to movies I watched over and over when I was a kid, which was when I actually did more repetitive watching

    4. Gandhi
    5. Great Expectations (a 1989 miniseries of the Dickens novel)

    So, yeah, I’ve actually gotten less serious as I’ve grown older.

    I really can’t come up with a list of Top 5 English-Language Novels. I need more specific categories–otherwise, it’s comparing apples and oranges. Also, there are the novels I love to teach, as opposed to the novels I actually love to read. But I like most of the ones on both Ben’s and Rich’s lists–especially Moby Dick!

    I’m also no good at coming up with the Top 5 Moments Where Sight and Sound Combine to . . . whatever, because I watch movies mostly with my ears. Camerawork? What’s that? I’m mostly focused on screenplay and score. I can watch the DVD commentary on a film and learn about a tracking scene (like the one Rich mentions in Atonement–which was actually the one scene in the movie I DIDN’T entirely watch, because of all the horse-shooting–or the scene towards the end of Children of Men in the refugee camp) and appreciate the sight part afterwards, but I don’t notice visual greatness when I’m actually watching the film. I will, however, come out humming the score.

  • But but but Rich, #7 wasn’t the best of the series. It had that dreadful, interminable middle portion. The camping act. Bleh.

    Probably this episode’s funniest moment is picturing a minuscule Carissa watching Ghandi over and over again while other kids her age watched Rainbow Brite.

    Those were ridiculously hard Top Fives.

    For the first, I think break it up into eras:

    As a child (this was before VHS), I was kind of at the whim of what was televised, but Bob Hope movies and monster marathons were common enough, so:
    Lemon Drop Kid
    Road to Morocco
    The Wolfman
    Sinbad and the Seven Seas

    In my early twenties, I was mostly all about comedies:
    Billy Madison
    Empire Records
    Holy Grail
    MST3K: The Movie

    In my later twenties:
    Beautiful Girls
    Dark City
    Donnie Darko
    Fear and Lothing in Las Vegas
    High Fidelity

    And nowadays, I’m more likely to sit down with something thoughtful or whimsical. And I do love romance. So, in my mid-thirties, though I rarely watch a single movie over and over again, these are the five I’d most likely re-watch:
    Amelie – I love Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s films. In the last five years, I’ve seen both Amelie and A Very Long Engagement over and over and over again. Visually, these movies are incredible to look at and Yann Tiersen’s musical tracks for Amelie make the film an almost sublime experience.

    Before Sunrise/Sunset – The combination of these two movies makes for an almost perfect film experience for me. I can relate to both Celine and Jesse (despite not really being either of them) and both their courtship in the first film and their anxiety in the second film are always believable to me.

    Casablanca – This is seriously just one of the best films ever made and is in every way a work of cinematic excellence.

    In the Mood for Love – This may be one of my favourite films to watch. It’s honestly sensuous in the sense that it awakens one’s senses through its visual and aural motifs. Carissa, this is a film you’d remember for its score.

    Snow Falling on Cedars – Bitterness, romance, history, racism, and Willie from Alf. Can it honestly get better?

    Like Carissa, I don’t know if I can even answer the English-language novel question. But unlike Carissa, I will try ^_^ Part of the problem is that I realized that most of my favourite books are translations. From Italian, from Spanish, from Japanese. *sigh* In any case, here’s a try:

    Franny and Zooey by J.D. Sallinger
    The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro
    Fear and Lothing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
    Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
    The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler

    The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John LeCarre
    Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    Watership Down by Richard Adams
    Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

    *sigh* Yes, I know I chose ten. There were just too many. And I culled The Importance of Being Earnest by calling it a play.

    @Rich – If you liked American Gods, you should really try out Anansi Boys. It’s like a crossover without all the relentless mopey-ness of American Gods

  • p.s. I don’t care if you use my daughter’s name. Sonata Fey. There, I did it for you. I too will be interested to see if my convictions go out the window with her arrival. I sort of doubt it, but one never knows. I know plenty of sensible people who lost all sense once they had children…

  • Alan Noble

    Okay movies:
    1. Star Wars (ep. 4-6)
    2. Rushmore
    3. A Night at the Opera
    4. A Day at the Races
    5. Horsefeathers

    Those last three could have been almost any of the Marx Brothers’ films, except their fairly lame later films.

    10 pts. for Dane for Bob Hope. I watched him a ton as a kid too.

    I haven’t finished listening to the podcast, so I’ll post the rest of mine later…

  • The Marx Brothers are compulsively watchable. I adore Duck Soup.

  • Carissa Smith

    Okay, okay, I’ll do a novels list . . . by imposing more restrictions.

    Top 5 Non-Children’s/YA English-Language Novels That I Read Over and Over Again, but Don’t Teach
    1. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
    2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
    3. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams

    Whoops. Made that one too narrow. Most of the novels I read over and over again (and don’t teach) are children’s/YA novels.

    Here’s another: Top 5 Non-Children’s/YA English-Language Novels Written Since 1990

    1. Gilead, Marilynne Robinson
    2. tie: Peace Like a River and So Brave, Young, and Handsome, Leif Enger
    3. To Say Nothing of the Dog, Connie Willis
    4. The Intuitionist, Colson Whitehead
    5. The Road, Cormac McCarthy

  • What? You don’t read The Road over and over again??

    Now I definitely want to know your Top 5 Children’s and Top 5 YA books. Just to prove I’m no cad, I’ll do my own:

    Top 5 YA Books (as you might be able to tell, I haven’t read much in the genre(?)—I read largely adult fiction when I was the target age) [also, what age is YA? I’m presuming fourth grade or so?]:
    The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
    Holes by Louis Sachaar
    Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by Richard Clark
    Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis
    Coraline by Neil Gaiman

    Top 5 Children’s Books:
    • Anything by Maurice Sendak (e.g. The Night Kitchen and Where the Wild Things Are)
    • Anything by Bill Peet (e.g. The Wingdingdilly,/i> and Capybopy)
    I Like You by Sandol Stoddard Warburg and Jacqueline Chwast
    The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne and Ernest H. Sheperd
    The Tale of Tom Kitten by Beatrix Potter

  • p.s., I was sad my novel list didn’t include either Pride and Prejudice or Jane Eyre, both of which are worth the time.

  • Carissa Smith

    Ah. What is YA, indeed? If we’re going by bookstore labels, it’s probably supposed to be ages 12 and up. Children’s Intermediate is more like ages 8 through 12, maybe? The age stuff is stupid. I never read anything at the proper age. About half this list I read (or had read to me) at age 6, and the other half I read (or had read to me) in my twenties. So, I’m going to combine the Children’s/YA categories and do a list of 10, treating series as one to give me more options:

    1. The Chronicles of Narnia, C. S. Lewis (favorite one: also The Voyage of the Dawn Treader)
    2. The Prydain Chronicles, Lloyd Alexander
    3. The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Jonathan Stroud
    4. The Time Trilogy (I refuse to count Many Waters as part of the canon), Madeleine L’Engle
    5. Beauty, Robin McKinley
    6. The True Meaning of Smekday, Adam Rex
    7. The Dark Is Rising Series, Susan Cooper
    8. Airborn, Kenneth Oppel
    9. Ella Enchanted, Gail Carson Levine
    10. Hazel Green, Odo Hirsch

    Some of these are for largely sentimental reasons, but there you have it. I suppose I’ll grant an honorary #11 to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which is definitely my favorite of the series, in spite of its bloatedness. Rowling writes Umbridge so much better than she writes Voldemort. Also, Phoenix is where we find out that Hermione’s Patronus is an otter.

  • David Dunham

    1) Jurassic Park
    2) The Princess Bride
    3) Star Wars (episodes 4-6)
    4) The Three Amigos
    5) Young Frankenstein

    I actually watch a fair amount of movies over and over so this was easy (notable mentions: Die Hard, The Dark Knight, Lord of the Rings, and Gladiator, Raiders of the Lost Ark). I’ll have to think about books, that one is, as has been pointed out, a little more difficult.

  • peter bartlett

    Ben, I am a little bit disappointed you didn’t mention Short Circuit as one of your top 5 movies. Maybe there should be a “Top five movies to watch with your family” category. I actually watched it recently with Becky (my fiance, for all those not named ben) and for some strange reason, I found it way more funny than she did.

    Surely the comments section is not the best place to put in a request, but I would love to see a review of the movies UP or Be Kind, Rewind. I think the latter will surprise a lot of people who saw the reviews and thought it would be a typical Jack Black comedy.

    Also I think you are being a little bit harsh on Richard and Harry Potter, Ben. I personally thought the HP series, especially the 7th, had some truly well written and thoughtful moments. Particularly the part in the 7th when Harry sees the grave of his parents for the first time. That part felt very genuine and real to me.

    Anyways, great stuff.
    Haha, i also find myself using more proper english when i comment on this sight. Who am i kidding? Harry Potter Rulez, OH YEAH!!!

  • Yeh, HP Roxorz!

  • @Carissa – I was always interested in whether The Prydain Chronicles were any good. In third grade, a friend of mine was totally into them and I was entranced by the image of the Horned King gracing on of the covers. Then, a couple years later, I saw The Black Cauldron in theaters and suddenly all my interest vanished.

    Oh! I just remembered one of my favourite YA books of all time: The White Mountains. John Christopher’s tripod series was amazing to me as a wee lad.

    @All – Question, I’m trying to remember the name of a book. In it, all the adults die and the remaining children form gangs in order to stay alive. I seem to remember a female protagonist. Sound familiar to anyone?

  • Huh. Apparently, the book I’m thinking of is called The Girl Who Owned a City and apparently it’s not very good. But I remember my mind being inflamed with the idea of such a strictly segregated post-apocalyptic realm. That may be why I was so taken with the idea of Y: The Last Man when I first heard it.

  • Keith Goad

    1. i cannot believe I am contributing, but I cannot take it anymore.
    2. i cannot believe Dave Dunham best represents me with his list.
    3. i cannot believe the Ben and Rich have no room for slapstick comedies or great war films on their top 5. This is the height of Christian culture snobbery and elitism. What is more watchable than the Jim Carey/Sandler/Farley collections or the old school SNL crowd with 3 amigos (chalk one up for Dave and little Neddy)/the jerk/ plains-trains-and-automobiles, or classic 80’s like Better off Dead.
    What about the great war/spy movies: Bourne, Saving Private Ryan, Patriot.
    I think your lists, apart from Robin Hood and Hero, was more what movies give meaning and interpretation to my, um your, life.
    4. i do acknowledge Star Wars as a superb selection (chalk one up for Ben and uncle Ben).
    5. i realize these are your lists and maybe that is what you watch the most, but wow. you guys are too deep for me.
    6. i reread my post and feel like CC Cummings with my grammar–how you like me now!

  • My top 5 movies I watch over and over (or I have watched over and over):
    1. Young Frankenstein
    2. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
    3. Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the old one with Gene Wilder)
    4. Animal Crackers
    5. Princess Bride

    I like how my film selection includes no serious films whatsoever. Ha!

    Top 5 books:
    1. A Good Man is Hard to Find
    2. Crime and Punishment
    3. The Road
    4. The End of the Affair
    5. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

    One interesting idea for a top 5 list–favorite characters in movies. I think my favorite character at this moment is Alan Rickman’s Severus Snape; another good one: Gene Wilder in The Producers.

  • Ooh, also Top 5 Film Villains.

    Maybe the podcast should just turn into an unending stream of Top Fives.

  • I think I would want to die. Though we could bring it back as a regular feature.

  • Top 5 Ways in Which Rich Should Die!!