To gear up for the release of Inglourious Basterds (I’m in the middle of my review right now. Sample line: Ballsy, brash and utterly committed to the revolutionary power of cinema, Inglourious Basterds is a completely remarkable film.), Quentin Tarantino programmed a week of movies on Europe’s Sky Channel. As part of his on-air hosting QT talked about the films he showed and films in general; at one point he did a list of his 20 favorite movies released since he started directing in 1992. We’ll talk about it after the video.



And here’s the list in alphabetical order (except for the number one choice)

Battle Royale
Anything Else
Audition
Blade
Boogie Nights
Dazed & Confused
Dogville
Fight Club
Fridays
The Host
The Insider
Joint Security Area
Lost In Translation
The Matrix
Memories of Murder
Police Story 3
Shaun of the Dead
Speed
Team America
Unbreakable


There are some surprising films on there (and some surprising omissions), as well as some I disagree with (I fucking hate Unbreakable), but only one movie stuns me. Just knocks me on my ass:

Anything Else.

If QT wanted to have late period Woody on this list, literally any of his other movies would have been better choices. I think Anything Else might be the worst Woody movie of all time (depending on your take on some of his serious films. It’s certainly his worst comedy).

Most of Woody’s modern films feel completely antiquated in terms of dialogue and characters (I loved Whatever Works, but there are character arcs that wouldn’t have been believable past 1974), but Anything Else is a movie that feels like Woody wrote it in his teens, in the 40s. Anything Else exemplifies what I call The Woody Allen Problem – most of these modern films would work better as period pieces. With Mad Men all the rage surely Woody can get money to set his next anachronistic-feeling script in the early 60s, when psychoanalysis and women’s lib were like, things people talked about?

But it isn’t the script that sinks Anything Else. Like I said, Whatever Works seems to have been pulled from the same drawer in which Anything Else sat, untouched and un-updated, for decades. And even the worst Woody Allen movie (and again, that would be this movie) has some good lines in it. It’s the acting that really kills the movie. Jason Biggs is the worst faux Woody in history, a truly hard-won title. Biggs is miserable in the film, and Christina Ricci continues to show that line delivery is an artform she has yet to tackle. And they’re horrible together – just devoid of chemistry.

To me Anything Else has another mortal wound – it’s a movie that has a faux Woody and the real Woody in it. Biggs’ Woody impression is bad enough that we don’t need to see the real deal sitting right next to him while he does it. It’s kind of humiliating.

I’m a huge Woody fan and I can’t even watch Anything Else. I get sort of queasy when I see the DVD cover (yeah, I own it). The idea that not only did Tarantino pick this above other modern Woody movies – like Husbands and Fucking Wives for the love of God – is just baffling. That he picked it as one of his 20 favorites of the last 20 some-odd years is mystifying in an almost cosmic way.

What do you think of QT’s 20 list? What are your 20 favorite films since 1992? Weigh in on the message boards.

Thanks to Montreal Film for showing me that this was not, as I thought, old video. And apologies to Kris Tapley for assuming he was running old video.