9/29/20: I Found It at the Movies #poetry #movies

9/29/20: I Found It at the Movies #poetry #movies

Martin Scorsese published a list of movies that he felt any film maker should watch. It made me wonder — what should any film watcher watch? What he likes, I reckon. I really can’t tell you what to watch — or recommend to you what will resonate with you. I can only share what resonates with me. The movies that have affected me (and those that will affect me in the future) say something about me more than they say something about the movie.

I’m not a director — or a teacher, like Scorsese. I’m not a critic, like Pauline Kael. I cannot shape you into my image or likeness. I don’t want to either.

I watch for myself … below is a public dream that I have been dreaming for 65 years … these aren’t all the good or great movies that I have seen in my life … I am not assigning them to you. These are the movies that I can remember tonight as vividly and fondly as cities and people and meals.

My memories, my dreams, my reflections … the movie house or TV room is my monastery … we are the stuff that films are made of … we live in lonely communities comprised of people who love the movies that we do.

I live for myself, I write for myself and I watch for myself. You are welcome to tag along …

It’s all very particular and very ordinary …

we all project our technicolor and black and white innards on the blank empty wall of the world

and the world

and we

change a little


The movies aren’t perfect

I always would change one thing or another

The movies are a starter set

so I can dream alone

but still tethered to the collective unconscious of the herd

Filmmakers want to catch the zeitgeist

to express what everyone is feeling at a certain moment

sometimes they capture just a few strays

wandering out of formation around the edges of the herd

and sometimes they capture just about everybody

The movies aren’t about what you do

They are about who you are

when you do what you do

For me, the movies are a sanctuary

influences that influence me to influence myself

I have conversations with the movies

They are really just people telling you what they think, after all

They are made by impure people

a lot less pure than I am

who can deal with money and competition and ego

in order to fashion a concrete object

Because they are so necessarily impure

it falls upon me to write the final draft of the script

the sweetness is made wholly sincere

the outrage is unadulterated

the insight is clearer

the message un-compromised

As I match the images on the screen to my own reason and experience

and dreams

Movies are the opposite of escape for me

I find reality at the movies

What we deeply feel

and the thoughts that we think for ourselves

are as real as it gets

It’s an unreal world where people walk unaware of their feelings

and unburdened by thought

The movies are the perfect place for me to commune with myself

I venerate excellence and humanity and morality and passion and art

and I disdain ignorance, meanness, selfishness and stupidity

All of those things can be found at the movies

cheek to jowl

the sacred and the profane

reverie and constipation

advertising and the truth

and all at a safe and detached distance

The furies of the world live at the movies just as they live in more direct experience

But they can be processed at the movies

You don’t have to take action just now

You sit there

and clarify and decide

The movies below are not the full story about me

They are just images that I am drawn to

and that says something about me

Novels are generally much deeper and smarter and more complex

but I like the movies better

so then I can write the novel inspired by them

A poet like me loves the movies

because movies are so ordinary

They are popular in the sense of being for the entire population

Our true selves is who we dream to be in dark quiet rooms

alone in the public

not in our mundane daily business

Movies are the opposite of business

Ironically, business is about what you look like

and movies are about who you are

The constant activity is what distracts

Focus is found in the relaxed open stance

of watching a movie

The movies have to be so crass

and needy

so eager to be admired

I reckon

so that their divine spark

can be received

Great movies rip your heart out of chest

hold it up so you can look at it

then put it in your hands

and ask what are you going to do about it?

Movies often try to tell you what to think and feel

They can manipulate my feeling

but never my thought

and when treated in thought

even manipulated feeling

becomes useful

Many film makers are like Han Solo in “Star Wars”

Heroes who think they are mercenaries

But the film makers aren’t the point

It’s the movies themselves

and me.

The best thing about the movies … I always like to be there …

Pretty much off the top of my head …


A Face in the Crowd, Elia Kazan

Amistad, Steven Spielberg

The Apartment, Billy Wilder

All Night Long, Jean-Claude Tramont

The Age of Innocence, Martin Scorsese

About Schmidt, Alexander Payne

Any Given Sunday, Oliver Stone

Anomalisa, Charlie Kaufman

Amadeus, Milos Foreman

All That Jazz, Bob Fosse

Animal House, John Landis

After Hours, Martin Scorsese


Big Night, Stanley Tucci

Being There, Hal Ashby

Bound for Glory, Hal Ashby

Bonnie and Clyde, Arthur Penn

Bulworth, Warren Beatty

Blazing Saddles, Mel Brooks

Boogie Nights, Paul Thomas Anderson

Before Night Falls, Julian Schnabel

Borat, Larry Charles

Brazil, Terry Gilliam

The Big Lebowski, Joel and Ethan Coen


Chimes at Midnight, Orson Welles

Citizen Kane, Orson Welles

The Conversation, Francis Ford Coppola

Career Girls, Mike Leigh

Original Cinema Quad Poster – Movie Film Posters

Chinatown, Roman Polanski

Cinderfella, Frank Tashlin


Dirty Harry, Don Siegel

Dog Day Afternoon, Sidney Lumet

Downsizing, Alexander Payne

The Descendants, Alexander Payne

The Dirty Dozen, Robert Aldrich

Deconstructing Harry, Woody Allen

Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino

The Devil Wears Prada, David Frankel


Election, Alexander Payne

8 1/2, Federico Fellini


Funny Girl, William Wyler

Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Nicholas Stoller

Original Cinema Quad Poster – Movie Film Posters

The Favourite, Yorgos Lanthimos

Fanny and Alexander, Ingmar Bergman

Fletch, Michael Ritchie

Fences, Denzel Washington

Falling Down, Joel Schumacher


Goodfellas, Martin Scorsese

The Godfather, Francis Ford Coppola

The Godfather Part II, Francis Ford Coppola

The Graduate, Mike Nichols

The Great Dictator, Charlie Chaplin

Guys and Dolls, Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, Stanley Kramer

Gosford Park, Robert Altman

The Great Escape, John Sturges

Good Night and Good Luck, George Clooney

The Goodbye Girl, Herbert Ross

The Game, David Fincher


Hunger, Steve McQueen

Harry and Tonto, Paul Mazursky

The Heartbreak Kid, Elaine May

High Noon, Fred Zinnemann


Inglorious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino

Inside Llewyn Davis, Joel and Ethan Coen

The In-Laws, Arthur Hiller

Original Cinema Quad Poster; Movie Poster; Film Poster

Idiocracy, Mike Judge


Jaws, Steven Spielberg

Jefferson in Paris, James Ivory

Jurassic Park, Steven Spielberg



Lincoln, Steven Spielberg

La Vie en Rose, Olivier Dahan

Life is Beautiful, Roberto Benigni


Mary Poppins, Robert Stevenson

Mr. Turner, Mike Leigh

M*A*S*H*, Robert Altman

Monster’s Ball, Marc Forester

Missing, Costa-Gavras

The Master, Paul Thomas Anderson

Original Cinema Quad Poster – Movie Film Posters

Million Dollar Baby, Clint Eastwood

Mystic River, Clint Eastwood

The Man Who Wasn’t There, Joel and Ethan Coen

Malcolm X, Spike Lee

Mamma Mia, Phyllida Lloyd


Nashville, Robert Altman

Nixon, Oliver Stone

The Nights of Cabiria, Federico Fellini

Network, Sidney Lumet


The Odd Couple, Gene Saks

On the Waterfront, Elia Kazan

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Quentin Tarantino

O Brother Where Art Thou, Joel and Ethan Coen

Office Space, Mike Judge


Patton, Franklin Schaffner

The Pawnbroker, Sidney Lumet

Philadelphia, Jonathan Demme

The Player, Robert Altman

Pret a Porter, Robert Altman

A Prairie Home Companion, Robert Altman

Phantom Thread, Paul Thomas Anderson

Prizzi’s Honor, John Huston

The Producers, Mel Brooks

Planes, Trains and Automobiles, John Hughes

Pain and Glory, Pedro Almodovar



Rocky, John Avildsen

The Remains of the Day, James Ivory

Rules Don’t Apply, Warren Beatty

Raging Bull, Martin Scorsese

Roman Holiday, William Wyler


Shampoo, Hal Ashby

Serpico, Sidney Lumet

Sweet and Lowdown, Woody Allen

A Streetcar Named Desire, Elia Kazan

Smokey and the Bandit, Hal Needham

Short Cuts, Robert Altman

Original Cinema Quad Poster – Movie Film Posters

Surviving Picasso, James Ivory


Tucker, A Man and his Dream, Francis Ford Coppola

Twelve Years a Slave, Steve McQueen

To Kill a Mockingbird, Robert Mulligan

12 Angry Men, Sidney Lumet

There Will Be Blood, Paul Thomas Anderson


Umberto D., Vittorio De Sica


Victor Victoria, Blake Edwards


Wall Street, Oliver Stone

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Mel Stuart



Young Frankenstein, Mel Brooks


Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas

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