A to Z of Films Meme (G)

How did I end up in this Golmaal (confusion)? ‘G’ stands for all that is good and great. So how does one select a winner from among so many deserving candidates? Does one simply give up and disappear, as if Gone With The Wind? How does one separate The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly? With so many Goodfellas, who is The Godfather of them all? The father of the nation, Gandhi? With my readers having Great Expectations, I risk becoming a Ganashatru (Enemy of the People) by choosing one over the rest.

Situations like these are when I am forced to evaluate films on factors beyond that of film-making. Which films stand up for a better world? Which films go beyond entertainment and mastery of the creative process of film-making to talk about something greater? Which films make ordinary people aspire to be good?


Groundhog DayGroundhog Day

Eternal déjà vu. A sci-fi premise used in a completely innovative way. A unique classic that has grown over time in its popularity, a testament to its multiple layers. Hilarious and yet extremely profound. Always enjoyable in repeated viewings. This is genius that is not immediately discernible. This is genius that is disguised as popular entertainment, winking an eye to those who eventually catch it.

Extremely intelligent editing. Remarkable performances if you think about enacting the same scene over again and again not for retakes but for different scenes, altering your behavior gradually in each new scene. Read my full review here.

In a way, this is one of the most spiritual films I’ve seen. I know I will be a better person if I am reminded of Groundhog Day in the morning when I wake up. How many films or art works in general can lay such a claim?

Runner Up

TheGreatDictatorThe Great Dictator

If you remember that The Great Dictator was written before Hitler invaded Poland, much before WWII, you will acknowledge that film-makers can be great philosophers. At the time the film was released, the scenes of storm troopers terrorizing the Jewish ghetto were viewed as ‘extreme’. Chaplin paid a price for his anti-fascist, anti-racist stance, by being suspected as a communist, and being exiled from the United States.

The ballet scene with the globe has permeated cultural consciousness across the world, beyond geographies, ethnicities, and cultures. The ego-games between the two dictators – Hitler and Mussolini, speak volumes more than dialogue can. The barber shaving a customer to the rhythm of classical music. Rodin’s Thinker with an arm raised in salute. There is so much to enjoy here!

This would have been my first choice if it were not for the out of sync speech at the end. It feels out of place, too long, and dilutes the comic entertainment of the entire movie. Chaplin probably felt very strongly about democracy and individual freedom, and was adamant in retaining the speech despite criticism. But considering his overwhelming contribution to cinema, I have no qualms listening to him, for he is, The Great Director.

Noteworthy Mentions

From you, my dear readers, in the comments! 🙂


36 thoughts on “A to Z of Films Meme (G)

  1. Look at you!:) I’m referring to the opening lines; very nice 🙂 I intended to comment on E & F first, but I just have to start here. But before that- you did me a great favor by not mentioning Ghajini, thank you!

    G movies off the top of my head:
    GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS (and all David Mamets, for that matter)

    and 2 of the ones you mentioned (Golmaal – the Amol Palekar one, & Gone w/ the Wind).

    Seen Groundhog Day. I think I must have something against Bill Murray – GH day and Lost in Translation are both well-liked, but for some reason I found them insipid in a strange way. Maybe I should watch them again.

    I’m sure a lot more will come to mind once I post this comment 😛

    Will look Ganashatru up, thanks!


  2. Mahendra

    It may not surprise you but I have managed never to watch either Golmaal or Groundhog Day. Oh and Gone With The Wind (I have an aversion for “costume drama” in general and the only exception I have made is for Pride and Prejudice, the one with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth).

    The Great Dictator though does intrigue me but my own all time favourite remains Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner? A film that is being repeated in liberal drawing and dining rooms around the world even today.

  3. I generally don’t like Bill Murray (Although I loved Lost in translation) but the review you wrote sold me.

  4. now i can comment for there are some movies (golmaal, gandhi, groundhog day) that I have seen. your past few posts make me realise i have so much to catch up on..

  5. Interestingly enough, I’m plugging an Indian movie, Gamyam.
    It’s an independent film, and with your prowess you have most likely seen it. I haven’t been watching Indian cinema most of my life, so I can’t particularly tell you how it rates compared to other movies, and you may not find it that grand. But there were moments in that film where I was layed bare, completely touched. My favorite quote, (in English, I don’t know the mother tongue) from the movie is “love loves the love that’s unconditional love.”

    Another American movie that you might appreciate is As Good as it Gets featuring Jack Nickolson. Over the years I have never gotten sick of it, and come to love different aspects of it with age. My favorite quote from this movie is “You make me want to be a better man.” The manner in which this statement was illicited, however, is extremely ironic 🙂

    You have made me appreciate Groundhog Day much more fully with your review. Props! And now that you mention it, I have watched it entirely too many times and never gotten sick of it either.

  6. WOW. So many awesome movies listed here.

    The first time I heard about Groundhog Day was in a Toastmasters meeting when a guy talking about how he came out of depression said that he lived Groundhog Day by watching it everyday for a month.

    I agree with mystic_life about As Good As It Gets. I love the scene when Jack Nicholson verbally intimidates Greg Kinnear, slams the door, turns around and gives a ‘pat on his own back’ smile.

    I guessed many of the English movies here but missed Groundhog Day. With Hindi movies, I completely missed out Golmaal and narrowed down on Guide.

  7. Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner! Missed that one. Was quite charmed by Poitier’s role. And sue me, but I found Katherine Hepburn very charismatic too 🙂

    While we’re at it – Gentleman’s Agreement (1947) Gregory Peck.


  8. BTW, talking about Great Expectations of your readers, I am assuming that you are keeping an xls with all the movies that you list as well as those that appear in the comments. Everyone is going to thank you for that in the end 🙂

  9. Anand: I’ve been noting Mahendra’s recos (that I haven’t yet seen) in a text file 🙂 I added that in one of my previous comments and edited it out because it waas becoming too long 😉 But yes, everyone really is going to thank you, M – if they aren’t already!


    PS: (Ok, I lied – this is the real last comment).

  10. Mahendra, G was the most difficult for me too. So many great films start with G..Godfather 1 and 2, Goodfellas, good will hunting, Golmaal, Guide and many more..
    I think Goodfellas was Martin Scorsese’s best..if people had not seen it with Godfather prejudice, it might have been even bigger than Godfather..I know many people who still feel Goodfellas was better than Godfather..
    Will look for Groundhog day..
    Hey I was wondering you didnt mention Fargo in F..perhaps you didnt see it yet or Coen brothers are not your type..because if you like them, you cant forget Fargo..Many people consider it as an absolute American classic and I full agree with them..

  11. Thanks! 🙂 Regarding Ghajini, you’re lucky I am not responding with “what’s that”? – I often surprise my friends that way. Many times, I am utterly oblivious of what the entire world seems to know about, while I feel why the world is so utterly oblivious of the thing I’m passionate about. 🙂 Guess that happens with a lot of people.

    My goodness – that list is off the top of your head?! I’ve never heard of Gattaca or Glengarry Glen Ross. Wow.

  12. Never having watched Golmaal is a crime. Regarding costume dramas, I guess you made an exception with Amadeus too.

    GWCTD is on my to-watch list for a long time. Unfortunately, haven’t watched it yet! 😦

  13. Consider Murray’s character: He thinks he is a little smarter than everyone else, he has a detached melancholy, he is deeply suspicious of joy, he sees sincerity as a weapon that can be used against him, and yet he conceals emotional needs. A perfect bastard.

    Now, Murray doesn’t raise his voice or signal through energetic acting that he’s an insufferable jerk. He just is the jerk.

    At the end, Murray becomes a better Phil, not a different Phil. How many actors would’ve been tempted to portray a complete (but unlikely) transformation?

    These are some of the insights I gained and am reproducing here from Roger Ebert.

  14. Yeah, imagine my amusement! As I was writing about Groundhog Day, you tweeted: “… there will come a day…but today is not it.” 😀

  15. Gauri, when I read the comments here, I feel the same way! That’s the fun right? Everyone catching up with a lot of good cinema to enjoy! 🙂

  16. Havah, this is awesome! I had never even heard of Gamyam. Released Feb 2008, Telugu film, one review says inspired by Motorcycle Diaries! Nice quote too. A non-Indian suggesting a new Indian film to this bunch of film-loving Indians. That’s globalization. 🙂 Thank you. Now, to see how I can get hold of it!

    As Good As It Gets is as good as movies get, and it is a part of my personal collection! But with litteratueses, linguaphiles, and so on being among my beloved readers, I’m very wary before I commit a mistake of substituting ‘As’ for ‘A’. I’d said I’ll only use reformatted titles that start with ‘A’ and ‘The’! 🙂

    Jack Nicholson is one of my favorite actors, and As Good As It Gets shows his versatility. That line – the compliment – is a beautiful dramatic climax to the scene!

  17. Hmm…not surprising at all. Groundhog Day can have many ‘applications’. If you read my original review post, Krish Ashok has commented there about how he uses it with his team members to encourage out-of-the-box thinking.

    See my response to Mystic_Life!

    Guide might have worked for me if I’d been born a couple of decades earlier. Of course, love SDB’s score. The unconventional relationship aspect, performances, etc. were all memorable. But I was mightily turned off by the mysticism towards the end.

  18. Missed that one meaning completely missed it! Haven’t seen it yet. 😦

    Same with Gentleman’s Agreement. How many are you going to pull out of your hat, Gauri? 🙂 Thank you very much.

  19. Anand has worked with me in the past, so he knows that with me around, he doesn’t need to bother himself with such detail-taking, tracking stuff. 🙂

    Leave it to me. You don’t have to maintain anything.

  20. Dev, yes, Goodfellas was Scorcese’s best. Haven’t seen Good Will Hunting.

    I was wondering how long it will be before this truth was revealed: I have not seen Fargo, and did not know anything about Coen brothers till I visited your blog! So there, now I’ve said it. There’s plenty of catching up for me to do as well, in case anyone reading these posts gets mistaken!

    I should add that I’m not particularly a fan of film noir, so I don’t know how much I’ll be able to appreciate the Coen brothers.

  21. Mahendra, I was also not a fan of film noir until I watched Coen Brothers..because there stuff is much more than simple film noir, it’s lot about people and life too..in case you have time to read my full post on them, you will know what I mean..

  22. Oh, sure. You have rubbed a lot of enthusiasm of the Coen brothers on me…I’m looking forward to learning more! Will surely read your posts…

  23. There was a time when I loved Coen Brothers, but I got tired of their style of deep misanthropy. Their latest film “Burn After Reading” is their worst film.

  24. great choices. loved Groundhog day – like the field of dreams – it is one of my favourite American films.

    other G’s
    there is Garam Hawa – which is one of the best Hindi films ever made. a stellar cast, a great story and a kick in your guts ending that leaves you (atleast left me) in tears. once again the story of hope 🙂

  25. I haven’t watched Garam Hawa. Wow, ‘one of the best Hindi films ever made’ is a very strong recommendation. Looks like must-see. Thanks a lot. Do keep the recommendations coming!

  26. //But with litteratueses, linguaphiles, and so on being among my beloved readers, I’m very wary before I commit a mistake of substituting ‘As’ for ‘A’.//

    1. This is gareeb ka mazak 😛
    2. I swear, I was going to add As Good As It Gets, then I thought you’ll pounce that it starts with “As”. Just like people pounce in Antakshari when the opp. team starts singing “re mama re mama re” instead of “sunlo sunata hoon…” Or “hum tum ek kamre mein” instead of “bahar se koi andar…” 😛
    3. Just for that, I’m going to mention All About Eve (Ann Baxter, Bette Davis) for ‘E’ in a comment for ‘G’.
    4. I was out of town, and guess what was playing on the hotel TV? Groundhog Day!! I confirm, it’s Bill Murray – someone please shake him. But overall it reminded me of Lola Rennt (Run Lola Run), and another similar one, I forget.
    5. Long comment, sowwie. But in the end, you do reserve the right to delete it 🙂

  27. 🙂

    No, no, I will never pounce on anything! Especially recommendations. Ha ha, nice analogy with Antakshari. 🙂

    All About Eve – nope, never heard of it. Added.
    We all have personal likes and dislikes about actors. You don’t like Bill Murray. Let’s leave it at that. 🙂
    Nope, I never delete comments for excessive length. Why do you keep worrying about long or multiple comments?

  28. But u will have to see it in the perspective of the aam indian admi to get the picture of what im talking about
    because it is cheesier than the regular govinda fare..
    Hope it is not a waste of time for an intellectual movie viewer like u…

    it is there on google video …

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