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Turkey’s Top Export? Comedy

If you take a look at the CIA World Fact book, you'll see that Turkey's top exports include apparel, foodstuffs, textiles, metal manufactures, and transport equipment. What the United States government doesn't know, or doesn't want you to know, is that Turkey tops the world in a commodity not listed here: comedies. In our ongoing quest to discover the greatest comedies of all time, I decided to take a look at what IMDB had to say. IMDB does have an official list of the top 50 comedies, but I wanted more. Many lists include 100 movies, so I went to the Advanced Search and searched for all movies in the genre "comedy", with at least 1000 votes, excluding TV movies, TV shows, and direct-to-video releases. The first thing I noticed is that IMDB's search is broken, apparently "ignore TV series" really means "litter the results with lots of TV series." The next thing I noticed is something even the CIA couldn't discover: Turkish dominance of the top 3 comedies of all time. At number 1, with a rating of 9.2, is Babam Ve Oglum (2005), also known as My Father and My Son. At number 2, with an 8.9 rating, is Tosun Pasa (1976), with Hababam sinifi (1975) just a notch below at 8.8. The Turkish dominance is finally interrupted by Dr. Strangelove (1964) at the number 4 spot. I have never seen any of these films, or any Turkish comedies for that matter. But these aren't just simple flukes - they each have more than 1000 votes, and it's hard to see why they are not included in the official top 50. What makes these films so funny? Let's take a look as a memorable quote from Tosun Pasa:
Saban: [Scared] Who are you? Real Tosun Pasha: Ibrahim Pasha from Cairo is in your order, Sir! Saban: [Seriously] Who made you a pasha, sir? Real Tosun Pasha: It was with your order, Pasha! Saban: So I made you a pasha, Mr. Ibrahim? Real Tosun Pasha: Yes, Pasha! Saban: [Mockingly] Hey Ibrahim, are you Seferoglus' pasha? Real Tosun Pasha: Sorry, you lost me, sir. Saban: [Laughs] Come on Ibo, you can't fool me!
Ha ha ha heh... heh... Hmm. Perhaps there is a cultural divide. You see, pasha is a title granted within the Ottoman Empire. It was an honorific originally limited to military commanders but later used for civilians as well. Pashas rank above beys and Aghas but below khedives and viziers. There have been a number of important Pashas, for example Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt put down a rebellion of Wahhabis in Arabia and later fought in the Greek War of Independence. He was the adopted son of Muhamad Ali, though few people know that since it was left out of the film. Let's take a look at the plot summary for Babam Ve Oglum:
Sadik is one of the rebellious youth who has been politically active as a university student and became a left-wing journalist in the 70's, despite his father's expectations of him becoming an agricultural engineer and taking control of their family farm in an Aegean village. On the dawn of September 12, 1980, when a merciless military coup hits the country, they cannot find access to any hospital or a doctor and his wife dies while giving birth to their only child, Deniz. After a long-lasting period of torture, trials, and jail time, Sadik returns to his village with 7-8 years old Deniz, knowing that it will be hard to correct things with his father, Huseyin. (source)
Now that sounds funny. I can only imagine the death-during-childbirth scene takes place in fast-motion with a "Benny Hill" soundtrack, much like the examples Mr. Wallz has uncovered. I kid. Actually, all three of these movies sound pretty interesting, and if I ever finish my thesis, I'll try tracking them down. I do have to suspect, though, that their high ranking is due in part to a small, but sizable Turkish minority on IMDB who very passionately love their domestic film industry. Has anyone seen any of these three? Any Turks or Cypriots out there care to clue me in? I'd like to know: what's so funny about Turkey? [youtube]vsQrKZcYtqg[/youtube]

The Greatest Comedies of All Time

A few weeks ago JessB mentioned she had seen a list of the 100 greatest comedies (I think it was Bravo's list) and that it was pretty lacking. The full list can be seen here, in Manroom Magazine, and no, I didn't just make up Manroom Magazine, it actually exists. At the time a few of us remarked that although constructing a definitive list would be difficult, we could come up with 100 that were, on average, much better than the Bravo list and even the fancy important AFI list. So I am issuing two challenges:
  1. To all Unsought Input writers: I am seeking your input to a list of the greatest comedies. Write a follow-up post with some of your picks.
  2. To all UnsoughtInput readers: give us suggestions and critique our choices in the comments section.
The rules:
  1. They have to be filmy, theater-style movies. No short films, made-for-TV movies, etc.
  2. They don't have to be American like the AFI list, but they do have to have actually played somewhere in the U.S. at some point, available on DVD, etc. Art house is fair game, but "screened at Professor Lindski's seminar class on Polish cinema of the 1920s and 1940s" is not.
This won't be easy. Comedy is very subjective, and we're not even going to further constrain the judging criteria by asking for the "funniest" or the "most biting social satire." To get us started, I'll throw out a few picks of my own. Here are ten movies I would put on the list, in no order. I'm sure I can come up with more. We'll decide on the final list through a scientific process of bickering. Waiting for Guffman (1996) - In my opinion, this is the best of the Christopher Guest mocumentaries, even though Spinal Tap was more influential and A Mighty Wind and Best In Show both made more money. Blazing Saddles (1974) - Nothing is funnier than racism. Hey, where the white women at? [youtube]yZF_zPkWbhY[/youtube] Ghostbusters (1984) - When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child, and I loved Ghostbusters. When I became a man, I put aside childish things, yet I still think Ghostbusters is a brilliant movie. I think Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis just disproved the Bible. Sullivan's Travels (1941) - A film producer sees the suffering of his fellow man and decides to abandon his comedies and make a moving film about the plight of the poor. Eventually he discovers that escapist entertainment really is valuable. Although it might seem like the film ends on a high note, I've always thought it was ambiguous - the protagonist learns this while watching cartoons with fellow inmates in a starkly-lit scene filled with exaggerated, haggard laughter. I put this one in to show I'm more cultured than you. Rumble in the Bronx (1995) - For all the Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton on other lists, I can't understand why Jackie Chan never gets any love. He is the best physical comedian alive and has incredible timing. This movie has the perfect intersection of these talents, vague ideas about American culture, and poor dubbing. Watch Jackie fight the most ethnically diverse gang in the history of New York City: [youtube]-rEwedJNQ4A[/youtube] Being John Malkovich (1999) - A movie about a puppeteer and a sweaty portal into an actor's head. In my opinion the chase scene through Malkovich's subconscious is the best chase scene filmed. Rushmore (1998) - I liked The Royal Tenenbaums and Bottle Rocket, but I think this is the best Wes Anderson film. Co-written by Owen Wilson. I can't think of a comedy that makes better use of music, or better use of Bill Murray. [youtube]rWjXBJf3fGo[/youtube] Roujin Z (1991) - I've enjoyed a number of anime movies and series, but I tend to find comedic anime somewhat tiresome. Perverts trying to obtain panties... nerds getting embarrassing nosebleeds around women... women stumbling in such a way that you see their panties, causing said nosebleeds... it's only funny so many times. Roujin Z, on the other hand, is sort of a parody of the giant robot / mecha genre of anime that takes jabs at how modern society treats the elderly. What's Up, Tiger Lily? (1966) - I was really considering not mentioning any Woody Allen movies because they fill up everyone else's lists faster than a page fills an Congressman's heart with lust. So out of spite I am recommending What's Up, Tiger Lily?, one of the few Woody Allen movies that doesn't show up on any lists and the only Woody Allen movie to make me actually laugh out loud. Shaun of the Dead (2004) - This movie manages to reference every zombie movie ever made, get you really interested in the characters, kill off almost all the characters, and still be as funny as hell. Seriously, if you are ever really looking to kill some time, read the IMDb trivia page for the references to other movies. There we go - ten movies to start us out. Now post more of the best comedies and get bickering!

The Beginning of the Sci-Fi/Fantasy top 100

Recently I have felt that I have not been reading enough. I already feel that I have become very stupid since I graduated from college, but now I feel even dumber. My job is simple and under stimulating, so I really don’t have anything to keep me from becoming slightly less intelligent each day. Anyway, I just wanted a short introduction to why I am doing this, not a personal bio on myself which I am assuming you could care less about (I know I wouldn’t). So….I have decided that I want to read the entire top 100 list for BOTH fantasy and sci-fi novels. I also think I would like to watch the top sci-fi movies. Now, mind you, I realize that this is quite a lofty goal seeing as how I have 200+ novels and some amount of movies ahead of me. And recently I have also come to realize that there aren’t a lot of authoritative lists of the top 100 novels in either category. I have found a few on the internet but I don’t know that I agree with the lists. I understand that these lists are all rated on someone’s opinion but I feel that it would be much better if we could come up with some way to create a rating system to make it a little more scientific. Anyway, I am rambling. Basically through this blog I want to do three things: 1st: I want to read and review the ‘supposedly’ top 100 novels in both lists (here is the link to my lists, if you wanted to follow along. Top 100 sci-fi novels: Top sci-fi movies: Top Fantasy novels: These are the best lists I could find, and actually my friend gave me the Sci-fi list. Anyway… 2nd: I want to create a rating system to neatly rank the novels so the rankings are a little less opinionated and a little more scientific. It is science fiction. I am still playing around with the ranking topics but I think that basically it will fall into these categories: -Overall readability (if you can’t get through it, it doesn’t matter how good it is), -Story quality (is it just cut and paste basic plot or is it creative and different) -Originality quality (have you heard this story before) -Character believability (do you feel for the characters, sympathize with them, love/hate them, feel part of the story because of them) -Overall effect of novel (does it compel you to continue reading the series? 3rd: I want other people’s opinions of my rating and possibly other people’s ranking of these novels so we can create an authoritative list. Also, if people have novels they want to add to the list (both of these lists aren’t exactly updated regularly anymore and don’t include newer books) that would be awesome. Well, I think that’s it for my first post. It would be really cool if people wanted to participate. Please leave me comments!