It’s hard to tell if the list is numerical for the purpose of value, but in the new issue of Mental_Floss, writers Carina Chocano (formerly of the LA Times) and Mangesh Hattikudur (the magazine’s co-founder) place “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” in the number one spot on their list of “The 25 Most Powerful Films of the Past 25 Years.” The simple reason given for the comic documentary’s importance is that it’s “the movie that gave Kazakhstan an identity crisis.”
The article further mentions how the film impacted the nation and implies that it even led to the production of the Oscar-nominated “Mongol: The Rise of Genghis Khan” (which, funny enough, in turn upset many Mongols). That Kazakh-submitted film was in the works way before the 2006 release of “Borat,” but otherwise I can understand the movie’s inclusion. I’d even accept it as the most powerful of the past 25 years, though I’d probably factor in other minor significance it has had for American identity, issues concerning deception in documentary filmmaking (to the audience and to the subjects “duped” into participating and signing releases).
For the other 24 selections, Chocano and Hattikudur have compiled an eclectic grouping of docs (“Hoop Dreams,” “Super Size Me,” Dogtown and Z-Boys,” “An Inconvenient Truth” and “The Thin Blue Line”) and important dramas (“Do the Right Thing,” “Philadelphia,” “sex, lies and videotape” and Zhang Yimou’s “To Live”), as well as Hollywood fare you wouldn’t normally think of as “powerful,” such as “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider,” “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” “Toy Story,” “The Truman Show” and “Titanic.” Also, “Brazil” and “The Big Lebowski.”
And apparently, according to this list, Jonathan Demme is the most powerful director since he has two films represented (“Philadelphia” and “The Silence of the Lambs”). Other favorite directors on the list include Martin Scorsese, Oliver Stone, Quentin Tarantino and John Hughes.
I would list the 25 titles in order, but there’s no way to link to the magazine-only article and so it’s best to let you go out and read the whole thing yourself. Just go ahead and buy the issue. It’s a great read, as always.