The New Year’s Resolutions: Round Four

I’ve been updating my New Year’s movie-watching resolutions once a month. At the time of my last entry, I’d lost momentum on a few of them, but picked up steam on some others. Just like a month ago, I’m nearing completion on a handful of these. I’m still not quite there but at least two specific goals are within striking distance now.

American Classics (including films directed by Otto Preminger and Ernst Lubitsch)
My Preminger and Lubitsch trails have run almost completely cold. The only Preminger film I watched in the last thirty days was Bunny Lake is Missing (1965), a fine effort, although nowhere near my favorite Preminger to date. As for Lubitsch, I didn’t watch any of his films. And that means I’ve seen only one Lubitsch film in the last two months. My grand total for the year is five Preminger films and three Lubitsch films. That’s not bad but more work needs to be done. I can guarantee that I’ll see one from each in the coming month.

As for classics, the majority that I saw were 100 Laughs films. I’ll have more on those later in this entry. The two classics that I did manage to watch that weren’t 100 Laughs films were At the Circus (1938), a Marx brothers jaunt, and A Star is Born (1937). You can never go wrong with the Marx brothers, and A Star is Born was noteworthy because of the influence it had on the recent Oscar winner, The Artist.

Wrapping up Steven Spielberg’s Films
Always is the only Spielberg film that I picked up in the last thirty days. That leaves  The Terminal (2004), War Horse, and proper re-watches of A.I., Hook, and Amistad to complete the task. As for Always, the only thing I can say about it is that I didn’t think that Spielberg was capable of making something that was that bad.

Watching more classic or non-new release films at theatres
My goal: 15 to 25 classic or non-new release films at theatres in 2012. I missed a big opportunity when I didn’t get to the theatre to see The Grapes of Wrath. However, I did add Taxi Driver (1976), as well as A Fistful of Dollars (1964) and For a Few Dollars More (1965). Even without The Grapes of Wrath, that’s a tremendous month for seeing non-new release films on the big screen. The Eastwood double feature was made even better by the fact that I saw it with both of my brothers and my father. These are the people who turned me into an Eastwood fan to begin with, so doubling down on the family bond was a really unique and special experience. I’m now up to ten non new-release films on the big screen this year (nine if I’m not allowed to count The Big Lebowski). Within the next seven days, I’m going to add a huge feather to my cap in this category- The Godfather. I’m more excited about seeing that on the big screen than anything else I’ve seen so far.

Somehow, Jane Fonda was a huge source of comedic entertainment for me this month. I didn't see that coming.

Attack the AFI 100 Years, 100 Laughs list
There are only six left before I can completely check this resolution off of my list. The only catch is that it might be tricky to complete it, since three of the remaining films aren’t readily available. Fortunately, Facets can help in this regard. Last month, I checked off the following: Private Benjamin (1980); Auntie Mame (1958); Nine to Five (1980); Topper (1937); Cat Ballou (1965); The Nutty Professor (1963); Broadcast News (1987); Dinner at Eight (1933); and Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982). It was a bit of a mixed bag. The three that gave me the lowest expectations (given my personal tastes) were Auntie Mame, Cat Ballou, and Nine to Five. And yet, those were the three that I enjoyed the most. I’m surprised Mame isn’t an AFI Top 100 movie, not just 100 Laughs. Lee Marvin stole the show in Cat Ballou. And Lily Tomlin’s awesomely twisted take on Disney fairy tales in Nine to Five is one of the best things I’ve seen out of the films on the 100 Laughs list.

On the flip side, I had slightly high hopes for Broadcast News because of my new-found appreciation for Albert Brooks; Ridgemont High because it’s such a beloved, quotable classic; and The Nutty Professor because… well, just because. I appreciate Jerry Lewis’ efforts in The Nutty Professor quite a bit– his work really was impressive–but I can’t say that I particularly enjoyed it. Broadcast News fell a little flat for me. And I loathed Ridgemont High, which apparently established the template for a sub-genre I really dislike- teen/high school comedies. The copious nude scenes were nice but they were the only thing that I liked about the movie.

Challenge myself more
This was a category that could have used a little more work. The only real challenge I had in the last month was a weekend filled with Titanic and Avatar. If you’re a regular reader, you know how this turned out. If not, allow me to fill you in. I watched both movies, liked certain parts of each but disliked everything else about them, and then I got drunk and wrote a bunch of condescending, vitriolic things about both films. And it kind of went over like a turd in a punch bowl with a lot of readers. And for that, I apologize. I don’t really have any big challenges on the horizon, although I do have a Russian film or two on my DVR, ripe for the picking. It’s not that I have anything against Russian film. It’s just a category I don’t gravitate towards, so it might be nice as a change-up.

This... was amazing, from Real Life (1979).

Earlier, I mentioned that I had a new-found love of Albert Brooks, and it seems worth expounding upon momentarily. It doesn’t fit in any of my resolution categories, but Brooks’ films dominated last month. It all started a few months back when I watched Lost in America as part of the 100 Laughs list and went bananas for it. Last month, I checked off Mother (1996), Modern Romance (1981), Real Life (1979), and Broadcast News. I also happened to tackle Taxi Driver, where he had a secondary role. Mother and Real Life had me in tears, and frankly I think Real Life is a prime candidate for something like the Criterion CollectionI’ve almost run out of Brooks movies to see, which bums me out a little. But I’m thrilled that I can now say that I’m familiar with another comedic icon.


17 Comments

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17 responses to “The New Year’s Resolutions: Round Four

  1. Another great update. I definitely want to dig deeper into the AFI’s list, particularly the 100 Laughs one, which looks excellent.

    As for Russian film, there are two essential directors: Andrei Tarkovksy and Aleksandr Sokurov. Back in January for my blog I had a marathon where I watched and reviewed all seven of Tarkovsky’s movies and I can tell you they are all great. The really essential ones however are Andrei Rublev, Solaris, and Nostalghia. Those were the only three I gave top marks. However, Stalker and The Sacrifice are also excellent (particularly the latter, which has some truly incredible, INCREDIBLE moments of beauty and a stunning performance by a post-Bergman Erland Josephson).

    Aleksandr Sokurov is the other Russian, and though I’ve only seen two of his movies, they’re both among my all-time favourite films. Russian Ark is the more popular movie, because it’s a 90-minute single, unbroken take, but my personal favourite is his earlier, 1997 film Mother and Son, which is one of the five most visually stunning movies ever made in my humble opinion, ranking right up there with Fanny and Alexander and Koyaanisqatsi.

    Also, I didn’t think much of Broadcast News but it’s one of my girlfriend’s favourite films so when I told her that she forced me to see it a few more times, and I actually quite like it now. And I’ve loved Fast Times at Ridgemont High ever since I saw it without permission as a teenager, and it’s still one of my favourite 80s high school movies (much better than clunkers like Porky’s or Pretty in Pink).

    • Phil

      I haven’t seen all of Tarkovsky yet, but Stalker is most definitely essential viewing. There is nothing else like it. It has the most beautiful shots of ugly places that you will ever see.

    • Other than Andrei Rublev, and a few Eisenstein movies, Russia is completely empty for me. I’ve had Solaris on my DVR for a few months now. Maybe I should go ahead and claim that as my one sure-fire challenge for next month since it’s so readily available.

  2. Man, I still haven’t seen Real Life or Modern Romance. I gotta get on that.

    • Both were very good, and for different reasons. Modern Romance was more in the Woody Allen vein of “painfully true” comedies. Real Life, on the other hand… it just cracked me up. Brooks creates a character (and galaxy of supporting characters) and they all commit to their behavior.

  3. It’s great you got to see the Eastwood double feature with your family! I always think of movies as group events, probably because growing up it’s what we did as a family. I love this whole goal idea and that you don’t let your resolutions slip away as the year passes. I have to write down those Russian movies to see. Cheers :)

    • Along those same lines, I’m seeing The Godfather this weekend with one of my brothers. It’s great to share with him because we don’t really live close enough to go to many movies together.

  4. Vladdy

    Russian Ark is amazing. I don’t know much about Real Life, but I think Modern Romance is one of the most underrated, unheralded movies of the ‘eighties. I’ll try Real Life soon. Thanks for the recommendation!

  5. Love the updates. As I mentioned, I need to come up with resolutions like this. I haven’t seen any Lubitsch films but I have seen a fair amount of Premingers. You’re definitely challenging me to seek out more!

    • Preminger did soooooo many. And I’m finding that there’s a floor for the quality. They never go below average, really.

      Lubitsch is the big one for me. I desperately need to see To Be or Not to Be.

  6. Funny that you should mention Facets. I was looking at joining their service the other day. Would you recommend them over Netflix?

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