The New Year’s Resolutions: Update #2

At the end of last year, I made a lot of movie-related New Year’s resolutions. Adding them all up, my goal comes out to approximately 125 specific films to watch this year. There are two months down now. What kind of progress have I made this month?

AFI’s 100 Years of Musicals
I watched three AFI musicals in the month of February, which is probably half as many as I’d seen during my entire first 36 years on the planet. The three culprits were Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954), Cabaret (1972), and 42nd Street (1933). I hate to say it, but I’m finding no traction at all in this category other than the Berkeley musicals, which includes 42nd Street (and technically, I think that was the last of the Berkeley musicals on the AFI list). In the very least, I’m going to take a break from this category for a few weeks and/or months.

Dames_production

Thank you, Edgar Wright (and of course, Busby Berkeley).

Watch every film on the BFI Greatest Films Ballots for Edgar Wright, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Francis Coppola, Gaspar Noé, and Lukas Moodysson
I only managed to see one film from this category in February, although it was a doozy- Dames (1934) from Edgar Wright’s list. It made me want to re-watch The Big Lebowski (1997) and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010), two films that drew inspiration from Dames. I’ll have more about Berkeley momentarily. As for Dames, it was one of the best films I saw in the month.

Finish the AFI Top 100
There are now just five films to go before I can check off this resolution entirely. February produced a hearty yield that included In the Heat of the Night (1967), Swing Time (1936)- another musical, and Ben-Hur (1959). The two most memorable moments, of course, were the legendary chariot race in Ben-Hur and Sidney Poitier’s “They call me MISTER Tibbs!” line. Swing Time enabled me to say that I’ve actually seen a Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers film. On the whole, I’m glad I saw these films although I don’t really regret waiting as long as I did.

pather-panchaliAt Least Three films Each from Pédro Almodovar, Yasujiru Ozu, Satyajit Ray, and Busby Berkeley
Of the various resolutions, this category got the most love in February. I knocked out two Almodovar films in the same weekend- All About My Mother (1999) and Volver (2006). I feel like Almodovar is what would happen if you made a witches brew comprised of elements of every director from the Criterion Collection. That is to say, he’s a modern arthouse powerhouse and I’m continually impressed by his skill behind the camera. I’ve also mentioned the Berkeley films. Between Dames, 42nd Street, and The Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933), this became the first resolution I could check off. Although I’ve fulfilled my Berkeley promise, I will be watching more in the coming weeks and months.

I also made my first jaunt into the world of Satyajit Ray with Pather Panchali (1955), which blew my mind. To put it as succinctly as possible, it’s one of the best movies ever made. And I can’t wait to dig into some more of Satyajit Ray’s work.

… and At Least Ten Non-Satyajit Ray Films from India
No progress was made in this category.

Ten Classic or Non-New Release Films in the Theater
No progress was made in this category.

tumblr_lwju00U6zG1qzxwg8o1_500The AV Club 50 Best Films of the 90s
The aforementioned All About My Mother fulfilled an obligation from the AV Club list. One of the highlights of the month came via Alexander Payne’s Election (1999), a slightly vulgar and completely hilarious comedy possessing just the right pinch of 90s indie flair. The subversion of Mathew Broderick, a.k.a. Ferris Bueller, as a school administrator was a particularly nice touch. Chungking Express (1994) marked the third film from this category to grace my screen in February. I’ve written about the importance of mood in watching a film and this is a prime example. I had it at home but wasn’t really in the mood for it. But I plugged on anyway, and ultimately an obviously good film didn’t get a fair chance. I’ll revisit this down the line.

At Least Five Ray Harryhausen Films
By sheer dumb luck, Ray Harryhausen got on the board this past weekend when I watched 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957). I had no idea that Harryhausen had contributed until the opening credits rolled. But after seeing it, it was impossible not to recognize his fingerprints. The stop-motion monster from Venus was classic Harryhausen.

Watch Martin Scorsese’s Documentaries
No progress was made in this category.

In all, it was a highly productive month that allowed me to check 14 items off of the list. Additionally, it brought me very close to wiping out two categories (the AFI top 100, three Pedro Almodovar films), while completely wrapping up a third (Berkeley). There were some major revelations in February- Satyajit Ray, Berkeley, and Payne’s Election, just to name a few. Those experiences are precisely why I make these resolutions- they’re films I probably wouldn’t have checked out otherwise but they enriched my experience as a movie-watcher. I’ll see you in March.

10 Comments

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10 responses to “The New Year’s Resolutions: Update #2

  1. The guy who met Kevin Meany

    I’ve actually read every novel bythe author of the book Election, for which the movie was based–Tom Perotta. He also wrote the book Little Children, which went on to be movie as well. This guy has really become the master of capturing mundane suburban life. I’m also a big fan of Alexander Payne. He, and David O. Russell, are really good at making well-made movies with an indie feel but an A list cast.

    • I’ve liked what I’ve seen of Payne, although it’s somewhat limited. Same goes for Russell.

      • The guy who met Kevin Meany

        David O. Russell did I Heart Huckabees, The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook, and Spanking the Monkey. Payne did The Descendants, Sideways, and Election. Really, these guys specialize in bridging the gap for the idiot masses from summer blockbusters to indie films.

  2. Pretty ambitious resolution there. I should take a cue from you and try doing something like that some day. I’ve set to want to finish watching all the AFI top 100 one day, but alas haven’t gotten around to that and still a fairly decent way off. I’ve also wanted to do all their 10 Top 10 lists (musicals is the one I’m gonna have a problem with).

    Commendable what you have finished, though.

  3. Phil

    Hey John – Thank you for inspiring me to buy the Apu Trilogy. They are all masterpieces, easily making my top 100, maybe my top 10. The 3rd film is the most structured with a more standard narrative. I can’t even pick one as my favorite. Watch the other 2 and send me an email about what you think. Did you know Ray was a graphic designer in his 30s and just a film lover who decided to try it himself?

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