At the end of 2012, I made a lot of movie-related New Year’s resolutions for 2013. Adding them all up, my goal comes out to 109 (mostly) specific films to watch this year. The end of June marks the halfway point. What kind of progress has been made this month? Brace yourself. I’ve had a wordy month.
Watch Martin Scorsese’s Documentaries
I’ll be tackling Public Speaking, a 2010 HBO documentary about Fran Lebowitz, this weekend. However, no progress was made during June in this category.
Watch every film on the BFI Greatest Films Ballots for Edgar Wright, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Francis Coppola, Gaspar Noé, and Lukas Moodysson
There were two films checked off in this category. The first was a doozy- Luchino Visconti’s The Leopard (1963), a sweeping tale about the aristocracy coping with the rising tide of social change in 1860s Sicily. Burt Lancaster, Alain Delon, and Claudia Cardinale all deliver powerhouse performances, and Nino Rota’s score is reminiscent of his work on The Godfather films. Actually, Rota’s work adds so much to the film. I have to confess that three hours of discussions about 1860s Sicilian class structure and politics can be a bit overwhelming at times, but Visconti’s film is thoroughly masterful. And with The Leopard, I can now cross Scorsese’s “Greatest Films” off of my list, along with Edgar Wright and Francis Ford Coppola.
The second film was Rolling Thunder (1977). It’s a film about a Vietnam War veteran (William Devane) who returns home from the war to a life in shambles. His misfortune devolves into a tremendous thirst for revenge, which he bloodily executes with a full artillery, a hook hand, and a Texas beauty queen by his side. In other words, this was on Tarantino’s list, and it’s not hard to see why someone like Tarantino would love it. On one (hook) hand, I respect Tarantino’s bold inclusion of this film on his list. On the other (non-hook) hand, I think it’s kind of crazy that he’d include it on a list of what he considers the 10 best films ever made. Still, if his purpose was to raise awareness of a really cool movie that few know about, he achieved his goal. I definitely recommend Rolling Thunder and I love that there are dudes like Tarantino around to help schmucks like me learn about it.
I have only one Tarantino film left (Pretty Maids All in a Row) before embarking on the arduous but surely rewarding task of wiping out eight films from Gaspar Noé and Lukas Moodysson.
Finish the AFI Top 100
Last month, I declared that I only needed to watch three films to complete this list. Sadly, I had forgotten Yankee Doodle Dandy, which is listed on the musicals portion of my Resolutions spreadsheet. And yes, I’m keeping a Resolutions spreadsheet, so judge away.
At any rate, two more of the AFI Top 100 were crossed off. I wrote briefly about them- Spartacus (1960) and A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)- as part of a “Movie Weekend That Was” article. And while I didn’t particularly enjoy Streetcar, I’ve already found myself reminiscing about and appreciating Spartacus in the weeks since I watched it. I guess what I’m saying is, I AM SPARTACUS. But not Stanley or Stella or Blanche.
With only Intolerance (1916) and Yankee Doodle Dandy remaining, there’s a very good chance this resolution will be done by the end of July. And yes, before you ask, I will probably watch Yankee Doodle Dandy around the 4th of July.
At Least Three films Each from Pédro Almodovar, Yasujiru Ozu, Satyajit Ray, and Busby Berkeley
Thanks to Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988), I am now free of my obligation to Pédro Almodovar. That’s not to say I won’t continue watching Almodovar’s films. I absolutely will. He’s one of the very best art house directors of the last 25 years. I suspected I would enjoy his work, but I didn’t realize just how much. Women on the Verge was probably the lowest quality of the Almodovar films that I watched as part of this exercise if only because he was a young, albeit very talented, filmmaker groping around in the dark for his way. It was oddly reminiscent of Scorsese’s Who’s That Knocking at My Door (1967) because it features a director with a vast knowledge of film, but not quite the knowledge of how to put it together into a perfectly cohesive whole. That I gave Almodovar’s early, allegedly lesser film 4 out of 5 stars should tell you all you need to know about my opinion of him.
I still have the third film in Ray’s Apu trilogy to watch, and I’ll actually be checking out The Music Room (1958) as well. There’s a decent chance they’ll be part of a Satyajit Ray double feature in my living room. And after that, all I’ll have left is Ozu before this category is done. Frankly, this has been the most fruitful category on my list. The nine films I’ve seen from Berkeley, Ray, and Almodovar have been eye-openers, not a dud in the bunch.
… and At Least Ten Non-Satyajit Ray Films from India
As promised, I watched Madhumati. And thanks to a tip from reader SDG, it didn’t take long to note the horror/haunted house elements. And all of this led me to a startling conclusion. I didn’t specify what KIND of Indian films I’d be watching. The only caveat is that they can’t be directed by Satyajit Ray. If you know me, then you see where this is going. I instantly started stuffing Indian horror films into my Netflix queue. Coming soon, I’ll see 1920 (2008), Gumnaam (1965)- another tip from SDG, and I already have Agyaat (2009) at home. I’d love to get my hands on a copy of Bhoot, but Netflix doesn’t have it. Also per SDG’s recommendation, I’ll see A Wednesday very soon.
First of all, thanks to SDG for those recommendations. Second, much like the previous category, I’m really glad I’ve chosen to expand into the world of Indian cinema. The overall goal of these resolutions is to expand my interests in film, and this category has done precisely that.
Ten Classic or Non-New Release Films in the Theater
I’m only counting it as one non-new release film, but I enjoyed a full evening of silent French surrealist films last week. You can find my thoughts here. And while various events have kept me from seeing other films in the St. Louis Classic French Film Festival, there are two or three chances this weekend (I’m writing this on Wednesday). The bigger and better news is that I’ve found out about a St. Louis Children’s Film Festival. In July, I’ll be taking my nephew to an evening of shorts from Laurel and Hardy (Big Business), Charlie Chaplin (A Dog’s Life), and drumroll please… BUSTER KEATON!
The evening includes Keaton’s One Week. This is significant for two reasons. First and foremost, I’m so happy about the idea that I can introduce my 5-year old nephew to Buster Keaton, and on the big screen no less. I hope it earns me admission into the Movie Nerd Uncle Hall of Fame. And second, I’ve never seen Keaton on the big screen. It’s as close as I’ll ever come to face-to-face with one of my movie heroes. Seeing Keaton on the big screen has been my great white whale since starting the whole “classic movies on the big screen” project back in October 2011. Mission finally accomplished, this July.
The AV Club 50 Best Films of the 90s
For maybe the first time all year, no progress was made in this category. The remaining list: Out of Sight (1998), Exotica (1994), The Sweet Hereafter (1997), Irma Vep (1996), Close Up (1990), Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control (1997), Raise the Red Lantern (1991), and The Limey (1999). It’s manageable but it’s also a lot more work than I expected.
At Least Five Ray Harryhausen Films
While I only need two more to complete this task, no progress was made in this category this month.
AFI’s 100 Years of Musicals
This category has ground (grinded?) to a halt.
My grand total at the end of the month is 56 of the 109 required, or 51.4% complete. And the year is 50% complete. Like last month, I’m ahead of pace… but just barely. And I still have a bunch of musicals staring me in the face. My July through December will need to be full of musicals, the beloved movies of Gaspar Noé and Lukas Moodysson, and trips to the theater for classic films. Buckle up. It’s about to get interesting.