New Year’s Movie Resolutions for 2012

It’s that time of year–giant falling disco balls, champagne corks popping, Auld Lang Syne and so forth. And that means that it’s time for fat people and smokers everywhere to start resigning themselves to changing their lifestyles via resolutions. Similarly, fans of cinema are laying out their own resolutions, including yours truly. Some have even beaten me to the punch. I’d better get busy. Here are my movie-watcher resolutions for 2012:

This fantastic actress deserves more of my attention.

American Classics
This is a category where I’ve started to scratch the surface, but I have a long way to go. In 2011, I made headway with directors like Billy Wilder and Preston Sturges. But there are still a ton of unwatched films starring legendary actors. There are five that instantly come to mind, and I’d like to really dive into their catalogues. Specifically, I still have a lot of unfinished business with films starring Jimmy Stewart, Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and (to a lesser degree) James Cagney and Edward G. Robinson. I’ve hit most of the highest points of classic American cinema but there’s a lot of area directly behind it that I’m still missing. I pledge to clear up this situation using the actors and actresses that I enjoy the most from the era.

Wrapping up Steven Spielberg’s Films
I have seen the overwhelming majority of Spielberg’s movies, including a few that were subpar. But there are a few notable holes. I’ve never seen The Color Purple (1985), Always (1989), the Jurassic Park sequel from 1997, or his debut–Sugarland Express (1974). I could probably clean all of that up in a span of three days, but I have 365 to get it done. And I will get it done. I may even give A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) another shot, and that’s no small feat. I loathed it the first time I saw it.

A pitch-black Hitchcock comedy about a corpse, featuring the kid from Leave it to Beaver, on the big screen? Yes. I'm in.

Watching more classic or non-new release films at theatres
I initially mentioned this a few weeks back, and this is really the biggest resolution of all. I’m fortunate enough to live in a city that possesses several theatres that show non-new release films on the big screen. And that’s really the way directors and producers and studios intend for movies to be seen. I’ve even recently discovered a theater about a half hour away from me that’s dedicated solely to showing classic films, and a local university has a classic film series. Between those two options and the regular run of theatres that I visit, I should be able to meet a very specific goal. I’m going to say that I’d like to see at least 15 non-new release films on the big screen in 2012, with a pie-in-the-sky hope that I can get to 25 non-new releases. I’ve even started putting together a road map for this. In January, I’ll be able to see Fight Club (1999), as well as a Hitchcock double feature of Psycho (1960) and The Trouble With Harry (1955).

Ernst Lubitsch and Otto Preminger
This is something of a corollary to the American Classics resolution. I’ve had my eye on these two very specific directors for years, and yet I’ve never really taken the plunge. There’s no reason for it. There’s no great story. I just haven’t seen much from either director. There are literally two- TWO!- movies that I’ve seen that were directed by either Lubitsch or Preminger. Technically, they were both Preminger films–Laura (1944) and Anatomy of a Murder (1959). It’s time to figure out what these guys were all about, and to figure out just what the hell exactly the “Lubitsch Touch” really is.

Attack the AFI 100 Years, 100 Laughs list
I really love comedy films. It’s my first true love. My formative movie-watching years were spent watching vehicles for SNL stars, Mel Brooks movies, and just about about any crappy comedy you could name from the 1980s. That’s why it’s surprising when, every time I peruse the American Film Institute’s 100 Years, 100 Laughs list , I discover just how much great comedy I haven’t seen. I’ve got 56 that I have seen, leaving 44 holes in my comedy essentials experience. In 2012, I resolve to fill several of those, if not all of them.

Challenge myself more
In February last year, I wrote an article about movie secrets that I keep. It was about some relatively unpopular opinions that I have about certain films, actors, and directors. It drew Film Crit HULK out into my comment section (what the hell is the A.P. style for writing that guy’s name, anyway?), and what he said really stuck with me. I mean it in all sincerity when I say that his comments changed the way I look at film. Sure enough, he took up a writing gig with Badass Digest and wrote an article expressing what he said in my comments, but in far greater detail. You can find it here. If you glean nothing else from today’s article, please follow that link. The gist of it is that you should never hate a movie, a director, or genre because it closes you off to so many opportunities to expand your knowledge of cinema. There’s a great deal of glee that can come from firing off snarky one-liners about crappy movies, and I’m as guilty of it as anyone. But I’d like to keep that to a minimum moving forward. I’d prefer to challenge myself, see a lot of the movies and directors and genres I’ve been avoiding, and educate myself a little bit. There is a tremendous world of mediocre and bad films, or films that don’t interest me, and they still manage to show one acting performance, one scene, one tracking shot, one jump cut, one editorial decision, that manages to transcend the ordinary. I want to discover a lot more of that world.

That’s it. Admittedly, that’s a lot of stuff. I’d be lying if I said I’ll successfully tackle all of those resolutions. But there are 365 days to knock it out. And it’s a much nobler goal than last year’s resolution–to eat 500 apples in 2011. For the record, I got to 312. But I digress. Happy New Year, everyone!


Filed under Movies

25 responses to “New Year’s Movie Resolutions for 2012

  1. Owen

    Hey John, lovely post. I also followed onto the filmcritHULK article and I must thank you for bringing that to my attention as it really has, to some extent, changed my perspective on not only film, but all art forms. Thanks a lot and happy new year, Owen x

  2. Hi!

    You’ve got a really wonderful list of resolutions here, especially the idea of challenging yourself to see more movies that challenge you or seem out of your comfort zone. I may try to do that myself.

    Thanks for the great read!

  3. Some great resolutions for 2012 John! I guess a lot of us have to give the classics more attention, I’m seeing this particular resolution a lot each year ahah.

    And Film Crit HULK is absolutely awesome! Great link.

    • Ha… it’s a good one to have. It’s so easy to get swept up in new releases, and even classic foreign cinema. That’s the formula for how I’ve dropped the ball on it so far and I can’t wait to really get into the American classics.

  4. HAHA Thanks for the LINK John.

    I told you your resolutions would be better than mine!! Great job



  6. I went through a few Preminger films this year myself, and now I’m also working on Lubitsch as well, so let me say that you’re in for a real treat. (Did you ever see my French New Wave Week, BTW? It was in November.)

  7. Phil

    Great post John. You’ve inspired me to drop my usual semi-chronological queue of unseen classic movies and make some topical lists. Have you thought about making an actual list of movies to see? I suppose the movies in theaters would be impossible. (I completely agree with that suggestion and need to do it myself.) I know I’ve plugged before, but they have lists which match your resolutions.

    • That’s a really awesome idea, and doing it sure would fill up my 2012 very quickly. I signed up ASAP for icheckmovies, enjoyed it a great deal, and I’ve sort of let it drift away. I should get back to using it.

  8. Some great resolutions and it makes me think of my own as I currently don’t have any! I really should set myself some movie related goals for the next year!

    • When you watch a lot of movies, it’s really not a bad idea because it’ll help keep you focused (or… that’s how it seems to me; I’m usually horribly lacking in focus when it comes to what I’m choosing to watch).

  9. Stu

    I’m going to watch more Samurai films simply because I love myself. Beyond that, I seriously need to get back to blogging more consistently. I’ve been slack since starting my latest job.

    Two reviews and a new “Small Screens” strip in the past three days. I’d say I’m getting a positive jump on 2012.

    • Samurai films are definitely a category ripe for exploration. I’ve seen a lot of the high points, and even drilled down a little bit, but there are so many more to see. I don’t think I’ve ever flat-out called a samurai movie “bad”. At worst, they’ve been average and almost all of them have been good-to-great.

      As for your reviews, I’m all for it. You have one of my favorite review formats of any film website around.

  10. Interestingly, these are all resolutions I could apply to myself. There are so many different kinds of movies I need to catch up on.

  11. Hi John, Happy New Year! This is a great set of resolutions, and I found that HULK article to be very enlightening. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  12. Vladdy

    American classics: The Shop Around the Corner
    Classic comedies: The Shop Around the Corner
    Ernst Lubitsch: The Shop Around the Corner
    Jimmy Stewart: The Shop Around the Corner

    Your 2012 looks easy to me!

    Seriously, though, Happy New Year to the only blogger I read!!

    • Happy New Year to you! And you nailed it. The very next movie I’ll be getting from Netflix is The Shop Around the Corner. I can’t wait to see more Stewart, and to get my first shot at Lubitsch.

      • rtm

        Ha..ha.. well that’s another reason for me to rent The Shop Around the Corner then! I was gonna see that for Christmas but went with The Bishop’s Wife instead.

        I’m with you that I’m just starting to venture into classic movies more… it’s like a giant vault with endless tunnel to go into! Thanks to my new beloved Gregory Peck, I’ve been watching a lot of classic movies lately. When I’m done w/ the Peck marathon, I plan on watching more Jimmy Stewart films and maybe check out at least one or two films from the likes of William Holden, Gary Cooper, Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis, etc.

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