Tracking the New Year’s Resolutions: The First Turn

2012 is approximately 6 or 7% of the way complete. There is a long, long way to go. However, it’s awfully easy for people to fall off the horse with regards to their New Year’s resolutions, even this early in the year. I am not one of those people, not yet anyway. I’ve gotten a great jump on many of the movie-watching resolutions I made three weeks back. Since it also serves as an opportunity to let everyone know what I’ve been watching, here’s how I’m doing on each of my resolutions:

I've finally seen The Shop Around the Corner

American Classics (including films directed by Otto Preminger and Ernst Lubitsch)
This particular  resolution has enabled me to check off several other resolutions (more on that in a minute or two). It started when I finally watched The Thin Man (1934) on New Year’s day. I’ve also tackled three Marx brothers films, Monkey Business (1931), The Cocoanuts (1929), and Animal Crackers (1930); two Lubitsch films, Ninotchka (1939) and The Shop Around the Corner (1940), which also stars Jimmy Stewart (who I’d promised to see more of); a Preminger film, Whirlpool (1949); Adam’s Rib (1949), starring Katharine Hepburn; and while not technically a classic, I watched Billy Wilder’s The Front Page from 1974.

The Marx brothers always have their charms. The Thin Man, Adam’s Rib, and The Shop Around the Corner were all spectacular selections, worthy of the critical plaudits laid upon them. I will confess to struggling a bit with Ninotchka, and Whirlpool fell a little flat for me as well. Neither were anywhere near “bad”. They just didn’t have the sizzle that the others possessed.

Wrapping up Steven Spielberg’s Films
I took a nice first step here by finally watching The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) and The Color Purple (1985). I have to admit that the Jurassic Park sequel felt mailed-in and flat. The Color Purple was very good and I can see why people rave over Whoopi Goldberg’s performance. Spielberg tried really hard to win an Oscar with it, and it’s obvious, but it isn’t a detriment to the film. Fortunately on this resolution, I have only a handful of films to cover and an entire year to do it. I can already tell that this will be the category where I procrastinate.

Coming next month: a big screen viewing of John Huston's classic, The African Queen

Watching more classic or non-new release films at theatres
This resolution got off to a flying start when I managed to watch North by Northwest on the big screen two days after New Year’s Day (so… January 3rd). I’ve also now seen Psycho in the theatre; let no man say that I’ve never seen Janet Leigh’s fake blood splashed in brilliant contrast, several feet tall. My goal was to get to at least 15, and the pie-in-the-sky goal was 25. This weekend, I’ll have a chance to see Fight Club (1999) and next month, I’ll be able to see The Big Lebowski (1997) on the big screen for the third time. The African Queen (1951) is a guaranteed big screen viewing next month, and I may attend Army of Darkness (1992) as well.

Attack the AFI 100 Years, 100 Laughs list
Focusing on the classics has allowed me to whittle away at this list. Adam’s Rib, Ninotchka, Monkey Business, and The Thin Man are all on the list. Thanks to a very good friend who has a penchant for finding rare or out-of-print films, I also watched Laurel and Hardy’s Sons of the Desert (1933). And to top it off, I finally got around to watching Arthur (1981). On one hand, I’m finding a lot of enjoyment in these films. On the other hand, I’m finding that the comedy doesn’t always translate across the eras. Adam’s Rib is a prime example. It’s a thoroughly impressive film in almost every way. But other than a few hearty belly laughs, the comedy portion didn’t resonate with me. Then again, there’s Sons of the Desert, which is a genuinely funny movie.

Challenge myself more
This is really the one area where I’ve failed. I could make up a bunch of bullshit about seeing romantic comedies, and it’d have a kernel of truth. Several of those classics that I’ve mentioned fall directly into the romantic comedy category. But those were never the types of romantic comedies I avoided. Long story short, this is an area I’ll need to shore up a bit.


16 Comments

Filed under Movies

16 responses to “Tracking the New Year’s Resolutions: The First Turn

  1. Excellent work John. I am so glad you are seeing your Resolutions through. I have made good ground inot my Looking Back one, but the others haven’t really coming in yet… especially the movies-i-vowed-never-to-watch one!! HAHA

    Thanks dude

  2. Glad to see you’re getting done so many New Year’s resolutions. And as a hug Marx Brothers fan, I”m glad they were included on your list. One of my resolutions was to see more new releases. I haven’t really done that yet.

  3. Phil

    Considering we are only 3 weeks in, that’s very impressive. I’ve checked a few films off, but not nearly that many!

  4. Seeing classic movies on the big screen can totally change your perspective of them. I hope you’ll write more about this aspect as you make your way down your list because, to my mind at least, it’s a significant one.

  5. rtm

    Woo hoo, nice recap John and I’d say you’re doing very well on your resolution, even on the last one. You are just too hard on yourself as your posts are always brilliant!

    That’s cool that you want to see more James Stewart movies, I think when I’m done w/ all the Gregory Peck movies (one day…) I’d like to explore some other classic actors’ work and Stewart is high on my list (in addition to Gary Cooper & Clark Gable as I’ve only seen him in Gone with the Wind). I might start w/ The Shop Around the Corner.

    Btw, one of my new year’s resolution is to read more and so far I’m still stuck on 48% of Anna Karenina, that is a tough one to get into as Tolstoy’s writing is just way out of my league.

    • Tolstoy is sooooo tough to read. Good luck with that project, Ruth.

      Very excited to see that you’ll be tackling Gary Cooper and Jimmy Stewart! Stewart is more or less a saint around my family, so I grew up hearing all about how beloved he was and how great he was. The Shop Around the Corner would be a great place to start, as would Hitchcock’s Rope, and certainly Rear Window. There’s also Harvey, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Anatomy of a Murder… I’ve never disliked a Jimmy Stewart movie. This past summer, I was pleasantly surprised by Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation.

  6. Oh God you’re still doing much better than I am. I definitely need to challenge myself more. I’ve been attempting to tackle the whole catalogues of directors I like on my site; so far I’ve done Andrei Tarkovsky and now I’m moving on to Robert Bresson.

  7. You are well on your way to accomplish many of your cinematic resolutions for the year John. I have to say I’ve already been slacking off ahah although I’ve seen Samurai Rebellion recently which is slightly off the beaten path for me since it’s not a Kurosawa movie.

    I’m still trying to catch up with 2011 release or rewatching some of my favorite ones (Midnight in Paris, The Tree of Life) so it will be a while I think before I get going with some older classics

  8. Keep up the good work- all year long!

  9. Nice start on your resolutions! I have had a pretty good month of film watching so far, though it has slipped in the last week. Still, I have seen a handful of silent classics I neglected last year and have also caught up on some 2011 movies I missed. Keep it up!

  10. Pingback: The New Year’s Resolutions: Second Update |

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