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:
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.
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.