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. January is almost in the books, which means it’s time for my first update. What kind of progress have I made this month?
Watch Martin Scorsese’s Documentaries
Slight progress was made in this category even before 2012 was done when I watched My Voyage to Italy (1999). Predictably, it reminded me of how much I enjoyed Umberto D. (1952) and at least a few other Italian films. More than anything, it made me realize just how much Italian cinema I haven’t seen. With a little luck, I’ll get to Shine a Light (2008) in February.
AFI’s 100 Years of Musicals
Much like a petulant child who must eat his vegetables first, I made more progress in this category than any other in January. The good: the choreography and the catchy songs in West Side Story (1961), and the odd personal appeal as a St. Louisan for Meet Me in St. Louis (1944). The bad: Puerto Rican dance-fighting in West Side Story (1961). The ugly: every single thing about Funny Girl (1968). I can legitimately say that I found some things to enjoy about West Side Story and Meet Me in St. Louis. But please please please please do not let any more of this list bear any similarity at all to Funny Girl. Up next: Guys and Dolls, 42nd Street, My Fair Lady, and Cabaret are all on TCM and scheduled to record on my DVR.
Watch every film on the BFI Greatest Films Ballots for Edgar Wright, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Francis Coppola, Gaspar Noé, and Lukas Moodysson
This resolution is far less daunting than it sounds since I’ve already seen the bulk of each of their lists. However, there are still a few stragglers and I managed to check off a couple this month. Scorsese’s list includes Jean Renoir’s The River (1951), which was a massive achievement in color and a beautiful blend of Indian mythology with a mostly western tale. It’s easy to see why anyone would have that movie on a top 10 list. Quentin Tarantino’s list includes Dazed and Confused (1993), a film that I saw many times, although not in approximately 15 years. I decided to give it a re-watch. While the subject matter is really NOT my kind of film, I can appreciate it for what it is. In other words, as high school comedies go, it’s one of the best ones you can find.
Finish the AFI Top 100
Good progress was made here, as I checked off both West Side Story and The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), which was one of the last non-musical selections I have left in the top 100. The deep focus cinematography was impressive, as was the full commitment to realism. In particular, several of Homer’s scenes- as he learns to deal with life without his hands- are especially gut-wrenching. It’s a tremendous film.
At Least Three films Each from Pédro Almodovar, Yasujiru Ozu, Satyajit Ray, and Busby Berkeley
No progress in this category, although I did discover that Satyajit Ray served as an assistant to Jean Renoir on The River, and it helped him grow as a filmmaker.
… and At Least Ten Non-Satyajit Ray Films from India
Again, no progress here.
Ten Classic or Non-New Release Films in the Theater
Having accomplished a similar task last year, I should’ve known this would be my easiest goal. Sure enough, I checked off two of my ten in January with High Noon (1952) and 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). I wrote briefly about High Noon a few weeks ago. As for 2001, if EVER there was a movie intended to be seen in a theater, this is it. Yes, I understand that all movies are meant to be seen in a theater. But this is something else entirely. Immersing yourself in the darkness of a theater while all of the space ballet takes place, or the dawn of man, or the eerie score, or ESPECIALLY the epic hallucinogenic launch to Jupiter, is mind-blowing. You’ll see nothing else like it on a big screen, ever.
As of now, February is strangely void of many options for big screen excitement. I’ll have my millionth chance to re-watch Pulp Fiction on the big screen, but that’s February 28th- the last day of the month. Or I could go see Al Jolson in The Jazz Singer (1927). As of now, that’s just about all I can find.
The AV Club 50 Best Films of the 90s
By pure accident, I re-watched two films on this list- Dazed and Confused and Reservoir Dogs. More importantly, I made a tiny bit of progress by finally seeing Hoop Dreams (1994), which is phenomenal. It’s easily one of the best sports films ever made and I’m willing to bet if you’ve never seen it, you’ll end the movie frantically googling all of the major characters to see what became of them since the film came out. Additionally, I saw Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures, which was quite a film. With all due respect to Jackson’s work over the last 12 years, I wish he’d make more movies like his four earliest films.
Up next this month is All About My Mother (1999), which will help with my Almodovar category, and Election (1999).
At Least Five Ray Harryhausen Films
No progress was made in this category.
In all, it’s a respectable kickoff to the resolutions. It’s not ideal that I completely whiffed on a few categories, but there are so many categories that it was bound to happen. I’m not used to lacking this much focus. Usually, I’ll find a category and obliterate it, and then move on to the next. But January saw bites taken from (almost) all of the items on my plate. This is going to be a great year for movie-watching. I’d almost forgotten what it was like to witness slam dunk 5-star films regularly.