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. July was a busy month, leaving less time for movies. Thankfully, most of the movies I saw this month were specifically resolution movies. So there was a lot of progress made.
Watch Martin Scorsese’s Documentaries
The one Scorsese documentary that I saw this month was Public Speaking, his 2010 HBO documentary about Fran Lebowitz. She’s a fascinating character and having seen the film, I can understand why they made the film. I can also see Lebowitz being a divisive character who rubs people the wrong way, although that didn’t happen with me. The good news is that I’m down to just two Scorsese documentaries. The bad news is that one of them is A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies, which Netflix doesn’t have. Hopefully, it’s not tough to find.
Watch every film on the BFI Greatest Films Ballots for Edgar Wright, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Francis Coppola, Gaspar Noé, and Lukas Moodysson
I checked off three more in this category, and I’ve also finished off all but Noé and Moodysson. The final, missing Tarantino film was Pretty Maids All in a Row, a hilarious dark comedy/70s teen sex romp starring Angie Dickinson as an over-sexed substitute teacher and Rock Hudson as a serial killer. The dark comedy likely didn’t play with early 70s audiences but the film was ahead of its time.
I also wiped out two Noé films- Scorpio Rising (1964) and Eraserhead (1976). I love how much of the individual listmaker’s personality comes out with this category. I am not surprised in the least that Gaspar Noé would hold both of these films in such high esteem. And so did I. They were both amazing, and Eraserhead has stuck with me more than any film I’ve seen for months and months. Once I’ve tackled Amour (2012) and Angst (1983), I’ll be all done with Noé.
Finish the AFI Top 100
I did the most American thing ever and watched Yankee Doodle Dandy on the 4th of July (thank you, TCM). The only way it could’ve been a more American activity is if I’d watched it while shooting a grenade launcher at Bambi and eating a triple cheeseburger with bacon and ice cream. Yankee Doodle Dandy is a musical so, as you can imagine, I struggled. Although I do appreciate the context- a hyper-patriotic film made at the dawn of World War II. Long story short- I didn’t hate it.
I also saw Intolerance (1916)… with a caveat. The copy that Netflix sent me was horrible. It shouldn’t even be in rotation. I couldn’t read half of the intertitles and it didn’t take me long to lose interest. Basically, in the most cold, mechanical sense, I can check it off of my list because I did actually watch it. But I really do need to see it again since the copy I saw was so horrible. And shame on you, Netflix, for including that copy in your rotation.
And depending on how much I want to “count” Intolerance, that wraps up this category.
At Least Three films Each from Pédro Almodovar, Yasujiru Ozu, Satyajit Ray, and Busby Berkeley
I made no progress in this category, although I do have the final Apu trilogy film at home. After that, I’ll be down to just the Ozu films.
… and At Least Ten Non-Satyajit Ray Films from India
My total is now up to five non-Ray Indian films thanks to Agyaat (2009), and A Wednesday (2008). The former was absolutely horrible and has me re-thinking the idea of tackling more Indian horror. The latter, however, was a very good film, a taut thriller ripe with social commentary and action. Once again, thanks to reader SDG for pointing me in that direction.
Ten Classic or Non-New Release Films in the Theater
First, I failed to mention a film in last month’s update. As part of the Cinema St. Louis Classic French Film Festival in June, I saw Pierre Étaix’s Le Grand Amour (1969). It was quite an eye-opener, as Étaix blended classic silent American comedy (much like his friend Jacques Tati) with surrealism. Think of Le Grand Amour as resting somewhere between Luis Buñuel and Jacques Tati. I can’t wait to try out more of Étaix’s work.
As for this month, the main (and only) event was an evening with Keaton, Chaplin, and Laurel & Hardy, all seen with my nephew at the St. Louis Kids Film Festival. While I’d seen the Keaton short, I hadn’t seen Big Business from Laurel & Hardy or A Dog’s Life starring Chaplin. Big Business left me a little cold but I loved the tar out of the Chaplin film. And seeing Keaton on the big screen was pretty much a bucket list item for me. Mission accomplished.
I’m now at 5 of the requisite 10 in this category, and this month will afford me a chance to see Jaws. I’ll also have a chance to see Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz as part of a Cornetto Trilogy marathon, though I’m not sure I can count those for this category in good faith.
The AV Club 50 Best Films of the 90s
July saw the remaining films in this category nearly halved, as I caught 3 of the final 8 remaining. The real star of the list was Fast, Cheap & Out of Control, the Errol Morris documentary about eccentricity and nature’s hardwiring. It was one of the best documentaries I’ve seen, and certainly one of the best of the 90s. Additionally, I checked off The Sweet Hereafter and Out of Sight. I’ll go ahead and give the end of September as the ETA for my completion of this category.
At Least Five Ray Harryhausen Films
I only need one more to wrap up the Harryhausen films. This month’s Harryhausen film was Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. As I mentioned at the time, I’m quickly finding that Harryhausen’s work was exemplary but most of the films he worked on were mediocre or worse. Or put another way, Ray Harryhausen was the Ernie Banks of the movie industry.
AFI’s 100 Years of Musicals
This category has ground (grinded?) to a halt.
My grand total at the end of the month is 70 of the 109 required, or 64% complete. I’m ahead of pace, and ooooooh so close to finishing a lot of categories. However, I’m still staring down the barrel of a lot of musicals, Ozu, and Lukas Moodysson favorites.