Saturday, September 1, 2012

August Movie Status

This month I finally achieved a goal I had been working towards for 14 years – seeing every single film on the IMDB Top 250 since the end of 1998 (currently 524 different films).  Long before I started using the 1,001 movies and Oscar nominees lists, I printed off the IMDB Top 250 at the end of 1998.  Back then it wasn’t so top heavy with new movies and had a lot more classics on it.  I used it as suggestions for movies to see now and then.  I kept printing it off at the end of each subsequent year.  Around 2005 I had seen pretty much all the films…except for one entry from the 1999 list that had never been released in the U.S. – the 1998 Yugoslavian screwball comedy Crna macka, beli macor aka Black Cat, White Cat. 

Over the years I continued to watch the new films that showed up on each year ending list, while trying to find a copy of this one film. I finally tracked down an all regions Korean import DVD at the end of 2011.  Since I knew there would be new entries from the 2011 year end list to see, I set this movie aside.  I finally completed the last of the new entries from 2011 by seeing A Separation yesterday.  Right after doing that I sat down to watch Black Cat, White Cat and finally completed my 14 year long quest.  Sure, there will be some new movies on the 2012 year end list, but I will stay caught up on them as I go along. 

For anyone interested in seeing my combined and weighted 14 year IMDB Top 250 list of 524 films, you can find it at my Lists from Chip site here.

Now that I have done this, I may make an attempt to complete the AFI lists, which I stopped working towards several years ago.  I just checked and I’ve seen 368 of the 412 movies – leaving (let’s see, carry the one, square root the hypotenuse, factor in the tangent) only 44 movies to finish it off.  You can see the consolidated AFI lists here.  Fourteen of my remaining films cross over with the 1,001 list and another 8 cross over with the Oscar nominees list.  Maybe I’ll try to do some two for ones, knock these off this month, and be halfway done with the remaining AFI films.

Currently, though, the two main lists that I am taking movie suggestions from are the 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list and a list I put together of every Oscar Best Picture nominee.  You can see those lists by clicking on these titles:  1,001 Movies; Oscar Nominees. 

So far in 2012 I have seen 286 movies that were new to me.  Among those 286 films, 110 were from the 1,001 Movies list and 45 were Best Picture nominees. 

Here are the 44 new movies I saw in August.  (I also re-watched two films, as well as single seasons of two TV shows.)  An asterisk indicates the movie is from the 1,001 Movies list.  A plus sign indicates it is a Best Picture Oscar nominee.  Highlighted movies are ones to which I would give at least three stars out of five.  I will single out the four and five star films in the paragraph below the list.

A Summer in Genoa (2008)
Reds (1981)*+
Perfect Opposites (2004)
Earrings (2012)
Of Gods and Men (2010)*
Yosemite: The High Sierras
Bugsy (1991)+
The Captains (2011)
College (1927)
The White Ribbon (2009)*
The Dresser (1983)+
Tender Mercies (1983)+
Total Recall (2012)
American Reunion (2012)
The Class (2008)*
Missing (1982)+
Paradise Now (2005)*
Funny Games (1998)*
Happy Together (1997)*
Head-On (2004)*
Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980)+
Surfwise (2007)*
Tabloid (2010)
The Night of the Shooting Stars (1982)*
The People I’ve Slept With (2009)
Queen to Play (2009)
The Spy Next Door (2009)
Battle in Heaven (2005)
The Stranger (1946)*
The Raid: Redemption (2011)
Project X (2012)
La Vie En Rose (2007)*
Cache (2005)*
Gomorrah (2008)*
Louisiana Story (1948)*
Scarface (1932)*
Man of Iron (1981)*
The Color of Pomegranates (1968)*
Dead Man (1995)*
The Bourne Legacy (2012)
The Expendables 2 (2012)
The Masque of the Red Death (1964)*
A Separation (2011)
Black Cat, White Cat (1998)

I had no five star films in August.  My four star films were The Dresser, Missing, Head-On, Tabloid, and A Separation.  The Dresser tells the story of an assistant (Tom Courtenay) to an aging Shakespearean actor (Albert Finney) who is 50% child, 50% massive ego, and 110% mentally unhinged.  Both received Best Actor nominations.  Missing tells the true story of a newsman who went missing during a revolution in Argentina, and the attempts of his wife (Sissy Spacek) and father (Jack Lemmon) to find out what happened to him.  Head-On is a “can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em” complicated love story of two Turkish immigrants in Germany.  Sibel Kekilli – now on Game of Thrones – won multiple awards for her debut in this movie.  Tabloid is a documentary about Joyce McKinney, who made news in England in the late 1970s for allegedly kidnapping a former fiancée who had abandoned her for the Mormon Church.  She is quite the character, and the more you watch this movie, the more you come to realize that the British “newsmen” might be even bigger liars than she is.  It’s a very entertaining story (the dog cloning is the perfect capper), regardless of what is and isn’t true.  A Separation won the Best Foreign Language Oscar and it lived up to the hype.  It’s an engaging, very well told story.  I only had a small disappointment with the “lady or the tiger” ending.

The two worst films I saw in August were The Class and The Color of Pomegranates.  In both cases “worst” is a relative term.  I disliked both the students and the teacher in The Class, plus it was obvious that most of the dialogue was adlibbed (i.e. a girl who hasn’t read a class assignment all year claims to have read Plato’s The Republic for fun), so it gave the movie an amateur feeling.  It won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, though.  The Color of Pomegranates is an experimental film that tells the life story of Armenian poet Sayat Nova through the use of highly symbolic/artistic scenes that are completely plotless.  Only someone very familiar with this man’s life, as well as the conventions of medieval Armenian art, will be able to follow what is going on in this movie.  On the other hand, it does have some very interesting images in it.


  1. Congrats on getting that list done, all those years of hard work :). How did you like Cache?

    1. Thanks. I thought Cache was just okay and the weakest of the three Haneke films I've seen from the 1001 list. (The other two being The White Ribbon and the original Funny Games. I've yet to see The Piano Teacher.) If I gave half star ratings it would be a 2 1/2 - not quite good enough to recommend.

  2. Wow, big congrats on finally watching every single film on the IMDB Top 250 !

    I just googled Black Cat, White Cat (1998), and found the movie on youtube with english subtitles. I suppose it was owning it that was important to you?
    Here's the link:

    Funny thing about Head-On (2004), I couldn't stand it on first watch, and wished I had saved my money, I didn't even finish dvd. Then a year later I gave it a 2nd chance and actually liked it quite a bit :) Weird, maybe I needed to be in the right frame of mind, a powerful drama indeed. Fatih Akin also directed The Edge of Heaven (2007), which impressed me as well.

    Missing (1982) is on my youtube watchlist, going to check it soon.

    1. You are correct. I wanted to watch it on DVD and on my large screen TV. I honestly never looked for it online to download. About a month after I bought the DVD there was a new comment on the IMDB board for the movie pointing out that it was on Youtube.

      In regards to the 1,001 Movies list, there are a whopping 150 movies unavailable on DVD, so I *have* spent time tracking them down online. I've still watched very few of them that way, though. I'll keep them in reserve in the hopes that DVD versions of some of those movies will become available.

      Another example is that Cavalcade is the only Oscar winning movie that I have not seen. I own every other Best Picture winner on DVD and I want to add Cavalcade to that collection, but the studio that owns the rights doesn't seem to have much interest in releasing it. I've had a copy of Cavalcade available to watch via my computer for probably three years, but I have not done so yet.

      I completely agree that the frame of mind I am in affects my enjoyment of a movie. I had Head-On in my Netflix Instant queue for a few months before I finally watched it. Kudos for giving it a second chance.