Friday, November 30, 2012

November Movie Status

We interrupt the regularly scheduled set of movie reviews to bring you the following monthly status post:

I saw 87 movies in the month of November, plus two seasons of a TV show, plus one re-watch.  While this is not as many movies as last month, it is still a very heavy month for me.  I took a page out of Steve Honeywell’s plan (at 1001plus).  He has watched most of the longest 1001 Movies entries.  I decided to take as big a bite as possible out of my own remaining 3 hour plus movies in November.  While I checked off most of them (19 out of 21), I am glad I don’t have to repeat it.  I found that most of the longest entries in the 1001 Movies list are not be enjoyed, but to be endured.  (See my worst movies of the month lower in this post for a couple of examples.)  By also throwing in some of the shortest entries I did manage to pass 800 movies watched from the 1001 Movies list.

Currently, 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.  I’m also close to completing the combined AFI movies list.  With a bit of a push I can close it out by the end of this year.

So far in 2012 I have seen 505 movies that were new to me.  Among those 505 films, 273 were from the 1,001 Movies list and 65 were Best Picture nominees. 

Here are the 87 new movies I saw in November.  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, as well as the worst films, in the paragraphs below the lists.

1,001 Movies (63):   La Roue (1923), Orphans of the Storm (1921), Haxan (1922), Dr. Mabuse the Gambler Parts 1 and 2 (1922), October (1927), The Docks of New York (1928), Storm Over Asia (1928), The Man with the Movie Camera (1929), Earth (1930), Tabu (1931), 1900 (1976), The Black Cat (1934), Strike (1925), The Horse Thief (1986), The Asthenic Syndrome (1989), The White Balloon (1995), Underground (1995), Three Lives and Only One Death (1996), Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933), The Traveling Players (1975), A Chinese Ghost Story (1987), A Brighter Summer Day (1991), A Question of Silence (1982), Cyclo (1995), Fat Girl (2001), India Song (1975), The Mad Masters (1955), Scorpio Rising (1964), Marketa Lazarova (1967), Lola (1961), The Golden Thread (1965), Shame (1968), The Wind Will Carry Us (1999), Dear Diary (1993), Nine Queens (2000), The Puppetmaster (1993), Yi Yi (2000), A Time to Live and a Time to Die (1985), Hotel Terminus: The Life and Times of Klaus Barbie (1988), Satantango (1994), Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975), The Mother and the Whore (1973), The Kingdom (Riget) (1994), Andrei Rublev (1969), Kandahar (2001), Shoah (1985), Olympia Parts 1 and 2 (1938), Ivan the Terrible Parts 1 and 2 (1944), El Topo (1970), The Sorrow and the Pity (1969), Cat People (1942), Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974), The Passenger (1963), Gabbeh (1996), Viy (1967), Footlight Parade (1933), Pandora’s Box (1929), Vampyr (1932), Tetsuo (1989), Daisies (1966), The Leopard (1963), A Touch of Zen (1969), A Nous la Liberte (1931)

Oscar Nominees (4):  An Unmarried Woman (1978), Julia (1977), Bound for Glory (1976), A Touch of Class (1973)

AFI Movies (8): The Pink Panther (1963), Wait Until Dark (1967), The Spirit of St. Louis (1957), A Raisin in the Sun (1961), Two for the Road (1967), What’s Love Got to Do with It (1993), The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945), The Poseidon Adventure (1972)

Other Movies (12): The Pirates! Band of Misfits (2012), 30 for 30: Benji (2012), Iron Sky (2012), ABCD (1999), The Girlfriend Experience (2009), Moonrise Kingdom (2012), The Siege (1998), Love in Sampan (1992), Brave (2012), Retreat (2011), Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012), Curse of the Cat People (1944)

Re-watches (1): Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)

TV Seasons (2): Covert Affairs Seasons 1 and 2

I had no new five star films in October.  My four star films were Wait Until Dark (1967), A Raisin in the Sun (1961), Moonrise Kingdom (2012), and Footlight Parade (1933).  Wait Until Dark stars Audrey Hepburn as a blind woman terrorized in her apartment by some criminals who want something her husband accidentally brought home.  It has some good tension and thrills in it.  A Raisin in the Sun is a drama focusing on a black family trying to decide how best to deal with the various problems life brings them.  Sidney Poitier leads the cast as a man trying to make a better life for himself and his family.  Moonrise Kingdom is the latest movie from Wes Anderson.  I’m not an Anderson fanboy; I liked, but didn’t love his earlier efforts.  This one was quite charming, though.  Footlight Parade is an early entry in the “behind the scenes of putting on a show” movie.  It has some great Busby Berkeley productions, including some fantastic overhead cinematography.

With over 80 movies watched in November, I did see my share of stinkers.  I won’t mention all of them, but I will single out two.  Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles is a three hour and fifteen minute exercise in patience.  The first three hours show us a woman performing a series of mundane household tasks over and over and over.  It is setup for the five important minutes in the movie when she does two new things.  She then sits and stares for ten minutes.  The End.  Satantango is a seven hour and fifteen minute exercise in patience.  It has more happen in it than Jeanne Dielman, but it's also more than twice as long.  The movie opens with an unbroken ten minute shot of cows meandering through a village.  (I’m serious.)  This is then followed by a several minutes long scene where we watch a character count out every single bill in a four inch high stack of money.  Put these together and you can tell the director is basically coming right out and telling the viewer, “I’m going to be f*cking with you for the next seven hours.”  These kinds of movies are the reason the fast forward button was invented.

Both of these movies make the Sight and Sound Film Critics Top Movies list (tied with 1927’s Metropolis for #36.)  They are that high on the critics’ list because, and I quote, “they are really, really long and if we had to sit through them then we’re damn well going to make you sit through them, too.”  Okay, maybe I am paraphrasing.  It is interesting to note that neither film was anywhere in the entire Top 100 Film Directors’ Sight and Sound poll.  The people who actually make movies for a living don’t seem to be as impressed by films that are long for the sake of being long.

I want to make a special mention of Tetsuo (1989).  I’ve seen over 6,000 movies.  I write this not to brag, but so that you’ll understand what the following sentence truly means.  Tetsuo is one of the most bizarre movies I have ever seen.  It is Akira (1988) meets Urotsukidoji (1989), except live action, and even weirder.  While I often like “weird”, in this case it didn’t work for me.  Watch this film at your own risk.  (It’s from the 1001 Movies list, so for the folks working on that, have fun with this entry.)

(We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming, already in progress).


  1. About an hour into Jeanne Dielmann, I think I started watching it on fast forward, I was so exacerbated with it.

    And I laugh that you saw Celine and Julie Go Boating this month, mostly because it reminds me of when I saw it. At a theater. With no place to go and nothing to distract me. When I came home, I was so irritated, and my I remember yelling at my husband, "AND THEY DIDN'T EVEN GO BOATING!!!"

    I really want to see Moonrise Kingdom.

  2. I laughed at your Celine and Julie story. Thanks. Sometimes the role of a husband is not an easy one. :-) (And just to add insult to injury they actually did go boating for several seconds at the very very end.) Afterwards I guessed that the title contained a pun or slang that didn't translate - like "going boating" was maybe the equivalent of our phrase "going off their rockers".

    I also happened to see Daisies (1966) after Celine and Julie and I thought to myself that Daisies had to have inspired the other.

  3. Hehe. I laugh because I've seen both Jeanne Dielman and Satantango and hated both of them, so I am of course excited to see what other 1001 bloggers have to say. I also saw Tetsuo quite recently, and yeah, was not a fan of the weirdness.

    1. Those two long movies seem to primarily exist simply to be long and to test the patience of the viewer (as opposed to entertaining the viewer.)

  4. Jeanne Dielmann...such pain. Thrill as she stands in line at the bank. Marvel when she washes dishes. Control your sudden panic when she drops a spoon! Never before have I had that strong a desire to reach through a screen and pummel not the character, but the director.

    I actually enjoyed Celine and Julie Go Boating, but it may well have been that it was the first film I got through my school librarian, which opened up a new source of rare films for me. Maybe I just liked the idea of it.

    1. I laughed at your Jeanne Dielmann comments. Thanks.

      I didn't hate Celine and Julie. I was actually caught up in the whole opening where one is following the other and the mystery in the house. The going back to try to remember what was happening in the house could have had some trims, in my opinion. Maybe removing one or even two trips down memory lane would have helped. Ultimately, it just wasn't a movie I could see myself recommending to others, which is my criteria for at least a three star rating.

  5. Raisin in the sun sounds like an interesting one and something id not heard of before. 87 isn't bad Chip and if you sat through all 7 hours of Satantango you're a better man than me. I know Tyler at Southern Vision loves it but I'm hesitant to watch anything over 2 hours let alone 7.

  6. "Raisin in the sun sounds like an interesting one and something id not heard of before."

    There is also a more recent remake. If you do look for this film, make sure you get the 1960s version.

    "if you sat through all 7 hours of Satantango you're a better man than me. I know Tyler at Southern Vision loves it but I'm hesitant to watch anything over 2 hours let alone 7."

    There are some long movies that I feel are fantastic (i.e. Seven Samurai, Lawrence of Arabia) but that is because they have engaging stories. Shoah was nine and a half hours and kept me engaged for the first eight.

    There are only three reasons anyone should watch Satantango:

    1. Because it's in the 1,001 Movies list and you are trying to see all the entries (my reason.) Note - it's also on the They Shoot Pictures Don't They list, so the same thing applies for those people working their way through that list.

    2. To be able to say that you've done it - either as a personal test of your fortitude, or to brag about it to another movie person.

    3. Because you are one of the few people who genuinely loves to pick movies apart and analyze why a director, for instance, had the main character 10 degrees left of center in one shot, but 10 degrees right of center in another shot. Satantango gives you more than seven hours of slow scenes that allow you to go off on thought tangents for minutes at a time about something you've just seen and not miss anything.

  7. There's too much bragging about having seen movies that goes on. I am way past that. I like the way you phrase point 3, it sort of makes me want to set an entire day aside for it. Do it the same way I did with The Godfather Trilogy, breakfast, lunch and dinner breaks with plenty of White Russians to hand.

  8. Another big month, the most I've ever watched is about 40, and that's only half of what you managed in Nov.

    Your comments Satantango and Jeanne Dielman were quite entertaining to read, I've toyed with the idea of giving Satantango a try, the 7 hour running time however is quite a marathon, I barely had the patience for Bela Tarr's 2 hour films. Sorry you had to endure rather than enjoy most of those long movies.

    I too enjoyed Moonrise Kingdom and found it charming, and A Raisin in the Sun (1961) has been on my watch-list for god knows how long. I may force it on to my 2013 blindspots series...

    1. A Raisin in the Sun is a good movie not just for what is in it, but for what is not. It may be the first film to show a black American family as just another family - nothing different from any other family at the time. It also raises some good moral questions on what the family should do with a small windfall they are going to get from the grandfather's insurance now that he's died. Should it help start a business, help send a younger sister to college, or maybe be used to finally buy a home - the first one the family would ever have.

  9. @Chip Lary: You've convinced me I should give A Raisin in the Sun a chance. Maybe I'll eat a packet of raisins while I watch ( :

    1. If you think of it, please come back and let me know how you felt about the movie - good or bad.