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),
(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 Moonrise Kingdom 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. Anderson
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.)