Friday, February 1, 2013

January Movie Status

We interrupt the regularly scheduled set of 2013 Oscar nominees’ reviews to bring you the following monthly status post:

I saw 57 movies in the month of January, plus two TV series, plus one movie re-watch.  I spent more time on trying to see Oscar nominees and 2012 films this month, so my 1,001 Movies numbers are a lot lower than other months.  I concentrated on those two groups because I am currently reviewing the 2013 nominees, and because when I do my Top 10 of 2012 list shortly after the Oscars are handed out I want to have seen as many possible candidates for the list as I can.

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.  This month I finished off the Oscar Best Picture nominees of the 1970s.  In fact, not counting the just announced 2013 nominations, I have no Best Picture nominee newer than 1966 left to see.  I have only four entries longer than 2 ½ hours left to see from the 1,001 Movies list, but right now I am toying with the idea of leaving the longest (The Decalogue) for my final entry on the list.

I also spent a week trying out Letterboxd and rating 5,200 of the films I’ve seen that I was able to find.  I’d like to thank Retrohound for giving me an invite.  When you get a chance, check out his site.  You are likely to find a piece of memorabilia from your childhood there.  He also reviews movies from time to time.  Having now used Letterboxd, I can see why it is still in Beta.  Its biggest flaw is the database resource it uses for movies and casts is limited for the lesser known films.  Still, it is interesting and I have continued to visit it after that initial week of doing ratings.  If you’d like to visit me on this site you can find me here:

Here are the 57 new movies I saw in January.  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 (20): Deewaar (1975), Time Regained (1999), The Burmese Harp (1956), The Mirror (1974), Shanghai Express (1932), The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1933), Revenge of a Kabuki Actor (1963), Mr. Hulot’s Holiday (1953), Archangel (1990), Ossessione (1943), Rome, Open City (1945), Paisan (1946), Pather Panchali (1955), Aparajito (1957), The World of Apu (1959), Mon Oncle (1958), Playtime (1967), Soldier of Orange (1977), Man of Marble (1977), Solaris (1972)

Oscar Nominees (11): Ship of Fools (1965), The Emigrants (1971), Heaven Can Wait (1978), Fanny (1961), Elmer Gantry (1960), Zero Dark Thirty (2012), Les Miserables (2012), The Alamo (1960), Lenny (1974), Life of Pi (2012), Amour (2012)

Other Movies (26): Looper (2012), Trouble with the Curve (2012), Red: Werewolf Hunter (2012), 3 Idiots (2009), Dirty Girl (2010), Twilight of the Ice Nymphs (1997), Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957), Pitch Perfect (2012), ParaNorman (2012), Compliance (2012), Jack & Diane (2012), Talhotblond (2012), The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day (2009), Liberal Arts (2012), Searching for Sugar Man (2012), Farewell My Queen (2012), The Queen of Versailles (2012), The Paperboy (2012), Butter (2012), Premium Rush (2012), Arbitrage (2012), Frankenweenie (2012), Frankenweenie (1984), She Gets What She Wants (2002), Lovelife (1997), Far from Home (1989)

Re-watches (1): The Boondock Saints (1999)

TV Series (2): How the States Got Their Shapes, Archer Season 3

I had one new five star film in January.  Several movies showed up on the 2012 year end IMDB Top 250 that had never been on a year-ending list before.  One of those was the Indian film 3 Idiots (2009).  It is a mix of comedy and drama (more the former) set in an engineering college that tries to just fit everyone into the same mold, and one student who refuses to be like everyone else.  I laughed a lot at this film.  The humor in it is both highbrow (references to classic 1950s Indian cinema) and lowbrow (apparently a good fart joke is universal).  It’s not all laughs, though, as the film also shows the pressure these students are under.  Finally, it’s all wrapped up in a mystery story as three friends from college try to find another friend that has been missing ever since they all graduated ten years earlier.

My four star films were Elmer Gantry (1960), Life of Pi (2012), and She Gets What She Wants (aka Slap Her…She’s French) (2002).  Elmer Gantry features a great performance from Burt Lancaster as a man who truly has the gift of gab.  He uses it to insert himself into a traveling religious revival show where he brings in the sinners, probably because he is one himself.  It’s a really good movie about the business of religion.  I just reviewed Life of Pi as part of my 2013 Oscar nominees’ posts.  You can read it here.  She Gets What She Wants is a movie where a popular beauty queen gets All About Eve’d by a French foreign exchange student…except it's set in high school, it’s a satirical comedy, and there’s more to the exchange student (Piper Perabo) than meets the eye.

With 57 movies watched in January, I did see my share of stinkers.  Once again the worst were courtesy of the 1,001 Movies list.  Time Regained (1999) is for the people who find Proust too straightforward.  The Mirror (1974) is the kind of film that makes no more sense with subtitles than without…which of course makes it crack cocaine for film critics.  It shows up on many Best Movies lists.  Archangel (1990) is the kind of film where a rain of bunny rabbits doesn’t stand out as being any weirder than anything else in the movie.

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


  1. Oh, Jeez...I remember Archangel. I watched that entire movie with an expression on my face like my dog when it hears a noise it doesn't understand.

    3 Idiots is on my NetFlix queue, albeit in a low spot. Looks like I should bump it up.

    1. FYI - Twilight of the Ice Nymphs is from the Archangel guy. I watched that, too, because it is on the 101 Cult Films list and it was on the DVD that Archangel came on. It's better than Archangel in two ways: the title, and the fact that there are some recognizable names in it. I can't really tell you what the story was in it and I saw it less than a month ago.

      I dropped you an email right after I saw 3 Idiots, so that's probably why it's in your queue. It just hit me right when I saw it. Comedies usually don't get above 4 stars from me, but the other elements in this one are what pushed it to five stars for me.

  2. letterboxd does have it's database limitations, but it's useful nonetheless.

    I think everyone should watch The Decalogue at least once in their life, so I hope you give it a look eventually. For me, it's one of the best tv-series ever made. I actually reviewed all 10 episodes last year.

    Look forward to your Top 10 of 2012. Mine will not be out until Jan 2014, taking my time :)

    I'll add Elmer Gantry to my list, thanks for that

    1. "letterboxd does have it's database limitations, but it's useful nonetheless."

      After writing what I did I explored more and found that it is a completely different movie database site (TMDB)that Letterboxd uses for its information. It imports it from there. They also can import from IMDB, though, which is far more complete than TMDB is, so I have no clue why they chose TMDB. I've now added around 100 movies to TMDB so I could import them to Letterboxd, so I could then rate them.

      "I think everyone should watch The Decalogue at least once in their life, so I hope you give it a look eventually."

      I will definitely see it. A few months back I decided to see as many of the 3 hour plus long entries as I could. Along the way I toyed with the idea of leaving this (the longest except for Shoah, which I had seen) for my last entry from the list.

      "Look forward to your Top 10 of 2012."

      Thanks. I literally just posted it.

      "I'll add Elmer Gantry to my list, thanks for that."

      You're welcome. If you think of it, please let me know your opinion on it.

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