Sunday, September 30, 2012

September Movie Status

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

I only saw 24 movies this month – a lot less than the last couple of months.  I had some issues around the house that needed to be dealt with which took me away from movie watching.  I also spent time re-watching Castle Season 4 (18 hours).  Finally I was also in a reading mood.  I think I read 10-12 books.

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.  

So far in 2012 I have seen 310 movies that were new to me.  Among those 310 films, 121 were from the 1,001 Movies list and 50 were Best Picture nominees. 

Here are the 24 new movies I saw in September.  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.

Tsotsi (2005)*
The Band Wagon (1953)*
Hick (2011)
Ma Mere (2005)
A Woman, Her Men, and Her Futon (1992)
The Lorax (2012)
High Plains Drifter (1973)*
Zorba the Greek (1964)+
One-Eyed Jacks (1961)*
Bad Day at Black Rock (1954)*
The Year of Living Dangerously (1982)
The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
Live and Become (2005)*
3-Iron (2004)*
Tess (1979)+
The Good Guy (2009)
Love is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955)+
Three Coins in a Fountain (1954)+
CNBC Reports: Porn, the Business of Pleasure (2009)
The Best of Youth (2003)*
Dark Victory (1939)+
Alice (1988)*
Landscape in the Mist (1988)*
The Blue Angel (1930)*

I had no five star films in August.  My four star films were Live and Become and The Best of Youth.  Live and Become tells the story of a boy brought to Israel from Ethiopia in the 1980s during the time that Ethiopian Jews were being rescued from famine by Israel.  The problem is that this boy has to hide that he is not Jewish.  His mother sent him away hoping he could have a better life.  The Best of Youth is actually an Italian TV miniseries.  It’s six hours long.  It’s worth the time it takes to watch it, though.  In much the same way that The Thorn Birds did, The Best of Youth tells the story of multiple generations of a family against the backdrop of Italian history from the mid 1960s to the early 2000s. 

I didn’t see any really bad films in September.  The worst was probably A Woman, Her Men, and Her Futon.  It tries to be a modernist (for the 1990s) take on the independent woman, but it failed for me.  The most disappointing film was Landscape in the Mist.  It’s a Greek film from the 1001 Movies list that Netflix Instant Viewing described as “Runaway siblings trek to Germany in search of a better life with their long-lost father. On their journey, the brother and sister experience heartwarming adventures.”  I needed something lighthearted so I watched it.  About half way in I was wondering what the heck about it was supposed to be “heartwarming”.  I decided that since nobody had tried to either kill or molest the kids that must equate to heartwarming for whoever wrote the blurb.  Five minutes later one of those things happened.  “Heartwarming”, yeah right.  The thing is, it’s not a bad film overall.  Had I been expecting a sort of downbeat drama I probably would have liked it more.  By the way, the long description for the DVD on Netflix continues, “the kids also suffer a horrific ordeal that robs them of their childhood innocence.”  You couldn’t have fit that into the short blurb Netflix?

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


  1. There are a couple here I liked better than you did. I was really taken with 3-Iron, for instance. I think it's beautifully made and has one of my favorite film moments.

    You're kinder to The Lorax than I am, though.

    1. The Lorax benefitted from fond memories of the original TV special from back when I was a kid. There were several nods to that special in it. It would be a "low 3" aka marginal recommend.

      I liked 3-Iron and would recommend it to anyone who liked foreign films. When something is between ratings for me, I round down, so it got three stars from me. It would be a "high 3".

      One of the disadvantages of having a simple rating system is that some films where I prefer one over the other end up getting rated the same, but I decided to go this way to simplify things because how can someone really tell the difference between a film rated 7.6 and one rated 7.7?

  2. This is a good list -- very eclectic. :-) I haven't seen most of these. I saw Tess when it was first released. It was before I read the Hardy novel, and I remember liking it, though my memory of it has faded quite a bit. I really liked Cabin in the Woods. Live and Become sounds very interesting.

    1. Thanks. Tess didn't quite make the cut with me because I think Kinski was trying for stoic or "inner emotion" with her character but it just came across as a little wooden to me. She sure looks great eating a strawberry, though. I can see why that scene was famous. Also, I don't have much patience with characters that are the cause of much of their own suffering, especially if a word or two is all it would take to set things right. Of course, then it wouldn't be a tragic love story, would it?

      As a genre, horror doesn't do much for me so for a horror film to even get three stars from me (which The Cabin in the Woods did) is quite an achievement. As I mentioned in my comment on your post on the movie, I felt the film would have been improved by keeping the whole underground organization a secret for a while and making it a big reveal.

      Live and Become might take a little bit of patience from you at the beginning. It did for me. It breaks the film up into three points in the boy's life - 8 years old when he first arrives, 13 years old when he is first becoming a man by Jewish tradition, and around 20 as a man figuring out what he wants to do in life. Affecting everything he does is the fear that he will be found out to not be a Jew, and all the emotions from his mother sending him away when he was a little boy.

  3. The more I think back on Best Of Youth, the more fond of it I become. Mateo just broke my heart, so many times.

    1. Well, take some comfort in this: seeing as how he's gay it would never have worked out between the two of you anyway. :-)

  4. Hi Chip, I've found the new additions to the 1001 List, they're:

    Senna (2010)
    Le Havre (2011)
    Shame (2011)
    The Tree Of Life (2011)
    The Kid With A Bike (2011)
    The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011)
    Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)
    Drive (2011)
    War Horse (2011)
    A Separation (2011)
    Bridesmaids (2011)
    The Descendants (2011)
    Hugo (2011)
    The Artist (2011)

    according to this site:

    1. Thanks! Man that's a lot of films from 2011 being added (13). I've seen 11 of the 14 already. I've never even heard of The Kid with a Bike.

      Thanks for the link, too. I'll watch there to see if the removals are listed later. I'm maintaining a comprehensive list of all additions and removals at the wiki Adolytsi and I created.

    2. No worries. I've used your list before, so figured you'd be the ideal person to send this to. My only guess for removals is they'll have taken off The Hangover to replace it with Bridesmaids.

    3. Thanks again. I did some checking. The Kid with a Bike isn't available in the U.S. Not sure about the U.K. I've found what might be a valid version and I'm testing it now. If it works I'll add it to the wiki. I also figured out why it got added. It's directed by the Dardennes, who did Rosetta, which is in the book.

    4. Kid's available in the UK, even on LoveFilm. I'd heard of it before, but not much. Only heard good things.

    5. You're lucky. We didn't get A Separation here until August, even though it won the Academy Award. The Kid with a Bike wasn't even nominated (although it got a Golden Globe nomination) so who knows when it will ever become available on DVD. Anyway, the version I found was a good one so I added that entry to the Compendium for hard to find films.

    6. Well, I just saw The Kid with a Bike and even though it's only October 2nd, I've probably already found my worst movie of the month. A better title for this film would have been "Miserable Rotten Stinking Ungrateful Brat with a Bike". Thank God it was only an hour and a half long.