Saturday, June 1, 2013

May Movie Status

I saw 66 new movies in the month of May, plus 6 movie re-watches.  I mentioned last month that I didn’t have a specific goal for May in regards to the 1,001 Movies list.  I thought I might try to finish off the 1930s and 1940s, but I did not do that.  Netflix won’t ship me 1938’s Angels with Dirty Faces despite the fact it’s been at the top of my queue for almost three months, and there didn’t seem to be much point in completing the 1940s if the 1930s were still incomplete.  That one film also prevented me from completing the first 200 films in the list.  On a positive note, I did pass the 1,000 entries seen mark during the month.  As I write this I am at 1,025 seen (or 78 left to see, if you prefer).

I’m not sure if I’m going to try any short term goals in June.  In theory I could actually complete the list this coming month, but I doubt I will go to that much effort.  I also am really starting to wonder if I will complete every other entry and still be waiting for Angels with Dirty Faces.  I’ve tried finding it online with no success and it isn’t coming up on TCM’s schedule in the next couple of months.  1981’s Three Brothers is another potential issue since it’s been sitting at number 2 in my queue for the same length of time and Netflix won’t ship that to me, either.

As for the Oscar Best Picture nominees, I did set a goal for May of completing all the remaining nominees from the 1950s and 1960s and I was able to achieve that.  I now have a total of 76 nominees left to see, with 1947’s Crossfire being the newest of them.

Completing the 1940s may not happen for quite some time since there is one nominee – 1941’s Hold Back the Dawn – that is not available from Netflix, not coming up on TCM’s schedule, and that I have been unable to track down online.  I may never see it.  I have a similar situation in the 1930s with Trader Horn.

On a related movie list note, I completed the Entertainment Weekly list of the Top 100 films of all time (125 actually, since they added 25 more to it.)  If you are interested in seeing this list you can click on the name.

Here are the 66 new movies I saw in May.  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 (39): The Shop on Main Street (1965), A Woman Under the Influence (1974), The Spirit of the Beehive (1973), Winchester ’73 (1950), The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) – also in the Oscar list, A Matter of Life and Death (1946), Stella Dallas (1937), Blow-Up (1966), Daybreak (1939), Song at Midnight (1937), Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959), Cria Cuervos (1975), Caravaggio (1986), The Dead (1987), Day for Night (1973), I Walked with a Zombie (1943), Destry Rides Again (1939), Only Angels Have Wings (1939), High Sierra (1941), The Man in Grey (1943), The Seventh Victim (1943), The Asphalt Jungle (1950), The Naked Spur (1953), The Golden Coach (1952), The Lavender Hill Mob (1951), Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960), Gunfight at the OK Corral (1957), Odd Man Out (1947), Chimes at Midnight (1965), Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (1971), Eraserhead (1977), Monsieur Verdoux (1947), The Ladykillers (1955), Rio Grande (1950), Up in Smoke (1978), El Norte (1983), The Hills Have Eyes (1977), Stroszek (1977), Last Chants for a Slow Dance (1977)

Oscar Nominees (15): Kings Row (1942), The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) – also in the 1,001 list, Beckett (1964), Darling (1965), A Thousand Clowns (1965), Room at the Top (1959), Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941), Suspicion (1941), Separate Tables (1958), Sayonara (1957), The Country Girl (1954), All This, and Heaven Too (1940), The Rose Tattoo (1955), The Letter (1940), Goodbye Mr. Chips (1939)

Other Movies (13): Iron Man 3 (2013), Hatari! (1962), Footnote (2011), Shadows in the Dark: The Val Lewton Legacy (2005), Carousel (1956), POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (2011), The Strange Saga of Hiroshi the Freeloading Sex Machine (2005), The Damned United (2009), Limitless (2011), Take Me Home Tonight (2011), 30 for 30: The Two Escobars (2010), Tonight You’re Mine (2011), Fast and Furious 6 (2013)

Re-watches (6): The Avengers (2012), Belle Epoque (1992), 11 Minutes Ago (2007), Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia (2012), Sherlock: The Hounds of Baskerville (2012), Sherlock: The Reichenbach Fall (2012)

TV Series (0):

I had no five star films in May.  My four star films were Iron Man 3 (2013), Day for Night (1973), Sayonara (1957), POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (2011), and Tonight You’re Mine (2011). 

You can read my review of Iron Man 3 by clicking on the movie name in this sentence. 

Day for Night is Francois Truffaut’s behind the camera look at what goes on while making a movie.  There’s both humor and drama, especially when it comes to the various on-set relationships and in the many issues that arise for the director (played by Truffaut himself.)   

Sayonara is a different kind of John Wayne movie.  It’s not a western, and despite the fact that it takes place during the Korean War, it is not a war film.  It’s a movie about the many challenges servicemen went through when they fell in love and married Asian women.  The extreme racism of the military high command caused them to ostracize anyone who crossed a line they did not want crossed.  The movie features Oscar winning performances from Red Buttons and Miyoshi Umeki – the latter being the first Asian performer, male or female, to win an Oscar.

POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold is a documentary from Morgan Spurlock, the man behind 2004’s Super Size Me.  This film is similar in that it contains some wry humor as we watch Spurlock try to accomplish something.  In this case it’s showing how product placement in movies works and Spurlock does it by funding this entire film via product placement (hence the title).  Had I seen this during 2011 I might very well have had it in my Top 10 for the year.

Tonight You’re Mine is a romantic comedy.  Some people probably won’t like it just because of that, but I enjoyed it.  It was shot in only five days during the Scottish T in the Park music festival.  Two musicians (from different acts) get handcuffed together by a mischief maker and have to spend 24 hours joined at the wrist.  This includes when she has to perform on stage.  It’s a short, fun movie and has a lot of good music in it.

The 1,001 Movies list is reliable for providing me with at least one 1 star movie every month.  In May I had four.  They were The Man in Grey (1943), Eraserhead (1977), The Hills Have Eyes (1977), and Last Chants for a Slow Dance (1977).  (I also saw 1977’s Stroszek – which can best be summed up as “Life sucks, then you die”.  The lead singer of Joy Division killed himself after watching it.  After enduring these films this month, 1977 has a lot to answer for, Star Wars notwithstanding.)

The Man in Grey is the soapiest of soap operas, except that it’s also a period piece and made at a time when they couldn’t put anything remotely salacious in it to distract us from the cheesy plot. 

Eraserhead is a typical David Lynch movie where he just puts a bunch of nonsensical stuff on screen and then sits back waiting for critics to pee themselves over all the different theories they can make up regarding what he’s really trying to say. 

The Hills Have Eyes is a very low-budget horror movie.  It’s a genre that doesn’t do much for me and this one was worse than some others I’ve seen. 

Last Chants for a Slow Dance may have been where Vincent Gallo got the idea for his 2003 film Brown Bunny where he seemed to spend most of the film driving around in front of an out of focus camera.  Last Chants states at the end that only $2,000 was spent making it.  My reaction to that was, “What happened to the $1,950 that didn’t end up on screen?”  If you want to see a much better, very low budget movie try 1992’s El Mariachi.


  1. I can see you've had another month of watching lots of movies. Disagree about Eraserhead (1977), which I love, but I know it is a polarizing film.
    I hope you manage to locate those obscure titles that are hard to find! Though from experience, films that are very very difficult to find seldom are masterpieces. It must be obscure for a reason, right? The best films usually find an audience. I guess if it is sold out, then that's another story.

    1. I agree on the hard to find ones often not being worth it. I help maintain a wiki on the 1,001 Movies list. It includes about 150 films that are not available via Netflix and helps people find them. From watching most of those I could have done without them.

      The problem with Angels with Dirty Faces is that Netflix says that it is completely available, but then puts it in "Very Long Wait" status. This is nothing new; it happens with very popular movies, too. The difference is that usually in a few weeks it will become more available. My fear is that Netflix has lost most/all of their DVD copies to damage and simply doesn't want to list it as unavailable.

  2. I bought "Angels with Dirty Faces" on DVD, which solves that problem. It is not my favorite film, but any film with James Cagney is essentially worth seeing. I wish you luck finding it.

    1. Thanks. If you weren't in...Israel, is it?...I'd ask if I could borrow it. :-)

      I bought Lucia last year for the reason that I couldn't track it down any other way, then a copy did show up online. That's what makes me hesitate on these films, especialy when Netflix says that they should be available. Lucia was not available at all.

    2. I might be able to do something about it. Trouble is, my copy is in a big box in Denmark, but lets see.

      Just went back to see your comment on "The Man in Grey". It is just does not get more soap than this, no? Groan...

    3. Thanks, but I was actually able to get a copy to watch by appealing on an online forum a couple weeks ago. I'm no longer relying on Netflix for this or Three Brothers.