Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July Movie Status

I saw 35 new movies in the month of July, plus 1 movie re-watch, plus 2 shorts, plus 4 TV show seasons.  My number of movies was down considerably for one big reason: I completed the entire 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list.  You can read more about that in this post.  After that I was kind of burnt out and took a break from watching most movies.  I’ve had some Netflix DVDs sitting on my coffee table for weeks.  I definitely didn’t get my money’s worth from them this month.  What I mostly did after completing that goal was re-watch all four seasons of the TV show Castle that I own on DVD, and re-read the novels that have been published in conjunction with it.

Siobhan – have you finished watching season 4 of Castle?  If not, have you at least made it to the Blue Butterfly 1940s noir episode?

Because of completing the 1,001 Movies I don’t really have a concrete goal for August.  I am still working on the Oscar Best Picture nominees.  I have a few of the 2013 Big Summer Movies left to see for either review or comment.  I added into my Netflix queue some entries from other movies lists (ones I mentioned in the 1,001 Movies post I linked to above), but they may or may not be sent to me in August depending on how fast I start watching those disks again.  I might re-watch some or all of Castle Season 5 rather than wait for it to be released on DVD in late September.  I might re-watch more movies that I’ve been wanting to get to for some time.

Here are the 35 new movies I saw in July.  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 (22): The Young One (1960), Black Sunday (1960), Mondo Cane (1962), Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1965), Shock Corridor (1963), Onibaba (1964), Point Blank (1967), Closely Watched Trains (1967), If… (1968), Zabriskie Point (1970), Walkabout (1971), Murmur of the Heart (1971), Straw Dogs (1971), Two-Lane Blacktop (1971), Pink Flamingos (1972), The Harder They Come (1973), Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973), Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974), The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976), Five Deadly Venoms (1978), The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979), The Decalogue (1989)

Oscar Nominees (1): Three Smart Girls (1936)

Other Movies (14): Hysteria (2012), Something in the Wind (1947), The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond (1960), Damsels in Distress (2012), Turn Me On, Dammit! (2012), Despicable Me 2 (2013), World War Z (2013), A Good Day to Die Hard (2013), The Dickson Experimental Sound Film (1894) – short, Rip Van Winkle (1896) – short, Nine for IX: Pat XO (2013), Pacific Rim (2013), The Lone Ranger (2013), Movie 43 (2013)

Re-watches (1): The Hunt for Red October (1990)

TV Series (4):  Castle: Seasons 1-4 (re-watches)

I had no five star films in July.  My four star films were Hysteria (2012) and Turn Me On, Dammit! (2012).  The Decalogue (1989) had some individual episodes that would be at least a four star rating, but as an overall entity I gave it a 3.5 star rating.

Hysteria is a funny, fun film about the invention of the electric vibrator as a treatment for women's hysteria in 1880 England.  As the movie says at the beginning: "The following is based on true events.  Really."  Doctors actually did prescribe a "pelvic massage" procedure which would continue until they had "induced paroxysms" in the woman.  As you might expect, the female patients decided that these treatments would need to be repeated on a regular basis.  What's a doctor to do when he has so many patients that he develops a permanent cramp in his hand?

Turn Me On, Dammit! is a very good movie with a terrible name.  The title makes it sound like some kind of cheap softcore movie.  That couldn't be further from the truth.  In actuality this Norwegian film is a bittersweet tale of a teen girl in a small town in Norway who's sure that her constant thoughts about sex make her some kind of freak.  There are some obvious parallels with the Swedish film Fucking Amal (aka Show Me Love), although not in regards to lesbianism.  I didn't even realize that the cast was mostly non-professional performers, including the lead, until I saw an interview with the writer/director.  Everyone did quite a good job on this.

The 1,001 Movies list was always reliable for providing me with at least one 1 star movie every month.  It’s only fitting that it still delivers one final time.

Yes, I knew about the infamous dog shit eating scene in Pink Flamingos (1972) before I watched this.  I was prepared to endure it as well as could be expected.  I didn't know about the scene where a guy shows us he can turn his anus inside out, however. Nor did I know about the scene where a chicken really gets crushed to death between a man and a woman during a simulated rape.  In comparison, the unsimulated blowjob scene and the subplot where women are kidnapped, impregnated, and their babies sold, seem almost mainstream.  For what it's worth, I've liked every other John Waters film I've seen, but those have all been his later films.  This one is not worth seeing at all unless it's on a list you are trying to complete, or you just want to see if it really is as shocking as its reputation makes it out to be.


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  2. Hi I thought of you the other day. I found 'Das Boot' on Amazon Prime. I'm going to watch it.

    1. Thanks. If you get a chance, please let me know what you thought of it.

  3. No shame in being a little burnt out from completing the 1001 movies list, you deserved a break :)
    While I can agree that certain episodes are better than others, I disagree with your overall verdict of 3.5 (or a rating of 7) for The Decalogue (1989), to me way above average TV. A must-see, and for me it deserves at least a 4 out of 5.

  4. "A must-see, and for me it deserves at least a 4 out of 5."

    I can understand and respect that. You're in a lot of good company. I think a majority of people view The Decalogue as a single entity whose sheer scope is staggering when compared to your run of the mill movie that comes out every week. By this view it's easy to see how it gets rated so highly; the scope alone would merit 4 stars, then when you add in the subject matter - something that is very important to hundreds of millions of people - it goes even higher.

    I'm not a religious person, so the subjects in The Decalogue did not hold any special significance for me going in. And for whatever reason I've always viewed it as a TV mini-series of 10 separate, unconnected episodes, not a single entity. Like all TV shows, some episodes work and some don't.

    For me, I felt The Decalogue started kind of weak, but finished strong. Only one of the first five episodes would I give a 4 star rating to (Ep 4 - Honor thy father and mother). In the second five, though, I would give 4 star ratings to Ep 6 - Thou shalt not commit adultery and Ep 8 - Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. And I would give a 4.5 star rating to Ep 7 - Thou shalt not steal. Unfortunately, episodes 2, 3, and 9 (taking the name of God in vain, Keeping the sabbath holy, and coveting thy neighbor's wife) I felt were the weakest and balance off the three 4 star ratings with three 2 star ratings of their own.

    That leaves the ones the middle: Ep 1: have no other god - which I mostly liked except for the manipulative ending; Ep 5: thou shalt not kill - which was well done, but which I've seen versions of the same story many times before; and Ep 10: coveting thy neighbor's possessions - which I thought was good, but not great.

    So to rate it as a single entity I averaged the ten individual ratings and came out around a 3.5, rather than taking a step back and viewing it as one whole effort.

    Please note that none of this is intended to say that I'm right and you're wrong. It's simply to explain my thought processes that resulted in a 3.5 rating from me.

  5. Thanks for the explanation, I see you've given your raing a lot of thought. However I respectfully disagree, I feel giving a 7/10 dissuades people from watching The Decalogue, rather than encouraging them. To me, it's kind of like 7/10 is saying that The Decalogue is no better than 100 other average shows.
    Also, I don't believe in statisically working out the worth of a tv-series, maybe if you did the same for all tv-series, most of them, (not all of them), would have weaker and stronger episodes, and thus end up with an overall score of 7?

    But ok you have your way of rating, and I have mine. As you said, none of this is intended to say that I'm right and you're wrong

    1. "I feel giving a 7/10 dissuades people from watching The Decalogue, rather than encouraging them. To me, it's kind of like 7/10 is saying that The Decalogue is no better than 100 other average shows."

      If it does dissuade people then that is not the intent; it's actually the opposite. Unlike a lot of voters at sites like IMDB and Netflix, I don't inflate movie ratings towards the upper end of the scale. If you were to look at a graph of my overall ratings it would be an almost perfect bell curve with a high peak in the center and steep dropoffs to the extremes. This occurred without any attempt on my part; I simply find most movies to be in the center range (2.5 - It was okay and 3.0 - recommended). That means my average is in the 5-6 range which is the real average on a 10 point scale, not a 7. A 3 star (6 out of 10) rating from me is a GOOD rating, not a bad one. It means I liked the film, it is better than average, and if it sounds interesting then I recommend it to you, too. A 4 star rating (8 out of 10) is for movies that are great. Unless there is something specific about the movie you hate (i.e. the lead actor) 4 stars means I highly recommend you see it. A 5 star rating (10 out of 10) is reserved for all time classics, or films that had a huge impact on me emotionally and intellectually. Of the more than 6,000 films I have seen I have only given a 5 star rating to 1-2% of them. In a similar manner I have only given a 1 star rating (meaning I hated it) to a small percentage of films. I also have roughly the same number of 2 star ratings (I didn't like it) as I have 4 star ratings. The ones and twos did go a little higher than the fours and fives as a result of watching the 1,001 Movies, since I had already seen the best of the list before I started.

      So at least at this site, a 3.5 star rating means it is a damn good movie - better than many I recommend. I don't usually mention half star ratings since I try to keep it simple with 3, 4, or 5 star ratings. I specifically mentioned The Decalogue as 3.5 stars to purposely point out it was better than the other highlighted films in this post, even if it wasn't quite as good as the two I singled out with 4 star ratings.

      "I don't believe in statisically working out the worth of a tv-series, maybe if you did the same for all tv-series, most of them, (not all of them), would have weaker and stronger episodes, and thus end up with an overall score of 7."

      I agree that that method is not realistic for TV series in general. Because The Decalogue was a limited series of 10 episodes, and because each was a separate entity, unlike a TV show which tells a continuing story, that felt like the best way to arrive at an overall rating in this instance. For regular TV shows I generally rate them season by season. So in this case The Decalogue was the exception, not the rule.

    2. "A 3 star (6 out of 10) rating from me is a GOOD rating, not a bad one. It means I liked the film, it is better than average"

      I guess the reason I think differently is because of the ratings system on IMDb. 6 out of 10 on that site is not a good rating. I rarely like anything with 6/10 or below.

      But I can understand the reasoning behind your own rating system, so its just a different way of looking at it.

    3. Yeah, the IMDB ratings have gone completely out of whack. A much more accurate IMDB rating for a film would be achieved if all the the 1 and 10 ratings were ignored and only the 2-9 ones were averaged. Far too many people only vote ones or tens for liking it or not liking it, and then there are all the various fanboys and trolls that purposely create hundreds of accounts just to rate hated/loved movies up or down with ones or tens.

      As I wrote in my post on the IMDB Top 250: "In the 1998 list the top 4 movies had a rating of 8.4 and by position 28 on the list they were already down to 7.9. A rating of 7.6 got you in the Top 100 and a 7.4 got you in the Top 250. In the 2012 list the top two films had ratings of 9.2, it took an 8.3 to make the Top 100, and at least an 8.0 to even make the Top 250 list."

      Back in the 90s it was only real movie people who were voting on IMDB. Once it got very popular with general audiences the ratings started climbing through the roof. The sheer number of votes for new movies ensured that they would populate the Top 250 list. I also wrote "In 1998 The Shawshank Redemption had received 9,461 votes. In 2004 it was 135,457. In 2012 it was 881,947."

      The complete post can be found here (along with a handy 15 Year Weighted IMDB Top 250 tracking sheet of my own creation.)

  6. On a side note, so its not all arguing LOL :) Do you have a list anywhere of the westerns included in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

    In fact the entire 1001 movies divided into genre categories would be helpful, if you have a link? I'm also interested in horror, short films, film noir, and so on.

    1. There's no problem with arguing here. Maybe I hadn't considered something that you can point out to me, or vice versa. Part of the reason to visit other blogs is to see the range of opinions on movies.

      I'm afraid I don't have a tracking sheet with the genres in it. The books have the movies grouped into genres, although some of the choices are questionable and many movies cross multiple genres, of course. I did look at the books to see what they listed for westerns. Here are the 42 entries:

      The Big Sky
      Blazing Saddles
      Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
      Dances with Wolves
      Dead Man
      Destry Rides Again
      El Topo
      The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
      The Good, the Bad, and the Weird
      The Great Train Robbery
      Gunfight at the O.K. Corral
      High Noon
      High Plains Drifter
      Johnny Guitar
      Little Big Man
      The Man from Laramie
      Man of the West
      The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
      McCabe and Mrs. Miller
      My Darling Clementine
      The Naked Spur
      Once Upon a Time in the West
      One-Eyed Jacks
      The Outlaw Josey Wales
      The Ox-Bow Incident
      The Paleface
      Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid
      Red River
      Ride Lonesome
      Rio Bravo
      Rio Grande
      The Searchers
      Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
      Silver Lode
      True Grit (2010)
      The Wild Bunch
      Winchester '73

      In the list, but not included by the book as a western is Brokeback Mountain, although I would call it a western. Some people might also toss in No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood. The coming 2013 edition will include Django Unchained, which some might call a western. Director Tarantino called it an "eastern" since most of it takes place east of the Mississippi.

    2. There are over 100 horror films in the list - too many to transcribe. Here are the 18 short films:

      An Andalusian Dog
      The Battle for San Pietro
      Blonde Cobra
      A Day in the Country
      Dog Star Man
      The Great Train Robbery
      Hold Me While I'm Naked
      The House is Black
      La Jetee
      Land Without Bread
      The Mad Masters
      Meshes of the Afternoon
      Night and Fog
      Scorpio Rising
      Sherlock, Jr.
      A Trip to the Moon
      Zero for Conduct

      Many of these are not readily available. If you want to see them I recommend going to the 1,001 Movies wiki I help maintain. It will help you find them.

  7. Thanks a lot, very helpful!
    There's a few of those westerns I'm unfamiliar with.

    I'm taking part in the Letterboxd poll, where you name your top 10 short films, the deadline for entries is August 31st, if you're interested:

    1. I didn't know about that. Thanks for the link. I will check it out.