Hola, amigos. I know it’s been a long time since I rapped at ya, but I got a lot on my plate these days. Running a few months behind on the ol’ blog. Obviously I could quit, but instead let’s rush out some posts based on my sparse notes and weak memories, and hit reset in July. I can always revise the posts when I rewatch these on their decade anniversaries, which I’ll probably do if no more new movies get released after 2019. Using this opportunity to pause and take stock of movies… movies are still good, about twenty of the movies in the backlog were excellent, and I hope to watch more movies in the future.
Happy New Movie Year!
Pretty much the same comments as last year (fell behind on the blog, made lists of movies to watch and didn’t watch the movies) but this time I have better excuses. Anyway, still watched a few movies, and some of them were great, and even the ones that weren’t great were pretty great because watching movies itself is great, so three thumbs up for 2018.
Another good year of LNKarno and SHOCKtober and True/False. I also set up a new movie database, which only kinda sorta integrates with my old one but has a different purpose, and maybe I’ll merge them eventually, but anyway it’s not publically accessible yet, nor maybe ever will be, I’m just using it to determine what new things are worth watching.
Happy New Movie Year!
This year I watched barely anything on the BLIGS list I made for myself, fell behind on the blog and caught up last-minute with some short and inadequate write-ups. But I also had a good SHOCKtober, went to an amazing film festival, created my own home film festival, and watched a record number of movies in theaters.
Some Movies Begun and Abandoned in 2017:
What Happened to Monday
I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore
Berlin: Symphony of a Great City
Soderbergh’s recut of 2001
The New World (“first cut”)
The Sorrow and the Pity
Karl Marx City
Happy New Movie Year! Here is a look back at the previous movie year.
Favorite 2016 Movies
Favorite Recent Movies watched in 2016
Favorite Older Movies watched in 2016
Special Screenings and HD Rewatches, 2016
Favorite Shorts of 2016
2016 Movies To Watch
Previous year lists
Bonus List: The Year in Television
Best shows I watched this year, not counting shows I/we haven’t finished yet, and excluding some miniseries that I am counting as movies:
1. Full Frontal with Samantha Bee
2. Master of None
4. Neon Genesis Evangelion
5. Black Mirror
6. Rick and Morty
7. Horace & Pete
9. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
10. BoJack Horseman
I find either top-1000 lists or large collections of annual top-ten lists very appealing, because among all the obligatory auteur favorites and consensus greats there’s plenty of room for unusual selections. And 1000 titles seems like a good canon size, a whole lifetime of film viewing for normal, non-movie-obsessed people, and can cover the entire timeline of film history. A compulsive list-o-phile, I’m always tempted to make my own top-1000 list, but stop myself because I feel like I’ve never caught up with enough of the classics – and also it’d be a lot of work, nobody would ever read it, and as soon as I watch Fanny & Alexander or The Passenger or Paterson it’ll probably change.
As recently discussed in the 10th Blogniversary post, my go-to top-1000 lists have been Jonathan Rosenbaum’s and They Shoot Pictures. I just realized there are massive movie lists online by three more of my favorite critics on their personal sites: Vadim Rizov, Mike D’Angelo and Michael Sicinski. Plus you’ve got your Sight & Sound polls, your Cahiers top-tens, Edgar Wright’s recent list, recommendations from books and magazines and all over. And I’ve started organizing and tagging these.
So, to celebrate my turning A Certain Age this year, instead of listing my favorite movies, I’ve made a composite checklist of the top 1000 unseen movies that I need to watch. Maybe if I get through these, I’ll list my own favorites. No promises.
Almost all are narrative features that I think I might be able to find on video (aiming for HD). Probably half are written and directed by white male Americans, too bad. Mostly excluded are shorts (because I’m tracking them elsewhere) and documentaries (ditto) and avant-garde features (because of availability) and everything from Africa (because we watch those on Katy’s schedule) and movies I’ve already seen and hope to rewatch and anything from the current decade.
Needed a stupid, catchy name for the list, settled on BLIGS (short for “obligatory”, acronym for “Big List I Gotta See”). Sortable list of bligs is here.
Sally Jane Black:
“I haven’t finished watching a movie until I write about it.”
My writing has gotten worse and lazier lately, but it has been a year full of distractions… at least I’m keeping up. Here’s to a better 2017.
I’ve already mentioned (numerous times) my love for film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum‘s writing and his lists of favorite films, including the big top-1000 list published in his “Essential Cinema” book. I hope to watch all of these, but probably never will.
There’s also the top-1000 list at They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They?, compiled from thousands of other lists (including Rosenbaum’s). I hope to watch all of these (except Warhol’s Empire), and maybe someday I will.
There’s also the Criterion Collection, which I’ve been following since the early days of DVD, steadily releasing a series of great-looking films. I hope to watch all of these, but never will, since they keep putting out new ones.
Any movie that appears on all three of these lists is obviously a must-see… and as of Shoah, which I watched over the past few weeks, I think I’ve seen everything in this triple-list intersection. So for today, the tenth anniversary of the movie journal, I’m rounding up the R1K/TSP/CRIT meta-list.
The sixty unlinked ones were last seen in the dark days before the blog started. I probably won’t keep this list updated, since the TSP list changes annually and Criterion releases new stuff all the time. So I’d have to add In a Lonely Place in a few weeks, and Alice in the Cities a month later, and it’s hard to keep track.
This movie blog is months older than (public, non-academic) Facebook and only a few weeks younger than Twitter. But unlike those sites, I don’t think this one has any readers… it’s hard to tell since I disabled comments. So nobody is gonna congratulate me. But I’m pleased with myself! Here’s to another ten years. And if you’re reading: most of these are really good movies. You should check them out.
Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1976, Chantal Akerman)
Kiss Me Deadly (1955, Robert Aldrich)
Rushmore (1998, Wes Anderson)
L’Avventura (1960, Michelangelo Antonioni)
L’Eclisse (1962, Michelangelo Antonioni)
Red Desert (1964, Michelangelo Antonioni)
Sawdust and Tinsel (1953, Ingmar Bergman)
Persona (1966, Ingmar Bergman)
The Last Emperor (1987, Bernardo Bertolucci)
The Act of Seeing With One’s Own Eyes (1971, Stan Brakhage)
Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne (1945, Robert Bresson)
A Man Escaped (1956, Robert Bresson)
Pickpocket (1959, Robert Bresson)
Au Hasard Balthazar (1966, Robert Bresson)
Mouchette (1967, Robert Bresson)
Rosetta (1999, Dardenne bros.)
Viridiana (1961, Luis Buñuel)
The Exterminating Angel (1962, Luis Buñuel)
Belle de Jour (1967, Luis Buñuel)
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972, Luis Buñuel)
Phantom of Liberty (1974, Luis Buñuel)
That Obscure Object of Desire (1977, Luis Buñuel)
Children of Paradise (1945, Marcel Carné)
Shadows (1959, John Cassavetes)
Faces (1968, John Cassavetes)
A Woman Under the Influence (1974, John Cassavetes)
The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976, John Cassavetes)
Love Streams (1984, John Cassavetes)
The Kid (1921, Charles Chaplin)
The Gold Rush (1925, Charles Chaplin)
City Lights (1931, Charles Chaplin)
Modern Times (1936, Charles Chaplin)
The Great Dictator (1940, Charles Chaplin)
Monsieur Verdoux (1947, Charles Chaplin)
Limelight (1952, Charles Chaplin)
Daisies (1966, Vera Chytilová)
Wages of Fear (1953, Henri-Georges Clouzot)
Beauty and the Beast (1946, Jean Cocteau)
Orpheus (1949, Jean Cocteau)
Videodrome (1983, David Cronenberg)
Y tu mamá también (2001, Alfonso Cuarón)
The Long Day Closes (1992, Terence Davies)
Bicycle Thieves (1948, Vittorio De Sica)
Umberto D. (1952, Vittorio De Sica)
Lola (1961, Jacques Demy)
The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967, Jacques Demy)
The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928, Carl Theodor Dreyer)
Vampyr (1932, Carl Theodor Dreyer)
Day of Wrath (1943, Carl Theodor Dreyer)
Ordet (1955, Carl Theodor Dreyer)
Gertrud (1964, Carl Theodor Dreyer)
Alexander Nevsky (1938, Sergei Eisenstein)
Ivan the Terrible 1 (1945, Sergei Eisenstein)
Ivan the Terrible 2 (1958, Sergei Eisenstein)
8½ (1963, Federico Fellini)
Nanook of the North (1922, Robert Flaherty)
Young Mr. Lincoln (1939, John Ford)
My Darling Clementine (1946, John Ford)
All That Jazz (1979, Bob Fosse)
Blood of the Beast (1949, Georges Franju)
The Manchurian Candidate (1962, John Frankenheimer)
Pickup on South Street (1953, Samuel Fuller)
Shock Corridor (1963, Samuel Fuller)
Breathless (1960, Jean-Luc Godard)
Contempt (1963, Jean-Luc Godard)
Band of Outsiders (1964, Jean-Luc Godard)
Alphaville (1965, Jean-Luc Godard)
Masculine Feminine (1965, Jean-Luc Godard)
Two or Three Things I Know About Her (1966, Jean-Luc Godard)
Weekend (1967, Jean-Luc Godard)
Only Angels Have Wings (1939, Howard Hawks)
Safe (1995, Todd Haynes)
Two-Lane Blacktop (1971, Monte Hellman)
The 39 Steps (1935, Alfred Hitchcock)
The Lady Vanishes (1938, Alfred Hitchcock)
Rebecca (1940, Alfred Hitchcock)
Notorious (1946, Alfred Hitchcock)
Stranger Than Paradise (1983, Jim Jarmusch)
Down by Law (1986, Jim Jarmusch)
In the Mood for Love (2000, Wong Kar-Wai)
Close Up (1990, Abbas Kiarostami)
Taste of Cherry (1997, Abbas Kiarostami)
Three Colors: Red (1994, Krzysztof Kieslowski)
Killing, The (1956, Stanley Kubrick)
Paths of Glory (1957, Stanley Kubrick)
Spartacus (1960, Stanley Kubrick)
Ikiru (1952, Akira Kurosawa)
M (1931, Fritz Lang)
The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933, Fritz Lang)
Shoah (1985, Claude Lanzmann)
Night of the Hunter (1955, Charles Laughton)
Brief Encounter (1944, David Lean)
Do the Right Thing (1989, Spike Lee)
A Hard Day’s Night (1964, Richard Lester)
Trouble in Paradise (1932, Ernst Lubitsch)
Twelve Angry Men (1957, Sidney Lumet)
Eraserhead (1977, David Lynch)
Mulholland Dr. (2001, David Lynch)
The Sweet Smell of Success (1957, Alexander Mackendrick)
W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism (1971, Dusan Makavejev)
Badlands (1973, Terrence Malick)
The Thin Red Line (1998, Terrence Malick)
Touki Bouki (1973, Djibril Diop Mambety)
La Jetée (1962, Chris Marker)
Sans Soleil (1983, Chris Marker)
Make Way For Tomorrow (1937, Leo McCarey)
Army in the Shadows (1969, Jean-Pierre Melville)
Life of Oharu (1952, Kenji Mizoguchi)
Ugetsu Monogatari (1953, Kenji Mizoguchi)
Sansho the Bailiff (1954, Kenji Mizoguchi)
Madame de… (1952, Max Ophüls)
Lola Montès (1955, Max Ophüls)
In the Realm of the Senses (1976, Nagisa Oshima)
I Was Born, But… (1932, Yasujiro Ozu)
Late Spring (1949, Yasujiro Ozu)
Tokyo Story (1953, Yasujiro Ozu)
Rosemary’s Baby (1968, Roman Polanski)
The Thief of Bagdad (1940, Michael Powell)
Peeping Tom (1960, Michael Powell)
Anatomy of a Murder (1959, Otto Preminger)
A Canterbury Tale (1944, Pressburger & Powell)
I Know Where I’m Going! (1945, Pressburger & Powell)
The Red Shoes (1948, Pressburger & Powell)
Bigger Than Life (1956, Nicholas Ray)
Pather Panchali (1955, Satyajit Ray)
Aparajito (1957, Satyajit Ray)
The World of Apu (1959, Satyajit Ray)
The Third Man (1949, Carol Reed)
Boudu Saved From Drowning (1932, Jean Renoir)
Grand Illusion (1937, Jean Renoir)
La Bete Humaine (1938, Jean Renoir)
Rules of the Game (1939, Jean Renoir)
Golden Coach, The (1953, Jean Renoir)
Night and Fog (1955, Alain Resnais)
Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959, Alain Resnais)
Last Year at Marienbad (1961, Alain Resnais)
Walkabout (1971, Nicolas Roeg)
My Night at Maud’s (1969, Eric Rohmer)
Paisan (1946, Roberto Rossellini)
Germany Year Zero (1948, Roberto Rossellini)
Stromboli (1949, Roberto Rossellini)
Europa 51 (1952, Roberto Rossellini)
The Rise of Louis XIV (1966, Roberto Rossellini)
Chronicle of a Summer (1961, Jean & Edgar Morin Rouch)
Sullivan’s Travels (1941, Preston Sturges)
The Palm Beach Story (1942, Preston Sturges)
Andrei Rublev (1969, Andrei Tarkovsky)
Solaris (1972, Andrei Tarkovsky)
M. Hulot’s Holiday (1953, Jacques Tati)
Mon Oncle (1958, Jacques Tati)
Play Time (1967, Jacques Tati)
The 400 Blows (1959, Francois Truffaut)
Shoot the Piano Player (1960, Francois Truffaut)
My Own Private Idaho (1991, Gus Van Sant)
Cléo from 5 to 7 (1961, Agnès Varda)
Vagabond (1985, Agnès Varda)
Gilda (1946, Charles Vidor)
Zero for Conduct (1933, Jean Vigo)
L’Atalante (1934, Jean Vigo)
Senso (1954, Luchino Visconti)
The Leopard (1963, Luchino Visconti)
Docks of New York (1928, Josef von Sternberg)
The Scarlet Empress (1934, Josef von Sternberg)
Ashes and Diamonds (1958, Andrzej Wajda)
F For Fake (1974, Orson Welles)
Ace in the Hole (1951, Billy Wilder)
A Brighter Summer Day (1991, Edward Yang)
Yi Yi (2000, Edward Yang)
Crumb (1994, Terry Zwigoff)
The Dissolve was my favorite film site, and most important resource for news and opinions. Check it in the morning for today’s reviews (always well written and nearly-always giving a good indication whether I’ll like the film in question) and movie news. Check in the late afternoon for a news update, feature articles (if time to read them), and links to important film writing elsewhere on the internet. All of this was cleanly and appealingly laid-out, and chronologically ordered so I can instantly tell where I left off last time.
There seems to be no single replacement, and I need one – in the aftermath of Dissolve shutting down, I didn’t know a new Tarsem Singh movie had opened, couldn’t tell you whether Minions was any good, and almost missed It’s a Mad Mad Mad Max Fury Road. Until a benevolent billionaire re-funds the site, I’m reading this sprawl of daily sources instead:
– Fandor Keyframe Daily for less-frequent links to good articles elsewhere, and the best film festival aggregate coverage.
– Letterboxd activity feed (feat. most of the ex-Dissolvers)
– Shadowplay for the best film writing in the business.
– Screencrush, but only Matt Singer’s articles (because I cannot bear to see things like “10 Facts you might not know about Ant-Man” in my news).
– Criticwire, but not the rest of Indiewire (because they had a series of oscar-prediction articles in August). In case I ever reconsider, here are actual headlines from a recent day’s Indiewire front page: “[some trailer] Will Take Your Breath Away,” “[another trailer] Will Break Your Heart],” “[another trailer] Will Send You Into A Vicious Fit.” They also wrote a review of a banner ad.
Occasionally twitter is useful, and AV Club‘s okay. Still avoiding video content and podcasts because who has time for those? And I’ve got a pile of sites to check weekly, and others to check monthly/occasionally, not worth replicating here since they change often and since nobody is reading this. And there’s always my treasured Cinema Scope paper subscription (thinking about adding Cineaste and/or Film Comment).
What else is going on?
– The BBC polled “62 international film critics” to make a top-hundred list of American films, which is mostly more of the same so I don’t feel like tracking it too closely. The eight I haven’t (fully) seen: Imitation of Life, Birth of a Nation, Marnie, A Place in the Sun, The Shop Around The Corner, The Right Stuff, The Shanghai Gesture, Heaven’s Gate. Little White Lies list of 100 Great Movies by Female Directors looks more exciting. Also found some best-animation and best-horror and best-chinese lists, and there’s still the Criterion collection, and recommendations from my books and magazines and the Anthology Film Archives list and the Sight & Sound poll and Cahiers lists and all the new movies coming out daily.
– Auteur Completism Update: In October 2005, I finished watching all the Sam Fuller movies I was able to find (later found and watched four more, and rewatched a bunch in improved DVD and bluray copies), then decided to tackle Fritz Lang movies next. In March 2007, I finished watching all the Fritz Lang movies I was able to find (later found and watched four more), and had since added Rivette, Resnais, Marker and Bunuel to the auteur-completism stack.
That was over eight years ago! I’ve continued to add new directors: Bresson, Chaplin, Sternberg, Polanski, Fellini, Bergman, not to mention keeping up with old favorite directors and discovering new ones all the time. Lately I’m always starting film-watching projects and never finishing any, making a hundred must-watch lists (see above) and trying to make gradual progress on them all at once. I miss the sense of accomplishment, saying “there, I’ve seen ALL the Lang movies I can find – here are my faves, here are the ones I need to rewatch on bluray” or whatever. So back to that 2007 list: I’ve averaged one Bunuel per year since then, still missing five (sort of) Resnais, one or two Rivettes (plus the extended Joan the Maid), and it’s hard to tell how many Markers are available these days – they’ve been steadily surfacing on video. Either way, I could reasonably watch the remainder of these by the end of 2015 – and there’s another big list I’m almost through, assuming I can find the energy to watch Shoah sometime.
– I’m building a list of movie write-up traps – here are three:
1. “It’s good, but flawed” (pref. with no elaboration on “flawed”).
2. “This movie from the past/present could never be made in the present/past because these/those days movies are/were like ____.”
3. Any mention of “explosions and car chases” re: a movie that lacks these things.
– An Adrian Martin phrase I liked very much:
“harnessing our hard drives as our outsourced memory banks”
– Since it has become sport to ask me how many movies I watch per year, I’ve accessed my outsourced memory banks to come up with an answer: 238, on average.
Number of movies watched per year:
Before the movie journal, Deeper Into Movies was set up to host movie lists (and some pictures of my birds), tracking all the movies I’ve watched (that I could recall – probably still missing bunches of Looney Tunes and Tom & Jerry shorts) and all the ones I’d like to watch. Soon I realized that I was forgetting entire movies I claimed to have seen, partly because I was moving on to the next thing without spending enough time reflecting on the previous one, so the movie blog was born. And sometime between the new year and today, it’s reached a milestone: I’ve written journal entries on more than half the movies I’ve ever seen!
Time for year-end lists! I seem to do this differently every year. This year I wasn’t able to get to the theater as often, but tried to keep up with some movies from the last five years at home, so I put those in their own category.
I’ve got a new way of tracking various must-see movie lists.
Some of the ones I made (minor) progress on this year:
– They Shoot Pictures: seen 67%
– TSP 21st Century: 81%
– Jonathan Rosenbaum: 55%
– Criterion: 60%
– Time Out Horror: 79%
– Anthology Film Archives: 41%
This is about the 1850th post on the ol’ blog, now covering some 2780 titles (including shorts). Been running a month or two behind lately, hence these lists appearing halfway into January.
Criticwire posted a great roundup of their favorite film criticism of the year. The only one I’d already read was Lili Loofbourow on Brave. I’m missing all the good articles on new films because they’re published when the movie opens then forgotten when I get around to seeing it a month later – need to start bookmarking interesting-looking articles and catching up on weekly sites. Then again, I have a job, and can’t be reading every article on the internet, so maybe the end-of-year roundup is where I’ll leave it.
Sheila O’Malley on Once Upon a Time in Anatolia:
She opens with a phrase I’ve never liked, calling Anatolia “the main character in the film,” but then she actually backs that up with great evidence, giving the film new dimensions.
Glenn Kenny on Cosmopolis: “the story of watching the end of the world from inside your clean room of a limo while you’re also causing that end. … [Cronenberg] examines irrationality with the unflinching precision of a diamond cutter, and the results are as hilarious as they are shocking.”
I liked The Master alright but dismissed its #1 placement on all the year-end lists because its story never seemed to end up anywhere, but now I’m reconsidering its value after reading this in the AV Club: “Phoenix’s performance calls to mind James Dean and the other Method actors who transformed the tone of movies in the ’50s. The era The Master covers, from roughly 1945 to 1952, was a tumultuous one in American culture. It was the age of film noir and psychological realism, but also a time when the suburban placidity for which the ’50s is remembered took root. All of that looms in Anderson’s movie, which deals with human impulses that run counter to the clean, composed America the corporate PR machine was selling.”
The next day I read Kent Jones’ The Master review in Film Comment, where he expands on this idea significantly.
With There Will Be Blood, he unveiled a genuine and immersive fascination with American history: every detail and choice resulted from a dogged pursuit of what it felt like to live in a lonely world of earth, stone, wood, and metal. Anderson drops us into times and places with their own rules and social structures, which we are invited to puzzle out, imparted through a careful deployment of settings, physical stances, and vocal timbres. In The Master, we are plummeted into the humming world of mid-century urban America, with its top-down organization of class, its smoothly managed department stores and amateur musicales in turn-of-the century mansions, its intimations of orgiastic abandon behind closed doors, its peculiar notions of the unconventional. It’s a moment at which the lowly sociopath and the genteel society matron are both in search of a liberator, who may or may not have arrived in the form of “theoretical philosopher” desperate to gain a foothold in an increasingly competitive landscape.
Matt Singer wrote an article about film franchises using The Simpsons’ Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show as a framework, hilarious.
David Cairns on The Hobbit:
“Maybe Jackson should have shot at 24 and projected at 48, thereby making the film half as long?”
“I’m told that McKellen had to act his scene at the dinner table with a bunch of paper cut-out heads on sticks, with light bulbs that flashed on to signal when each character was speaking so he could look in the right direction. I would, on the whole, far rather see that version of the scene.”
Of course his Shadowplay blog and David Hudson’s Keyframe Daily are currently the only film sites I read daily, following links from within when needed. I’ve come up with a list of ten more to check weekly – we’ll see how long that lasts.
Things I didn’t read: what anyone thought of the new Batman movie or the Sight & Sound list, any conversations on whether movies/film/digital are dead or dying. But despite its “film is dead”-sounding title, I greatly enjoyed Dave Kehr’s book of movie reviews, When Movies Mattered, and I’m currently enjoying J. Hoberman’s slightly more optimistically-titled Film After Film.