Here are all the movies I watched in the month of March. Well, some are actually from February, but I didn’t do a post for the films of February, so they’ll just have to be included here. I don’t actually watch a movie every single day. I wish. (A star (*) denotes movies I re-watched.)
This 1960 French film is often touted as a very influential film. I’ll agree that it was ahead of its time, because it was like a bad YouTube video. It tells the tale of a young man who kills a cop, and the rest is pretty much filler. I just didn’t get it. And the jarring cuts are annoying, as even in these YouTube days, they draw way too much attention to themselves. Maybe with the lack of an interesting story, that’s OK?
The Bad and the Beautiful
This 1952 film starring Kirk Douglas tells the tale of a film producer who alienates his best friends in the pursuit of his craft. While it may not be entirely accurate in its depiction of Hollywood’s inside (not that I would know), it makes some interesting points on the creative philosophy of the business. Fun movie. (I don’t know why the poster makes it look like a romance.)
The Secret World of Arrietty
This came out in Japan in 2010, I think, but it just came to US theaters last month (though I prefer subs to dubs). It’s based on those “Borrower” books that American audiences should already be familiar with from other adaptations. This was a wonderful film, full of a simple honesty and reflectiveness that is lacking in so many of today’s fast-paced bing-bang-boom-zip let’s-be-funny-with-randomness animation. Great movie.
Beauty and the Beast 3D
The first film I ever remember seeing in theaters was either Disney’s Beauty and the Beast or An American Tail: Fievel Goes West when I was five or six years old. They both came out in November 1991, so which one I saw first, I don’t know. Theaters were so big back then. Anyway, I didn’t want to miss the chance to see the film again in 3D. The result? Meh. The backgrounds looked awesome in 3D. The characters themselves looked a bit wonky. But I guess I was prepared for that after seeing The Lion King 3D. Still fun to see it in theaters once again.
The Last Emperor
This 1987 film tells the tale of . . . that guy. I forget his name now. You know, that last emperor of China. Except he never really had much power; he was a figure constantly being used by other forces as a symbol. Not a very fun life. An interesting movie; educational, at least, if one can be forgiven for not remembering Chinese names very well.
The Grand Illusion
This 1937 French film from director Jean Renoir tells the story of a prisoner escaping from prison during World War I. It was quite a good movie, even if its depictions of war probably now seem dated after the horrors of World War II. Great camera work as well.
The Children Are Watching Us
Here’s another great tragic tale from Italian director Vittorio de Sica. Along with Shoeshine and Bicycle Theives, I think de Sica has a little trilogy of tragic masterpieces. This 1947 film tells the story of a couple’s marriage falling apart from the point of view of their child, who perhaps doesn’t quite understand everything, but can piece together enough to understand the tragedy of the situation. Tragic but great film.
12 Angry Men
This popular 1957 film was boring. I just don’t get why it’s so popular. A bunch of people sit around a table and talk for a while. I guess what they say should be deemed philosophically important and we can pat ourselves on the back for understanding how wrong prejudice is, but storytelling-wise it makes for a boring film. They could’ve portrayed the same themes much more dynamically.
Running on Empty
Another film from director Sidney Lumet, this 1988 film starring River Pheonix tells the story of a prodigious piano player who’s family is on the fun from the law. When River’s character falls in love, it creates quite a difficult situation. I thought the story and acting were great, but something about the way it was shot and edited makes it look like an old cheesy made-for-TV film.
Sunday in the Park with George
This really isn’t a film, it’s a recording of the 1985 musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, of whom I became a fan after discovering Sweeney Todd back in 2007. I knew a lot of the songs from the musical from the album, but I didn’t know how they all fit together until I saw this recording. Great show. The songs Finishing the Hat and Move On awesomely describe some of the struggles of the creative process. All artists should check out the musical.
This 1976 sci-fi film is quite cheesy by today’s standards, but there’s something rather charming about that. If it weren’t for pointless use of nudity. Anyway, great score by Jerry Goldsmith.
I had to rewatch this Martin Scorsese film for a third time when it came out on blu-ray. It does not get boring; to me, it really inspires creativity. I especially love getting to see some old Melies work in 1080p. The movie’s not as good in 2D though. Oh well. Still a great movie to have on blu-ray.
The Rules of the Game
Another film from Jean Renoir, this one from 1939. I can’t say it really has much of an effect from my cultural view. Interesting use of rabbit-killing though.
A guy cuts down trees (which I don’t think would be capable of photosynthesis anyway), and runs out of trees because he’s not thinking long-term. Problems ensue. This 2012 animated film was interesting, I guess.
The Boys: The Sherman Brothers’ Story
It seemed like a good time to watch this 2009 documentary after Richard Sherman passed away. (Yes, I did know who they were before he died.) Great and insightful documentary.
A made-for-TV musical from 1966 with songs and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. The music was great. The story was rather bizarre.
I’ve been wanting to see this film from 1971 for a while since it was George Lucas’s first feature. It tells the story of THX 1138, who decides to escape from the world of his mundane controlled dystopian life. I must say, unlike Logan’s Run, it does not show it’s age quite so much. Of course, part of that is because it’s been touched up; Lucas likes to touch up, you know. But even so, the story and the way it’s told feels much more real than the other sci-fi features from that time (not that I’ve seen very many). And I’ll resist the strong urge to make a Jar-Jar Binks joke at this time.
Paths of Glory
From 1957, this Stanley Kubrick film tells the story insane stupid war-leaders making insane stupid war decisions, and then punishing the soldiers when they don’t obey. It does raise the age-old soldier-philosophy question: when is it right and wrong to disobey orders? But instead of exploring that question, the film just shoots you in the face because war is bad. Thanks a lot. I used to think war was good, but now I understand the truth!
Au Revoir les Enfants
Warning: there be spoilers ahead. This French 1987 film tells the story of a young student, Julien, at a Catholic boarding school in occupied France. The school brings in a few Jewish students to hide them from the Nazis, one of them named Jean. Julien and Jean slowly form a friendship. And here’s the spoiler, if you’re still reading: at the end of the film, the Gestapo raids the school and captures Jean, several other Jews, and the head of the school who hid them there. You never get to see what happens to Jean, but as the Gestapo lead him away out the gates of the school, the narrator says something like: “That was the last time I saw Jean. He died in Auschwitz. I never forgot that day.” As an audience member, I didn’t need to be reminded of the horrors of Auschwitz for that to be perhaps the most tragic and depressing ending of a World War II film I’ve ever seen. The entire film forms such a strong and realistic friendship between the characters that just seeing one of them being led away, and you know they he doesn’t realized he’s being sent to his death, and then being told he died in Auschwitz . . .
X-men: First Class
From 2011. I was curious. I’m not curious anymore.
A man moves into a house with his wife and daughters and then learns it might not be real. Is he just imagining things? Are his wife and kids really dead? Did he murder them? A fun psychological thriller from 2011.
The Bridge on the River Kwai*
I bought this 1957 film on blu-ray a few months ago when it was on sale at Best Buy. I had already seen it a few years before on DVD. A great film, and looks great blu-ray.
Another film from Vittorio de Sica, this one from 1952. An old poor man does stuff. I didn’t really get it.
Youth Without Youth
This is a Francis Ford Coppola film from 2007 starring Tim Roth. A man gets struck by lightning, becomes young again, and gets the sorts of special powers I think we all wish we had. The movie gives you a lot to philosophically think about, even while the story itself was too bizarre for me to really understand. I mean, I understood what was happening, I just didn’t always understand the why. But an interesting film.
From 2011. A young man discovers his parents are not his parents after a life of not realizing they don’t even look alike. He must then go on the run as bad people with guns chase him to try to abduct him because his real father is out there and would not want him to be abducted and oh what a complicated mess! The rest of my family was watching it so I stuck around and watched it. And now I have watched it.
This was also from 2011, starring Nicolas Cage. Some bad guys with guns trespass into a guy’s house, hoping to steal his jewels. But does he even have jewels?! Watch and find out!
The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing
This documentary from 2004 discusses the art of film editing. A good documentary for those interested in the subject. The Walter Murch excerpts are particularly informative.
Bonnie and Clyde
The 1967 classic looks great on blu-ray. The violence is nothing by today’s standards, but I think the overall story still stands, and the editing and acting are wonderful.
Been wanting to see this 2001 film for a while, and I like that the DVD had the original Japanese audio as I hate listening to dubs. A girl gets trapped in a mysterious spirit world. Another genius film from Studio Ghibli. Gotta love it. Wonderful food for the imagination.
A 1931 German film with Peter Lorre directed by Fritz Lang. A child predator is on the loose, and the police aren’t the only ones who want to catch him. Really amazing camera work for a 1931 film, and it looks fantastic on blu-ray.
So, 30 films. Good stuff. The explorations in cinema shall continue, I hope.