Sunday, April 3, 2011

Three Months Down... Only Four Films to Go.

Some of you may remember back in January when I challenged myself to watch 11 specific movies this year that I have been intentionally avoiding due to various personal reasons. Well, we've now reached April, and I thought it timely to check out how far I've gotten. Surprisingly enough, pretty far considering my various reservations.

Now, many of you are probably thinking to yourself, "that's it!?" But to be honest, I don't watch as many movies these days as I used to. Most of that is due to my desire to do multiple things at once, and constant changing tastes. Very seldom do I really take the two hours necessary to plop into a chair and become absorbed in the world of cinema. Which is equal part shame and lovely. On some level I've always thought of movies as a reward to myself for accomplishing various tasks. If they haven't been done, then I don't step into the foray of movies.

Either way, here is the list that I made all the months ago with the ones I've watched marked out.
  • All About Eve
  • Tokyo Story
  • Das Boot
  • La Dolce Vita
  • Amadeus
  • Straw Dogs
  • Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
  • Frankenstein (1931)
  • Battle of Algiers
  • Judgment at Nuremberg
  • Aguirre, the Wrath of God
Now, I know that in and of itself tells you nothing about the experience of seeing those films. So let me break it down a bit more for you.

All About Eve: A bit misguided at points, but I appreciate what it does and found myself wholly captivated by the tale of deceit and woe it was spinning. A prime case of quality outweighing predictability.

Das Boot: Overly long, but its incredibly detailed nature helps keep this movie afloat, even when its characterizations falter. The question of whether or not it's a classic is indisputable, but I couldn't help feeling a grave disconnect from the story at hand.

Amadeus: My love for classical music and desire to absorb F. Murray Abraham through osmosis helped me through this epic work of cinema. Unfortunately its greatest strength is by turn also its greatest weakness - the performances. I can't say they were all so shining as FMA.

Straw Dogs: Something about Peckinpah's style that just didn't work for me here. His jagged and violent cuts felt almost overkill given the dark and unemotional nature of the narrative. Still, on the whole I found it gripping, to say the least.

Battle of Algiers: You know, I always find it captivating and sobering when I watch a movie decades old and find its relevance to modern times so transparent the fact that so few see it ought to lead all aware to tears. Still as relevant now as it was then, and still as powerful.

Judgment at Nuremberg: Amazing performances capped off by a true and trying tale. If you didn't know better, you could almost make a case that the performers were born to play each and every one of their respective characters.

Aguiree, the Wrath of God: Right... Yeah... Ummmm... Well, how about this one, eh? To be honest the three primary emotions I felt throughout this film were: boredom, disinterest, and hunger. However, I don't hold it accountable to the last one. The prior two on the other hand, it should suffice to say this movie failed to connect. However, it didn't fail to resonate. Which is more than I can say for most movies I watch throughout a calendar year.

So, how are you all doing on your New Year's Film Resolutions? Oh, and if you don't remember which 11 films you said you were going to watch, click here and scroll on down to the comments.

11 better thoughts:

Lesya Khyzhnyak said...

No New Year Resolutions for me. However, I also watched some films that I used to avoid. Namely, those that I recal now are All About Eve (as well), the two Matrix sequels, the Spiderman movies, The Shining etc.

Jack L said...

Battle Of Algiers is one of my favourites, I to was struck by how fresh and relevant it still seemed after all this time. Great film.

I can't agree with you on Aguirre: The Wrath Of God though, it's one of my absolute favourites, and tied for best Herzog along with Fitzcarraldo.
I found it more captivating and boring, everything about it was so strange and unique, the music, the performances etc, that I just couldn't look away...

I wasn't too impressed by Straw Dogs though, not one of his best in my opinion.
Amadeus is just excellent, especially the burial scene.

I still need to see the others, especially Tokyo Story.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Still can't believe you've never seen Frankenstein. Then again, there's people out there who've never seen Star Wars.

Andy Buckle said...

That's really interesting, because I have just watched The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and only saw Amadeus, Straw Dogs and Aguirre: The Wrath of God recently. All About Eve and Das Boot are on my schedule to watch soon. I have heard Tokyo Story is amazing. Really need to watch that too! Enjoy the rest of the list Univarn.

Univarn said...

@Lesya Definitely check out The Shining. You can skip the two Matrix installments if you desire. Nobody will hold it against you.

@JackL That's fine, I'm fully aware that I lay in the minority on Aguirre. I get that it was off-kilter, a mindset I'm all too familiar with, but it just didn't work for me. It felt bizarre in the way seeing upside down sunny side up eggs would be. Not bizarre in a "wait, did that Panda Bear just do a tango with Tom Cruise while wearing a samurai helmet and a Bo Derek Ten swimsuit?" - my preferred terrain of oddity.

@AlexJ My issue with avoiding Frankenstein is worry that I can't judge it fairly. On the one hand I'm a big fan of the novel and hate that it deviates almost entirely from it. On the other hand I've seen Young Frankenstein more times than I care too count, and am worried that I won't be able to take it seriously. Caught in a nasty web there.

@AndyBuckle I actually sat through half of Tokyo Story but something came up and I never got around to returning to it. Very slow movie. I need to be in the right mindset for that kind of viewing.

Stevee Taylor said...

Thanks for reminding me that I need to watch La Dolce Vita sometime soon. I've had it in my collection since last July.
I'm so useless!

Lesya Khyzhnyak said...

I meant that I have already watched them this year, although used to avoid.

Rich said...

I recently watched the original 'Frankenstein' and I had the same problem (not being able to get 'Young Frankenstein' out of my head). Did you ever see Kenneth Branagh's version? That's supposed to be closer to the novel.

Univarn said...

@Stevee Your welcome, and no worries as I'm in a similar situation.

@Lesya Oh, gotcha!

@Rich I have seen it, and I can summarize it rather succinctly: Overacting outweighs colloquial offerings with each passing Branagh alteration weakening the core story by just that much more. Shame though, because there are a few really great moments hidden among the mess.

Simon said...

Amadeus makes me laugh.

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