Documentaries and My 2013 Catch-Up: January ’14 in Film

I’m gonna try to start doing this monthly thing, where I do a recap of all the films I watched in the past month. It won’t be anything too spectacular, just some fun stuff.  Along with this, I’ll include certain statistics that may be of interest to people who read my blog regularly or would just be interested to know these things. I decided upon this trend after remembering that I’m really into numbers and statistics and I really like organization of things, so why not on my blog? Yay!

This being the first month of the year, I had a lot of free time on my hand and was able to watch an exceptional amount. I averaged a little less than 2.5 films a day, but the fact that I watched ten animated shorts on the 31st kinda skews that total a bit. Nonetheless, it’s still a lot! The vast majority of what I watched were new-to-me, since I wanted to watch a good amount before I made my “top of 2013” list (which, admittedly, will be coming rather late… but still coming!) Besides a bunch of narrative film from 2013, I also watched quite a bit of documentaries, which I have been getting more into these days. Moreover, I reinvigorated my long-forgotten interest in 80s movies – specifically romantic comedies – as well as silent cinema, of all types. Here’s to hoping we see more of those next month!

Anyway, here’s the amount I watched, by decade.

1880s – 0
1890s – 0
1900s – 1
1910s – 3
1920s – 5
1930s – 1
1940s – 2
1950s – 0
1960s – 4
1970s – 6
1980s – 8
1990s – 6
2000s – 9
2010s – 31

Obviously, there’s a lot from this month that I watched from the past four years. I’m positive that this will become more diverse in the next coming months.

The filmmaker I watched this most from in January:
Technically, I watched more from Émile Cohl than I had anyone else (three of his classic shorts), but only because I had my first day of my History of Animation class yesterday, resulting in watching all three of them (among others) in one sitting. If we’re talking about filmmakers whose stuff I actually made an active effort to seek out, it’s a three-way tie, with two films each: Sarah PolleyPaul Greengrass, Pedro Almodóvar, and Mike Leigh. The latter two have become filmmakers that I’ve come to love over time; I’ve currently seen seven films from Almodóvar and five films from Leigh. I plan on watching much more.

Recommended documentaries:
The best documentary I watched last month – and one of my very favorites from last year – is The Act of Killing. A completely surreal, disturbing, harrowing, unbelievable experience that must be seen to be believed. I also really loved  20 Feet From Stardom, which has a completely-deserved Oscar nomination from this year. I love music and unsung talents, and I think this film does a magnificent job at tying those themes together in a wonderful package. Finally, Stories We Tell worked for me, not only as an introduction to Polley’s work, but as a very compelling, telling documentary about the importance of perspective in storytelling, offering a rather enriching filmic experience.

So, here’s the full list of what I watched this month (asterisks indicate rewatches):

  1. Josie & the Pussycats (Elfont & Kaplan, 2001)
  2. American Mary (Soska & Soska, 2013)
  3. Berberian Sound Studio (Strickland, 2012)
  4. The Magnificent Ambersons (Welles 1942)
  5. Cutie and the Boxer (Heinzerling 2013)
  6. Stories We Tell (Polley 2013)
  7. Captain Phillips (Greengrass 2013)
  8. United 93 (Greengrass 2006)
  9. Five Easy Pieces (Rafelson 1970)
  10. Her (Jonze 2013)
  11. Juliet of the Spirits (Fellini 1965)
  12. Drug War (To, 2013)
  13. Drinking Buddies (Swanberg 2013)
  14. Pain & Gain (Bay, 2013)
  15. Paradise (Cody, 2013)
  16. The Mummy (Freund, 1932)
  17. Fruitvale Station (Coogler, 2013)
  18. It’s a Disaster (Berger, 2013)
  19. American: The Bill Hicks Story (Harlock & Thomas, 2009)
  20. The Wolf of Wall Street (Scorsese, 2013)
  21. Side Effects (Soderbergh, 2013)
  22. The To Do List (Carey, 2013)
  23. Leviathan (Castaing-Taylor & Paravel, 2013)
  24. Working Girl (Nichols, 1988)
  25. Ain’t Them Bodies Saint (Lowery, 2013)
  26. Museum Hours (Cohen, 2013)
  27. Bad Education (Almodóvar, 2004)
  28. The Hunt (Vinterberg, 2013)
  29. The Act of Killing (Oppenheimer, Cynn, & Anonymous, 2013)
  30. Blood Simple (Coen & Coen, 1984)
  31. The Thief and the Cobbler: The Recobbled Cut (Williams, 1993)
  32. The Croods (De Micco & Sanders, 2013)
  33. Secrets & Lies (Leigh, 1996)
  34. The Wild Bunch (Peckinpah, 1969)
  35. Pixote (Babenco, 1981)
  36. Ordinary People (Redford, 1980)
  37. Pariah (Rees, 2011)
  38. How to Survive a Plague (France, 2012)
  39. Picnic at Hanging Rock (Weir, 1975)
  40. La Cage Aux Folles (Molinaro, 1978)
  41. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Dominik, 2007)
  42. Fast, Cheap, & Out of Control (Morris, 1997)
  43. Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (Akerman, 1975)
  44. Serial Mom (Waters, 1994)
  45. Man on Wire (Marsh, 2008)
  46. Like Someone in Love (Kiarostami, 2013)
  47. Beyond the Hills (Mungiu, 2013)
  48. Silent Movie (Brooks, 1976)
  49. Big Top Pee-wee (Kleiser, 1988)
  50. Hey Arnold! The Movie (Tucker, 2002)
  51. 20 Feet From Stardom (Neville, 2013)
  52. Vampire’s Kiss (Bierman, 1988)
  53. Greed (Von Stroheim, 1924)
  54. October (Eisenstein, 1928)
  55. I Know That Voice (Shapiro, 2013)
  56. Rush (Howard, 2013)
  57. Waiting For Guffman (Guest, 1996)
  58. Away From Her (Polley, 2006)
  59. The Lion in Winter (Harvey, 1968)
  60. The Last Metro (Truffaut, 1980)
  61. Moonstruck (Jewison, 1987)
  62. Topsy-Turvy (Leigh, 1999)
  63. Sisyphus (Jankovics, 1974)
  64. The Crows (Noyes, 1967)
  65. [unknown title] (Kuri, [unknown year] )
  66. Possessions (Morita, 2013)
  67. Dollar Dance (McLaren, 1943)
  68. Betty’s Blues (Vandenitte, 2013)
  69. Summer Dream (Parr, 2013)
  70. Fantasmagorie (Cohl, 1908)
  71. The Automatic Moving Company (Cohl, 1910)
  72. The Hasher’s Delirium (Cohl, 1910)
  73. Gertie the Dinosaur (McCay, 1914)*
  74. Dream of a Rarebit Fiend: The Flying House (McCay, 1921)
  75. Flim Flam Films (Messmer, 1927)
  76. Astronomeous (Messmer, 1928)
  77. Broken Embraces (Almodóvar, 2009)

New-to-me: 76
Rewatch: 1

My least favorite film I watched in January:

Paradise.

If this film were actually memorable in any way, shape, or form, I still would probably want it burned away from my memory forever. It was just so, so bland! Definitely the worst writing I’ve seen from Diablo Cody so far, which is disappointing because I actually do like some of her films. This film was just so boring, with an already half-assed concept that doesn’t do anything at all with it. I’m sad that this film has to go on Octavia Spencer and Russell Brand’s resumés, because they’re usually quite good otherwise. There’s just nothing to work with here; not even the film knows what to do with itself, considering that they gave the narrative like four different endings, none of them remotely satisfying This is one of the very worst films I saw from last year. An hour and a half, completely down the drain.

My favorite film I watched in January:

Her.

I already wrote at length about this film and I probably don’t have anything more to say about it that hasn’t been said already but my GOD do I love this movie. I love it, I love it, I love it. I walked into the theater grumbling about having to pay $19 for a movie ticket (since no other theater was showing it) and walked out with my heart full of all kinds of emotions. It’s a movie that is really special to me for so many reasons, and came at just the right time in my life. Joaquin is perfect. Scarlett is perfect. Amy is perfect. Jonze is perfect at movie-making! I knew it would be an instant favorite, and I think of it very fondly weeks after my initial viewing. This film is everything I love about cinema, wrapped in a nice little package. So much love.

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