It sure looks like my 2015 is off to a great start, at least on terms of movie-watching. While I regrettably haven’t been as consistent with my writing as I’ve been in previous months, I’ve been very successful in my goal towards completing 500 new viewings by the end of the year. This month alone I’ve seen 56 films, the vast majority of them being new viewings. This puts me at an almost two-a-day average, which is really the most profound success for me personally. While I do wish time and stamina would allow me to get more actual film reviews written, I plan on staying with my plan to write only about the movies that I want to write about, be it good or bad things. My monthly themes have definitely helped me keep focused on cinema that I may have turned a cold shoulder toward in the past for whatever reason (and also have helped me discover some new, exciting works of art). However, writing about every single one I watched had left me very drained and resulted in a bunch of reviews that I was personally not very pleased with. On the other hand, I only wrote one review this past month – on The Babadook – and found it to be one of my most satisfying pieces thus far. Perhaps pacing myself would be better for my creative output overall.
As is obvious with the list of movies I watched this past month (provided a little further down), my January in movie-watching was mainly concerned with catching up with much of what I missed this past year. Although the month is now over, I still intend on catching up with many 2014 releases, at least before the Oscars roll around at the end of February. Today alone, I plan on going to screenings of the Live Action and Animated films nominated for Best Short, so that should be interesting. I also continued on my overarching journey to watch every single film nominated for Best Animated Short Film, which also explains why I had seen so many films this month. As of now, I’ve seen almost every short film that had won the award – I still need a few in the 90s and most of the 00’s – and I’m really excited to continue watching these wonderful shorts (though some are not so wonderful).
Without further ado, here is the complete list of movies I watched this month (asterisks indicate rewatches):
- Blue Ruin (Saulnier, 2014)
- The Grand Budapest Hotel (Anderson, 2014)
- Under the Skin (Glazer, 2014)
- The Immigrant (Gray, 2014)
- The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology (Fiennes, 2012)
- Gone Girl (Fincher, 2014)
- J’ai tué ma mère (I Killed My Mother) (Dolan, 2009)
- Bambi Meets Godzilla (Newland, 1969)*
- Ah Pook Is Here (Hunt, 1994)
- Nose Hair (Plympton, 1994)
- Maleficent (Stromberg, 2014)
- The Imitation Game (Tyldum, 2014)
- The Babadook (Kent, 2014)
- Bloodsport (Arnold, 1988)
- It Felt Like Love (Hittman, 2014)
- Kingpin (Farrelly & Farrelly, 1996)
- Inherent Vice (Anderson, 2014)
- Nightcrawler (Gilroy, 2014)
- Ida (Pawlikowski, 2014)
- The Toxic Avenger Part III: The Last Temptation of Toxie (Herz & Kaufman, 1989)
- Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same (Olnek, 2012)
- The Babadook (Kent, 2014)*
- Grosse Pointe Blank (Armitage, 1997)
- Lucy (Besson, 2014)
- The Boxtrolls (Annable & Stacchi, 2014)
- Filth (Baird, 2013)
- He Took His Skin Off For Me (Aston, 2014)
- Toy Story That Time Forgot (Purcell, 2014)
- Where Are They Now? (Cutts, 2014)
- The One I Love (McDowell, 2014)
- Snowpiercer (Bong, 2014)
- Wetlands (Wnendt, 2014)*
- American Sniper (Eastwood, 2014)
- Tweetie Pie (Freleng, 1947)
- Speedy Gonzales (Freleng, 1955)
- Magoo’s Puddle Jumper (Burness, 1956)
- Special Delivery (Weldon & Macauley, 1978)
- Knighty Knight Bugs (Freleng, 1958)
- Every Child (Fedorenko, 1979)
- Manipulation (Greaves, 1991)
- A Légy (The Fly) (Rófusz, 1980)
- Charade (Minnis, 1984)
- Anna & Bella (Ring, 1984)
- Een griekse tragedie (A Greek Tragedy) (Van Goethem, 1985)
- Creature Comforts (Park, 1989)
- Bob’s Birthday (Fine & Snowden, 1994)
- The Chicken From Outer Space (Dilworth, 1996)
- Mood Indigo (Gondry, 2014)
- Zodiac (Fincher, 2007)
- Batman Returns (Burton, 1992)
- Batman Forever (Schumacher, 1995)
- Inherent Vice (Anderson, 2014)
- Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Oz, 1988)
- Adventures in Babysitting (Columbus, 1987)
- Borgman (Van Warmerdam, 2014)
- Selma (DuVernay, 2014)
Total watched in 2015: 56
Total new-to-me in 2015: 53
Obviously, I’m on an excellent track for the rest of the year. As I’ve learned, however, this could change at any unexpected turn, so I’d need to keep this flow up if I plan on keeping with my 500-a-year-goal.
And now here are my top 5 new-to-me- films I watched this past month.
5. Bob’s Birthday.
Out of all the Oscar-winning shorts I’ve watched this past month, Bob’s Birthday has been my favorite. I have a thing for animated shorts with a bizarre sense of humor that ends with a sweet, profound message. In this sense, this short is a lot like Richard Condie’s The Big Snit, an all-time favorite of mine. Plus the animation is so, so 90s, it’s hard not to find it totally charming. It’s one that I’m sure to revisit time and time again in the future.
This film further proves that Bong Joon-ho could do no wrong. It certainly feels a whole lot longer than it actually is, but only to present its numerous thrilling scenes in as well-paced a manner as possible. It is unpredictable, wild, ultra-violent, darkly humorous at points… basically everything one would expect from a film from the artist. I know a few people who weren’t particularly fond of this one, but it failed to disappoint me at all.
Easily the biggest surprise of the month for me, Madeleine Olnek’s little indie romance was just what I needed in my life at that very moment. Its influences include a little Woody Allen here, a little Altman there, and are glued together by one of the strangest love stories I’ve seen anywhere. Its got an infectious quirky sense of humor, but altogether it has its heart in all the right places. This only further increases my adoration for queer love stories by lady directors and I really think more people need to watch this one in particular.
To say that Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin is unique is a bit of an understatement. It’s a subtle horror flick wrapped up in avant-garde sensibilities blended together with… something else that probably has yet to find its true definition. More than anything, however, I was fascinated with how in tune I felt with this movie on a sensory level. The cinematography, sound design, and exquisite musical score by Mica Levi, along with Scarlett Johansson’s eerily sensual performance, make this unlike anything else I’ve ever seen before. I’m excited to see what else Glazer has up his sleeve in upcoming years.
I can’t really say much else about Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook that hasn’t already been said by myself or others. As a horror movie lover, this is easily one of the best horror movies to come out in years. I watched it twice this month and found myself even more enamored with it than I already was the first time around. It is awesomely effective at being scary without relying on the cheap jump scares and tacky imagery found in far too many run-of-the-mill horrors these days. It puts its German Expressionist influences to full effect in its lighting, settings, cinematography, and even in its brilliant performances from Essie Davis and Noah Wiseman. I love this movie so much.
In keeping with the monthly themes for my blog, I’m going to take February being Black History Month as an opportunity to check out some stuff from Black directors, writers, and actors that I wouldn’t have normally sought out. I also want to keep watching more movies from woman filmmakers, which means that I plan to watch some stuff from Kasi Lemmons, Ava DeVernay, Julie Dash, Gina Prince-Bythewood, and other talented ladies I hope to discover along the way. I also want to attempt to watch all of Spike Lee’s cinematography this month, including his latest Da Sweet Blood of Jesus. This will be a doozy of a goal to accomplish, but I intend to try my hardest either way.
One last update: I just made a new Tumblr! I used to be active on Tumblr starting my first year of college, up until about two years ago when I just kind of drifted away from it for no apparent reason. This new Tumblr is still in its baby stages, but I plan on using it to help me keep active in the world of film. While this blog will be mostly reserved for longer posts (such as reviews and monthly recaps), my Tumblr will be brief posts, daily recaps of what I watched, and the ilk. This month, I’m making a post a day in appreciation of some talented Black actresses in cinematic culture – today was my first post, on Dorothy Dandridge. Feel free to follow me on Tumblr for some more frequent updates!