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No excuses. Movies are still being watched.
Blog posts will resume soon.
You may have noticed that I haven’t updated in 13 days - almost half the time I have been doing this…
I could make excuses but to be honest I have a hard enough time writing about the films and I don’t want to bore you. Perhaps it would reassure you to find that I have been watching films all along.
I left off with The Seventh Seal. I dont know why my last post cut off but I will tell you that I merely pontificated on how much I adore this film - it is one of my favorites of all time and one I have early memories of dozing off to. I have seen it at least twice on the big screen.
Since I left off, I have seen 11 more films. They are:
This Is Spinal Tap, on non-Criterion BluRay. Perhaps it is hard to believe, as everyone seems to have seen it, but I had never seen it. H-I-L-A-R-I-O-U-S.
Silence of the Lambs, surprisingly (as Netflix illustrates the film with the Criterion Collection cover) on non-Criterion DVD. Everyone has seen this film and I enjoy it. “It puts the lotion on the skin, or it gets the hose again.”
The Samurai Trilogy - I looked forward to this from the beginning. Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto kicked off on the oldest (to that point) pressed Criterion DVD. I love these films. They, more than any Kurosawa film, define the samurai genre to me. I also watched these films the first time on Samurai Saturdays on IFC. I didn’t realize but these are the films I think of when I imagine Toshirō Mifune as a 17th century samurai. Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple solidifies Takezo (Miyamoto)’s character. After years of studying and traveling, solidifying his name as a great swordsman, returns to Kyoto to chalenge the regions greatest fencing school and in the process draw the attention of an young, ambitious swordsman, Kojiro Sasaki. Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island is the climax of the trilogy. After a respite of vegetable farming, the story climaxes the trilogy with the duel between Musashi and Kojiro. There can be only one.
Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom. My friend Adam asked me about it. A beautiful film, right up until up until the doodoo eating scene. Doodoo buffet and I’m done.
The Naked Kiss on Criterion DVD. This was the first of two consecutive Samuel Fuller films and the more enthralling of the two. The story of a prostitute who reforms to settle in a small town as a nurse. She quickly finds fairytale love with the town rich guy and just as quickly has it all taken away.
My favorite scene has the protagonist, Kelly, walk past a movie theater with the name of my next film on the marquee.
Shock Corridor, on Criterion DVD, didn’t quite follow The Naked Kiss. While the story was entertaining, I just couldn’t quite settle into it as I could the previous film. There was, however, one very amazing scene where the main character is sitting in the hallway of a insane asylum and a thunderstorm breaks, pouring down in-doors, and durung which the protagonist is struck down by multiple bolts of lightning, only to wake to the fact that none of it had happened and he finds himself sitting just as he had been all along.
Sid & Nancy on non-Criterion DVD. I love Gary Oldman. My earliest exposure to Gary Oldman was in Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead. This predates that by four years and he is hardly recognizable in the role of Sid Vicious. I enjoyed this one but ole sister girl Nancy did get annoying with all the “SIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIID! SSIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIID!, GODDAMMIT SIIID!”
Dead Ringers on non-Criterion DVD. I also love Jeremy Irons, though I am less sure as to why. Surely it isn’t for his role as Simon Gruber in Die Hard: With a Vengeance. But then I look at his career on IMDB and I can find nothing else I might have known him in - surely it wasn’t Lion King. This is a creep-as-fuck movie about identical twin gynecologists. I thought it got pretty predictable when the twin started referencing Chang and Eng, the Siamese twins.
Summertime, on an early pressed, feature-free Criterion DVD. To be honest I am watching this one as I type and I must say I didn’t enjoy it until this very moment. Katherine Hepburn plays a bumbling non-Italian speaking bumpkin from Ohio bumping her way through Venice. I utterly loathe how she films inanimate objects with her movie camera. That was until she fell into the canal. I also love the use of a shallow depth of field. The end is disappointing.
Up next Robocop on non-Criterion BluRay.
A week filled with plans and friends doesn’t leave much time for watching films.
I am not meeting my required 1.53 films per day average to accomplish my goal - in fact, today is day 14 and I just realized that I have only watched 12 films. Two discs at home and two on their way. I will catch up.
I was thinking about what I am doing here, this goal to achieve, and this blog thing. While I would really love to focus on each film with some in-depth analysis, I realize two important facts:
- I am not a writer.
- As part of the Criterion Collection and being the important films that they are, they have had tons written about them already.
I will instead try to focus on the experience.
I first saw John Woo’s The Killer on VHS in high school. I think it was a copy of a copy. The quality was terrible and the subtitles were worse. I had never heard of Chow Yun-fat or John Woo, but I had never seen anything like it and I was blown away. The action was intense, the guns never needed reloading, and I never saw so much fake blood in my life. People tend to frown on this kind of violence in movies, but I think it is just as, if not more entertaining as giant robots, or aliens from another planet, and I can see elements of this movie in every great movie shoot-out since it came out - everything from Desperado and Heat, to The Matrix and The Way of the Gun.
This time I watched the it on DRAGON DYNASTY BluRay. For a non-criterion collection edition, I have to say that the quality of the picture and sound was everything it should have been for a movie released in 1989. The subtitles were certainly better and made more sense than I remembered.
When I thought of bullet-fest movies, The Killer was always at the top of my list. That is, until I saw Woo’s 1992 release, Hardboiled (again on DRAGON DYNASTY DVD) this weekend. I did a little side reading about these films and people tout The Killer as his best work and I would have agreed had I never seen Hardboiled. Watching them back to back I have to say Hardboiled is better.
Monday night I made it to my next two Criterion Collection edition films, both on BluRay - Walkabout and The Seventh Seal. I have to say that getting two Criterion BluRays back-to-back was a nice treat. The difference in quality is astounding.
Walkabout is the first movie I had not heard of - I hadn’t even read plot synopsis. For those that don’t know this film, it is the story of a girl and her young brother who are stranded in the Australian outback and saved by a young aborigine boy on “walkabout.” I had no preconceived notions about what was or was not going to happen. This is more than a story of survival and I think it is one of the most beautifully filmed movies I have ever seen. I highly recommend this film.
The BluRay featured a new, restored high-definition digital transfer, made from a newly minted 35 mm with uncompressed monaural soundtrack. Included on the disc features was an interview from two years ago made for interview of Luc, the young boy in the film and son of director Nicholas Roeg, in which he recounts his experiences during filming.
The Seventh Seal
It took me seven days to finish my seventh film. That means that since my last post I have only managed to watch 5 films. I know, I know. Would it disappoint you to find that I watched three of them in a marathon Wednesday night?
Sunday was Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes over a brunch filled with Bloody Mary’s. I am a big Hitchcock fan and this is definitely one of my favorites, and while I have seen it before, I especially enjoyed this viewing because I shared it with my mom who had never seen it before. The quality of the picture and sound was good but I must say it didn’t strike me as much as the restored Grand Illusion did.
Next we watched Federico Fellini’s Amarcord on Netflix Instant. Neither of us had seen it before. And I spent the first thirty or so minutes or so reassuring her that it was a good movie, over her “What are we watching?” comments. It was fun and I would say that I enjoyed it but it is definitely my least favorite so far.
Later in the week my next batch of discs came in from Netflix, included with was my first Criterion BluRay of this journey - François Truffaut’s The 400 Blows. This is another favorite of mine. The biggest comment I have is that the picture quality was astonishing. I saw this movie a few years ago at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston (the first time I had seen it) and thought the quality was good then. Any one that say older films aren’t worth transferring to BluRay, is a fool. Also if you haven’t ever seen this film, do so.
I also received Jean Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast. I love this film though I am not 100% certain I have seen it before. Apparently this film was in a similar state to Grand Illusion, as it was a popular film for many, many years and there were almost no good prints left, except this time there were no long-lost negatives to save the day. It might sound absurd, but I watched this film three separate times. Once subtitled as it was filmed, once with commentary featuring film historian Arthur Knight, and once with the included and synched Phillip Glass opera.
Last for this marathon was A Night to Remember. If you didn’t know, this is the original Titanic period piece. Released in 1958, it broke away from the melodrama and mythology and used composite characters while setting the spotlight on the Titanic to tell the story of what really happened that cold night in April, 1912. I wonder where James Cameron got his ideas for his 1997 release…
A large reason for the slower than anticipated pace is that neglected the time it takes to send and receive discs from Netflix in my planning. I have since bumped my subscription to 4 out at-a-time, which has to help.
As for the next two films, John Woo’s The Killer and Hardboiled have proven impossible to find in their Criterion forms, I was faced with a dilema, to skip them for now or watch their “DRAGON DYNASTY” counterparts which Netflix offers. I chose the latter. So over the weekend I have The Killer on BluRay, Hardboiled, and Walkabout and The Seventh Seal on BluRay.
I will let you know how everything turns out this weekend.
I want to tell you that you can help me on my mission/quest/thing.
There are several Criterion Collection films that are out of print and proving difficult to find, some of the upcoming discs are as follows:
- #8 John Woo’s The Killer
- #9 John Woo’s Hard Boiled
- #20 Alex Cox’s Sid & Nancy
- #21 David Cronenburg’s Dead Ringers
- #23 Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop
- #27 Paul Morrissey’s Flesh for Frankenstein
- #28 Paul Morrissey’s Blood for Dracula
- #40 Michael Bay’s Armageddon
- #49 Federico Fellini’s Nights of Cabiria
- #55 Philip Kaufman’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being
If you or someone you know has these any of these in their possession, I would love to borrow them. If you/they are out of the area, I would be willing to pay for shipping both ways. Even if you know where I could rent them in Houston, Tx…