So I’m probably never going to watch ‘Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer’. My 2019 Shame Statement

2019 means a clean slate. 2019 means a brand new Shame Statement.

To recap, my 2018 list:

Five Easy Pieces
Lifeboat
Stop Making Sense
The Black Pirate
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
Paris, Texas
Wuthering Heights
Paper Moon

Sunrise
The Conversation
Victor/Victoria
Once Upon a Time in the West
Ikiru
Help!

Additionally, I watched the following for the Cinema Shame podcast:

Musical Shamedown:

Footlight Parade
The Harvey Girls
The Flower Drum Song
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

Burt Reynolds Memorial:

The End
Semi-Tough

Hammer Horror Shamedown:

Kiss of the Vampire
Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter

I could have done better. I am shamed. BUT BUT BUT THE PODCAST. I had to do a lot of work on the podcast! Yeah, but you watched almost 300 movies last year and I assume some of them featured Judge Reinhold. Fine. Fine. I could have watched Ikiru or Victor/Victoria. I put off watching Sunrise because it was announced as a TCMFF 2019 movie. I did have The Conversation in the Blu-ray player a couple of times. And then there’s Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer that’s been on my list for three years now. I should just give up or something and just watch Seinfeld on DVD.

I don’t have time for your nonsense. 

Fine. 

Fine!

Now let’s hash out some new targets for 2019, and I’ll definitely watch all of those plus the ones I missed in 2018. There. Are you happy now?

Maybe. Time will tell. You do constantly disappoint me.

I’ll pull some ideas from my old familiar EW Guide to the Greatest Movies Ever Made, but I’ll also consult some other essential tomes: The Best Film You’ve Never Seen by Robert K. Elder and Danny Peary’s Cult Movies Vol. 1. I’ll denote the book in which the movies appeared with EW, BFYNS or DP. Ready?

Get on with it already. This ain’t Al Capone’s Vault.


Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955) – #25 Drama EW

Dangerous Liaisons (Stephen Frears, 1988) – #31 Drama EW

Aquirre, The Wrath of God (Werner Herzog, 1972) – #13 Foreign EW, DP

Can’t Stop the Music (Nancy Walker, 1980) –  Jonathan Levine – BFYNS

Cinema Paradiso (Giuseppe Tornatore, 1988) – #30 Foreign EW

The Last Waltz (Martin Scorcese, 1978) – #5 Music EW

McCabe and Mrs. Miller (Robert Altman, 1971) – #17 Western EW

Tarzan the Ape Man (W.S. Van Dyke, 1932) & Tarzan and His Mate (Cedric Gibbons, 1934) – #5 Action/Adventure EW

Patton (Franklin J. Schaffner, 1970) courtesy of @elcinemonster

Shane (George Stevens, 1953) – #4 Western EW

She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (John Ford, 1949) – #11 Western EW

The Right Stuff (Philip Kaufman, 1983) – #83 Drama EW

The Bellboy (Jerry Lewis, 1960) – #68 Comedy EW

The Verdict (Sidney Lumet, 1982) – #55 Drama EW

Plus those that I avoided in 2018, of course. You’re damn right you will.

2019 Shame Statement

Time for another year of penance. I know I haven’t been consistently writing, but I definitely am still consistently watching. One thing I try to do each year is expand my knowledge of a genre. Last year it was supposed to be westerns and I managed to get a few first time watches in. This year I’m going to move onto comedies.

The journey into comedies is inspired by my discovery and newfound love of screwball comedies after watching His Girl Friday for the first time in November 2018. I followed up with Bringing Up Baby and His Favorite Wife and wouldn’t you know? I liked something new that I had no idea I would. Hence 2019 will be exploring humor. Here’s gonna be some of them I certainly plan to watch:

The Naked Gun Trilogy – All I’ve seen of these films is the “that’s my policy” bit that spoofs Dirty Harry. That’s all I needed to see to decide it’s finally time to knock these off the list.

Joes vs The Volcano

Inspired by CinemaShame’s very own James Patrick, I hear about how much this film means to him, so I need to see what is going on. I like hearing when movies are special to people that aren’t the usual suspects.

Young Frankenstein

I’ve been working on my Mel Brooks watching for a while now. Yet I’ve still haven’t seen his magnum opus. I own it, so it should be one of the first I knock off this year.

That Thing You Do!

Some more Tom Hanks here.

Chasing Amy

One of many still unwatched Criterion disc. Also the one Kevin Smith film I was always genuinely interested in.

So this is the opening salvo. Obviously subject to change. Or not at all. Here’s to 2019 and all your first time viewing!

Getting on the Same Page: His Girl Friday and How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Comedy

HIS GIRL FRIDAY is a film that I hadn’t seen and hadn’t sought because it was one that I thought I would never have had an interest in. I like comedy, but I never had an interest in classic Hollywood screwball comedy. That is until earlier in 2018 when I watched Greta Garbo in NINOTCHKA via FilmStruck (RIP’). I found myself rolling with laughter at deadpan humor exhibited by the amazing Garbo. Had I been wrong all these years? Can I, a man born in the 1980s find humor in classic cinema? I love classic cinema and was surprised that this was an area that I never broke into. I purchased HIS GIRL FRIDAY, during the July 2018 sale at Barnes and Noble. Since this was not only an unopened Criterion, it was a film I never saw as well and therefore was perfect for this November 2018 prompt.

In the supplemental features of the Criterion edition of HIS GIRL FRIDAY, film scholar David Bordwell discusses how the film is one of the most American films ever made. This wasn’t just in terms of the ideology or sensibilities portrayed on screen, but in the filmmaking process. Director Howard Hawks was considered to be one of the great American directors who is not a household name. I can see why this is. Hawks manages to keep your eyes strictly on what is on screen without you paying attention to how he sets up, blocks, lights and all those things related to the process of filming. This is the opposite of someone like Stanley Kubrick (one of my favorite directors), who has your eyes on screen and you notice how he puts it on screen. While both ways work perfectly, you can see why a defined visual style sticks in folks memory much longer. However with HIS GIRL FRIDAY, you don’t need a visual style. For this film, the viewers are given one of the fastest, snappiest and wittiest films ever.

HIS GIRL FRIDAY, is the second adaptation of the play The Front Page by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur. The first was directed by Lewis Milestone in 1931 under the same name. That film, also included on the Criterion, I felt had a bit more flourishes in regards to the direction as opposed to Hawks. It also felt like a filmed stage play. Yet while entertaining it lacks Rosalind Russell who outshines Cary Grant like the sun sitting next to a light bulb. Her breakneck delivery of the film’s razor sharp dialogue is one of the best performances I’ve seen. It’s also quite physical without becoming slapstick. This is where my eyes opened to classical Hollywood comedy. It was the delivery that made me laugh, even if the joke itself was outdated. I will say, the Ralph Bellamy bit was a fantastic piece of fourth wall breaking.

This film also doesn’t let you forget that it’s based around the world of newspapers and newspaper writing. The film’s humor never detracts from this premise and also manages to never go into parody no matter what left turns the story takes. Hawks excelled in keeping the whole thing balanced and none of the film’s strengths ever got so high that it felt it was covering up a weakness.

HIS GIRL FRIDAY, is a great piece of cinema comedy and engaging as a look into the journalism business. The back and forth humor was some of the best I’ve ever seen in a film and the world of classic Hollywood comedy is a bit broader to me now and something I seek to understand much more thoroughly.