2015 is here and I must admit I did not complete my penance for 2014 nor did I even watch a movie a month. For 2015 however I am making all attempts to rectify that. Behold my 2015 CinemaShame with some holdovers from last year.
1. Blade Runner
2. Do The Right Thing
4. 3:10 To Yuma (carryover from 2014)
5. A Clockwork Orange
6. Lethal Weapon (seen 2-4 but never the original)
7. Ace in the Hole
8. Friday The 13th. (Another 2014 carryover)
10. The Hustler
11. Marathon Man
12. The French Connection
This year I’ll be 30 years old. I haven’t completed a whole lot of things but I am determined to finish this list. I wish myself luck!
At this point with a little more than a month left on the year, I’m trying my best to get as many movies in as possible. So most likely my original list won’t be completed but I am certainly still watching. Here is a look at the gothic horror film The Innocents which I had never seen. I previously posted this on my personal blog, I felt this had to be added to my shame because this is a brilliant film. I don’t usually engage in hyperbole so this really resonated with me.
Looking at The Innocents for the first time.
Directed by Jack Clayton
I picked this up during the semi-annual Criterion Collection sale at Barnes and Noble. I have heard about this film’s legacy for years and had never seen it. I always like to hear of successful genre films from an older era because I feel viewers nowadays dismiss them unfairly. Here we have a nice and atmospheric gothic horror film that as you watch it is actually quite unsettling. Deborah Kerr plays a woman who becomes the governess for a wealthy man’s niece and nephew. I won’t go too much further into the plot as not to spoil anything but there is something suspicious about these kids. I know it sounds cliche, but the mystery behind this is quite intriguing.
The film opens with the 20th Century Fox logo, but no fanfare. It’s just a stark black and white image with the sound of a little girl singing. Very unnerving. I had previously thought that the opening to Alien 3 was very dark and foreboding but this takes the cake. The film oozes menace throughout which really makes it a horror film and not just some scare machine which one would think having seen its trailer. Honestly it doesn’t help sell the film at all. It makes it look like some 60s B-movie and this is far more than that.
As I watched the film, I took note of the splendid craftsmanship in the cinematography. It really reminded me of the work of Stanley Kubrick. Combine that with the tension that permeates the story which is reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock, this is probably why I responded so well to the picture.
A prime example of knowing how to scare people without making them jump. I would recommend The Innocents to anyone who hasn’t seen it or to those who profess to be horror movie buffs. This is a fantastic film, with quality acting and it’s also very well crafted. It’s a shame I did not see this film sooner.
I know, I know. I’ve been out for a while. Since March I believe.
At this very moment across the country, various Barnes and Noble locations are having a sale on Criterion Collection titles. If you are unfamiliar, The Criterion Collection is a distribution group that collects classic and contemporary films and markets them to cinephiles moreso than the general public. Since Criterion releases are usually higher priced than regular films, I use this opportunity to collect as many as I can during the sale.
One gem I managed to pick up was “The Most Dangerous Game.” The film was directed by Ernest B. Schoedsack and Irving Pichel and produced by Merian C. Cooper. Cooper and Schoedsack would soon move on after this film to create the landmark adventure film “King Kong.” In fact the sets of this film were used in “King Kong.” The movie stars Joel McCrea and Fay Wray as two people who are shipwrecked on an island owned by Zaroff, played by Leslie Banks. Zaroff is a man who hunts other humans for sport, hence the most dangerous game. McCrea’s character, Bob Rainsford is also a big game hunter and is selected to provide ample challenge.
I must say for a film that’s only 67 minutes long, it certainly does not waste any time. There’s basically no exposition and I still feel I know enough about the characters we should be focused on. Also with this being a Pre-Code film, the violence feels a little more tangible.
I also did not expect to be drawn in with the level of suspense that this movie has. Once the hunt begins you feel part of the battle of with between the two hunters and how a calm head really is the greatest weapon you can possess in a situation like that. I certainly hope the short story that this film is based off of by Richard Connell is even more suspensful.
If you have the chance to watch this great adventure film, it reall is a gem and I would highly reccomend it. “The Most Dangerous Game” is currently available on Criterion Collection DVD, Hulu Plus and also on YouTube. This is a great example of classic Hollywood filmmaking.
Due to the sale, my list may most likely have some major changes coming soon. Stay Tuned. I won’t be gone as long again,
I’ll admit it. I’m stubborn. A bit of a rebel. When people tell me to do something, I mostly do the exact opposite. Because I’m an adult, damnit. Only I was like this as a kid, too.
When people tell me I just have to do this or that, I mostly just roll my eyes. I’ll do what I want, okay?
So, this way of being has led me to a lifetime of watching really obscure, bizarre movies or hopeless romantic comedies (that are really quite bad) while missing all the “classics” of my generation. I also attribute my lack of exposure to certain films to my sheltered childhood. Growing up with very little, we never got to see films in theaters. I can only really remember watching Crocodile Dundee. Most of the time, we were stuck with what was on TV. Basic TV, at that. (I think we had cable for 3 months during all of my childhood). By the time I was a teen and could rent movies, I had pretty weird taste in movies. And well, everything.
Now that I’m 35, I’ve realized that I kind of missed out on some pretty fun stuff. Or seemingly fun (since I haven’t seen these things, I can only assume…people look like these things make them happy). I’ve also found myself in many conversations where I have no idea what the Hell people are talking about.
I have a thing called a Mighty List, and–at some point–I decided that I wanted to watch a bunch of movies. I really wanted to expose myself to new things and get out of my comfort zone. So, this is part of that. My list is mostly based on other people’s shock when I tell them that I have no knowledge of said films.
Without further ado…
- Labyrinth (1986) – I attempted to watch this once, back in 2004. My then-fiance was completely perplexed that I hadn’t seen this movie. He was a big science fiction geek who tried and tried to expand my horizons. (He once gave me every Kurt Vonnegut book ever simply because I’d never–gasp–read anything from that guy). I was actually trying really hard to watch the movie–even though I had a hunch I probably wouldn’t like it. I’m not much of a science fiction/fantasy person, to be honest. But it was weird, and there was David Bowie–and ooh, Jim Henson. Yea…totally fell asleep ten minutes in. Like dead to the world asleep.
- ET – The Extra Terrestrial (1982) – This is another one my ex-fiance tried to get me to watch…that I tried to watch. I passed out about 15 minutes in. This one really took some doing to get me to agree. I’ll admit–I avoided it on purpose my entire life simply because people said it was an Alma film.
- Star Wars Original Trilogy (1977) – I think this is the one I get crap about the most. I’ve had past boyfriends try to convince me to watch it, telling me all about the mythology (which does seem cool). But I always refused. I had to draw a line somewhere, and I just couldn’t go there. I guess I am now a bit more curious about all the fuss.
- Indiana Jones & the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) – It just never occurred to me to willingly watch this movie.
- Inception (2010) – Another movie that all my friends said was an “Alma” movie. I just could never go there.
- The Matrix (1999) – I once had a friend who would talk for hours about this movie, and I had no clue what they were even talking about.
- Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) – Absolutely no excuse. They do midnight showings every weekend at the theater in my neighborhood.
- The Godfather (1972) – I have absolutely no good reason for avoiding this one all my life. I actually love a good mob flick.
- Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) – I actually think I’ll like this one.
- Bull Durham (1988) – I adore Susan Sarandon, so I pretty much have to see this one.
- Road House (1989) – For me, Patrick Swayze began and ended with Dirty Dancing.
- Die Hard (1988) – I still have no clue why this is a Christmas movie.
There you have it. Make fun of me. Share awesome romantic comedies. (I swear I’ve seen all the good ones, and everything else is just terrible). I’ll keep you posted on my progress!
A Double Feature of Repentance
Well with less than a week in January, I have completed the first of my 12 month program to atone for my cinema sins. I originally did not have El Mariachi on the list but when I realized I had never seen the debut feature of one of my favorite directors. I knew I had to do a double feature. With this being the last day of January I am here to report.
I am really glad I finally got to see this Coen Brothers masterpiece. Sadly they were robbed at the Academy Awards. Thankfully Frances McDormand got a much deserved recognition for Best Actress. I loved the pacing of the film and the care placed in showing the almost immediate unraveling of this so called plot and Marge Gunderson’s polite police work to solve the case. Fun and quirky.
2. El Mariachi.
I feel I did myself a disservice not seeing this film sooner. I love pretty much all of Robert Rodriguez filmography and Desperado is my second favorite after Sin City. El Mariachi reminds of a pseudo prequel/remake/reimagining of Desperado. It almost had a sort of Hitchcockian feel of a case of mistaken idea combined with the mastery of Sergio Leone. Good action and very stylish camerawork show that Rodriguez is still one of the most consistent directors cinema.
One step to repentance complete.