About a quarter of the way into last year I decided I was going to watch all of Stanley Kubrick’s movie in chronological order – a decision based largely on my purchase of a Blu-ray box set containing nine of his fourteen movies. That led to another idea, a “Why stop there?” sort of thing, where I would give myself a reason to watch some movies I had always intended to watch, but never had. Some of them were essential to my education as a movie buff. Some I had bought (in many instances, years ago) and never watched.
That first attempt was divided into two lists, which made sense at the time. There were Quality Movies and there were Disposable Movies, and there were some that should have been on the other list, blah blah blah. I’m not playing that game this time, but I’m still sticking with the insanely arbitrary 30 for each, with a grand total of 60 for the year. I’ll once more have a master page with links as I review them (and yes, I’m aware there’s some reviews to still be written for 2012).
First off, my shame: Heavenly Creatures got pushed to 2013, so the List is really sixty-one movies long. I tried to watch it during my end-of-year push, but I just couldn’t get into it. I’ll attempt to try again later (and yet I managed to muddle through garbage like Sucker Punch. Go figure).
28 Days Later - got praised to me before it even opened. The problem here is, I was sick of zombie movies as long ago as 2002, and even a “thrilling new interpretation” couldn’t excite me. Needless to say, the zombie market hasn’t gotten any less crowded in the intervening decade, but it’s time to suck it up and watch it.
30 Days of Night - Guess what I was sick of before zombies? What, you don’t remember the Great Vampire Movie Glut? I do. Still, let’s get this done, maybe get it off my shelf.
The American Astronaut - It’s discomfiting to be known as a cult movie specialist and then find out there’s a cult movie you’ve never heard of making the rounds. I picked up the DVD when it was released, and now lookie there, it’s upwards of sixty bucks on Amazon.
American Movie - once more, picked up on release day, May 23, 2000.The buzz for this at that year’s B-Fest was great, everyone was looking forward to it. Me? As you may be aware, I have a low-budget horror movie in my past. Maybe I’m afraid I’m going to see myself in this documentary. Like a lot of movies on this year’s list, it’s time to put aside the personal and just watch the damned thing.
The Arabian Nights – The third movie in Pasolini’s “Trilogy of Life”, recently released in a Blu-Ray set by Criterion, and given to me by my wife, because she rocks.
Around the World in 80 Days- This is the massive Michael Anderson/David Niven version, not the Jackie Chan version. I saw that one, and can only remember that Sammo Hung shows up as Wong Fei-hung.
Attack the Block - yeah, I know, WTF is up with me not waiting ten years to see a movie.
Ben-Hur – Okay, how about 54 years? Is 54 years sufficient? I know I’ve seen the SCTV version, but only bits and pieces of the real thing. Such a massive undertaking – and I mean just to watch it.
Beyond the Valley of the Dolls – I know. Inexcusable.
Black Narcissus - Another in my continuing education series. When Patton Oswalt drops a reference to something, you watch it!
Bloodthirsty Butchers - I have a fever, and the only cure is more Andy Milligan threadbare period thrillers.
Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 – Honest to God, I’ve had this DVD for 11 years. I don’t think I can be blamed for letting it go this long, but jeez.
The Bridge on the River Kwai - I’ve seen this one, but like so many other movies, I was very young, and it was on TV. Time to re-watch it without commercial interruption or cuts.
The Canterbury Tales – Second movie in the “Trilogy of Life”. Have I mentioned my wife rocks?
Children of Men – Honestly, I have no idea why this has taken so long. I think it came out during my seven-year obsession with City Of Heroes, which soaked up my evenings and weekends..
Crank 2 - It took a podcast to get me interested in the Crank movies. Having now seen the first, I need to see the second.
Cronos - Well, obviously I was waiting for the Criterion Blu-ray to watch this one. Obviously.
Dangerous Seductress - I actually started this piece of Indonesian weirdness once, then put it aside for a time when I could more leisurely drink in the strangeness. That time is now.
The Decameron – First movie in the “Trilogy of Life”. Just checked, and yes, my wife still rocks.
The Descent - Okay, primary reason I’ve been putting this one off? My own severe claustrophobia. This one’s going to be tough, but so many serious horror fans bring it up, I need to finally watch it.
The Devil Commands – Or, on the other hand, I can watch this Boris Karloff thriller instead. Had this around since the early days of DVD.
Diabolique - I remember seeing what I thought was a British remake starring Michael Gough in my youth; since I can’t find any verification of such a thing, maybe I saw an English dub of the original? I’m confused.
Godfather Part III - Yeah, it’s time to tackle this one.
Good Night and Good Luck - Big Murrow fan.
Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone – and here’s this year’s big project. I have only ever seen this first one. All the rest will be first views.
Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows pt. 1
Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows pt. 2
Heaven’s Gate - Yet another gift from my wife. I begin to suspect she’s giving me three hours-plus movies just to get me out of her hair.
Human Lanterns - I have a bootleg VHS of this in a box somewhere, as it was fairly infamous during the big Asian Discovery phase of the early 90s. Now I have a legitimate domestic DVD release. How times have changed.
Intercessor: Another Rock’n'Roll Nightmare – Yes, we’re back to my old stomping grounds here. I kinda liked the first movie, have heard nothing but bad about this sequel. Not just bad. Pining-for-Andy-Milligan bad. That bad.
The Island of Dr. Moreau – Speaking of bad. This is the Frankenheimer/Brando version. Can it be worse than the Taylor/Lancaster version (which was dreadful)? Guess I’ll find out.
Kagemusha – Hit the theaters in another period where I was perpetually broke (eg., most of my life, but that’s another story). Found the Criterion disc at Half-Price Books. Life can be good.
Lady Terminator – More Indonesian lunacy, bought years ago on the basis of its reputation.
Land of the Dead - Did I mention my decade-and-more moratorium against zombie movies? Even ones directed by George Romero?
The Last Temptation of Christ – Main reason for ambivalence: I’m not a Christian. I’ll try to give out some warning, so Fundamentalists can picket my house while I watch it.
Man Bites Dog – Been wanting to see this for a while, and finally remembered that fact during a recent half-off Criterion sale.
The Most Dangerous Game – See Man Bites Dog, above.
Mulholland Drive - Another victim of the City of Heroes time suck. I miss playing with my friends, but I enjoy having the time to actually watch movies like this again.
Network – Is one of those movies I know I saw, but remember nothing about.
Night of the Hunter - Absolutely no excuse. None.
Point Break - This one, I think, was due to the reverse elitism I developed in high school and have been struggling with ever since. If it’s that popular, it can’t be any good, right?
The Red Shoes - Thank you, Criterion half-off sale.
Road to Perdition - I was all set to ignore this until I found out it was a Lone Wolf & Cub homage.
The Searchers - I’m no longer willing to watch movies on commercial TV (haven’t been for a while, really), and don’t want to pay for cable for two channels. This is out on cheap Blu-ray? It’s time.
The Seventh Seal - rented this on VHS at least once. Not sure why I didn’t watch it then. Another Criterion sale buy.
The Shootist - Came out my first year in college. Hell, I’m not even sure how I ate that year.
Showgirls - I am allergic to Joe Eszterhas. Perhaps Paul Verhoeven will form a sufficient buffer. Still, I’ll take my shots so I can catch up on nearly 20 years of jokes.
Shutter Island - Let’s see how much longer I can avoid spoilers.
The Sting - Remember that reverse elitism I referred to back in Point Break? Here’s Exhibit A.
Synecdoche, New York- Ebert raved about it. So did a bunch of other people. Something like five bucks at a Blockbuster used sale. Sold.
The Third Man – A confused friend asked me why this movie was so revered. My response is I’ll have to watch it before I can tell you. He’s still waiting.
To Kill A Mockingbird - I acted in a theatrical version of this back in ’74, when the only way to see it was on TV (where it never seemed to play in the South. Go figure). Anyway, I now own my very own copy. I played Nathan and Boo Radley, before you ask.
Thriller: A Cruel Picture - This is another exploitation flick with an extreme reputation, and once I finally see it, I’m probably going to be disappointed. But I can’t really talk about it until I’ve seen it, can I?
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre - I know. Shut up.
Vertigo – See Treasure of the Sierra Madre, above. PS. Shut up.
I’ve never felt a lot of pressure to watch Hitchcock, which seems unusual, because I really love Psycho, which is, admittedly, his version of a crappy little B-movie. It’s likely that reverse-elitism at work again, partially. Hitchcock is doing just fine without my accolades, I felt the need to shine the flashlight elsewhere. It’s also emblematic of my relationship with the Beatles – my contemporaries were constantly playing their music, for some reason I felt the need to play other peoples’ music, to champion a less popular sound.
But last year, one of my favorite discoveries was Chris Marker, and his La jetee and Sans soleil are so obsessed with Vertigo, and so many writings use it as a cinematic touchstone, I felt it necessary to put it on the list. For educational purposes, you know.
Now to wrap up the reviews for the End of Year movies so I can start watching movies again.