Monday, November 5, 2007

60 Films in 6 Months

No matter how big of a cinephile one might consider themselves, we all have some big, gaping, black holes of films we "should have" seen, but for whatever reason never did. And I'm no different. While I think I'm more well versed in cinema than the average moviegoer, and I certainly have no qualms about tackling different kinds of film, there are some major films I've just never seen.

Over the past few years, I've created lists of films that I promise myself that I'm going to see, generally taking the approach that if I catch one per week, I could feasibly tackle 52 films. And while that doesn't seem that daunting, I never quite got the motivation to do finish the task in years gone by.

So, this year, what I decided to do is to make a list of directors that interested me and take that approach, and it clicked. I started on the list I set out for myself in May, and actually expanded upon it to come up with 60. Each of the directors were chosen for a reason: Some were directors I knew I needed to see at least something from. Others were directors from whom I'd only seen a couple and wanted a firmer grasp on their work. And others still were ones that I'd seen the bulk of their work, but I wanted to fill in the big blanks. And I finished last night. So, here are the ones I caught, first listing the director, and then the particular films I watched, and the grades I assigned them.

Prior to expanding upon his fiomography, I saw one incredible film (Time To Leave), and two interesting films where one ultimately worked (Under The Sand) and one ultimately didn't (Swimming Pool).
I watched:
5x2: B
Water Drops on Burning Rocks: C-
8 Women: B+

I'd only seen Le Cercle Rouge, and found it to be a movie that just oozed this cool as hell vibe. And with Army of Shadows finally getting released in America, the time was right.
I watched:
Le Samourai: B+
Army of Shadows: A-
Bob le Flambeur: B-

He was an interesting case becuase I'd seen two of his films: Cache, which is one of the best films this decade has had to offer, and The Piano Teacher, which, despite an amazing performance by Isabelle Huppert, is one of my most despised films of the decade. So I needed to see more, and I'm so happy I did.
I watched:
Funny Games: A-
Code Unknown: C+
Time of the Wolf: A-

I'd seen only two of his films as well before coming into this. Damage, which I loved when I saw it, but it has admittedly been awhile, and Vanya on 42nd Street, which is also good, but I can't say I love it.
I watched:
Elevator to the Gallows: A-
Au Revoir Les Enfants: B
Atlantic City: C+

Now, it's worth mentioning that when I was hitting my cinematic awakenings as a teen, Allen was in a creative lowpoint. So I just never bothered to go back and check out his earlier works. Now, I did love Bullets Over Broadway, but those was surrounded by years and years of garbage. But after falling in love (well, maybe just a crush) with Match Point, I figured it was time:
I watched:
Crimes & Misdemeanors: A-
The Purple Rose of Cairo: A
Hannah and Her Sisters: B-
Annie Hall: A
Interiors: B+
Manhattan: C
Husbands & Wives: A-

I'd never really seen Fassbinder before. I tried to catch The Marriage of Maria Braun before, but it was a disastrous experience, and I'll just refrain from elaborating further. So, I caught only a part of that film. But his films were among the ones I really wanted to catch up on.
I watched:
The Marriage of Maria Braun: B+
Veronika Voss: A-
Lola: C
Ali: Fear Eats The Soul: A
Chinese Roulette: C-
In A Year With 13 Moons: B-
The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant: C

I'd seen most of the "big dogs" from his filmography, and even most of the minor ones. But there were a handful of earlier films I never caught, so I basically saw everything I need to now:
I watched:
The King of Comedy: B+
After Hours: A-
The Last Temptation of Christ: B
Mean Streets: B-
Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore: B

I've really loved some of his films, and I can't think of any I flat out hated. But there were some big gaps in what I missed, so I added him mostly out of having caught a lot of his 70s, 90s, and 00s, films, but not the 80s.
I watched:
Gallipoli: B+
The Year of Living Dangerously: A-
The Mosquito Coast: B+

I wanted to see more, becuase, I think he is a fucking amazing director for the most part. And sorry if I jump on a soapbox here, but I think he is so unfairly maligned because of the statutory rape issue. Was it wrong? Sure, of course it was. But I also bear in mind the fact that, say had my pregnant wife been butchered by the Manson Family, I might lapse into a period of self-destruction and I might make the wrong decisions as well. The girl doesn't hold a grudge, and even publicly stated so. Why do people have such a hard time letting go of this shit? Anyway... the man has directed some of the classics of the past 50 years, from Rosemary's Baby and Chinatown all the way up to The Pianist. But there were a few I wanted to catch:
I watched:
Repulsion: A-
Bitter Moon: B+
The Tenant: D

I've never been overly impressed with his work, but I had to watch The Up Series. It consists of 7 films, and I've elaborated on it previously. But for this, I won't elaborate on a specific segment, but I give the series an A+

Ok... so here comes the most embarrassing admission. I never saw The Godfather movies until now. I'm not a huge mafia film kind of guy, and they weren't available on DVD for so long. I'd seen some later shit, but shit was basically the operative word there. And, rather than waste anytime on the third installment, which seemed to me to be a desperate attempt to reclaim his glory days, I watched a replacement that I saw when I was way too young, and it was time to revisit.
I watched:
The Godfather: A-
The Godfather Part II: B
Apocalypse Now: A

I managed to see most of the films from the later years, but the earlier films never quite happened until now. So...

I watched:
M*A*S*H: B+
Nashville: B+
Three Women: B

I'd never seen anything, and though I picked him prior to his passing this year, his death made it seem more urgent that I see his films.
I watched:
L'Avventura: A-
L'Eclisse: C+
L'Notte: B+
Blow Up: B

Again, another I never saw anything from. But I love Spanish cinema, and his relationship with Salvador Dali further intrigued me.
I watched:
Un Chien Andelou: B
L'Age D'Or: B-
Diary of a Chambermaid: B+
Belle De Jour: A-
The Discrete Charm of the Bourgeoisie: C+
That Obscure Object of Desire: B+

I was originally thinking I'd elaborate further on the films, but there are just too many. So, the letter grades can suffice for now.

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