Wednesday, January 19, 2011

232 Movies in 365 Days

In 2010, I watched roughly 232 movies. I did this for various reasons, of which I will list a few of the most sensible ones below:
  1. There were a ton of movies I had always meant to watch but never got around to and I decided to just make time to actually watch them.
  2. It seemed to be a more stimulating way to procrastinate and waste time than farting around on the Internet or watching television. (If you don't see much of a difference between movies and television, you're either much less of an intellectual than I am or much more of an intellectual than I am. Don't worry though, the difference is probably at my expense either way.)
  3. I got Netflix towards the end of 2009. It has a massive back catalogue of movies from nearly every decade and country that has produced movies. As you might imagine, once you fall down such a rabbit hole, it can be very difficult to return to your waking life.
Perhaps someday I will reflect seriously on the nature of what might be a metastasizing addiction of a sort, but for now I'm just going to post brief reactions to each movie I watched last year in reverse chronological order. That is, I will begin with the movies I watched at the end of 2010 and end with the movies I watched at the beginning of 2010. To make things more complicated I will spread out the posting of these reactions over the next 101 days or so. My plan is to post 2-3 each day. We'll see how that pans out. But without further adieu, the last movies I watched in 2010:

The Nines
2007. 100 min. USA. Directed by John August. Watchdate: 12/31/2010

There are a few very compelling ideas and themes contained in The Nines. There are even several indications that John August knew how to execute some of these ideas. And while the movie was interesting enough to watch, it ultimately just felt like an overlong television episode, albeit one that deftly switched between imitating the tones of shows as disparate as The Office and The X-Files. August is an accomplished screenwriter, and had he worked with a director like Spike Jonze or Michel Gondry or Rian Johnson, I think this may have had a chance to become a great movie. As I said, he's got some really unique ideas that are heady in that sort of Charlie Kaufman way but without actually being at all derivative of Kaufman. But as it is, it's a lot of promise without much of anything especially worthwhile to show for it.

Mo' Better Blues
1990. 130 min. USA. Directed by Spike Lee. Watchdate: 12/30/2010

Spike Lee utilizes a ravishing color palette (lots of red) for his love/hate letter to jazz music and musicians. Beautiful photography and Denzel Washington near the top of his game are reasons enough on their own to watch this, but there are also a handful of truly brilliant scenes. I especially loved the one where Washington and Wesley Snipes have an argument that reflects various views of art vs. entertainment and what role the audience plays (does the audience follow the creator or the other way round?).
The Fallen Idol
1948. 95 min. UK. Directed by Carol Reed. Watchdate: 12/26/10
This is the kind of movie that sneaks up on you about halfway in. I had been enjoying it enough for what it seemed to be, particularly the performance of the lead child actor. Bobby Henrey played the child, Phillipe, and gives an absolutely superb performance. But then suddenly I found myself totally and completely engaged because Carol Reed (and his collaborator, Graham Greene) put all the pieces in place so carefully without me even noticing to set up a hugely suspenseful drama. The hide and seek scenes were beyond brilliant, as was the sequence in which Phillipe runs off into the streets of London in the middle of the night. They do a really excellent exploration of a side of childhood that isn't often covered, it was sort of reminiscent of J.D. Salinger's writing in that regard. It's a top caliber movie in nearly every way.

PS - Another, less sensible reason I watched 232 movies last year is because I think it would be really cool if I could write movies for a living. Like that would be a pretty kickass job. And I was thinking that if I want to do that job, I will probably need to watch a lot of movies to get a sense of how they work. Also, I will need luck, if there is such a thing.

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