I posted recently about the books that I read last year. I mentioned that I wasn’t sure why I had done this except maybe for the idea that I’m a “stats guy from way back” and it will be interesting to me to look back and see what I read when and how long it took me.
A similar “why not?” attitude lead me to do the same with the movies I watched. One reason, I guess, is that, while I’m reading books or watching movies throughout 2019, I can be comparing my progress as compared to last year. For no reason; just for kicks. I’m a stats guy. Ten years from now I’ll be able to say “my record for most movies watched in a year is…”. I always use the Mario Kart example with my kids. You know when you’re doing a race by yourself and you’re competing against a ghost of yourself? It’s the ghost of your previous race so you can see how your current race compares. It’s like that. Hope you haven’t tuned out. (**eye roll emoji**)
Anyways, I watched 205 movies. I haven’t been promoting that number, though. I’m not bragging on that number, I’m just reporting it. I don’t know if that’s a lot of movies or not. Surely somebody out there is saying “pffft! I watched more than that!” and that’s fine. The point here is not the quantity. Of the 205 movies, 91 were new to me and 12 were watched in the theatre; which is HUGE for me. Before last year, I’d probably been to the theatre 12 times in the last ten years, no lie. We got a new Imagine Cinemas in my hometown and it is right across the street. So often in the past, I would never go see a movie I was only half interested in if it meant traveling 20-30 minutes. For me and my family, that’s a big ask on a weeknight and an even bigger one on a nice, stay-at-home type Saturday night. Four movies I watched multiple times (all twice): “Moon Over Miami”, “Ocean’s 11” (1960), “Tony Rome” and “St. Elmo’s Fire”.
Here are some highlights and lowlights of the films I saw for the first time in 2018.
“Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story” (2017) — This movie was a bit of a treat for my wife and I. My wife noticed in our local paper that this film was going to be screened at the Gibson Centre, a local landmark and a cultural activities centre. This is right down the road so we decided to go. I’ve loved Hedy Lamarr for a long time. She is, I think, the most beautiful actress of the Golden Age and I read her “autobiography”, “Ecstasy and Me”. I distinctly remember buying it. It was at a garage sale out in the country. The house was in the bush and as we walked up the driveway we were assaulted by swarms of mosquitoes. Through the haze, I saw the book and bought it, mostly to swat away the bugs. Her life story is truly exceptional and more than worthy of this fine picture.
“The Count of Monte Cristo” (2002) — My friends were amazed that I had never seen this. I had wanted to buy it for awhile but I simply never ran into it. I also have never seen and would like to see the 1934 version with Robert Donat that was featured in “V for Vendetta”. I knew this remake would be flashy and I was right. It’s a great film and I guess a lot of the appeal comes from the story itself. I remember watching it and reveling in what I was feeling, how invested I was in the story and the outcome of the characters. It made me pine for an age when all stories were this in depth, spanning the ages, etc. A good, old-fashioned adventure story. I also fell in love with Jim Caviezel’s wardrobe in the film.
“Split” (2016) — Riveting story from one of my two favourite filmmakers, M. Night Shyamalan. Amazing portrayal by James McAvoy of a character to be more fully explored in the much-anticipated film “Glass”.
“Taking Woodstock” (2009) — My Seasonal Interest Syndrome has me gravitating towards “oldies radio” every spring. By this I mean the rock and pop and the ’50’s and ’60’s. I’ve often been drawn to Woodstock and sometimes more so to the cultural impact and the stories inherent in the fabled happening than to the music itself. This is an interesting drama based on a true story. Directed by Ang Lee, of all people.
There were three that I stumbled on while strolling through the Public Domain: “Behind Green Lights”, “Fourteen Hours” and “The Maze”. The first one starred Carole Landis and when I read up on the film afterwards – as I often do – I was so stunned by what I read about Carole that I felt compelled to write about her. The second two were fascinating and resulted in articles, as well.
Other highlights include: “Play Misty for Me”, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and “Allied”, both with Brad Pitt, the latter being an excellent World War 2 drama, “The Ides of March” (captivating political story with Clooney and Gosling) and “The Wife”, which was unique for me. My son got tickets to a local film festival and this movie was part of it. Also “Bad Times at the El Royale” (excellent, very Tarantino. With Jon Hamm and Jeff Bridges) and “Flags of Our Fathers”, Clint Eastwood’s compelling story of the men who raised the flag on Iwo Jima. A companion to his “Letters from Iwo Jima”.
“There Will Be Blood” (2007) — I was really looking forward to this one but it just wasn’t what I expected. Daniel Day-Lewis is something to watch but it just didn’t ‘latch’. I probably should watch it again but I think I passed the DVD along.
“A Star is Born” (2018) — This was one of those that mildly interested me, one I wouldn’t have driven 30 minutes to see but if it’s across the street… This maybe deserves it’s own post but suffice it to say I can ‘”get something” out of almost any movie but this was one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. I almost got up and left. Up against the previous versions, this one fails for many reasons; they gave “Jackson” Maine a hearing problem so his alcoholism has an excuse and she “sells out” almost immediately are two of them.
“The Other Side of the Wind” (2018) — I dunno. I must be a moron. Netflix managed to get the last film Orson Welles was working on when he died finished. I don’t know what I was expecting but it wasn’t this. I understand about art films or whatever, I just can’t get behind them. The doc about the making of this film – “They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead” – was much better.
Other lowlights include: “Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number”, “Smokey and the Bandit 2”, “Invisible Woman”, “Full Metal Jacket”, “They Were Expendable” and “To Hell and Back”.
Films from 1920’s – 1940’s — 35
1950’s — 17
1960’s — 36
1970’s — 11
1980’s — 30
1990’s – present — 58