July 2017 Recap

July was another crazy month, but for the first time all year, it was a good kind of crazy! I got my new job at the movie theater, and so far it's going great; I think I've finally found a place that makes me happy, after a number of pretty disappointing positions. And with all of the free time I've had (this job has less hours than my old one), I've watched a lot of movies, most of them really good. I re-watched a number of films, got through half of my planned Audrey Hepburn marathon--part 2 coming soon--watched through a number of Powell and Pressburger movies--which were a real treat--and discovered a couple of completely unexpected new favorites, which is always exciting! See a breakdown of my viewing and my new favorites after the cut.

First-Time Viewings: 51
Re-Watches: 7
  1. High Wall (1947)
  2. He Walked by Night (1948)
  3. Re-Watch: Thelma & Louise (1991)
  4. Re-Watch: Walk the Line (2005)
  5. Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
  6. Beauty and the Beast (2017)
  7. The Lavender Hill Mob (1951)
  8. We Will All Go to Monte Carlo (1951)
  9. War and Peace (1956)
  10. Funny Face (1957)
  11. Green Mansions (1959)
  12. The Nun's Story (1959)
  13. Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
  14. Rafter Romance (1933)
  15. Re-Watch: Gone With the Wind (1939)
  16. The Painted Desert (1931)
  17. The Misfits (1961)
  18. The Gazebo (1959)
  19. Lolita (1997)
  20. Re-Watch: When Harry Met Sally (1989)
  21. Maurice (1987)
  22. Re-Watch: Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974)
  23. Kick-Ass (2010)
  24. Rebecca (1940)
  25. The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932)
  26. The Heiress (1949)
  27. The Plumber (1979)
  28. The Shallows (2016)
  29. The Prodigal (1931)
  30. The Spy in Black (1939)
  31. A Canterbury Tale (1944)
  32. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)
  33. I Know Where I'm Going! (1945)
  34. A Matter of Life and Death (1946)
  35. A Day in the Country (1936)
  36. Raffles (1930)
  37. Shadows in Paradise (1986)
  38. Remember My Name (1978)
  39. Klute (1971)
  40. Sing and Like It (1934)
  41. Re-Watch: Trainspotting (1996) 
  42. T2 Trainspotting (2017)
  43. Ariel (1988)
  44. Re-Watch: The Red Shoes (1948)
  45. The West Point Story (1950)
  46. The Great Race (1965)
  47. The Loved One (1965)
  48. Meantime (1983)
  49. Through a Glass Darkly (1961)
  50. Kongo (1932)
  51. Les Girls (1957)
  52. The Moon is Blue (1953)
  53. Baby Driver (2017)
  54. Gun Crazy (1950)
  55. The Big Sick (2017)
  56. Sunday in New York (1963)
  57. Beauty and the Boss (1932)
  58. The Rounders (1965)
By Decade:
  • 20s: 0
  • 30s: 11
  • 40s: 10
  • 50s: 11
  • 60s: 7
  • 70s: 4
  • 80s: 5
  • 90s: 3
  • 2000s: 1
  • 2010s: 6
Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
I'm a pretty critical film viewer. No matter how much I love a film, I always can find little issues in it that keeps it from being an objectively perfect movie. I don't do this purposefully; it's just how I process films, apparently. So when I come across a movie where I literally cannot come up with a single fault, well, that's something special--and Once Upon a Time in the West is absolutely a very special, once-in-a-lifetime kind of film. Gorgeous cinematography, so many amazing and iconic scenes, characters who are incredibly complex and well-acted (Henry Fonda and Claudia Cardinale in particular just blew me away, two of the very best performances I've ever seen)--it really has absolutely every single thing any film buff could want out of a film. This is now one of my all-time favorites, and definitely my best discovery of the month.

Lolita (1997)
I've always been fascinated by the story of Lolita. I mean, how has such a taboo narrative managed to gain so much traction in popular culture, especially in America of all places? I admit I have not yet read the book--I'll be rectifying this soon, I hope--but I have seen Kubrick's adaptation of it, which I enjoyed greatly. However, I was always curious about the later 1997 adaptation, which was supposedly very different and more accurate to the novel. Finally this month I had the chance to see it, and I must say I really enjoyed it, at least as much as you can enjoy a film with this subject matter. The performances are so, so good--Dominique Swain as Dolores is just perfect, much better than Sue Lyon--and I loved how Lyne managed to recreate the 1940s here, right down to the glow-y cinematography that evokes all of this nostalgia for the past. The best thing about it is that I can't even say which film version I prefer: they're so incredibly different, each with their own strengths, that they can stand apart as separate but equally good adaptations of the same story.

Kick-Ass (2010)
This is my big surprise of the month. I went in expecting nothing--I really just wanted to see Nicholas Cage and Chloe Grace Moretz in a ridiculous superhero movie--but what I got was just about the most entertaining viewing experience I had all month (just second to Baby Driver). This is also my new favorite superhero movie. It's so smart, so funny, so ridiculous, and never quite goes in the direction you would expect. It's also such a fun ride, full of great characters, a great soundtrack, and really, really good action sequences. And Cage and Moretz did not disappoint: of all the things I loved about this film, they're at the very top of the list.

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)
This is widely considered to be one of the greatest British films of all time, and it's definitely among my favorites now too. It's a rather slow film, and requires some patience, but if you give it the time it needs it's a very rewarding film, with a lot of humor and some very progressive ideals about war. While they may have garnered the film a lot of controversy at the time of its release, today the film feels strikingly modern, much-more so than most classic war films. I especially love that the emotional core of the picture is not a romance, but the friendship between the German soldier and the English one; not only is it a unique premise, but both characters are so well-developed that not only do they really feel like old friends at the end of the picture, but they feel like your old friends, like you've really lived a lifetime alongside them. This also happens to be one of those great films with bookend segments, with the first one gaining a whole new meaning after you've watched the whole film; I always love films that do that.

Klute (1971)
Once in awhile, I'll watch a film that stays with me for days, sometimes even weeks, afterward. I watch a lot of movies, but I know which ones are truly special by how they linger with me, and that definitely happened with Klute. Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland are both actors I'm fascinated by, and they make such a gorgeous screen pairing here; I was so impressed by how Sutherland expresses his character just with his eyes and movements, rarely actually speaking, while Fonda's therapy scenes let us get right into her head through her own analyses of herself. They're a strange pairing, but absolutely wonderful; the plot of the film is interesting enough, with really unique cinematography and sound design, but it's the pairing of these two actors and their odd, yet strangely beautiful love story that I'll never forget.

The Loved One (1965)
Now this is an insane movie. Watching it, you sometimes can't believe it's a real movie: it feels like some bizarre fever dream, with all of the oddities and unevenness that goes along with that, yet here it is. I won't lie and say this is some kind of masterpiece, but I really do think there's genius in here, somewhere. At its core, it's a satire of elaborate funeral arrangements, and when it actually focuses on that instead of one of its many side-plots, it's surprisingly good: the scene where the main character is taken on a tour of the cemetery surrounding the funeral parlor is really black humor at its finest, as is a scene where he goes to collect the remains of a "loved one" from a house--the punchline of which is too good to spoil. This is a really under-seen and underappreciated movie, and probably for good reason, but I highly recommend it to anyone with a nice, dark sense of humor--I think you'll get a real kick out of it.

Through a Glass Darkly (1961)
There's another image from this film, used for the Criterion DVD cover, which I first saw several years ago and was instantly captivated by: it's the kind of image that tells a story in and of itself, and I've always wanted to see the film it came from. I finally have, and luckily, it did not disappoint. Bergman makes such emotionally rich films, and Through a Glass Darkly is no exception, a fantastic character piece that has such beautifully rendered characters and such a gorgeous isolated setting--as difficult as it was to watch the pain these characters had to endure, I still didn't want to leave their world as the film ended. It is a very raw, emotionally devastating picture, and I don't know when I'll feel up to actually revisiting it, but these are another set of characters that will stay with me for a very long time.

Kongo (1932)
I've seen a lot of Pre-Code films, and I'm very familiar with the depravity this era of filmmaking was capable of, but this film really takes the cake. It is a sordid, filthy story that doesn't let up for a single second, layering on the muck until it seems as though nothing will ever be clean again. And yet? There's something about this film that is so captivating. It may be disgusting, but it isn't soulless, and during its emotional reveals I found myself strangely moved--mostly thanks to two powerhouse performances by Walter Huston, who is really the personification of evil here and sells it completely, and Virginia Bruce, who offers possibly the best depiction I've ever seen of a completely broken woman, one who has fallen so far and so hard that she doesn't even comprehend that her drinking is killing her, just so long as she gets another bottle to help her forget all she's been through. It's a truly haunting image, and really sums up what's worthwhile about this film even among all of the grime.

July was a great month, both in terms of movies and just in general, and I'm excited to see what's in store for August. Movie-wise, I'm gearing up for TCM's Summer Under the Stars programming: I've challenged myself to watch a minimum of one new-to-me film for each star highlighted this month, and with so many of my favorites being featured--Marilyn Monroe, Lon Chaney, James Cagney, Barbara Stanwyck--it's already shaping up to be a lot of fun! I hope you see lots of great movies in August, and keep checking back for more updates on my journey through cinema.


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