September 2015 Recap

I wasn't really sure how to start this blog, and I finally decided, why not with a recap? It's a little late in the month for one, but oh well. Here goes!

I won't go into anything too personal this time around, except to say my name is Tae, I love films, I live in Canada, and I'm currently a high school student. I feel a little self-conscious about my age, most film bloggers seem to be older than me, but I'm hoping to get the hang of things quickly.
I currently watch a lot of films per month, there's just too much to catch up on! The following is a nice long list of the new-to-me films I got to in September. Note, I did a free 2-week Fandor trial for the latter half of the month, so films in italics are ones I watched using that service.
  • The Fighter
  • 12 Angry Men
  • Iron Man 3
  • Home
  • Focus
  • The Good Lie
  • Mulholland Drive 
  • Volver
  • Footloose
  • The Lady Vanishes
  • The Naked Kiss
  • Top Gun
  • Unfriended
  • Mr. Turner
  • White Dog
  • The Last King of Scotland
  • Moon
  • A Letter to Momo 
  • My Left Foot
  • St. Vincent
  • Jupiter Ascending
  • Jurassic Park (I have seen this before, just not in a very long time)
  • Belle de Jour
  • In the Heat of the Night
  • Insurgent
  • Chappie
  • L.I.E.
  • Paris, Texas
  • Fellini Satyricon
  • Les Miserables
  • Cabaret
  • Starlet
  • Parting Glances
  • Slacker
  • The Deflowering of Eva van End
  • The Neon Bible
  • Come Undone
  • Another Country
  • Gretchen
  • I Married a Witch
  • Wendy and Lucy
  • Shadows
  • Faces
  • The General
  • Vampyr
  • To Be or Not To Be
  • The Plague Dogs
  • Insomnia
And now a few short write-ups of my very favorites. I won't assign a specific number to highlight, just the ones that I felt were really special.
Mulholland Drive
I have to say, this movie did not scare me. I keep watching films I'm wary of because I think they'll be too scary or intense for me, I guess I envision myself as being a bit of a wimp, but I may have to reconsider that idea because not one of them has yet to keep me awake at night. Regardless, I really loved this film! It exceeded my expectations (except for the scary thing), and I was just so engrossed throughout, trying to prepare myself for the mind-blowing confusing-ness everyone talked about, but of course I couldn't and was just as mind-blown and confused as everyone else. I'm very exited to pick up the Criterion blu-ray in November and get to re-watching this fantastic film.

The Lady Vanishes
I'm noticing a trend with my viewings of Hitchcock's filmography-I love his more obscure or controversial films, while I feel pretty meh about his most popular works (with the exceptions of Rear Window and Psycho). For instance, I'll take Rope and The Lady Vanishes over Vertigo and North by Northwest any day. Speaking of The Lady Vanishes... This is one of Hitchcock's less talked about films, from what I've seen-I had no idea what it was even about when I started it, beyond that it was set on a train. And what a wonderful surprise it was! I had so much fun with this from start to finish-it's so odd and unexpected and hilarious. I highly recommend it to anyone who hasn't seen it yet.

Maybe admitting I genuinely enjoyed this movie isn't the best way to introduce myself as a blogger. Admitting I watch most movies on my laptop with headphones probably isn't going to make me very popular, either. However, hear me out! Because I have this system, I was able to have a very unique experience with Unfriended that I definitely would have missed out on if I saw it in theatres or on my TV. And that is that I have the same kind of laptop as the main character, and all of the same applications. So for the first half of the movie, I was genuinely part of this experience. When Blaire heard the Skype notification noise, I immediately glanced at the corner of my screen, thinking I was getting a message. When her laptop froze or the picture distorted, I started shaking my cursor, thinking it was my laptop. It was a really surreal experience and really made the movie one to remember.

White Dog
I found out about this one awhile ago, and was really fascinated by the story-line so I added it to the old watchlist. I finally got the chance to see it, and it did not disappoint! It's fairly clunky in places, but just the sheer audacity of the story-line combined with the talent of the doggy actors made this a very unique experience. Learning about the huge controversy surrounding it was really interesting, too. This is one I highly recommend to anyone who likes bizarre and/or controversial films, you should definitely get your fill with this one.

This movie makes me really happy that I make a point to watch new films I think look promising, regardless of critical opinion (though there are occasional exceptions... hello Pixels). This film has many, many flaws-I recognize and agree with nearly every criticism I've seen for it. And yet, somehow, all of those flaws added up to something I really enjoyed and had a lot of fun with. I loved Chappie (the character), I loved the unusual aesthetics of the hideout where Chappie lived, I loved the kooky soundtrack. I'm still not sure if this is something I'll revisit, but I know one thing for sure: if this is Blomkamp at his worst, I can't wait to see his earlier films and discover what his best looks like.

 Paris, Texas
I knew of this film's reputation going in, and it was one of my most anticipated first viewings. But for the first 3/4ths of it, I kept going... what gives? Yeah, the photography's nice, the performances are good, the story-line has a nicely unusual spin on the whole father-son relationship thing. And then Nastassja Kinski came on-screen, and it was magic. A film I thought was only decent for over half of the runtime suddenly became one of the most touching, heartbreaking, beautiful things I had ever seen. I will never, ever forget the scenes she shared with Harry Dean Stanton. They will forever be imprinted in my mind as the definition of perfect cinema.

Starlet, the wonderful film that is also pictured at the top of this post. Going into a film knowing either that it's great or that it was made by a great filmmaker is one thing, but going into a film with no expectations whatsoever and coming out amazed is a whole new beast entirely. And that's exactly my experience with Starlet. It didn't sound that interesting and I wasn't even going to bother, but then it was on Fandor during my trial and I figured, eh, what the hell. And then I fell in love. This is a true real film. It's more glamorously shot and written than something like Wendy and Lucy, but it still rings true in a similar way, with these characters and their interactions feeling much more like real life than Hollywood. It was also the last nail in the coffin of convincing me I need a dog in my life. Oh boy.

The Plague Dogs
Talk about a film that sinks its emotionally devastating teeth into you and never lets go. My heart still hurts from the experience of watching this, and I saw the shorter version! 20 more minutes of hopelessness await me whenever I manage to find the uncut release! But, despite how hard it is for me to truly love extremely depressing movies, this is one that I really, really do. I'm always fighting for darker, more mature animated features, and this fits the bill completely, without feeling depressive for depression's sake-it's a beautiful story that could only be told this way, and I'm so glad I finally got to see this forgotten gem.

So, that was September! A pretty good month, though not as many new favorites as I would have liked. Looking ahead, October bringing several 2015 releases from the library, a Shomi trial (newish Canadian streaming site with many of the modern classics I've somehow not seen yet), and re-watches of some of my favorite horror films (hello, Alien series on blu-ray). Looking forward to finding some new gems.


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