Composing these notes on my movie watching activities throughout 2010 has been fun for me. It has definitely become a permanent feature on my blog and I’ll be continuing the record keeping in 2011. I am a huge fan of lists and by keeping a movie list in 2010, aside from noting just how many movies I can watch in a month (in a busy month only 8 or 9, in a month with more free time anywhere between 15 and 29,) what has been of greatest interest to me is following the patterns. While I am given to haphazard viewing, more often than not a movie I am currently watching ties in to something else I have seen recently, whether it shares an actor, a director, a writer, or a country. I like to follow the threads, and keeping these notes helps me to track that journey. I like that. It may or may not be interesting to anyone beside me, but I have seen evidence over the past year that more than a few of the movies I have discovered were in turn welcome discoveries for others. That’s pretty cool. And the give and take of suggestions is my favorite part of sharing my random movie thoughts. I have watched movies recommended by people reading my blog that I might otherwise have never bothered with, and enjoyed them. Thanks for that! Let’s keep all this going in the new year, shall we?
The last couple of movies I watched in December were mostly all fun. I was cornered by my sisters while home for Christmas and forced to watch Valentine’s Day (Garry Marshal-USA-2010) which tried too hard to be endearing and was a little too gooey for me. I enjoyed Life (Ted Demme-USA-1999) way more than I expected to. It was a bit like a comical version of The Shawshank Redemption, with Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence delivering a bit more than just frienemy buddy roles. The outtakes at the end were hysterical! Another movie that I liked more than I expected to was The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (John Turteltaub-USA-2010). I was appalled by the ratty long hair that adorned Nicolas Cage’s head, and while I couldn’t get the character that Jay Baruchel gave voice to in How to Train Your Dragon to sit quietly in the back of my head anytime the guy spoke, I was thrilled by the music made by electricity (even though I know it wouldn’t work in real life, but hello, this world has magic too so…!). The out of control mops scene straight out of Fantasia was pretty fun too.
I watched Tea With Mussolini (Franco Zeffirelli-Italy, UK-1999) and Twelfth Night (John Sichel-UK-1969-an ITV Saturday Night Theatre production) after Caroline reminded me of how fantastic Joan Plowright is. I saw Tea With Mussolini as a kid, and it stood up to a re-watch. Based on events in the director’s childhood, the movie is about an illegitimate boy who is raised by Mary Wallace (Joan Plowright) and her friends among a group of British women in pre-WWII Fascist Italy. Lovers of art and culture, they refuse to leave Florence when the war starts, as their leader – an ambassador’s widow played by the always wonderful Maggie Smith – believes they are under the protection of Mussolini, whom she once had tea with. They are interned, and their secret American benefactor, the glamorous Elsa (Cher), ends up with them and in fear for her life when it turns out that she is a Jew. The scenery is lovely, the characters are endearing, and the story has the proper balance of the poignant and the amusing. It’s a very nice movie.
Twelfth Night was kind of a mind trip, because Joan Plowright is so young! She plays both Viola and Sebastian and does a decent job of it. The production was very staged, presented like a play but with quite a few locations and sets. It was just rather formal I guess. It was almost the whole Shakespeare play, and the cast was pretty strong with Alec Guinness as Malvolio and Ralph Richardson as Sir Toby. Tommy Steele was a bit too perky as Feste for me, but I am used to Ben Kingsley in the 1996 Trevor Nunn production which I’ve seen a dozen times. Overall not bad, and totally fun to see Joan Plowright was a young woman. I definitely need to explore more of her work.
I got one more Jean-Pierre Jeunet film in before the end of the year, finally watching Amelie (France-2001) which I loved of course. How could you not? It is such a cute love story, and the weirdness of Jeunet is mellowed out just enough so that a wider audience can appreciate it. I think I prefer Delicatessen, but there is very little wrong with Amelie.
Of the 194 movies I watched in 2010 (some more than once, but each viewing counts as a movie seen,) 64 were not made in the USA. I would like to watch more foreign films in 2011, and I’m off to a good start so far, since of the 4 movies I’ve watched in 2011 all of them are foreign. 2010 was the year I finished watching all of Stanley Kubrick’s films, and now I want to focus on Werner Herzog and Jim Jarmusch and Aleksandr Sokurov among others. I don’t really make movie watching goals though since, like I already said, I like to follow the threads. The threads that I’m currently following are…the Peter Lorre thread, the Miguel Littin thread, the Jeunet thread. Whatever catches my fancy really. I’ve been watching a lot of Ashtun Kutcher movies by accident lately. Maybe I should follow that thread?
Whatever threads I end up following through the maze of movie mayhem, I can assure you that I will report back on my findings here. Happy movie watching in 2011 everyone!