Posted by: Sally Ingraham | January 3, 2011

Movie Mayhem Dec. 18th-Dec. 31st + Year End Wrap-up

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.

plowrightI 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.

amelieI 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!


  1. Threads… I like that. Funny you should mention Kubrick. I just started my Kubrick journey, so to speak, I have seen most of his movies already apart from Barry Lyndon which I saw mentioned on Guy Savage’s blog today and decided I might watch it tomorrow and then rewatch the others. Which was your favourite? He really has a special visual language. Amelie is a cute movie and I liked it better than Delicatessen, liked the music a lot. I watched Valentine’s Day on a plane and did absolutely not like it. It wanted to be something it wasn’t. I don’t think I have ever seen Joan Plowright as a young woman. Saw that Tea with Mussolini years ago as well and can absolutely not remember it only know I liked it. I did watch Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont meanwhile… She is fantastic. I checked my movie blog yesterday and the movie post that got clicked the most is Mongol. Isnt’ that odd? A Russian movie about Genghis Khan. Have you seen it? It’s very interesting and quite beautiful…Reminded me of Urga. The movie that did disturb me the most this year was Heavenly Creatures.

    • I have a review of Barry Lyndon knocking around this blog somewhere – pre-Movie Mayhem posts. Do a search for Barry Lyndon on my sidebar or just click the Kubrick category under ‘The Stuff I Write About’ if you’re interested. I liked that one a lot, and The Shining, and Paths of Glory. Valentine’s Day seemed to be trying to be Love Actually, which is one of my favorite movies. I am somewhat offended that anyone would even try to replicate the awesomeness! I’m gonna watch Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont soon – thanks again for pointing it out. I’ve seen parts of Mongol but I just added it to my Netflix list so that I can watch the whole thing. From what I saw I remember it being quite beautiful. I think I’m too much of a scaredy cat to watch Heavenly Creatures, although I’ve been tempted before by it – one of Peter Jackson’s early films, and the gorgeous Kate Winslet…! We’ll see, but if you call it the most disturbing film of your year I hesitate even more. Someday!

      • Love Actually, exactly, I was looking for that name. I like that a lot and to watch something like Valentine’s Day… Heavenly Creatures is oddly disturbing… I was astonished about my own reaction. I still have to watch Paths of Glory as well. But first Barry Lyndon… Will look up your review later.

  2. Love when you do these posts. I think that we have very similar taste in movies too which always makes it fun. Like you, I recently suffered through Valentine’s Day and, at the request of my kiddos, wound up liking The Sorcerer’s Apprentice way more than I thought I would. What is it about Nicholas Cage that is so likable at the same time he is so over the top? Hmm.

    Amelie is one of my favorite movies.

    I see you are following the Littin thread here too. More than a little curious about that. Will his movies be more likable than I found him in Clandestine in Chile? Or was that even really him? 🙂

    • Yes, Nicolas Cage is a conundrum. I love to hate him, but he is also one of my favorite actors. An extremely weird film but great role for him was in the recent Herzog version of Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. And I have to admit that I am kinda excited for the witch movie he is in, coming soon – what is it called…Season of the Witch? Stupid title. But it looks like over-the-top fun, as long as Cage doesn’t take himself too seriously. We’ll see.

      I just got a Littin film in my mailbox today – I will report back. I am overcome with curiosity!

  3. […] I finally watched Barry Lyndon thanks to a comment on  Guy Savage‘s review of one of Thackeray’s novels and after seeing Kubrick mentioned again the very same day on Tuulenhaiven’s blog. […]

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