New to Me: Best Movies Watched in 2017

Most of my movie watching is not new releases, so much as catching up on films that were once new releases but haven’t been from somewhere between a year to a century.
And they’re none the worse for that.

To be eligible for this list, the film must be one of my favorites that I watched in 2017 but NOT released this year.

  • Shall We Dance (1937)
    I can’t say enough about this film- one of the most beautiful Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers vehicles that I’ve ever seen.  Highlights: Slap That Bass and Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off (roller-skates!)
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)
    I’ve already talked tons about Kingsman so I’ll keep this short. You’ll never think of Free Bird the same way again.
  • 3:10 to Yuma (1957)
    While the more recent version is good (particularly for a modern remake, that most justly maligned of categories) it still doesn’t really hold a candle to the absolutely masterful original- the frustrating but heroic town drunk (completely cut from the modern version), Van Heflin’s scrappy portrayal of Dan Evans, and above all Glenn Ford’s suave outlaw Ben Wade. Plus the song.
  • Django Unchained (2012)
    Tarantino’s films are very hit or miss for me, but Django Unchained was very much a hit.  The cast is excellent, the plot is fun and exciting. Tarantino does his fun soundtrack thing.
  • The Piano Teacher/ La Pianiste (2001)
    This movie is beautifully repulsive. Basically a piano teacher (Heyyy Isabelle Huppert) conducts and affair with one of her students who believes that she is falling in love with him, essentially misreading the symptoms of her rapidly deteriorating sanity as signs of romantic obsession.
  • The Hurt Locker (2008)
    I had pretty much decided not to watch this because it looked a bit testosterone-heavy for me, but a confluence of circumstances led to me watching it and discovering that it is in fact a thoughtful and well-paced film with interesting characters and developments.
  • La Piscine/ The Swimming Pool (1969)
    Alain Delon is beautiful. So is Romy Schneider. So is Jane Birkin. So is summer.
  • Les Enfants du Paradis/ Children of Paradise (1945)
    This film had me absolutely spellbound for all 3+ hours of runtime.  A theater mime is in love with a courtesan who is also beloved by three other, very different men- a pretentious actor, a conniving thief, and a rich count.
  • Contracorriente/ Undertow (2009)
    Contracorriente is my most recent addition to this list, having just watched it I think the day before yesterday. It’s a surreal and poignant ghost story in which a married fisherman has to find a way to reconcile two aspects of his life: his more conventional family life with his pregnant wife and his devotion to his male lover, a painter and town outcast.

Here’s to another year of good films!

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Things Get Confusing

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At least I’m not the Yalie who was called out recently on Facebook for conflating renowned scientist and victim of radiation-poisoning Marie Curie with similarly-yet-differently renowned singer and diva Mariah Carey.

But I do have equally embarrassing things that I confuse with one another. Here are a few of them. Continue reading “Things Get Confusing”

Christmas Music: TV Specials

Here’s the fun one where I get to seem like an ignoramus.  Yes, I do know that these songs are not original to the tv specials. Some of them are. Those are the worse ones.  But there’s a whole host of snappy songs that I was introduced to via Christmas specials watched at home or on ABC’s 25 Days of Christmas (is that still a thing?) and those are maybe, for me, the closest to my young child heart because they’re the ones that young child me loved.

Even if as I got a little older I realized that ‘If you sit on my lap today, a kiss a toy is the price you pay’ is not an okay lyric under any circumstances. But when you’re little you’re just like, yeah okay, all smiles here! Creepy ginger man from the woods in strange clothes has toys!

And I’m seriously debating having this be the closing entry in this series. I don’t really like more popular/current Christmas songs (like WHAM’s Last Christmas, etc.) but there are a few that I enjoy… I don’t know? Maybe I’ll tack them on at the end here. Continue reading “Christmas Music: TV Specials”

Christmas Specials

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
Well, depending on how you feel about it, maybe, maybe not.  For me, it will be once I’m done with this semester and headed home.  And then I can double down on the advent calendar, gift wrapping, holiday preparation whole nine yards.

Because college has seriously cramped my festive style.  (I miss the 25 days of Christmas on ABC (Is it ABC?)).  All they do here at university is get drunk at holiday parties. And the guys next door (not the ones we share a bathroom with, the other ones) blast Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You while I try to do my thesis. Bah Humbug.
Finals aren’t even over until the 21st.

I’ve done a bit better this year.  I cornered a children’s choir and made them sing Go Tell it on the Mountain, which is one of my favorite carols. Okay, actually I ran into them and they were going to sing anyway. But it was such an unexpected coup and I feel so deviously satisfied.
I also got to watch a single Christmas movie one of the days after Thanksgiving.  Still far behind my young self, but doing better than some recent years.
And a horse-drawn carriage giving free rides stopped in front of me today so I hopped on and they took me around the block, which was lovely.  The horses were named Ben and Luke, a Clydesdale and Percheron x Thoroughbred. And I’m very satisfied because I guessed their breeds correctly.  My horse knowledge hasn’t all wasted away.
And I think the performance of the Messiah will be happening soon at the chapel.  That’s always excellent. Last year I went and worked on my fifty page lab report. Woo!

So here’s a list of the cheesy Christmas specials that I’m missing (for now).  They’re kind of in the order of what I love most, which mostly reflects what I liked as a child rather than what is ‘good’. And I’m omitting movies I haven’t seen (and movies I couldn’t make it through- like Arthur Christmas). Continue reading “Christmas Specials”