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!

Two seconds with Russell Crowe

I watched the remake of 3:10 to Yuma last weekend and really enjoyed it much more than I was expecting to (insert horrible pun about eating crow/Crowe here).  And it made me realize that Russell Crowe is actually a pretty good actor? And one that I kind of enjoy watching?

So I took a trip through his IMDb page to take a quick account of the films he’s done, what I’ve seen, and my final plus/minus sheet.

Watched and enjoyed:

  • 3:10 to Yuma: Don’t get me wrong, this film is NOT as good as the original. And they change the ending.  But it’s a good film, a good modern Western (and there are so few) (GUYS I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE HOSTILES), and the fact that he plays outlaw Ben Wade with a capability even approaching that of the legendary Glenn Ford… good on you Russ.
  • A Beautiful Mind: Math O.O
  • Gladiator: “ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!” Reader, I was.
  • LA Confidential: Yep, sure.

Watched and didn’t enjoy so much:

  • The Nice Guys: Like LA Confidential, but irritating and worse.
  • Les Miserables: Les Miserables is a great book. Les Miserables is a great film (1998, Liam Neeson, Geoffrey Rush). Les Miserables is a great musical. Les Miserables should not be a book turned into a musical turned into a film. It’s not sustainable. Hefty and overdone, tbh.
  • The Insider: This was too ‘manly’ for me, honestly. Kind of like Se7en. That should be a separate list. I need to think about what it means to me when I call a film ‘too manly’. Because that’s not a helpful description, but maybe you get me?