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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All the Music I’ve Recently Downloaded

Pre-France:

  • Use Me- Bill Withers
  • Little Lies- Fleetwood Mac
  • Tusk- Fleetwood Mac
  • Time of the Season- The Zombies
  • She’s Not There- The Zombies
  • These Days- Nico
  • Suzanne- Francoise Hardy
  • Sunny Afternoon- The Kinks
  • Someone to Watch Over Me- Ella Fitzgerald
  • Moonage Daydream- David Bowie
  • Oh! You Pretty Things- David Bowie
  • Lust for Life- Lana del Rey
  • Misirlou- Agent Orange
  • Pipeline- Agent Orange
  • Pipeline- The Ventures
  • Misirlou- Dick Dale: All the surf music, both hard rock and otherwise.
  • Le Rempart- Vanessa Paradis
  • Lay, Lady, Lay- Bob Dylan
  • Jolene- Dolly Parton
  • The Fire- Bishop Briggs
  • Blue Denim- Stevie Nicks
  • Ain’t No Sunshine- Nancy Sinatra
  • Da Ya Think I’m Sexy (ft. DNCE)- Rod Stewart
  • Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In- Fifth Dimension
  • Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds- The Beatles
  • Les Etoiles- Melody Gardot
  • Heaven Is In The Backseat of My Cadillac- Hot Chocolate: Found via a cadillac commercial.
  • Heart of Gold- Neil Young
  • Aicha- Cheb Khaled
  • River- Ibeyi
  • The State of Massachusetts- The Dropkick Murphys

Post-France:

  • Unforgettable- French Montana
  • Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)- Big & Rich: Despite not having seen it I’ve been influenced by Kingsman’s soundtrack.
  • Saturdays=Celebration- Big KRIT

Playlist: Rocking Out (A Little)

The life of a superstar is all fast cars, drugs and rock and roll, right?
Well, if I were a superstar and could take my pick, it would probably be something more like fast horses, sparkling water… and still rock and roll.

Because rock and roll is pretty great, and probably my preferred genre at the moment. It makes you feel free and like getting up and dancing or just doing anything you feel. Which is a pretty appropriate soundtrack for the curtains closing on summer.

Speaking of rock and roll, the 40th anniversary of Elvis’s death was yesterday, so I was thinking about doing a playlist post for Elvis- but there is one fairly insurmountable stumbling block.

I only listen to Can’t Help Falling in Love. Very short playlist. Continue reading “Playlist: Rocking Out (A Little)”

Can I Just Talk About Movies For a Minute (or Twenty)?

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Firstly, a brief apology that my posting has fallen off (that said, one a day is a bit tricky to maintain- which is the same reason I haven’t taken my vitamins for maybe two months). I blame my “moving to France” preparations. And also I am so tickled that that’s a thing- the best kind of preparations to be making and complications to be having.
But it really does make me annoyed with the government- both governments, America’s and France’s. Anarchy!!!

Okay, I’m done.
You may remember that I did a post some not very long distance of time ago about the movies that were coming out this year, they’re various release dates, what I was excited to see and what not. Well, I foolishly assumed that that would cover my new and unseen film enthusiasm at least for a few months- until the films started popping up that I hadn’t yet heard much about.

It doesn’t seem to have even tided me over for a week. Continue reading “Can I Just Talk About Movies For a Minute (or Twenty)?”

2017 Films I’m Looking Forward To

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I saw The Big Sick the day before yesterday! It was pretty good but not as excellent as I was hoping it would be. It’s hard to get a romcom right- I mean it’s hard to make an intelligent romcom.  Without spoilers, a few of the things I found lacking: a number of the best jokes were used in the trailer, and I found myself wishing I hadn’t seen the trailer so I could appreciate the film more.  Kind of says something negative re: rewatchability.
Also, the movie, despite being a romantic comedy, is too much about the male main character, Kumail Nanjiani. Given that the female protagonist is in a coma for the majority of the film (not a spoiler; that’s the premise), it’s an easy hole to fall into. But even when Emily’s parents (Holly Hunter!) show up to stand in for her, the film still leans into being a coming of age story for Kumail Nanjiani (which, he did do a lot to make this film happen, so I can see how it focuses on his experience).  The romantic plot line and family merging took a backseat to his personal development, to the extent that Emily’s coma feels more like a plot device to trigger Kumail’s transformation, rather than the premise of the film.  And even though she’s based on a real person, Zoe Kazan’s Emily  (through no fault of Zoe Kazan’s, who had to spend most of the film being  coma patient) comes across as more manic-pixie-dreamgirl. Probably as a result of the script more than anything else.
But it was a good movie. It was funny and quick, even if it was not as insightful or deep as I was hoping it would be. Continue reading “2017 Films I’m Looking Forward To”