Movie Education Update: January 2012

Ok, not my best month of olden film education, but I’ve had worse. I write this at 11:58 pm, immediately after finishing the last movie of the month. I snuck one last film in, like a good procrastinator. One bit of housekeeping on the whole Education project: When I started, I arbitrarily put the cutoff for eligible films at 1990. That seemed clean and nice, but it’s been a few years since then, and I’m finding some movies at the edge that I’d like to watch. Instead of a hard date, from now on, any movie at least 20 years old is eligible. Meaning, for 2012, anything up to 1992 is fair game. With that said, let’s do this.

A Hard Day’s Night

When I saw this on Netflix Instant, I knew I had to give it a watch. Not because I expected it to be a fantastic film, but because there are certain movies that basically create a subgenre on their own, and it’s always interesting to see what everyone has been stealing. A Hard Day’s Night is basically the quintessential tour film; a film built totally to market a band with the least amount of writing effort possible. There are tons of bad versions of this – hello, Spice World – but to be fair to A Hard Day’s Night, it’s actually a fun movie. It’s completely pointless, but it’s also odd and easy to watch and has lots of great music.

Amarcord

Nostalgia city! My crazy-man love of Fellini is well known at this point, right? It’s crazy. Totally insane. I love the man and the unique and particular rhythm and flow his movies have. Amarcord is a look back to the town of his youth. It’s less concerned with telling a story than with simply spending a year inside a town that exists only within the memories of Fellini himself. This is the first color Fellini film I’ve seen, and it’s as beautiful as you’d expect. Of his classics, this leaves me only with La Strada and Juliet of the Spirits, so I might need to pick up a few of his less acclaimed works before swinging into those. If they’re at all as wonderful as Amaracord, they’ll be worth the wait.

The Odd Couple

Comedies are tricky things to go back and watch. The humor is dated and strange as often as it stays funny, and I never know what I’m getting into when I pick one up. I really, truly expected The Odd Couple to be dated and stuffy, but I was way wrong. Walter Matthau was especially great, delivering a sardonic performance that was absolutely perfect. Jack Lemmon was great, too, but this was Matthau’s film through and through. His timing on every line? Nailed. Neil Simon’s play feels fresh and funny and, in its own way, kind of poignent. If you haven’t seen this, take a couple of hours and give it a go. You’ll be surprised how good it.s

The Collector

This one was recommended to me by a friend and pitched as a sort of early Silence of the LambsThe Collector was a very strange and screwed up film.  A man (young Terrance Stamp!) obsessed with collecting butterflies begins stalking a woman. He kidnaps her, brings her to his home and demands she stay with him and get to know him. Impressively restrained and quiet, The Collector works because it stays so focused on the psychological battle between its characters instead of resorting to cheap thrills. Stamp is as awesome as you’d hope, while Samantha Eggard is…well, a little less so. If this (or at least the novel on which it was based) wasn’t in Stephen King’s subconscious when he wrote Misery, I’d be surprised.

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2 Responses to Movie Education Update: January 2012

  1. Claire says:

    What a diverse bunch of flicks! Impressive. Less acclaimed Fellini, “Satyricon” perhaps? It’s an odd one so I rec with reservation.

  2. Eric says:

    You know, “Satyricon” was exactly the next Fellini film I was thinking of seeing, as it showed up on Instant Watch a bit ago. I also need to get to “Twilight Samurai”, which you recommended. And my likely next French New Wave film is “Alphaville”, so we’ll see how that goes.

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