April in Movies

April has been a considerably big month for film. I managed to pass the 200 mark in my movie year (that is, I’ve watched over 200 movies this year), which has seen some scoff in derision and some gasp in amazement, so for that I’m proud. The month has had more than its fair share of highlights and certainly a few lowlights, as today’s list will explain.

Movies Watched for the First Time in April 2012:

Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980): In all fairness, I watched this fifteen-hour German epic over the course of four nights and throughout both March and April, but I finished it in April so I count it as an April viewing. ★★★★★

The Phantom of Liberty (1974): I was absolutely freaking ecstatic to finally see this, a masterwork from Luis Buñuel that has eluded me for far too long. So glad I saw it, and will definitely be watching it again. ★★★★★

Va Savoir (2001): A later film from the New Wave director Jacques Rivette that I was pleased to see and enjoyed greatly. A fantastic French comedy for those looking for something lighter, and tremendously fun. ★★★★

Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928): Classic Keaton. What’s not to love? ★★★★1/2

Jack and Jill (2011): Some people make bad movies, and some people should just be shot. Repeatedly. ★

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011): Interesting but flawed. The plot becomes wearisome, the dialogue is poor, and the acting varies from bad to decent. Sandra Bullock is surprisingly excellent. ★★★

Close-Up (1990): An early Abbas Kiarostami feature I waited far too long for. Really bloody good. ★★★★

Three Ages (1923): Another classic Buster Keaton movie, though I didn’t love this one with the same vigour as some of his other greats. Funny though. ★★★1/2

Burden of Dreams (1982): The best Behind-the-Scenes documentary you’ll ever see. ★★★★

Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe (1980): The title says it all. ★★★1/2

Brink of Life (1958): I’m surprised how difficult this Bergman film is to find. It has a great cast, an interesting plot and decent dialogue. Bergman fans will enjoy. ★★★★

Life During Wartime (2009): I’ve never hated a Todd Solondz film, and as distractingly offbeat as they sometimes are, I don’t think I ever will. I’ve seen all his main features since 1995 and this is the worst, but it still gets three stars easily from me. ★★★

This Film Is Not Yet Rated (2006): One of the best film-related docs I’ve seen. A real eye-opener. ★★★★

Perfect Sense (2011): An interesting indie film with a decent premise that is let down in parts by its own sloppiness. ★★★

Mother and Son (1998): The most visually beautiful movie I have ever seen. ★★★★★

Chacun son cinema (2006): A collection of short films by famous directors a la Paris, Je T’Aime, but this one was better. Some shorts are odd, some are funny, some are sad. Many are great. Worth seeing for Lars von Trier’s fantastic, fantastic short film starring himself (which you can view online here, and I highly recommend you do so.) ★★★★ http://vimeo.com/29024018

Grin Without a Cat (1977): One of the best documentaries ever made. If you’re looking to write a history report and want to watch a documentary that’s actually interesting, this one’s top notch. Utterly amazing editing mixed with Chris Marker’s own cheeky sense of political humour, as subtle as it may be. Contains one of the best opening sequences you’ll ever see in your lifetime. ★★★★★

Manhattan (1979): Woody motherfuckin Allen. Yes please. ★★★★1/2

Titicut Follies (1968): Holy hell. What an eye-opener. ★★★★

When the Wind Blows (1987): A movie to make you cry like a baby if ever there was one. ★★★★

Gates of Heaven (1978): A documentary about pet cemetaries? Sounds stupid. Well Roger Ebert reckons it’s one of the ten best movies in the history of film. He’s not wrong. ★★★★1/2

Powaqqatsi (1988): The first sequel to the visual stunner Koyaanisqatsi. Fails to capture the magic of the original, and unlike its predecessor, is occasionally boring. The soundtrack is brilliant, though. ★★★

Naqoyqatsi (2002): The second sequel to Koyaanisqatsi. Worse than Powaqqatsi, but not by much. There are moments of genuine beauty and wonder though, but they are few and far between. Unsurprisingly, the soundtrack is the best part of the movie. ★★★

Anima Mundi (1992): A short film from Godfrey Reggio, who directed the incredible Koyaanisqatsi and its less impressive sequels. At least it’s only a short. As great as the visuals are, it’s a bore. ★★★

Evidence (1995): Another short from Godfrey Reggio. This is only a few minutes long and consists purely of a camera showing us the faces of children who are watching television. Creepy, haunting, and utterly magnificent, its message is clear and terrifying. ★★★★1/2

Four Nights of a Dreamer (1971): An adaptation of the Dostoevsky novella White Nights (also made into a film by Luchino Visconti in 1957). Very Bressonian, and thus interesting, but not as much as I’d liked it to have been. ★★★

Mala Noche (1986): Gus van Sant’s first film is an intriguing experiment (reminiscent of Jim Jarmusch’s work during the same era) with interesting characters and is executed more than decently. ★★★1/2

The Young One (1960): One of Luis Buñuel’s only English-language films. A decent watch, but very unlike the director. One cheeky shot of a teenage girl’s feet as she showers makes the director instantly identifiable among fans. ★★★

Ordet (1955): [insert over-the-top italicised adjectives here] ★★★★★

My Dinner with Andre (1981): Two men talk for two hours. It starts of slow, but boy is it riveting towards the end.I love it. ★★★★1/2

Atlantic City (1980): Louis Malle is a director who worked in every genre at least once and rarely made a bad movie. Atlantic City, one of the first of many English-language films for the director, is a great place for people to start and one of Malle’s coolest movies. ★★★★

Damage (1992): The third Malle film in a row! I liked this one a lot more than most people, mainly due to the icy, mysterious Juliette Binoche (hot off the set of Three Colours: Blue). ★★★★1/2

It Rains On Our Love (1946): Ingmar Bergman’s second film after the failure that was Crisis. A very good second film and one that’s consistently moving and well-made. ★★★1/2

A Ship Bound For India (1947): Bergman’s third film. Less impressive, but still showing the promising signs of the great director to come. ★★★

Vampyr (1932): One of Dreyer’s first sound films. Creepy horror made more impressive by great visuals. ★★★★


W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism (1971): My first film from the controversial but highly praise Yugoslavian director Dusan Makavejev. I liked it a lot, but some people won’t. ★★★★

The Man With the Movie Camera (1930): If you’re watching this fucking fantastic silent film, make sure you’re listening to the 2003 soundtrack by The Cinematic Orchestra. You won’t regret it. ★★★★★

Sweet Smell of Success (1957): Just damn good noir. ★★★★1/2

The Producers (1968): “I’m the writer, you’re the audience. I outrank you!The Producers, Mel Brooks’ directorial debut, is a damn good comedy that never lets up, pulling no punches in being highly controversial and incredibly hilarious. ★★★★★

Late Spring (1949): My second Yasujiro Ozu film, and I bloody loved it. There are definitely more to come in May. ★★★★1/2

The Iron Lady (2011): I went into this film wanting to like it a little bit. I didn’t. It’s shit. I’ll save most of the ranting for my review. ★1/2

Gertrud (1964): Carl Dreyer’s last film is one of his least impressive. While the atmosphere and cinematography is absolutely brilliant, the film becomes slow and drags on in parts. I did love the Dreyer-ness of it all, though. ★★★1/2

Earth (1930): A silent film that caused controversy because of its “support” of communism. While this is hard to avoid and easy to debate, can I just ignore all that rubbish and say it’s great. I loved it. For me, that’s all that matters. ★★★★

Movies Rewatched in April 2012:

Russian Ark (2002) ★★★★★

Nostalghia (1983) ★★★★★

The Exterminating Angel (1962) ★★★★1/2

Inglourious Basterds (2009) ★★★★★

The Big Lebowski (1998) ★★★★★

The Brown Bunny (2003) ★★★★1/2

Glengarry Glen Ross (1993) ★★★★★

Somewhere (2010) ★★★★★

In the Bedroom (2002) ★★★★1/2

La Jetee (1962) ★★★★1/2

Sans Soleil (1983) ★★★★★

Red Desert (1964) ★★★★1/2

Dr. Strangelove (1964) ★★★★★

Alphaville (1965) ★★★★

Werckmeister Harmonies (2000) ★★★★★

Glengarry Glen Ross (1993) second watch in a month  ★★★★★

Three Colours: Red (1994) ★★★★★

See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1986) ★★★★

Caddyshack (1980) ★★★★1/2

Cleo from 5 to 7 (1962) ★★★★1/2

The Seventh Continent (1989) ★★★★★

Benny’s Video (1992) ★★★★1/2

Freeway (1996) ★★★★


Best Movie Watched in April 2012 (not including rewatches):

Mother and Son (1998)

Worst Movie Watched in April 2012 (not including rewatches):

Jack and Jill (2011)

Posted on May 1, 2012, in Lists, Movies and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 40 Comments.

  1. I don’t know what to say to that except “damn”.

  2. It’s always interesting to see what you’ve been watching, especially since our viewing habits tend to differ quite a bit. I’ve only seen four of the movies mentioned here – Life During Wartime (lifeless and unnecessary), This Film Is Not Yet Rated (eye-opening for sure, though I could have done without the silliness with the PI), When the Wind Blows (quite touching) and Vampire’s Kiss (“THERE YOU ARE!”). Lots of interesting-sounding films on your list though, some of which I’ll hopefully get around to checking out at some point.

    That Lars Von Trier short was pretty great, by the way!

    • It is interesting to see what others are watching. I love sharing my lists. Glad you watched and enjoyed the von Trier short.

  3. Holy Hell! My month, no my year so far pales in comparison to that list. Nicely done!

  4. Woah! I crossed the 150 films mark for this year, so I’m kind of glad too. I have two films in common here- My Dinner with Andre and Sweet Smell of Success. I loved both if them too 🙂

  5. Oh, I love Close-Up! One of the best films I’ve seen! And Man With A Movie Camera is incredible too! Apart from one or two dark spots *cough*JackandJill *cough* it looks like you had an amazing month of films!
    ….Is Vampire’s Kiss the one where Nic Cage is running around screaming ‘I’m a vampire! I’m a vampire’ ? (going of the Nic Cage freak out reel on Youtube, haha)

    • Close-Up is awesome. Did you watch Man with the Movie Camera with The Cinematic Orchestra soundtrack?

      Yep, that’s the Nic Cage movie. It’s bad, but it’s also one of the funniest films ever made. My two star rating of it means nothing.

      • I’m pretty sure we watched it with The Cinematic Orchestra soundtrack 🙂 It was last year in our documentary studies course (we watched Close-Up in the same course actually…)

  6. I think you mixed up the ratings for Vampire’s Kiss and The Brown Bunny. 😉

    Vampire’s Kiss is one of the few films Cage’s crazy works and you can embrace it in all its campy glory.

    Also out of interest, how would you break down the sources of which you view films. Poorly worded I know, I mean how many films you watch on Disc, either owned or rented compared to TV/Sky or internet. I’m asking really because there are so many films I want to see that I can’t get on DVD in shitty old NZ and the movie channels often come through providing I make a list from the skywatch mag. However I think it may be time to resort to the internet but don’t know where to start. Recommendations?

    • I don’t think I should’ve given Vampire’s Kiss a rating. It is a bad movie, but it’s also one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. I loved the humour, but hated everything else. Two stars is unfair, I think.

      I’ve found a lot of films on YouTube. People say you shouldn’t watch movies from there because it’s lower quality, on a computer screen and all that, but when you’ve got no other option, I don’t see the problem with it. About 40% of the films I’ve seen this year have been from YouTube, including Vampire’s Kiss.

      • I watch a lot of short films on youtube but I don’t think I could get through features. Nice to know anyway. I have Vampire’s Kiss on DVD. It is beautifully terrible filmmaking at it’s best. I love it.

  7. Are you a Filmspotting listener? They are about to start their modern Iranian movie marathon, and Close Up is the first film they will discuss. It’s at the top of my queue.

  8. 2000 films? Impressive. I just broke 100 so I’m nowhere near as prolific in my movie-watching, although this has been an off year for me for a number of reasons so far.

    I watched Powaqqatsi yesterday so I’ll have a review of it up sometime this week. Also, glad to see you caught up with Ordet. Easily my favorite out of the new films you saw.

    • 2000? I wish. Sadly, I’m only at 200 so far. 😛

      Picking my favourite film of the month was impossibly difficult. It was a very close tie between The Phantom of Liberty, Mother and Son, Grin Without a Cat, Ordet and The Man With the Movie Camera. All of them are among my favourite movies now.

  9. Wow. Impressive year so far, man. I only average 15-20 movies per month… it looks like you do that per week!

  10. I don’t think there can be anything as worse than Jack & Jill, oh wait. Pearl Harbor, maybe. I want to see Berlin Alexanderplatz but the only Fassbinder film I’ve seen is The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant. I’m glad you love Somewhere, people obviously didn’t get that film.

    • Don’t put Berlin Alexanderplatz off. Before I saw it, I had only seen one Fassbinder film, and I still loved it. If anything, Berlin Alexanderplatz is a great place to start with Fassbinder. I’ll soon be seeing Fox and His Friends, The Marriage of Maria Braun and hopefully The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant as well.

  11. Woah, that’s a long list. The Cinematic Orchestra is fantastic I didn’t even know they got the cover from the movie poster. I really need to rewatch Vampire’s Kiss, such a hilarious film.

  12. Christian Hallbeck

    The following quotation is from one of the films you saw in april, Tyler. Which one? (Don’t use Google!): “Really, I’m just from Philadelphia, we belive in God, so, eh, ok?…”

  13. Christian Hallbeck

    No, it’s this brilliant pavement scene from “Manhattan” (01.45-03.50). Whose side are you on? Keaton’s or Alllen’s?

    • Oh! Of course, I remember that scene. I can’t watch the video right now but I remember disliking Keaton for dissing Bergman.

  14. From many of the movies in your list it looks like you are making your way through the 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list. Is this the case?

  15. Amazing amount and quality,I can only hit 200 in about 9 months.Just out of curiosity,your fave short in Chacun son cinema?

    • My favourite short in Chacun son cinema? Well I did love the one where the woman cries while watching Au Hasard Balthazar, and the one where the couple are making out while watching Fellini’s 8 1/2, but at the end of the day I have to go with Lars von Trier’s Occupations. It has von Trier’s irresistable humour and it stars the man himself. I love it.

  16. Wow, impressive! I wish I had the time these days to rival your numbers – although I think I’ve only made it up to 200 films in a YEAR once or twice. And you’re watching some great stuff, too, just speaking about the ones I’ve seen. I mean, except for Jack and Jill, which I haven’t seen, but certainly don’t plan to. Is there a story behind why you watched it?

    • Yeah, it is a number I’m pretty happy with.

      As for Jack and Jill, I was drunk when I watched that. Still regretted it greatly.

  17. thefilmfreak

    I’m pretty sure a good rule of thumb is to avoid anything starring Adam Sandler, unless of course he’s being directed by someone who knows how to make a movie, like PTA. Did you actually make it through the entire movie? That’s an endurance challenge I would fail. Haha!

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