May in Movies (and a LAMMY nomination Thank You!)

I vividly remember following the progress of the LAMMYs this time last year, though I was yet to become a member myself. I imagined what a thrill it would be to have my blog someday nominated for an award, and to my utter surprise and genuine shock, it has happened. Thanks to you, the readers of my little page here in the midst of the interwebdom, I have been nominated for the Brainiac Award. Now to some it might only be one small award, but to me this nomination means the world. It means that a whole bunch of people actually think I’m smart when it comes to movies, which is a privilege and an incredible honour. Seriously, to hear my site’s name as one of the four nominees for this category overwhelmed me. I took a minute to breathe and almost collapsed in shock. There are more than a thousand blogs eligible for this award; all you have to do is be a member of the LAMB. And of these thousands, I was chosen as a nominee? It’s definitely the highlight of my blogging experience so far, ever since I created this little blogging notebook on February 13 of last year. NB: You can check out a full list of nominees at Sam Fragoso’s fantastic site Duke and the Movies here.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s move on to this post’s main subject, which is the films I watched in May. The number’s not as big as April, but I still did see some decent flicks. Let’s have a look:

Movies Watched for the First Time in May 2012:

Scenes from a Marriage (1973): When my Criterion DVD of this Ingmar Bergman masterwork arrived at the end of April, I was ecstatic to finally see both versions of it for the first time. And so I did. Even if you’re not a fan of Bergman, I highly, highly, highly, highly recommend you give this ago. It will shatter you. ★★★★★

Early Summer (1951): My third Yasujiro Ozu film, and a hell of a movie. As a follow-up to Late Spring, it is marvellous, but as a film in general it is something very special. Ozu rules. ★★★★

We Bought a Zoo (2011): Balls, prepare to be sucked. ★★

Night on Earth (1991): Jim Jarmusch continues to impress. Each segment in this film is amazing and hilarious, as well as beautifully insightful. Roberto Benigni, unsurprisingly, is a huge highlight. ★★★★

City Lights (1931): My first Charlie Chaplin film, and a constantly funny, beautifully poignant one. ★★★★1/2

Bigger than Life (1956): James Mason is horrific and beautifully powerful as a man whose addiction to pills sends him on a downward spiral. Incredible and way ahead of its time. ★★★★

The Rules of the Game (1939): I think I like this Jean Renoir film even more than Grand Illusion. Excellent. ★★★★1/2

Floating Weeds (1959): Ozu knows best. ★★★★1/2

The Adventures of Tintin (2011): Not my sort of thing, but pretty good. Decent Spielberg. ★★★

An Autumn Afternoon (1962): Quite possibly my favourite Ozu. Came damn close to crying. So beautiful and moving. ★★★★★

Almanac of Fall (1984): A chamber-play style film from Bela Tarr, with only a handful of characters and some amazing acting and screenwriting. But the biggest highlight of this film is its glorious use of colour. Vivid and memorable. ★★★★

War Horse (2011): At best: interesting. At worst: underrated. Stop trashing it people, there are a lot worse films than this. ★★★

Modern Times (1936): Hells yeah Chaplin. ★★★★1/2

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999): Jarmusch = awesomeness. ★★★1/2

The Ox-Bow Incident (1943): Still gets a lot of acclaim, but I feel this film is somewhat underrated. It’s stunning and I’ll never forget it. Packs a hell of a punch. ★★★★1/2

The Night of the Hunter (1955): “Chiiillldreenn.” ★★★★1/2

7 Up! (1963): The first in Michael Apted’s still continuing series of life-examining documentaries, and a great beginning. ★★★★

The Maltese Falcon (1941): Oh, Bogie. FUCK YEAH. ★★★★1/2

Safety Last! (1923): I knew I would love this, but it still exceeded my expectations. Constant hilarity. ★★★★★

Rebel Without a Cause (1955): Perhaps a tad overrated, but still a powerful and influential highlight of its time. ★★★★

The Red Shoes (1948): The highlight of this great film is its near-20 minute ballet sequence, which remains one of cinema’s great set pieces. ★★★★

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962): Another great film that far exceeded my expectations, this John Wayne western from ’62 is widely regarded as one of the man’s best, and I certainly ain’t arguing… pilgrim. ★★★★1/2

The Grapes of Wrath (1940): Second only to Citizen Kane, this is one of the best films of the entire 40s decade. Absolutely haunting and vital. ★★★★★

7 Plus Seven (1970): Also known as 14 Up!, this sequel to 7 Up! continues the story of fourteen children living in Britain on various ends of the class structure system. Marginally better than its predecessor. ★★★★

Dreams (1955): A little-seen Ingmar Bergman movie that he made just before the box-office smash Smiles of a Summer Night, Dreams is one of Bergman’s less impressive works but still worth seeing for the presence of Harriet Andersson, Gunnar Bjornstrand and Eva Dahlbeck. ★★★

The Big Sleep (1946): A tad confusing and difficult to follow, but not overly so. Interesting and watchable, with fiery sexual chemistry between the leads Bogart and Bacall. ★★★★

Brief Encounter (1945): One of the most overrated movies I’ve seen in a while. It’s not that it’s British, if that’s what you’re thinking, it’s just that it’s dull, badly acted and messy all round. Some beautiful cinematography, though. ★★1/2

The Artist (2011): Not the great masterpiece I expected it to be – in fact, quite a bit less than that. But still a more than decent send-up to the true greats of cinema it successfully emulates. ★★★★

The Leopard (1963): Seeing this once was enough to ensure it a writeup as part of my All-Time Favourites series mere days later, and for good reason. It’s a masterpiece. ★★★★★

Stroszek (1977): This story of a young German man recently released to prison who goes to live in America with a prostitute and an old man is unlike any movie I’ve ever seen. That it’s directed by Werner Herzog is no surprise. But its real highlight is its magnificent final ten minutes. As Roger Ebert so simply put it: “No film ends like Stroszek,” and he is correct. This movie has the greatest ending of all time. ★★★★★

Touch of Evil (1958): Orson Welles’ great film starring himself, Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh, is not as great as Citizen Kane but is still a damn great noir. Its opening shot is something special indeed. ★★★★

Gone with the Wind (1939): Took me long enough to get ‘round to this, and I was thoroughly impressed. It is a great, great movie. Not a perfect one, absolutely not, but definitely a great one. ★★★★1/2

In a Lonely Place (1950): Bogart’s best performance. Think about that. ★★★★

The Devil’s Eye (1960): Low-grade, unimpressive Bergman comedy that has its moments but is mostly just bad. ★★1/2

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011): Fincher has done it again. The final twenty minutes alone deserve a very high rating. ★★★★

Stagecoach (1939): John Wayne’s first big movie, and a hell of a way to hit the spotlight. Excellent. ★★★★

Ten (2002): Abbas Kiarostami’s great film set entirely and 100% inside a taxi cab. The dialogue… the acting… perfection. ★★★★1/2

Father and Son (2003): There are some beautiful moments here, in this follow up to Aleksandr Sokurov’s brilliant film Mother and Son, which I gave five stars last month. But mostly this film feels a little flat and unengaging, and while some of the imagery is excellent, it’s not as good as other films by the director. Much like Mother and Son and Russian Ark, it has echoes of Tarkovsky. ★★★1/2

Notorious (1946): Early Hitchcock is still good Hitchcock, as he and Ingrid Bergman prove here. Excellent, quality noir. ★★★★1/2

The Prefab People (1982): The earliest film from Bela Tarr that I’ve seen, and a surprisingly powerful movie. Small cast, great actors, fantastic screenplay… a recipe for success. ★★★★

21 Up! (1977): Apted’s Up series continues. 21 Up! is not as interesting as its predecessors, but still keeps me engaged and I can’t wait to see 28 Up! ★★★★

Where is the Friend’s Home? (1987): Kiarostami’s first big feature, this family friendly film works well alongside The Wind Will Carry Us, Kiarostami’s other G-rated movie, and while this film isn’t as good, it’s still engaging and wonderful. ★★★★

Saraband (2003): This 30-years-later “follow-up” to Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage is the director’s last film, and a powerful one. Particularly unforgettable is one of the movie’s last images, of the nude protagonists hugging each other for safety and comfort beneath the bedsheets. ★★★★1/2

To Joy (1950): Ingmar Bergman’s first great film. The actors are excellent, as is the direction from a somewhat inexperienced but still knowledgeable Bergman. The final sequence in particular, a fusion of images and sound, is the highlight of the first ten years of the man’s illustrious career. ★★★★

Rio Bravo (1959): A perfect western, whichever way you look at it. Just perfect. ★★★★★

Life, and Nothing More… (1992): Abbas Kiarostami’s follow-up to Where is the Friend’s Home?, this marginally better film has a father and son travelling through earthquake-stricken film looking for the other’s film’s child star. Some beautiful moments in this lovely film. ★★★★

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992): The last week of Laura Palmer’s life (among other things) is chronicled here in this film version of the popular TV series. Much better than I expected and an interesting, quintessentially Lynchian work of art. The final scene in particular struck a haunting chord. ★★★★

Movies Rewatched in May 2012:

The Killing (1956)

Repulsion (1965)

Last Days (2005)

Office Space (1998)

Werckmeister Harmonies (2000)

The Seventh Seal (1957)

Deliverance (1972)

Persona (1966)

Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Delicatessen (1992)

Citizen Kane (1941)

Un Chien Andalou (1929)

Stranger than Paradise (1984)

Once Upon A Time in the West (1968)

Mother and Son (1997)

Evil Dead II (1987)

Casablanca (1942)

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

Three Way Tie: Scenes from a Marriage / The Leopard / Stroszek

Worst Movie Watched in May 2012:

We Bought a Zoo

So, what did you see last month? What do you think of what I saw?

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

  1. That nomination was very well deserved; you had one of my votes.
    We don’t always agree on movies, but in the case of Scenes from a marriage we’re on the same page.

    • Thank you Jessica, that is nice to hear 🙂

      Have you seen Saraband, the follow-up to Scenes from a Marriage? It’s beautiful, and almost as good as Scenes. You’ll love it. Liv Ullmann is still incredibly beautiful in her old age.

      • Yeah, I’ve seen it and I loved it. I really love movies that get back to people after a long time. Which remind me of that I still have Before Sunset to enjoy. 🙂

        • Apparently Ullmann also directed a film of her own based on a Bergman screenplay, called Faithless. I haven’t seen this one but it’s certainly aroused my interest. If you’re wondering where to go next with Bergman, any film starring Ullmann gets my definite vote.

  2. Congrats Tyler its very well deserved!

  3. That’s a pretty amazing list of films you watched. Give The Big Sleep a rewatch in a couple of years, it’s better than you think. It’s intentionally confusing, that’s part of it’s charm. I only watch 20 movies in May, with more rematches than usual. The best ‘new’ films I saw were ‘Best of Youth’ and tonight I saw ‘Cranes Are Flying’. The best rewatches were ‘La Dolce Vita’ and ‘Chinatown’.

    • I love The Best of Youth and The Cranes are Flying. I need to see the latter again.

      I will definitely rewatch The Big Sleep in a while.

  4. Well done on the LAMMY nomination again. You definitely have my vote.

    And what you said about War Horse made my day.

    • Thanks Stevee! 🙂

      I said what I had to about War Horse. People that call it “one of the worst movies ever made” are just looking for something to trash. If it were made 30 years ago, no one would say that.

  5. Congratulations Tyler. As Jessica mentioned, we don’t always share the same opinion but I always respect your intelligent reviews.

    • People rarely share the same opinion with me on certain films. For example, I’m starting to seriously consider putting The Brown Bunny on my Top 100 films list.

  6. Night on Earth,my fave Jarmusch,Winona Ryder is incredible in it.

    Rio Bravo,love the song “My Rifle,My Pony and Me”.

    My May film watching is also satisfying,here is the report.

  7. Quite a few films I have actually seen 😛
    I saw Notorious this month too. Gorgeous isn’t it?
    Happy that people are liking Fincher’s Dragon Tattoo. I love it, personally.

    • Notorious is delightful, yes!

      Some people say Fincher’s film is overrated, but I disagree. He did a really good job with it.

  8. Ha that may well have been the CAT i voted you in… as well as others!! Well Done Sir

  9. Congratulations, I also put in a vote for you. You really deserve it as I regularly learn lots of stuff about movies I’d normally never read about.

  10. Congratulations on your nomination. I only just stumbled across your site and am liking what I’m seeing. This roundup of films, in fact, includes a number of movies that made my top 100, which I’ve been posting in batches all week. I’m especially glad to see your thoughts on Stroszek, my favorite of Herzog’s films and one that occasionally gets neglected for not having Klaus Kinski. It’s a film that drifts on and off my top ten with regularity.

    As for Ozu, have you seen any of his silents? I would highly recommend I Was Born, But… It’s currently my favorite of his, clearly setting down the themes he’d return to his entire career while also displaying a lightness not often found in his more static, sound-era work (not that those are anything less than some of the greatest films ever made).

    Oh, and good call on Fincher’s Dragon Tattoo. I called it something of a career summary when it came out (Alien 3’s women-oppressed-by-religion, Se7en for obvious reasons, Zodiac’s old-school journalism, Social Network’s inspection of lives lived digitally). And it blows the horrid original out of the water. Hell, it improves on the book, even.

    I’ll have to check out your blog more. Very glad to have found this. Keep up the good work.

    • Thanks for your kind words. Glad you’re liking my writing.

      I haven’t seen any silents, but coincidentally I do have a copy of I Was Born, But… waiting to be watched. Ozu is masterful. Thanks again for reading and commenting!

  11. So glad you liked Dragon Tattoo and The Artist. I haven’t seen We Bought a Zoo yet but “We Bought a Zoo (2011): Balls, prepare to be sucked.” really made me laugh 🙂 Congrats for your nomination, well deserved!

    • Hahaha thanks. We Bought a Zoo really does suck balls. I could’ve given it a much lower rating than two stars, it really is awful.

  12. That’s a big month !! I am really glad that you liked Notorious, as I said before – my favorite Hitchcock and quite few others I love as well – The Man who shot Liberty Valance, Red Shoes. I really need to see Scenes of Marriage and Rules of the game though.

    Congratulations on your nomination Man !! Really well deserved !!

    • Thanks man! Notorious was fantastic, as were the others you mentioned. I think you’ll like Scenes from a Marriage and The Rules of the Game.

  13. Congrats on the Lammy! I know I haven’t commented in awhile, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t kept reading your fantastic blog. Good luck!

    Cheers!
    G-LO

  14. Christian Hallbeck

    I’m glad to see that you appreciate Chaplin. “The Circus” next?

    In my view Bergman is the director who has made most masterpieces of all directors. Sadly, he is also the master director who has made most mediocre and bad films (a consequence of him being far more productive than other filmmakers). I blush when I think of “The Devils Eye”, “All these Women” and “The Touch”. They are so outstandingly poor! I know that you’re eager to see “The Touch”. I strongly advise against it! It can damage your soul for life!

    “To Joy” was filmed in my hometown, Helsingborg!¨

    The use of the Scherzo from Bruckners 9th symphony in “Saraband”… Majestic!

    Were you also shocked when the woman in “Ten” took her shawl off?

    I think “Repulsion” is a masterpiece, as well as Polanski’s best film. Do you agree?

    • Chaplin’s great. I think I’ll watch The Gold Rush and The Great Dictator next, but The Circus is also on my mind.

      The Devil’s Eye was bad and I’ve heard bad things about the other two but I’m still curious. The Touch is almost impossible to find so I might not see it anytime soon, but I do want to see All These Women, for the cast mainly.

      To Joy and Saraband are awesome.

      Repulsion is beyond a shadow of a doubt Polanski’s best.

  15. Christian Hallbeck

    There’s a reason why “The Touch” is impossible to find!… If you lived nearby, you could have my copy on VHS. I will never again watch this film! I might investigate how much it will cost to send it to you…

    • I have found The Touch on VHS via Amazon and it will probably cost around the same amount as it would if you sent it to me, so don’t worry.

      • Christian Hallbeck

        OK. Just so that there’s no misunderstanding about my question about the female passenger in “Ten”: My question referred to the scene where she removes her shawl from her head. In my view the effect of this action is very powerful!

        • I agree, that moment was unexpected and startling. I loved it. I also admire that Kiarostami set the entire thing inside a taxicab. It’s that sort of thing I absolutely love to see in a movie.

  16. The Rules of the Game is much better than The Grand Illusion. Such a wonderful film. Need to watch more Renoir.

    Glad to see you catch up with more Kiarostami. I’m close to getting through most of the readily available films he has out there. Still four or five more I need to see before I’m going to have to start digging.

    I am eager to catching up with Scenes from a Marriage, even as much as I don’t care much for Bergman.

    • I agree, Rules of the Game is easily Renoir’s best.

      Kiarostami is great. I am very excited to see Through the Olive Trees which I might watch tonight or tomorrow.

      I can almost guarantee you will like Scenes from a Marriage. It’s one of Bergman’s more accessible films.

  17. Congrats on the nomination! That’s an impressive selection of films this month, too — so many classics! I also watched Touch of Evil for the first time in May, and it’s now one of my favorite noirs. Welles is phenomenal.

  18. You shouldn’t be surprised by the nom, Tyler, your knowledge in films, especially those most people aren’t even aware of, astounds me! Congrats and keep up the amazing work!

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