What I’m Watching #1

I’ve decided to start a new biweekly (that’s every other week, not twice a week) series here at Southern Vision called What I’m Watching, where in each post I talk a little about the films I’ve recently watched and the films I plan to watch over the next few days/weeks. It’s an attempt to talk a little more about what I’m viewing and hear your thoughts about it, as well as setting personal goals for what I want to have watched by the time the next What I’m Watching post is due. So without further hesitation, here’s What I’m Watching #1, 17/6/2012.

Recently Watched Films and FilmScores:
First-Time Viewings, since 10 June:

Prison (1949): Early Ingmar Bergman movie that is surprisingly good, even though most of his early films were disappointments. A silent film injected into the middle is a definite highlight, as is the acting and screenplay, as well as Bergman’s improving directorial skills. FilmScore: 8/10

Heart of Glass (1976): A catchup with me and Werner Herzog, since I was getting behind on his films. Definitely not the last one I’ve watched recently, but easily the best. Fantastic. FilmScore: 9/10

Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010): The very next day I met up with Herzy again and ol’ WH did not disappoint! Cave… is one of the most fascinating documentaries I’ve watched recently, and an exemplary work of mastery from the man. FilmScore: 9/10

Tyrannosaur (2011): Haunting and harrowing, this feature film directorial debut by actor Paddy Considine is terrific, and reminded me eerily of Gaspar Noe’s I Stand Alone, though both are quite different and I Stand Alone is much darker. FilmScore: 8/10

Moneyball (2011): Not the great film I was expecting, but then again I wasn’t really expecting a great film. FilmScore: 7/10

The Limits of Control (2009): This film is absolutely the highlight of my week. Not only was it the only Jim Jarmusch film I had left to see, it also turned out to be one of his best, despite many critics who thought it was terrible, including Roger Ebert who gave it half a star. I rarely disagree with Ebert, but this is certainly one example of such. Limits is a fantastic, wonderful film I look forward to seeing again. FilmScore: 9/10

Day of Wrath (1943): One of the big Carl Dreyer films I had yet to see, and boy am I impressed. Not the greatest film of Dreyer’s career *cough, Ordet, cough*, but certainly a wondrous, powerful, poignant movie about religion, history and faith. I was speechless. 8/10

The Navigator (1924): Noticing the ignored Buster Keaton films on my computer, I decided to rectify this and began by watching The Navigator, a feature film from Keaton that is not regarded as one of his best but one that I still thoroughly enjoyed. It’s fast-paced comedy delivered and directed well by Keaton, and the fantastic action finale is a huge highlight. 8/10

The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (1976): The first of only two occasions when Werner Herzog worked with Bruno S., whom he called the ‘Unknown Soldier of the Cinema,’ Enigma is certainly nowhere near as powerful and masterful as Stroszek, the other film that featured Bruno S., but is still pretty damn brilliant. Bruno, one of my favourite actors though he only starred in two movies, is absolutely fantastic and incomparable. 9/10

Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966): If you’re looking for the worst film ever made, this is surely it. Forget Troll 2, The Room, Plan 9 From Outer Space or any of those movies – Manos is far, far, far more awful and just completely unwatchable. If you do want to see it, I recommend watching the MST3K version. The commentary from those hilarious guys makes it a lot easier to sit through. 1/10

The Great Ecstasy of Woodcarver Steiner (1974): Not only is this one of Herzog’s best documentaries, it is also one of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen, and at only 45 minutes, is short and sweet. Features some slo-mo sequences of the titular ski-jumper rising and falling that will take your breath away and knock you cold. Fantastic. 9/10

42 Up (1998): Every Saturday for the last six weeks I have been watching one film in Michael Apted’s famous Up series, and I have to say, I am thoroughly impressed. Each documentary has been more insightful and wondrous than the last, and if you haven’t tried these documentaries, then GOD I RECOMMEND THEM! They’re amazing, and as Roger Ebert puts it, they’re a “noble use of the cinematic medium.” 9/10

How Much Wood Would a Woodchuck Chuck (1976): This 45-minute documentary about auctioneers by Werner Herzog starts of interesting, but becomes boring very quickly, and seems to last forever. Way too long and uninteresting. 4/10

La Soufriere (1977): This next documentary by Herzog is shorter than the previous two, at only 29 minutes, and manages to maintain the audience’s interest with its poignant shots of desolate towns, void of people, who have fled in fear. Not great, but interesting. 6/10

Beyond the Clouds (1995): I love Michelangelo Antonioni’s films, but this is a terrible film. It has some decent parts, but is mostly either young women getting naked or John Malkovich soul-searching for inspiration, both of which become boring after a while. The actors are great and so is the direction but this is nothing more than a vanity project for Antonioni. 5/10

The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979): The first film in Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s career-closing BRD trilogy (the great director died young of a drug overdose), Marriage is a powerful, well-made and acted film about a young woman’s attempts to rise above the people around her while still maintaining a relationship with her distant husband. Haunting conclusion. Expect more Fassbinder over the next few weeks. 9/10

The Rough House (1917): The first film for which Buster Keaton is credited as director, even though it’s more Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle’s movie than his. A disappointingly flat comedy that has its moments but cannot be carried by Arbuckle. 5/10

One Week (1920): Buster Keaton’s first short film as an ‘independent’ director, this film is certainly the first in history to have that real Keatonesque feel of classic slapstick. Wonderful, nonstop fun. 8/10

Convict 13 (1920): Keaton’s next short film is less impressive than the last but has many endearing, wondrous images, such as Keaton inadvertently knocking unconscious dozens of prisoners who are rioting. 6/10

Rewatches, since June 10.

  • Cries and Whispers (1972)
  • In Bruges (2008)
  • The Fire Within (1963)
  • L.A. Confidential (1997)
  • Andrei Rublev (1966)
  • Time of the Wolf (2003)
  • Goodfellas (1991)
  • Sydney, aka Hard Eight (1996)




Heart of Glass

Cave of Forgotten Dreams

The Limits of Control

The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser

The Great Ecstasy of Woodcarver Steiner

42 Up

The Marriage of Maria Braun




Day of Wrath

The Navigator

One Week




La Soufriere

Convict 13


Beyond the Clouds

The Rough House


How Much Wood Would a Woodchuck Chuck




Manos: The Hands of Fate

Upcoming Films:

On Letterboxd, you can add as many films as you want to your Watchlist, but to be able to keep track of it and to avoid it getting overcrowded, I’ve limited that number to ten. There must always be ten films on the watchlist; once one film is watched and removed, another must be added immediately. Also, of the ten films on the list, they each need to be by a different director, so the list doesn’t get crowded with all one filmmaker, and there’s a neat variety on it. The ten films on the list aren’t the ten I absolutely have to watch next, but they need to be ten I plan to watch soon and ten that are available to me without having to go too far. As it stands, the current ten on the list are: Landscape in the Mist (1988), 49 Up (2005), Film Socialisme (2011), Through the Olive Trees (1994), Out 1: Noli Me Tangere (1971), The Terrorizers (1986), I Vitelloni (1953), Rocco and His Brothers (1959), Les Vampires (1915), and Nashville (1975).

It’s worth noting that the last three of these have been on this list since it first began, so I should probably give them high priority. The only reason I haven’t watched them yet is that they are quite lengthy, but I hope to rectify that soon. The first films on the list are the ones that have been most recently added. Of these ten, which do I hope to watch in the following two weeks before the next update? Well, in accordance with my Saturday night viewing slate, I’ll be watching 49 Up next Saturday, so that will definitely be checked off. Also begging to be watched is Through the Olive Trees, since it’s the final film in a trilogy I started watching back in May. Landscape in the Mist is a film I added last night, when I acquired not one, not two, not three but four films directed by Theo Angelopoulos, a director who recently died and who I am completely unfamiliar with. The other three films I got were The Travelling Players, Ulysses’ Gaze and The Weeping Meadow, which I hope to watch in succession after Landscape.

What else is on this list? Well, I don’t currently have a copy of Film Socialisme so that one will be slated to the side for a while. Out 1: Noli Me Tangere is a very rare film I’m excited to have found, but it is twelve hours long, so that will be watched over a lengthy period of days or weeks. I Vitelloni, The Terrorizers and Nashville are three others I’ve had for a while that I really need to get watched, especially because I’m quite excited about seeing them, The Terrorizers especially. This film is directed by the late, great Edward Yang, and I’m pleased to say I’ve acquired a pristine, beautiful video in HD with subtitles that I cannot wait to watch. I Vitelloni I’m not hugely excited about, but I haven’t seen any Fellini in a while so I am pining for him. Nashville I also really want to see, since it’s been topping my watchlist for almost a year now. The only other film on this list is Les Vampires, which I do have but is six hours long so will take some time to tame.

So those are the ten movies on my Letterboxd watchlist. In two weeks time I’ll be revisiting it and seeing which of the ten I’ve watched. But what other films do I plan to watch over the next fortnight?

Well, in the next two weeks, I’m going to try and watch any of the following:

A Swedish Love Story (1970), Living in Oblivion (1995), My Night with Maud (1969), Torment (1944), The Magic Flute (1974), The Gold Rush (1925), The Searchers (1955), Julien-Donkey Boy (1999), Sympathy for the Devil (1968), Shame (2011)

So what have you been watching? And what do you think of any of the films I’ve watched or plan to watch? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.


Posted on June 17, 2012, in Movies, What I'm Watching and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 26 Comments.

  1. I had no idea Herzog had done so many docs. Will be checking some of these out. Loved Cave of Forgotten Dreams and Into the Abyss.

    • He has done more docs than features, I believe. Most of them are great. The Great Ecstasy of Woodcarver Steiner is probably my favourite.

  2. Good idea to divide the films you watched into parts,especially for a film geek who watches so many in one month like you,I need to do this too.

    I almost gave up the hope for The Limits of Control,it had so many terrible reviews,interesting to see you loved it,so I might give it a try,I have not seen a Jarmusch I did not like yet.

    The Marriage of Maria Braun is my fave in the BRD trilogy, I fell in love with both Schygulla and Fassbinder after watching it.

    Among the films in your watchlist,Landscape in the Mist,Through the Olive Trees,The Terrorizers,My Night with Maud are the films I would give a rate of 8.5+/10 ,looking forward to your reviews.

    • Thanks David! I couldn’t wait the entire month to sum up what I’m watching anyway. Those posts are getting too big!

      If you like Jarmusch you may enjoy The Limits of Control though it is not for everyone.

      I’ll try watch some of the films you rated high.

  3. BTW,I’m watching Tarkovsky these days,love the imagery and slow-pace,I think he is one of the best European directors.

  4. Christ almighty. Where do you find the time to do other things (you know, eating, working, living, etc)?

    • I only work four days a week and watch usually two movies a night plus weekends which I have free, so I manage to squeeze it all in. It’s not really as much as it looks like.

  5. Christian Hallbeck

    I agree: “Beyond the Clouds” is awful! Antonioni became sadly voyeauristic at the end of his career (just like Bunüel).

    I saw “Ulysses’ Gaze” in the cinema in 1995, and remember feeling that I had experienced something great when I left the theatre.

    • thefilmfreak

      I think a lot of Bunuel’s greatest films were at the end of his career and there was nothing sad about it.

    • I’ve read some good things about Ulysses’ Gaze (aside from Ebert’s negative review) so I can’t wait to see it. I have a feeling I’ll like Angelopoulos.

  6. They screened Out 1 a few years ago at the local film festival but I missed it and I’ve been kicking myself ever since. I was going to grab a copy of the bootleg that is floating around but I read somewhere recently that it’s supposed to be released on DVD this fall. Anxiously waiting for that.

    • Shame you missed it! I’ve heard nothing about a DVD but it would be nice if it eventuated.

      • I just looked it up. There was supposed to be one last November but it got delayed until October this year. Since it apparently has no English subtitles anyway (German only because it’s a German company releasing it), you’re as well sticking with the Youtube version.

  7. Glad that you thought Limits of Control is a winner, as I am definitely more amped for seeing it, now!

    Critical wise, I have started to really disagree with what film critics say these days. The same with music critics, too. Not sure why that is – maybe because of recent times the films that have been ‘lauded’ as ‘masterpieces’ are just ridiculously overrated, and those that have been slammed, tend not to be as terrible at first sight.

    That’s why I really like the blogsphere, I guess. A lot of the reviews I find on here don’t scream of ‘critics views’ and there isn’t the whole “I’m getting paid for this”, either.

    • Limits of Control is the sort of film a lot of people are bound to disagree on. If you don’t mind slow pace and a very thin plot then you’ll enjoy it like I did.

      Critics can be argumentative, so I can see why you avoid them. Personally, I’d rather turn to my fellow bloggers than a critic.

  8. Ahh, I wanted to see Tyrannosaur on the big screen but it never eventuated (it’s annoying living a good 45 minute train journey from the best cinema).
    That’s a good idea about 10 films on the watchlist at a time…I’ve got over a hundred currently, and I definitely have trouble remembering what’s on there.
    Through the Olive Trees was amazing (as per Kiarostami). It may be my favourite of the trilogy.

    • Yeah, having a 10-only watchlist is handy. Reminds me what I really need to watch without being overflowed. I’ll definitely watch Through the Olive Trees as soon as I get the chance.

  9. You really should watch Nostalgia for the Light, a much, much, much better documentary than Cave of Forgotten Dreams. I wasn’t even expecting much from Cave and I found it pretty disappointing.

  10. Wow… I’m glad someone else here liked The Limits of Control. I thought it was a well-made minimalist film. I’ll take anything Jim Jarmusch does.

  11. Alex Withrow

    Damn, you’ve been watching some great stuff. Some of my favorite Herzog’s there, an excellent early Bergman and, ahh, the Up Series. I love all of those films and simply cannot wait for 56 Up later this year. Just a magnificent experiment.

    Be really interested to read your thoughts on Shame.

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