GirlShy-feat

Favorite Older Films I Saw in 2012

Always an awkward post title, but I can never seem to manage to figure out a good way to sum up the kind of list I’m presenting here. My list of Top 2012 Films is included in the Row Three group post over here, and to be perfectly honest, this list of the pre-2012 films I enjoyed the most this year has already been posted on not only Row Three, but it’s also expanded from a similar list posted at Rupert Pupkin Speaks, where it joined a veritable gold mine of other such lists solicited from various bloggers – they’re all worth looking through, as there’s a ton of variety among what we each managed to catch up with and love last year.

Anyway, I figured I could post it here as well, now that it’s had time to run both the other places for a bit. I should stress that this is hardly an objective list, were such a thing even possible – it’s just what I liked the best and felt most desirous to share out of my first-time watches this year, excluding 2012 releases.

What older films did you love the best in 2012?

GIRL SHY (1924)
FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE (1926)
WHY WORRY (1923)

GirlShy

I’d seen Harold Lloyd’s best-known film Safety Last before, but I really consider 2012 my crash course in his comedy, with a trio of films I saw in close succession and really convinced me for sure that he belongs in the silent comedian pantheon. Girl Shy is, in fact, my favorite new-to-me film I’ve seen all year, and thanks to its sweet romance and breathtaking final chase scene, I actually liked it more than I do Safety Last. For Heaven’s Sake, with Lloyd as a millionaire bringing in street thugs and miscreants to fill up an inner-city mission’s pews to impress the preacher’s lovely daughter, is a ton of fun, too, full of insane gags and stunts. I liked Why Worry, with Lloyd as a hypochondriac who gets mixed up in the Mexican Civil War, the least of the three, but it’s still a solid film and a whole lot of fun. With these three under my belt, chalk me up a definite Lloyd fan.

THE VIRGIN SPRING (1960)

virginspring

Sometimes Ingmar Bergman films are a bit tough for me to get into – I can appreciate their austere humanism, but they often feel remote and uninvolving to me. The Virgin Spring grabbed me immediately and didn’t let me go until I collapsed at the end breathless, like the grieving father in the story. A young girl is violated by a group of men who later unknowingly seek shelter in her father’s home, whereupon he finds out what happened and exacts retribution. But nothing is so simple in Bergman’s world, and this is a deeply thoughtful and starkly beautiful film, questioning a God who allows tragedy to happen and yet also accepting that personal vengeance may not be the best way either.

THE DRIVER (1978)

The-Driver

Clearly a prototype for 2011′s Drive (a recent favorite of mine), The Driver stars Ryan O’Neal as a laconic getaway driver who’s being hunted by an arrogant cop (Bruce Dern) who wants to collar him simply because he’s never been caught. In between them are a gambling woman who may be playing both sides and a bunch of thugs who are no match for the Driver. It’s a mystery to me why this film isn’t always mentioned in the same breath with great car chase movies like Bullitt and The French Connection, because the chases here are every bit as good. Mix in the Le Samourai-esque lead character, and this film was made for me.

SOLARIS (1972)

Solaris

First of all, it took me several days to get through this meditative sci-fi film musing on love and loss. I’m not proud of that, but it can certainly be blamed on my pregnancy-related tiredness at the time rather than the film itself, although the film itself is definitely on the slow side. I actually liked the pacing and though it worked well for the kind of heady, evocative sci-fi this is. That said, because of the viewing conditions, I had difficulty holding it all in my head at once or feeling like I had a solid grasp of it by the end. I’m already looking forward to a rewatch, upon which time I think I will appreciate it even more.

THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC (1928)

passion-of-joan-of-arc

Even Top Five placement is probably not high enough for this film, but I’m being honest, and that’s where it is at least on first viewing. The movie is an intriguing combination of austerity (sparse set design) and raw emotion (Marie Falconetti’s extraordinary face, usually seen in close-ups). I’ve seen a couple of other Dreyer films, and I generally find them a bit difficult to relate to stylistically, and I have to say I felt kind of the same tension here. I do think some rewatches will move it much higher on my list, though – it feels like the kind of film I will grow into. Also, the print on HuluPlus does not have a music track with it, and I don’t think that helped my experience.

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Blindspotting 2013: The List

I‘m joining the Blind Spots folks (seems like most bloggers I know are doing it!) this year, but that’s because I’d nearly decided not to even make a list this year. I mean, it’s pretty foolish of me to try, for two major reasons. One, I did terribly on last year’s Blind Spots list. I only managed to watch four of my twelve, and I only managed to write full posts about two of them. Two, I’m having a baby in five weeks, and if I thought I had little time to watch movies LAST year, this year finding time promises to be even more challenging. But I ultimately decided it never hurts to at least have a list of films I’d like to watch ever-present in my head, so when I do have time to sit down for a movie (whether it be a nice two-hour block when my baby actually does decide to sleep or in 20-minute chunks while feeding her at 2:00am), I don’t have to cast about for what to watch. So that’s what we’ll call this list. It would make sense to just carry over the eight films I didn’t watch last year, but I’m not going to do that. I’m going to make this easier on myself by only choosing films that are available on HuluPlus or Netflix Instant (or that I own) so availability is never an excuse, and by choosing films that I expect to be entertaining and not too heavy. In other words, this is not the year for 4-hour epics about the human condition.

The List

Our Hospitality / The Navigator

1923/1924 USA. Director: Buster Keaton/John G. Blystone, Buster Keaton/Donald Crisp. Starring: Buster Keaton.
Truth be told, I’ll probably try to get through a bunch of the Buster Keaton Blu-ray set Jonathan got me for Christmas, but these are the two main features I haven’t seen and definitely want to.

Pandora’s Box

1929 Germany. Director: G.W. Pabst. Starring: Louise Brooks.
I’ve only managed to see one Louise Brooks film ever, and not one of her more acclaimed ones. Time to fix that.

Vampyr

1932 Germany. Director: Carl Theodor Dreyer. Starring: Julian West, Maurice Schultz.
This one’s been on my horror list for several Octobers now. I started watching it on my lunch break a while back and was captivated by the imagery within a few minutes, so I decided to put it off until I could watch it at home on a larger screen.

Island of Lost Souls

1932 USA. Director: Erle C. Kenton. Starring: Charles Laughton, Bela Lugosi, Richard Arlen.
I own this one one Criterion Blu-ray, even, and didn’t manage to watch it last October. I’ll get to it sometime this year.

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