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

Posted on the 01 June 2012 by Tjatkinson @T_J_atkinson

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 honor. 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.

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

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:

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

May in Movies (and a LAMMY nomination Thank You!)
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 favorite 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 color. Vivid and memorable. ★★★★

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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