Tuesday, January 7, 2014

2013 Film Viewing Stats


Yes, I am still alive, though this blog is on life support at the moment (and after I left you with a dramatic season ending “list” cliff-hanger, I am incorrigible, the Twin Peaks season 2 of blogs).

Here are my film viewing stats for 2013, if you would like to review my prior year’s entries, click on these links: 2012, 2010, 2009, 2008. I didn’t do one for 2011, hence wiping that entire year from existence. If you want to see which specific films I watched or see what I gave each film on a handy five star scale, or are just stalking me in general, you can check out my letterboxd profile.


Total # of Films watched in 2013: 354
First film watched: Q: The Winged Serpent (1982, Larry Cohen) (DVD) on 1/2/13
First film watched theatrically: Rust and Bone (2012, Jacques Auidard) (Laemmle Playhouse) on 1/11/13
Last film watched: All the Right Moves (1983, Michael Chapman) (DVD) on 12/30/13
Last film watched theatrically: Her (2013, Spike Jonze) (Arclight Pasadena) on 12/29/13.

That is a huge one film increase from my 2012 total. Factors to consider when comparing totals of those years:  My son was born in February 2012, hence making film watching slightly less of a priority (slightly); 2012 was a leap year thus giving me an extra day than 2013; I was also off of work for about four months in 2012 on parental leave; we had a 10 day vacation to Kauai in 2013. So is this small increase an accomplishment or an utter failing? You make the call!

Films by decade:

1920s or before: 10
1930s: 14
1940s: 10
1950s: 11
1960s: 28
1970s: 38
1980s: 107
1990s: 20
2000s: 24
2010s: 92

Like last year, I made a goal of seeing at least 10 films from each decade. Again, the 80’s and this current decade are my most viewed, and actually increased percentage this year. I’m still working on my 1980s project which attributes to that. The 1970s, probably my favorite decade in film history saw the sharpest decline, down 22 films watched compared to 2012.


Films by method watched:

DVDs: 162
Netflix Instant Streaming: 59
Blu-Ray: 46
DV-R: 37
Theatre: 25
Streaming/online (not including Netflix or Amazon prime): 17
Amazon Prime Streaming: 8

Physical media still reigned as my preferred method of watching films in 2013, with DVDs and Blu-Ray contributing to 59% of my viewings. However, streaming saw a sharp increase (aided by some free trials of Hulu Plus and Warner Archive services), at 24% contribution, an increase of seven percent. Sadly, my theatrically viewing went down yet again, decreasing by four this year. And I was averaging at least 80 films watched theatrically a year prior to 2012.

Films by number of times I have watched them:

1st Time Watches: 247
2nd Time Watches: 61
3rd of more Time Watches: 46

That is an increase of 10 first time viewings over last year.

By Month:

January: 31
February: 34
March: 34
April: 25
May: 31
June: 33
July: 30
August: 24
September: 23
October: 35
November: 27
December: 27

By Country of Origin:

United States: 208
United Kingdom: 24
Italy: 14
Japan: 11
France: 11
China: 10
South Korea: 10
Russia: 10
Germany: 10
Spain: 10
Mexico: 6
Sweden: 6
Canada: 5
Norway: 4
Denmark: 3
Australia: 3
Chile: 2
Brazil: 2
New Zealand: 2
Poland: 2
Finland: 1

My major focus for film watching in 2013 was to increase the total of foreign films I watched, so I decided to set a goal of watching at least 10 films from 10 different countries or regions: Italy, Japan, France, China, South Korea, Russia, Germany, Spain, Mexico and South America, Scandinavia (Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland). And I succeeded! Yay!

That said, the United States of America again led the way, but there was an eight percent decrease of US films watched from 2012. With that in mind, I decided to set the same goal for myself this year, and actually include two countries whose cinema history I am sadly lacking experience with: Iran and India. Also, I am going to expand the regions a little more so that more countries are included. France will be France/Belgium, China will include Taiwan, Germany will be Germany/Austria, Spain will be Spain/Portugal, and I will have the Eastern European countries of Russia, Romania, Poland, and the Czech Republic enveloped under one region.



Directors with more than three films watched in 2013:

Pedro Almodovar (6: Live Flesh, Dark Habits, I’m So Excited!, Talk to Her, The Skin I Live In, What Have I Done to Deserve This?)
Alfred Hitchcock (6: Lifeboat, Shadow of a Doubt, Marnie, The Man Who Knew Too Much (50s), The Trouble with Harry, Torn Curtain)
David Cronenberg (5: Dead Ringers, Videodrome, Naked Lunch, M. Butterfly, Crash)
Woody Allen (4: To Rome with Love, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, Zelig, Annie Hall)
Sam Peckinpah (4: Cross of Iron, The Deadly Companions, Convoy, The Osterman Weekend)
Clint Eastwood (4: Sudden Impact, Heartbreak Ridge, Bronco Billy, Unforgiven)
Roman Polanski (4: Knife in the Water, Rosemary’s Baby, Repulsion, Carnage)
Steven Soderbergh (3: Side Effects, Magic Mike, Behind the Candelabra)
John Ford (3: Wagon Master, Just Pals, Bucking Broadway)
Ki-duk Kim (3: Spring, Summer, Fall Winter…and Spring, 3-Iron, Pieta)
Howard Hawks (3: Today We Live, The Crowd Roars, The Dawn Patrol)
Ingmar Bergman (3: Persona, The Passion of Anna, Fanny and Alexander)
Peter Yates (3: The Dresser, The Deep, Krull)
Alfonso Cuaron (3: Solo con tu Pareja, Y Tu Mama Tambien, Gravity)
John Woo (3: The Killer, A Better Tomorrow, A Better Tomorrow II)
Giancarlo Parolini (3: Sabata, Adios, Sabata, The Return of Sabata)
Josef vonSternberg (3: Shanghai Express, The Last Command, Underworld)
Rainer Werner Fassbinder (3: Veronika Voss, Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, Querelle)




Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The 1981 Project: Honorable Mentions (20-11)

Here are the ten films that just missed my top 10 list for 1981.


20. …All the Marbles (Robert Aldrich)-I am surprised by how long this film has resonated with me, Aldrich’s final directorial effort is a funny no-holds barred road trip/sports movie that follows the drudging world of small time women’s professional wrestling. Its equal parts Rocky inspirational film and Fat City examination of the toll of the sport on the body, mind and soul; the final brutal ring match resulted in one of the rare times I actually shouted at the screen during a climactic sports movie event. (My review)



 19. Scanners (David Cronenberg)-Cronenberg further follows his path of mutational/body horror films he began with Shivers (aka They Came From Within) with this science fiction tale about an agency looking to create genetically mutated super children to take over the world. Come for the head explodin’, stay for Cronenberg’s deft hand at pacing and showing just how awesome (aforementioned mind exploding) and burdensome telepathy can be. I don’t know if I am fooling myself here, but the third time around, I found Stephen Lack’s, uh, lack of screen presence to almost be a thematic choice, and anyway, it’s more than made up for by the glorious scene chewery of Patrick McGoohan, Michael Ironside and Robert Sullivan. (My review)


18. Gallipoli (Peter Weir)-The loss of innocence is a well-traveled war movie trope, but Weir’s sensitive and immersive direction, David Williamson’s specific screenplay and strong performance by Mark Lee and Mel Gibson transcend any of those tired clich├ęs in this Australian World War I set story of friendship and lost potential.


17. Escape From New York (John Carpenter)-Has any genre filmmaker had as strong a run as John Carpenter did from 1976 (Assault on Precinct 13) to 1988 (They Live)? Armed with a cleverly sardonic premise of a dystopian future where America has completely left New York (itself going through real economic and social strife in the period) to the criminals and a badass lead character who’s a composite of pretty much every rebel in pop culture history (including Elvis, who was the subject of director Carpenter and star Kurt Russell’s first collaboration), Carpenter crafts an iconic cult action classic.


16. Modern Romance (Albert Brooks)—An at times equally blisteringly funny and painfully honest examination of a circuitous relationship where the two people in the romance inevitably always yearn to be on the opposite side of the together/broken up divide they are on at any given time.


15. The Howling (Joe Dante)—No shame in being the second best werewolf film of 1981 when the results have the smart, fun, scary and treasure trove of cinematic Easter eggs as Dante’s film. Sexual repression is the central metaphor in this werewolf tale with the touchy feely self-help industry of the late 70’s/early 80’s getting a darkly satirical spin. (My review)


14. Coup de Torchon (Bertrand Tavernier)—While I haven’t read the specific Jim Thompson novel that it adapts, Pop. 1280, I am familiar enough with the writer’s work to posit that in terms of pitch black dark comic tone centered around the base impulses of an anti-social and possibly disturbed man, not much was lost in translation as French director Tavernier transported Thompson’s novel from the American South to France colonized West Africa. Phillipe Noiret gives one of the year’s best performances as the disrespected constable (his house is just above the town’s shared crapper) of a small village in a loveless marriage with his chortling cheating wife. But his affable demeanor takes a sharp turn when a beacon of hope in the guise of a teacher (Isabelle Huppert) inspires him to take advantage of his authority and clean up the town to his liking.


13. Possession (Andrezj Zulawski)—Chalk this as the film with the most potential to crack the top ten after repeated viewings reveals further layers, but even after my initial screening, I can say Zulawski’s singular domestic drama/horror/science fiction hybrid revolving around two persons driving each other mad, has already burrowed itself deep into the recesses of my mind. (My review)

12. Southern Comfort (Walter Hill)—Remember when I asked if any genre filmmaker had as strong of a fun as John Carpenter from then mid 1970s to the late 1980s a few slots ago? Well, yes, Walter Hill did actually. His tense action thriller pits symbolically impotent (their guns are loaded with blanks) National Guardsmen who propagate a war against the bayou dwelling inhabitants whose land they disrespect. (My review)


11. Body Heat (Lawrence Kasdan)—I know it does usually net the Academy Awards and accolades, but I really wish Kasdan focused his career more on revitalizing moribund genres than he did plumming the ennui of the yuppie class. With Silverado and his (co-writing credited) screenplays for Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Empire Strikes Back, Kasdan shows a deft hand at making classic tropes entertaining for modern audiences who may or may not be familiar with what’s being referenced, well written characters that give the actors plenty of room to play, and witty dialogue that’s full of great one-liners but never overly self-congratulatory of their own cleverness. Body Heat, his sweat drenched sexy updating of classic film noirs like Double Indemnity, has fun putting its ethically questionable lawyer protagonist Ned Racine (William Hurt) through the wringer at the hand of the irresistible yet sinister upper class housewife (Kathleen Turner in a star making role), who takes advantage of the madness that the acrid heat causes, Racine’s libido driven impulses and lack of well reasoned action those impulses lead to (“you aren’t too smart are you? I like that in a man.”) and suss out a way to get everything she’s ever wanted.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Fashionably late (by a year and a half)

So way back when I had the time and mental capacity to write, I was doing this thing I called the 1981 Project, wherein I'd watch a lot of films from the year 1981, write a review for a good chunk of them on this here blog all with the intention of posting something of a Top 10 and Honorable Mention list, and then well, I'd do the same thing the next year for 1982, then 1983, et cetera. Well, I think its high time I finally finish what I star---

Wait, where was I? Oh yeah, so I am going to start actually posting my Honorable Mentions and Best of lists this week, and even though I reviewed a grand total of zero films from 1982 for this blog, I did watch my fair share of films from that year and plan on following this up with my Best ofs from 1982 in the near future (note: the near future is comprosed of any time from a month up to the destruction of the planet and the human race's eventual enslavement by the our new overlords the Jupiterians, all hail the Jupeiterians!)

But before that, let's take a trip back in time to the halcyon days of 2011 when your humble author routinely had uninterrutped full nights of sleep, left the house after 6:00pm and had time to add his opinions on films to the chattering masses on the internet.

Here are links to all the films I reviewed for The 1981 Project:





Sunday, May 19, 2013

Don't Call it a Comeback...

...well namely because I am not quite back, but today marks the four month anniversary since my last post and I wanted to let you all know I am not planning on letting this become a ghost town, because, well, because I've got some shit I need to say. Life has been busy, but a change at work should allow for a bit more free time to devote here, and believe me I do have the itch. Thanks for anyone who's kept my link up on their site and still check this place from time to time. And I do read you good people's blogs, just usually from my phone where replying is a bit of a hassle.

I did start a Tumblr a few months ago, which allows me to easily post stills, videos and the such, I plan to keep that operational, but my "writing" will be done here still, just think of this as an addendum to this site.

The tumblr is The Neon Slime.

Also, I have a profile on Letterboxd, the social networking site for film lovers, where you can see what I've been watching and what I graded them, as well as a few list. If you're there, please add me as a friend and I will return the favor.

My Letterboxd profile.

So please be patient as I get my broom to clear out all the tumbleweeds here, and I will be back soon (hopefully)

I leave you with this picture of Roger Ebert wearing 3-D glasses for his review of Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, because that's the way he would want us to remember him (RIP Rog!):



Saturday, January 19, 2013

Why do they call them Great Whites anyway? They're mostly grey, why not call them Great Greys?

I always get a kick out of noticing the random set dressing on old sitcoms, be it the inappropriate for the character band posters on a teenager's wall, the protagonist's VHS collection, cereal boxes with the logos blacked out or books lining the shelves. I have been rewatching Cheers starting with the first season on Netflix Instant, and amongst the classic Boston sports ephemera lining every square inch of the bar's wallspace is a poster for future Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley. While Eckersley had a solid career as a starter for the Red Sox, and had been with the team for five years in 1982 when Cheers debuted, including one 20 win effort, he was nowhere near the superstar he would be when he became the dominant closer for the late 80's-early 90's Oakland Athletics.

Seinfeld is another goldmine in this regard, for example if you pay close attention at any episode where the quartet goes to the movies you will notice this poster for the long forgotten 1992 Tim Daly/Penolope Ann Miller comedy Year of the Comet, which shares Seinfeld's production company, Castle Rock Entertainment. Recently, while watching the 14th episode of season three, The Pez Dispenser, I noticed none other than Carl Gottleib's journal of the making of Steven Spielberg's Jaws, The Jaws Log, on Jerry's bookshelf. I wrote briefly about the Jaws Log a few years ago, which you can check out here.

There it is on the second shelf, two books up from James Clavell's Shogun. Somebody might want to inform Jerry that a good conditioned copy of that edition is going for $35 on eBay.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2012 Film Viewing Stats

It’s time again to reflect on my film viewing habits for the year 2012. This seems to be a popular post here and I enjoy this endeavor myself. You can see prior year’s summary posts by clicking on the year: 2008; 2009;  2010; due to circumstances I never completed 2011’s list.

Also, if you are interested in which particular films I viewed during 2012, check out my Letterboxd profile, and if you read this and are on that site, add me to your friends’ list.


Of course the big change for me this year was becoming a father on February 17th. While that definitely ate into my film watching schedule, having a few months off of work helped even everything out, and despite the fact that I watched 61 fewer films than in 2011, that year was a bit of an outlier, and this year’s total matches 2010’s and exceeds 2009 and 2008’s totals. The major impact that my son did have was a lot less visits to the cinema. The last two years I watched 59 films in theatre for an average of just over one a week, the total this year is down by more than half of that, and let's not mention the 80+ trips to the cinema I made in 2008 & 2009! Hopefully, my wife and I can find some reliable babysitters to try to increase that number in 2013.


Total # of Films watched in 2012:  353
First film watchedThe Godfather (Blu Ray) on 1/1/12
First film watched theatricallyHayware (at the Arclight Pasadena) on 1/21/12
Last film watchedThe Kid with a Bike (Netflix Instant) on 12/31/12
Last film watched theatricallyLincoln (at the Arclight Pasadena) on 12/29/12

Films by decade
Note: As I got closer to the end of the year I set a goal of watching at least ten films from every decade starting with the 1920s and up, I mistakenly had notated the years of two films which led me watching two 1920s films the last few days of the year

1920s: 10
1930s: 13
1940s: 12
1950s: 15
1960s: 31
1970s: 60
1980s: 97
1990s: 20
2000s: 22
2010-2012: 73

Films by method watched:

DVD: 186
Netflix Instant: 52
Blu Ray: 46
DVR: 34
Theatre: 29
Online (Amazon Prime, Youtube, etc.): 6

Films by number of time I have watched them:

1st Viewings: 237
2nd Viewings: 51
3rd or more Viewings: 65



By month:

January: 37
February: 29
March: 31
April: 27
May: 27
June: 29
July: 34
August: 17
September: 32
October: 35
November: 26
December: 29

By country of origin:

United States: 235
England: 35
Italy: 20
Japan: 14
France: 12
China: 6
Canada: 5
Germany: 4
New Zealand: 3
Australia: 3
Spain: 2
South Korea: 2
Belgium: 2
Denmark: 2
Mexico: 2
Thailand: 1
Sweden: 1
Netherlands: 1
Indonesia: 1
Turkey: 1
Iran: 1



Directors with 3 or more films watched in 2012:

Sam Peckinpah: 5 (Junior Bonner, The Getaway, Pat Garret & Billy the Kid, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, The Killer Elite)

Steven Spielberg: 5 (E.T., War Horse, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jaws, Lincoln)

Robert Zemeckis: 5 (Back to the Future, Back to the Future part II, Back to the Future part III, I Wanna Hold Your Hand, Flight)

Clint Eastwood: 4 (The Gauntlet, Firefox, J.Edgar, Honkytonk Man)

Josef vonSternberg: 4 (Blue Angel, Shanghai Gesture, Crime and Punishment, Macao)

Guy Hamilton: 4 (Goldfinger, Diamonds are Forever, Live and Let Die, The Man with the Golden Gun)

Lucio Fulci: 3 (New York Ripper, Don’t Torture a Duckling, The House by the Cemetary)

Peter Jackson: 3 (Fellowship of the Rings, Two Towers, Return of the King)

Enzo G. Castellari: 3 (Street Law, Keoma, The Big Racket)

Ridley Scott: 3 (Alien, Blade Runner, Prometheus)

Walter Hill: 3 (The Driver, The Warriors, 48 HRS)

William Wellman: 3 (Wings, Safe in Hell, Night Nurse)

Terrence Young: 3 (Dr. No, From Russia With Love, Thunderball)

Lewis Gilbert: 3 (You Only Live Twice, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker)

Terence Fisher: 3 (Curse of the Werewolf, The Brides of Dracula, Dracula: Prince of Darkness)

Buster Keaton: 3 (Sherlock Jr., The Navigator (co-directed), Seven Chances)

Here’s wishing everyone a satisfying 2013, how many films did you watch in 2012?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Ghosts of Halloweens Past

The last three years I was able to celebrate my favorite month of the year, October, with a post each day dedicated to the horror genre. With less than a week before the end of the month (and Halloween) I have not posted once this month. However, I have been watching a lot of horror films per tradition and hope to give you a little rundown of short reviews by the 31st, but like everything I have promised on this blog take that with a huge grain of salt with an asterisk attached.


But I thought I'd give some links to posts from the last three years, highlights if you will, for those that might have missed them or for those that are nostalgic for the time I actually updated this blog on a regular basis.



2009:

Posterized: The Psycho series
24 Frames: Psycho (1960, Alfred Hitchock)
Prince of Darkness (1987, John Carpenter) review
Posterized: The Universal Horror series part one and part two
24 Frames: Dracula (1931, Tod Browning)
Trick R Treat (2009, Michael Dougherty) review
Posterized: Stephen King on film
Silver Bullet (1985, Daniel Attias) review
24 Frames: Carrie (1976, Brian DePalma)
Posterized: The Halloween series
24 Frames: Halloween (1978, John Carpenter)



2010:

The Movies Go to the Movies: A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 at the Rialto Theatre (Pasadena, CA)
My Top 20 Horror Films (as of October 6th, 2010)
The Fog (1980, John Carpenter) review
MIA on DVD (and still to this day, if I am not mistaken): Twisted Nerve (1968, Roy Boulting)
Psycho III (1986, Anthony Perkins) review  
Five Great Horror Movie Opening Scenes
24 Frames: Suspiria (1977, Dario Argento)
Fade to Black (1980, Vernon Zimmerman) review
New Year's Evil (1980, Emmett Alston) review
Posterized: David Cronenberg in the 1970s and 80s
24 Frames: The Brood (1979, David Cronenberg)
10 Underrated Horror Films
24 Frames: Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982, Tommy Lee Wallace)



2011:

I was most proud of dedicating the month of October last year to one review a day of a horror film from 1981, so I would humbly recommend you check out the whole series here. But here are a few of my favorite films I reviewed if you need some recommendations for your seasonal viewing:

Eyes of a Stranger (Ken Wiederhorn)
An American Werewolf in London (John Landis)
The Howling (Joe Dante)
Bloody Birthday (Ed Hunt)
Friday the 13th part II (Steve Miner)
My Bloody Valentine (George Mihalka)
Possession (Andrezj Zuwawlki)
Dead and Buried (Gary Sherman)
Road Games (Richard Franklin)





Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Movies Go to the Movies: Blade Runner



What made Blade Runner such a revolutionary visual feat, and one of the most pardon the pun, replicated films in recent cinema, was that the vision of the future displayed by director Ridley Scott, cinematographer Jordan Cronenweth and the art and production design team not only contained your typical sci-fi future conventions (IE flying cars and artificial intelligence), but accounted for the how the present and past would integrate over time, as well as being cognizant of the impending multiculturalism of our cities. Gone are the antiseptic nearly exclusively interior sets of THX-1138 and Logan's Run, replaced with a film noir dark palette.

Part of this aesthetic includes incorporating classic architecture amid the futuristic developments, including the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Hollyhock House which serves as Deckard's home and Downtown Los Angeles' historic Bradbury Building, home of Replicant designer J.F. Sebastian. Across the street from the Bradbury Building is the Million Dollar Theatre, which you can see in a few shots:


The Million Dollar Theatre was built in 1918 as part of Sid Grauman's chain, and was serving as a live venue for musical performances by 1945. Beginning in the 1970's, as the beautiful downtown Los Angeles theatres were experiencing their last years of full time operation, it catered to the vast Mexican population with Spanish language films and musical performances, which is evident in the marquee during the filming of Blade Runner (the multicultural thread of the film probably lead Scott to leave the marquee as it was). After a recent renovation, the Million Dollar was reopened for speciality showings of classic films (I visited it a few years back as part of the Last Remaining Seats series), and live performances, but has recently lost it's lease and has returned to a dormant state. Hopefully, the future will be kinder to this treasure of a theatre.


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