Last year I attempted to stretch my cinematic muscles and fill the gaping gaps in my 34 years of movie watching. It took almost an entire year, but I finally consumed Singin' In The Rain, 8 1/2, Gone With The Wind, The African Queen, and Birth of a Nation. I know, shameful, right? I'm not here to make excuses. I could mock you for not having partaken in real art like Starcrash or The Monster Squad, but I'm not a snooty A-hole like you hipster jerkwads obviously are.......yeah...ok...I'm obviously dealing with some not-so-latent film fanaticism ego issues. It feels good to finally have those films under my belt. I mean, Birth of a Nation - that is one astonishingly evil film. We all know it's the product of some serious institutionalized racism, but I actually found it more palatable than the horror show on display in Gone With The Wind. I kinda hate that film now. I think the argument could be made that Gone With The Wind is no less vile than Birth of a Nation with its happy slaves and slap crazed Scarlet O'Hara. And I didn't particularly take to Federico Fellini's 8 1/2 either. I can appreciate the pain of the creative process and Marcello Mastroianni is certainly intoxicating to watch, but the film equaled little more than a reference point for The Great Beauty. I never emotionally invested. The African Queen was fun. But I'll take The Maltese Falcon for my Bogart/Huston love. As it turns out the film I enjoyed the most out of last year's resolutions was the one I was anticipating the least - Singin' In The Rain. That is one joyous outpouring of love for cinema, and it slapped a massive smile on my face.
5. Saturday Night Fever/Grease: I've been talking to a lot of folks in an effort to determine the other big holes in my cultural knowledge. The film most people seemed shocked to discover that I've never seen all the way through is Grease. Why is that? Most people seem to follow the conversation to a place where they mock the film's morals, but still support the music. This leads to other talk surrounding Travolta and that disco behemoth known as Saturday Night Fever. So, this is obviously where I have to start my New Year. John Travolta. Blow Out. Pulp Fiction. Look Who's Talking. This man has made some of my favorite movies. Will I add two more to the list?
4. Tokyo Story: This film ranks #3 on the BFI's 50 Greatest Films of All Time; right behind Vertigo & Citizen Kane. Those are two films that proved to live up to their hyperbolic praise, so here's hoping. In college, all the hardcore film freaks geeked at the genius of Yasujiro Ozu, but in 1998 I was more concerned with the genius of Clint Eastwood & John Carpenter to be bothered with the arty-farty. I'd like to think that I've made great strides in the last decade, but Tokyo Story has remained a dead zone. Criterion's recent blugrade gives offers No Excuses. The film might not contain any noble samurai, but I look forward to some real-deal cultural enlightenment.
3. Duck Soup: Comedy, like musicals, has never been my thing. I'll bust a gut for movies like The Blues Brothers, The Big Lebowski, or even Your Highness, but I've never bothered to explore the history of the genre. A funny thing (pun intended) has happened in the last couple of years though. Again, thanks to those good folks over at Criterion, I've discovered a great fondness for Charlie Chaplin & Harold Lloyd. Pratfalls and bad luck are timeless. Some of the biggest laughs I had last year were watching Chaplin navigate the tortures of the rich in City Lights. And now it's time to branch out from the Criterion Cult - get into the Talkies. It's impossible growing up to avoid The Marx Brothers completely. I may have never seen one of their films, but I've certainly encountered Groucho in Looney Tune homage. He sure does have a goofy mustache. But it's time to peek behind the curtain of iconography and delve into a classic.
2. Spartacus/Lolita/Barry Lyndon: I'm probably more disgusted with myself for having not seen these three films than any other on this list. Stanley Kubrick - The God Of Film. You can't call yourself a movie lover without bowing down to the supremacy of 2001 A Space Odyssey. With the exception of these flicks I've seen every single one of his films. Some I don't get (A Clockwork Orange, Full Metal Jacket), some I ignore (Fear & Desire, Killer's Kiss), some I like (Paths of Glory, Dr Strangelove), some I love (The Killing, The Shining, Eyes Wide Shut), and one I worship (the aforementioned 2001). Is he the single greatest director to ever craft a film? I'm sure that's debatable. But it's a debate I cannot partake in until I seen Spartacus, Lolita, & Barry Lyndon.
1. The Other Godzillas: Similar to appreciating Kubrick, you cannot call yourself a movie maniac without loving Godzilla. It's a fact, look it up. I've watched Gojira a dozen times by this point in my life, but I've only seen one other member of the Godzilla franchise - Ghedora the Three Headed Monster (thanks to Co-Dork Matt actually). Having recently devoured and obsessed over James Stokoe's Half Century War, and with the upcoming Summer reboot from Gareth Edwards, it's time that I got down and dirty with Ishiro Honda. I'm not committing to all of the Godzilla films; I'm letting Matt pick the essentials for me. I might have to get creative with acquiring some of these films (OOP folks is a real bummer), but I'm planning on seeing Rodan, Mothra, Mothra Vs Godzilla, Invasion of the Astromonster, Godzilla Vs The Sea Monster, Godzilla Vs Hedorah, Godzilla Vs Megalon, Godzilla Vs Mechagodzilla, and Terror of Mechagodzilla before the May 16th release date of the new film. Better get hot, that's a lotta movies.