Well hello there! It’s been more than a week since my last blog entry, it’s actually been harder than I thought to make time for writing and I really need to work on that, I know. But I have started on my mission, don’t you worry! Overall, it started all good, excited about each of the films I picked so far, until I overloaded myself a little by the end of last week with 2 way too serious topics – both based on real events. But first thing first..
Ever since I was first going through the book trying to figure out my number of seen films, and then over and over again flicking through the pages to randomly decide which one to watch first (yeah, there goes my “method” – it ended up to be this profound), I thought – wow, if you were involved in just one of these films, you’ve definitely done something right in your career. I mean, it’s not that the authors of this book are necessarily right – but still, to make it into such a small cut of films, that sure is an accomplishment! I would be proud. (..and that was before I discovered the one film in which my very favourite person in the world has been involved and which – in the end – did make me feel super proud! … and no, I’m not gonna tell you which one, cause you would only get jealous, sorry 😉 ). But as a lover of old film musicals, I knew where I’m gonna start..
So, in my first two weeks of the challenge – I confess, I did actually start before writing my very first blog post, which turned out to be a big mistake as I have no idea how to sum up all of the emotions these films induced, in just one post now.. Oh, I am so behind on this!! Anyway, the films I’ve seen:
Gigi (1958) – a charming Hollywood musical with possibly the most radiant Technicolor colors I have ever seen (if that was the only reason to watch this, it is enough, trust me 😉 ) and the most adorable bored-to-death male lead in character of Gaston played by Louis Jourdan – yes, the musical might be called after Gigi, but for me, Gaston is the winner here and the reason to watch this film, he is great.
High Society (1956) – this could have been one of the best musical comedies – I mean, it has Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and even Louis Armstrong in it! What more can you ask for? (Other than Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly) Well, a better female lead. Grace Kelly is just so not fit for this role, completely ruins the overall effect of the film. She’s just constantly trying too hard, it feels more like she is impersonating someone (Katherine Hepburn maybe?) rather than acting and I could not believe her for one second.. Shame.
Groundhog Day (1993) – a nice 90s comedy, which you probably won’t appreciate as much if you’ll be watching it for the first time nowadays and haven’t grew up with it – or if you’re not a huge Bill Murray fan, which unfortunately, I am not. But funny to see where so many other comedies took the inspiration!
Do the Right Thing (1989) – I’ve read so much about this film while studying the rise of the independent cinema, but never managed to get hold of it. Even now the quality of the copy I’ve watched was far from great, but so glad I was finally able to see it as all that I’ve been reading about it makes so much sense now! It’s not exactly a pleasant or enjoyable film to watch (I thought I’ll go crazy from all the shouting taking place!) but absolutely essential for understanding the rise of hip hop culture and its background, paving the way for telling the stories about lives previously ignored by both Hollywood and indie films and also for its visual style. Definitely a must see. Once you see this, you will realize just how much would not happen if it wasn’t for this film.
Trainspotting (1996) – yes, I have never seen it before. Simply, because I just hate films about drug addicts. I can’t make myself watch them. (Only just recently, I almost accidentally watched The Basketball Diaries with Leonardo DiCaprio which btw I believe is the best take on this topic, and considered that quite an accomplishment. I was just too much taken by Leonardo’s powerful performance to stop watching it). This take is of course something completely different, brutally funny and original, yet for me still unwatchable after first half.
Out of the Past (1947) – This film noir surprised me so much! It is so clever, the dialogues are smart, fast paced and funny. The plot with its many twists is just surprisingly great. Just great, great writing altogether. I usually have to laugh watching film noir (sorry, but they are kind of cute if not ridiculous – especially the actors’ performances), but not this one. This is the predecessor of James Bond (Daniel Craig’s ones for sure). If you are to watch just one film noir ever, make it this one. Very timeless.
The Lady From Shanghai (1947) – okay, despite this being the great Orson Welles film, I found it super boring and if it wasn’t for the final mirror scene, completely unnecessary to watch. Maybe just if you want to see the only role in which Rita Hayworth was blonde (and as a bonus get that Tilda Swinton’s reference in Limits of Control). But for the final scene – yes, do watch it. It is truly genius and definitely deserves its place in film history! If only the road to it was more enjoyable..
The Big Short (2015), JFK (1991)
Now these last two films were the reason why I actually took a break from watching the must see films for a bit. First, the Big Short – a film about the economic crises which started in 2008 and did not have to happen at all. Then Oliver Stone’s take on the events of John F. Kennedy’s assassination which up to this day has not been resolved. Tough topics to take in just two days. I mean, you knew there is something wrong with this world before seeing these films… but there’s just something so damn wrong with it!! And these films make it so vivid and transparent that it makes you wonder how is it possible that no one’s done anything to change it yet… Or why has it not been enough. Are we all just helpless? Are we all just puppets…? It just got me sick. And terrified. Terrified by the times we all live in now.. Maybe if it wasn’t for the current events over in the United States, I would not believe Oliver Stone’s theory of JFK assasination.. but I don’t know how about you, but to me it just all makes perfect sense.
It’s nothing new of course, that our world is driven by desire for power and money but these two films make it just kinda tough to take it in. Probably, for being so straight forward about it. So, take my advice – do watch these films if you haven’t already and then make your friends watch it, too, as I believe everybody should see them, but – don’t make the same mistake as I did. Do not watch both of them within two days. Otherwise, you may find yourself completely disillusioned (if you are a masochist though, go ahead and add Leonardo DiCaprio’s Before the Flood documentary into the mix!) As far as I am concerned, I am now ready for some of the Mel Brooks comedies.
Now I know you’ve had enough by now but just in short about other films I’ve seen in the past 2 weeks:
Permanent Vacation (1980) – Jim Jarmusch’ first feature film which I thought I should see (but was wrong), Woody Allen’s latest film Café Society (2016) which turned out to be more fun than I thought it will be (it’s great fun actually!), A Chorus Line (1985) which I thought is among the 1001 films but then it turned out it’s not, Bright Star (2009) by Jane Campion which was on tv one evening and I just thought it could be interesting (but wasn’t), Limits of Control (2009) another of Jim Jarmusch’s films which btw made me realize yet another reason for continuing in my mission – as hopefully one day, I will get all of the film references in his and others’ films (I have also decided to go to Madrid for a vacation while watching it), Monsieur Chocolat (2016) cause basically, I want to watch anything chocolate related, La La Land (2016) for the third time already. (Yes. I did tell you I love musicals, right? And that I won’t give up re-watching the movies I love for the sake of the must see ones.. So – there you go.) and finally as a result of watching The Big Short and JFK, Vanille Fraise (1989) a French comedy for your Sunday afternoon coffee time and Eddie the Eagle (2016) which I’ve seen before but is such a feel-good movie that I could not resist watching it again as it was on tv that same day (although didn’t really make me ‘feel good’ this time as it brought back memories that I didn’t really need to be brought back, completely irrelevant to the film though. Anyway, worth seeing just for Hugh Jackman who’s way too funny in it).
Okay, so that makes it 9 essential films vs. 9 movies of my choice. Now that’s not too bad, is it! Seems like everything is in perfect balance. And that’s everybody’s main goal, right? We’re all striving for balance in our lives … 😉