Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Year-End Reflections of 2013

2013 is finally coming to a close and what a hell of a year it was. A year where film-watching was a must and it was certainly a very big year creatively while there was a lot that did happen. One that I want to move on and get ready for the next year. I did a lot of things in that year that were quite extraordinary as I did tackled a lot of films and the works of filmmakers. I even did something that was considered impossible by some when I saw the entire body of work by Woody Allen. One that will take me some time to recover as I want to wean off the Allen out of my system until the next film.

In the year of 2013, I saw a total of 472 films. 315 first-timers and 157 re-watches. That’s a lot of fucking films. Many of which were great but there were also some duds that I never want to see again. It’s been one hell of a year that would include 12 Blind Spots that I chose to do for the 2013 Blind Spot Series. Here is how I rank these films that I chose for the 2013 Blind Spots Series:

1. Citizen Kane

2. The Decalogue

3. Stagecoach

4. Battleship Potemkin

5. Lovers on the Bridge

6. Battle Royale

7. Mona Lisa

8. Floating Weeds

9. A Woman Under the Influence

10. Sunset Boulevard

11. Ali: Fear Eats the Soul

12. Red Beard

Since there were a lot of films that I saw in the course of the year where I would discover many films that ranged from all sorts of genres and from different countries. It was hard to pick a list of films that I think represented the best of what I saw in 2013. For this list, I decided to not include the Blind Spots nor any films that came in 2010 and afterwards since I feel like they’re more recent. Creating this list wasn’t easy where I had to make some serious changes and think about what films stuck with me the most in the course of the year. Some maybe ranked higher than they were in that month I saw it then or some managed to really do much more when I first saw it. So here is the list of The Top 10 First-Timers (pre-2010/non Blind Spots) that I saw for 2013:

1. Enter the Void

2. The Apartment

3. Sansho the Bailiff

4. Un Chien Andalou

5. Touch of Evil

6. Close-Up

7. Withnail & I

8. Fallen Angels

9. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

10. Mon Oncle

And Here's 40 more:

11. The Life of Oharu

12. Au Hasard Balthazar

13. Winter Light

14. Vertigo

15. F for Fake

16. The Samurai Trilogy (Pt. 1 - Pt. 2 - Pt. 3)

17. Mystery Train

18. The Phantom Carriage

19. Knife in the Water

20. A Matter of Life & Death

21. Still Walking

22. Metropolitan

23. High Noon

24. Late Autumn

25. Walkabout

26. The Long Good Friday

27. Killer of Sheep

28. American Gigolo

29. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

30. Happy Together

31. Ace in the Hole

32. Late Spring

33. Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles

34. A Canterbury Tale

35. Secret Sunshine

36. Belle de Jour

37. Summer Hours

38. The Magnificent Ambersons

39. Wet Hot American Summer

40. La Notte

41. Days of Being Wild

42. To Live & Die in L.A.

43. Ugetsu

44. I Know Where I'm Going

45. Early Summer

46. The Brood

47. Day of Wrath

48. Ivan the Terrible Pt. 1 & 2

49. Masculin Feminin

50. Love & Death

2013 was a year where a lot has changed where I definitely found myself evolving as a writer where I didn’t just simplify things in my reviews but also wanted to take more chances. I want to thank Nostra of My Filmviews for creating the Five Obstructions Blog-a-Thon which I thought made me a better writer. I also want to thank Courtney for having me at Cinema Axis in giving me the chance to do other things and expose me to a bigger audience. Now I want to make one final list on the 10 great things that happened to me in 2013:

1. The Return of Nine Inch Nails

Being a NIN fan is tough. You go through periods of inactivity in guessing when the next album is coming out while taking the time to listen to other things. Then when it’s announced that they’re back and you wonder who will be in the live band. It’s kind of a weird relationship that I’ve had with Trent Reznor for nearly 20 years as I was already getting used to not having them around and figure a new album would come out in a few more years. That didn’t happen as 2013 was great thanks to a new album and a new tour where I did manage to see them for the fourth time which you can read here.

2. The Discovery of Kenji Mizoguchi and Yasujiro Ozu

Prior to this year, I had only seen one film by Yasujiro Ozu in Tokyo Story as I definitely wanted to see more as Floating Weeds was chosen as one of my Blind Spots. Upon watching that film and several others, I became entranced by not just his approach to storytelling but also in the way he was able to create something that is purely Japanese in its conflict of tradition vs. modernism. The other Japanese filmmaker I was really wowed by was Kenji Mizoguchi who has a unique take on the way he portrays women in his films. Definitely a feminist filmmaker who told these engrossing stories about the way women were treated in ancient Japan as they provide some of the most harrowing yet touching stories to be graced in the world of cinema.

3. More Blog Discoveries

Every year, there’s new blogs to read and discover. It makes it more fun as I had a hell of a time reading these bloggers so I want to thank Josh @ The Cinematic Spectacle, Ruth and the gang @ flixchatter, Nostra of My FilmViews, Fisti of A Fistful of Films, Brittani @ Rambling Film and Dan @ Public Transportation Snob for making 2013 a whole lot of fun.

4. The Auteurs Series

This year was a major accomplishment in terms of the filmmakers I chose to profile for 2013. Not just in the kind of films they made but also the individual themselves as filmmakers. The biggest profile I did was on Woody Allen whose body of work is massive and definitely overwhelmed me. I was also glad that I was able to profile more women filmmakers like Nicole Holofcener and Jane Campion as I don’t think women get the same kind of attention that men do as Holofcener and Campion are filmmakers who are among the best that are working today. The Auteurs series also allows me to go into a filmmaker’s body of work and already be set for whatever that person will do next.

5. Having Letterboxd as My Film Tracker.

One of the things about Letterboxd that I love is the fact that I can keep track of all of the films I watched this month. Though at times, it’s imperfect due a few things and not having every film available in the site. Yet, it gives me the chance to see what I saw in that month and what films were the best in that month. Even as I would use it to make lists where I can put links on the notes and know where I can find a certain film and such. It’s definitely the ultimate tool for the organized film buff.

6. Botchamania

Wrestling in 2013 sucked. It was horrible. Watching WWE Monday Night RAW went from being a regular thing that I watch on Mondays to just being a bad habit where it no longer became fun to watch anymore where good things rarely happened. Thank goodness for Botchamania. An Internet clip-show that shows not just the goofs in wrestling but also all of the things in the past that boggles one mind while giving the wrestling fan something to enjoy and laugh at. Even as they poke fun of John Cena (who now has a new segment dedicated to him called Cena Talks Too Much), and Ryback whom I like to call Crybotch because he fucking sucks. Plus, I always get a kick at hearing the Iron Sheik say “Fuck!” at the end of every episode.

7. Some Great New Music in 2013

2013 was a great year in music. Not only because of the return of NIN but also of some artists I didn’t expect to come back and put out some great albums. My Bloody Valentine made an overdue return with a new album that is my favorite album of 2013 while David Bowie pulled a fast one and gave the world another great album. It was a year where I discovered some new artists like Savages, Chvrches, Sky Ferreira, and Disclosure but also heard some great albums from acts like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Queens of the Stone Age, Gary Numan, the National, Daft Punk, and many others. I will come out with a list of the 50 best albums of the year in my music blog as it’s certainly been one hell of a fucking year.

8. More New Cinematic Discoveries

One of the highlights of being a film buff and looking into a bunch of films is the chance to make discoveries. It was a great year in terms of the films I saw ranging from Asian cinema as well as more films from Europe. Especially with the Cannes Marathon this past May where I saw all sorts of things where one of the highlights was in Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives as I’m eager to see more of Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s work in future.

9. Expanding My Film Library

One of the aspects of being a film buff is the chance to take advantage of some sales as I have now expanded my DVD film library to 175 titles. Many of which are films from the Criterion Collection as some of my recent purchases are for next year’s Auteurs and upcoming Cannes Marathon. A lot of these films are movies I have never seen as I hope many of these blind purchases live up to their stature.

10. Jena Malone… the Best in the World!!!!

It was great to be a Jena Malone fan this year where not only did she kick ass in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire but she also managed to get some needed exposure as there was a feeling that she was going to be toiled back to obscurity after the failure of Sucker Punch in 2011. With some new films being lined up for 2014 and some new music from her outfit the Shoe. It’s just exciting to see someone I truly love to hear and watch finally getting some attention and proving to everyone that she is the BEST IN THE WORLD.

Well, that is all for 2013. It’s been one hell of a year and I think I will want to close this year with one of my favorite film clips of the year.

© thevoid99 2013

The Films That I Saw: December 2013

The new year is approaching as it’s certainly been a crazy holiday season as far as the number of films that have been coming out. At this moment, I’m going to take a break from the world of film-watching in order to do a few other things as of right now. Especially as I am working on my year-end reflections piece for New Year’s Eve where I will tally the number of films I saw for the entire year and make a list of the 50 best first-timers that I saw in 2013 which will not count films released prior to 2010.

In the month of December, I saw a total of 39 films, 27 first-timers and 12 re-watches. Up from last month where the highlight of the year was my final Blind Spot assignment for the year in Battleship Potemkin.  Here are the 10 best first-timers I saw in December 2013:

1. The Wolf of Wall Street

2. Fallen Angels

3. Au Hasard Balthazar

4. La Notte

5. Days of Being Wild

6. Late Autumn

7. Blue Steel

8. Nebraska

9. Early Summer

10. Dallas Buyers Club

Monthly Mini-Reviews

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

I like apocalyptic films when it’s done right but this one was a let down. I like the cast and the premise but I felt it wasn’t well-executed where it wasn’t really sure what it wanted to be at times. Steve Carell and Keira Knightley do have their moments together but they’re not really given much to do but talk and endure certain craziness throughout the film. I like the soundtrack but there wasn’t really much for me to really recommend the film.

Sports in America

I’m a sucker for HBO sports documentaries yet this one is one of the best. It’s about the joy of sports in America where it brings people together. It talks about these great moments that make sports a place to escape all of the troubles of the world or how it can bring families together. Even communities and races when things are down or they feel left out. It’s one that is very touching where it features commentaries from regular people and a few athletes and celebrities talking about these great moments in sports and why it is a good thing in America.

Triple H: Thy Kingdom Come

While Triple H isn’t likely to be in my list of the 20-25 best wrestlers of all-time, there is no question that he’s made a great mark in the world of professional wrestling. Even as he started out in WCW for a couple of years as a low-card talent and then arrive in the WWE with a horrible gimmick only to work his way to become one of the company’s top guys. The documentary not only made me respect him more because of his work ethics but also what he is trying to do for the WWE behind the scenes though he’s still got a long way to go as 2013 is certainly the worst year the WWE has endured creatively.

Jack the Giant Slayer

I don’t think this film is one of the great disasters of 2013 but it is still a pretty disappointing film. I like the cast as I think Nicholas Hoult and Ewan McGregor make a great team while Eleanor Tomlinson is pretty good. I was just unimpressed with the scale of the film and the overemphasis on CGI. Plus, the look of the giants weren’t so great after all which made the overall result a very mediocre film.

Top 10 Re-Watches:

1. City of God

2. Black Narcissus

3. The Princess Bride

4. Hoosiers

5. White Men Can’t Jump

6. Skyfall

7. Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle

8. Namath

9. Point Break

10. The Cowboy Way

That is pretty much it for December and certainly the last of these monthly reports for 2013. In January, I’m going to do a lot of work on silent films from the works of Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd as well as some films by Kathryn Bigelow for the upcoming Auteurs piece on her plus films by Pedro Almodovar, Francois Truffaut, and Steven Soderbergh as they’re going to be subjects of the Auteurs series later next year. New releases I hope to review will be films like Her, Labor Day, and The Past. Until then, this is thevoid99 signing off.

© thevoid99 2013