Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Year-End Reflections of 2014

Well, this has certainly been a sort of crazy year but a good one. There was a lot of film watching as well as some other things happened. Some good and some were bad. I did nearly everything I wanted to do in 2014 where even though it wasn’t as good as 2013. I still had some fun. I made some new discoveries as well as see some very awful films. Plus, there were a lot of things that happened in the year that tested me as among them has me becoming more detached with something that had been a part of me for nearly 20 years.

In the year of 2014, I saw a total of 440 films. 278 first-timers and 162 re-watches. Definitely down from last year due to various things including the flu towards the end of the year but still not bad. Especially for the fact that I saw so many good films and made a lot of discoveries. Among them were my Blind Spot choices for 2014 as here is the final list of those Blind Spots ranked:

1. Spirited Away

2. Playtime

3. A Room with a View

4. El Topo

5. Duck Soup

6. Pandora's Box

7. Stop Making Sense

8. Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom

9. Imitations of Life

10. Satantango

11. The Maltese Falcon

12. The Birth of a Nation

It was an incredible year in terms of the films that I saw as I wanted to diversify things throughout the course of the year. Many of which were amazing as a lot of them were major standouts. Some of which managed to eclipse not just some of the new films I saw this year but also the Blind Spots I saw. So for this list, this will include 50 of the best first-timers I saw this year that are neither Blind Spots nor films that came out from 2010 and beyond as it’s all pre-2010. So here are the 50 Best First-Timers of 2014:

1. Possession

2. All That Heaven Allows

3. Memories of Murder

4. Limelight

5. Two English Girls

6. L'Atalante

7. Safety Last!

8. The Night of the Hunter

9. if...

10. The Holy Mountain

11. Midnight Cowboy

12. Contempt

13. The Cranes are Flying

14. Mauvais Sang

15. Daisies

16. There's Always Tomorrow

17. Zero de Conduite

18. The Silence

19. The Tin Drum

20. Through a Glass Darkly

21. Howards End

22. The Lost Weekend

23. Day for Night

24. Shampoo

25. The Fisher King

26. Erin Brockovich

27. Law of Desire

28. The Last Picture Show

29. Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse

30. Russian Ark

31. Sorcerer

32. Magnificent Obsession

33. Bonjour Tristesse

34. The Lady Vanishes

35. King of the Hill

36. Year of the Dragon

37. Assault on Precinct 13

38. Overlord

39. A Man and a Woman

40. Pola X

41. Little Big Man

42. The Third Man

43. The Ballad of Narayama

44. Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!

45. The Fog

46. Marnie

47. Dark Habits

48. Peeping Tom

49. Pickup on South Street

50. North by Northwest

2014 was quite eventful as I did a lot as well as saw a lot. I read a lot of blogs and reviews while experiencing a lot of things. Yet, it sort of paled to the things that happened in 2013 where a lot did happen. So instead of doing 10, I’m going to name 5 things that were important to me in 2014:

1. More Cinematic Discoveries

Doing the Blind Spots and Auteurs series definitely helped broaden my view into the world of films as filmmakers like Jean Vigo and Leos Carax definitely showcased much wider ideas into the world of films. Especially in the films that I saw in 2014 from Russia, Germany, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East intrigued me. It was the year I saw films by Alejandro Jodorowsky and realized why he is so important as I also ventured more into the world of silent cinema as it’s definitely the reason why I love watching films.

2. Saying Goodbye to Robin Williams and Philip Seymour Hoffman

It was a tough year for the world of film as there were some definite major losses this year as Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death was devastating as I was aware of his issues with drugs. I was more saddened by the fact that he isn’t going to continue to give great performances as I was one of those who grew up watching him in films. Then there was Robin Williams as his death was more devastating because he was a part of my upbringing and was someone that often made me laugh. There is no way that I’m going to get over either men’s deaths as I’m glad that they leave behind a library of great films.

3. The World Cup

There’s Super Bowls, the World Series, the Masters, the Stanley Cup Finals, the Olympics, the NBA Finals, and Wimbledon. Yet, they’re small potatoes compared to the event that is the World Cup as this year’s Cup was amazing. It was a year of discoveries and major surprises. Teams like Colombia and Costa Rica stepped up and introduced the world to new stars. Robin van Persie proved that man can fly, for a few seconds, while Luis Suarez showed why footballers are badasses by biting someone. Yet, it was a year where the unexpected happen where Germany destroyed Brazil 7-1 in the semifinals that proved to be more shocking than anything. A moment that will be remembered for eons as it showed why Germany are now the four-time World Cup champs and champions who played with honor.

4. The Growing Disintegration with Myself and the WWE

I’ve been a wrestling fan since late 1991 and I grew up watching World Wrestling Entertainment for a very long time. 2014 was definitely a year where I questioned myself as a fan to the point that I stopped watching Monday Night RAW for months and then eventually wonder if I want to stop watching WWE for good. It’s an awful year as lackluster returns for Dave Bautista made him look bad while Daniel Bryan main-evented and beat three men at WrestleMania only to get injured for the rest of the year though he’s going to return for the 2015 Royal Rumble. Yet, there were a lot of things as it became clear that Vince McMahon is an out-of-touch old fart who doesn’t know what fans want. Even after hearing about what happened to CM Punk and why he left made me angrier at the company for their incompetence and their lack of creativity as they’re more interested in entertaining people with morons in bunny suits, an overexposed fruity pebble with lady parts, and stupid guest stars like Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda breaking champagne bottles with their ass. If things don’t get any better. I’ll quit for good.

5. Jena Malone & Scarlett Johansson… The Awesome Two-Some!!!!

It’s good to know that 2014 was a good year for the entertainers that I admired but for two of my favorite actresses. I’m fucking stoked that they had an awesome year. Jena released her music and proved to be a really good artist while managing to make an appearance in Paul Thomas Anderson’s new film Inherent Vice. Scarlett kicked major ass as she proved to the skeptics that she is money with Lucy and Captain America: The Winter Soldier while broadening her range in films like Her, Chef, and Under the Skin while giving birth to a new baby girl named Rose. The time has come for these two ladies to do a film together and show all the younger wannabes and other peers who can’t act on how it’s done!

Well, that is all for 2014. It’s been a very good year. Not a great one but a damn good one. It was quite crazy at times as well. So in closing, I want to end this post on a high note with…. The best song ever of 2014!

© thevoid99 2014

The Films That I Saw: December 2014

The New Year is approaching as 2014 is coming to a close. I’m relieved that I finished many of my obligations for the year though I feel like I’ve fell short of a personal goal of mine which I wanted to achieve which is to watch 500 films in the entire year. That was unfortunate due to illness as I spent much of early December including my birthday throwing up and suffering from the flu. That illness forced me to miss several theatrical releases that I wanted to see but my illness and scheduling reasons prevented me from seeing those films. Other than that, it was still a good month as I got some good Xmas presents in some Criterion DVDs as some of them that I got were my Blind Spot assignments for the next year.

In the month of December, I saw a total of 24 films in14 first-timers and 10 re-watches. Not surprisingly down from last month as I was dealing with the flu as one of the highlights of the month was Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom as here are the top 10 first-timers I saw for December 2014:

1. Two Days, One Night

2. Foxcatcher

3. Frank

4. The Lego Movie

5. In a World...

6. Confidentially Yours

7. Nymphomaniac

8. Prisoners

9. The Interview

10. Little Buddha

Monthly Mini-Reviews

Emerson, Lake, & Palmer: Beyond the Beginning

There is no group that is as polarizing as Emerson, Lake, and Palmer as this 2006 documentary showcased a band that was known for bombastic stage performances and musicality that is adored by some while loathed by many. There’s no question into how influential they are in the world of progressive rock as the documentary showcases the band’s rise and their notoriety to create long-winded pieces of music to display their talents as musicians. Yet, it does have some funny moments as it relates to their late 70s tour with an orchestra that ruined the band financially as well as gain the ire of the punk rock scene.

The Kate Bush Story: Running Up That Hill

It’s good to know that Kate Bush has returned to performing live and doing shows, even if it’s for a limited engagement. The documentary made by the BBC in anticipation for her comeback shows at the Hammersmith Odeon in London show what a fascinating career she has. Especially for someone who is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea while being very independent and making music on her own terms. It plays into aspects of her perfectionist approach to music which is always worth as well as commentary from colleagues and fans of her music, including Big Boi of Outkast which is a big surprise, as it’s a must-see for fans as well as newbies to Bush.

Top 10 Re-watches

1. Y Tu Mama Tambien

2. Frances Ha

3. A Fish Called Wanda

4. Sexy Beast

5. Serenity

6. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

7. Jazzin’ for Blue Jean

8. The Crew

9. Milk Money

10. Home of the Brave

Well, that is it for December as it’s time to clean the slate. Aside from a reflective piece on the year which will be the last thing I release for 2014. There is a lot coming in January such as the next 2 parts of the Most Anticipated Films of 2015 list plus theatrical releases like Inherent Vice, Mr. Turner, and A Most Violent Year. Other films I plan to watch in January involve some of the films of the upcoming Auteurs subjects I’m going to watch as I will work on the first 2015 piece on Noah Baumbach. Plus, films by Michael Winterbottom, Marcel Carne, the Marx Brothers, Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton, and other films plus The Story of Film series as I’ve seen a third of it so far. Until then, this is thevoid99 signing off.

© thevoid99 2014