Movies, Theaters, Joseph Cotten, Popcorn and Fun – June 2011 in Film

So I saw far less films in June than I did in the first five months of 2011 (you can see all those lists here), but I also had a lot of personal changes in June. For one, I moved back to San Francisco at the end of May. This has led to 1) more movies in theaters and 2) mostly movies at the Castro Theatre and the Red Vic (which, sadly, is closing on the 25th!). I saw several films that I’d already seen before at those theaters. It also takes time to get to those theaters, thus less time to sit in my room watching movies. But the experience of seeing these great films (I saw Lawrence of Arabia in 70mm and Wings of Desire, among others!) more than makes up for the time it takes away from seeing other films. I have eaten so much popcorn in the last 30 days, you don’t even know. Haha. The other big change was I started grad school two weeks ago. While it is film school that I am going to, the classes do not just consist of watching films. Actually, we just watch clips and so far it’s mostly been of films I’ve seen before. And in the one class that we are watching feature films (on our own), I’ve already seen 9 of the 15 films, so that is exciting! Long story short, I saw less films in June than previous months. That being said, I also saw more really great films this month. Picking just five films to talk about is going to kill me. As I write this intro I still haven’t decided which five I am going to emphasize. I will say most of the films I watched in June deserve your time, so if you see one on the following list that you’ve always meant to watch but haven’t, just go ahead and watch it already!

  1. Boom!
  2. Queen Christina
  3. Anchors Aweigh
  4. The Celluloid Closet
  5. The Tree of Life
  6. Every Girl Should Be Married
  7. Love Me Tender
  8. Home Town Story
  9. Golden Boy (1939)
  10. A Letter to Three Wives
  11. The Ox-Bow Incident
  12. Ziegfeld Follies
  13. Les vampires (1915)
  14. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
  15. The Scarlet Empress
  16. Make Way For Tomorrow
  17. No Man Of Her Own (1932)
  18. The Wasp Woman (1959)
  19. Beyond the Forest
  20. Blonde Venus
  21. Super 8
  22. You Only Live Once
  23. Rope
  24. One Way Passage
  25. Beginners
  26. À nous la liberté
  27. State Fair (1933)
  28. Iron Man (1931)
  29. Mr. Popper’s Penguins
  30. X-Men: First Class
  31. The Ice Follies of 1939
  32. Fish Tank
  33. Trouble In Paradise
  34. The Boys In The Band
  35. Repulsion
  36. The Rainmaker (1956)
  37. Across The Pacific (1942)
  38. The Dark Mirror
  39. Love Letters (1945)
  40. The Stranger
  41. My Darling Clementine
  42. Paris, Texas
  43. Le procès (aka The Trial)
  44. The Big Parade
  45. The Crowd
  46. The Corpse Vanishes
  47. Invisible Ghost
  48. Baraka
  49. The Last Tycoon
  50. Duel in the Sun
  51. Fail-Safe
  52. The Great Train Robbery
  53. Bulldog Drummond’s Revenge
  54. Bulldog Drummond at Bay (1937)
  55. Bulldog Drummond Comes Back
  56. Bulldog Drummond’s Peril
  57. Bulldog Drummond in Africa
  58. Bulldog Drummond Escapes
  59. Arrest Bulldog Drummond
  60. Bulldog Drummond’s Secret Police
  61. Bulldog Drummond’s Bride
  62. Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould
  63. Our Hospitality
  64. Two For The Road
  65. Almost You
  66. Portrait of Jennie
  67. I’ll Be Seeing You
  68. The Playhouse
  69. The Love Nest
  70. The Electric House
  71. Der blaue Engel (The Blue Angel)
  72. The Devil Is A Woman
  73. Journey Into Fear (1944)

1900s: 1
1910s: 1
1920s: 7
1930s: 24
1940s: 18
1950s: 4
1960s: 5
1970s: 2
1980s: 2
1990s: 3
2000s: 1
2010s: 5

A few things I forgot to mention earlier about my June film watching habits: 1. I saw several films featuring Lew Ayres and Joseph Cotten this month. They are two actors you owe it to yourself to work through their filmographies. Trust me. 2. I saw four of the films Marlene Dietrich did with director Josef  von Sternberg (I’ve now see six of their seven collaborations; two of them I saw on the big screen at the Castro!). Dietrich/von Sternberg did some amazing work together and I highly recommend you watch their films. Les vampires is 6+ hour long silent French serial from 1915. I just feel it necessary to point that out. Lastly, yes I did see Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, but, no, I’m not going to write about it. I just don’t feel equipped to really say anything substantial about it just yet. So after much hullabaloo, I give you my five “favorites” for June.

Make Way For Tomorrow, 1937 (dir. Leo McCarey)

I can’t really describe the plot of this film to you without spoiling the whole thing. I will, however, point out that it is often cited as “the most depressing movie ever made,” and that Orson Welles once said, “it would make a stone cry.” I agree with both of these statements. It is a ridiculously heartbreaking work of art. McCarey also directed The Awful Truth in 1937 and received the Academy Award for Best Director for his work on the screwball comedy. In his acceptance speech he said, “Thanks, but you gave it to me for the wrong film.” Make Way For Tomorrow was probably “too real” and utterly too depressing for its time and was largely forgotten for quite a while. In the last few years, though, many film historians and critics have tried to shine a light on this hidden Old Hollywood gem; Roger Ebert added it to his “The Great Movies” list and it was released on DVD by the Criterion Collection. I cannot recommend this film enough, just make sure you’re prepared to be destroyed and bring lots of tissues.

Beginners, 2011 (dir. Mike Mills)

This is the Ewan McGregor film I have been waiting for since Big Fish. The Scottish actor gives one of his best performances yet in this incredibly charming indie comedy. Christopher Plummer also gives a stellar performance (a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination, or at least buzz come awards season would not be shocking). The film is about love and life and not being afraid to put yourself out there. I know that sounds like the plot of a zillion movies, and I guess it is. But writer-director Mike Mills makes it feel fresh and new, even if the basic plot is something we’re very familiar with. Beginners also features one of the cutest dogs in recent cinema history.

The Crowd, 1928 (dir. King Vidor)

Just like Make Way For Tomorrow, King Vidor’s silent classic The Crowd is depressing. It starts out with the death of the main characters father, so you are exposed to tragedy pretty early, but then it gives you the smokescreen of a whirlwind romance so you think you’re going to see a happy film. Then boom! it gets depressing again. It’s a contemplative look at modernity and the anonymity of living in a city. Really, it takes a jab at the American dream – of being raised to think you are special and you will grow up to be a great person (i.e. president or something equally showy) and the emptiness that can sneak in when it doesn’t happen. It’s eerie how relevant this film – nearly 85 years later – this film still is. Again, bring some tissues.

The Last Tycoon, 1976 (dir. Elia Kazan)

This film is flawed. I am not going to dance around that fact. It is not the best thing Elia Kazan has ever directed – far from it. But I loved it regardless, and not just because Robert De Niro was drop dead gorgeous in it. I thought it was a fascinating look at the beginning of the studio system from the inside. The screenplay for The Last Tycoon was written by Harold Pinter (and the film feels very Pinter-esque), based on the unfinished novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The character played by De Niro was inspired by Irving Thalberg (the boy wonder producer/studio head at MGM), though the film should in no way be looked upon as a biographical. I have a major thing for Thalberg, so I got a kick out of De Niro’s take on his genius. Really though, this is one of De Niro’s best performances. It is subtle and quiet, but that passion and fire he brings to his more showy roles (like Taxi Driver) is always present.

Portrait of Jennie, 1948 (dir. William Dieterle)

Joseph Cotten and Jennifer Jones made four films together from 1944 to 1948. I saw one of them a few months ago (Since You Went Away), in June I saw the other three (Love Letters, Duel In The Sun and Portrait of Jennie). Somehow I managed to watch them in the order they were made without even trying. Portrait of Jennie is most definitely the greatest of their films together. This is partly so due to their amazing chemistry in the film and partly because the film itself was so ahead of its time. This film was also their least successful film together. Audiences were just not ready for this kind of film so soon after the war. This film is time-bending fantasy, with a bittersweet ending. Joseph H. August was nominated for his breathtaking cinematography and the film won an Academy Award for its special effects. You really must see this film to understand why it is so special and so different from everything that was being made at the time. Lastly, it is only 86 minutes long and its two stars manage to create such amazing growth of character and such believably strong passion, it is astounding.

So that was my month. July looks to be a similarly slow month for me as I will still be in class and both the Castro Theatre and the Red Vic are showing several films I’ve seen but am interested in seeing on the big screen (Touch of Evil!). Y’all keep watching great films and I will keep reporting on what I watch and the world will keep on keeping on.


About Marya E. Gates

Cinephile to the max.

Posted on July 1, 2011, in 2011 in Films and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Where’s “Transformers:Dark of the Moon”?
    (Late birthday razz!)

  2. Make Way for Tomorrow is simply devastating. It’s a great film, but also one I can’t really bring myself to revisit. I plan to soon, though, so I can finally review it. Also so I can justify buying the DVD.

  3. “Les vampires is 6+ hour long silent French serial from 1915. I just feel it necessary to point that out.”

    Personally, I commend you for this. I would never be able to do that. (I usually feel quite proud that I once sat through The Happiest Millionaire…only falling asleep a couple of times. ;-D)

  4. It’s sad that the Red Vic is closing. I haven’t had the opportunity to go there, and now it’s gone…

    Les vampires! I dedicated most of a day to that a month ago, after watching the Fantomas movies Feuillade made. What did you think of it?

  1. Pingback: 2011 in Films: A Year-Long Cinematic Odyssey Through 1,117 New-To-Me Films « the diary of a film awards fanatic

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