September Films Do So Much And For So Long

I always wanted to work Big Star’s September Gurls into a post, thank you September for existing. This was a great month. I started my second semester back at grad school (I’ve switched my focus, too! From Screenwriting to Film Editing). I actually only saw two films at the Castro Theatre this month, but one of them made it into my five featured films, so more on that later. I also saw seven 2011 releases. Oh and I got the internet back! Even with classes four days a week, I still managed to watch on average a little over 2 new-to-me films a day. My total for the year so far is 905 (yes, really). As always, my monthly round-up is after the cut.

      1. Watership Down
      2. Life of an American Fireman
      3. Three Coins In The Fountain
      4. 8 Mile
      5. The ChubbChubbs!
      6. Fait d’Hiver (Gridlock)
      7. Down By Law
      8. Short Cuts
      9. Mysterious Skin
      10. Fort Apache, The Bronx
      11. Coquette
      12. Spirited Away
      13. Vivacious Lady
      14. The Big Country
      15. Crazy, Stupid, Love.
      16. The Grifters
      17. They All Laughed
      18. Highball
      19. Stranger Than Paradise
      20. Contagion
      21. Mean Streets
      22. The Hospital
      23. Lady Killer
      24. Johnny Guitar
      25. The New Tenants
      26. Mona Lisa (1986)
      27. Billy the Kid vs. Dracula
      28. Lola rennt (aka Run Lola Run)
      29. All That Jazz
      30. The Critic
      31. She Done Him Wrong
      32. Drive
      33. Jane Eyre
      34. Thor
      35. Permanent Vacation
      36. The Man With The Golden Arm
      37. Harry and Tonto
      38. Foreign Correspondent
      39. God of Love
      40. All That Heaven Allows
      41. Magnificent Obsession (1954)
      42. Marked Woman
      43. Man With The Movie Camera
      44. Bull Durham
      45. Night On Earth
      46. They Drive by Night (a.k.a. The Road to Frisco)
      47. Night Nurse
      48. Mystery Train
      49. You and Me
      50. Directed By John Ford
      51. Buena Vista Social Club
      52. Other Men’s Women
      53. Three on a Match
      54. Elmer Gantry
      55. All The Fine Young Cannibals
      56. The Professionals
      57. Who’s That Knocking at My Door
      58. The Cabin In The Cotton
      59. Ready (2002)
      60. Sleep (2002)
      61. The Player
      62. Good Morning Vietnam
      63. Machine Gun Preacher
      64. The File on Thelma Jordon
      65. The Long Goodbye
      66. California Split
      67. Kundun
      68. Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai
      69. What’s Your Number?
      70. Coney Island (1917)
      71. Romeo and Juliet (1936)

1900s: 1
1910s: 1
1920s: 2
1930s: 10
1940s: 2
1950s: 7
1960s: 6
1970s: 7
1980s: 9
1990s: 9
2000s: 9
2010s: 7

Normally when you look at my breakdown by year half the films are from the 1930s and 1940s and all the other decades have one or two films on them. This month, however, most of the decades are evenly spread out (only two from the 40s actually; maybe I’ve seen all the films from the 1940s. haha). I’ve been trying to catch up on films from the 1970s and 1980s that I haven’t seen. I guess they’d probably be called “art house” type films. Whatever they are, I’ve enjoyed them. Like most months, picking only five films to feature was incredibly difficult.

Mona Lisa, 1986 (dir. Neil Jordan)

This was such an amazing character-driven drama. Much like Drive (which I will talk about next), this film deals with a man who drives for a living and who, for the sake of a woman, strays off his path a little bit. Both films feature men who feel a need to help a woman because they are drawn to them. There’s no sex in either film and I like to think both protagonists are just good guys (who happen to be on the wrong side of the law most of the time), who just want to help someone they love. The more I think about the two films, the more I think they’d make a great a double feature. Bob Hoskins gives the performance of his career in this film. I think it’s on Instant Netflix, so if you have that service, I highly recommend watching this film.

Drive, 2011 (dir. Nicolas Winding Refn)

I actually already wrote quite a lot about Drive the other day, but I’ve seen it four times now (yes, really) and I just can’t get enough. And I didn’t get to say everything I wanted to say in that previous post. I didn’t get to write about how amazing Bryan Cranston was or how I still think Carey Mulligan expresses more depth and emotions with a five-second glance than most actresses working today manage to do in a whole film. Lastly I want to praise the film’s sound design. It’s not that often that I walk out of a film and think about how much I loved, LOVED what the sound designer/team did to enhance the story. It’s not that they call attention to the sounds in a flashy way or anything, it’s just when sound is needed to propel the story forward, it does one hell of a job. There’s also little ambient sounds that are peppered throughout the film that help create the Driver’s world and it is just so fantastically done. Like I’ve said many times now, I cannot recommend this film enough and I most definitely think you should go see it in theaters (at least once! if not twice!) if/when it’s playing near you.

Mystery Train, 1989 (dir. Jim Jarmusch)

I actually watched six Jarmusch films in September. The others I saw were Down By Law, Stranger Than Paradise, Permanent Vacation, Night On Earth and Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai. So now I’ve only got two of his films left (Dead Man and The Limits of Control). It was actually really hard to pick just one of his films to talk about, but I decided to go with Mystery Train because of the first vignette (it’s three stories that all connect eventually), with the Japanese couple. They are too cute. Their part of the film is my favorite thing Jarmusch has ever done. I mean, I liked the whole film, but I could watch that first part on repeat every day and never get sick of it. I had no idea what the film was about before I watched it, which was great because then everything was a surprise. And boy were there a lot of surprises in the film.

Who’s That Knocking At My Door, 1967 (dir. Martin Scorsese)

Like Jarmusch, I’ve been trying to catch up on my Scorsese (just his narrative films; once I finish them, I’ll tackle more of his documentaries). I saw three of his films this month, the other two being Mean Streets and Kundun (I’ve only got two left; Boxcar Bertha and The Last Temptation of Christ). I just really loved Who’s That Knocking At My Door?, which was Scorsese’s first feature film. It feels like a first film, but boy if I’d seen this when it first came out I would have made sure to track Scorsese’s career from then on, because his genius is already palpable. He’s clearly inspired by the French, Italian and British New Wave directors of the early sixties (and, of course, would be one of the leaders of the American New Wave in the 70s), but the story he creates feels every bit his own. It’s Scorsese’s New York; the same city we see in so many of his films. In it Scorsese tackles the tough subject of Catholic guilt and the virgin/whore dichotomy; it’s actually quite heartbreaking. Like in his later films, music plays a huge role in his style and in creating his universe. The whole soundtrack is fantastic, but there’s a scene set to The End by The Doors that just knocked my socks off. There’s also so much intertextuality with classic American films (lots of John Ford references). This film is truly a cinephile’s delight. And Harvey Keitel’s not that bad to look at either.

The Long Goodbye, 1973 (dir. Robert Altman)

Yet another director I have been catching up on is Robert Altman, who was nominated for Best Director five times and died before he ever won. I’ve now seen all of the films for which he was nominated. Such a clear vision. The other films of his I saw this month were Short Cuts, The Player and California Split. I actually saw the latter and The Long Goodbye as a double feature at the Castro Theatre. Elliot Gould, man, Elliot Gould. What a fantastic actor. I’d be hard-pressed to choose between Gould’s 70s counter-culture Phillip Marlowe from this film and Bogart’s subversive wise-cracking Marlowe in The Big Sleep. In fact, I downright refuse; I love them both. This film feels very much of its time, yet it doesn’t feel “dated” either. For me, a good film can act as a time capsule without detracting from its merit as a film. That’s exactly what Altman managed to do with this film, which, much like The Big Sleep, has a very complicated plot filled with twists and turns that don’t all make sense until the very end. And boy what an ending. I think this one can also be found on Instant Netflix. Do yourself a favor and watch it. It’s alright with me.

Which brings us to October, which looks to be another fantastic month; both for new releases as well as films at the Castro and things I plan on watching at home. I love watching classic horror films in October, and as many as I’ve seen (and I’ve seen A LOT) there are still so many I need to see. Hopefully y’all will have a great October as well!

About Marya E. Gates

Cinephile to the max.

Posted on October 1, 2011, in 2011 in Films and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. A LOT of great films on this list. But 905 new films this year?!?! You make me look like a novice with that total!! 🙂 I’ve had The Long Goodbye in my Netflix queue for a while now, glad to hear how much you liked it. I am a huge Bogie fan, and The Big Sleep is one of my faves, so it will be fun to compare.

  2. I’ve just come across your blog and it is fantastic! I thought I watched a lot of movies! Jeeez! I’m definitely going to watch Mona Lisa this week. Also, I’ve added Who’s That Knocking At My Door to my never ending to-see list, aside from Mean Streets and Taxi Driver, I haven’t see too much of Scorsese’s early stuff but I like the sounds of it being influenced by the French new wave etc. Interesting!

  3. OH, and I loooove the Long Goodbye. Yeah, that Elliot Gould, man.

  4. Love your monthly wrap-ups and always look forward to what 5 you choose. Mystery Train in your top 5 reminded me of Chungking Express – have you seen it? If not, I think you would enjoy it.

    Congrats on grad school, too!!!!

  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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