Social Cinema, New York City and the 80s: January 2013 in Film
January was a pretty great month for me in terms of film watching. I started the year out with a great choice (more on that below), went to New York City for the first time (and visited several movie theatres; I promise I’ll make a post on that soon), I guested on the Matineecast podcast for the third year in a row to discuss the Oscar nominations and started hosted films for Milyoni’s Social Cinema. Please do give that service a look; it was a lot of fun to do and I guarantee you’ll have fun watching the films! Anyways, as always you will find the complete list of what I watched after the cut, as well as a few featured favorites.
- The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension!
- Woman on Top
- Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing
- Little Voice
- King of the Newsboys
- The Leathernecks Have Landed
- Until September
- Stormy Monday
- My Chauffeur
- Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains
- Hearts in Bondage
- Gunfight at the O.K. Corral
- The Ramen Girl
- Love Serenade
- Flannel Pajamas
- Daybreak Express
- On The Road
- Ginger and Rosa
- Zero Dark Thirty
- Dressed To Kill (1980)
- Stars in My Crown
- Mirror Mirror
- The Invisible War
- Meshes of the Afternoon
- Free Radicals
- A Colour Box
- Rainbow Dance
- Swinging the Lambeth Walk
- Checking Out: Grand Hotel
- Nothing Ever Happens (1933)
- Blitz Wolf
- A Phantasy in Colors (aka Begone Dull Care)
- A Corner in Wheat
- Rough Riders of Cheyenne
- The Odd Couple
- Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Leonard Cohen
- It Takes Two (1988)
- Modern Girls
- Tuff Turf
- The Favour, the Watch and the Very Big Fish
- In Another Country
- Searching For Sugar Man
- The Lawless Nineties
- Dangerous Curves (1989)
- One from the Heart
- West of Shanghai
- The Invisible Menace
- Devil’s Island
- Native Son (1951) [Film Noir Festival]
- Intruder in the Dust [Film Noir Festival]
- Hilary and Jackie
- Anna (1987)
- In Dreams
I am going to eschew tradition and write about six films this month because I just absolutely could not whittle it down any further; it was hard enough getting it to just these six. January always tends to be filled with a lot of good choices. I think this happens because I try to start the year out really strong. This month I watched a lot of 80s films on Netflix because it seems like the entire back catalogue of MGM/UA rom-coms and rom-drams from the 80s were added and I just couldn’t get enough.
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension!, 1984 (dir. W.D. Richter)
I can’t believe I’d never seen this film before. The above screencap of young Jeff Goldblum in all his attractive glory is only one of the many, many treasures to be found in this bizarre cult classic gem. This was a film that was intended to become a franchise, but it was so bizarre and so not what anyone expected that it did rather poorly at the box office and a franchise was not to be. Regardless of its sad production history, you can tell the filmmakers, cast and crew, had a ton of fun making this film and that energy comes through nearly thirty years later. If you don’t have fun watching this film, I think the fault lies with you and not the work itself.
Stormy Monday, 1988 (dir. Mike Figgis)
Shot by Roger Deakins, written and directed by Mike Figgis (of Leaving Las Vegas fame) and starring Melanie Griffith, Sean Bean and Sting, Stormy Monday is definitely what I would call a slow burn. The tagline on the poster calls it a “romantic thriller” and that is pretty accurate, although both the romance and the thrills are so low-key, your average movie-goer might not have the patience for it. The film plays like a good piece of jazz, moody and equally as deliberately paced as it is improvised. When it fades to black, you’re left unsure how to feel about what you saw and you leave its story and characters wanting just a little bit more, but you know you’re lucky you got what little time you did.
Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains, 1982 (dir. Lou Alder)
Another film from the 80s with an even more trouble-filled production history, this film was only released in a handful of theaters in 1982 and then a “happier” ending was filmed and re-released in 1984 in an attempt to recoup some of its losses. It didn’t really do much business either time, but it did slowly gain a cult following on television in the late-80s and is now a certified cult classic. I can’t really imagine what the atmosphere must have been like when it was originally released, but watching it now it feels so on point about the era and the music business and teenage girls, that it’s kind of shocking that it didn’t do well. Maybe it was too close to the truth for people to handle. Either way, I’m glad it’s available to watch now and I hope its cult status continues to grow.
Flannel Pajamas, 2006 (dir. Jeff Lipsky)
Very rarely have I simultaneously loved and hated a film as much as I did this one. These characters aren’t exactly likable, but they suck you in and by the time the films ends you’re yelling at them for making a mess of everything and for all their miscommunications and broken promises. You follow a couple who meet on a blind date, fall in love, get married and then (spoiler) get divorced. The film is merciless in its depiction of every stage of their relationship and you the audience understand both characters better than either one ever does, which is part of why the film is so frustrating and yet so fascinating. This is definitely one of the most honest and fearless films I’ve seen about relationships and love, though I can tell it will definitely not be for everyone. It lingered in my mind for days after I watched it and I still sometimes find myself mulling it over in my brain.
Amour, 2012 (dir. Michael Haneke)
Same goes for Haneke’s masterpiece and current Best Picture nominee Amour. I’ve seen all the films up for the top prize at the Oscars this year (actually, I’m only missing about 12 films total, mostly foreign and docs) and I definitely think this is the greatest (and I don’t usually like using superlatives) film in the mix. It’s an important film that touches on a phase of life not often discussed in real life, let alone in cinema. It’s a touch, relentless film that will push buttons on many, but it’s one that should be seen. It’s actually playing at the theatre where I work and it has been such a treat to discuss the film with patrons after it’s over. Some want to know what the ending means (I won’t tell you here, but if you send me a tweet or something we can discuss it) and some just want to share their own experiences with loved ones. Haneke has said this is a film about love and life, not just death and I think it’s important to realize that that is exactly what it is. Also, if you haven’t seen it – make sure you see it from the very beginning. It’s not one where you can miss the beginning and everything will be fine. Just do me a favor and go on time.
Modern Girls, 1986 (dir. Jerry Kramer)
I had never even heard of this film until Netflix recommended it to me and it’s poster was styled like Roy Lichtenstein pop art and I just had to watch it and I am so glad that I did. It’s like they made this movie just for me. Everything is bright jewel tones and synth-pop music and nothing hurts. It’s one of those films where all of the action takes place in one night and chaos ensues. It’s just a load of fun from start to finish and features great performances from Daphne Zuniga, Cynthia Gibb, Virginia Madsen and Clayton Rohner (who was the lead on the short-lived television show G. vs. E, which desperately needs a revival because it was so so gooood). It also has an unexpected and wonderfully feminist ending. I wish the DVD on Amazon were cheaper, because this is a film I definitely want to own.
So that was January. I’ve yet to watch a film for February, but I have plans to watch a bunch of the Oscar nominated shorts later today and I’ve got many more delightful 80s gems waiting for me on Netflix. I’m also still trying to figure out how to get a code for the Warner Archive’s beta testing of their new streaming service, so if you can help a girl out. . .Anyways, I hope y’all had a great start to the new year and that your February is equally filled with fantastic cinematic adventures!
Posted on February 1, 2013, in 2013 in Films and tagged Amour, Flannel Pajamas, Ladies and Gentlemen the Fabulous Stains, Modern Girls, Stormy Monday, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension!. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.