TCM Film Festival and April 2013 New-To-Me Films
April was a crazy month for me. I watched more films than I had in any other month this year (though not as much as some months in 2011). I also went to the TCM Classic Film Festival for the third year in a row, during which I was featured in a promo that aired on TCM over the weekend. You can watch it here. That said, I watched A LOT of film this month and a lot of them were in theatres. Oh, I also saw two of my all-time favorite films on the big screen at the Castro Theatre this month: Pretty in Pink and The Last Unicorn. After the cut is all of the films I watched this month. I have cheated below and picked seven films to talk about instead of the usually five. I make my own rules!
- Three Bad Sisters
- Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot
- High School Hellcats
- The Road Killers
- Fire With Fire
- Young and Wild
- The Passionate Friends
- The Place Beyond the Pines
- From Up on Poppy Hill
- The Great Waldo Pepper
- Crimes of the Heart
- That Little Band of Gold
- When Love Took Wings
- Wished On Mabel
- Mabel’s Wilful Way
- Fatty’s Plucky Pup
- The Blue Lamp
- Raggedy Man
- Casual Sex?
- Little Black Book
- Frankie and Johnny (1991)
- Tomboy (1985)
- To The Wonder
- Six Figures Getting Sick
- Premonition Following An Evil Deed
- The Alphabet
- The Amputee
- The Grandmother
- Spring Breakers
- Cowboy and the Senorita
- Keep The Lights On
- Character Studies
- The Movies
- My Stars
- Fool’s Luck
- Bridge Wives
- A Small Circle of Friends
- Lou’s Prey (Epidemic Film Festival)
- By A Thread (Epidemic Film Festival)
- Defining Your Roots (Epidemic Film Festival)
- The Last Tournament (Epidemic Film Festival)
- American Rugger: The Highwaymen at Maggotfest (Epidemic Film Festival)
- Acceptance (Epidemic Film Festival)
- Beyond Redemption (Epidemic Film Festival)
- To Be A Big Liar (Epidemic Film Festival)
- Grant and Allison (Epidemic Film Festival)
- Vox Populi (Epidemic Film Festival)
- Enigma (Epidemic Film Festival)
- Dead Letters (Epidemic Film Festival)
- The Devil Set Me Up (Epidemic Film Festival)
- Principal (Epidemic Film Festival)
- The Boy Who Cried (Epidemic Film Festival)
- Palindrome (Epidemic Film Festival)
- Leap Year (1924)
- Dirty Girl
- Gun Fever
- The Sapphires
- The Italian Job (1969)
- The Swimmer (TCMFF)
- Suddenly It’s Spring (TCMFF)
- Ruggles of Red Gap (TCMFF)
- The Razor’s Edge (TCMFF)
- Gimme Shelter (TCMFF)
- The Ladykillers (TCMFF)
- Deliverance (TCMFF)
- The Desert Song (TCMFF)
- When Magoo Flew (TCMFF)
- Flying Down To Rio (TCMFF)
- Come September (TCMFF)
- Scarecrow (TCMFF)
- Salesman (TCMFF)
- Cluny Brown (TCMFF)
Like I said, I picked seven films to talk about. I just saw so many great films this last month and I couldn’t not talk about these seven.
To The Wonder, 2013 (dir. Terrence Malick)
I’ll probably be writing more about this film towards the end of the year. This is a film that defies practically everything we’ve been taught about what a modern (or any “narrative” film, really) should be and because of that it has divided both critics and audiences. I was in love with every frame of this film. I left the theatre feeling drunk. Dunk on cinema and drunk on love and drunk on life and I must applaud Malick for his uncanny ability to do something new with each and every one of his films.
Spring Breakers, 2013 (dir. Harmony Korine)
Another film that defies traditional narrative storytelling, this may well be my favorite 2013 release to date. It’s much deeper than it’s being given credit, probably because people don’t know how to take bright colors and young girls seriously and that is more telling of society than the film is itself. I read a lot of reviews that made me really angry, mostly because they were sexist and exploitative of the film’s leads and Korine never is. One of the film’s more sexuality explicit scenes was, for me, one of the most empowering and knowing scenes about a young woman’s worth in society that I have ever seen. This is one that will probably fall under the radar for now, but in a few years its genius will be noticed.
The Swimmer, 1968 (dir. Frank Perry)
This was actually the first new-to-me film that I saw at TCMFF and it remains my favorite of all the films I saw. It is both breathtaking and heartbreaking. It’s a slow build that is also the most perfect disintegration of a character that I’ve ever seen. As Burt Lancaster swims home – swimming a river of swimming pools from his friend’s house up a hill, across the county to his own – we meet his friends and acquaintances and slowly learn more about who he is and how others see him. It’s one of the best condemnations of the American Dream ever made.
Suddenly It’s Spring, 1947 (dir. Mitchell Leisen)
This was one of the “discoveries” films shown at the festival and I am so glad I saw it. I actually saw it right after The Swimmer and it made for the most delightful double feature. I had never heard of this film and didn’t know what it was about going in; I just went because I love Paulette Goddard. It turns out it is a great feminist film in the form of a screwball comedy/returning from war film. The film explores women’s roles at home, in the workplace, in the army and the strange shift that came about after women went off to war and how it confused both men and women when it came to gender roles. I’m really surprised I haven’t seen this film mentioned by any feminist film critics before, but it definitely should be explored more deeply.
Come September, 1961 (dir. Robert Mulligan)
This is the film most famous for being where Bobby Darin and Sandra Dee met each other, but it also happens to be a really hilarious farcical film featuring one of the funniest performances I’ve yet to see from Rock Hudson (he also dances and oh me oh my). It’s also a beautiful travelogue for the Italian countryside. Make sure you find it in the proper CinemaScope, though, because the framing is exquisite. Gina Lollobrigida gets some absolutely fabulous costumes and amazing dialogue. In fact, this whole film could be used to teach how to write good, witty dialogue.
Scarecrow, 1973 (dir. Jerry Schatzberg)
I hadn’t ever even heard of this film before it was announced on the festival’s lineup. Boy am I glad that I got to see it. Hackman and Pacino are wonderful together and the film won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. It’s a character piece in the guise of a road film. I wish Pacino would do more comedies, because he’s clearly a very skilled comedian. The film’s director introduced the film.
Cluny Brown, 1946 (dir. Ernst Lubitsch)
Another film I had never heard of before, when I saw it was Jennifer Jones and Charles Boyer in a Lubitsch film (his last!), I just had to be there. This was my last film of the festival and I laughed pretty much straight through it. I hope it gets a DVD release some time soon, because it’s definitely as good as anything Lubitsch has ever done and I would really love to own it and watch it on a cold, rainy day when I need something to brighten up my spirits.
So that was April. Too many movies, too little time. May has possibly some big changes in store for me, but I will let you know about that as they come. I hope you watched some great cinema in April and may you watch even more in May!