The Year of Living Cinematically

Same as every other year: all films were watched in their entirety and all films that I’d never seen before have been marked with an asterisk.

The Naked Gun 2 1/2 (1991) 1/9
The Monster Squad (1987) 1/23
*The Exorcist (1973) 3/5
My Fair Lady (1964) 4/13
Sense and Sensibility (1995) 4/15
*Bound for Glory (1976) 4/16
The Money Pit (1986) 4/16
Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971) 4/18
Hawaii (1966) 4/18
*Stormy Weather (1943) 4/21
Grey Gardens (1975)
*State Fair (1933)
101 Dalmatians (1961) 5/1
Separate Tables (1958) 5/3
The Graduate (1967) 5/14
*Spotlight (2015) 5/16
Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) 5/18
10 (1979) 7/1
Howards End (1992) 8/26
The King and I (1956) 8/31
*Bay of Angels (1963) 9/1
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) 9/1
State Fair (1945) 9/2
*Olly Olly Oxen Free (1978) 9/3
South Pacific (1958) 9/3
Carousel (1956) 9/3
*Three Smart Girls (1936) 9/11
*A Delicate Balance (1973) 9/16
Halloween (1978) 10/31
Howards End (1992) 12/7
Christmas Vacation (1989) 12/22
Scrooged (1988) 12/23
A Christmas Story (1983) 12/22
Elf (2003) 12/24
Singin’ in the Rain (1952) 12/28

The Year of Living Cinematically

Same as every other year: all films were watched in their entirety and all films that I’d never seen before have been marked with an asterisk.

*Remember the Night (1940) 1/11
*August: Osage County (2013) 1/12
*Quartet (2012) 1/14
Gypsy (1962) 2/18
Never on Sunday (1960) 3/16
*Argo (2012) 3/17
Picnic (1955) 3/20
Godzilla (1954) 3/24
If…. (1968) 4/10
*Les Miserables (2012) 4/28
*Repo Man (1984) 5/16
*The Jazz Singer (1927) 5/20
*Frozen (2013) 5/22
Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) 5/23
Father Goose (1964) 5/23
*Saving Mr. Banks (2013) 5/26
*Amarcord (1973) 5/29
*Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013) 5/31
Oliver! (1968) 6/3
*Despicable Me (2010) 6/6
*Despicable Me 2 (2013) 6/10
Singin’ in the Rain (1952) 6/24
*Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me (2013) 6/24
Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me (2013 6/25
*Autumn Sonata (1978) 7/3
1776 (1972) 7/4
The Goonies (1985) 7/6
The Tree of Life (2011) 7/28
*White Heat (1949) 7/29
Dumbo (1941) 7/29
The Producers (2005) 8/1
*Freaky Friday (2003) 8/6
Radio Days (1987) 8/8
Born Yesterday (1950) 8/10
*Lola (1961) 8/13
North to Alaska (1960) 8/16
*The Train (1964) 8/19
Psycho (1960) 8/22
*Agnes Browne (1999) 8/23
All That Heaven Allows (1955) 8/27
Operation Petticoat (1959) 8/27
High Noon (1952) 8/28
You Can’t Take It With You (1938) 8/30
Hot Fuzz (2007) 9/2
*Blue Jasmine (2013) 9/27
*20 Feet from Stardom (2013) 9/27
Young Frankenstein (1974) 9/28
Gone with the Wind (1939) 10/1
All That Jazz (1979) 10/17
The Innocents (1961) 10/23
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965) 10/24
*The Uninvited (1944) 10/25
Carrie (1976) 10/29
The Haunting (1963) 10/30
Halloween (1978) 10/31
The Caine Mutiny (1954) 11/2
Shaun of the Dead (2004) 11/8
Witness for the Prosecution (1957) 11/26
Bringing Up Baby (1938) 11/26
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) 12/3
Annie Hall (1977) 12/15
Christmas Vacation (1989) 12/17
Scrooged (1988) 12/22
A Christmas Story (1983) 12/23
The Bishop’s Wife (1947) 12/28
*Kiss Me Deadly (1955) 12/29

The Year of Living Cinematically

Another year of movie watching gone! The same rules for my list like every year: each film was watched in its entirety and an asterisk indicates a film watched for the first time. Interestingly, I haven’t seen a single film released this calendar year. I can’t recall the last time that happened.

*The Star (1952) 1/5
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) 1/6
*Sleepwalk with Me (2012) 1/11
*Pitch Perfect (2012) 1/11
*The Sessions (2012) 1/11
*Mrs. Brown (1997) 1/16
Mrs. Miniver (1942) 1/17
*The First Wives Club (1996) 1/19
A Shot in the Dark (1964) 1/19
*Oh! What a Lovely War! (1969) 1/19
The Quiet Man (1952) 1/23
Blithe Spirit (1945) 1/24
Lili (1953) 1/24
His Girl Friday (1940) 1/25
Sunset Boulevard (1950) 1/26
Hope and Glory (1987) 1/27
The Apartment (1960) 1/29
*Romance on the High Seas (1948) 1/30
When Harry Met Sally (1989) 1/31
Cabaret (1972) 1/31
*The Lavender Hill Mob (1951) 2/2
Victor/Victoria (1982) 2/9
*Song of Norway (1970) 2/10
The Princess Bride (1987) 2/27
Moonstruck (1987) 2/28
*The Three Faces of Eve (1957) 3/3
The Manchurian Candidate (1962) 3/6
Pat and Mike  (1952) 3/8
Light in the Piazza (1962) 3/16
*The Iron Petticoat (1958) 3/16
*Kinky Boots (2005) 3/18
*Easter Parade (1948) 4/1
Yours, Mine and Ours (1968)  4/13
Wives and Lovers (1963) 5/24
*The Cabin in the Woods (2012) 5/25
High Noon (1952) 6/1
Young Frankenstein (1974) 7/27
Leave Her to Heaven (1945) 7/27
*Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (1965) 7/28
*The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012) 7/29
If…. (1969) 7/30
Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) 7/31
*Rashomon (1950) 8/1
How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) 8/1
Shane (1953) 9/29
A Letter to Three Wives (1949) 10/14
Babette’s Feast (1987) 10/16
From Here to Eternity (1953) 10/18
Gone with the Wind (1939) 10/18
Halloween (1978) 10/31
Elf (2003) 12/13
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) 12/14
The Lion in Winter (1968) 12/16
The Bishop’s Wife (1947) 12/17
Miracle on 34th Street (1947) 12/18
Psycho (1960) 12/23
Mary Poppins (1964) 12/25
*Far from Heaven (2002) 12/29
Top Hat (1935) 12/30

The Year of Living Cinematically

Another year of movie watching gone! The same rules for my list like every year: each film was watched in its entirety and an asterisk indicates a film watched for the first time.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) 1/2
The Third Man (1949) 1/3
The Goonies (1985) 1/5
*Super 8 (2011) 1/13
Carol Channing: Larger Than Life (2011) 1/16
Auntie Mame (1958) 1/19
The Last Metro (1980) 1/20
*Haywire (2012) 1/20
Howards End (1992) 2/1
Annie Hall (1977) 2/3
*Blue Sky (1994) 2/3
*Drive (2011) 2/4
Midnight in Paris (2011) 2/5
*Day for Night (1973) 2/8
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) 2/9
*The Artist (2011) 2/10
Fanny and Alexander (1982) 2/18
Rebecca (1940) 2/20
*The Iron Lady (2011) 2/20
Leave Her to Heaven (1945) 2/21
Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) 2/24
*The Descendants (2011) 2/24
*War Horse (2011) 2/25
*The Help (2011) 2/25
*Moneyball (2011) 2/26
*Beginners (2010) 2/26
Charade (1963) 3/3
Sideways (2004) 3/5
North By Northwest (1959) 3/10
The French Connection (1971) 3/17
*50/50 (2011) 3/19
*The Mating Season (1951) 3/20
*My Week with Marilyn (2011) 3/21
*My Sister Eileen (1942) 4/5
*A Raisin in the Sun (1961) 4/19
A Night to Remember (1958) 6/1
Adam’s Rib (1949) 6/2
*Make Mine Mink (1961) 6/9
Harold and Maude (1971) 6/14
Marty (1955) 7/9
*Moonrise Kingdom (2012) 7/13
Smiles of a Summer Night (1955) 7/16
*In Which We Serve (1942) 7/17
The 39 Steps (1935) 7/18
*Bottle Rocket (1996) 7/19
South Pacific (1958) 7/20
Amelie (2001) 7/20
Brief Encounter (1945) 7/21
Reds (1981) 7/26
*Tadpole (2000) 8/5
*The Campaign (2012) 8/11
The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) 8/15
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) 8/15
The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947) 8/16
There’s No Business Like Show Business (1954) 8/17
The Usual Suspects (1995) 8/29
Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) 9/8
Lady and the Tramp (1955) 9/8
*Bedtime Story (1941) 9/13
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) 9/13
The Farmer’s Daughter (1947) 9/14
Come to the Stable (1949) 9/15
The Mad Miss Manton (1938) 9/16
Lawrence of Arabia (1962) 10/4
*Steel Magnolias (1989) 10/7
*The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012) 10/14
Moonrise Kingdom (2012) 10/19
Halloween (1978) 10/31
*Four Daughters (1938) 11/2
*Wreck-It-Ralph (2012) 11/2
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) 11/15
Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell (1968) 11/28
The Bishop’s Wife (1947) 12/18
Elf (2003) 12/26
*Ted (2012) 12/26

On the Town: February Edition

The end of February is upon us, which means that my trip to London is only a few weeks away. The month of February was a busy one for everyone it seems, but I spent some of my time prepping for my flight and making arrangements to see friends old and new, as well as arrange to see some shows on the West End, including Matilda. It should be an exciting time, to say the least.

The Oscars are out of the way this year, and overall I’d say it was a rather weak year. The Artist failed to charm me as it has so many others (though I think it was crying out to be a 30s Astaire-Rogers type musical than a parody of 20s silents). I liked The Descendants very much (I have yet to be disappointed by Alexander Payne). I admired The Help, but mostly because of Viola Davis’ staggering performance. The Iron Lady was dreadful: the messy script, shoddy direction and lack of point made it a dull, superficial slog. Though Meryl won the Academy Award in a surprise upset, you’d be much better off watching The Hours or The Deer Hunter; or anything else she’s ever done. War Horse made me want to invest in glue, while I was greatly charmed by Midnight in Paris. 

That said, I am bored with “awards season” in Hollywood. It’s about as tacky and contrived as the relentless string of Republican debates. They keep stretching it out, and adding more “prominence” to guild awards that are nice but not nearly worth the time spent fretting over them. Time will tell, as it always does, what is really long-lasting. Also, the telecast was just bland. The only bits I enjoyed were the Christopher Guest team’s The Wizard of Oz focus group sketch, as well as Emma Stone’s presentation. Ms. Stone was one of the only people who seemed like a human being on that stage Sunday night. Classiest speech of the night goes to Best Supporting Actor winner Christopher Plummer, whose performance in Beginners is warm, winning and quite deserving of our attention. Special kudos to his leading man, Ewan McGregor, who is constantly overlooked by awards bodies in spite of consistent excellence. Oh, and finally, Drive was excellent.

Carrie is back for another night at the prom. However, I made a full day of it. I visited with my good friend Chris Lavin, who works in the wardrobe department of Mary Poppins for a pre-show dinner/catch-up, then found myself making my to the Lucille Lortel for the first time. I don’t often go south of 42nd Street, so it took Tyler Martins and I a little bit of effort to find where we were supposed to go. There were several Twitter friends at the show this particular night, and we decided to head up to Midtown for a post-show drink.

Getting off the subway at 42nd Street, we deliberated in the cold night air as to where we should go. The usual names were bandied about until Joe Allen came into play. Emily Sigal and I both thought the place to be a perfect place to go given what the majority had just seen. Lo and behold, Tyler got a picture of my playbill with the original window card on the Joe Allen flop wall. So we started heading North on 7th Avenue, but soon Tyler and I realized that the gang wasn’t with us. Turning around we saw them talking to a young man in a business suit. We went back to see what was going on.

As it turned out the young gentleman, who was extraordinarily ebullient and even had braces on his teeth, was lost. He was trying to get to Pulse, but couldn’t seem to find where he needed to go. Well, as a group we decided we’d help him out. None of us seemed to know where he needed to go, but out came the smart phones and in an unexpectedly cheery sense of adventure, we set out to find where he needed to go. After some time we got him to where he wanted to go. He offered to bring us in and by us a round, but there was one among us who was not yet of age, so we regretfully declined. But, our man Flint, three or four sheets to the wind, I might add, insisted on hugging us all. We made our way to Joe Allen where we laughed about this occurrence until the place closed down. Only in New York…

The other night I went to see the revival of Death of a Salesman currently in previews at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, which was an intense cathartic experience that I think I need to see again before I can justify writing about it. However, two things about this revival that fascinated me: the production uses the original set design of Jo Mielziner and the original music score by Alex North. The former is truly extraordinary, and it’s not as if director Mike Nichols is trying to replicate the original: all other elements of scenography are new. It was as if a new family had moved into the house. As for the North score, it is played live in the theatre by a small band off stage right, with a mournful, bluesy quality that subtly punctuates various scenes throughout. Get tickets and go. And go again.

And finally, it was announced that Stephen Sondheim was collaborating with David Ives on a new musical. That’s a Leap Day Miracle, however, I do take exception to something His Majesty said to a London paper regarding a dearth of plays in NY. He’s either just being cranky or not paying attention, but there have been plays popping up on and off-Broadway quite a bit this year. Just this Broadway season alone we’ve had Chinglish, Stickfly, Venus in Fur, Other Desert Cities, Seminar and can anticipate Clybourne Park, The Lyons, One Man Two Guvnors, Peter and the Starcatcher, and more in the coming weeks. And that’s not even counting the plethora of play revivals.

The Year of Living Cinematically

Another year, another year of cinematic viewing. Things have gotten a bit fancier and more accessible now that I have blu-ray player and access to Netflix streaming. Incidentally, my viewing of films has gone down this year as I’ve found myself catching up a bit more with various television shows, most notably Pushing Daisies and The Dick Van Dyke Show, to name a couple. The same rules apply: every title was watched in its entirety and an asterisk indicates a film watched for the first time.

*The Thin Red Line (1998) 1/1
*True Grit (2010) 1/3
*Modern Times (1936) 1/4
*The Young Victoria (2009) 1/18
*Black Swan (2010) 1/22
*The Kids Are All Right (2010) 1/23
*Rabbit Hole (2010) 1/28
*The King’s Speech (2010) 1/28
Days of Heaven (1978) 2/4
*The Madness of King George (1994) 2/5
*Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010) 2/12
*Toy Story 3 (2010) 2/17
*Let Me In (2010) 2/18
*Due Date (2010) 2/22
*The Fighter (2010) 2/25
*La Cage Aux Folles (1978) 3/3
Z (1969) 3/4
Slap Shot (1977) 3/7
*Agnes of God (1985) 3/7
The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) 3/13
*Ong-Bak (2003) 3/14
Howards End (1992) 3/16
Dial M for Murder (1954) 3/16
*Grown Ups (2010) 3/17
*Royal Wedding (1951) 3/19
Psycho (1960) 3/20
The Killing Fields (1984) 3/20
*The Boys: The Sherman Brothers’ Story (2009) 3/23
*Grumpy Old Men (1993) 3/24
*The Cove (2009) 3/27
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) 3/27
*Decision Before Dawn (1951) 3/28
The Manchurian Candidate (1962) 4/2
*Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010) 4/6
*The Town (2010) 4/8
*Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work (2010) 4/8
*The Whales of August (1987) 4/8
*Garbo Talks (1984) 4/9
Arthur (1981) 4/10
The Last Picture Show (1971) 4/12
*Marvin’s Room (1996) 4/15
*Sweet Charity (1969) 4/15
*The Teahouse of the August Moon (1956) 4/17
*Dr. No (1962) 4/18
*Head (1968) 4/22
*Drive, He Said (1971) 4/23
*Jane Eyre (1944) 4/26
The King’s Speech (2010) 5/6
The Turning Point (1977) 5/8
*Tangled (2010) 5/18
*Hereafter (2010) 5/21
*Beauty and the Beast (1946) 5/21
Taxi Driver (1976) 5/22
*Jesus Camp (2006) 5/24
Topsy-Turvy (1999) 5/31
The Prince and the Showgirl (1957) 6/5
*Big (1988) 6/11
Fanny (1961) 6/12
*Inside Job (2010) 6/16
*Love in the Afternoon (1957) 6/17
*The Fog (1980) 6/19
10 (1979) 6/20
The Big Country (1958) 6/21
*Le Cercle Rouge (1970) 6/21
*Paths of Glory (1957) 6/22
The Social Network (2010) 6/23
The Enforcer (1976) 6/27
*The Last Metro (1980) 6/29
*It’s Kind of a Funny Story (2010) 7/2
The African Queen (1951) 7/3
True Grit (2010) 7/4
*Just Go With It (2011) 7/7
The Pajama Game (1957) 7/13
*The Sand Pebbles (1966) 7/16
The Sound of Music (1965) 7/19
*The Tillman Story (2010) 7/20
Far From the Madding Crowd (1967) 7/20
The Philadelphia Story (1940) 7/21
Doctor Zhivago (1965) 7/22
*Repulsion (1965) 8/5
*Shutter Island (2010) 8/13
*Carol Channing: Larger Than Life (2011) 8/17
*Cedar Rapids (2011) 8/29
*The Killing (1956) 8/30
*Killer’s Kiss (1955) 8/30
*Waiting for Superman (2010) 9/6
How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) 9/7
*Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop (2011) 9/14
*The Beaver (2011) 9/15
*The Darjeeling Limited (2007) 9/18
*Animal Kingdom (2010) 9/28
The Red Shoes (1948) 10/1
*Skidoo (1968) 10/3
The Lion in Winter (1968) 10/10
Shakespeare in Love (1998) 10/12
*Running with Scissors (2006) 10/13
Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) 10/13
*The Tree of Life (2011) 10/16
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) 10/18
All About Eve (1950) 10/21
*The Phantom of the Opera (2004) 10/24
The Monster Squad (1987) 10/25
The Addams Family (1991) 10/25
Poltergeist (1982) 10/25
*An American Werewolf in London (1981) 10/26
Reds (1981) 10/27
The Shining (1980) 11/4
Halloween (1978) 11/4
*Attack the Block (2011) 11/8
*Tower Heist (2011) 11/10
The Night of the Hunter (1955) 11/14
Some Like It Hot (1959) 11/14
Rushmore (1998) 11/23
Twelve Angry Men (1957) 11/23
The Music Man (1962) 11/23
Black Narcissus (1947) 11/24
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) 11/26
*The Muppets (2011) 12/1
From Here to Eternity (1953) 12/7
The Bishop’s Wife (1947) 12/12
Elf (2003) 12/15
Miracle on 34th Street (1947) 12/19
*Fitzwilly (1967) 12/19
Gigi (1958) 12/20
*Midnight in Paris (2011) 12/21
Twister (1996) 12/28
The Lady Vanishes (1938) 12/28

The Year of Living Cinematically

Here’s my annual list of movies I’ve seen throughout the year, which I keep more out of personal curiosity than anything else. It always amazes me to look over what I’ve seen and just how much I’ve seen. The list only contains films I watched in their entirety and the asterisk indicates that it’s the first time viewing the film.
 
Love Actually (2003) 1/1
Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005) 1/1
*Zodiac (2007) 1/1
The Rare Breed (1966) 1/2
An American in Paris (1951) 1/2
Titanic (1997) 1/2
Father Goose (1965) 1/3
Mister Roberts (1955) 1/3
Operation Petticoat (1959) 1/4
A Few Good Men (1992) 1/5
Ratatouille (2008) 1/5
Cheaper by the Dozen (1950) 1/6
In the Heat of the Night (1967) 1/6
Georgy Girl (1966) 1/7
Women in Love (1969) 1/7
Carousel (1956) 1/7
Batman (1989) 1/7
Zoolander (2001) 1/8
The Crucible (1996) 1/8
Mother (1996) 1/8
Bonnie and Clyde (1967) 1/9
Patton (1970) 1/9
*Thirteen Days (2000) 1/10
*The Hurt Locker (2008) 1/17
The Hurt Locker (2008) 1/22
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) 1/24
Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008) 1/27
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) 1/28
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) 1/28
*Rachel Getting Married (2008) 1/30
*Nights of Cabiria (1957) 1/30
Slap Shot (1977) 1/30
The Longest Day (1962) 1/31
*Reversal of Fortune (1990) 2/1
Groundhog Day (1993) 2/2
South Pacific (1958) 2/2
The Graduate (1967) 2/3
*Up (2009) 2/3
*Food, Inc. (2008) 2/4
*An Education (2009) 2/4
*The Blind Side (2009) 2/5
*Up in the Air (2009) 2/5
*Kitty Foyle (1940) 2/12
Wall-E (2008) 2/14
Mary Poppins (1964) 2/15
Amelie (2001) 2/16
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) 2/16
Show Boat (1951) 2/19
Annie Hall (1977) 2/20
*The Reader (2008) 2/20
*The Champ (1931) 2/20
His Girl Friday (1940) 2/21
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) 2/22
*Norma Rae (1979) 2/23
*The Verdict (1982) 2/24
Flags of Our Fathers (2006) 2/25
The Addams Family (1991) 2/26
Addams Family Values (1993) 2/26
West Side Story (1961) 2/28
*Anastasia (1956) 3/4
*Tender Mercies (1983) 3/4
*Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985) 3/5
*The Young in Heart (1938) 3/6
*A Star is Born (1937) 3/6
*America, America (1963) 3/12
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945) 3/13
*Irma La Douce (1963) 3/13
The Quiet Man (1952) 3/14
*Friendly Persuasion (1956) 3/16
*Three Cheers for the Irish (1940) 3/17
*Sunrise (1927) 3/18
*One Two Three (1961) 3/19
*The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933) 3/20
*The Front Page (1931) 3/22
*Show Business: The Road to Broadway (2007) 3/26
*Z (1969) 3/28
*Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941) 3/29
*Missing (1982) 3/30
*Old Acquaintance (1943) 4/8
*Old Dogs (2009) 4/14
*Tumbleweeds (1999) 4/16
*Julie and Julia (2009) 4/21
*Broadcast News (1987) 4/26
*The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973) 4/27
*Private Benjamin (1980) 4/27
*Watch on the Rhine (1943) 4/28
*Breaking Away (1979) 4/29
*District 9 (2009) 4/29
*The Member of the Wedding (1952) 5/1
*Ship of Fools (1965) 5/3
*The More the Merrier (1943) 5/10
*Venus (2006) 5/11
*I Am a Camera (1955) 5/14
*Libeled Lady (1936) 5/21
*The Battle of Algiers (1965) 5/30
*Easy Rider (1969) 5/31
Psycho (1960) 6/16
The Trouble with Angels (1966) 6/18
*Crazy Heart (2009) 7/24
*Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007) 7/25
*Inception (2010) 7/27
*The Seventh Seal (1957) 8/2
*Withnail and I (1987) 8/3
*I Love You Man (2009) 8/3
*Sherlock Holmes (2009) 8/8
*49th Parallel (1941) 8/8
*Fanny and Alexander (1983) 8/8
*Mean Streets (1973) 8/15
Cradle Will Rock (1999) 8/16
Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008) 8/22
*Inglourious Basterds (2009) 8/30
*A Serious Man (2009) 9/3
Dirty Harry (1971) 9/6
The Sundowners (1960) 9/12
Ghost Town (2008) 9/21
*My Man Godfrey (1936) 9/22
*Alice Adams (1935) 9/22
*The Last Station (2009) 9/23
*Zombieland (2009) 9/26
*Taken (2008) 10/1
*The Social Network (2010) 10/1
*The Informer (1935) 10/3
*Frozen River (2008) 10/5
*Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988) 10/13
*Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) 10/14
*Trouble in Paradise (1932) 10/18
*The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007) 10/19
The Sound of Music (1965) 10/19
Wait Until Dark (1967) 10/24
The Silence of the Lambs (1991) 10/25
Life with Father (1947) 10/26
*Sweet Smell of Success (1957) 10/26
*Nine (2009) 10/27
Carrie (1976) 10/28
*Lenny (1974) 10/31
*Roberta (1935) 11/2
*Bad Day at Black Rock (1955) 11/3
*The Trip to Bountiful (1985) 11/9
Young at Heart (1954) 11/14
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) 11/15
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) 11/16
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) 11/16
Auntie Mame (1958) 11/17
*Ragtime (1981) 11/18
*The Lady Eve (1941) 11/24
*The Miracle Worker (1962) 11/27
Bachelor Party (1984) 12/4
*Cabin Boy (1993) 12/4
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) 12/5
*Harry and Tonto (1974) 12/7
*The Other Guys (2010) 12/20
*Dazed and Confused (1993) 12/26
Lawrence of Arabia (1962) 12/27

Big Screen: “It’s a Wonderful Life”

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Since seeing The Sound of Music onscreen a couple of months ago, I have decided that I want to see as many of my favorite classic films in a movie house whenever the opportunity arises. I realize that I have known many of these great films from viewing them on a 27 inch screen growing up, but while I’ve had an avenue for seeing the films I haven’t really had the opportunity to see them how they were originally intended. Until recently, most films on TV were presented panned-and-scanned (something I’ve been against since ninth grade). Seeing The Sound of Music in a larger format allowed me a chance to really look at the film – its cinematography, its sets, costumes and its actors – with renewed interest. The bigger the format, the more detail and nuance that I can appreciate.

A couple weeks ago I was out driving through northern Westchester with some friends. Driving through Peekskill, we passed a grand old movie palace known as the Paramount Center for the Arts. The theatre opened on June 27, 1930 with a big celebration which included the local mayor and the Paramount Symphony orchestra (who played the overture). The film shown was The Big Pond starring Maurice Chevalier and Claudette Colbert. The 1500 seat venue was built by Paramount subsidiary Publix, Incorporated. For forty years, the movie house was a staple of the small city. It had luxurious lounges and a large Wurlitzer organ that rose from the floor of the stage. However, due to the decline of the studio system and the rise of the cineplex, the theatre started to decline and was sold in 1973. Through some tax error, the building was defaulted to the city of Peekskill who have maintained ownership since 1977.

Interest in the building led the city to establish a non-profit independent organization to run and operate the facility. After the removal of several hundred seats and some technological improvements, the building was once again in 1982. In the last ten years the Paramount has undergone a massive restoration, bringing the venue back to its original 1930 look. The ceilings and walls were replastered. The original paintings and murals were reconstructed. The seating was refurbished and the floors recarpeted. Millions of dollars were poured into the building and the results were staggering. The center now offers a mix of local performances, established artists and films in their repertoire. I’ve seen community theatre productions as well as Barbara Cook’s Mostly Sondheim over the years.

Meanwhile, back in the car we noticed that the sign on the marquee said “Holiday films.” Thanks to my new smartphone, I was on google before anyone could even blink. I was hoping that I would open up the website to see It’s a Wonderful Life listed. Of all the Christmas-related movies I’ve ever seen, this remains my favorite. In fact, it’s just one of my favorite films period. Christmas Eve plays a huge factor in the film’s plotline, but it’s a much more universal – and darker – story than most holiday films. Every year I watch it close to Christmas, if not on the actual holiday. And every year, I appreciate it more and more. The performances, particularly Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey, are top notch. Donna Reed has never been lovelier. Lionel Barrymore hasn’t been more sinister. Frank Capra’s direction is superb, the script strikes the right tone finding a balance between the sentimental and sobering.

I can still recall the Christmas screenings that aired ad nauseam when I was a child, before the copyright restricted the film to two airings during the season. At some point during the holiday season, there was a channel showing the film either in its original black and white or one of those god-awful computer-colorized versions. I was struck by the story, amused by the presence of angels (particularly how they were depicted in outer space). But it wasn’t until I was older that I really understood the severity of the story. (When I was really young, I was almost scared of the sequence in which George sees a Bedford Falls without his existence).

Well, I ended up going alone but it was one of the most enjoyable times I’ve ever had in a movie theatre. Though there were a thousand seats, I think there were only between 30-40 people in the house (some of whom were upstairs in the mezzanine). So I had a whole section of the center orchestra to myself. I observed the crowd coming in. Families and friends bundled in their coats. Some with popcorn and beverages (I resisted the concession stand in the lobby). It had been five years since I had seen anything at the theatre so I took in the surroundings which were removed enough to seem familiar but strange. My last trip had been the 75th anniversary gala concert with headliner Bernadette Peters. (Non-sequitur: every time I’ve seen Bernadette, SarahB has been in house. Even before we met!)

There was something transporting about the experience, almost (dare I say it) like something out of the movies. Sitting there and appreciating the film in the dark house I had these mental flashes that I was back in 1947. The multiplex treatment of films certainly has done wonders for box office business, but what I realized is that it comes at the cost of the romance of movie-going. Movies use to be more like live theatre with roadshow engagements, intermissions and ushers; the works. That sort of thing doesn’t really exist anymore and why I love the opportunity of seeing the films I grew up with on television on the big screen. We applauded as the lights went down and again when they came up. There was a family a few rows in front of me whose son was seeing the film for the first time. He said, “Say, that wasn’t bad for an older film.” I couldn’t help but smile. I left the theatre quite invigorated and ready for the holiday season. And with “Auld Lang Syne” stuck in my head for hours.

Emma Thompson wins

As an English major who ended up reading Jane Austen in about five different courses, I’d known of this speech for years. More than one of my professors referenced it in teaching Sense and Sensibility (and other Austen novels). Oscar-winning actress Emma Thompson (Howards End and The Remains of the Day for the win), who is one of my favorite performers on the planet, wrote and starred in the 1995 adaptation of Sense and Sensibility, directed by Ang Lee. The film ended up being an enormous success with critics and audiences alike. It is an impeccable adaptation of Austen’s novel and it features a who’s who of British actors: Kate Winslet, in a breakthrough role, Hugh Grant, Hugh Laurie, Alan Rickman (as a nice guy!), Imelda Staunton and Harriet Walter, among others.

The film received seven Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Actress, Supporting Actress and Screenplay. It would win one: for Thompson’s screenplay, making her the only person to win Oscars for both writing and acting. Thompson would later win a BAFTA as Best Actress. But it was this Golden Globe speech that year that folks really seem to remember, my professors especially. Dedicating the win to Austen, Thompson proceeds to offer a speech in the style of Austen’s writing, surmising how the author might have perceived the Hollywood Foreign Press event. Enjoy.

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