Being unemployed has enabled me to gorge myself on my love for film. I’ve always liked watching films; my earliest memory is even of a film.
I was possibly 4, I’m not sure of the exact timeline but we lived in Germany and there were regular Family Sundays, where everyone would get together for some food and I suspect to play games, chit-chat and on this occasion there was a film playing in a green Army tent. I remember eating rice (I don’t know exactly what it was) and seeing the end of a film released the year before, staring Jon Voight called The Champ. I didn’t know the title at that time, it wasn’t until years later that I saw clips and was transported back to that tent via my memory.
Other film memories from that time include going to the local cinema with all the other Army brats to see films from the Children’s Film Foundation (CFF) like ‘Sammy’s Super T-Shirt’ and one that has stuck with me but I don’t recall the title, about a sea-mine which was floating around near a harbour. For those of an age who also remember the CFF, the British Film Institute (BFI) has started to release some of the films on DVD.
Since January 2004 I have been logging nearly all my viewing on a spread sheet, so I know exactly what I’ve watched and when. I like lists and it’s a doozy. Excluding last year as I left my job half way through, I’ve averaged 188 films per year. Last year as I had 6 months away from work I was able to get through 290. As of today I have already seen 150 this year; which is why I started this post with the word ‘gorge’.
That does seem a lot and it is! In January I joined a fairly new site called ‘Letterboxd’ which enables film fans to log what they’ve watched on a diary and there are various social aspects included too. This is a link to my profile page (Link) but when you compare it to this guy (Link) who has at the time of writing, watched 223 films this year, I’m a novice. His profile is very interesting as he has logged his viewing since 1966!! Other film fans take part in periodic ‘100 films in a month’ style challenges, so I’m nearly normal!
The milestone of 150 films means I’ve already watched more films by the middle of March, than I did in the whole of 2004. Here is a Top 20 (so far) of the films I saw for the first time this year:
All release dates are UK where known.
1. Django Unchained – Quentin Tarantino – 2013 Great performances, music choices and nods to all sorts of earlier Spaghetti Westerns, Blaxploitation & Slaveploitation films.
2. Wreck-It Ralph – Rich Moore – 2013The best and most fun animated film I’ve seen in a while.
3. Stuart: A Life Backwards – David Attwood – 2007Two performances that will knock your socks off from Benedict Cumberbatch & Tom Hardy.
4. Untouchable – Olivier Nakache & Eric Toledano – 2012I laughed, I cried, I was uplifted – I was annoyed to find out an American remake is on the way.
5. Monsieur Lazhar – Philippe Falardeau – 2012A film about loss, change, persecution & moving on with life. A film that got me right in the feels and I don’t mind admitting that.
6. Life of Pi – Ang Lee – 2012I read the book after it won the Booker prize, the film is just as good. Worth watching for the CGI animals, especially the tiger.
7. Cloud Atlas – Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski & Lana Wachowski – 2013A film that will make more sense if you’ve read the book, I haven’t but still found it an enthralling and magical cinematic experience.
8. Blue Valentine – Derek Cianfrance – 2011A film that chronicles the beginning of a relationship and the possible break up of a marriage. Don’t watch this if you are feeling sad!
9. The Way – Emilio Estevez – 2011A lovely film carried by Martin Sheen who is directed by his son Emilio Estevez. A father finishes a long walk through Spain begun by his son who has died, a really touching film. Quiet and understated but really good.
10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky – 2012A John Hughes-esq film for ’10s generation. Watch Emma Watson break free from Hermione Grainger in front of your eyes. It’s rare that when I’m watching a film that I think ‘I can relate to that character’, in this film other than his dark secret (no spoilers) a few things Patrick says in this film, could have come straight from my mouth.
Other notable films are:
11. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb – Stanley Kubrick – 1964
12. Warm Bodies – Jonathan Levine – 2013
13. The Usual Suspects – Bryan Singer – 1995
14. Lars and the Real Girl – Craig Gillespie – 2008
15. Looper – Rian Johnson – 2012
16. Call Northside 777 – Henry Hathaway – 1948
17. The Angry Silence – Guy Green – 1960
18. The Defiant Ones – Stanley Kramer – 1958
19. Shoot the Pianist – François Truffaut – 1960
20. The Grapes of Wrath – John Ford – 1940