Sunday, April 1, 2012

Happy New Month: Films of March 2012

I feel this has been an exceptionally good month, film-wise.
Even though I have "only" seen 24 films, most of them have been great, and there were many of them that I had been anticipating for a long time.

This month, I tried out two digital "offers" that I found to be quite helpful:
Renting films on iTunes, which is a great way to watch movies you don't get anywhere else, especially when there's no DVD rental store near you.
And the IMDB "Recommended for you" widget that inspired me to watch Mysterious Skin, An Education and Babel, all of which I loved. This is a helpful widget if you can't decide what to watch, because personally there are probably millions of films on my inner watchlist, and another million of films I should watch but have never heard of. So it's nice to have some (very effective) algorithm decide for me, at least once in a while.

Before I start talking about the films I've seen, there's one announcement I'd like to make: I have compiled a new 100 Favourite Films list, and as soon as I get together all the pictures and words, I'll let you now. There are many new films in it, that's all I want to say.

Here's what I have been watching last month...

Watched for the very first time:

An Education (2009) Lone Scherfig - UK/ USA | review
I don't know if you can say that, but I feel that this film set my mind on fire. I really thought about it for a long time, so I had to write a review on it, and it also served as an inspiration for another coming-up post.
Rating: 8.3 (by the way, you can see my new ratings' icon revealed in the full review)

Babel (2006) Alejandro González Iñárritu - France/ USA/ Mexico
At the time this film was released, it was seemingly everywhere - I remember seeing the ads all the time. But I was 11 then, little did I know about this film and its greatness... From the title to the actors, the cinematography, the screenplay and the settings - everything fit so perfectly, it almost hurt.
Also, this was the first time Mexico in the movies reminded me of the real Mexico. My favourite story was the one that took place in Japan, though - that performance was mind-blowing.
Rating: 8.8

Chi Bi [Int. Title: "Red Cliff"] (2008) John Woo - China
After my crush on Tony Leung was initiated by Fa yeung nin wa, I just had to watch as many movies with him as possible. So I stumbled upon this gigantic Chinese epos. And found it to be very entertaining. Also, I feel so intellectual, watching all these non-Indian Asian films without understanding one word.
Rating: 7.2

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009) Phil Lord, Chris Miller - USA
One of the movies I was absolutely sure I'd never watch. Yeah, it was stupid. But a little funny too.
Rating: 6.4

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) Michel Gondry - USA | post
Rating: 9.3

Fa yeung nin wa [Int. Title: "In the mood for love"] (2000) Kar Wai-Wong - Hong Kong | review
One of the most beautiful and extraordinary films I have seen. Almost nothing happens, yet the difference between the start and the ending is enormous.
And before I forget it: Tony Leung!
Rating: 9.9

Flowers and Trees (1932) Walt Disney Silly Symphonies
Simon from Screen Insight wrote an interesting post on this classic short, so I thought "Why not", and watched it. As always, a very sweet production, even though you need to be in the right mood to enjoy it.
Rating: 7.0

H. C. Andersen og den skæve skygge [Int. Title: "H. C. Andersen's The Long Shadow"] (1998) Jannik Hastrup - Denmark/ Norway/ Sweden
The current topic in Danish class is H. C. Andersen, focussing on his fairytale "The Shadow", so we watched this film. The problem with this film is that the animation is quite underwhelming, maybe otherwise it would have been more interesting.
Rating: 6.0

Heavenly Creatures (1994) Peter Jackson - New Zealand/ Germany
Finally! You all know how long it took me to watch this movie, I searched for it everywhere, until finally I found it on iTunes (dubbed, but you take what you get). Even though the special effects seemed unintentionally funny at times, the film was wonderful - both leading actresses were unexpectedly amazing, while the story was relatable and gruesome at the same time. I'm still in shock, by the way.
Rating: 8.4 

Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India (2001) Ashutosh Gowariker - India | review
A mixture of many films I have seen before, though it turns out they were inspired by this milestone of Indian film history. It was good, but it would have been better had I seen it a few years earlier.
Rating: 8.3

La peau douce [Int. Title: "The Soft Skin"] (1964) François Truffaut - France
Remember the horrible French film E-Love that I watched in January? You shouldn't, but anyhow, this film was an important motive in the mentioned one, so I was curious enough to watch it. Maybe it wasn't the best choice to introduce myself to Truffaut with this one, but I must say the film has grown on my. So my initial 7.0 rating has improved to become a...
Rating: 7.4

Mysterious Skin (2004) Gregg Araki - USA/ Netherlands
My first thought: Joseph Gordon-Levitt was freakin' fantastic.
Next thought: I don't think I ever want to re-watch this film. I mean it was so disturbing - a child that enjoys being with a pedophile? I'm sorry, but NO. No, I can't take it, I don't even want to try to relate to that. But still, you should see this film, it's a real insider's tip, I think.
Rating: 8.1

Shakespeare in Love (1998) John Madden - UK/ USA
Entertaining? Sure. Oscar-worthy? Yeah, like that film got an Oscar, hahaha. Ha... ha...
Honestly, sometimes I don't understand what's going on in that "Academy". They just... toss the dice or what? I mean, yeah this was a good film, but it was also quite main stream and ordinary. 
Rating: 7.2

Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927) F.W. Murnau - USA
Just when I was beginning to think of the silent era as a period that was okay but could never measure with the Talkies, this breath-taking film showed up. You know, everything I heard about it, that it was outstanding and everything - it's not true. No words are good enough to describe this movie.
If you feel like I did, and don't know how to finally appreciate silent films, watch this film. And if you already love silent films, watch this film. And if you don't know what to think of silent films, watch this film. You got it: watch this film. 
Rating: 9.4

The Artist (2011) Michel Hazanavicius - France
One of the reasons why I was so confused about silent films (I watched it before Sunrise). Sure, everyone loved it and I was so excited - and it was entertaining. But it wasn't great. It wasn't even Oscar-worthy. It was a good homage with a good male lead and some pretty visuals. Nothing more.
Rating: 7.2

The Birth of a Nation (1915) D.W. Griffith - USA
There were two things I wanted to do when the credits rolled (if they did, I don't remember): 1) scream, or 2) close my eyes and fall asleep. This is one of the worst films I have ever seen, full of clichés and racism and boring side stories. So it was ground-breaking technic-wise - WHO CARES? It's BAD, okay, BAD! And I wish it weren't so famous, because I hadn't watched it then.
Rating: 3.4

The Great Train Robbery (1903) Edwin S. Porter - USA
Wow, I didn't realize how many silent films I've seen this month! Anyhow, this one was quite boring too, but luckily very short. Also, it had a charming touch, so in the end it was lovely. I mean, to think that people made films like that more than a hundred years ago!
Rating: 7.0

The Truman Show (1998) Peter Weir - USA
My obsession with Jim Carrey is starting to alarm me; I just love anything this man does, no matter how stupid it is. Not that this film is stupid, in fact it's one of the best satires I have ever seen. And so quotable...
"Somebody help me, I'm being spontaneous!" - Did I mention I watched this film spontaneously?
Rating: 8.5

Toy Story (1995) John Lasseter - USA
You know, I spent years thinking I had seen this film - and I hadn't! And now I can't wait to watch the sequels! ... Yeah, my little sister laughed at me when I told her that the "green space man" was called "Buzz Light Year". I mean - that's important! And it's not funny that I as a 17-year old know this, and she as a 14-year old doesn't. Everyone should know this.
Rating: 8.4

Türkisch für Anfänger [= "Turkish for beginners"] (2012) Bora Dagteking - Germany
My absolute favourite series has finally been adapted to the big screen. Of course, it's a little more main stream, a little less edgy than the series, but nevertheless plain fun. They couldn't have made a better job. If you want to know a little about German humour, you should watch this one.
Rating: 7.6

2046 (2004) Kar Wai-Wong - Hong Kong
As a sequel to Fa yeung nin wa, I'm very disappointed by this film. The best way to explain this is to say the mood wasn't right. The mood was simply... wrong. There was too much sex and too many stories, the only part I liked was the parallel story of the novel "2046". Otherwise it's only worth to watch for Tony Leung.
Rating: 6.6

Re-watched with the purpose of intense examination:

Atonement (2007) Joe Wright - UK
Still one of my favourite movies of all time. I tried to convince my best friend of its greatness, but I think I didn't really succeed.
Rating: 9.6

Midnight in Paris (2011) Woody Allen - Spain/ USA
Even better at the second time! There are few films I want to have on DVD, but I'm very glad I got this one as a birthday present. Hemingway! DalII! Woody Allen!
Rating: 8.5

+ I completely forgot: Finding Nemo (2003) One of my favourites.

Amount of films watched this month: 24
Average rating: 7.8


  1. Quite a few films here I really want to see. In the Mood for Love sounds amazing, and so does Sunrise.
    You know, I've had Babel for a while now, but I know the plot due to a disastrous "skimming" of its Wikipedia page. It seems so depressing, I just can't get myself to see it.
    I had been thinking of watching Mysterious Skin as well.. I guess this will finally push me into seeing it.
    Hehe, I knew it was a good idea not to Birth of a Nation. I know I will watch it eventually, but it does sound awful.
    Good list of films :)

    1. ^not to buy Birth of a Nation.

    2. Actually, Mysterious Skin is much more depressing than Babel. The plot of Babel is a little well... brutal, but in the end it all sums up to something beautiful. Sad, but beautiful.
      And Mysterious Skin starts off like a typical slightly sad coming-of-age film, but it's very very depressing.

      Well, I guess you have to watch Birth of a Nation, film lovers have to watch it - but that's what pisses me off. Why is this one of the films you have to watch to be able to join the conversation? Why?

  2. I agree about 2046, it was only ok. Althought I did love the part with the anroid girl, it was really surreal and gorgeous. And I'm glad you enjoyed Babel, I too loved the part in Japan the most, that actress was incredible.

    1. Just what I said.
      About that actress, I just read about a newer film she appeared in , "Naokos Smile" or something and I really want to watch that one.

  3. Lot of good movies there. I love An Education, In the Mood for Love. Also Red Cliff was pretty entertaining. Babel was so depressing, I hated it, and Shakespeare in Love for winning over Saving Private Ryan.

    I am thinking about watching some silent stuff now. I will probably watch Sunrise then.

    1. If you want to watch some good silent films, you'll have to watch Sunrise, definitely. I also just watched Broken Blossoms, which is at least better than Birth of a Nation.
      Really, you hated Babel? Wow.

  4. Incidentally, I just watched 2046 and loved it. I think the tonal shit from In the Mood for Love, where Mr Chow is in that point in his life really works. The frequent sex worked too because he was clearly a character, even for those that haven't seen In the Mood for Love, that was lost; searching for some sort of love that he couldn't find with these string of women. It's a shame you didn't like it, but maybe it might be a grower?

    I am a big fan of Mysterious Skin, it's a great little drama, and you hadn't seen Toy Story before?!!

    1. It might grow on me, who knows? Well, it's not that I disliked it, at least I rated it 6.6, but it was just so underwhelming, compared to In the Mood for Love.

      Toy Story - I know, I'm so embarrassed! I finally understand why everyone loves it!

  5. This is a great list of films! Everyone seems to have watched In The Mood For Love last month! The only other Wong Kar-Wai film I've seen is Happy Together and, well, it wasn't very happy!
    So glad to see you watched Sunrise as well - probably my favourite silent film (of the few I've seen!)

    1. It was funny, just after I watched the film I read all those posts on it... Well, I don't think Wong Kar-Wai is someone who makes happy films...
      As for Sunrise, it's already my favourite silent film, it really stands out from the ones I've seen.

  6. Good job, you have a good sense of humour on this blog of yours! Agree Shakespeare in Love is overrated, a mess really. Been giving silent flicks a go I see, maybe Chaplin is next? ( :

    Talking of Truman Show and satires, I'm intending watching "Series 7: the contenders" (2001), which is similar to the hunger games, taking reality tv to its extreme.

    1. Thanks, Chris, I always appreciate criticism and/ or applause.
      From what I've seen Chaplin is just my thing - nothing to watch too often though. I was thinking of trying out some of his most famous work, The Great Dictator for example.

      Series 7 sounds worth-a-watch, especially because I haven't come around to watch (or read) The Hunger Games yet. I love stories like these.

  7. Wow this really was an impressive month for you. So many masterpieces! I think you need to watch Chungking Express next!

    1. Many people have recommended it to me, so I'm going to see if I'll find it somewhere. Wong Kar-Wai is an extraordinary filmmaker, and I can't wait to see more of his work.

  8. Wow that was a lot of films last month Mette. I have never seen Babel but you make it sound amazing. I am going to have to try and check that out.

    1. The more you people keep saying it, the more I realize how good this month was! I need to continue that way, watching good films is so much more fun than watching mediocre films, haha.
      And I can't say it often enough: everyone should watch Babel. I didn't think it would be that good, really.

  9. I recently watched In the mood for first Asian movie, thanks to you. Could you please recommend me other great Asian movies or maybe write a review on some? Thanks :) Btw, your blog is awesome!

    1. Hi Anonymous, wow that's a great compliment - thank you! I'm also growing more and more interested in Asian films, in fact I'm thinking about starting to take Kung Fu lessons, just for fun :).
      Not that I've seen many, but some great Asian movies are: Wo Hu Cang Long (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), off course, Rashômon (anything by Akira Kurosawa is worth watching, though I don't like all of his films) and all of the Ghibli films... and off course, a lot of Indian films.


Let the discussion begin!