Monday Movie List ~ Films I’ve Seen in 2010, Part One
What is interesting to note is that, other than the lone entry in my Annual Oscar Ritual, my first movie of the year was not viewed until mid-February. During that first month and a half I was fully engrossed in the many television series I follow, not to mention the Olympic Games. But not much time goes by during which I don’t turn to movies. They are as much a part of my personality as my boisterous laughter. And they are part of my history, as well. Watching movies is one of my earliest memories in life. I share this love with my parents. My dad and I adore classic films, while my mom and I find great joy in modern cinema, particularly high-octane action flicks. It’s a bond between us all, and it’s one of the unifying aspects of our relationship over the years, plus it is a big part of our friendship, as well. And so I watch movies with my family in mind. I suggest films to them and they do the same for me. We have different tastes, of course, but we all share a love of this form of entertainment. I’d even go so far to say that movies are one of our most enduring bonds. But that’s another post! For now, here are the movies I watched during the first two months of 2010…
Breakfast at Tiffany’s — February 19, 2010 / Turner Classic Movies
With my great love of classic cinema, not to mention that My Fair Lady is one of my all-time favorites, it’s surprising that I’d never seen the most famous of Audrey Hepburn’s films until just this year. This, along with Roman Holiday, have remedied that. And while I’ve always known that Tiffany’s was a charming film that showcased Hepburn as the darling that she was, I never understood how profound it was at the same time. Hepburn is only half the beauty of this film; equally engaging, and sometimes moreso, is George Peppard. The friendship forged between the two endeared me instantly, and by the end of the film I was mesmerized. Tiffany’s is more than I ever dreamed it would be and a film that will only become more charming with successive viewings. Just as I’ve always heard it would be.
Doctor Zhivago (2002) — February 19, 2010 / TV broadcast
Having seen the original version of Zhivago a few years ago, and having loved it, I was curious if a TV remake could ever come close. And I might have never given it a chance without the casting of Keira Knightley in the Julie Christie role. This version has none of the power of the first film, and the actors can never come close to the performances of Omar Sharif and Christie, but for a small-scale project this Zhivago was respectable and paid tribute to its origin. And that’s sometimes all you can ask of something attempting to remake a classic.
All the King’s Men (1949) — February 19, 2010 / Turner Classic Movies
I remember that there was a remake a few years ago starring Sean Penn, but when I began checking into it I realized I’ve never actually seen it despite this story seeming quite familiar as I watched the original film. I suppose it’s just become a classic story by now: small town politician becomes big-time power player and lets that power goes to his head. The original was good enough to bring Oscar gold, but for me it was simply good enough to watch to the conclusion. Not as memorable as other films of the era. Still, the story was of interest enough for me to catch the modern version later in the year, and I happened to enjoy that much more.
Mr. and Mrs. Loving — February 20, 2010 / TV broadcast
In the midst of insomnia, after a 24-hour period of wakefulness, I stumbled across this 1996 movie starring a young Timothy Hutton. That’s usually enough to draw me in, but the film’s premise attracted me, as well. Based on an actual court case from the sixties, Mrs and Mrs. Loving are an interracial couple barely out of their teens who are forced to flee their home state of Virginia or go to prison for breaking the state’s laws of segregation. The movie follows their struggles to start over in Washington, D.C., without any family support and no marketable skills, and it chronicles their experience when the ACLU takes their civil rights issue all the way to the Supreme Court. It’s a historical moment in time but the movie is simply the quiet history of this one couple during a most difficult time. It’s a simple TV movie with a powerful message and a gifted cast.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid — February 27, 2010 / TCM
My love of older movies begins right here, with Butch and Sundance. I saw it for the first time in probably the late 70s and instantly fell in love — with the genre, with the story, with the legend, and with Robert Redford. None of that has waned in over thirty years. I try to watch it at least once each year, and yet I’m still surprised by certain moments and by nuances in the characters that I never noticed before. Redford and Paul Newman make this film the classic that it is. Without their collaboration, it would never have endured with such a level of devotion and admiration. Without Katharine Ross, the film would not have a sweetness underlying the dust. In my mind, this is the measure for all movies. It has everything a filmmaker needs to create a successful film. Which is why it’s so beloved by audiences worldwide. Whereas my love of movies began with Star Wars, my love of acting and filmmaking began with Butch and Sundance. And I’ve never seen another film that tops it.
Sweet Bird of Youth — February 27, 2010 / Turner Classic Movies
Because I was such a Redford fan I didn’t come to appreciate Paul Newman until much later in my life. He was older when I first began to watch his films, and without TCM to introduce me to the classics, I just didn’t have access to him. But his friendship with Redford and his status as a legend always made me revere him, so eventually I began working through his filmography. Upon his death in 2008 I realized that I’d not seen nearly as much of his work as I believed I had, and so I’ve spend the months since diving into his catalogue. I have my best luck during 31 Days of Oscar and finally saw Sweet Bird of Youth this year. The written premise can never do it justice. Newman is brilliant: young and beautiful and charming and funny and elegant in his angst. His supporting cast is equally incredible — none more than Geraldine Page, playing a faded film star (at the ripe old age of 37!) — and the screenplay based on Tennessee Williams’s play is practically flawless. There’s a reason this movie is always included in every Essential Paul Newman list.
A Room With A View — February 28, 2010 / Turner Classic Movies
When Merchant Ivory was in its heyday I never quite found an interest, but since I’ve matured a bit and branched out into British films, period pieces, and classic literature I’ve learned to love films of this type. I’ve also come to adore Helena Bonham Carter since she began showing off her quirky self in movies as diverse as Fight Club, Harry Potter, and her Tim Burton collaborations. It was a breath of fresh air to return to her early years with A Room With A View, and I found that I truly love movies like that. In the midst of the buttoned-up era of fashion and propriety, the characters in these films find unique ways to cast off restraint while still holding fast to societal rules. They are brilliant character studies, in fact, and that’s what appeals to me so strongly. And they’re beautiful films, as well. I do believe I’ve finally become a Merchant Ivory fan. After all this time.
Next Monday: the 23 films of March!