Let’s get straight into it this month…
#59 A Field in England (2013)
#60 The Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult (1994)
#61 The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976/1978)
#61a Akira (1988)
#62 The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010)
The second half of Wimbledon and tireless preparations for the exacting standards of a single-night guest put paid to film-watching for the first week of July (including the innovative multi-format premiere of A Field of England on 5th July, missing which provoked a reaction in me that begins with π and ends with -ssed off… though I did catch up with it soon after). Of course, that left three weeks to make up for it…
Except on the weekend of one of those weeks, my sister was getting married, which somehow turned into a near-week-long exercise in travelling and doing family stuff. Of course, that left two weeks to make up for it…
Except on returning from said wedding I went down with a cold so nasty it left me uninspired when it came to watching films, especially those that required my critical faculties to be, if not firing, then at least present. It’s still lingering now, actually.
Which means July ended up being, effectively, a week. (Well, maybe 10 days.) Bearing that in mind, I’m less downhearted that I only managed four films — I mean, that’s the same as last month, and I didn’t even have any excuses then. Plus I re-watched and will review Akira, so on that basis July still wins. Hurrah.
Keen-eyed regulars will have noticed the omission of the What Do You Mean You Haven’t Seen section, and even-keener-eyed ones will have noticed no film from that list on this month’s viewing. Sadly, yes, I missed it again — see above for my excuses. That puts me two behind now, after also missing April. Still, there are five months left yet, so we’ll see.
In historical context, this month’s total of four is the same as in 2008 and 2011; in 2009 July was my worst month ever: the only time I’ve not watched a single film all month. The overall total of 62 puts me one ahead of last year, but well behind the low 70s of 2007, 2010 and 2011 — three of the four years I’ve reached 100. Oh dear. On the bright side, I also reached 100 in 2008, and I’d only made it to #49 by the end of that July. On the other hand, I did have to watch an exceptionally-high 19 films that December to even scrape through, so…
Nice to end on a cheery note, eh.
As this month marks the first time I’ve seen films directed by John Cassavetes and Ben Wheatley (separately, obv.), and as I noticed back in May that there seem to be an uncommonly high number of new-to-me important directors this year, I thought I’d take a look at some of the other significant or surprising helmers that I’ve not seen a single movie from.
This was done with the help of lists at They Shoot Picture’s, Don’t They? — both their old rated list and the current Top 250 Directors. Rather than just take the first five, however, I weeded them out on dual provisos of, a) subjective importance (i.e. ones I’d never actually heard of got dropped), and b) subjective obscurity (i.e. what were the realistic chances I’d have seen one of their films). That’s why, despite ‘only’ scoring 8 out of 10 and ‘only’ coming 32nd on the Top 250, my #1 on this list is…
- Powell & Pressburger
Also known as The Archers, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger loom large in the history of British cinema; and internationally, too, in part thanks to Martin Scorsese’s unabashed fondness for their work. Significant films I’ve missed include A Matter of Life and Death, Black Narcissus, and The Red Shoes.
- Federico Fellini
Winner of the highest number of Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film (five), the Italian writer-director is “one of the most influential filmmakers of the 20th century”. He’s the only member of TSPDT’s Top 250’s top 10 (at #4) that I’ve not seen anything by. Significant gaps in my viewing include La dolce vita and 8½.
- Luis Buñuel
Just five names attract a perfect 10 score on TSDPT’s rating system, and this Spanish-born surrealist is the only one absent from my checklist. Significant misses include Un Chien Andalou, Viridiana, Belle de Jour, and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie.
- François Truffaut
One of the founders of the French Nouvelle Vague (alongside the likes of Jean-Luc Godard, who I have seen films by), Truffaut is still probably best known for his first film, The 400 Blows; or to a different audience for ’60s sci-fi adaptation Fahrenheit 451. Other significant oversights include Jules et Jim and Day for Night.
- Werner Herzog
Though only at #52 on TSPDT’s Top 250 (there are 11 above him I’ve not mentioned), there’s no denying the notoriety of Herzog, the man who once got shot while being interviewed by Mark Kermode, amongst other bizarre anecdotes. Key works include Aguirre, the Wrath of God, Fitzcarraldo, and Grizzly Man — and, unlike any of the others, he’s still going!
And one TSPDT regards with snobbery…
- Baz Luhrmann
The theatrically-inclined Australian scores just 3 on TSPDT’s ranking, their lowest awarded mark. Only five others suffer this ignominy, and the only one I’ve heard of is Ed Wood. According to TSPDT, none of Luhrmann’s films are Highly Recommended, Recommended, or even Worth a Look. The best he can hope for is Strictly Ballroom being classed “Approach with Caution”. I’ve heard some Shakespearean scholars deem his 1996 Romeo + Juliet possibly the definitive screen interpretation of one of the Bard’s most famous plays, but TSPDT reckon it’s a “dud”. So too Moulin Rouge… which they then have to acknowledge (grudgingly, I imagine) is on their own list of the 21st Century’s Most Acclaimed Films (at #60 of 250 too, which isn’t bad).
Mr. Luhrmann has no real connection to the top five up there — I’ve seen some of his films; I’ve not seen all of them, which would’ve been a point of contrast — but his besmirchment caught my attention.
Which notable directors are missing from your own viewing experience? Or perhaps there are some you’ve managed to thankfully avoid? Mine would’ve been Uwe Boll… oh, would’ve been…
After the typically quieter J-months, August often sees a surge in my viewing. Fingers crossed for one this year too, as despite being ahead of goal (that’d be 58) I’m clearly off-pace to reach 100…