September 2013 + 5 Great Shakespeare Films

Bah-da-bah-da (bah-da-bah-da) bah-da-bah-da-daaa!

For most of the month I’ve been playing, virtually on loop, the Iron Man 3 main titles, Can You Dig It.

Turns out, yes I can.

What Do You Mean You Haven’t Seen…?

There’s no doubting that WDYMYHS has been a success in terms of making sure I see more films I’ve long been meaning to see (I may not have watched one every month as intended, but I’ve still seen 7 of the 12, with 3 months to go), but it’s been less satisfying in terms of my enjoyment. City Lights and Dr. Strangelove were comedies that left me fairly cold; Bicycle Thieves and The Seventh Seal are films that surely helped define our cliches of Arthouse Cinema; and though I was suitably awed by both Once Upon a Time in America and Touch of Evil, for neither would my watchword be “enjoyed”.

That changes this month, however, with a film that was pure enjoyment from start to finish: Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest. Unsurprisingly it’s my favourite WDYMYHS film to date, and it’s up there with the Welles and the Leone in terms of sheer filmmaking quality too.

Also this month, my review of Dr. Strangelove, trying to fathom what I didn’t see that so many other people do.

September’s films

Iron Man 3#72 Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)
#73 The Tempest (2010)
#74 Iron Man 3 (2013)
#75 LEGO Batman: The Movie – DC Super Heroes Unite (2013)
#75a Marvel One-Shot: Item 47 (2012)
#75b Marvel One-Shot: Agent Carter (2013)
#76 The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear (1991)
#77 The Falcon in Mexico (1944)
North by Northwest#78 Real Steel (2011)
#79 Macbeth (1948)
#80 Wolf (1994)
#81 North by Northwest (1959)
#82 The Falcon in Hollywood (1944)
#82a Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (Deluxe Edition) (2013)
#83 Flight (2012)
#84 The Falcon in San Francisco (1945)


You might not think it, but September is a surprisingly key month in my annual drive to 100 films: the only two times I’ve beaten 100, I reached the titular goal in September. That being said, in other years its use as an indicator is minimal: the past two years were both at #81 by now, but on one of those I made it to 100 and the other I failed. (In fairness, I did get to 97 — a margin of 3% isn’t that bad.) In 2008 I made it to 100 off a 64 in September, and in 2009 I only reached 94 off September’s 54.

Having reached #84 in 2013, then, it looks like I’m pretty well set going into the year’s final quarter. It won’t be a record-breaking year (unless I average over 15 films per month from here on out — to put that in perspective, my best month ever was 17 films; my average for the year to date is just over 9), but I have fair hopes of at least making it to 100. Hey, that’s the title, and always feels doubly important when I failed the year before.

Before now, I’ve noted that the first six years of this blog have followed a pattern: a year where I reach 120-something films, a year of exactly 100 films, a year of failure, repeat. What also happened is that both the 120-something years reached the titular goal in September, while both the 100-exactly years only got there on December 31st. This being the seventh year, I should be on 120 films and getting to 100 in September. Obviously, I haven’t. Something about humans always seeing patterns that aren’t there and all that, eh…

Viewed in other contexts, however, this has been a very good September. It’s the second-best month of 2013, behind March’s stupendous 17; and in terms of Septembers past, 2013 is one for the ages. I watched 13 brand-new films, making it my most prolific September to date (previous best was 11 in 2010). The past two years I’ve watched four and eight films respectively, so this year is a marked improvement. Though somehow I doubt next September will continue the pattern by reaching 19 films. But you never know — I’ve done 19 in a month (once) before…

Summer 2013 update

I mentioned last month that my Summer 2013 was kicking off now, as the big films made their way to Blu-ray and I finally started to see them. I wasn’t necessarily convinced of my own prediction — the list of films I have accessible to me but still haven’t watched from the summers of 2011 and 2012 is too long to go in to here — but, lo and behold, look what’s up there: both Star Trek Into Darkness and Iron Man 3.

Only two films, I know, but this month’s other big release was Fast & Furious 6 and I’ve not seen 4 or 5 yet. All the other high-profile releases are still to come, and, looking at the release calendar, there’s not much of particular interest until November. October can only offer After Earth and World War Z, both of which I intend to see, but neither are day-one purchases for me. Looks like summer will be going on until at least Christmas.

5 Great Shakespeare Film Adaptations

There are an awful lot of Shakespeare screen adaptations. I’ve not seen most of them. But nonetheless, inspired by this month’s viewing of Orson Welles’ Macbeth, here are a fantastic five:

  1. Throne of BloodThrone of Blood
    Kurosawa abandons Shakespeare’s setting, some of his characters, and, most contentiously, all of his dialogue in this nonetheless extremely faithful rendering of Macbeth. Dripping atmosphere from every frame and gorgeously staged throughout, this both illuminates and transcends the Bard’s work. I bet it’d look great on Blu-ray. Why isn’t there a Blu-ray?
  2. Romeo + JulietRomeo + Juliet (1996)
    As if using teen heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio to bring Shakespeare to a whole new generation wasn’t admirable enough, Baz Luhrmann also produces a remarkable rendition of Will’s most famous play. The entire film is a feast of invention (who can forget the swords-as-guns thing?) and fabulously cinematic.
  3. Much Ado About NothingMuch Ado About Nothing (1993)
    The ’90s offer us a veritable banquet of Shakespeare adaptations, and the man involved with a good many of them was Kenneth Branagh. Here he takes one of Shakespeare’s most accessible works and, while retaining period costumes and a classical directorial style, still produces a movie capable of entertaining any modern audience.
  4. The Lion KingThe Lion King
    Apparently Disney now deny this is an adaption of Hamlet, but tosh and piffle, the similarities are numerous — too numerous to go into here. There are more faithful adaptations of Hamlet out there (loads of them), but I’d wager few are as purely entertaining as (and none less depressing than) this indisputable masterpiece.
  5. Looking for RichardLooking for Richard
    Not strictly an adaptation, though chunks of the play are performed, in this documentary/adaptation Al Pacino looks into “Shakespeare’s significance and relevance to the modern world”. If that sounds dry, it’s actually quite engrossing. Also, much better than that dappy horribly-mid-’90s poster might suggest.

And one I disliked…

    Henry VThe Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France
    Oh sure, most people love Larry Olivier’s wartime version of Henry V, but I didn’t take to it. Indeed, in my review I asserted that “however good it may once have seemed, I think this version has had its day.”
    So there.

Want to tell me how wrong I am about Romeo + Juliet, The Lion King, and Henry V? Or just tell me which adaptations I’ve missed and really ought to check out? That’s what the comment section is for.

Next month on 100 Films in a Year…

Just 16 films remain this year!

Probably not one month’s work, but October could dictate whether I reach #100 in November, or December, or not at all…

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