November: the month with Men in its posters!
(I was going to open this post by ‘singing’ Europe’s The Final Countdown. Then I realised I did exactly that in November 2011. I’m nothing if not unoriginal.)
Yes, for the first time in 23 months, 100 Films in a Year has a #100! And for the first time in the history of ever, I’ve made it to #100 in a month that isn’t called “September” or “December”.
There’s a more detailed history of this blog’s #100s further down, but an analysis-like bit first: in the previous six years, I’ve made to 100 films a total of four times. Two of those were reached in September, two on December 31st. November now joins those illustrious ranks, completely ruining any patterns you thought you might’ve been able to see. But that’s good, because it breaks a cycle that only led to expectations, and expectations are always awkward.
More about November’s total and the usual analysis in a bit. First:
I always intended each year’s #100 to be a film that was significant in some way. That hasn’t always panned out (missing it twice and “squeezing in anything I can” two other times have seen to that), but with a more leisurely arrival this year I was able to plan it out. And what could be more appropriate than one of my WDYMYHS films, supposedly the greatest examples of the cinematic art that I’ve yet to see?
And so, #100 was also my latest WDYMYHS conquest, and it was… David Lean’s acclaimed and beloved epic Lawrence of Arabia. That was one of the films that inspired me to start WDYMYHS in the first place, so it seemed only fitting.
I tried to squeeze one more in before the end of the month, but no doing. That leaves three to get through in December, which wasn’t the plan in the slightest. We’ll see how that goes.
#99 The Falcon’s Alibi (1946)
#100 Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
#100a Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. (1965)
#101 The Wolverine: Extended Cut (2013)
#102 Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor (2013)
#103 Man of Steel (2013)
I meant to post my review of The Day of the Doctor by now, in which I will explain/defend why an episode of TV counts as a film; but as I haven’t got round to that yet, let’s quickly run through it here as well: it was simultaneously released in cinemas; it’s feature-length. That’s good enough for me. Oh, and it did huge business and cracked into the charts both here and in the US — that’s not “oh, and it’s in cinemas too”, is it? No. Good.
Moving on to November itself, then. The past three years (i.e. 2010, 2011 and 2012) I’ve watched exactly four films in November, so it’s good to break another cycle of expectation with this month’s five. That also means it’s not 2013’s worst month (a two-way tie between June and July), but instead equals April’s five.
Having reached #103, November sits in a unique place in the history of Totals Reached By The End Of November. In the two years I’d reached #100 in September, I was in the 110s or 120s by now; in 2008 and 2009 I was at #81 and #80 respectively; and in 2011 and 2012 I was at #92 and #91 respectively. If you really want to dig into it there’s almost some kind of pattern there, but I think it’s best I leave well enough alone.
With just one month to go, I’ve averaged 9.36 films per month in 2013, on which basis I should end the year having watched 112 or 113 films. But considering said average includes months with viewing as low as four and as high as 17, my final tally could theoretically be anywhere from 107 to 120. My money says closer to the former than the latter.
In seven years of 100 Films, I’ve made it to the titular goal five times. Here are those films that received the glorious honour of being #100…
- Citizen Kane
Upon reaching my goal the first time, I decided (quite rightly, I think) that #100 should be An Important Occasion — and what can be more important than The Greatest Film Ever Made™? Many viewers these days seem to struggle with Kane’s reputation, or it just leads them to dismiss the film out of hand, but I thought it was genuinely exceptional and deserving of its acclaim.
- Swing Time
Come the second year, and watching Something Significant went out the window as I scrabbled through 11 films in 6 days to make it to 100, and this Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers picture happened to be the last of them. That said, Swing Time is hardly a poor movie — while not my favourite Astaire/Rogers movie (not that I’ve seen many, but the honour goes to Top Hat), their dancing is nonetheless sublime.
- The Hurt Locker
Having failed in 2009, 2010 was a return to form. Whether its #100 is a classic for the ages remains to be seen, but at the time it was the most recent Best Picture winner. How much insight it casts on the broad scope of recent conflicts is debatable, but it’s an interesting — and certainly tense — depiction of modern warriors’ mentality.
- The A-Team
Though not as much of a rush as 2008, in 2011 I only just made it to 100 again — and, again, it was less a special choice more something fit-in-able. That said, I liked The A-Team: it sets out to be a funny, entertaining action movie and, by and large, it achieves that goal. Not for those who like Serious Movies, or for those who take their movies too seriously.
- Lawrence of Arabia
And so, after missing it again in 2012, we come to this year. The alternation continues, with arguably the most acclaimed and beloved film that I’d never seen earning the spot of my fifth #100. As a double bonus, it’s one of my WDYMYHS films too (OK, that’s not an accident). That status, and the film’s sheer size (its length! its scope!), makes it a little tricky to get your head around. But wow, it looks incredible on Blu-ray.
What of the other two years? Well, in 2009 I fell well short at 94. #94 itself was the 1974 Murder on the Orient Express, directed by Sidney Lumet and starring an Oscar-nominated Albert Finney as Poirot.
And then last year, when I made it even closer with 97, but couldn’t quite reach those final three films. #97 itself was cult favourite comedy The Plank, which I didn’t really connect with and is the lowest-scored of these seven films.
What will the next #100 be, I wonder? Hopefully we won’t have to wait another 23 months to find out…
For December, my 100 Films Advent Calendar is starting up again. The introduction is here; reviews commence in the morning.
Join me on New Year’s Day (you’ve got nothing better to do, right?) for the first of my usual array of retrospectives on the year just passed.