The Movie Journal: January 2023

decision to leave

We watch movies, we read books, we listen to music, but what do we do when we’re talking in general about all art? I used to say we consumed it, but now that brings up negative connotations. In the movie world, the people who finance movies and television shows – studios and streaming services like Netflix – speak of movies and shows not as if they were creative arts but as content. Something we consume like we consume potato chips, Snickers bars, and wet wipes. But art is so much more than something we just casually consume. So I need another word when talking about partaking in art.

I’m always fascinated by the ways in which I consume Art. Sometimes it is random, like when I put my music collection on shuffle mode, or grab a book off my bookshelf when I’m headed to the bathroom for a visit. Sometimes it is intentional like the movie I watch in October or Noirvember. Other times the Art informs what I watch (or read, or listen to, or consume) next.

So, for example, earlier this month I watched Caliber 9 (1972) an Italian crime thriller. I liked it and so I watched another one, then another one…I watched five in total. Sometimes these types of films are called poliziotteschi, kind of like how a subgenre of Italian horror is Giallo. I first heard about poliziotteschis a couple of years ago and I’ve been watching them ever since, but they aren’t something I necessarily go looking for (unlike Giallo which I regularly hunt down). But because I randomly watched Caliber 9, I can now say I’ve seen five other films in the genre.

I don’t know why that is so satisfying to me. It scratches the same itch that collecting every one of Bob Dylan’s LB# or the Grateful Dead’s shinds.

It is like how I watched Doctor Who: Remembrance of the Daleks and then had to go back and watch the first story from that season and then the one after. Or once I watched Reservoir Dogs (1992) I had to then watch Pulp Fiction (1994) and Jackie Brown (1997) (and remind me I started writing a whole separate post for Tarantino’s first three films.)

There is some weird part of my brain that likes to organize things, and collect them. I’m endlessly fascinated by how my brain connects the things I consume and leads me to something else. I mean, usually, it isn’t that complicated. Those Italian films were featured on The Criterion Channel, and I suspect lots of people have watched Tarantino’s first films in a row like that. But I still find it interesting.

In January 2023 I watched 50 films. 41 of them were new to me.

Letterboxd allows me to see who my top actors and directors are in a given year. I always like looking at that. For January my top actors are all Italians who starred in those crime dramas, and the top director is Fernando Di Leo who directed them. That’s not surprising. It will be interesting to see who beats them next month.

Lastly, 26 of the films I watched this month were made before I was born. I always count the movies I watch that was made before I was born because I’m a huge classic movie fan, but defining what constitutes a classic is complicated.I used to have cable television and my favorite station was Turner Classic Movies. I no longer have cable but I’m still connected to various fansites for TCM and there are endless debates on what constitutes a classic movie.

When I was growing up classic movies were films made in the 1930s and 1940s. That was simple enough. Bu that was the 1980s, that classic movie were made 40+ years earlier. But now it is 2023, and movies made 40 years ago were made in the 1980s. So, where do you draw the line? I draw the line at movies made before I was born. I was born in 1976 so there you go.

And here is the complete list:

The Bride Wore Black (1968)
Mississippi Mermaid (1969)
The Predator (2018)
The Damned (1962)
Prey (2022)
The Net (1995)
Murder by Contract (1958)
Hud (1963)
The Wailing (2016)
The Wanderers (1979)
American Gigolo (1980)
The Strawberry Blonde (1941)
White Woman (1933)
Jackie Brown (1997)
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Enola Holmes 2 (2022)
Sharky’s Machine (1981)
The Mutations (1974)
John Dies at the End (2012)
T2 Trainspotting (2017)
Trainspotting (1996)
Doctor Who: The Happiness Patrol (1988)
Doctor Who: Dragonfire (1987)
Kidnap Syndicate (1975)
Shoot First, Die Later (1974)
2 Days in the Valley (1996)
Zardoz (1974)
Doctor Who: Remembrance of the Daleks (1988)
The Boss (1973)
The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb (1964)
The Vampire Doll (1970)
The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958)
The Italian Connection (1972)
Caliber 9 (1972)
Decision to Leave (2022)
Playing with Fire (1975)
The Pale Blue Eye (2022)
San Quentin (1937)
Nope (2022)
The Black Phone (2021)
The Ninth Gate (1999)
The Card Player (2004)
The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
The Last of Sheila (1973)
The Earrings of Madame de… (1953)
Anna Christie (1930)
It’s Not Just You, Murray! (1964)
What’s a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This? (1963)
The Big Shave (1967)

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