What I’ve been watching (December 2014)

I’ve been going through some of my favorites this month because having my birthday plus the holidays all together in December makes me long for nostalgia. This month I’ve seen…

  • Star Wars IV-VI (1977, 1980 and 1983)
  • The Red Shoes (1948)
  • Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
  • The Bishop’s Wife (1947)
  • The Shootist (1976)

I also tried to watch Ben-Hur (1959) but I couldn’t get past the first ten minutes…

The Star Wars trilogy was of course, amazing. Empire was always my favorite but on my multiple rewatches this month I discovered just how amazing ANH is. It is definitely the most ‘complete’ feeling movie and 3PO and Artoo have some of the better parts (3PO was always hilarious though, he just gets so many great lines in ANH). Luke gets better as the series goes on so I like Empire and ROTJ for him mostly (even though his haircut in ROTJ is beyond awful). Ewoks aren’t as bad as I remembered either, hell Wicket is even kind of cute! Lando is better on rewatches too. As a kid I hated him and thought he was a traitor, now I can see how he was just in a shitty situation.  Also, for fun; if you know where you fall on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test (or even if you don’t you can google and take it fairly quickly). You can see what Star Wars character you’d be. I’m Obi Wan or ‘Ben’ Kenobi 🙂

The Red Shoes (1948) is clearly one of the most beautiful technicolor films ever made. The Criterion restoration is the way to go if you want to watch it; specifically the bluray version. You can see a bit of the ballet-within-the-ballet movie here. The SE aren’t bad for the late 40s either.

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944). Surprisingly this was the first time I’ve ever had a chance to watch this classic. There is something about the turn-of-the-century (that is, early 1900’s) that is just so pleasant to watch. It oozes just the right amount of nostalgia and ‘times were simpler, weren’t they?’ sort of attitude despite never living through those times ourselves…I think Little Women evokes that feeling too. In any case, like The Red Shoes this is another beautiful technicolor film. The titular song is awful but the others more than make up for it, I like ‘The Boy Next Door’ the best, (you can see/hear it here). I think I was guilty of not seeing the appeal of Judy Garland until I watched this, to be honest. I always enjoyed her, but never really got her. Part of the reason, I suspect, as to why I finally ‘got’ her in this film is because of Vincente Minnelli (the director of the film) who shot Judy beautifully. She really shines in this, unlike any other juvenile part she did before or since.  They, Minnelli and Garland would later get married. Judy herself said she never felt so beautiful then when she was filming St. Louis. I am inclined to agree.

The Bishop’s Wife (1947) disappointed me a little bit, to be perfectly honest. Cary Grant in an angel sent down to help a bishop and his wife. The angel (Grant) falls for the Bishop’s wife (played by Loretta Young) who is obviously not very happy in her relationship with her husband, the bishop (played by David Niven). Honestly the film just depressed me! In the end the angel goes away, and the bishop and his wife are left wondering who he was, and they are still in the same place in their marriage (a bit better than before the angel came, but still). There is a lovely scene with ice skating about 3/4 the way through the film where the chemistry between Grant and Young is very apparent. Nothing happens though and it ends just like I wrote above. Maybe I expected more, or maybe I am too immature still to appreciate that a wife and husband should be together despite difficulties. I just kept thinking, ‘But it’s Cary Grant!!’. CARY GRANT!!

The Shootist (1976) was fantastic despite a few drawbacks. Namely, the music and the cheap looking interiors. It really does look like a made for TV movie, the look I mean, not the feel. Aside from that it really is an amazing movie. It’s about a dying gunman (played by John Wayne) who is living out his last days searching for a way to die with dignity. As you could imagine, he does find that way and it is very very sad to see. Ron Howard makes an appearance and reminds you that he is really great in front of the camera, just as he is behind it. Lauren Bacall is in the best role of her career perhaps, or at the very least the best of the last 25 years. She was fantastic. She passed away this year at the age of 89, which is another reason why I wanted to see some more of her films. The Shootist is a must-watch but it’s best watched after you’ve seen a good helping of John Wayne’s other westerns. That way the ending is that much more poignant.

OK, that wraps up my first entry. Thank you for reading and happy watching!

Lindsey

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