Monday, January 4, 2016

My 2015 At The Movies

I went to the movies 61 times in 2015. That's about my average, and it's better than a movie a week, which makes me happy. I saw two movies (MAD MAX: FURY ROAD and SPOTLIGHT) twice, so I saw a total of 59 films. 30 of the films were released in 2015, while the other 29 were older films. The first movie I saw was PREDESTINATION (2015) and the last I saw was CAROL (2015). The oldest movie I saw was DW Griffith's WAY DOWN EAST (1920).

2015 was the centennial of Orson Welles, so I got to see a lot of Welles films in the theater, the mark of any good moviegoing year. Of course, that included favorites like CITIZEN KANE and FALSTAFF (CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT) that I've seen in the theater many times, but it also included THE IMMORTAL STORY, which I'd never seen in a theater before. Now that was a damn highlight. (Sadly, I didn't get to see THE TRIAL.)

My biggest find of the year was to rediscover the grace and beauty of Satyajit Ray's APU TRILOGY. I first saw Ray's films in my early twenties when I was consuming as much classic cinema as I could. I discovered a lot of lasting loves that way (Ulmer, Bergman, Kieslowski), but some things fell through the cracks. I liked Ray's films, but perhaps I was too young, too immature for them back then. Whatever the reason, I discovered them anew this year when APU was rereleased in theaters. Deeply moving and beautifully made, they instantly became films that I treasure and am eager to return to as soon as possible.

Of course, man does not live on classic film alone. I had a great year with the new stuff. I loved SPOTLIGHT, a smart and tightly controlled piece of outrage. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was the best action film I've seen in years. I really do think it's some kind of crazy masterpiece.

I think I saved the best for last, because the final film I saw this year was CAROL, the romance directed by Todd Haynes and written by Phyllis Nagy. Set in the fifties, the film is based on the 1950 novel THE PRICE OF SALT by Patricia Highsmith, and stars Cate Blanchett as a married woman who meets and falls in love with a shopgirl played by Rooney Mara. Haynes, one of our best directors, is a classical filmmaker whose devilish streak compels him to keep making movies like FAR FROM HEAVEN or the mini-series MILDRED PIERCE that rescue genre pieces from the past and reinterpret them for modern audiences. With CAROL he's made perhaps his best film, taking the kind of story that was once dismissed as lesbian pulp. As with MILDRED PIERCE, though, a big part of what Haynes and screenwriter Nagy do here is to simply respect the integrity of the original material. The result is an instant classic.

All in all, it was a great year at the movies. Here's what I saw:

1. Predestination (2015)

2. Selma (2014)

3. Jupiter Ascending (2015)

4. A Girl Walks Homes Alone At Night (2015)

5. Hogtown (2015)

6. She's Beautiful When She's Angry (2015)

7. 7th Heaven (1927)

8. Mildred Pierce (1945)

9. The Woman On The Beach (1947)

10. The Duke of Burgundy (2015)

11. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

12. Magician: The Life and Career of Orson Welles (2015)

13. Falstaff, or Chimes At Midnight (1965)

14. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

15. A Woman's Secret (1949)

16. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) 2nd time

17. The Immortal Story (1968)

18. Magnificent Obsession (1954)

19. Un Chien Andalou (1929)

20. Othello (1952)

21. The Set-Up (1949)

22. Pather Panchali (1955)

23. Citizen Kane (1941)

24. Aparajito (1956)

25. Apur Sansar (1959)

26. The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)

27. Touch of Evil (1958)

28. The Birds (1963)

29. Spy (2015)

30. Way Down East (1920)

31. The Third Man (1949)

32. Ant-Man (2015)

33. Inside Out (2015)

34. Trainwreck (2015)

35. Falstaff, or Chimes At Midnight (1965)

36. Black Magic (1949)

37. Mission: Impossible--Rouge Nation (2015)

38. Amy (2015)

39. Dark Places (2015)

40. Pushover (1954)

41. Takin' Place (2015)

42. Woman On The Run (1949)

43. Hangover Square (1945)

44. Ladies In Retirement (1941)

45. Queen Of Earth (2015)

46. Coming Home (2015)

47. Phoenix (2015)

48. Goodnight Mommy (2015)

49. The Martian (2015)

50. The First Legion (1951)

51. The Walk (2015)

52. Her Sister's Secret (1946)

53. Spectre (2015)

54. Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965)

55. Victoria (2015)

56. Spotlight (2015)

57. Spotlight (2015) 2nd time

58. The Killing (1956)

59. In The Heart Of The Sea (2015)

60. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

61. Carol (2015)

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