Accordion Player, Traffic Crossing Leeds Bridge, and Man Walking Around A Corner , dir. Louis Aimé Augustin Le Prince (1887-1888) ★★☆☆☆
Friday was a pretty busy day for me and I took that as an excuse to watch some early film. Early is a bit of an understatement when the films of Louis Le Prince are often considered the film movies. While they aren't anything remarkable and only clock in at a few seconds each, they are important to acknowledge on my journey.
During film school I had watched Roundhay Garden Scene (1888) more times than I can remember. It was Le Prince's second film but the earliest surviving celluloid film and therefore the first real motion picture. Gone were the days of chronophotography and zoopraxiscopes, this was the start! All his found films are available on Youtube and are in the public domain.
Star Odyssey, dir. Alfonso Brescia (1979) ★☆☆☆☆
I love bad movies. I love low-budget movies with bad dubbing and questionable acting. Some movies fall into "cult" stasis when they are just so bad they're amazing, and films like this became even more popular with the television series Mystery Science Theater 3000. I still have a VHS copy of their "riffing" of Manos The Hands Of Fate (Harold P Warren, 1966) and I was proud to show Santa Claus Conquers The Martians (Nicholas Webster, 1964) for The Lincoln Theatre's "Home For The Holidays" film festival. Also, I think Xanadu (Robert Greenwald, 1980) is unironically a great film.
I was watching Star Odyssey for two reasons: I haven't watched any Italian science fiction movies, and it has Gianni Garko. Known mainly for his role as the gunslinger Sartana, Garko is a Croatian actor that appeared in many spaghetti westerns and giallo films of the 60s and 70s. He's one of my most watched actors and certainly a favorite of mine. That being said, this movie was terrible. Even Garko's bedazzled Spiderman shirt couldn't save this movie.
Breaking Away, dir. Peter Yates (1979) ★★★★★
I got whiplash from putting these movies side-by-side. This is my second five-star film of the year and barely edges out Cast A Dark Shadow (--) as my current favorite. While I was mainly watching this for the crush I have on Dennis Christopher, it surpassed my expectations. I'm not big into sporting movies or even the "coming of age" films but this one was just outstanding. Film on the campus of Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana this movie follows David Stoller (Christopher) and his friends as they traverse their post-high school lives.
I laughed, I cried, I wished I lived in the 70s. This movie is great for giving a sense of nostalgia for a time I wasn't even alive. It has aged wonderfully and the performances in it makes it seem so genuine and heartwarming. Now, where do I get myself a "cutters" shirt? Or maybe a fake Italian boyfriend?
The Bloodhound, dir. Patrick Picard (2020) ★★★★★
While I don't plan to make a habit out of rewatching movies this year there is just something so comforting to me about revisiting old favorites. I discovered The Bloodhound through Arrow's premium subscription service. I spend too much money on niche streaming services but I got a lot out of my free month in early 2022. After my subscription trail ended I went to their actual distribution site and purchased a few of my favorites on blu-ray. I have their Sartana box-set, The Night Evelyn Came Out Of The Grave (Emilio Miraglia, 1971) , the original Django (Sergio Corbucci, 1966) , and then this new arthouse horror flick.
The Bloodhound is a short movie, clocking in at 77 minutes, and yet it's slow and unnerving. It's my favorite movie of the last few years and I'm eagerly waiting for the director to come out with more films. The disc is packed full of behind the scenes content, commentary, and Picard's other short films.
Kiss of Death, dir. Henry Hathaway (1947) ★★★☆☆
I love making lists. Not only do I have plenty of lists of my favorite movies, specific genre recommendations, and rankings of certain actors, but also many watchlists. While a lot of them are sorta either by year, length, or priority one of my newest isn't sorted in any way. It's a watchlist consisting of all the movies mentioned in Vernon Zimmerman's Fade To Black (1980). I decided to take one of those for tonight's viewing.
I wanted to like Kiss of Death a lot more than I actually did; the story follows a criminal who reverses to snitch on his accomplices leading to his going to the prison and leaving behind his wife and children. After his wife commits suicide and his children are sent to an orphanage, he decides to aid the police in catching another criminal in the act. Richard Widmark at Tommy Udo is iconic, chilling, and the main part of the movie that kept me interested.
Falling Leaves, dir. Alice Guy-Blache (1912) ★★★☆☆
I watched another short this week as I prepared for my trip back to Chicago and this one clocked in at a little over 12 minutes. I've been exposed to handful of Guy-Blache films during my time in college but none really clicked with me. This one nearly did.
She was one of the first female directors and as I work through this hefty task of watching 365 films, I want to make sure I get a decent amount of female directors in there. It's actually easier to find pre-code female directed shorts and modern films than it is to find stuff in my usual favorite decades, 50s-80s. Instead of talking about it too much, I highly recommend you search out this piece of film history and take those few minutes to enjoy it.
8 1/2, dir. Federico Fellini (1963) ★★★★☆
As I zipped by my bags and printed out my tickets for Chicago, I took breaks to watch 8 1/2. While this wasn't my first Fellini picture, it was my first full length one. I adore his short film Toby Dammit from 1968 but I had never dived into his larger movies.
I was so please with this one. I love movies about movies, and I don't mean documentaries while I do love those too. 8 1/2 follows a director, based on Fellini himself, as he strives to make a surrealist film. It uses a lot of the same styles present in Toby Dammit but lacks the same emotions. For anybody wanting to explore foreign films, this movie is very accessible and echoes early 60s Hollywood.