I got out of the habit of keeping track of what I watched last year. I’m back in it, but for now, here are the first 12 movies I can remember seeing for the first time last year, in alphabetical order:
The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
So much swashbuckling fun! Actually saw this as a little kid, but couldn’t remember much about it; watched this with the fam now, and everybody loved it. Errol Flynn is the perfect Robin Hood (“You speak treason!” “…Fluently.”)
Strange to contrast this with 1991’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, a movie so bad I hadn’t bothered to see it again since then, and when I did this year, I thought it was even worse. From the constant hero shots of Costner’s mullet, to the weird ways they contort their own screenplay to find excuses to use Morgan Freeman’s character, this is a sad, obvious bunch of clichés. What a joke. At least Alan Rickman knew enough to ham it up.
10/10 (the 1938 version!)
Babette’s Feast (Danish, 1987)
My main train of thought watching this was how different–and how much worse–this would have been as an American production. In a Hollywood version, Babette would have been a sexy cougar whose metaphorically erotic orgy of food would have “liberated” all the “narrow-minded prudes” around her, freeing them all to “be who they really are.”
As it is, Babette’s Feast is far more subtle, realistic, and, therefore, moving.
Ikiru (Japanese, 1952)
Honestly, I didn’t see what the big deal about this Kurosawa classic was for most of the film. Sure, it was poignant and beautiful, but not earth-shatteringly so. Until the final act. That daring bit of directorial bravado–where tipsy mourners at the protagonist’s wake review his final days, intercut with scenes of the great living in question–profoundly impressed me. Genuinely insightful and impressive.
Another contrast with a hypothetical American version: in Hollywood, Watanabe would have had a love affair with Toyo in the second act, finding his passion for life in the arms of a young woman. How sad that we’re so predictable.