Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Remembering: 2000

At this point in my life, I have seen 3,237 feature-length movies. 2,280 of those, or slightly more than 70%, I screened for the first time in the last ten years. So if the 80s were my years of first awestruck contact with the movies, and the 90s were the decade of pulverizing impressions and irrevocable falling in love, then the 00s, or the Aughties, or the Naughties, or whatever we wound up calling them, have encompassed the exponential explosion of my filmgoing horizons. I see many, many, many more new movies per year than I ever did before, but it's also the decade in which I started delving deeply into movie history. As a time-capsule commemoration of the decade that's about to end, I'm starting a year-by-year digest of my most definitive in-theater experiences. My way of saying thanks, saying goodbye, and starting to look forward to (hopefully!) another decade of cinema.

Jan 5, Landmark Embarcadero, San Francisco
The first movie ticket I bought in the new millennium was for a first-run screening of Kimberly Peirce's Boys Don't Cry, while on a weeklong visit to some friends in the Bay Area of California. What better city than this historic haven for queers in which to see this landmark of transgender representation. The audience was so rapt, moved, and respectful; I can't remember ever sitting in a theater so quiet.

Jan 31, Cornell Cinema (Willard Straight), Ithaca, NY
I was lucky enough to see for the first time on a big screen in Boston, MA, the previous summer, but I thrilled even more to La dolce vita in 35mm.

Feb 22, Lincoln Plaza 6 and United Artists Union Square 14, New York City
As it quickly became obvious that Jane Campion's Holy Smoke! had been too much of a commercial and critical non-starter to make its way to Ithaca, New York, I surprised even myself by spending $69.50 on a round-trip bus ticket, five hours each way, to go see it in New York City. Making a pilgrimage for Jane Campion is one thing; infinitely more ignominious was knowing in the back of my mind that the sojourn was equally motivated by my need to see The Green Mile, because even though I'd concertedly snubbed it during its Ithaca run, I couldn't bear to enter an Oscar season without seeing all five Best Picture nominees. Never again could it be denied: I am an insane person. This one didn't go so well for me, but I enjoyed railing at it from my own little pulpit. To fill the time between Smoke and Mile, I squeezed in a mid-afternoon matinée of Julie Taymor's Titus, in the UA14's then-novel atmosphere of stadium seating. I had left Ithaca just before 5AM on a Monday, and I took the 2AM bus back, so as to show up on time to my graduate seminar in 19th-century fiction.

Feb 26, Cornell Cinema (Uris), Ithaca, NY
Solaris: a boy's first in-cinema Tarkovsky. It resonated.

Mar 13, Cornell Cinema (Willard Straight), Ithaca, NY
The Tarkovsky series continues, and so does my habit of fastidiously marking movie milestones, and jerry-rigging them to be worthy of the occasion: I spend my 1,000th movie-viewing experience at a gorgeously restored print of Andrei Rublev, a movie I have now seen three times, every time projected from celluloid.

Apr 19, Fall Creek Pictures, Ithaca, NY
Curtis Hanson's Wonder Boys offers welcome proof that the plot and the style of a film can seem as literary as they come but the execution can still be elegantly cinematic. Proof, too, that I can notice such execution despite my English-major tendency in those years to contemplate and review all movies primarily in terms of story and acting. Several early correspondents to the website, always fairly if not always nicely, had called my attention to this training-wheels failing of mine, and I was very proud to have remarked how skilled and eloquent were the edits, rhythms, and framing choices of Wonder Boys. I'm not as huge a fan these days as I was then, but it's still a cozy, engaging picture, and I'm glad it was the one that prompted my friend Kathleen to coin the phrase "a seer-againer."

May 8, Cornell Cinema (Willard Straight), Ithaca, NY
Is it becoming obvious how life-sustaining the moviehouses of Ithaca, New York, really are? They certainly were for me, not least when they furnished my sublime introductions to films as great as Aguirre, the Wrath of God. My viewing companions appeared decidedly nonplussed, and I couldn't figure out why. It had me from the opening shot of the waterfall.

May 20, Cinemapolis, Ithaca, NY
Knowing my tastes as most of you do, can you believe I skipped Erin Brockovich until more than two months into its theatrical run, and only caught it during a last-ditch pick-up at the local arthouse, after the malls had given it up? Astonishing, almost as much so as the film, which remains a favorite.

May 20, Cornell Cinema (Willard Straight), Ithaca, NY
Later that night: Casablanca. It's true: some wonders really are more wonderful if you see them with someone with whom you're in love.

May 24, Hoyts Pyramid Mall 10, Lansing, NY
The perils of small-town living, and a thumbnail sketch of two-way prevarication among academics. I couldn't believe that my tutorial advisor suddenly wanted my term paper on the films of David Cronenberg a full three months before the deadline we had agreed upon. I protested that I simply couldn't write it in the six days he was suddenly giving me. He protested in turn that already, as things were, he would have zero time in the next week to do anything except reading through his students' looming assignments so that he could finally proceed into his own long-postponed research, for which he hadn't had a spare second for months. We both left the meeting, cordial but a bit huffy with each other, and quite self-important in our insistence that neither one of us had a single second of spare time on our hands. So what did I do? I hot-footed it that same afternoon to Ridley Scott's 155-minute Gladiator, months before it became an Academy-stamped Important Film. And who did I encounter there? My tutorial advisor. Quick, embarrassed acknowledgments. Seats taken, several rows away from each other.

Jul 3, Fall Creek Pictures, Ithaca, NY
Confident critics are willing to run against the grain, even about movies that no one much cares about, and this was very much my experience of Philip Haas's widely disdained and even more widely ignored Up at the Villa. I still like this one, enough to keep making a point of it.

Jul 11, Cornell Cinema (Willard Straight), Ithaca, NY
Why is Victor Erice's El sol del membrillo, aka Dream of Light, aka The Quince Tree Sun, still unavailable on any home format? The film has more titles than it has available means of exhibition. I didn't know it was such a rare and precious treat when I bought my ticket; I simply thought the calendar description sounded enticing, and boy was I right.

Jul 21, Cornell Cinema (Willard Straight), Ithaca, NY
Boys Don't Cry again, and what a profound difference the change in audience makes. No longer cloistered among the reverential, humbled, palpably sympathetic audience of San Francisco, I watch the film with a heavy contingent of summer-schooling adolescents, whose self-conscious status as "gifted and talented" has not equipped them with the maturity or wisdom to receive a film and a life story that they obviously receive as strange and bewildering. So they laugh, loud and often, even after my demands that they hush, and even during the rape. It took me years to grant this audience the alibi of their youth and their nerves. I wonder now if the transgender narrative would confound these students so tremendously, and prompt such heartless and skittish disavowals, in the form of josh and jest. At the time, I stormed home angry, and then literally fell on the bed, crying, at roaring volume, for at least a half-hour.

Aug 20, 23, 28, Cornell Cinema (Willard Straight), Ithaca, NY
Cornell's valorous attempts to reign in a new crop of loyal audience members at the outset of each academic year means programming some big-gun spectacles, sometimes literally. In 2000, this tactical onslaught of masterpieces led to my first screenings of Seven Samurai, which my partner and I frankly disliked, and of Breathless and The Battleship Potemkin, which we loved as much as the rest of the world does. "New York Herald Tribune," people!

Sep 12, Hoyts Pyramid Mall 10, Lansing, NY
Tarsem's The Cell was the first movie I ever paid to see four times in the theater, even though, yet again, I waited till the last week of its commercial run to finally catch up with it. That first viewing was pretty unimprovable. The town was being battered by a high-intensity thunderstorm while I watched it; you could hear the stentorian claps and the dull roar of rain like a submerged soundtrack throughout the movie. Then, at the precise moment that one of D'Onofrio's monstrous alter egos is wheeling Vince Vaughn's entrails onto a spit, the room exploded with a noise and went pitch black. It turned out the theater had been struck by lightning, but none of the six of us in the theater, all of us attending alone, knew that. As we slowly started calling out to each other, several of us professed, "Do you think this is part of the movie?" We were wrong, but The Cell was demented and rococo enough to lend credence or at least plausibility to our shivery, paranoid surmise. We actually moved to sit nearer to one another in the dark, waiting for the lights and the film to come back on—talking without being able to see each other's faces, which we wouldn't have recognized anyway. Seven or eight minutes passed before the coiling of the intestines resumed apace. I can only assume that Tarsem would have relished all of this.

Oct 5, Loews Lincoln Square, New York, NY
The Exorcist, re-released to theaters in advance of a new DVD pressing, with cut scenes restored. This means: the arched-back spiderwalk down the stairs. So terrifying I almost retch. Lots of people in the cinema hoot with ironic distance, but the movie has got me and my friend well in its clenches, despite the fact that I've seen the film once before and read the novel twice (once in high school with a chopping knife on my nightstand, just in case... in case of what, exactly?).

Oct 12, Cinemapolis, Ithaca, NY
When I first saw Dancer in the Dark, as Selma plunged down to her hooded death, someone in the front row of the small, 150-seat theater wearily exclaimed, "FINALLY!" and was greeted with an entire phalanx not just of shushes, but of, I don't know, spitting-cobra admonishments. "What is WRONG with you??" somebody shouted. Other people cried so voluminously that their snuffling was audible. Someone threw his popcorn on the floor on his way out, huffing. Quite a response. I saw it again in November, and then two months later in January, in Paris, to a rapt audience of ticket-buyers with assigned seats: my first experience of movies being treated like real Art by a general public. (My partner was teaching the French equivalent of an eighth- or ninth-grade class that year in Lyon, and I remember him telling me about his students spontaneously debating the merits of Dancer and Yi Yi.) The movie has never stopped marking key moments in my life. A year later, I was teaching it in a course I designed around Greek tragedies and modern equivalents. I watched the movie with my students on the evening of September 10, 2001, and despite the events of the next day and my explicit instructions to stay away from the movie if they needed to, every single one of them showed up for the second screening on September 12, 2001. "What better time to have to confront this material?" one of them said. I was so proud.

Oct 14, Hoyts Triphammer Mall 4, Ithaca, NY
I "got" the auteur theory when I went to see Robert Altman's Dr. T & the Women, a film that not only elevated its mediocre narrative with its inspired lightness of execution (zooms, pans, fizzy performances, brief cutaways among multiple plot strands), but which managed to evoke much greater Altman pictures in a way that further dignified this one. Though I must say, I still find Dr. T an easy and enjoyable sit. I was perplexed then why I was virtually alone in the cinema, and I still think the movie, however obviously far from heaven, still deserves better than being perpetually crowded into some kind of parenthetical or subordinate clause in which acolytes of Altman try to sweep some of his "minor" pictures under the rug of his deservedly vaunted reputation.

Oct 24, Cornell University Film Forum, Ithaca, NY
I still don't attend celluloid projections of experimental film nearly as often as I should, but Mike Hoolboom's Panic Bodies was such an unusual, memorable, and affecting experience, not least because of the piece's confrontation with questions of sexuality and disease, that you'd think I'd take more initiative to seek out these kinds of opportunities. A mission for the next decade!

Oct 27, Hoyts Pyramid Mall 10, Lansing, NY
Every year has its letdowns, but was I absolutely alone in being so excited for Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2? I showed up about 45 minutes early to the first screening, which barely had a dozen people in it by the time the previews started. After the movie was over you could see why, but naïvely or not, I just felt so crushed: not just because the movie was bad, but because it so explicitly rejected or vandalized everything that was remotely special about the first one. For that reason, an even more bitter experience than The Legend of Bagger Vance, which I saw at a free preview four nights later. I checked my watch so often at that one that the person next to me asked me to stop. Much to my chagrin, but even more to the chagrin of most people who read it, my write-up of Bagger Vance remains by far the most visited review on this site.

Nov 4, Cornell Cinema (Willard Straight), Ithaca, NY
Experiences like those make the sublime encounters with new masterpieces all the sweeter, so no wonder I relished Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai so much that I practically floated out of the theater, like a hip-hop carrier pigeon. I still love this one, and yet it's another title I had skipped during its commercial release. I only and rather capriciously caught it during a three-night revival at the campus cinema, so it was a pretty crucial experience in making me a more ecumenical ticket-buyer during the initial runs of a wider swath of movies, and in convincing me that I'm far less talented than I used to think I was at guessing in advance what I will or won't like.

Nov 9, Hoyts Triphammer Mall 4, Ithaca, NY
I recently told the story of the infuriating circumstances under which I trudged to an out-of-the-way theater, a deliberately out-of-the-way theater, in order to see Spike Lee's Bamboozled. That retrospective piece, as well as the review I wrote at the time, makes clear how important I think that film remains and how attached to it I still feel, despite its manifest and often grating flaws.

Nov 10, Cornell Cinema (Willard Straight), Ithaca, NY
But speaking of flaws, I learn just as much from my own as from those in the movies I watch, and I wonder if I was ever as wrong about a movie as I was 24 hours later, when I sourly rejected Claire Denis's Beau travail, and wrote a now-embarrassing pan from the rigid, blinkered standpoint of wanting the film to be more loyal to the obvious intertext of Herman Melville's Billy Budd. I published a retraction a little while later and have not yet made good on my promise to articulate not just the admiration but the love I now have for this movie. As we keep moving up the already-high echelons of my Favorite Films feature, I'll eventually seize the opportunity to sing the praises of this jewel-toned, brilliantly choreographed, intricately layered achievement. Shame on me, but thank goodness for a publishing platform that allows one to emend (and admit!) one's mistakes.

Dec 8, Cornell Cinema (Uris), Ithaca, NY
Sustaining the pattern by which I spent the early years of the 00s only barely catching films in second-run that I had obtusely avoided upon their debuts, for reasons that would no longer hold any water with me. Anyone who even half-follows this site has surely heard me blaring my adoration of Peyton Reed's Bring It On, particularly here and here. A definitive nail in the coffin of any suspicions I once harbored that a 100% "pop" movie can't hold its own, and more, alongside more ostentatiously "prestige" fare.

Dec 16, City Cinemas Village East, New York, NY
Still, I'm glad that I virtually ended the year with an opening-night screening in a theater I had never attended, of a movie that I would literally have kicked myself for missing, if I'd only discovered it years later on DVD. The movie was You Can Count on Me, important to me in part because its aesthetic modesty nonetheless encompassed a remarkably focused, controlled, concisely written, and judiciously edited story, the equal of which any novelist would be proud to achieve at twice the length; but equally important to me because I just loved it on sight, in that way that makes you want to hug the screen. And this despite my previous indifference to Laura Linney, who to me was the boring blonde who kept popping up in bland roles in stuff like Congo and Primal Fear without finding a way to do much with them. I expected her to fade away like a Kim Greist or a Rebecca De Mornay or a Gretchen Mol or a Monica Potter, one of those blondes that come and go perpetually in Hollywood movies. How wrong I was, though at least I was right that Mark Ruffalo would remain a highly watchable fixture through the ensuing decade, even if he hasn't been granted quite the opportunities that I'd have hoped after this film-acting debut (still one of the four or five most electrifying I saw during the last ten years). I loved You Can Count on Me then, and I love it now, in part because the eponymous phrase is what I hear the cinema whispering to me, every time I sidle up to the ticket window, step into a lobby, and sink into a seat.

Key VHS/DVD Encounters from 2000 (Chronological):
The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, The Battle of Algiers, The Gospel According to St. Matthew, Shanghai Express, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Shame (review), Night of the Living Dead (review), The Great Train Robbery, Postcards from the Edge (review), Cabaret, Swept Away (review), Smiles of a Summer Night, The Magnificent Ambersons, The Conversation, Chungking Express, Do the Right Thing, Dog Day Afternoon, 42nd Street, Possessed (review), The Earrings of Madame de..., Notorious, Letter from an Unknown Woman, Gates of Heaven, Brother's Keeper (review), Carrie, and Daughters of the Dust. I look at this list and practically start to weep.



Blogger Ed Howard said...

Whoa, do you live (or lived?) in Ithaca? I didn't know that. When I was going to Cornell, I loved the local cinema scene — going to see films on campus was what first awakened my love of cinema. I saw Vertigo in Uris and totally didn't get it but was provoked and intrigued anyway. I saw Gerry in Willard Straight and was blown away. I saw some of Warren Sonbert's avant-garde shorts and my eyes were opened to how strange and exciting film could be. For a couple of years while up there, I wrote a column about Cornell Cinema for the Daily Sun and was exposed to all sorts of great and unusual films as a result. Living in Ithaca and going to the movies there really was the start of my love of film.

7:26 AM, December 01, 2009  
Blogger Joe Reid said...

Nick, sometimes I am very easy to please, and if you'd done nothing else in this post but write that lovely paragraph about You Can Count on Me (to which I happily cosign everything but for my guilty-pleasure glee at Linney's Primal Fear tirades), I'd have been happy. Of course, then there was everything else. That story about The Cell is pretty amazing.

Every once in a while, I regret not having kept a film diary. Not just my opinions on the movies (the blog accomplishes that well enough), but the theaters and experiences and related bric-a-brac. Maybe that's a new-decade resolution to make. I'm assuming that's what you've done -- kept notes on the wheres and whens of your movie-watching. Otherwise, I cower in fear of your recall ability.

8:16 AM, December 01, 2009  
Blogger Catherine said...

How did you manage that?! Like Joe, I am awed and inspired to keep my own film diary for the upcoming '10s. I already keep a regular (well, not as 'regular' as I'd like) journal, but that'd be an interesting companion.

Have you been charting every movie you've seen since you were a kid? Or is that 3,237 number retrospectively calculated? Either way, impressive.

(Oh, and fair fucks to you for making it to that graduate seminar!)

10:23 AM, December 01, 2009  
Anonymous Ian said...

This was so fun to read! More, please...

And did you still have to turn in that term paper six days later? Sheesh.

12:23 PM, December 01, 2009  
Blogger Colin Low said...

You don't know how much I treasure your admission that 70% of the movies you've seen, you've seen for the first time only in the past ten years. For a late bloomer like me, trying to catch up with the seemingly encyclopaedic knowledge of the cinephiles I encounter online is a daunting task, especially when so often it seems like they'd committed their entire childhoods to swallowing up the canon. I daresay that more than 95% of the movies I've seen, I've seen in the past five years. My cinephilia first took root in late 2004, when I caught Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind on tape and first realised that cinematic masterpieces were possible in my lifetime (and that you could end a movie on a conversation, and that such a conversation that ran two minutes tops could sum up a whole romantic philosophy, etc). Oscar-philia followed a year after, when I followed the tiny buzz around this indie movie about gay cowboys through its "unexpected" Golden Bear win to fruition on Oscar night. The culmination of those two strands was finding this blogosphere of movie lovers, and finding canons that I was actually interested to explore further.

Your post also made me reconsider what I've been missing, after you evoked the textures of experiencing the cinema so vividly. At least here in Singapore, I come from a generation of youths who catch far more movies at home than in the theatres, thanks to a blockbuster culture, poor marketing and distribution for lesser-known films, untrustworthy "critics", age ratings, and censorship -- all of which keep us from attending quality fare if/when they make it on the big screen here. Oh, what I would give if one of my DVD forays this year -- a truly life-changing experience, and now possibly my all-time greatest film -- could be played on the big screen. Hint: I was thrilled when I noticed that the film was mentioned in your post.

(P.S. I would love to hear more of what you thought about Cabaret, since you've never really mentioned anything about it. Would you deem it a truly "queer" film?)

12:43 PM, December 01, 2009  
Blogger Colin Low said...

I might cheekily add that everyone wins when you write looong posts like these. Suddenly all the commenters start crawling out of the woodwork =)

... in all seriousness, it must take substantial time and effort to write stuff like this, so many thanks to you for doing it. I'm sure the others would agree.

12:47 PM, December 01, 2009  
Blogger Catherine said...

Oh, Colin, I totally, totally agree! I just went and reread this entire post, and not only has it inspired me to keep more detailed and accurate records of when and where I viewed things, and my mood at the time, and the atmosphere in the cinema, and the comments I overheard while there, etc, but also reminded me of the many transcendent moments I have already experienced in theatres over this last decade. If pressed, I might admit that books are still my main passion, but there's something wonderfully communal about cinema that is lacking when you read a novel. Another reason to see classic films on the big screen rather than watching them on dvd at home - aside from superior sound quality and projection, etc - is the unique thrill of experiencing them with an audience. I had the pleasure to attend a few Bette Davis films in the Irish Film Institute two summers ago, during a festival celebrating the centennial of her birth and it was such a pleasure to be in a room full of people weeping at Now, Voyager and gasping collectively during The Letter.

I've read about your experience of the two different Boys Don't Cry audiences before, but it still gives me chills. Oh, and I love the person who yelled "What is WRONG with you?" at the Dancer in the Dark heckler.

A few of my stand out (for better or worse) memories from the past decade of cinema-going:

- The entire (packed out) audience rising for a standing ovation at the end of The Return of the King, on opening night
- Jake Overload 2005: going with a bunch of friends to see Jarhead and Brokeback Mountain back-to-back, right when Gyllenhaal was becoming a force to be reckoned with (I kind of miss him, even though he's around)
- Taking my sister to see Double Indemnity, a film I've cherished for years but was worried she wouldn't like, for some vague reason. She loved it (duh!).
- Staying in my seat ten minutes after Wall-E had finished, head in hands, s-o-b-b-i-n-g like Julianne Moore never sobbed, with all the cinema lights turned on and the cleaning staff waiting for me to get the hell out. I was utterly incapable of moving.
- I inadvertently ended up at an opening night 9pm screening of Twilight with my best friend, both of us dreading what we assumed would be widespread swooning at Edward Cullen, and instead experiencing the entire audience roundly mocking the film from start to finished. As one, they laughed hysterically, commented aloud on the wooden acting, booed, etc. I usually can't tolerate audience noise, but I made an exception for that!
- Going to see The Village - a film which, although clearly rubbish, scared the bejeezus out of me in the cinema - and only realising halfway through that Bryce Dallas Howard's character was supposed to be blind. "Wait, she can't see?!?" I whispered, much to the amusement and bafflement of my friends. (What can I say? I was unobservant that day!)
- Oh, this decade marked the first time I went to the cinema...alone (dun dun dunnnn!). It's such Not A Deal anymore, but in secondary school there was this odd social stigma about doing anything by yourself, not least going to the pictures. But I finally worked up the courage to say "One ticket, please" and went to see I Heart Huckabees by myself one Sunday afternoon back in 2004. I was 14 and ever since then, I'd say a good 70% of the time I go to the cinema it's by myself.

I can think of more, but I'll stop now for fear of totally hijacking your post with my own memories. I'm hoping other commenters might pitch in with theirs. More comments! More entries! More cinema! /collapses.

2:21 PM, December 01, 2009  
Blogger adelutza said...

It's interesting how everybody remembers the first time they went by themselves at the movies. I do too, and I mark that day as the day I became a true cinephile.

This was a great post, very much different that the stuff you read in the other movie blogs. Well done!

6:21 PM, December 01, 2009  
Blogger Dame James said...

Like a couple of other commenters, you've now inspired me to keep a diary of all my cinematic experiences. I know I'll always remember the really strange and/or fun times, but it would be great to relive the minor ones as well.

My craziest memory: Last summer, my car broke down and I had to wait around for hours for my dad to come get me and try and figure out what was wrong with it. Finally we ended up getting it towed to a repair shop. When I got home, I had a film that needed to be watched before its due date. The film? Godard's Week End. I swear to God, I nearly puked during that long take where the couple floats in and out of traffic to the symphony of car horns and French curse words. To this day, I don't know if my mental state helped or hindered the film. I loved the beginning but I was in NO mood for the political monologues that day.

7:57 PM, December 01, 2009  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Ed: How fun to have this connection. Not only was I there, but we must have overlapped: I worked on my Ph.D. in English and Film & Video at Cornell from 1999-2005. You'll be seeing a lot more Cornell Cinema, Cinemapolis, Fall Creek, and Pyramid Mall as this series continues.

@Joe: I used to keep a personal diary and intersperse the titles, dates, venues, and viewing companions of the movies I saw. Gradually, I ditched the personal entries and just kept the movie log! I trust myself to remember my life better than remembering the cinema visits, though now that I'm just a bit older, I can see that I was quite cavalier about how well my long-term memory would actually hold up.

@Catherine: Thanks! I was told by a 6th-grade teacher that I would never be sorry to have a maintained list of all the books I'd read, so I began keeping one back then, and a movie list, too. Who knows how I was "watching" movies before then, so I only counted them if I was really paying attention, felt like I understood what I was watching (Lawrence of Arabia in 7th grade didn't really pan out for me), and if I saw the movie unedited and uninterrupted by commercials. So, that's how far back the log goes. I will do anything for an excuse to make an Excel file, but this was back in the day, so the log has seen many iterations, including good ol' bound journals.

@Ian: I allowed myself two extra days beyond the six, as I recall, but yes, I did have to hand it in. I got it back a couple weeks later, with an A. The next time I saw that instructor, a couple months later, he asked me how my work was coming on that seminar paper I owed him, so I don't even know what to say about that. Glad you enjoyed the entry, though. Stay tuned for '01!

@Colin: Oh, no bones about it, I think everyone who cares about movies (or about anything) is even more self-conscious about what they haven't experienced and feel that they should have than people who are casual or indifferent. The math tells me that I see an average of 200 new movies every year in one form or another, and that's not even taking into account what a committed re-watcher I often am. And STILL my mind reels at everything I want to have seen by now and haven't, and how much I wish I could revisit certain movies to verify my own impressions. I'm so glad that you appreciate these entries, and I'll be eager to hear more about your new pet movie.... and I hope everyone has been clicking over to read Colin's extraordinary reviews.

@Catherine, encore: Thanks so much for sharing these!! I, too, hope that other people chime in with comparable tales.

@Adelutza: With absolutely no disrespect intended to anyone I have ever attended a movie, I kind of prefer to see movies alone. Although that's less true than it once was. During my years of really diving in, I really treasured the experience of forming my own impressions and debating them internally, and feeling really freed of any influence or accountability to my companions' impressions. Now, I can kind of go either way, and there are clearly people who help me experience the movies more deeply by going with them and talking afterward.

I have to add, I'm a pretty extroverted person, but in college I made an early pact with myself to go alone to a movie every Friday afternoon somewhere in the city. Sometimes, I stayed for two or even three in a row, but I don't remember anyone coming with me almost any of those times. I treasured this time. The same way you like enjoying big groups of friends with your partner, but you also really want your own private, intimate time, that's exactly how I feel about going to the movies by myself. I am actually unable to understand why so many people have such a hard time going by themselves. It's one of the great, great pleasures of my very pleasurable life!

8:14 PM, December 01, 2009  
Blogger NATHANIEL R said...

this is so great. linking up as soon as i can get to it.

i wish i had kept this sort of journal. I used to save all cinema tickets but even that i gave up once moving to new york 11 years ago.

and i love that you ended the year with YOU CAN COUNT ON ME and love what you have to say about it. Isn't it so neat when real life accidentally hands us these narratives that are "remarkably focused, controlled, concisely written, and judiciously edited" themselves.

MORE of these please!

8:14 PM, December 01, 2009  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@DJH: Hilarious. I remember going to the movies with a friend one night in college who was really agonizing over whether or not to break up with a guy named Peter; she'd been tying herself in knots for several days, and it's all we talked about on the way to the theater. The movie was Mrs. Dalloway, in which Clarissa promptly begins worrying that she's messed up her life by marrying Richard Dalloway instead of Peter Walsh, who is obviously still pining for her on the day he drops in to visit, from India. My poor friend: she looked rather undone, but also had the sense of humor to laugh about it.

8:17 PM, December 01, 2009  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Nathaniel: Yay, it's a hit! So glad, you're enjoying. Don't worry, you won't have to wait long for the Greatest Hits of 2001.

8:37 PM, December 01, 2009  
Blogger Dr. S said...

Because I'm self-centered like that, I hope that when you get to 2003 I'll get to see our heroic venture to see not one but two deeply bleak films on a subzero January evening, back when one of CU's doctors had me coming in every Friday morning during Winter Break so that she could check my swollen lymph nodes and see if I actually had mono. You know that on my last visit, she actually said to me, "I'm going to miss talking about movies with you." Unless I'm mistaken, it was during my "convalescence" that January--when I sincerely tried to go on bedrest, as the doctor had instructed me even though very little at all unusual was showing up on my bloodwork--that I watched Persona and several other movies I borrowed from you. Probably all right in a row.

Those were good times. Especially since I didn't have mono after all.

11:17 PM, December 01, 2009  
Blogger Dr. S said...

Also: oh. holy. Jesus. You rushed back for that seminar?

Am biting tongue. Ow.

11:19 PM, December 01, 2009  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Dr S.: That entry is already underway, and you have the starring role exactly where you think you do. And yes, that seminar. You crack me up! xo.

11:54 PM, December 01, 2009  
Blogger CCW said...

I just watched Holy Smoke! for the second time and have to say it's the Campion film that I'm least enamored of. The whole Ruth/P.J. relationship just rang completely false for me, as well as the depiction of Ruth's family. And to give the wonderful Pam Grier only four scenes was criminal!

9:52 PM, December 09, 2009  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

I have to agree with a lot of that, CCW, but Kate dancing with the emus, or the entire "Holly Holy" intro, and the suffering mother and spazzy sister-in-law, and a whole lot else in the movie still make it a jazzy exercise for me. I'm scared to watch it again: the dip in satisfaction from first viewing to second was larger than I had predicted, and the weather forecast at this point calls for even more reservations. But I do love Campion's eye, and I like that you feel how much happier she is making her wackadoo passion-projects than her more polished critical hits.

1:25 AM, December 10, 2009  
Blogger CCW said...

@Nick: Yes, I'd take any Campion film over almost any other movie any day. I'd put Holy Smoke! in the category of Campion's films that I admire instead of really love (when I say this, I kinda feel like Fanny reacting to Keats' Endymion). Sweetie and The Portrait of a Lady are the two others I respect but don't love. Two Friends, Bright Star, In the Cut and The Piano are the ones I really respond passionately to. My heart's been sinking a little lately as I read more and more praise (and awards) heaped on An Education (yuck) and Mulligan's performance (appealing actress-vapid, unbelievable character), and almost zilch for Bright Star and Cornish.

5:10 PM, December 10, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is not ONE SINGLE THING uncool about loving "Last Chance Harvey." The film seemed to slip under everyone's radar in 2009 for reasons unknown to me. This is Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman at their best, in my opinion, in an uncommonly non-schmaltzy and insightful romantic comedy. Emma should have garnered a nomination for that uncomfortable blind date scene alone, where her face goes through this amazing range of emotions.

11:02 AM, January 15, 2010  
Anonymous Deb Van said...

I haven't seen "Last Chance Harvey", but didn't realize Dustin Hoffman was still making movies. What a great actor! Loved him in Pappilon. Well, now I've got a reason to go to Blockbuster!

6:32 PM, December 10, 2010  

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