Over the past few years now I’ve come to the realization that no matter how many movies I see, I’ll always have more to discover. Or, on the flip side- I’ll never get past the horde of suggestions and “must-see” films. Those that have swept past you can serve to undercut your film cred instantly for some. Whether viewed as cinematic homework or film archaeology and study, I’ve got some viewing to do. However, simply recalling the last few years, or even the whole of the twenty-first century so far, isn’t enough. There’s another eighty years (roughly) of film to explore! So what have I missed?
Plenty. An awfully large amount. Too many. How many movies can one person digest? I recently finished Patton Oswalt’s book “Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life from an Addiction to Film” and while I too have an addiction to viewing films, Oswalt took the concept of going to the movies to a whole new level. The comedian/author/actor meticulously planned out his fervent viewings from “Sunset Boulevard” and “Ace in the Hole” to “Casablanca” and “The Bicycle Thief” and everything inbetween. During this period of time Oswalt frequented the New Beverly Cinema ran by Sherman Torgan for thirty years before his death in 2007, Quentin Tarantino bought the legendary theater afterwards and still currently owns it. The book divulges his addiction’s highs and lows as he struggles to learn the comedy scene of late 1990’s LA while also consuming as much cinema as possible, a learning experience if you will. However nearing the book’s end he points out that while film is a wonderful experience, it should be comparable to wine. A portion of life that is to be enjoyed and beloved in a moderate sense. So, in order to curate a sense of balance in life I’ve come to the conclusion that when I can fit in a film or two to widen my breadth of film knowledge, I will.
The first admission I have to acknowledge is that I will never see every movie. That’s simply impossible. Every day another film is securing the greenlight and heading into or out of production. So what I can do is dig out the genres that I have neglected or the top essentials that most cite as being either necessary or noteworthy at the very least. There are an embarrassing amount of the classics that I haven’t gotten to yet. For while my father and I have marathon-ed the entirety of “The planet of the apes” (There are five of the original films from the 1970’s) movies over a weekend, I still have yet to see “The Godfather”. I know, I know. I’ll get to it eventually. It’s not out of any malice towards the classics mind you, it’s mostly that life takes time and sometimes you wanna see the Oscar nominations before the awards show, or that new mindless action flick just to pass a rainy day by.
Netflix makes this sense of filmic education much easier. In fact, modern technology in general makes the search and accumulation of hard to find films a thing of the past. “Kagemusha” for example, is the only film from the legendary Japanese director Akira Kurosawa that’s currently available on Netflix. A Samurai epic doused in color and action that Kurosawa was only able to create with funding help from George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola in 1980 at the age of seventy. I will be checking that film out soon, as should you- the impact Kurosawa had on the film industry is massive and a study on his works is almost obligatory for all would-be cinephiles. In fact, foreign films in general should be consumed with just as much intensity and fervor as our own motion pictures. It can be hard to get past our obsession with our own creations, but those of other nations have a perspective that you won’t find in our own art. A difference of opinion and priorities in life is important to encounter, even if only in film (Although travel is a far more immersive and immediate way to do this if you have the means).
So you may see more “old school” reviews coming from this blog in the future. As I step into the past to learn something new I suggest joining me on this voyage of sorts. See something new and challenge yourself to embrace the variety of art that is available to us all. Just remember that life is out there waiting to be experienced-don’t stay behind that screen too long! If you have any suggestions, by all means comment below and list your favorites, or simply films that you believe to be important. Thanks, and see you at the movies!