How’s it going? Today is the first day of what is supposed to be an ever deeper lockdown for at least another 28 days. Yay! Like you, I’m so happy to continue isolating at home. So many more films I can watch with nothing to interrupt the steady flow of visuals except for this seething feeling of ineptitude. But pooh-pooh to that. If you’re here and reading this, I might as well let you know what I’ve been watching:
The sources I use to watch film are those on my shelf, Kanopy, occasionally Netflix or Prime, and if I’m really keen on seeing something I can view nowhere else but on YouTube, I’ll watch it there. The problem is that so many of the films found on YouTube are of really poor quality.
I kept track of most of the films that I watched for the majority of this past year, especially while in lockdown for five months–and still counting. Without including any that I wrote an entire post on, here they are:
I saw this film a decade or more years ago at a Toronto Film Society festival weekend. A goal had been to see all of Miss Dietrich’s films and so, before DVDs, I was excited that we were able to find and borrow this film in 16mm. Before watching it the other night, I could still remember the gist of the story, how I felt about the characters, but believed it had been long enough that I could revisit.
Something I have been doing for a number of years is adding past notes to the Toronto Film Society’s website. As recently as yesterday, I added the November 27, 1989 film buff notes for a George Formby film, It’s in the Air (1938) and the obscure Everything is Rhythm (1936). Both these films are British, and wishing I could view the latter, I remembered that friends had given me their extra copy of a disc set of “British Musicals of the 1930s, Volume 1”. Although Everything is Rhythm wasn’t included on this 2 disc set, there were four other films ranging from 1930 to 1937 to choose from. I settled on The Song You Gave me (1933), choosing it because it falls in the pre-Code range and it ironically starred American actress Bebe Daniels.
A couple of months ago, I read a book by author Daniel Keyes about a man with 23 personalities. The Minds of Billy Milligan was published in 1981 but I don’t believe its protagonist ever reached the level of fame that Eve of The Three Faces of Eve, Sybil or her psychiatrist Cornelia B. Wilbur—who incidentally also treated Billy Milligan—reached. This is possibly due to the fact that it was never made into a movie, although at one point Leonardo DiCaprio was one of the big names hoping to develop it into a film. Billy Milligan was given the choice of who would write his biography, and after reading Keyes’ Flowers for Algernon, Milligan’s choice made sense.
I have been watching a few interesting films this past week or so, starting with the 1932 film Make Me a Star. Someone I know had posted a write up on the film HEARTS OF THE WEST (1975) and in part compares its theme to the 1932 film. This reminded me that I had a copy of the earlier film and that it was as good a time as any to take a look at it.
I finally had the opportunity to attend the Pordenone Silent Film Festival! It’s been a wonderful week of silent films, something to look forward to each day. I had heard about Pordenone for many years but it just wasn’t on my radar to be able to attend; it was an event I was aiming towards when I eventually hit my retirement days. So, trying to find the silver lining during Covid times, I would say bravo to the people of Le Giornate del Cinema Muto and host Jay Weissberg for programming something special to these less than social times.
Several years ago a friend recommended that I watch Three Godfathers (1936), thinking, even though it was a Western, that I would enjoy it. For the most part, a Western has to have something different than the usual Cowboys and Indians shooting it out to hold any interest for me. I remember when I was a kid, I would sometimes watch these films on TV, and would mostly feel sorry for the horses that fell during the battle. Therefore, I was delighted that I enjoyed Three Godfathers with the unusual story-line about three murderous outlaws who end up caring more for a baby than they do for themselves.
Since we have to stay at home, and since the type of job I do is not something I can do from home, I have plenty of time to watch films if I so choose. A film that had been on the back burner of my mind was the Swedish version of A Woman’s Face [En kvinnas ansikte] (1938) directed by Gustaf Molander and one of ten films Ingrid Bergman made before being brought to Hollywood.