This is an idea I first saw on @bobfreelander‘s blog. The idea is to list your favorite films from the past year that you saw for the first time, but exclude new releases. This allows much more variety and creates a lot of great suggestions if you read many of them.
Since I tracked these films much more closely this year my list grew long. I will occasionally combine selections by theme, but there is enough for five posts. These choices are in no particular order.
Goobers! (fka Mystery Monsters) (1997)
And here comes a Charles Band that works. It’s the kind of title that really shouldn’t. The premise is silly, the production is low-rent, the acting sparse, but here there’s a brazen stick-to-itiveness and an over-the-top dedication that drives the comedy home above the mandatory tropes that must be dealt with.
If I wanted to get overly-specific I could formulate how often either Charles Band or Roger Corman produced and/or directed titles really work. My assumption is the latter has a higher success rate. However, I’m glad to have found more of Band’s movies lately and this one is absolutely ridiculous and works.
28 Up (1984)
Here is another somewhat representative choice. Prior to this year I had only seen thru 21 Up I believe. This year I await 56 Up. However, this past year I got current on the series. It’s hard to tell which of the series I enjoy most so I just selected the next in the series to be representative. It’s perhaps the most fascinating documentarian experience ever: every seven years people are interviewed and share their life and thoughts on various subjects. Clearly, there’s filtering but there’s a reflexive nature to it. As much as I adore the most recent Narnia installment this is Apted’s legacy.
Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog (2008)
Prior to The Avengers, and after having seen The Cabin in the Woods, I finally checked out this short demented film and loved it. I was not so well-versed in Joss Whedon’s work and wanted to see some more of it. It’s enjoyable and short so it should be seen if you, like me, are in the minority who have yet to see it.
The Life and Passion of Jesus (1905) and From the Manger to the Cross(1912)
Here’s one where I had to combine picks. These two films are packaged on DVD together. They’re silents that were filmed in the Holy Land and deal, as the titles indicate, with different parts of Christ’s life. It’s a pre-made double feature but a good one. Each fills in gaps the other leaves.
This is the newest selection on this list and one I regret missing towards the end of 2011. This film confirms that I’m a sucker for modernized Shakespeare adaptations and that John Logan is a kick-ass screenwriter.
No Greater Glory (1934)
There are a few interesting notes about this movie: first, it’s an adaptation of a classic Hungarian novel (Yes, a US Studio tackled it first), next it’s an overlooked Borzage war critique, and in my eyes a more effective one than A Farewell to Arms.
The Manster (1959)
Spinning off from No Greater Glory George Breakston, after his days as an actor, went on to be quite a prolific and successful B-Movie director and producer. At random I chose one of his titles the seemingly schlocky Manster and was quite impressed by it. It’s low-rent, there are downright mistakes in it, but most of the handling and the narrative is highly effective for what it’s attempting.
Only When I Dance and L’il A (2009)
I’ve written ad nauseum about how I like Film Movement’s movie club and how they pair films with shorts on their DVD. When I watched this dance doc, obviously the short was one too. They tackle different disciplines, ballet and hip hop, but are equally successful.
Island of Lost Souls (1932)
If your only prior exposure to The Island of Dr. Moreau was through the 1996 version of the film, then you can guess what my reaction to Island of Lost Souls was: I absolutely fell in love with it. Yes, having Bela Lugosi involved does buoy the film but Charles Laughton owns this film entirely and without question – truly one of the greatest performances in the genre I’ve seen.