Mini-Review: 56 Up

Introduction

This is a post that is a repurposing of an old-school Mini-Review Round-Up post. As stated here I am essentially done with running multi-film review posts. Each film deserves its own review. Therefore I will repost, and at times add to, old reviews periodically. Enjoy!

56 Up

56 Up (2012, First Run Features)

It’s a bit difficult to discuss 56 Up in a vacuum. Most of the reason behind that is that it is the 8th installment in a series that ought not be viewed in before the prior films. Starting on the UK’s Granada Television in 1964 the series has revisited its subject every seven years. Starting under director Paul Almond it has since been taken over by renowned director Michael Apted.

As this film touches on, it seems the initial these of the series stated first that the child at seven was a forerunner of the adult, but the more overriding theme of the initial installment was a commentary on the class society in England. I re-introduce the initial concepts because they are touched on by the subjects anew. In fact, of all prior installments this is without question the film that most fully, totally and maturely (with respect to the subjects’ comments) deals with the nature of the series both in terms of the class question and in terms of the odd life of its own that the series has developed over the years, the paradoxical attachment that some subjects have with it no matter how much they may dislike it.

As a follow-up to 49 Up, it’s quite the impressive installment. As always, it’s next to impossible to predict the changes life brings to people, but on the filmmaking end it has perhaps the best order and compartmentalization of subjects yet.

Released in the UK last year it remains to be seen if Apted and the “cast,” a few of whom come and go (look out for a surprising return here),will be back in 2019 with 63 Up, but one can only hope. If only in conception, it’s perhaps the most fascinating long-term documentary project in history. However, many of the installments are about as good as documentaries get. I may take a bit of time to see just how this one stacks up.

8/10

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Considerations for the 2013 Ingmar Bergman Lifetime Achievement Award

Originally I didn’t want to list considerations for either Entertainer of the Year Award or Neutron Star Award and the same goes for the Lifetime Achievement Award. The reasoning behind this was that these awards being for a body of work should’ve had their winners be rather apparent. However, owing to previous memory lapses, I reconsidered this philosophy.

Therefore, any and all eligible, worthy candidates for either award will be kept on this list. It will be one of the running lists that I update on a biweekly basis.

In essence, this will give those who stand out in these categories their due. For example, last year I felt remiss in not mentioning Matthew McConaughey in my explication for the Entertainer of the Year Award for 2013. In my reasoning behind Samuel L. Jackson’s win I had to talk about his year and how great it was and why Jackson’s superseded it. With this list, at year’s end I will be able to discuss each of the prospective candidates works.

Please note that unlike the Entertainer of the Year Award there are few if any set-in-stone pre-requisites. Having said that notable filmmakers or actors with works due out this year that I have not yet seen are eligible here.

Without further ado, the candidates…

Candidates

Michael Apted (Need to see the latest installment of the Up series.)
Alain Resnais (His latest is a must-see that should be added to My Radar.)
Max Von Sydow
Martin Scorsese*
Francis Ford Coppola*
Bernardo Bertolucci*
John Carpenter
Roger Corman
Terence Malick*
Oliver Stone*
Ken Burns
Woody Allen
Ridley Scott

*Would need retrospectives

Favorite Older Movies First Seen in 2012, Part 3

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.

Enjoy!

Goobers! (fka Mystery Monsters) (1997)

Mystery Monster (1997, Full Moon)

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)

28 Up (1984, Grenada Television)

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)

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (2008, Timescience Bloodclub)

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)

The Life and Passion of Jesus Christ (1905)

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.

Coriolanus (2011)

Coriolanus (2012, The Weinstein Company)

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)

No Greater Glory (1934, Columbia)

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)

The Manster (1959, Lopert Pictures)

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)

Only When i Dance (2009, Film Movement)

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)

Island of Lost Souls (1934, Paramount)

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.