It's like a potluck, but you eat movies instead of food.
PopGap #25: Potluck Film Fest, Month Two
For the second month of my 2017 Potluck Film Festival, I've invited two new participants to select five movies each from the long list of films that I've neglected: Josh Haysom and Andrew Kendall, both of whom I know through the movie-ranking website Flickchart.
Josh has a staggering 8225 movies on his chart, with a broad appreciation for the same types of prestigious Hollywood, European and Asian cinema that tends to excite me. Most importantly, Josh and I share the same #1 movie on our charts, The Godfather, Part II, so his taste is practically impeccable. Andrew leans heavily toward visually impressive contemporary blockbusters, a type of movie that I tend to passively enjoy and quickly discard. These two participants make for an interesting clash of tastes, and with five movies each, they will run me through the gamut from silent comedy and intimate Swedish farce to visually bold and busy spectacles. My monthly wildcards, Nigel Druitt and Ty Tag, each assigned me classics from the 1960s that I haven't seen in 20 or so years.
Thoughts on February's List
- The Fall (2006) — assigned by Josh, rank: #3712/8228 (55%). I seemed to hear about The Fall five years later than everyone else. It's got quite a reputation based on its original and breathtaking production design. Subsequent releases from The Fall's director Tarsem Singh (The Immortals, Mirror, Mirror, etc.) sapped my interest in pursuing this one more vigorously. Josh's low ranking of it suggests that maybe the visuals are not supported by an equally compelling narrative.
- From Russia With Love (1963) — assigned by Nigel, rank: #406/1626 (75%). For some time I've been planning a rewatch of the entire James Bond franchise, something I haven't attempted since the early -1990s. Last February, I started with Dr. No, but have since been distracted by other priorities. My recollection is that this second installment is one of the best in the entire series.
- The Great Gatsby (2013) — assigned by Andrew, rank: #73/1072 (93%). Andrew has picked two movies by directors who are known for their distinctive visual flourishes, but whose films tend to aggravate rather than invigorate me. The first of those directors is Australian Baz Lurhmann, whose musical Moulin Rouge sits very near the absolute bottom of my flickchart. I like the cast of this Fitzgerald adaptation, I just hope Lurhmann doesn't make the movie all about his style at the expense of the substance.
- Le Cercle Rouge (1970) — assigned by Josh, rank: #181/8228 (98%). The two Jean-Pierre Melville movies that I've already watched as part of my PopGap project have been terrific —Le samouraï is the essence of French cool, and Army of Shadows has become one of my favorites. Looking forward to this movie more than any other this month.
- Lone Star (1996) — assigned by Josh, rank: #781/8228 (91%). I saw this contemporary western from prolific indie director John Sayles back when it was theatrically released. I remember liking it, but little else.
- A Man for All Seasons (1966) — assigned by Andrew, rank: #287/1071 (73%). I may very well have watched this Best Picture-winning historical drama in high school. I expect vigorous acting from famously drunk English legends.
- The Odd Couple (1968) — assigned by Ty, rank: #373/2763 (87%). I may have actually seen this movie version of Neil Simon's play multiple times during my youth. Back then, the TV series starring Tony Randall and Jack Klugman was just as present, and I may have also read the play at least once, as well as seen a live performance with women in the lead roles. This isn't exactly an unfamiliar property — apparently there's even a new TV adaption currently in the middle of its third season — but it's been long enough that this original movie deserves some reconsideration.
- Rush Hour (1998) — assigned by Andrew, rank: #330/1071 (69%). I became a big Jackie Chan fan in the early 1990s when his Hong Kong action movies began circulating around American repertory cinemas. I lost interest in Chan's work as his movies began appealing directly to U.S. audiences while watering down his thrilling stunt work. I've always been a little interested in the Rush Hour movies, easily his biggest successes away from his homeland, but Chris Tucker has kept me at bay.
- Safety Last! (1923) — assigned by Josh, rank: #88/8228 (99%). The silent comedy with the famous clock scene! I recently watched Harold Lloyd's The Freshman and found it amusing, though not near the quality of Chaplin or Keaton.
- Smiles of a Summer Night (1955) — assigned by Josh, rank: #226/8228 (97%). While I don't know if I've ever seen Ingmar Bergman's Sommarnattens leende, I did read the screenplay as a teenager and count Stephen Sondheim's stage adaptation A Little Night Music as among my favorite Broadway musicals. I know this content well and it might be surreal to watch it without the singing.
- Speed Racer (2008) — assigned by Andrew, rank: #15/1072 (99%). Just like with Baz Luhrmann, I have had an adverse reaction to every movie I've seen from The Wachowskis, even their revered and influential sci-fi hit The Matrix. I've reviewed both Cloud Atlas and Bound for this website, both negatively, but have long suspected that I might consider Speed Racer one of their least abrasive movies, so I'm eager to see if a presumably lighter touch brings the best out of their typically oppressive perspective.
- Upside Down (2012) — assigned by Andrew, rank: #41/1072 (96%). I had never heard of this movie prior to Andrew picking it for me to watch this month. I tend to be less receptive to sci-fi than most of my peers, but this one must surely fare better than the last two dreary sci-fi epics that I first learned about when they appeared on PopGap watchlists, Equilibrium and Babylon A.D.
As movies are added to this list, I'll add them to Letterboxd, here: