Back On Track

by meghanhorvath

In the past month making films has interfered with watching them, but that for sure is nothing to complain about! After a research trip to Miami, a shoot in Copenhagen, the distractions of pre-production on a docu-drama filming in less than two weeks, and the post-production of a short documentary constructed of only social media data, it’s no wonder it’s been more than a month since my last update. 

The fun in this journey has come from finding those unexpected films – either from word of mouth, You Tube, Google searching, or, in what happens to be the case for me a lot of the time, film posters! However, the fact that I have watched 83 films of my 365 yearly goal is making me nervous enough to consider a more methodical approach which may need to be employed. And soon! 

Before I give you my latest film update I wanted to mention one unexpected encounter this week with Sergey, a Kazakh chemist, who showed me a Soviet TV series on You Tube, with English subtitles, which he has not watched once, but four times. I cannot wait to begin it myself. 

Films 69, 70, 71, 72, 73 – History of the World with Andrew Marr, episodes 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. I am watching this BBC series as part of research. And despite the occasional line of narration that makes you want to plug your ears: For instance, in reference to John Wilkes Booth, “He was about to make one last appearance and he knew the reviews were going to be mixed,” the film does give you nuggets of history that makes you want to find out more than what this sweeping history series can offer. 

74.) The Ivory Tower by Andrew Rossi – A documentary by the same director who made Inside The New York Times. An issue close to my heart – the more than 1 trillion dollars young Americans owe in student loans – and a very interesting film. Not sure when it will have distribution in the U.K. but keep an eye open for it. 

75.) 20 Feet From Stardom by Morgan Neville – The first film I watched on the plane on the way back to London. This documentary won the Oscar this year and I was curious to see what it was all about. The film is about back-up singers and they are all great characters, but the film struggled to compete cinematically with The Act Of Killing, the film it beat out for the Academy Award. 

76.) Labor Day by Jason Reitman – This film first came onto my radar when I saw its poster at the local cinema and finally got to see it when I was trapped on a plane. Kate Winslet is superb and the film is full of suspense which makes the film engrossing for its audience. 

77.) The Grand Budapest Hotel by Wes Anderson. Another film I watched on the plane from D.C. to London earlier this month. I love Wes Anderson’s vision but less so his films. To be fair I did actually doze off for about 10 minutes in the middle, only to be woken by what I think is a phenomenal soundtrack. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H22fZWySJ50)  I’d like to give this film another go when on solid ground, and reach the end of my list? 

78.) Buried in Burma directed by Mark Mannucci. I worked on this documentary film when the American director and crew shot in the UK last year. Nearly finished, this unbelievable film will hopefully reach audiences quite soon. 

79.) Boyhood by Richard Linklater. I wanted to love this film – a remarkable film achievement and I can never take my eyes off Patricia Arquette – but even though I am not someone who demands fast-paced action in a film, I did wonder what was really going to happen besides the growing up. I also find myself putting up an emotional wall when watching fictional portrayals of dysfunctional, lower middle classes American families on screen. There was nothing in this film that opened my eyes to things I hadn’t seen or heard before, both on and off screen. 

80.) The Human Face presented by John Cleese, BBC documentary from 2001. Episode 1. While researching a project about facial expressions I was led to this documentary which you can find on You Tube. It’s dated (Elizabeth Hurley has a cameo as a scientist) but still interesting. 

81.) Populaire directed by Régis Roinsard. I found this film by its trailer on You Tube and it now happily lives on Netflix. Set in late 1950s France, the film is light and entertaining even though I didn’t entirely understand the motivations of the main male character. But the costumes and sets are to die for. 

82.) Monty Python Live! – You might call my childhood disadvantaged for its lack of Monty Python and it’s one thing that I’ve been struggling to set straight in my adult life, and an almost-British adult at that. I know this isn’t a film per se, but since I didn’t score tickets to the live event at the O2 I did dutifully sit for 3.5 hours in a Picturehouse cinema the next day to watch the proceedings. A lot of fun despite being distracted by images of what the call sheet for that production must have looked like. Not to mention the budget! Those poor producers are probably still in recovery mode, hopefully on a beach. 

83.) Birdmen: The Original Dream of Flight directed by Matt Sheridan. This appears to have been a TV doc which I was led to on Netflix after discussing the latest airplane disasters and my fear of flying generally. A good doc I suppose if you are into adventure sports, but it left me bored and sounding very much like a producer and/or funder when I kept asking:  Where’s The Story?!