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Best First-Time Viewings of 2021


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Here are my favorites among the older films (pre-2000) that I watched for the first time in 2021. Please feel free to add your own.

M%C3%A4dchen_in_Uniform_(video_cover_-_1

1)  Madchen in Uniform  (1931)  -  German melodrama about a new student (Hertha Thiele) at an exclusive all-girls school who falls in love with one of her teachers (Dorothea Wieck). The performances are terrific, and the filmmaking is exquisite, with notable editing and camera work. Understandably controversial on first release.  (9/10)

Chungking_Express.jpg

2)  Chungking Express  (1994)  -  Director Wong Kar-Wai's romantic tale, told in two parts, about two couple (Takeshi Kaneshiro & Brigitte Lin, and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai & Faye Wong) who find unlikely love during their days working in a busy train station. Told in Wong's signature dreamy style, this film is well deserved of its classic status.

330px-Born_to_Kill_(1946_poster).jpg

3)  Born to Kill  (1947)  -  I finally got around to this crime drama with Claire Trevor as a scheming woman who manipulates a psychotic killer (Lawrence Tierney playing to type). I knew that this was considered one of Tierney's signature roles, but I was more blown away by Trevor, giving one her best performances. 

Bluevidcov.jpg

4)  Three Colors: Blue  (1993)  -  25 years after seeing Three Colors: Red, I finally got around to seeing the companion films Blue and White. I didn't think much of the latter, but Blue is a powerful drama, examining one woman's grief following a horrific accident. Juliette Binoche gives one of her best performances here.

ethnicnotions.jpg?m=1552252697&itok=Dx1R

5)  Ethnic Notions  (1986)  -  Documentary examination of the depiction of black people in American entertainment and advertising during the 20th century. While I was aware of much of this already thanks to other films and books on the subject, this lauded early expose on some of the more regrettable aspects of early American culture is just as incendiary as it was 35 years ago.

315px-Poster_by_Burton_Rice_for_the_film

6)  Shoes  (1916)  -  Moving silent drama from writer-director Lois Weber about a put-upon young woman (Mary MacLaren) forced to support her parents and siblings. This proto-feminist tale features filmmaking and storytelling advanced well beyond that of its contemporaries. 

TheSeventhCurse.jpg

7)  The Seventh Curse  (1986)  -  Totally bananas horror/fantasy/action/comedy from Hong Kong featuring an early performance by future star Chow Yun-Fat. It's hard to describe this one-of-a-kind mash-up of dozens of genre tropes, and the lurching tonal shifts can give an unwary viewer whiplash, but I loved it.

NecoZAlenky.jpg

8]  Alice  (1988)  -  Another strange one: a blend of stop-motion animation and live action, retelling the Alice in Wonderland story, sort of. This Czech film had a large influence on a lot of the visual style of things (music videos, other animated films and horror cinema) over the next decade.

That's all of the pre-2000 films that I gave an 8/10 or higher rating to that were first-time watches for me in 2021. Here's to more discoveries in the coming year.

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August Rush, which was a very good film, different Robin Williams performance

Spike Lee's "Get on the Bus", The Country Girl, Brother's Rico, The Narrow Margin (1952), The Verdict, The Man with a Cloak, Night Song, All Mine to Give, which I avoided for years because I was a fan of Cameron Mitchell or Glynnis John, my bad, heart-wrenching film worth watching.

A musical with Laurence Oliver singing, not his best, it's called The Beggar's Opera, Two Weeks in Another Town, Courage Under Fire, Valley of Descision, The Right to Live (1935), a good film, The Upside, with Kevin Hart, In the Heights, Walk a Crooked Mile, Ad Astra, Hustlers, His Kind of Woman, Violent Saturday, The Sellout, with John Hodiak, Madame X with Gladys George, The Blue Gardenia, with Anne Baxter and Richard Conte, The Painted Veil, Beast of the City,  with Walter Houston and a young Mickey Rooney - Wow, what an ending!

Greenbook, 10 out of 10 stars, Boomerang! with Dana Andrews & Arthur Kennedy, Mockery, with Lon Chaney, Sr., The Last King of Scotland, with Oscar winner Forrest Whitaker, Fatale, with Michael Ealy and Hillary Swank, suspenseful. The Post, with Meryl Streep, Blood on the Moon, with Robert Mitchum, Undercurrent, with Katherine Hepburn, Cause for Alarm with Loretta Young, Nightfall, with Aldo Ray and Anne Bancroft,  Manhunt with Walter Pidgeon, Man Wanted with Kay Francis, Gunman Walk, The Enchanted Cottage, Kidnapped, with Halle Berry, A Warm December, finally saw all of Citizen Kane in September. The Maganificent 7, with Denzel Washington, Flaxy Martin, and looking forward to 2022.

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I belong to a film discussion group.  Here are some from 2021 that I viewed for the first time and felt were very good.

The French Connection (1971).  A thrilling crime story starring Gene Hackman in one of his first movie roles.  He plays a police detective.  Many scenes were shot on location in NYC and the whole film has a gritty, real-life feel.

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King of Comedy (1982).  This film was directed by Martin Scorsese and stars Robert De Niro as Rupert Pupkin who is a failure in life but a celebrity in his own mind.  I thought De Niro's performance was brilliant.  This film is truly one of Scorsese's best and deserves more attention.

image.jpeg.81162005ec14b03b76b609b9f05fa978.jpeg

Jackie Brown (1997) directed by Quentin Tarantino.  A really entertaining crime story with a strong female lead character that I loved - Jackie Brown.

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Tampopo (1985) a Japanese film directed by Juzo Itami about a culinary "ronin" inspired to help a widow find the perfect recipe for Ramen for her noodle shop.  This is a clever satire and rather than being a "spaghetti western", it's a "ramen western".  I had never seen a film like it before.  Give it a try!  Tampopo is outside the box.

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Here's a couple I learned about on the TCM message board and really loved.

Remember the Night with Fred McMurray and Barbara Stanwyck - a touching romantic story that happens at Christmas time and involves the theme of forgiveness.

image.jpeg.8bf840c04fb426da1eedc9ad86664afe.jpeg

The Thin Man with William Powel and Myrna Loy.  Unbeatable chemistry between Powel and Loy in this crime story with witty dialogue and comedy.  Loved it.

image.jpeg.f0f16e96ffdf3b76ba2f1ff2673506c2.jpeg

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I watched Dance, Fools, Dance when it was on TCM recently. It was still 2021.  It's a crazy-a** amount of plot condensed into 79 minutes, apparently not so uncommon for '30s films, but some of them do it better than others.  I compare it to Three on a Match. Probably better it doesn't give you time to overanalyze all the plot shifts.

Dance Fools Dance lobby card.jpg

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10 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

Here are my favorites among the older films (pre-2000) that I watched for the first time in 2021. Please feel free to add your own.

M%C3%A4dchen_in_Uniform_(video_cover_-_1

1)  Madchen in Uniform  (1931)  -  German melodrama about a new student (Hertha Thiele) at an exclusive all-girls school who falls in love with one of her teachers (Dorothea Wieck). The performances are terrific, and the filmmaking is exquisite, with notable editing and camera work. Understandably controversial on first release.  (9/10)

Chungking_Express.jpg

2)  Chungking Express  (1994)  -  Director Wong Kar-Wai's romantic tale, told in two parts, about two couple (Takeshi Kaneshiro & Brigitte Lin, and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai & Faye Wong) who find unlikely love during their days working in a busy train station. Told in Wong's signature dreamy style, this film is well deserved of its classic status.

330px-Born_to_Kill_(1946_poster).jpg

3)  Born to Kill  (1947)  -  I finally got around to this crime drama with Claire Trevor as a scheming woman who manipulates a psychotic killer (Lawrence Tierney playing to type). I knew that this was considered one of Tierney's signature roles, but I was more blown away by Trevor, giving one her best performances. 

Bluevidcov.jpg

4)  Three Colors: Blue  (1993)  -  25 years after seeing Three Colors: Red, I finally got around to seeing the companion films Blue and White. I didn't think much of the latter, but Blue is a powerful drama, examining one woman's grief following a horrific accident. Juliette Binoche gives one of her best performances here.

ethnicnotions.jpg?m=1552252697&itok=Dx1R

5)  Ethnic Notions  (1986)  -  Documentary examination of the depiction of black people in American entertainment and advertising during the 20th century. While I was aware of much of this already thanks to other films and books on the subject, this lauded early expose on some of the more regrettable aspects of early American culture is just as incendiary as it was 35 years ago.

315px-Poster_by_Burton_Rice_for_the_film

6)  Shoes  (1916)  -  Moving silent drama from writer-director Lois Weber about a put-upon young woman (Mary MacLaren) forced to support her parents and siblings. This proto-feminist tale features filmmaking and storytelling advanced well beyond that of its contemporaries. 

TheSeventhCurse.jpg

7)  The Seventh Curse  (1986)  -  Totally bananas horror/fantasy/action/comedy from Hong Kong featuring an early performance by future star Chow Yun-Fat. It's hard to describe this one-of-a-kind mash-up of dozens of genre tropes, and the lurching tonal shifts can give an unwary viewer whiplash, but I loved it.

NecoZAlenky.jpg

8]  Alice  (1988)  -  Another strange one: a blend of stop-motion animation and live action, retelling the Alice in Wonderland story, sort of. This Czech film had a large influence on a lot of the visual style of things (music videos, other animated films and horror cinema) over the next decade.

That's all of the pre-2000 films that I gave an 8/10 or higher rating to that were first-time watches for me in 2021. Here's to more discoveries in the coming year.

Two Off Hand, ..far as i'm concerned subjectively Demand Attention from Quite Some Time Ago.

Both Harken from the Beautiful and Gorgeous Fay Wray. Both, Respectively Sky-Rocketed to my Favourites file for thriller/suspense, and for horror; respectively. Loved Both of 'Em.                  - The Most Dangerous Game. along with (the) Mystery of the Wax Museum.

Both. Rather Phenominal imo. Both, (subjectively)  Besting the likes of king kong.

   

 

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On 1/1/2022 at 2:51 PM, LawrenceA said:

 

330px-Born_to_Kill_(1946_poster).jpg

3)  Born to Kill  (1947)  -  I finally got around to this crime drama with Claire Trevor as a scheming woman who manipulates a psychotic killer (Lawrence Tierney playing to type). I knew that this was considered one of Tierney's signature roles, but I was more blown away by Trevor, giving one her best performances. 

Loved your list of movies.  "Born to Kill" is one of my favorite film noir crime dramas.  It's so suspenseful with a story filled with jealousy, rage, sex and murder.  This wonderful film was directed by Robert Wise - a truly versatile director who many think of as the director of "The Sound of Music" but also directed a diversity of movies including this chilling film.

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On 1/1/2022 at 12:51 PM, LawrenceA said:

Here are my favorites among the older films (pre-2000) that I watched for the first time in 2021. Please feel free to add your own.

M%C3%A4dchen_in_Uniform_(video_cover_-_1

1)  Madchen in Uniform  (1931)  -  German melodrama about a new student (Hertha Thiele) at an exclusive all-girls school who falls in love with one of her teachers (Dorothea Wieck). The performances are terrific, and the filmmaking is exquisite, with notable editing and camera work. Understandably controversial on first release.  (9/10)

Chungking_Express.jpg

2)  Chungking Express  (1994)  -  Director Wong Kar-Wai's romantic tale, told in two parts, about two couple (Takeshi Kaneshiro & Brigitte Lin, and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai & Faye Wong) who find unlikely love during their days working in a busy train station. Told in Wong's signature dreamy style, this film is well deserved of its classic status.

330px-Born_to_Kill_(1946_poster).jpg

3)  Born to Kill  (1947)  -  I finally got around to this crime drama with Claire Trevor as a scheming woman who manipulates a psychotic killer (Lawrence Tierney playing to type). I knew that this was considered one of Tierney's signature roles, but I was more blown away by Trevor, giving one her best performances. 

Bluevidcov.jpg

4)  Three Colors: Blue  (1993)  -  25 years after seeing Three Colors: Red, I finally got around to seeing the companion films Blue and White. I didn't think much of the latter, but Blue is a powerful drama, examining one woman's grief following a horrific accident. Juliette Binoche gives one of her best performances here.

ethnicnotions.jpg?m=1552252697&itok=Dx1R

 

Lawrence, I'm so glad you got to see Maedchen in Uniform, Born To Kill, and Three Colors: Blue. Blue is by far my favorite of the Three Colors films. It would be much easier for me to list my favorites of the films seen in the last year if, like you, I had kept a list of them! Maybe that should be my New Year's resolution, along with seeing Chungking Express.

I did see We're No Angels, a worthy addition to the Michael Curtiz canon. It made me wish Humphrey Bogart had made more comedies. Blast of Silence was remarkably good for a film made on such a low budget.

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Wow-first reading the OP, was impressed Lawrence saw so many new films, don't know how he finds the time! Then I scrolled past CinemaInternational's ridiculously looong post wondering just how anyone could see so many movies in 3 days? 🤷‍♂️

Oh it's 2022, not 2021 as the title mentions. It always takes me awhile to remember it's another year. 🤦‍♀️

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