There’s nothing like two weeks of Christmas holidays to cause my productivity to come to a grinding halt. My partner and I spent much of the holidays re-watching a borrowed complete Seinfeld box set that I loved. I was disappointed in some of the audio commentaries though. Especially situated next to Matthew Wiener’s Mad Men commentaries that I’ve been happily enjoying on my new blu rays. We saw Spectre on my Mom’s birthday. I grumbled internally a bit about having to sit through an overlong, mediocre Bond picture, but found myself rather enjoying it despite a lot of middling reviews. On Christmas Eve we watched A Very Murray Christmas. It was fun and I was pleased to see Jenny Lewis singing a few songs. I tried to watch a screener of The Hateful Eight but abandoned it after 20 minutes due to the low picture quality.
Where 2015 ended with a bit of a whimper cinema-wise, my film viewing exploded to life again with my first two viewings of 2016: Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) and Nashville (1975).
Meet Me in St. Louis is the kind of Technicolor extravaganza I used to avoid like the plague. I watched it on a whim and the very charming Smith family drew me in almost immediately. This film is like candy: devastatingly sweet, and filled with a riot of color. The set pieces are magical, the songs are well placed, and Judy Garland as Esther is the perfect centerpiece. With her wide eyes and flowing auburn hair, she stands out in a landscape already littered with beauty.
Tootie (Margaret O’Brian) is so much fun and her long scene of throwing flour in the face of a mean neighbor on Halloween lovingly captures the tremulous fear and joy of going outside of yourself as a young child. Of course I’m sure none of our parents let us dress up as hobos and start a giant bon fire in the street. A film like Meet me in St. Louis is meant to be nothing more then distracting and life affirming. It does exactly what it’s supposed to and is quite perfect in a lot of ways.
Nashville is another film I avoided. The gigantic cast and narrative scope of Robert Altman’s 1975 opus intimidated me. Really though, it only took about 20 minutes before I settled in comfortably and began to enjoy it. It’s as true a slice of Americana as any Bob Rafelson film and so much more ambitious. One must not forget, as well, that Nashville is hysterically funny. Opal (Geraldine Chapman) as an oblivious BBC reporter is my favourite. Particularly the scene in which she wanders in a school bus yard, talking ridiculous poeticism in her tape recorder about ‘the little black children and the little white children being aboard a yellow monster’. Barbara Jean (Ronee Blakley) is the quintessential tragic artist, collapsing all over the place and unable to control her damaged mind. Then you’ve got Shelley Duval as L.A Joan, dressed as some sort of hippie alien, and making eyes at every man in town. Nashville is complex and a little abstruse at first, but so worth the effort.
Finally, coming up in 2016 we are going to have an interview with Diana Galimzyanova , the long over due Part 2 of the Videodrunk review (as well as a mini review of the films that didn’t make it to the main fest that I am seeing tonight), and lots of new film writing. I’m seriously considering purchasing the domain name for this blog to make everything more official. Maybe it could be like a real film magazine? Everything is possible!
Happy New Year dear readers.