And just like that, Filmstruck is dead. The best tool society had developed in terms of cinephilia has faded into oblivion, taking with it 200 unwatched movies in my queue. I’ve been out of town and watching Filmstruck all week, so I don’t have any new films to comment on. Still, that won’t stop me from talking about the films I watched at home.
Unsurprisingly, the three (and a half) films I watched on the dying website were very-nearly masterpieces. I started my week with Gates of Heaven, Errol Morris’ breakthrough documentary about pet cemeteries, the evil nature of corporations, and what happens to us after we die. It’s a masterful film, and while I’m not sure it’s as great as The Thin Blue Line, it is undeniably one of the most touching, most spiritual, most American documentaries I have ever seen. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay in that good a mood for long, for I had to follow up Heaven with the impossible-to-find horror classic The Devils. And my God, was that film insane. Within minutes I could see the influences on Lars von Trier, Peter Greenaway, and Yorgos Lanthimos, and I found myself stuck in that wonderful intermediary between awestruck and disgusted. It’s certainly an extreme, honest film, I’ll give it that. After watching it, I began to fear for my immortal soul, which resulted in my viewing of The Passion of Joan of Arc. And I’m lucky I did, because Joan of Arc is one of the greatest films I have ever seen. From its stunning close-ups to its simple narrative of remaining steadfast in faith in the face of a hypocritical patriarchal regime, Joan is a revolutionary bit of filmmaking that still feels as alive today as it did in 1928. Unfortunately, these three films are all I had time for this week, and my attempts to save films for the future didn’t pan out the way I intended. Still, I did manage to get half of Tokyo Story under my belt before the film expired, and while I wouldn’t call the film “the greatest of all time” (it usually finishes in the Top Three greatest films, alongside Citizen Kane and Vertigo), it is definitely a film I would recommend, and one I wish to study forever and ever – and I may be able to, as I picked up Story alongside Joan of Arc and In the Mood For Love during the current Criterion sale. Oh, and since I mentioned Kane earlier, I should note that I have continued my Orson Welles binge from earlier in the month by viewing The Magnificent Ambersons, and while it isn’t quite as great as his other films, I am loving Welles’ distinctive, mature stylings. Welles was truly a master, you guys.
At home, it was a pretty insignificant week. I watched yet another segment of Watergate, leaving me with just one part left, and I’m still riveted by it. This is definitely going to be my best documentary of the year, so long as it brings the whole project home strong. And I also got caught up on Modern Family, which had two fairly decent episodes in a row, thanks to an interesting subplot involving Hailey’s pregnancy (spoiler alert). I also planned on Rudolph on Tuesday when it had its yearly premiere, but missed out because WOW! is a garbage carrier (#cancelWOW). Luckily, I own it on DVD, and I managed to watch my favorite little reindeer on TV once again (JK I’m much more a fan of Hermie’s sass). Like many other Americans, I found myself riveted by the NCAA championship games on Saturday, especially with how well Georgia’s defense played against Alabama (not well enough, but still: look how many fumbles got forced against the so-called #1 team in the nation). And I watched Saturday Night Live last night, which was mostly an utter disappointment led by a nearly unwatchable cold open. Still, there were a few good moments: the Ben Stiller part of the opening was the only watchable part, Leslie Jones’ monologue was great, the joke about Bill Clinton decorating the White House with leg lamps had Hillary won was solid, and I’m always down for a good Willy Wonka sketch, especially one that can make Kate McKinnon break. More sketches like this, please!
Thanks again for reading! If you have any thoughts on the films I watched this week, or have any great films you’d recommend, let me know in the comments! I’m hoping to make the next few weeks a glorious binge of reviews, predictions, and nominations, so make sure you’re following along right here. And until next time, farewell Filmstruck!