Tuesday, January 22, 2019

2018 Movie Log in Review

2018 was an exceptionally busy year for me beyond my usual activities, so it's no shock that I didn't watch as many films this year as I have in previous years. A part-time volunteer effort became a full-time job on top of homeschooling my high schooler and keeping up with other volunteer work, but I learned a lot and am really proud of the work I did in 2018, and I know most of the classic movies will still be waiting for me when I can get back to them, even if the dearly departed FilmStruck no longer graces my Roku homescreen.

The total number of films watched for 2018 is 114, which is really not much lower than my 2017 count of 120. Hopefully I'll get those numbers back up in 2019!

Here's the full list, including repeat viewings, for 2018.

The Long Hair of Death (1964)
Brides of Dracula (1960)
Crimson Peak (2015)
The Limehouse Golem (2017)
Calamity Jane (1953)
Mrs. Miniver (1942)
My Favorite Wife (1940)
East Side, West Side (1949)

The Shape of Water (2017)
The Lady Eve (1941)
Million Dollar Mermaid (1952)
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Labyrinth (1986)
Dodge City (1939)
Singin' in the Rain (1952)
Fallen Angel (1945)
Another Man's Poison (1951)
Black Panther (2018)
A Royal Night Out (2015)
Queen of Blood (1966)
The Monster of Phantom Lake (2006)
House of Ghosts (2012)
Dance, Girl, Dance (2017)
Coco (2017)

Ball of Fire (1941)
Decoy (1946)
Easter Parade (1948)
Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Justice League (2017)
Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
Flash Gordon (1980)
The Wrong Arm of the Law (1963)
Crooked House (2017)
Ready Player One (2018)

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (2017)
Sunshine Cleaning (2008)
Double Indemnity (1944)
Easy Virtue (2008)
Isle of Dogs (2018)
Dr. Strangelove (1964)
Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Fiend without a Face (1958)
Fast and Furious (1939)

After the Thin Man (1936)

Found Footage 3D (2016)
Another Thin Man (1939)
All This and Heaven, Too (1940)
Black Panther (2018)
Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)
Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
Merry Andrew (1958)
The Wicker Man (1973)

Julia Misbehaves (1948)
Oceans 8 (2018)
Incredibles 2 (2018)
Queen Christina (1933)
Murder, She Said (1961)
The Ladykillers (1955)
Game Night (2018)

Whisky Galore! (1949)
Antman and the Wasp (2018)
Murder at the Gallop (1963)
The Time Machine (1960)
Panama Hattie (1942)
Blonde Crazy (1931)
Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018)
To All the Boys I've Loved Before (2018)
The Man in the Iron Mask (1939)

Set It Up (2018)
Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)
Lady in the Lake (1946)
Sierra Burgess is a Loser (2018)
The Kid (1921)
Smokey and the Bandit (1977)
The Oblong Box (1969)
The Breakfast Club (1985)
The Man in Grey (1943)
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)

The Set-Up (1949)
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010)
Ball of Fire (1941)
Slice (2918)
High Spirits (1988)
The House That Dripped Blood (1971)
The Comedy of Terrors (1963)

The Devil's Bride (1968)
Tension (1949)
The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964)
When Ladies Meet (1941)
HE Who Gets Slapped (1924)
Paper Moon (1973)
Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)
Auntie Mame (1958)
Lili (1953)
Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018)
White Christmas (1954)
Mamma Mia! (2008)
High Society (1956)
The Glass Slipper (1955)
Where East is East (1929)
Love, Actually (2003)

The Nutcracker (1993)
Beauty and the Beast (2017)
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017)
A Christmas Story (1983)
Ghostbusters (1984)
Ghostbusters II (1989)
Scrooged (1988)
Spider-man: Into the Spiderverse (2018)
The Christmas Chronicles (2018)
Mary Poppins Returns (2018) 

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Classic Movie Tourism: King Kong on Broadway

Some 85 years after the great ape's original screen debut, King Kong has made a triumphant return to New York City, this time as the star of his own Broadway musical. There have been plenty of sequels, reboots, revisions, and reincarnations featuring the oversized cinema gorilla, but I've never seen anything quite like this version of the familiar tale. It's an amazing marriage of puppetry and performance that brings Kong to life in a completely new way while also issuing some loving correctives to the thornier aspects of the original film.

The result is truly breathtaking, even if the songs aren't quite as memorable as one might like. I didn't come out of King Kong humming any particular tune, but I did come out with a stunned sense of awe and a weepy teenager overcome by the emotional rapport the audience develops with the incredibly sympathetic Kong. The eponymous ape moves, grunts, and breathes like a living thing, but his soulful and expressive eyes are his most impressive feature. Once you see him, you believe in him, even though the talented puppeteers working his enormous body are always in view.

The new stage production keeps the setting and some of the primary characters from the 1933 film, namely the ape himself, heroine Ann Darrow, and ambitious filmmaker Carl Denham. It eliminates the heroic love interest so that the focus stays squarely on Ann and Kong, and this Ann doesn't need a big, strong man to come and rescue her anyway. She's a brave, kind, adventurous protagonist whose version of the famous Fay Wray scream is a war cry of empowerment rather than a distress signal. The musical also eliminates the racist elements of the movie - there are no human natives on this Skull Island - and goes one better by making Ann herself black. These changes sharpen the focus of the story and breathe new life into it, making this a Kong adventure that resonates with a broad modern audience.

The human performances also make this new incarnation worth catching while the original cast is still attached. Christiani Pitts is a firebrand Ann, feisty and capable, and she gives powerful voice to songs like "Queen of New York" and "The Wonder." Eric William Morris understands the slippery line required for the selfish but seductive Carl; we have to like him enough to see why Ann goes with him in the first place, but Carl is the closest the musical comes to a villain, since he's incapable of understanding the perspectives of Ann or Kong, much less appreciating that they might have equal claims to happiness and self-determination. Lumpy, played by Erik Lochtefeld, offers an antidote to Carl with his sadly sweet affection for Ann, though I couldn't tell if it was the character or the actor or both who strongly brought James Cromwell to mind during his scenes.

As a feminist with a lifelong love of classic movies, puppetry, and musicals, I'm probably the perfect audience for a show like King Kong, but even if you're only casually interested in one or two of those categories this is a production worth seeing. It offers a fresh and thoughtful take on a story most of us think we already know, and it shows how that story can continue to change and appeal to new audiences. 85 years later, King Kong is alive and well on Broadway, and I hope that this show will enjoy all of the success that it truly deserves. It's absolutely stunning, and my entire family loved it.

Related posts:

Classic Films in Focus: KING KONG (1933)

Classic Films in Focus: MIGHTY JOE YOUNG (1949)