A resolution to catch at least one film a week at the cinema meant that I managed to see far more new releases in 2012 than I have done in previous years. It also left me more out of pocket than ever before. While I’m happy to have succeeded at this resolution it proved to be costly and often frustrating. Cinema tickets have been overpriced for a while now but it is probably the first time I’ve become fully aware of just how time consuming and expensive a hobby filmgoing has become. As a result the duds hurt just that little bit more than they used to. Still there was certainly plenty of rewarding activity going on in the world of cinema to make it all seem worthwhile. Here are my personal highlights of the year:
- Leeds International
Film Festival (01/11/12 - 18/11/12). My film
festival pass was great value. It allowed me
to see several classics on the big screen (Persona, The
Shining, 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Passion of Joan of
UK premieres, retrospectives, plenty of oddities and curios and more
than half of the
films that made up my top 10 of the year. I shall post my top 10 on here at some point in the next week or so.
Centenary of Cottage Road Cinema (1912-2012)
- 'Torn Music' by Gergely Hubai - an excellent book on rejected film
- Film Discovery of the Year: A Nest of
Gentlefolk (1969, Andrei Konchalovsky)
- Sight and Sound's once-a-decade 'Greatest
Films of All Time' poll was published in August. It always provokes
some lively discussion and this was no exception with Citizen Kane
finally being knocked off the top spot by Vertigo. Although Vertigo
is not one of my favourite Hitchcock films I've always admired it and
find it gets better with every viewing. As much as I love Citizen
Kane it's nice for there to be a change in first place. If nothing
else it could prevent Kane seeming like too much of a dull museum
piece for scholars.
- A new expanded 2 CD edition of The Fog soundtrack by John Carpenter from Silva Screen Records. Disc one contains the 2000 remixed soundtrack album and disc two has the original 1980 score cues. I hope they have something similar planned for Escape from New York.
- Two highly rare early films by Tobe Hooper -
The Heisters (1963) and Eggshells (1969) - got shown
online on mubi.com.
- John Kenneth Muir's in-depth review
of Prometheus in June.
- UK DVD releases of two superb and
underappreciated Rainer Werner Fassbinder films - I Only Want You to
Love Me and Despair - both courtesy of Park Circus.
stand corrected: In last year's round-up I guessed that, after all its
troubles, 2011's compromised theatrical cut of Kenneth Lonergan's Margaret
would be the final version. Thankfully a longer 3 hour cut did surface
on DVD in July.
- Best filmgoing experience: Roll Out the
Barrel: The British Pub on Film at Hyde Park Picturehouse, with a
pint of Kirkstall Pale Ale to accompany the screening (14/08/12).
Re-release of the year: Lawrence of Arabia (50th anniversary)
Screening of Tod Browning's Dracula at Birmingham Symphony Hall
with Philip Glass and the Kronos Quartet performing the live score
On a related note, the Non-Event of the Year was a screening of Dark Star...with
live musical accompaniment? I've never had much luck seeing John
Carpenter's films on the big screen. Despite being one of my favourite
filmmakers I've only managed to see The Ward at the cinema, and I
keep trying to forget that one exists in his filmography. This year I
managed to miss late night showings of Halloween, The Thing
and They Live. I was enthusiastic about seeing a screening of
his debut feature in August until I learned that Carpenter's early synth
score and the country tune 'Benson, Arizona' would be removed from the
film to be replaced by a live score from Animat. Heresy. I've also heard
of similar kinds of screenings for The
Last Man on
Earth and Carnival of Souls (removing Gene Moore's eerie
organ score, which is integral to the film!). I think this kind of thing
works very well for silent pictures but films from the sound era with
perfectly good scores are perhaps best left alone in this context.
As for Dracula, a primitive and at times stagy early sound picture, it was arguably a more worthwhile undertaking than those mentioned above. I'm not a fan of the Glass score as I feel it detracts from the
power of Bela Lugosi's performance and the incredible imagery. Many of
the film's most effective moments are nearly silent in the original
version anyway, but seeing Lugosi in his career defining role on the big
screen, in a symphony hall no less, is really quite something.