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January 10, 2019 / bikesbytesbites

2018 Year in Review – Movies

During the past year, I saw (or at least logged that I saw) 87 movies.  My tastes and viewing habits are somewhat eclectic. I saw films in current-run theatres; on broadcast TV; on Netflix; in festivals in commercial theatres; in revivals at museums or art-houses.  The list of films is here:  movies2018

I record a (too brief) comment on each film, and categorize films ranging in these categories

  • Wonderful; I would see it again
  • Worth seeing, but once was enough
  • Historical interest only (an old film that I finally got a chance to see)
  • No (for various reasons; I usually don’t walk out on a film, but sometimes …)

Reviewing my list, I would say that the highlights of this past year were:

  • The Jacques Becker festival I attended at Film Forum in NYC this past summer
  • The silent film festival at AFI this fall
  • New films – Notorious RBG (seeing the 2019 fiction film is on my list);  The Spy who Dumped Me; First Reformed
  • Newish films seen via meetups, including French, Italian, German, and “Bethesda Arts” (in keeping with me practicing my languages)
  • As always: pre-code films (US sound films from the years 1929-1932) before the production code went into effect.

Some of the specific films I would recommend (if you can find them; not including current US films or other films in wide distribution):

Transatlantic (1931)


There are many reasons to see Transatlantic. I actually saw it last year, at the Cinema Ritrovato festival in Bologna, Italy, where they were celebrating the all-but-forgotten director William Howard. It’s pre-code, so has adult characters and situations. This showing was co-sponsored by the DC Art Deco Society, since the ocean liner and decor are very art deco. And the story keeps your interest — it’s another version of “assorted characters trapped together in an enclosed space”, but very well done. img_2643[1]

Film Noir (Noir City DC)

I only got to see five films in this festival; the best was the Alan Ladd “This Gun for Hire”, but any film noir is worth seeing at least once. Also worth seeing/hearing is an introduction by Eddie Muller, who basically puts together Film Noir festivals that play across the US.


Silent Film Festival (AFI)

Silent films are a relatively new passion. Many of the early films (I’ve seen a few from 1917) are historical interest only for me. However, women had a much larger role in directing, producing, acting in, and otherwise contributing to silent film than they seem to have had in the film industry since. For example, I had never heard of Alice Howell, a physical comedian who was very popular in the 19-teens and twenties.  And then there


One film stood out —  The Ancient Law — German, from 1923! The plot is basically “The Jazz Singer”, but the errant Jewish son becomes a Shakespearean actor in 1850’s Austria, and not a jazz singer in 1920’s NYC.  I was very impressed by the film itself — its depiction of Jewish rites and customs (in Germany! in 1923!) as well as the live klezmer accompaniment.  The Ancient Law has just been restored.   It has also been showing in some Jewish film festivals, so that’s another opportunity to see it.


One Comment

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  1. rootchopper / Jan 10 2019 11:23 am

    See Roma. My favorite of the year.

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