Day Nineteen: The Daytrippers (March of the Movies 2023)

When you become more fond of film as an art form, you begin to gravitate towards specific actors. I have no shortage of names and faces that are appealing to me, and I often come across new titles because I search through the filmography of specific people. The Daytrippers, outside of this appealing illustrated cover, came via researching Parker Posey, whom I loved in Columbus and Josie and the Pussycats.

Another interesting factoid about this is that it was the debut feature film directed by Greg Mottola, who would later direct Superbad. Funny to consider when this and his later work have seemingly nothing in common (at least from what I remember of Superbad fifteen years ago). If not for the appealing cast and potential for insightful character interaction, I may not have even bothered.

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Day Eighteen: The Children’s Hour (1961) (March of the Movies 2023)

Back when Hollywood was younger, it seemed more relevant to be a star. Given how the sample size of credible actors was smaller, or perhaps the opportunities were less viable, earlier decades often had faces that would become household names. Aubrey Hepburn was one of those superstars of ye olden days, and viewing The Children’s Hour was partially inspired by seeing her in one of many leading roles throughout her career.

Hepburn had a sort of mythos around her, particularly due to her fast rise in the ’50s and ’60s, only to step away closer to her 40’s. And, of course, she was very, very beautiful. Talented and eye-catching, it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that many developed a passion for cinema because of her. If they were to be introduced to her through this film, I think it would be a deserving adoration.

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Day Seventeen: Destroy All Monsters (March of the Movies 2023)

Destroy All Monsters is probably one of my favorite Godzilla films in terms of the human element. That may seem like high praise, but given the state of humanistic conflict within this franchise, it’s actually like saying I prefer untoasted white bread to moldy bread. The benefit to this era of the king of the monsters is that plots can be as uproariously stupid as possible and be endearing because of it.

What that goofy nature ends up doing as a negative consequence, however, is making the kaiju scenes relatively dull. I adore the Heisei era of films from this series (1984-95) because of their scale and atmosphere. The incredible size of Godzilla and the weight to its movements. The booming score as it stomps around cities or fights other gargantuan beasts. Back before then, Godzilla was more… Power Rangers. Such is the case here.

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Day Sixteen: Secrets & Lies (1996) (March of the Movies 2023)

Whatever had afflicted me the past couple of days did nothing to me today. Not only was I wide awake for all turns, every gaze, and each word spoken by the actors onscreen, I was enthralled. Nothing would foil me in absorbing every morsel of delectable onscreen interaction.

Such was to be expected. Secrets & Lies is written and directed by Mike Leigh, whom I’ve come to regard as one of my favorite film directors. Something about the way he creates his characters and how they interact with each other buzzes the passion juices seeded in my cranium. Not every film he’s produced has been a master craft of exhilaration, yet there’s not a single picture I’ve seen from him that’s dipped below “pretty good.” And the performances! Oh, how wondrous.

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Day Fifteen: A Scanner Darkly (March of the Movies 2023)

I had a very strange reaction to this film. Upon returning home from work, I turned on the available streaming service immediately and watched it with few interruptions. During the viewing, I had an incredible drowsiness again affect me, similarly with yesterday’s film. Unlike yesterday, I indulged that desire to sleep, so I did just after finishing. I woke up roughly an hour and a half later with a horrible funk depressing my entire being.

Oddly enough, I now feel somewhat empathetic of the main character of A Scanner Darkly. A prickling sensation that something is amiss, that life is curving inward against your will. No one truly understands you, not even yourself; everyone wishes to gain the advantage for themselves. Basically, I feel like shit… for a couple reasons.

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Day Fourteen: Limelight (1952) (March of the Movies 2023)

A common occurrence for me during these month-long blocks is a man named Charlie Chaplin. This will mark the third year in a row I’ve seen a film involving him, and I think I’ll keep that trend going for future Marches. This is a bit of a bittersweet film for him, though, showcasing the parallel between his real-life career twilight and the character’s within. This is the second-to-last film he had a starring role in. Limelight is very appropriately named.

Chaplin’s later years as a filmmaker were far more emotionally charged than the zany, almost cartoonishly wholesome origins of his “Tramp” character. To some extent, I’m glad I started with something more grandiose in The Dictator, allowing me to see the end point of an evolutionary style from the infancy of film. Going into this, I figured it would be deeply sentimental. I was not wrong.

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Day Thirteen: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (March of the Movies 2023)

Good ol’ Studio Ghibli. One of the most recognized names in animated film production in the entire world. Considering their immense reputation, one would think they’ve been around forever. I was actually kind of surprised to learn that their first animated film, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind—the subject of today’s post—was made in 1984. Compared to, say, Disney, that’s practically infantile!

…Wait, what? This isn’t Studio Ghibli? Of course it’s Studio Ghibli, it’s directed by Hayao Miyazaki and based on his own work. Topcraft? What the hell is… oh. Huh. Apparently Studio Ghibli was the phoenix that rose from the bankrupt ashes of Topcraft in 1985. So… this isn’t technically a Studio Ghibli film. I feel like I’ve been lied to for the last decade.

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Day Twelve: George Carlin’s American Dream (March of the Movies 2023)

When I was in my early to mid-twenties, I came to discover the comedy styling of George Carlin via a “Top 100 Greatest Comedians” list I happened upon online. He was listed as #1, just above Richard Pryor. Curious, I decided to look into some clips via YouTube of his specials. To say it changed my life would be hyperbolic—it did, however, have a pretty big impact on the way I thought at the time.

Somewhat ashamedly, a lot of what I took from his stand-up is that everything is garbage and that humanity deserves to be ashamed. He made it seem “cool” to not care, to not want to deal with anything. It wasn’t until years later that I got to watch him in interviews and various appearances and listen to how sophisticated of a person he is, and that his act was just that—an act. These deeper insinuations are further explored here in this documentary concerning his life.

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Day Eleven: The Harder They Fall (2021) (March of the Movies 2023)

Westerns are a genre of film that my grandfather was quite fond of. John Wayne was his hero, and he made that very apparent with his children. Personally, westerns are something of a relic of the past for me—interesting to study, but not a true passion. Still, the ones I have watched have generally been all right, especially those that deal with the inner struggle of the central character. From the very first trailer I saw of The Harder They Fall, I knew it was something worth remembering.

Plus, Lakeith Stanfield is wonderful. I’ll watch just about anything he has a prominent role in.

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