Hi, there! Remember me? I’m hoping to get back into the swing of things in the third row this year, so I figured why not jump back in with a massive and massively solipsistic post all about things I personally watched in 2014!
Row Three’s big group post listing everyone’s Top Ten Films of 2014 will be out later this month, but I’ve been curtailed in my new release viewing this year and only had seven or eight films to choose from for 2014, so I opted to celebrate films I saw in 2014 regardless of release year in a number of hopefully entertaining categories. In keeping with my 2014 stance against evaluation, there is no winner in each category, nor ranking within them, nor strict limits on how many films could be in each category. Here’s my complete list of 2014 watches.
I will try not to include major spoilers, but for some categories I may have to in order to talk about why I chose the films I did. So just…keep an eye out, I guess.
[originally posted at The Frame]
Whether in premise or character or storytelling, these are the films that made me think the most this year, sometimes for days or weeks after seeing them.
No film I saw in 2014 has a better premise than Snowpiercer, which envisions society as post-apocalyptic train segregated between haves and have-nots, complete with class warfare, rebellion, military subjugation, brainwashing, idealism, and cynicism. It’s very high concept, and gives you a lot to chew on, both about this society as its envisioned, and about our own in relation to it.
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Most people (rightly) point to the first half of this film as the more iconic and memorable, but a lot of the depth and thoughtfulness is really in the second half, as we see what happens when these troops, trained by the drill sergeant from hell in the first half’s boot camp, actually hit Vietnam and discover how lacking any type of training is for the real hell of a war like Vietnam. The second half is messier, but it’s intentionally and thought-provokingly messy.
Employee’s Entrance (1933)
This is one of the few films of the year that I planned to write an in-depth post about, but I unfortunately never actually got around to it. Why did I find this piece of apparently Pre-Code fluff so striking? Warren Williams plays a confident, smarmy businessman as he so often does, the general manager of a Manhattan department store trying to keep his business afloat during the Depression – which often calls for reducing staff, making existing staff work longer hours, etc. And this doesn’t even include his horrific treatment of Loretta Young’s character and her fiance, his assistant who he wants unattached to better serve the business. Yet what could’ve been a straight-up underdog film about overthrowing evil Business for the sake of the underlings is actually more nuanced, thoughtful and relevant than I expected; today as in the Great Depression, balancing business and humanitarian regard isn’t always easy.
Kiss Me, Stupid (1964)
What? A slightly regarded late Wilder comedy about a pair of bumbling songwriters carrying out an elaborate ruse to get Dean Martin to listen to their songs is “thought-provoking”? Yeah, I know. I’m probably stretching a bit, but of the late Wilder films I’ve watched recently, this one’s sticking with me to a surprising degree, largely because it employs a level of sexual freedom that I wouldn’t have expected even in 1964, when such things were beginning to loosen up, and it does so with a frankness that’s refreshing even though I may not have ultimately agreed with the characters’ actions.
Would you like to know more…?