Thursday, May 10, 2007


Thom Ryan certainly has something going over at Film of the Year. On the surface, the thesis of his blog is simple: write a post about a film from each year. Simple, until you realize how serious he is about that -- he started with the Lumiere Brothers' initial effort in 1895 (Planet Earth's first movie), and he doesn't plan to start until he catches up with the present day. In each year Thom examines the film as it stands, but also looks at the evolution film has made since the previous year. Through Thom's blog it's sometimes hard to imagine just how we ended up where we are (it's not until 1902's A Trip to the Moon when Film of the Year examines a piece longer than two minutes), and maybe more than any other blog I've found, Film of the Year challenges newbies to 'catch up' to the current lesson by pouring through the archives. Film of the Year's thesis has evolved as well, sometimes looking at more than one picture per year (really, how could you choose just one for 1931?), making the possibilities of Thom's long and winding road toward 2008 all that more exciting.

LOOK WHAT YOU DID YOU LITTLE JERK: 'As a teenager I once sneaked a bottle of beer into a small theater showing a midnight movie. I was just trying to impress my friends ("stupid is as...etc."). I had the bottle hidden in my coat and it slipped out. The screening room had a bare concrete floor so there was a crash, and glass and beer everywhere. The worst part was that they hadn't brought the house lights down yet so everyone in the place (including the management who were not amused) knew I did it. I was invited to find the nearest exit. Embarrassing but true.'

I typically watch a movie on DVD or HDTV every other day or so, and study at least one additional film per week for my blog. I used to be rather strict about seeing a movie every week at the theater but I'm much more likely to watch in our home theater these days.'

When you've dissed me: "What have I ever done to deserve such disrespect" (paraphrasing The Godfather 1972); After you apologize: "And I hope you will have the deceny to clear my name with the same publicity with which you have now besmirched it." (The Godfather ll 1974); When you're freaking out: "Luke, you've switched off your targeting computer, what's wrong?" (Star Wars 1977); When I'm freaking out: "Stay on target...stay on target..." (Star Wars 1977); The way I vow revenge: "Apology accepted...Capitan Needa" (The Empire Strikes Back 1980); My views on capitalism: "Well, it's easy to make a lot of money...when what you want is to make a lot of money." (Citizen Kane 1941); Keeping it real: "Gov'ment do take a bite, don't she?" (Raising Arizona 1987); When you ask for advice: "A man looks in the abyss he's got nothing looking back at him. At that moment a man finds his character." (Wall Street 1987); Walk in my office and I'll tent my hands and say: "We meet again..." (Hell's Angels 1927); When I just feel like annoying someone: "What's a pederast?" (The Big Lebowski 1998); My best threat in a fight: "You're going to wind up in a fucking bin-bag!" (Shallow Grave 1994); In the bedroom: "What a minute. What a minute. You ain't seen nothing yet!" (The Jazz Singer 1927); I'm working on find the perfect time to say, "Sweet mother of mercy! Can this be the end of Rico?" (Little Caesar 1931).

For raw sentimentality that scene in The Kid (1921) where the Tramp and the Kid are torn from each other and the kid runs after him, gets me every time.'

There's no thought police (yet) so if I'm really not enjoying something bolting the theater is an attractive option, sure. Can't remember when I've done it though. Maybe I Love You To Death (1990)?'

When I was a kid I used to drop everything Saturday afternoons and watch a Horror Double Feature show broadcast on a UHF channel from Detroit. Some twisted genius crafted the show's open. It featured a montage of shots from this mega-trashy 70s zombie flick while the freak-out section of Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" blasted from the tiny TV speaker. It was enough to turn my young brain to mush and scared the pants off me! Those disgusting images of zombies crawling out of the fog-machine infested earth were always more frightening than whatever cheapo-flick was actually playing on the show. Trouble was I had no idea what movie provided those creepy shots. Flash forward twenty years and 2,000 miles from home: I'm rifling through the sale bin at my local video store, pick up a copy of Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things (1972) and look at the pictures on the back of DVD box. I freeze in my tracks, regress back to a nine-year old boy, and look wide-eyed at the guy behind the register. "Dude!" I suddenly shout at him, and he looks more startled than I am. "This is the movie!" Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things, a low budget undead-fest that sees a film director and a group of hippy actors travel to an island graveyard and try to cast a spell on a corpse to star in their movie. Nothing goes as planned (of course). The spell doesn't work so they take the body back with them and have a corpse party in a house on the island. Meanwhile, all of the other bodies buried on the island begin to "wake up." Pure trash but fun for the hippy-speak, clothes and excellent lo-fi creature effects. A guilty pleasure worth the long unholy grail quest I had to undertake to find it.'

The name of my revival theater is Leave Your Cellphone at the Door. We enforce the policy too, but you get a free issue of our zine in return. Friday: The Wrong Trousers (1993), What Happened at 23rd, New York City (1901), It (1927), The Seven Year Itch (1955), Saturday: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920); Ugetsu (1953), Celine and Julie Goat Boating (1974), Mulholland Drive (2001); Sunday: Lumiere shorts series.

I'm more likely to watch certain movies on a particular day of the week. For example, nothing fits friday nights like The Big Lebowski (1998), saturday afternoons like Shallow Grave (1994) or Vertigo (1958) or Sunday mornings like anything by Frank Capra.'

1977. Star Wars. My first conscious movie memory, and favorite childhood movie experience.'

Contact DVD Panache if you are interested in contributing to Friday Screen Test.


Anonymous said...

The anticipation kept me distracted all week, but seeing my Friday Screen Test in print makes it all worth while. Thank you, Adam, for your flattering look at Film of the Year and for inviting me to take part in your one-of-a-kind superfun film blog tradition.

Adam Ross said...

I'm just grateful you had time for this in between your Year posts -- you definitely have some tough choices coming up in the 1930s.

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