For a few years now I have been creating lists on Letterboxd, documenting the older films that I’ve watched for the first time. This was more so an exercise to archive and remind myself what I’ve watched within the year, but as of last year it became a fun opportunity to share my findings on my blog. So in this post I’m here to share some of the older films I discovered in 2022. This post won’t include all of the movies I watched but there will be a link below this paragraph that will contain that. When I say older films I refer to movies that were made before 2022. The list also includes movies that I have partly watched in the past and ones that I have watched as a child, but have no recollection of. That’s the rules I wanted to cover so let’s go over the individual months.
January can be summed up with horror movies. It all started with horror classic Scream, a movie I watched because of the new one that came out the same week and also because it was on my watchlist. The opening scene with Drew Barrymore on the phone to the killer sets the mood very nicely for an intense horror movie that is willing to poke fun at the genre. Easily the best of this month if we’re talking legit great horror movies; otherwise my favourite would be the nonsensically dumb such as Jason X. A movie that was critically panned because they took Jason Voorhees’ camp ground killings into outer space, but honestly that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to absurdity as it’s easily the funest movie since Jason Lives.
Another highlight of this month was watching the Wizard of Oz in full for the first time ever, after years of watching small chunks on TV. I remember not liking it because it’s old, but now I’m more sophisticated and I don’t like it because the plot is dumb as hell. It’s honestly dumber than Jason X, because of the classic “it was all a dream” ending. (This will likely not be the last controversial opinion I have in this post.) A better movie would be The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, which stars John Wayne and his new friend he calls pilgrim. An interesting movie of the dying old west in contrast to the rise of modern America. Here’s an awesome movie for you from South Korea called Memories of Murder. One of Bong Joon-Ho’s earlier hits about two detectives looking for a serial killer, but they struggle to get anywhere due to them working within a small town that is trapped in poverty and the corruption within their department. What makes this stand out the most is the absolutely tragic ending that puts alot into perspective.
If you want something different for February I inadvertently did that by watching alot of comedy movies, the best of which was the first Naked Gun movie. A trilogy I had been eyeing off for awhile as it shares the same writing team as another great comedy, Flying High or Airplane! Naked Gun stars Leslie Neilson as incompetent police detective Frank Drebin and who is also a man who takes his job very seriously in a world that is pretty much a live-action cartoon. A great spoof of cop movies and one that is very quotable because of Neilson’s deadpan delivery and the wit in the dialogue. I also watched the sequel Naked Gun 2 1/2 this month, which I regret watching directly after the first as it never had a chance. It’s still really funny such as that scene where Frank is reunited with his ex. ‘She reminded me of my mother alright, no doubt about it.’
Another comedy I liked for all the wrong reasons would be Battlefield Earth, based on the novel from the guy that created Scientology and starring John Travolta as this dumb obnoxious alien who is very aggressive and oblivious to the scheming humans. It’s also very quotable, especially whenever the ridiculous dreadlock looking aliens speak. Other great films from this month would include my favourite, Boogie Nights. An excellent look into the porn industry in the 70s to early 80s that gets you into that world and it’s main character, played by Mark Wahlberg in probably his best role. Finally I would like to share King Kong (1933), a movie I didn’t expect to love as much as I did. The film holds up really well, even with it’s stop motion effects on Kong.
In March we start off with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a movie that pioneered the slasher genre more so than Halloween. I don’t think TCM had much of a budget, as the cast of 10 people are all unknown and most of the shots look like a student film. The hiring of unknowns works to the film’s benefit for its villains as they all feel like genuine psychos that actually live in that disgusting house you see at the end of the movie. The movie is great because of it’s rawness and which brings out the fear that this unsettling situation might be real. Speaking of raw movies, I watched John Waters’ debut film Pink Flamingos, which might be more disturbing than TCM. Divine wants to be the filthiest person alive and I believe that after seeing this movie. You want to see cannibalism, incest, sex trafficking rings, flexing bum holes and Divine eating dog poo then watch Pink Flamingos. It’s a movie that even I debate whether it’s brilliant or not.
We also have the Wicker Man starring Nicolas Cage, a movie I heard was bad, but I actually liked this one. It was mostly panned because of Cage’s performance, which is what I revel for, however, I did laugh at the dumb lines he had to say. That’s about it with the strange besides watching the infamous Plan 9 from Outer Space. The movie is obviously very cheap, with the whole movie taking place on three sets and it was pretty clear that Bela Lugosi was not there during the filming of this movie. Not the worst movie ever, but that line from the detective is hilariously cheesy. ‘One thing’s for sure. Inspector Clay is dead, murdered, and somebody’s responsible.‘
Didn’t watch too many older films in April, but something I did watch might be one of my new favourite trilogies. The Before Trilogy is a series of romance movies that were all made 9 years apart and follows the same couple played by Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy at different points in their relationship as they age and their lives change. In the first movie, Before Sunrise, they are in their mid 20s. At this point in their lives they are rather optimistic about their futures, whilst in the second movie, Before Sunset, they’re in their 30s and are hating their past selves for where they have ended up. The movies’ main appeal is that the dialogue is made up of long conversations between the two actors as they go on these long monologues about their situation and mistakes. Most of these scenes were devised by the actors themselves, which helps make the writing feel so natural and real. Another great ‘romance’ movie I saw is Badlands. I hesitate to say romance movie because it’s about bad boy Martin Sheen taking naïve teenager Sissy Spacek on the lam. (I know, I have great taste in romance.) I also watched Naked Gun 33 1/3 which I enjoyed very much as I was right about needing a break between movies. Finally, I watched the Super Mario Bros movie, starring Bob Hoskins as the grumpiest version of Mario you’ll ever see and John Leguizamo as his almost son like, but still baby brother, Luigi. The movie is completely alien to the bright colourful child friendly games, but it’s certainly an interesting one to have watched before I die.
May is the opposite of April as there was actually quite a lot I watched. We’ll start with another trilogy, as I was finally inspired by Sam Raimi’s newest movie of that year to check out where he began with The Evil Dead trilogy. The first one being a solid indie movie, while the second one might be my favourite as it’s still a good horror movie with just little bit of cheese. Then the third film, Army of Darkness, just spoils it by having too much cheese. My favourite of this month would be The Iron Giant. I do enjoy a good Brad Bird movie and this one might be his sweetest as it’s about this little boy with no friends who befriends a giant killer robot who has been short circuited. The last half hour especially was devastating. Shame would be another movie I really liked, a Steve McQueen movie starring Michael Fassbender as a sex addict who spends the entire movie burning bridges, because he can’t have a real relationship with anyone. Jeez the last half hour of this was depressing. I also watched Office Space a relatable comedy about sticking it to the man with the last half hour being nothing more than beautiful. Tearing down capitalism has never been more fun.
Let’s start off with an epic one as really long movies define this month. The Ten Commandants, a movie I only liked because it’s really long; also because it’s the Moses story, the only bible story I ever really liked. Scorsese’s Casino is a pretty similar deal as learning how a mob-run Las Vegas casino works is miraculously as fascinating as it was boring to watch. The best long epic for this month is Barry Lyndon, a Stanley Kubrick movie and I believe it is his best. The film is essentially about the misadventures of our man Barry and his rise to power in various different social structures. The film is dark with a cynical sense of humour, all the shots standout like all Kubrick films and it has a revolving door of interesting, often tense set pieces.
I feel the need to mention this movie as it was really quite the experience in the manner I imagine a tour through the gates of hell would be like. Come and See is a Russian film set during World War II where this young boy leaves his childhood home to go to war. It’s harmless fun at first, pretending to be German soldiers and running around in the woods with a girl from the camp. Then Boom! The bombs drop; then we stumble upon a mass genocide site and eventually become part of one. This might be the bleakest movie I’ve ever seen. There is never an ounce of hope, even more so than Schindler’s List which does have some. The main kid’s performance in this is unprecedented, as his whole face alone describes the horror of the final half hour. Come and See is probably a better movie than Barry Lyndon, but I was mainly basing it on which of these I would watch again.
Finally, I watched Singin’ in the Rain. I only mention it to end this month on a glorious feeling (and just like that) I’m happy again! All of the musical numbers are full of energy with engaging dance choreography and catchy songs. Gene Kelly is the most charming guy to come out of Hollywood, along with his friend Cosmo who steals the show.
I think I’ll start a bit negative by talking about best picture winner Oliver! A long movie and a musical that didn’t mesh well. I’m only mentioning this because I gotta share how painful these movies are if they’re not good. The film was too long for the pretty bad story that wasn’t really about Oliver, but about these adults who are obsessed with this kid for some reason. There were some good songs, but they either went on forever or felt entirely pointless to the nothing story. Bill Sikes was the best character in the movie, because he didn’t sing and was the only character who didn’t try to be light hearted. Perhaps a worse movie, mostly because it’s a 80s slasher, but I liked it more than Oliver, is Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors. I started watching the Elm Street sequels last month and this third movie was probably best. It brought back the characters from the first movie, giving them some closure as they help the new characters battle Freddy Kruger in each other dreams. Also this is the first one to give Freddy some personality by making him pretty fun with his one liners, often ending with him saying bitch!
Three bangers coming your way starting with the original 1930 All Quiet on the Western Front. I was mainly impressed with this one for how they were able to communicate a strong anti-war message in a time that was only years away from the dreaded Hays Code and WWII. 2016’s The Nice Guys is a buddy comedy with an unlikely duo of the gruff efficient enforcer Russell Crowe and useless pathetic private eye Ryan Gosling uncovering a conspiracy within LA’s porn industry. It’s the two leads that carry this movie as they work so well together while also being very funny. The final movie of the month I got lucky to see in the cinema and it’s another Korean movie called Oldboy. Oldboy is a revenge movie of a washed up drunk wrongfully imprisoned for 15 years and by the time he escapes he’s an ultra badass. The movie is just awesome as it’s one of a kind. The action scenes are brutal, messy, but satisfying. The story unravels in unexpected ways, which builds up to the ultimatum ending. A movie about the pitfalls of revenge and the destruction of families, I can’t recommend it enough.
I wanna talk about Xanadu first, because I need to get it off my chest. This movie became available to me because of the tragic passing of its star Olivia Newton-John, and in retrospect this movie is a pretty terrible way to honour her memory. Xanadu is fricking weird, more so than Cats I would argue! Olivia Newton-John plays a rollerblading muse that travels from ancient Greece through some wall art in LA at supersonic speed and for some reason attracts the attention of the main guy and kisses him. These two and Gene Kelly eventually come together to develop a place known as Xanadu, a nightclub, dancing centre, with a live orchestra and a roller-skating rink all in one. There’s more to it as describing it here doesn’t do it justice, but basically the whole movie felt like a fever dream that I could never wrap my head around. Olivia is only good for her singing, but the true star of the film is Gene Kelly, as he is just so naturally gifted at making you like him.
A more enjoyable musical from this month would be Miami Connection. A movie where the city in the title is as irrelevant as its plot and characters. Essentially there is a martial art rock band that sings songs about friendship and ninjas, who end up annoying the local drug dealing bikie ninja gang, it’s pretty wild. An unrelated movie, but one I really like is the original 1973 Wicker Man, which made me realise I might have given the Nicolas Cage one too much credit as this one is so good. The plot doesn’t mess around with getting to the point like the other one as everything is appropriately mysterious and eerie as it builds up to the horrifying conclusion. An interesting one I watched would be Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, a movie that was controversial back in its day because it had some very convincing offscreen kills and also because it was advertised to be based on a real guy. (Which it really isn’t.) It had an interesting dynamic of cold-blooded Henry contrasting against this obnoxious dumb jerkish amateur and his obliviously kind-hearted sister.
September was a slow month as I only watched six movies, the best of which would be a John Carpenter’s They Live. Some guy puts on these shades that allows him to see that aliens have secretly taken over the world. It’s a movie I didn’t expect to find as funny as I did with the aliens being used as jab at capitalist America. Also it’s the reason for the most epic fist fight in movie history to happen because one guy wants the other guy to really try on his new shades. The only other movie I enjoyed from this month is another Bong Joon-Ho movie called The Host. This movie is not the one based on the Stephanie Myer book (not forcing myself to watch that yet), but this Host is about a river monster that makes most of Korea sick, which creates quarantine laws, mass panic and paranoia. Sound familiar? I also watched the Fifth Element, which I found pretty underwhelming, mostly because the director’s previous movie Leon: The Professional was so good.
In the previous month I had started a Star Trek marathon, because I had half watched those movies about 8 years ago. Well, my October began with watching Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country for the first time. It was a solid final outing for the original crew, until Kirk returned for Star Trek Generations to have a not very satisfying crossover with Picard. This disappointment was followed up by the classic horror movie The Exorcist. I have stated in the past that the genre of possessing people does nothing for me. They’re not scary and are often more comical, as I found in this movie with the cursed little girl every time she said a naughty word. I’ll give this one another chance someday to see if I like it more on a rewatch, as that worked for Predator this year.
A movie that did scare me in the sense that it was traumatic is called Boys Don’t Cry. The film starts as a harmless teen romance with this kid named Brandon Teena befriending a rag tag group and hooking up with one of the girls. They’re not aware that Brandon is trans, but when they do find out it’s really not pretty because, you see, we’re in the south. This movie is based on the real incident and I regret watching this late at night, because it was too much. A better movie was Perfect Blue about this young optimistic pop star deciding to move into acting, which doesn’t really pan out that well as she is stalked online, becomes a pill popper, does some centerfolds, and eventually struggles to distinguish fantasy from reality. Otherwise a great movie it was a little too trippy for me to feel completely miserable.
November was a busy month for me as school was out and I had all these movies I borrowed from the library I needed to watch before I went off on Christmas holidays. My favourite of this binge was Dog Day Afternoon which is based on a real bank robbery gone wrong turned hostage takeover/media sensation. The movie is incredible for being funny while also being tense in the last half hour where the situation gets more heated. The movie is also carried by a fluid script and a sweaty, ready to improvise, Al Pacino.
Another one I watched while not the worst, but certainly feels like it and is a French film called Irreversible. Irreversible is only unique if you haven’t seen Memento as the entire film is told backwards. Except this one gives you a headache within the first minute by spinning the camera around in three different 360 spins so you can’t tell what’s happening and you also don’t care what’s happening because you’re watching the end of the movie first, remember! Unlike Memento that gets more interesting as it goes along as we learn more about Leonard; Irreversible just fizzles out into irrelevancy once we have bypassed the inciting incident that got the headache going. I only wanted to mention this one, because of how frustrating the first half was to my head where I was also tempted to shut this off, but good thing I’m stubborn as bricks so I could discover it wasn’t the worse thing ever. That honour goes to this 2000s spoof called Epic Movie! A movie that is only epic if you have never seen a movie before or at least one from the 2000s. The movie physically hurt me as it jokes consist of reminding you that better movies exist, but instead you’re watching this shit. I watched Hot Shots! directly after this to remind myself that comedy was still a thing; also to remind me that spoof movies can be better than the film they’re parodying.
I also need to share watching Showgirls, a movie I’d heard was bad for years, but when I watched it I would argue it’s quite underrated. We follows a stray named Nomi coming to Las Vegas with big dreams of making it big as a showgirl, a business some might see as degrading. (Hey this plot feels familiar to Boogie Nights, I never realised that before.) I enjoyed this movie mostly for how subtle it was with it’s satire on the entertainment industry. It’s very cynical with how replaceable these women are in this show as it doesn’t matter to the bosses whose flashing their boobs on that stage or who the leading lady is as long as they keep coming back for the same old show they’ve seen before. Human greed at it’s finest. One more this month, but I need to share my favourite from November, Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. I’d been meaning to watch this long old black and white epic for ages and it’s as great as I’d heard. I was also introduced to the big man and legend Kikuchiyo, who might be my favourite character from any of these movies I watched.
At long last we’re at December, which has another low movie count. The best of this month is another Kurosawa movie Rashomon, a movie that is famous for inspiring a type of storytelling of hearing multiple perspectives of the same event. It inspired The Usual Suspects and it’s also really damn good. Some of the highlights of this month include Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare aka Nightmare on Elm Street 6. I think I mainly enjoyed it ironically as Freddy Kruger is so silly at this point in the series that most of the scary dreams feel very comical because of him. I watched Bad Santa, which I only enjoyed for the chemistry of the thick headed kid and Billy Bob’s deadbeat Santa. I intended to watch more Christmas movies, but I only ended up watching Die Hard and Love Actually for the third year in a row. I also watched M Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender in it’s entirety for the first time after two failed attempts. I’m glad I have seen the show since my last attempt as it has made me appreciate it much more for it’s childish humour in comparison to this humorless dull pretender. I would say it’s worse than the Netflix Death Note movie in regards to inaccuracies and completely missing the point as to what made the show good.
To finish this long post off, the final older movie I watched was Cats. A recording of the musical and this wasn’t bad I kind of get the appeal, even if I was still pretty disturbed and was tripping out of my mind.
Well that’s a wrap for this post. I was going to share some of the TV shows, video games and books that I also found last year, but this post is already long enough so maybe that can be shared in a follow up post. If you’ve made it this far I congratulate you and I hope it wasn’t too torturous. I think even I need a break after this one as this took way longer then I thought. I don’t know when I’ll be back, probably not for the Crammys, because I’m done with daunting tasks for a while. Anyway, until then, Blog Complainer signing out.