Watching movies in theaters is what happens when you’re busy making other plans
Hello, friendos, and welcome back to The 300, a recurring feature on my harebrained attempt to see 300 movies in theaters in the year 2018. I’ll be watching new releases, classics, hidden gems, and festival films to experience the wide world of cinema in all its forms. Hopefully there’s something here for you to enjoy as well.
As always, there are three rules for The 300:
- The movie must be at least 40 minutes long, meeting the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ definition of a feature film.
- I must watch the movie at a movie theater, screening room, or outdoor screening venue.
- While I can watch movies I’ve seen before 2018, I cannot count repeated viewings of the same film in 2018 multiple times.
This is probably going to be the slowest week of The 300 for the entire year. I only saw two movies in theaters last week because I was in Miami for a friend’s wedding and had plans the day I left New York and the night I got back into town. It’s much easier to sit down and stream something than head to the theater, especially when there’s so much other stuff going on in your life. If anything, The 300 has given me a much deeper appreciation of how I spend my time, how I could be spending it, and why I choose to do the things I do.
While this may seem like I’m falling behind, I’ll be more than caught up in the next few weeks. For one, I’ll be checking out a few movies at The Inaugural Dr. Saul and Dorothy Kit Film Noir Festival, running from March 21 to 25 near Columbia University. And from April 18 to 29, I’ll be covering the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival with fellow Flixist writer Jesse Lab. Both should get me back way ahead of schedule.
And so, onward.
64 of 300: Oh Lucy! (2017)
Director: Atsuko Hirayanagi
Starring: Shinobu Terajima, Josh Hartnett, Kaho Minami
Seen at Village East Cinema (New York, NY)
Thursday, March 8th
Oh Lucy! is a peculiar yet mostly endearing mix of strange, funny, quirky, and miserable. Picture a more active cousin to Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter. Terajima is a depressed office worker who falls for a slacker English instructor in Japan (Hartnett) and follows him to Los Angeles. It’s a story about lost misfits trying to make the most out of their bad decisions. Terajima’s prickly yet sympathetic performance is a strong center for Hirayanagi’s moments of cringe comedy and uncomfortable honesty. I was struck by Hartnett’s turn from heartthrob to character actor; his career seems more interesting now. I was also surprised to see Koji Yakusho as a goofy side character, just a reminder of how much I like seeing him on screen.
65 of 300: Mind Game (2004)
Director: Masaaki Yuasa
Starring: Kōji Imada, Sayaka Maeda, Seiko Takuma, Takashi Fujii
Seen at Metrograph (New York, NY)
Tuesday, March 13th
Mind Game is a remarkable work so off-the-wall it feels like outsider art; an indie anime hodgepodge of strange, beautiful, silly ideas that eventually reach the sublime. Yuasa’s Lu Over the Wall (The 300: Week 8) is more more controlled by comparison. Mind Game is all over the damn place, a ball of nervous, pervy energy. The animation is so expressive, wildly varying character models and styles, sometimes from shot to shot. Imagine a mix of Bill Plympton, Tex Avery, John K, and the early live-action movies of Terry Gilliam… but then also Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey. That is Mind Game. Initially a comedy about unrequited love/sexual frustration, the movie takes a very dark turn before it becomes a madcap spiritual journey through time and space. This is a celebration of stuff that makes life worth living, from sushi to sex to simple human connection.
The 300: By the Numbers Breakdown
In case you’re curious (and because I need to fill space this week), here’s how The 300 is shaping up by the numbers.
Movies by Decade
2010s – 29
2000s – 4
1990s – 7
1980s – 6
1970s – 9
1960s – 2
1950s – 5
1940s – 0 (how is this possible?!)
1930s – 1
1920s – 2
Movies by Country
USA – 32
Belarus – 1
Chile – 1
China – 2
France – 4
French co-productions – 2
Germany – 2
Hong Kong – 2
Iran – 1
Jamaica – 1
Japan – 4
Japanese co-productions – 1
Mali – 1
Netherlands – 2
Philippines – 1
Polish co-productions – 1
Russia – 1
South Korea – 1
Sweden – 1
UK – 2
UK co-productions – 1
Yugoslavian co-productions – 1
Multiple Films by the Same Director(s)
F.W. Murnau (Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans; Faust)
Masaaki Yuasa (Lu Over the Wall; Mind Game)
Susana Aiken and Carlos Aparicio (The Salt Mines; The Transformation)
Films by Women Directors
So in addition to The 300, I’m also doing 52 Films By Women, in which I try to see 52 movies (both shorts and features in theaters) directed by women.
Currently I have seen 11 of 52.
Daughters of the Dust (1991), dir. Julie Dash
Loving Vincent (2017), dir. Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman
From Romance to Ritual (1985), dir. Peggy Ahwesh
Soft Fiction (1979), dir. Chick Strand
Dis-moi (1980), dir. Chantal Akerman
The Ties That Bind (1985), dir. Su Friedrich
The Salt Mines (1990), dir. Susana Aiken and Carlos Aparicio
The Transformation (1995), dir. Susana Aiken and Carlos Aparicio
Strange Days (1995), dir. Kathryn Bigelow
The Party (2017), dir. Sally Potter
Oh Lucy! (2017), dir. Atsuko Hirayanagi
Top 5 Theaters for The 300