Lost in the Movies: The Sunday Matinee

The Sunday Matinee

UPDATE: This post originally introduced the "Sunday Matinee" series. Its purpose was initially vague, but it evolved to cover three films each from four different sixties New Waves: Italian, British, Czechoslovakian, and French. The final entry in the British chapter ended up encompassing the whole "kitchen sink" movement while focusing on two particular films. The whole series can be found here.

Original intro

In the old Westerns, an outlaw will saunter up to the out-of-town gunslinger and give him an ultimatum: git out, or meet me at high noon. In a more benign fashion, consider this advance notice to Wonders readers: next week, at 12 pm East Coast time (4 pm by the site's numbers) on October 17, I will launch a new series, exclusive to Wonders in the Dark: "The Sunday Matinee." (The series was cross-posted in full on this site at a later date.) In it I will discuss a personal favorite from cinema history - for the most part these will be neither obvious masterpieces (those have been well-covered here; besides, I want to save many of these for my eventual "favorite great movies" canonical series, which is still on the horizon) nor total obscurities (also well-covered on the site). Most of the movies will be readily available (quite a few will probably belong to the Criterion Collection), usually from celebrated auteurs, and coming from my favorite periods in film history (the 30s through the 60s, with some 70s thrown in; definitely nothing post-1980 and probably no silents) as well as my favorite national cinemas (American, French, and Italian). These will be excellent films which really connect with me for some reason, and with only one possible exception, films which have not yet been discussed on Wonders in the Dark. The possible exception is next week's Fists in the Pocket, which may make a surprise appearance on the horror countdown (fingers crossed), but I will not be approaching at all from that genre's perspective so if anything, the piece will provide a nice complement.

Here are a few reasons for and ideas behind the series:

1) Why these films? One thing I love about this website is that it has introduced me to so many unseen movies; yet at the same time it's enriching to replenish ourselves at familiar hunting grounds. I was initially drawn to Wonders during the 60s countdown, and loved seeing unknown features alongside familiar classics, across a wide range of genres and styles. Since then, we've moved on to later eras and different channels of filmgoing, with more recent decade countdowns and the advent of genre explorations. I'm thrilled with both approaches, but admit that I also miss visiting and talking about what are, for me, the fundamental touchstones.

2) Why Sunday afternoon? This is a good question, particularly since weekends tend to be slow on blogs, and mornings are generally best to garner the most hits. I'll admit I have a sentimental attachment to the time slot - it makes me think of spreading out a Sunday newspaper in a sunny living room, wiling away a lazy Sunday by exploring its pages before going out to the beach, or for a walk, or whatever else (no errands, though). The obligation of church is over, the impetus to activity not yet arrived, and the afternoon stretches before you with the opportunity to both relax and stimulate your mind and imagination.

3) Why Wonders in the Dark? Ultimately I decided to center the series on Wonders. It seemed a natural fit, since there are so many classic-lovers here and since it was Dennis Polifroni who first drew my attention to that reading reviews/Sunday newspaper connection last summer, in a discussion surrounding my write-up on Jaws. (Dennis, though he likes to keep to the comments, once penned his own superb memory piece on Jaws and the cinema-going of his youth - one of the signature pieces in the Wonders pantheon; you've got to read it.) All in all, this seemed a natural fit. So I hope you can make some room for me on your own lazy Sundays; see you next week!

Read the comments on Wonders in the Dark, where this announcement was originally published.


Sam Juliano said...

I must say Joel, I am greatly looking forward to this series and the planned initial installment on Bellochio's film. I have no doubt the venture will achieve a formidable following! We are all honored to have it at WitD.

Joel Bocko said...

Thanks, Sam. I can't wait to kick it off.

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