Lost in the Movies: February 2013

The Favorites - Death by Hanging (#94)

The Favorites is a series briefly exploring films I love, to find out what makes them - and me - tick. Death by Hanging (1968/Japan/dir. Nagasi Oshima) appeared at #94 on my original list. After a 2-month break, the series will be appearing regularly on Wednesdays from now on.

What it is • Here, in this corner of industrial, postwar Japan we have our prison. On the grounds, detached yet enclosed, there is a small compound, complete with a garden and what looks like a little house, surrounded by a fence - to keep in, rather than to keep out. This is the execution chamber. Our narrator guides us through the open corridors and rooms of what will be our location for much of the next two hours, explaining in his matter-of-fact tone that this is where the prisoner goes to the bathroom, this is where prayer services are conducted - Buddhist or Christian, depending upon the faith of the condemned, and this, of course, is where the man is hanged. From this introduction, we proceed to watch the hanging of R., a young Korean convicted of raping and murdering two Japanese girls. He shudders as he is dragged to the trapdoor, the noose is placed around his neck, the door drops, the man falls, and he dies.

Except that he doesn't die.

A note appears onscreen - "The body of the condemned man, R., refuses execution." Why? With this question our story begins.

Why I like it •

#WatchlistScreenCaps 2/12 - 2/24

Every time I watch a DVD or stream a film online, I'm going to screen-cap it, and share the link on Twitter. You can read about this new feature here, and all my #WatchlistScreenCap tags, including ones following this post, will be gathered here.

I'll leave it to readers/followers to guess the film (sometimes it will be obvious) but after I've seen ten, I will round up all the recent screen-caps in a blog post, this time with attribution. Here is my first entry, covering the DVDs or online videos watched between February 12 and February 24.

The Criterion-Hulu Marathon (live-blogging)

In which the author watches as many Criterion uploads on Hulu (free for the last day) as possible in twelve hours, and logs his viewing as he goes. Read more here.

6am. It begins. After each film, I will upload a screen cap and compose a quick capsule at this spot. I will update this post accordingly, and retitle it each time until at the end of the day it assumes its final form. I'll also be tweeting. First up...

Tomorrow I will live-blog/tweet a Criterion marathon


I've decided to go ahead with my plan to watch all the Criterion uploads I can between 6am and 6pm tomorrow, in honor of Hulu hosting the online Collection for free between two holidays. This morning I offered my own suggestions, but tomorrow I'll be exploring uncharted territory and will only view films I haven't seen, focusing - at least initially - on those unavailable through Netflix, You Tube, or other online services. I'm excited to see what new films I discover, and as soon as I've watched one I will upload a screen-cap to Twitter and to a post on this blog which I will continuously update all day, along with a brief capsule capturing my immediate thoughts. A lot of the stuff is short, so I'm hoping I can fit in 7 or 8 films in my 12-hour session, but at bare minimum I'll watch at least 5 - the same number of films I viewed in all of January, so this will be a nice change of pace for me. If you haven't yet, follow me on Twitter to keep up. See you tomorrow...

Recommended Cinema: Hulu, Criterion & Beyond

Many of you know (and the rest of you should know) that The Criterion Collection has offered all of its content for free on HuluPlus between Valentine's and President's Day. This treasure trove of films includes many not available in their DVD catalog. With only two days left, choices must be made.

I add my voice to the cacophony of recommendations, with the proviso that I've chosen films a tad more overlooked than, say, Breathless, Modern Times, or Seventh Seal (that said, some of my picks are hardly obscure). Needless to say, I hope this guide remains useful long after the Hulu promotion has ended.

As for myself, I've flirted with the notion of a 12-hour marathon on Monday (I don't work until evening, my sad equivalent to a day off), exploring films that I haven't seen yet and live-tweeting screen-caps from each movie I view, perhaps with brief comments. Would anyone be interested in following this exercise? I have other tasks I should prioritize, but I hope you'll encourage me to be irresponsible. ;)

Anyway, on with my dozen recommendations for Hulu/Criterion bliss. I've included excerpts from previous reviews or fresh thoughts on films I haven't discussed before. It's up to you, of course, which ones you want to watch.

Except for Paris Belongs to Us.

That one's mandatory.

The Hangman Puzzle

A visual tribute to Death by Hanging (1968)
This film will kick off a renewed Favorites series next Wednesday - you can watch the whole movie here!

Why you should follow me on Twitter (#WatchlistScreenCaps)

As some of you may know (a dozen of you, to be exact), I've taken to Twitter in the past week. So far I've mixed some retweets, original musings, and responses to other tweets with the usual linking of new pieces on my blog. I've also just added a sidebar to the blog where you can see my new tweets as they arrive.*

And why should you care? Well, here's why: I've just come up with a fun new feature, Twitter-exclusive, simple but hopefully enjoyable: #WatchlistScreenCaps. Every time I watch a DVD, I will take an interesting screen-cap and link it up on Twitter. No title, just a link to an arresting image from the film in question, and maybe some brief thoughts on said film. Respond with your own thoughts, if you are so inclined!

May even be fun guessing the movie, since it will not always be obvious - this will be a bit of a game at times as well (like the long-departed "Guess the Pic" feature on Wonders in the Dark, or Filmbrain's equally defunct screen-cap contests, except with no prize). I'll be happy to reveal the title, but only if anyone cares enough to ask, so there's incentive for ya. That said, the first one will not be very tricky.

Should be fun. See you there. And follow me here. I'm thinking a baker's dozen might be nice...

And no, the picture up top is not my first entry in the feature (you'll have to click the above link for that). It's just a bunch of blue birds, which seemed appropriate for a post on Twitter. Although bonus points if you can identify the film it comes from as well.

*Cannot, for the life of me, get a Twitter feed to show up on the sidebar. Cut and pasted the widget embed code from the Twitter website, where it previews fine, but here all I get is "Follow @LostInTheMovies". No feed of recent tweets. Anyone with advice on the subject, please please comment below. Argh.

Lost in the Movies Status Update

On Friday, I mentioned that I'd be returning to form by Monday, with a fresh post followed by a resumption of the Favorites series. Overly optimistic, as it turns out. Too many real-world demands on my attention to make this feasible - nonetheless, I will be posting at least once a week from now on (and no, this doesn't count as my weekly post) and I would like to pick up where I left off on the Favorites series sooner rather than later. I'd also like to figure out how to actually use Twitter beyond the once-every-couple-weeks link post, and try to expand the blog's reach via Pinterest and other viral tools. All of which will probably be more manageable when I'm not working 60 hours a week and entertaining visitors. But I've got ideas aplenty for this blog for 2013. So as they say, watch this space. And, well you're at it, watch my movie! (You didn't think I'd let that opportunity slip by, did you?)

Oh, and for the curious, you can follow me on Twitter - and thus encourage me to take better advantage of the damn thing, whatever it is - here.

These pictures speak 747,000 words

Whenever I hit a transitional moment on my blog, I like to consolidate everything before moving on. In that spirit, today I updated my picture gallery with screen-caps from the past couple months, including some from my own film, Class of 2002 (which you can see here).

For those who haven't scrolled through my picture gallery in a while, it's a good time to revisit. For those who haven't visited yet...what are you waiting for? If you love soaking in diverse images, albeit randomly (these are organized alphabetically by title rather than any visual system), you will truly dig this page.

Each picture leads directly, with one click, to the original post that featured it. Speaking of which, since the question had been posed, I've also updated Island of Lost Pictures, my December image post, so that now at the bottom it features links to every post those images were intended for.

I will return Monday with fresh material, perhaps a review of a current release making waves (no promises!) and from now on the blog will chug along at its usual pace. I'll resume The Favorites series next Wednesday too, and have to figure out something new for Fridays, because Neon Genesis Evangelion is being put on hold while I write new pieces and include a new, very interesting member in the discussions which follow each piece. I also have ideas for Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday posts but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

In the mean time, here are a few tasty morsels of the picture gallery to whet your appetite, but it's best seen against a black page, spread out as far as the margins allow, shooting off in a million directions. Not just movies, but paintings and a few photographs are featured, so it's a visual treat, and a very fun way to explore my blog to boot.

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