Lost in the Movies: February 2014


For one year, I kept track of everything viewed digitally by tweeting/blogging a screen-captured image accompanied by a caption. Here are all the movies I watched in the past year.

With #WatchlistScreenCaps now concluded, it makes sense to round up all the pages in one convenient post. During the past year, I updated my viewing diary with the latest entries appearing at the top. Meanwhile I maintained a chronologically-organized page and several category-pages (feature, documentary, animation, short, music video, miniseries, online videos, Criterion DVDs, and Grail themes). I didn't want to draw attention to these pages until the whole endeavor finished.

So now you can browse eye-catching images from 747 films, laid out from the earliest silent days to the present. While my viewing tended in certain directions, there's still enough breadth and diversity here to offer something for everyone. If you're more interested in specific categories, just skip the big page and visit the relevant subpage. I enjoyed organizing these (for the most part), and I hope you enjoy looking at them.

Finally, one of my initial ideas - which quickly fell by the wayside - was for people to guess films based on the picture I tweeted, hopefully spurring a discussion (which did occasionally emerge). It isn't too late to chime in on any of these movies. Ultimately, I hope an enticing image from something you haven't yet seen will encourage your own cinematic journeys.

Images from all 747 films I watched over twelve months - including music videos, complete series, and stand-alone YouTube clips - are included above. Large images are from features, smaller images from shorts. The journey begins with Lumiere and ends (or continues?) with Vimeo, interspersing black-and-white features with colorful cartoons, genre-based narratives with esoteric experiments, and political documentaries with family entertainment. To my eyes, this the most interesting way to review my year of viewing, but if you prefer a more specific approach...

Feature Films (Fiction)
When most people hear "movies" they immediately think fictional narrative features, shot with actors and running about 2 hours. Most of the titles here fit that bill (although there are some experimental films and animated features interspersed throughout). I included 215 films, spanning all continents and genres, from 1916 to 2013.

In 2013 I finally tackled cartoon compilation DVDs collected years ago, resulting in 268 screen-caps, spanning from 1908 to 2013. Most are from the golden age of studio cartoons (late 20s - mid 50s) but I've also included wild avant-garde twists and turns. Styles range from cel animation to stop-motion to CGI and features are interspersed with (mostly) shorts. This page features some of my favorite images.

Much as I favor nonfiction reading, I'm often more excited to watch a movie for informative purposes - to find out something new,  explore a new corner of the world, or revisit a favorite subject. I viewed 73 documentaries on many different topics. Shorts and features intermingle freely.

Live-Action Shorts
In 2013 I participated in a weekly poll, nominating short films for the ballot. Unsurprisingly, there were many shorts I had to check out for the first time, particularly from the late seventies to the present - most of these titles were part of that adventure. Images from 90 short films are divided into narrative, documentary, and experimental subcategories. See here for a list of personal favorites.

Music Videos
Often overlooked in cinematic overviews, music videos played a major role in influencing/reflecting film styles and often did a better job than features when it came to echoing (or shaping) the zeitgeist. I went on a video binge near the end of my viewing year, following some recent lists to watch numerous classics. Here are 113 music videos, including a few proto-videos from the pre-rock era.

I don't watch much TV. However, I decided to undertake an exploration of several classic miniseries last year, as well as rewatching a few documentary favorites and checking out one extended web series (and its shorter follow-up). (I also screen-capped a few stray TV episodes for my viewing marathons, but they aren't included here.) All told, I completed 14 series.

Online Videos
This category, seemingly the most trivial, actually had the most purpose behind it. While brainstorming a screenplay about a web-based filmmaker I explored all the viral video memes I'd seen or (mostly) missed since the mid-00s. While much of YouTube is fleeting and fragmentary, I believe the cinema's future will grow from these seeds. After all, in 1904 no one thought novelty one-reelers would lead anywhere...

Grail & Arthur Themes
That same screenplay idea involved the Grail legend too. All spring I researched Grail sources on both page and screen (see here for most of my literary explorations), ranging from operas to kids' cartoons, psychological dramas to televised documentaries. And these are just the 13 films explicitly related to Arthurian myths: subtle Grail themes undoubtedly popped up elsewhere on my watchlist as well.

Criterion Collection
Some of the sharpest, more arresting images I captured came from Criterion DVDs, so I have lined up all 44 selections by spine number. Nothing streamed or viewed in non-DVD formats has been included although I watched several Criterion titles on Hulu too.

Finally, if these images aren't enough, you can scroll through 500 leftovers - screen-caps I took but dropped in favor of others (often they're just as worthy). You can also skim the original posts, including extra pictures at the tops and bottoms of each. Thanks for following along or catching up - I hope it was worthwhile.

The Final #WatchlistScreenCap (& some notes on my year of screen-capping)

A 19th-century train pulls in to my phone - where will it go next?
viewed February 12, 2014
L'arrivee d'un train en gare de la Ciotat (1896), dir. Louis & Auguste Lumiere

And that's it for #WatchlistScreenCaps. Believe it or not, I rambled for three paragraphs about the limitations and advantages of this visual viewing diary approach before I caught myself. One of the impulses behind this yearlong endeavor (which began here) was to let images speak louder than words. So be it. I'll have a more formal post in the near future, including links to pages that break down my viewing diary into various categories (feature, short, documentary, animation, etc.) which should offer easier/more useful perusal for the curious. But for now, if you're hungry for images you can explore the chaotic yet, I think, somewhat charming viewing diary page which simply records my year of watching (features, shorts, music videos, miniseries, even YouTube clips) in the order I watched them - from the bottom up. I was going to offer explanations (or excuses) for the focus - or lack thereof - in the year's viewing, but if you have any questions feel free to ask below.

And oh, I've heard a few people suggest they might like to take this approach as well. Please do (or share, if you already have, now or in the past - I'm sure I'm not the first). While I'm relieved to be done with the compulsive aspects, I'll miss that sense of a single frame crystallizing or, conversely, allusively suggesting the full filmic experience. Humor me.

What remains of #WatchlistScreenCaps: gleaning the castaways

Over the past year, I've selected, tweeted, and posted one image from every film I watched (including shorts, music videos, and YouTube clips, as long as they were self-contained). My choices were based on a number of factors: striking composition, personal connection, iconography, originality, sometimes whatever fit the particular caption I had in mind. As a result, hundreds of images were screen-capped without being chosen (aside from the headers and occasional bonus pics posted in round-ups). Many of these were just as interesting, representative, or beautiful as the screen-caps chosen - perhaps more so.

Over a year ago, when this blog was four and a half years old, I posted a massive line-up of images I'd uploaded to Blogger but never posted. There were 219 images featured; this time there are exactly 500 - more than double in less than a quarter of the time. That should indicate what a harvest my quest for screen-caps yielded, so that even the gleanings are rich.

The half-thousand images below are divided into two sections: films and music videos, and within that they are ordered alphabetically by film or song title, which makes for some interesting juxtapositions. Every title is linked to the relevant #WatchlistScreenCaps round-up so that you can see what image I did pick. I even included some TV series I screen-capped even though I usually didn't feature those in my round-ups (unless completed).

Finally, and as always, I hope images from films you haven't seen yet - or better yet, haven't even heard of - will encourage you to seek them out. Most, if not all, are worth the effort. And of course if you have any comments on these films, or questions about them, please leave a comment and we can discuss further. OK, that's it for the words, now for the images...

#WatchlistScreenCaps, 2/8 - 2/12 (the final round-up)

Here are the last ten films I watched (except for my Hollywood classic marathon, which was gathered on a separate page), with a screen-captured image and caption. Linked titles lead to my posts on that film. This is my final round-up, although two concluding posts will go up later today. One entry features screen-cap "cast-offs" I took without using (many of which are equally or more compelling than the images I chose), while the concluding entry links to numerous pages organizing my viewing diary chronologically (by release date) and by category. That last entry will also include a screen-cap from one more film, the final movie I'll be watching in the twelve months from February 12, 2013 to February 12, 2014. It will be a short film; appropriately enough, my final feature was Yellow Submarine, the film I chose to illustrate my announcement of the #WatchlistScreenCaps series one year ago. Visit my #WatchlistScreenCaps archive for images from everything I've watched in the past year.

The Hollywood Classic Marathon (February 11)

With less than a day to go before my #WatchlistScreenCaps viewing diary concludes, I've been catching up on blind spots from the past year. If I were to continue this exercise another month, I think I'd watch Hollywood classics from the thirties to the fifties almost exclusively, as that period is at once a favorite of mine, extremely crucial to film history, and - ironically - severely underrepresented in my viewing habits since February 2013.

I couldn't make up for this in just one viewing marathon, but nonetheless these ten classics from my collection (except for Frankenstein, which I had to watch online) can do their little part to correct the imbalance. From morning till midnight, I traveled from 1931 to 1954, via gangster, horror, musical, adventure, comedy, noir, and western films, and most of the major studios (I think only Paramount got shafted). Stars like James Cagney, Astaire and Rogers, Kate Hepburn, Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart (twice), Errol Flynn, Kirk Douglas, Gene Tiernay, Robert Mitchum, and Marlon Brando - among others - shot across my screen, although not all were featured in my eventual screencaps.

Here then are the ten films I watched on Tuesday, with a screen-captured image and caption for each. Linked titles lead to my posts on that film (every single one of today's films has been featured in some capacity on Lost in the Movies). Visit my #WatchlistScreenCaps archive for images from everything I've watched in the past year. Stay tuned later today as at least three more posts will be going up before the year-long venture finally closes.

Sixties Flashback: #iPodAlbumPlaylist, January 2014

Oddly enough, though I only recently began choosing the albums on my #iPodAlbumPlaylists at random (rather than assembling a selection first, and then shuffling everything on the list) January became my most themed month yet. After sampling three albums from the 90s and then five albums I had never heard before, I launched into a 35-album splurge in which I only listened to LPs released between 1964 and 1970 (plus one from 1971). Maybe it was because I was gearing up to watch a series of 60s movies, or perhaps I was just feeling nostalgic myself - not so much for the 60s (which I was 14 years too late to experience) but for exactly ten years ago. Around January 2004, after burning out a bit on movies I began to deeply explore rock music - particularly album rock - for the first time ever (for some reason in high school, I'd been only a casual listener, the sort who owned only a handful of CDs, mostly movie soundtracks and a few ubiquities like Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band).

The journey began the previous autumn when a movie obsession was still at its height; I viewed A Hard Day's Night for the first time and realized, to my surprise, that I was unfamiliar with most of the songs on the soundtrack - even though I had thought of the Beatles as my favorite band. The coming year, already a time of transformation for me, would be illuminated and amplified by a growing obsession with music (particularly rock - first classic and then punk/post-punk - which I'd mostly overlooked in favor of hip-hop in high school). For a while I hardly watched any films at all and spent most of my time glued to headphones, exploring a sonic universe I hardly knew existed.

It began tentatively with the Beatles CDs at home - an odd bunch of singles collections, Anthology outtakes, and the then-new "Naked" edition of Let It Be (I fell in love with the stripped-down version of "Across the Universe", and consider that my gateway drug into the next several years of audiophilia). As '04 began, I ventured to the record store and bought a few proper albums, Abbey Road and Help! as I recall. Within a few months a roaring Beatles obsession had spilled over, with purchases of Pet Sounds and 12 X 5 opening the floodgates, into a deluge of sixties sounds - with the Dylan and Stones catalogues getting particularly heavy rotation. This obsession arrived at the perfect time, when CDs - and therefore proper long-player albums - were still just barely the prime currency of musical exploration, and yet the emergence of the iPod and iTunes (in a college dormitory shared between multiple floors, yielding thousands upon thousands of possiblities) made this exploration so much easier. Within a year of hearing Abbey Road for the first time, I considered myself something of a connoisseur of sixties albums and had delved deeply into later periods as well.

Within about two or three years, perhaps because I had no musical inclinations or talents myself and therefore no hope of participating directly in my passion, this musical obsession ended. However, it left behind a collection of CDs and vinyl records (my own enthusiasm had spread to a roommate who also hadn't any previous rock affinity), a treasure trove of new idols, inside references, and favorite sounds, and a deep impact on my film sensibility, which became more rhythmic and spontaneous under the sway of my sonic shamans. Although these albums had been cultural icons/cliches for decades, I had somehow escaped their creeping familiarity as a teenager, so in the mid-zeroes I was hearing them all at once with fresh ears and a perfectly receptive mind. I still recall the thrill of experiencing records like Sticky Fingers, Pet Sounds, We're Only In It For the Money, and even the White Album for the first time. No less exciting were the albums that gradually grew on me: I remember hearing Blonde on Blonde and Exile on Main Street a few times, wondering what exactly people were raving about, before they suddenly "clicked" for me and revealed the multitudes they contained.

My stint as an avowed music obsessive eventually journeyed far beyond the sixties (albeit no other single period was explored as rapidly or deeply by me) but those years still remained at the core even as I burnt out on that canon and welcomed the punk and post-punk rebels to refresh my ears. Regardless, ten years ago I fell in love with music for the first time and if the intensity of that love affair ended eventually, its residue remains - perhaps to be reanimated at some point in the future. Anyway, I had fun revisiting experiences which were definitely personal highlights of an often frustrating time in my life. My early twenties was confusing, disappointing, and frustrating for me but when discovering the enormous emotional potential of rock music I felt young, alive, and free in a way I rarely did when the headphones, stereo, or record player were shut off.

Below are the album covers, info, and favorite tracks (linked to online videos) from everything I listened to in January - my biggest one-month binge yet with 43 titles, total (the sixties contingent, forming 5/6 of the total, was all squeezed into the month's second half). You can visit previous #iPodAlbumPlaylist round-ups, and also follow this hashtag on Twitter.

Oh and why not ask - what do you think of these albums, what is your favorite era/genre, and did you too have a breakthrough moment when you went from loving a few songs here and there to embracing and exploring as much of the musical universe as you could grasp?

10 Auteurs in a Day: the missing director marathon (February 6)

I thought January's viewing marathon would be my last before concluding #WatchlistScreenCaps, but here we are again. My year-long viewing diary ends in five days, and some gaps need plugging before it's over - hence two more marathon sessions, this being the first (the second samples classic Hollywood and is scheduled for Monday).

The point of my screen-cap approach was initially quantitative rather than qualitative: to illustrate what I happened to watch, not to offer up a comprehensive view of cinema history. Nonetheless, at some point I began viewing movies in part so I could screen-cap them and add particular films to my ever-growing image library. Therefore I began balancing out my watchlist, which leaned heavily (and unusually) toward the past thirty years, nostalgia over exploration, and shorts, docs, and cartoons rather than live-action fiction features.

These readjustments have been escalating in the past few weeks as I prepare to end the exercise - for example, my Monday round-up focused exclusively on the late sixties and very early seventies (which, despite being my favorite epoch, I'd mostly ignored till now). Today offers one of my most emphatic "fixer-upper" attempts: it hasn't been a very auteurist year for me, and a lot of great directors have been left off the roster...until now.

Of course there way more great filmmakers excluded than I could rectify in one day's viewings, so I turned to They Shoot Pictures Don't They?'s list of top 250 directors and picked the top ten whom I hadn't sampled in the past year. This still excludes many greats (to just sample the next ten directors I could have chosen: Powell & Pressburger, Vigo, Cassevetes, Lubitsch, Polanski, (wrong - forgot I watched Chinatown), Leone, Ophuls, Donen & Kelly, Kiarostami - whom I've never seen and should probably squeeze in before Wednesday - and Malick). However, it does nicely insert some great visualists (and hence some striking screen-caps) into my collection. And, more importantly, it allowed me to return to and also discover some of the most acclaimed films of all time.

Eight of the films were watched on Hulu (bookending another marathon from last February), the first four as revisits, the final four as first-time viewings for me. The middle two directors (whose work was barely featured on Hulu, if at all) were drawn from my own collection. Oh, and the #1 director I haven't watched yet in the past year is already scheduled for my upcoming weekend viewing, so I left Sr. Fellini out of this venture. I watched these titles in the order their creators appear on the list. Well, enough of this unusually lengthy intro...time to let the pictures talk.

So here are the last ten films I watched, with a screen-captured image and caption. Linked titles lead to my posts on that film. Visit my #WatchlistScreenCaps archive for images from everything I've watched in the past year.

#WatchlistScreenCaps, 2/3 - 2/5

Here are the last ten films I watched, with a screen-captured image and caption. Linked titles lead to my posts on that film. In this and the preceding round-up, I watched five mini-"programs" of a short followed by a feature, this time with some link (occasionally loose, often close) between them. Visit my #WatchlistScreenCaps archive for images from everything I've watched in the past year.

#WatchlistScreenCaps, 2/1 - 2/3

Here are the last ten films I watched, with a screen-captured image and caption. Linked titles lead to my posts on that film. In this and the following round-up, I watched five mini-"programs" of a short followed by a feature, usually with a link between them. Visit my #WatchlistScreenCaps archive for images from everything I've watched in the past year.

#WatchlistScreenCaps, 1/23 - 2/1 (Sixties & Early Seventies edition)

Here are the last ten films I watched, with a screen-captured image and caption. Linked titles lead to my posts on that film. This time, all the films I watched were from 1965 to 1971, one of my favorite eras in film history (yet one which has been severely underrepresented in my viewing diary of the past year, hence this entry). Visit my #WatchlistScreenCaps archive for images from everything I've watched since February.

Search This Blog