Films in 2021: May

Hello June! It’s looking to be a promising summer ahead, especially on the film front with some long-awaited releases finally hitting theaters soon. I did finally go to the theater last month, twice in fact! My first venture to the big screen in 15 months was at the local arthouse theater, where I saw a double bill of Pedro Almodóvar’s new short film The Human Voice followed by one of my favorites of his, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. It was the perfect return to the theater for me, as I watched and revisited more than a dozen of his films at the beginning of the year. I also did see a brand new movie on the big screen over the holiday weekend, A Quiet Place Part II, which had a decently sized audience for a matinee showing (with seats spread out of course), so it was nice having that communal aspect after more than a year without it. Speaking of the film community, the beginning of May also marked TCM’s Classic Film Festival! It was virtual for the second year in a row, but this time it was spread out over TCM and HBO Max, and it included some fun Club TCM events via Zoom, so it was about as close to the in-person TCMFF as you could get. I ended up watching 15 new-to-films from the festival (they’re the titles following the first 10 movies I watched this past month), so it was a great festival full of discoveries. With all that said, let’s take a look at all that I watched in May.

New-to-Me: 60

Re-Watched: 20

New-to-Me Films by Decade:

  • 1910s – 0
  • 1920s – 4
  • 1930s – 8
  • 1940s – 7
  • 1950s – 14
  • 1960s – 8
  • 1970s – 3
  • 1980s – 9
  • 1990s – 0
  • 2000s – 4
  • 2010s – 0
  • 2020s – 2

List of New-to-Me Films:

  1. How the West Was Won (1962)
  2. Skippy (1931)
  3. Pather Panchali (1955)
  4. Aparajito (1956)
  5. Apur Sansar (1959)
  6. I’ll Never Forget You (1951)
  7. So Proudly We Hail! (1943)
  8. Hairspray (1988)
  9. Georgy Girl (1966)
  10. You’re a Big Boy Now (1966)
  11. Chain Lightning (1950)
  12. Doctor X (1932)
  13. The Whistle at Eaton Falls (1951)
  14. Grease 2 (1982)
  15. The Méliès Mystery (2021)
  16. Tex Avery, the King of Cartoons (1988)
  17. I Love Trouble (1948)
  18. Antwone Fisher (2002)
  19. Hunger (2008)
  20. The Namesake (2006)
  21. Her Man (1930)
  22. Princess Tam-Tam (1935)
  23. So This Is Paris (1926)
  24. Once (2007)
  25. Fame (1980)
  26. Blue Skies (1946)
  27. The Sea Chase (1955)
  28. Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon (1970)
  29. Cooley High (1975)
  30. The Big Picture (1989)
  31. Let’s Do It Again (1953)
  32. The Merry Widow (1934)
  33. Criminal Court (1946)
  34. Midnight Mary (1933)
  35. Ladies of the Jury (1932)
  36. Midnight Run (1988)
  37. The Great Muppet Caper (1981)
  38. Ishtar (1987)
  39. We Who Are Young (1940)
  40. Absolute Beginners (1986)
  41. Sergeant Rutledge (1960)
  42. Duel at Diablo (1966)
  43. Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957)
  44. The Patsy (1928)
  45. Love (1927)
  46. The Kiss Before the Mirror (1933)
  47. The Merry Widow (1925)
  48. Chaplin (1992)
  49. If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium (1969)
  50. Rome Adventure (1962)
  51. Stage Struck (1958)
  52. …and justice for all. (1979)
  53. A Quiet Place Part II (2020)
  54. Wings For the Eagle (1942)
  55. Nazi Agent (1942)
  56. Darby’s Rangers (1958)
  57. Imitation General (1958)
  58. The Devil’s Brigade (1968)
  59. Run Silent Run Deep (1958)
  60. The Enemy Below (1957)

A Few Favorite Discoveries:

Pather Panchali (1955)

Pather Panchali (1955), directed by Satyajit Ray

This past May 2nd marked the centennial of legendary Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray, and TCM had a 24-hour marathon of his films in honor of what would have been his 100th birthday. It was the perfect opportunity to finally check out a few of his films, namely the acclaimed Apu trilogy, and all three movies really blew me away. It all begins with Pather Panchali, following the young boy Apu growing up in a rural Bengal village. What I love most about these films is seeing how much Apu’s relationships shape him, and how the way he communicates with the people in his life impacts him. Here it’s the bond he has with his older sister that affected me the most.

Aparajito (1956)

Aparajito (1956), directed by Satyajit Ray

Apu’s story continues in Aparajito, as we see how his family’s move into the city influences his choices to pursue higher education, which ultimately means growing more distant physically and emotionally from his mother, who is torn between wanting to see her son succeed and wanting him to stay with her close to home. Seeing how much despair Apu’s mother is in as her adolescent son grows up is among the most heartwrenching moments in a series of films full of them.

Apur Sansar (1959)

Apur Sansar (1959), directed by Satyajit Ray

The final film in the Apu trilogy sees our protagonist’s journey come full circle. In Apur Sansar, he’s now a young adult, fresh out of college with ambitions to become a writer. He soon finds himself unexpectedly married, but he forms a beautiful connection with his wife whom he had only just met on their wedding day. It’s a fulfilling conclusion to Apu’s story, and the ending still resonates with me. I look forward to seeing more of Satyajit Ray’s work, hopefully, sooner than later. If you have the Criterion Channel, they have a whole collection of his films available to stream now in celebration of his centennial.

The Namesake (2006)

The Namesake (2006), directed by Mira Nair

I watched The Namesake as a part of TCM’s Classic Film Festival, which played on HBO Max with a special introduction from director Mira Nair. This film really exceeded my expectations, and it was my favorite discovery of this year’s TCMFF. Tabu and the late Irrfan Khan both give such heartfelt performances as Indian immigrants trying to raise a family and adjust to life in New York City. Kal Penn is also wonderful as their grown-up son, trying to understand his family’s traditions while forming his own identity in America. It really ended up being a very appropriate viewing during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

So This Is Paris (1926)

So This Is Paris (1926), directed by Ernst Lubitsch

You really can never go wrong with Ernst Lubitsch. So This Is Paris was one of the last films TCM aired during its film festival, and it was a really fun silent comedy, especially watching it with the TCM Party crowd. It’s a fast-paced film that still manages to squeeze in plenty of double entendres; you can see how much Lubitsch would really hone his signature touch in the talkie era.

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