[Pickups: January]

(Note: “Pickups” is a new feature collecting quick reactions at the end of the month for films I won’t file a complete post on.)

* Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part One. First film of 2011, seen with a friend & fellow HP fan when I was in BC for the New Year. It still works better than most of the previous ones — except my beloved Azkaban, of course — and I still can’t wait for Part Two in July.

* Blue Valentine. Fantastic performances, particularly from Michelle Williams who very much deserves her Oscar nomination (her & Jennifer Lawrence I approve of; any & all of the other three I would trade in a heartbeat for Carey Mulligan in Never Let Me Go). Great concept of cutting back and forth between time periods in a relationship, but it felt about 20 minutes too long.

* In the Mood for Love. This is often one of my top five favorite films of all time. It depends on my mood; occasionally I’m all about Happy Together. Even with the inevitable technical difficulties of digital it was stunningly beautiful. (I feel an entry on format coming)

[Weekender]

I had expected this weekend to be all about “due South”, so boy was I surprised when it turned into Alan Davies-O-Rama. Not that I had a problem with it, mind you, but if I’d known I would have brought my external hard drive instead of my dS dvds. So now I’ve finished “QI” Series 1. We saw some of series 2 (wherein Alan Davies cut his hair) and series 3 (wherein the curls were back, thank god). Plus, I had Alan Davies: Urban Trauma, which was brilliant and we hurt ourselves laughing. (If anyone knows where I can get his other show, Live at the Lyric, please let me know. I’m only seeing it on PAL tape, and even that’s not actually available.)

On the bus to and from I finished the first series of “Life on Mars“, which is just so fantastic I can’t even tell you. Tonight’s the third episode of the second (and last) series. This is something I love about television from the UK: shows that stay tight and awesome and end when the story ends instead of dragging on forever *cough*TheXFiles*cough*Lost*cough*

Back to Seattle yesterday to a mailbox full of Netflix. I started with Henry Fool, which comes with all manner of critical whatsit and… I hated and did not finish it. Take that, critics. I swapped it out for Educating Rita, a good move, as that one I loved, as well as liked much better than Alfie, also from the team of Gilbert & Caine. Finally, Shopgirl, which I had put off for some time because I had this theory that I was going to read the book… yeah, right. The film was flawed but beautiful.

[I don’t know what I am doing with my time]

* The Dresser was recommended to me by a friend in high school. Clearly I am a little behind. I don’t even know where he is anymore, so I can’t contact him and say “thank you!” and “I can’t believe it took me this long!”

* Sunday in the Park with George. Mandy Patinkin. Need we say more? I think not. (Although, since it hasn’t been that long since I last saw Into the Woods I was playing the “hey, it’s that guy!” game for a good portion of it.)

* Nightwatch. Once I sorted out the subtitle issue (Russian audio side, with English subtitles for the hearing impaired, because seriously, dubbing blows, plus, the subtitles are incorporated in a really fantastic way) I totally got into it. Utterly gorgeous. It is the first part of a trilogy, and that is clear, but I found it satisfying and not frustrating on its own.

* My Beautiful Laundrette. Did you know I had never seen this before? I -know-. Someone should have tied me up and remedied the situation -years- ago. Don’t you make the same mistake.

[End of January]

* I only got to watch the first disc of My Voyage to Italy because the second disc was cracked. Woe! I put a hold on it at the library instead of having Netflix send me another one, because I need to watch the seventy billion Italian films I have listed from the first half alone before I dare continue on. It’s really a fantastic documentary, basically a master class in Italian film, and it kicked up my Scorsese love a few notches, a thing I had not thought possible.

* Kitchen Stories charmed the pants off of me. It’s a really quiet film about a project in the 50s, where Swedish researchers tracked the kitchen movements of Norwegian bachelors, with an eye to increasing efficiency. Wait! Come back! It’s beautifully shot & acted, and full of sly, subtle humor, when the observer and the observed inevitably interact.

* I added Sherrybaby because I like Maggie Gyllenhaal, and she is absolutely the main reason to watch it. Also, there was a surprisingly touching performance (to me, anyway) by Danny Trejo.

* And as for Bridget Jones’s Diary, well. We all have our cheese. And I needed something on while I packed. And Colin Firth is hot.

[TV on DVD]

* Jonathan Creek, Series 1. It went in my Netflix queue because QI has hit me over the head with Alan Davies, and I stayed with it because I’m a sucker for English mysteries, locked room murders, illusionists and… Alan Davies. Am in the process of acquiring the remaining 3 seasons, because they’re not available on Region 1 DVD yet. Woe.

* Dexter, Season 1, on the recommendation of many others. Michael C Hall as a serial killer serial killer? Awesome. Disturbing and effective and also beautiful in its way. Plus, I adore David Zayas as Angel. That’s how I roll.