[Pickups: April (Revival and current)]

* The Adventures of Prince Achmed was such a treat! The oldest full length animated feature in existence, it is a stunningly beautiful silent film, created using hand-cut silhouettes. I saw it at SIFF Cinema with a live and original score by Miles & Karina, and it was just magical. The story, adapted from Arabian Nights, is still captivating. It’s fascinating to me to see how the mechanics of storytelling (and in particular comic timing) don’t really change.

* Mr Smith Goes to Washington was the final Metro Classic of this cycle. The lowest circle of hell: politics. It’s Capra at his flag-waving best, and of course we can’t help but love Jimmy Stewart, but me being me my favorite was probably Jean Arthur as the seen-it-all assistant, followed by Thomas Mitchell as journalist Diz Moore. Oh, democracy!

* Either you’re buying into Scream 4 or you’re not. I saw the first three Scream films that week & then went to the fourth at midnight, so clearly I was into it. Better than the second and third, and a worthy successor to the first, it featured all the jumpy-out bits, one-liners, and kick-ass ladies that I could hope for.

* The thing about Henry’s Crime is that it came out about sixty years too late. It is at heart a heist film, with Keanu Reeves basically playing himself as your typical noir hero, an everyman caught up in the underbelly of, in this case, Buffalo. Vera Famiga’s the love interest, Fisher Stevens is the scumbag, and James Caan is the salty old conman. Far more entertaining than it had any right to be.

[Pickups: March current]

* Carbon Nation is a fun but slight documentary on climate change. I liked that it was the sort of movie one could plunk their Tea Party parents down in front of (Who cares if climate change is real or not? There’s money to be made!), but it came at the expense of showing why these positive changes aren’t happening (there’s more money to be made — at least for a select group — by preventing it).

* I’m a huge, vocal fan of Moon, so I was perhaps unduly excited about director Duncan Jones’ follow-up feature, Source Code. And then it let me down, perhaps inevitably, by cheesy dialogue and a pasted-on romance. However, Gyllenhaal & Monaghan are both damn pretty, Vera Farmiga is always great, and the more you think about it, the more depressing the ending *actually* is. So, perhaps, hooray!

* My other highly-anticipated film of March, however, did not let me down. Sure to earn a spot in my Best of 2011, Win Win was another perfect small film from Tom McCarthy (The Station Agent, The Visitor). Seeee it. See all of them. All three feature characters who could so easily veer into stereotype under another director, but which remain firmly, fully real and true people in the worlds created by McCarthy.

[Pickups: March revival]

* In the Mood for Love. Yes, this is the second time this year. It was scheduled as the start of this Metro Classics sequence, and my toes curl at the words “shown on 35 mm”. It was a gift to be able to see it that way, particularly since the digital projection in January had so many issues. Films like ItMfL make me consider doing a best beloved films feature here from time to time.

* The Cutting Edge is a ridiculous movie, obviously. Ridiculously entertaining. Central Cinema showed it as the March Pajama Party, and for that it is pretty much perfect. Toe pick!

* I have never seen The Terminator before. Shocking but true. Luckily, Central Cinema is there to help me correct these grievous errors. Sarah Conner is totally my kind of action hero. She wears shoes she can run in! She gets to keep on all of her clothes! Pretty great overall, except for the full frontal Arnold. That’s what we get for sitting in the front row.

* Finally, the best TV dinner ever: Pride & Prejudice! Shown over two Wednesdays at (do we detect a pattern?) Central Cinema, Pride & Prejudice was just a fabulous, hilarious, satisfying experience. Sold out, full of fangirls of all ages, puddles of estrogen everywhere. You should all be jealous.

[Pickups: February (Oscars)]

The biggest benefit of participating in the Oscars Death Race this year was that it forced me to make the effort to see a few more in the theater that I might otherwise have pushed to DVD.

* Black Swan wasn’t one of those, since I’d seen it in 2010, but it was booked at the Cinerama, and I couldn’t resist going again. Still one of my favorites of last year, it really rewards a second viewing. The first time you see it, you’re trapped in Nina’s point of view, but the second time around you can free yourself from that

* Biutiful. Historically it seems that I have wanted to love Iñárritu films more than I actually have; they are well-crafted, but I failed to fully connect with them. In contrast, Biutiful broke my damn heart. Well-played, sir.

* Oscar Nominated Short Films (Animated) Strong package this year! “Day & Night” is the one everyone saw, as it was this year’s Pixar entry. Also, it is fantastic. “Madagascar, carnet de voyage” was probably my favorite, with its variety of animation styles. I could have watched a much longer version of it. The winner, “The Lost Thing”, was dreamy & original; I’m pleasantly surprised that it won.

* Oscar Nominated Short Films (Live Action) This was probably the most depressing live action package I’ve seen in years. Kids killing people, kids dying, Burundi in 1994… man. The winner was, I guess, the least-depressing in the group, the story of a Brooklyn guy who becomes Cupid. More or less.

* I’m so glad Barney’s Version got a nomination, if only for makeup, because then I made the effort for it in spite of the mixed reviews. I loved it. Loved. And I got a kick out of all the Canadian cameos. Now I need to read the book.

* Another Year was magnificent. At the center of it is that most unusual of things on film: a stable married couple, played beautifully by Jim Broadbent & Ruth Sheen. It’s a perfect small film, a year in the life, and would actually be a pretty great double feature with the sprawling biopic nature of Barney’s Version now that I think of it.

[Pickups: February. Revival edition.]

* The Little Princess screened as part of the Children’s Film Festival. This was the 1917 adaptation starring Mary Pickford, and the Film Forum got me in with the magic words “live score”. Performed by Leslie McMichael on three harps, it was a perfect match to a great hour of classic silent melodrama.

Also, I would be remiss if I did not mention that the Children’s Film Festival audience was one of the best behaved I have ever experienced. Adults would do well to take a lesson from them. (Especially, ironically, paying audiences. Free screening audiences know to put the damn phones away.)

* As a tie-in with the SciFi and Fantasy Short Films, SIFF Cinema again ran a series of SciFi on Blu-ray. (Yes, film would be better. But Blu-ray in a theater is still light years ahead of my TV. Plus, audience! And leaving the house! Anyway.) Last year I made it out for 2001: A Space Odyssey (which put me to sleep every damn time I tried to watch it on video, but in the theater? It is just as brilliant as everyone says. If you have the opportunity, take it.)

This year was a change of pace from that, with a double feature of Time Bandits and Galaxy Quest. The former I had never seen before & found utterly charming, and the latter I have long adored, even though I have never seen any Star Trek at all. It still totally works, and it was a treat to see them both on the big screen.

* Earth Girls Are Easy is an 80s classic, terrible and also awesome, and quite formative in my, uh, perception of Jeff Goldblum. In other news, it’s for the best that I don’t live closer to Central Cinema, or I would be there every damn night.

* I saw the American cut of John Woo’s historical epic Red Cliff when it was released in 2009, and was unimpressed. I did think it was unfair to judge on half of the film (especially considering what a fan I am of the talent it had both in front of and behind the camera), so I was delighted when SIFF Cinema programmed the complete version. All 16 reels of it! (insert dreamy sigh).

It truly was a totally different feature, and though there were melodramatic and overly sentimental moments, they felt better earned this time around. The sex scene was still boring, though. Sad but true. The action was epic, dramatic, and absolutely clear, which is not always a given; the cinematography was beautiful; and I can’t imagine seeing it anywhere but on the big screen.

…also, can we take a moment to scan that list of films and giggle about the fact that they are all technically revival? A silent film, scifi/fantasy cheese, and a Chinese epic. Awesome.