Blind Spot Series 2016

Last year’s Blind Spot Series was a resounding success. I finally caught twelve films that I had always wanted to see and wasn’t disappointed in the slightest. Credit to James McNally for the initial seed and credit to Ryan McNeil for making that seed a reality.

What exactly is this ‘Blind Spot Series’? Well, each year participants curate a list of a dozen films from their ‘to-watch’ list and delegate each film to a month of the year. 12 months, 12 films. Simple really and well worth sticking it through to the end. Putting together a list of 12 films that you have never seen before is not as easy as you’d think.

However, taking the time to select a diverse, perhaps challenging list will result in a wholly satisfying experience come December.

I did a quick round-up of my Top 5 Blind Spot entries from 2015 which you can find here and I can only hope that this year is just as spectacular. With a diverse programme set out for the next twelve months of movie watching here’s a quick run down of what I have planned.

I’ve made a some what concerted effort to watch more British films this year given the anticipated revival of British nostalgia and deadpan comedy with releases such as Dad’s Army, Sing Street, and of course Eddie the Eagle.

Well, don’t just stand there man, read on.

January Le Samourai (1967) – Jean-Pierre Melville

Jean-Pierre Melville, often regarded as the godfather of French New Wave cinema has posthumously become one of the greatest directors of all time. I’m ashamed to say, as a self-proclaimed cinephile, I have never taken the time to appreciate his films. But I’m kicking off my Blind Spot Series with Le Samourai his most famous work, let’s hope it lives up to its reputation.

February The Man in the White Suit (1951) – Alexander Mackendrick

True to the values of Ealing Studios and, to an extent, Britain at the time, The Man in the White Suit is a heavily satirised disestablishmentarian film running at a brisk 85 minutes. Framing the common man as the hero Roger MacDougall, John Dighton, and Alexander Mackendrick’s Academy Award nominated screenplay appealed to the contemporary British sensitivities and has since become one of the greatest British films of its era. *in high pitched voice* Symboliiism.

March Withnail and I (1987) – Bruce Robinson

They don’t come more British than this black comedy from Bruce Robinson that has deservedly picked up a considerable cult following since its release. I’ve seen the trailer but have to say I’m not overly excited, it looks unbearably dreary, but more than one source has lauded it for its quotability and if there’s one thing I love more than watching movies, it’s quoting them.

April Tirez sur le pianiste (Shoot the Pianist) – François Truffaut

Like Jean-Pierre Melville above, so to was Truffaut caught up in the exciting new era for French cinema, the New Wave. Releasing The 400 Blows (potentially his most influential work) just one year before Tirez sur le pianiste made him one to watch and I can’t wait to see what he’s made of. There’s even a couple of Thrupennies thrown in (non-English, non-Cockney speakers might have to look that one up.)

May – The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943) – Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger

Back to the British and this time I’m going as far back as the Second World War. Directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger this comedy-cum-romantic drama has made its way onto a few Blind Spots this year, coincidence perhaps but I just love the title and am intrigued to see where this one goes.

June The Ladykillers (1955) – Alexander Mackendrick

Another one from Mackendrick and I’m not sure which one I’m more excited for. The Ladykillers is much more oriented around the heist caper genre that British cinema was renowned for during this era so I’m setting my expectations high and I might even call it now, favourite Blind Spot of the year?

July Ghost in the Shell (1995) – Mamoru Oshii

Taking a break from classic British cinema and French new Wave comes Ghost in the Shell. In January 2015 I watched Akira, one of the most influential anime films of all time. This year I’ll be watching another one. Ghost in the Shell has spawned a number of western interpretations including The Matrix and I’m already preparing room on my top 5 anime list for Oshii’s existential masterpiece.

August The General (1926) – Clyde Bruckman and Buster Keaton

As is often the case with old silent films they aren’t necessarily appreciated at the time of release but earn themselves a re-evaluation somewhere down the line and do rather well. The General is one such film, co-directed by and starring the inimitable Buster Keaton it is now considered one of the greatest films ever made, what better place to start my Buster Keaton education. But will he top Chaplin or the Marx Brothers?

September Top Hat (1935) – Mark Sandrich

Inspired by one of my Dad’s recent passing remarks “I’d should really watch a Fred Astaire and Ginger [Rogers] film one day.” As I have never seen one either I figured this would be the best place to start so I’ll have to clear his calendar one night and stick this on, heck I might even get him to review it!

October Where the Wild Things Are (2009) – Spike Jonze

A rare case of a critically acclaimed book-film adaptation Where the Wild Things Are makes my Blind Spot for a number of reasons. Relentless recommendations, the rarity of the success, and Spike Jonze, the master behind Being John Malkovich and Her. Cannot wait.

November La Haine (1995) – Mathieu Kassovitz

Regarded as “vital” viewing after its 1995 standing ovation at Cannes, La Haine, much like Le Samourai, appeals to me for the same reason as British cinema, I simply do not know enough about it. I saw La Haine pop up a few times throughout last year but never got round to it, perfect Blind Spot viewing if you ask me.

December – Performance (1970) – Nicholas Roeg

Last year I ended on the heart-warming tale of Frank Capra’s George Bailey from It’s A Wonderful Life, a true Christmas tale. This year I’m shaking things up a bit. Nicholas Roeg like Mackendrick, Powell, and Robinson is one of Britain’s most influential directors so I’m heading back to his directorial debut. Here’s what The Telegraph had to say, “British cinema’s most tireless formal fidget, Roeg burst onto the scene with the psychedelic blitzkrieg that is Performance.” – ‘psychedelic blitzkreig’, SOLD.

Well, that concludes the breakdown of my Blind Spot viewing for 2016. Leave a comment if these have inspired you to create your own list or if you have some wise viewing recommendations for next year!

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20 thoughts on “Blind Spot Series 2016

  1. Those Alec Guinness flicks are fantastic, period. Enjoy them and add The Lavender Hill Mob to next year’s list if you haven’t seen it yet. La Haine is a punch in the gut of a film that still hits hard. The General may have you falling off something laughing, so sit on the floor while watching it. Also, while Ghost in the Shell is an essential anime, I’d recommend tracking down Roujin-Z just because it’s got a bit more resonance in today’s world and as far as I know, hasn’t gotten a remake of any sort unless you count the goofball Robo-G which is a completely different film (and live-action at that).

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    1. Excellent! I’ll definitely look into Lavender and Roujin for next year, or if I find time this year I’ll squeeze them in as well. I’m really looking forward to some classic British cinema and La Haine, as well as Le Samourai are both films I’ve wanted to see for a while now so 2016 should be a good year

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  2. Great list. Good mix of classic, foreign, and cult classics. I loved Le Samorai, and you will too. Bonus appreciation if you’ve seen John Woo’s The Killer (which seems heavily inspired by this noir). Good to see French New Wave here too. Nerd alert: Tarantino took his film company name from A Band Apart. I loved Hate too, brutally honest crime movie, with QT vibes. Enjoy these movies, James. I’m looking forward to your reviews.

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  3. Nice picks! I like seeing people’s Blind Spot lists – I’ve decided to join in for the first time too this year. :-) All I’ve seen of these is Where the Wild Things Are & Withnail & I. I tried to get through Ghost in the Shell but fell asleep so chose Akira for my Blind Spot instead. ;-) Hope you enjoy these!

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    1. Yeah I’m not sure if I’m gunna lime it but I guess if I never try it I’ll never know. Plus it’s good to have something that I’m not sure on, I’m usually pretty safe with the films I see

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  4. Hey James! HAHA I should probably just call myself a rookie now. I haven’t heard any of those films except Spike Jonze’s Where the wild things are. But yes, this is a very cool list. I’m not well versed at all in the older films, so this is refreshing to see :)

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