Throughout March I only saw 26 new-to-me films, but I did as planned and saw a lot more silent and unusual art house films than I normally would. I saw a lot of brilliant films during March, making it really hard to choose my top five. I have also been introduced to more actors that I was previously unfamiliar with. Clara Bow, for instance who is now one of my favourite actors. I also saw Trance at the Harbour Lights cinema during a preview screening which was absolutely fantastic! I was already familiar with Danny Boyle’s work, and if you saw my February 2013 in films summary you would have seen that Trainspotting made my top 5 of that month. He is however, now quickly becoming one of my favourite directors. Also consider checking out my Tasha’s 2013 in films March summary here, and my fellow blogger Kajsa’s March in films here.
You can see the full list of new-to-me films I watched during March here. This is my list of my top 5 films from March 2013, and a brief summary of how they have contributed to my appreciation of film.
5) The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (H. C. Potter, 1939)
It’s hard not to enjoy films starring the dancing duo Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. The film is based on a true story and follows Irene Castle as she convinces Vernon Castle to give up slapstick comedy and instead pursue dancing. Together, they attempt to convince agent Maggie to let them perform dance routines on stage. The film was a charming comedy, followed by tragedy, and has now added another film to my list of Rogers/Astaire films I have seen and loved. I’m hoping to see have seen all the Astaire/Rogers films soon as they are landmarks of Classical Hollywood musicals, and they really are thoroughly enjoyable.
4) The Swan Princess (Richard Rich, 1994)
I’ve always been fond of animated fairy tale films, and this was my first time watching The Swan Princess. I thought it was fabulous! It follows the lives of two children, a prince and princess, who spend every Summer together as their parents attempt to encourage them to fall in love so that they can marry and unite the kingdom, something they are reluctant to do. It had a fantastic balance of singing and narrative, and the songs didn’t act as a break from the story but rather informed the story itself. The characters had a lot more depth to them than is typical of a children’s film, and the story was very well written. This is one of the best non-Disney animated films I have seen in a long while, and so it was inevitably going to make this list.
3) It (Clarence G. Badger, 1927)
I’d wanted to see a Clara Bow film for absolutely ages, and so in March, I took the chance to see two (the other being Wings, also starring Gary Cooper). Clara Bow is charming and delightful as she flaunts her ‘It’ factor and mesmerises all those who watch her. This is one of my favourite, (if not my favourite) silent movies I have seen of the year. It is hard to get hold of a lot of Clara Bow movies in the UK, but I’m hoping to watch a lot more over the coming months.
2) Stoker (Chan-wook Park, 2013)
I had no idea what Stoker was about before I went to see it at the cinema. All I had seen was a beautifully illustrated advertisement poster and flyer at the cinema and the trailer (although I didn’t remember the trailer when I saw the film). This is one of the few films I enjoyed Mia Wasikowska in (I’m still not over how terrible she was in Jane Eyre). Stoker however was absolutely wonderful, and without a doubt Wasikowska’s finest performance. Nicole Kidman was likewise brilliant in it. The film was a ghostly psychological tale of love, violence and the fragmentation of the family structure. The film was reportedly influenced by Hitchcock’s film Shadow of a Doubt, with the character Uncle Charlie in Stoker being a nod toward a character of the same name in the Hitchcock film. It was thoroughly enjoyable with a gorgeous colour palette and is quite possibly one of the best films released in 2013 I have seen so far.
1) Brave (Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman and Steve Purcell, 2012)
Everyone loves Disney animated features, but there seems to be some debate about the more recent Disney films. There are those who prefer the ‘classics’ because they are the ones they grew up with, to those who find strong value in the more recent Disney films. However, whatever your take on the argument, there is no doubt that Brave is an instant classic. Spunky princess Merida skips around, freely shooting arrows as she engages in her beloved archery, whilst her mother attempts to control her spirited nature, encouraging her to focus more on marriage.
*SPOILER* The film celebrates female independence, and whilst it seems at first that one of the princes forced upon Merida will turn out to be a perfect suitor under the disguise of a foolish, boring or arrogant prince, the film ends with Merida breaking the broken bond with her mother and instead choosing to find her own prince in her own time. *END SPOILER*