The 300 Week 20: THIS IS META!


Hey, you guys, welcome back to The 300, a recurring feature on my silly attempt to watch 300 movies in theaters in the year 2018. I’ll be watching new releases, classics, and hidden gems to experience the wide world of cinema in all its forms. With so much being watched, there should be something each week that you can also enjoy. 

As always, there are three rules for The 300:

  • The movie must be at least 40 minutes long, meeting the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ definition of a feature film.
  • I must watch the movie at a movie theater, screening room, or outdoor screening venue.
  • While I can watch movies I’ve seen before 2018, I cannot count repeated viewings of the same film in 2018 multiple times.

A slightly slower week than usual because of friends coming in from out of town and some other obligations, but a pretty sound group of movies this week. And, somehow, MoviePass has not yet gone under. Still having occasional issues with ticket verification, which seems to be affecting a lot of other MoviePass users. Eventually this will get worked out. Maybe.

By the next installment of The 300, I will hit the midway point of this endeavor. A lot of this is thanks to the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival (The 300 Week 16 and The 300 Week 17), while the rest is all moxie. If MoviePass remains viable for the rest of the year, I might be hitting the goal way ahead of schedule. (I’ve just jinxed myself.) 

And so, onward.

142 of 300: All About Ah-Long (1989)
(aka 阿郎的故事; Ah Long dik goo si)

Director: Johnnie To
Starring: Chow Yun-fat, Sylvia Chang, Wong Kwan-yuen
Country: China (Hong Kong)
Seen at Metrograph (New York, NY)
Friday, May 18th

An apparent staple of Hong Kong television, All About Ah-Long is a tearjerker about former lovers reunited and the child they have between them. I’d always thought of Chow Yun-fat as a dashing Cary Grant sort of actor, so seeing him play such a low-class lowlife was well against type. He also has such an awful haircut for most of the film. Chang is a measured and reassuring presence in the film, able to carry much of the drama in her conflicted expressions. She helped write the screenplay for the movie during production, which was nonexistent on the first day of shooting. The melodrama culminates in an over-the-top flourish of classic Hong Kong violence that’s absurd but also perfectly expressionistic.

143 of 300: Brewster McCloud (1970)

Director: Robert Altman
Starring: Bud Cort, Sally Kellerman, Michael Murphy, Shelley Duvall
Country: USA
Seen at Metrograph (New York, NY)
Saturday, May 19th

I don’t know that I like Brewster McCloud, but I’m sure I will never forget it. Cort (portrayed as part modern Icarus and part sex god) is a quirky outcast living in the Astrodome trying to make wings so he can fly. Those who get in his way are killed via bird s**t. The plot of Brewster McCloud doesn’t matter so much as the mood and the penchant for weirdness. Some of the moments that evoke flight are transcendent. This is a work of lunacy. According to Metrograph’s Twitter account, a young fan once told Altman that Brewster McCloud was his favorite film. Altman replied, “You have excellent taste. And terrible judgement.”

144 of 300: The King and the Mockingbird (1980)
(aka Le roi et l’oiseau)

Director: Paul Grimault
Starring (English dub cast): Je ne sais pas
Country: France
Seen at Metrograph (New York, NY)
Sunday, May 20th

The King and the Mockingbird began its life in 1940s, though it was released as an incomplete work in 1948. Grimault was able to obtain the rights to the film, and eventually completed it as he originally envisioned in 1980. This 30-plus-year gap explains why some of the animation varies in style and the pacing is occasionally glacial. Yet taken as a whole, The King and the Mockingbird is such a beautiful, imaginative work of animation. The endless elevator sequence is hilarious, as is the anarchic storytelling, and the architecture of the impossible castle. It feels like a fairy tale evolving over the course of decades. As the film moves along, the latent revolutionary politics come to prominence, which leads to some lyrical images of class revolt during the wind down.

145 of 300: Deadpool 2 (2018)

Director: David Leitch
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Julian Dennison, Zazie Beetz
Country: USA
Seen at Regal Union Square (New York, NY)
Monday, May 21st

I liked Deadpool well enough, and I also liked Deadpool 2. The meta schtick grates in the opening 10 minutes, and it sometimes feels like the movie is trying too hard to land its jokes when it doesn’t need to. When Deadpool 2 finally settles in, it’s a rollicking good time with solid action sequences and a gruff meathead foil in Brolin’s Cable. Some of the overarching plot reminded me a bit of Hunt for Wilderpeople. Dennison’s in both films, and each movie is about the unlikely friendship of a child with a broken adult male who might serve as a father figure. I was also tickled by the Milligan/Allred-style X-Force/X-Statix moment. 

If Deadpool 2 has a glaring issue, it would be with the fridging of one of its female characters. (The trope of fridging/women in refrigerators involves a woman being killed, harmed, or depowered in order for a male character to progress in his story arc.) It happens early, and while it sets the plot into motion, the fridging probably wasn’t necessary to tell this story. What’s odd is that for a film so self-aware of comic book tropes, the screenplay never directly mentions WiR or fridging. Hell, Deadpool makes an overt Rob Liefeld joke as an aside, and yet no acknowledgement of a well known comics cliche.

Writer Gail Simone, who helped coin and popularize the phrase “Women in Refrigerators” and also had a brief run on the Deadpool comic in the early 2000s, weighed in on the matter via Twitter. Simone said that she didn’t think Deadpool 2 was technically a case of fridging, though did not elaborate to avoid spoilers.

Regardless, I think this Carmen Maria Machado evergreen tweet is applicable:

Everyone should read Machado’s short story collection Her Body and Other Parties, by the way. It was one of the best books of 2017.

And on that note, let us now fill some space below with…

The 300: By the Numbers Breakdown

Now that we have hit the 20-week mark, it’s time to look at some numbers for this kooky endeavor. Have fun and compare it to the breakdown from The 300 Week 10.

Movies by Decade

2010s – 78
2000s – 9
1990s – 11
1980s – 11
1970s – 15
1960s – 6
1950s – 5
1940s – 5
1930s – 3
1920s – 2

Movies by Country

USA – 74
US co-productions – 1
Argentina – 2
Argentine co-productions – 4
Australia – 3
Belarus – 1
Belgian co-productions – 1
Chile – 1
China – 2
Chinese co-productions – 1
Denmark – 1
France – 7
French co-productions – 2
Georgian co-productions – 1
Germany – 2
German co-productions – 1
Hong Kong – 3
Iran – 2
Iranian co-productions – 1
Israeli co-productions – 1
Italy – 1
Italian co-productions – 2
Jamaica – 1
Japan – 7
Japanese co-productions – 1
Mali – 1
Netherlands – 2
Philippines – 1
Polish co-productions – 1
Russia – 1
South Korea – 1
Sweden – 1
UK – 3
UK co-productions – 10
Yugoslavian co-productions – 1

Multiple Films by the Same Director(s)

Susana Aiken and Carlos Aparicio (The Salt Mines; The Transformation)
Robert Altman (Nashville; Brewster McCloud)
Wes Anderson (Fantastic Mr. Fox; Isle of Dogs)
Sebastián Lelio (A Fantastic Woman; Disobedience)
Lucrecia Martel (The Holy Girl; The Headless Woman; La Cienaga, Zama)
F.W. Murnau (Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans; Faust)
Lynne Ramsay (We Need to Talk About Kevin; Ratcatcher; Morvern Callar; You Were Never Really Here)
Steven Spielberg (The Post; Ready Player One)
Masaaki Yuasa (Lu Over the Wall; Mind Game)

Films by Women Directors

So in addition to The 300, I’m also doing 52 Films By Women, in which I try to see 52 feature films in theaters directed by women.

Currently I have seen 38 of 52.

Daughters of the Dust (1991), dir. Julie Dash
Loving Vincent (2017), dir. Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman
Soft Fiction (1979), dir. Chick Strand
Dis-moi (1980), dir. Chantal Akerman
The Ties That Bind (1985), dir. Su Friedrich
The Salt Mines (1990), dir. Susana Aiken and Carlos Aparicio
The Transformation (1995), dir. Susana Aiken and Carlos Aparicio
Strange Days (1995), dir. Kathryn Bigelow
The Party (2017), dir. Sally Potter
Oh Lucy! (2017), dir. Atsuko Hirayanagi
Scary Mother (2017), dir. Ana Urushadze
Ava (2017), dir. Sadaf Foroughi
We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011), dir. Lynne Ramsay
Ratcatcher (1999), dir. Lynne Ramsay
Morvern Callar (2002), dir. Lynne Ramsay
You Were Never Really Here (2017), dir. Lynne Ramsay
The Holy Girl (2004), dir. Lucrecia Martel
The Headless Woman (2008), dir. Lucrecia Martel
La Cienaga (2001), dir. Lucrecia Martel
Zama (2017), dir. Lucrecia Martel
Love, Gilda (2018), dir. Lisa D’Apolito
Nico, 1988 (2017), dir. Susanna Nicchiarelli
Island of the Hungry Ghosts (2018), dir. Gabrielle Brady
Cargo (2017), dir. Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke
O.G. (2018), dir. Madeleine Sackler
State Like Sleep (2018), dir. Meredith Danluck
All About Nina (2018), dir. Eva Vives
General Magic (2018), dir. Matt Maude and Sarah Kerruish
The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018), dir. Desiree Akhavan
Roll Red Roll (2018), dir. Nancy Schwartzman
Time for Ilhan (2018), dir. Norah Shapiro
The Feeling of Being Watched (2018), dir. Assia Boundaoui
Say Her Name: The Life and Death of Sandra Bland (2018), dir. Kate Davis and David Heilbroner
Blockers (2018), dir. Kay Cannon
Angels Wear White (2017), dir. Vivian Qu
Let the Sunshine In (2017), dir. Claire Denis
Sleepless Nights (1978), dir. Becky Johnston
RBG (2018), dir. Betsy West and Julie Cohen

Top 5 Theaters for The 300

Metrograph – 33
Quad Cinema – 17
BAM Rose Cinemas – 15
The Film Society of Lincoln Center – 10
Angelika Film Center / IFC Center – 6

* Cinépolis Chelsea – 25 (2018 Tribeca Film Festival)

Hubert Vigilla
Brooklyn-based fiction writer, film critic, and long-time editor and contributor for Flixist. A booster of all things passionate and idiosyncratic.