“2020 has felt like the longest 10 years of my life. I sure won’t miss it. The new year has got to be better, right? A vaccine that will hopefully bring the pandemic under control and get us back into movie theaters and inside restaurants. A new president who probably won’t throw tantrums or rant nonstop on Twitter. Being able to see people’s entire faces once again and not having to experience everything virtually. I don’t know about you, but I’m really tired of all this. If we’ve been in an alternative timeline this past year, some sort of bizarro world, I’m ready to be done with it.”
A year later and it doesn’t feel like that much has changed, has it? Though it did for a while, things were getting better. I got my vaccination shots — all three of them — and was seeing movies in theaters once again and eating inside restaurants. Eventually concessions returned to movie theaters — Film Forum popcorn! And faces were returning! More and more you saw people on the streets without masks. It felt like things were getting back to something like normal, and then the variants came along. First Delta and now the more transmittable Omicron. Even the fully vaccinated are testing positive for COVID. Feels like a reboot of 2020. Movie theaters are still open, but concession stands are currently closed at Film Forum, the IFC Center, Film at Lincoln Center, and other venues (though not at AMC theaters, last I checked). Public events are being either cancelled or curtailed. I wrote last year that I was really tired of all this and ready to be done with it. I’m sure we all are. Cases are spiking, and until those figures come down to more manageable levels, there’s not much we can do except be as safe as possible. I can probably live without Film Forum popcorn a little longer.
Now on to the usual random assortment of images and clips to close out 2021.
Courtesy of The Alligator People (1959), here’s a suggestion for New Year’s Eve attire that puts a humorous spin on COVID-19 protection. I’m wearing mine now.
Elisha Cook Jr. in a drum-solo freakout from Phantom Lady (1944). Perfect for New Year’s Eve. Stay with it until he gets rolling.
The title track from Lindsay Anderson’s great film, O Lucky Man!. I love this movie and this song. It just makes me feel good. Can’t argue with that.
Words of wisdom for the New Year from a lesser-known philosopher.
And since I seem to favor apocalyptic imagery for these Happy New Year posts, check out this jaw-dropping clip from Deluge (1933) depicting the pretty much total destruction of New York City by some kind of super tidal wave. Remember, this was made in 1933!
I can’t think of anything better to take us into the New Year than three versions of one of my favorite rock songs ever, “The Train Kept A-Rollin.'” It’s been recorded many times by many musicians. I first head this song on the album Having a Rave Up with the Yardbirds (1965). Okay, here you go.
Tiny Bradshaw, 1951. It’s the original version, from what I can find. More relaxed than it became, but really great.
Johnny Burnett’s version from 1956 is pretty definitive. Most interpretations have built on this one.
A powerhouse performance by Metallica during their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009, assisted by Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, and Flea.
That’s it for me. We’re in for a quiet New Year’s Eve, probably watching another UK cop show on BritBox or Acorn. Best wishes to all for a great New Year, or at least a better one. Stay safe, and keep watching movies! — Ted Hicks
P.S. Stay tuned for my recaps of feature films, documentaries, and television from the past year