Gloomy Day 1565 by Pieter Bruegel, the Elder
As with all of the months of the year, even short February is packed with its share month-long observances. There are well-known observances, obscure ones and frankly some ridiculous ones whose very existence annoys me. If you live somewhere with a temperate climate in the Northern Hemisphere then by now you might be well over winter and in need of some levity. If you live in the Southern Hemisphere, of course, it’s summer and you’re hopefully outside getting stink blown off. If you’re staying indoors, here’s a list of February’s month long observances and some of my favorite films relevant to the subject. What are yours?
There are quite a few TV series and films where blindness has been a plot point. I bet that there are dozens, perhaps hundreds of other good films to enjoy in February but here are a my recommendations: the Zatoichi (座頭市) series, Wait until dark, The color of paradise (رنگ خدا), and See no evil (aka Blind terror).
American Heart Month
This category is a bit tricky. My first thought was Untamed heart (with Christian Slater) but I didn’t like that much (or I don’t remember liking it). Then Chapulin Colorado crossed my mind because of his heart-shaped emblem but he’s Mexican, not American, and February is American Heart Month. Maybe watch Wizard of Oz (because of the Tin Man)? I don’t know – suggestions welcome.
American History Month
This category is so broad! Since the observance was instigated by the Daughters of the American Revolution, I initially tried to keep my focus on early American history but I haven’t seen many films about early American history that I liked much. So maybe watch some films about chapters of American history about which you might not be as informed or with an interesting perspective. Here are some ideas: Weather Underground, How booze Built America, Stephen Fry in America, Incident at Oglala, and How the states got their shapes.
Black History Month (USA and Canada)
I’m sure that nearly everyone knows that February is Black History Month (Negro History Week began back in 1926). Its profile is higher (as determined by Google searches) than that of American Indian Heritage Month, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, and Hispanic Heritage Month – combined.
I’ve written fairly extensively (by blog standards) on the history of Black Cinema (See Part I, Part II, Part III) and (since Black History Month celebrates the entire diaspora) African Cinema (the cinemas of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Senegal). Here are some of my favorites that you may or may not have seen: Watermelon man, The spook who sat by the door, Brightness (Yeleen), The murder of Fred Hampton, and Waiting for happiness (Heremakono). I’d really like to see Killer of sheep but haven’t yet.
Canned Food Month
This is the month-long observance that I was thinking of when I referred to some as “frankly ridiculous” in the introduction. Besides a diet of that includes canned beans, the thought of eating canned anything makes me think of dystopias, roughing it, or dining in a hospital cafeteria. Please do let me know if you honor Canned Food Month by eating some kind of canned food and watching a film. Here’s my suggested viewing: Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, Blazing saddles, and The road. You could also listen to Can’s Ege Bamyas? too.
LGBT History Month (in the UK)
Since February is only LGBT History Month in the UK, I’ll keep my picks British. Some of my favorite LGBT-related British films (and series) include Brideshead revisited, Caravaggio, Maurice, My beautiful laundrette, Prick up your ears (about Joe Orton), and Wilde (about Oscar Wilde).
National Cat Health, Responsible Pet Owner Month, and Prevent a Litter Month
I’m not sure if it holds up but I loved The cat from outer space when I was four (and even had the View-Master adaptation – although that was something my sister got me after wadding up my copy of “The Wolfman” because “he’s ugly”). I might also recommend Tom & Jerry and Krazy Kat but the feline stars of those are usually in peril. Good stuff for cat-lovers include House (ハウス), Star Trek’s “Catspaw,” Cat listening to music, Maru, and My neighbor Totoro (となりのトトロ).
Since it’s also Responsible Pet Owner Month and Prevent a Litter Month, I’m mentioning them here. Part of being a responsible pet owner is spaying and neutering them. (Another part of being responsible pet owner is knowing when to put them down). It might also be fun to watch films about irresponsible pet owners. For some reason, most popular depictions of pets are improved with their removal (like Garfield minus Garfield). Pet movies I enjoyed unequivocally include Best in show and The cave of the yellow dog (Шар нохойн там).
National Cherry Month
I can’t think of a lot of cherry-centric films. This is where you come in (or the Cherry Marketing Institute of America if they’re serious about their mission). You could do worse than Taste of Cherry (طعم گيلاس), Twin Peaks, Dolls (), or Under the cherry moon. As far as music, saying that I can’t stand Buckcherry or Wild Cherry is putting it mildly. Neneh Cherry and Don Cherry are nice but that’s just their family name. Try Goldfrapp’s “Black cherry” and The Runaways’ “Cherry bomb” and leave Warrant’s “Cherry pie” alone while it cools off.
National Children’s Dental Health Month
I’m not going to spend time thinking about children’s dental health. Why would we need a special month to focus on kids’ teeth? Are they supposed to brush twice as much in February? Another ridiculous February observance. If you’ve got a film suggestion, let me have it. Otherwise, play the 1983 video game Plaque attack. Oh, and I guess Schizopolis has some good dental jokes.
National Embroidery Month
There are films about embroidery – this I am sure. I just can’t think of them. I’m sure the good folks at Stitches Magazine of America could – or you, if that’s your handicraft bag.
National Snack Food Month
Snacks make me think of Scooby-Doo, but if you’ve ever watched an episode as an adult – no matter how fondly you remember it as a kid – you will not in good conscience recommend that it be viewed by anyone. Also much as I enjoy a nice snack, I can’t think of any great, snack-centric movies. There’s a lot of popcorn in Real genius… and sunflower seeds (sometimes referred to as “polly seeds”) are central to the plot of Gigli but, well, you’ve already seen them both.
Not sure how many times one person needs to listen to “Hot Cheetos and Takis.” Now “Calbee Saya Snow Pea Crisps and Old Dutch Dill Pickle Chips” – that could be a great song. The subject of snacks were also tackled by The Streets on “Geezerz need excitement” as well as Splodgenessabounds on “Two pints of lager and a packet of crisps please.” Here’s The Rutles’ “Cheese and onions.”
National Weddings Month
Ugh. That’s my first reaction to the thought of films with weddings. However, there are some good films with big wedding scenes or subplots: Four weddings and a funeral (but you’ve seen that), Muriel’s wedding (you’ve probably seen that too), On her majesty’s secret service, Strangers on a train, and Wedding in Galilee (عرس الجليل). Songs about weddings are probably even worse (if there is such a thing – all I can think of is the video for Guns ‘n’ Roses’ “November rain”).
Potato Lovers Month
My favorite (and Dan Quayle’s least) tuber! Do watch Milk of sorrow (La teta asustada) – but don’t do it whilst enjoying potato dishes. Watch Aqua Teen Hunger Force (for Frylock), Trainspotting (for Spud – I’m trying!) and The two towers (“What’s taters, Precious?”). Here’s Denim’s “The new potatoes.”
National Wild Bird-Feeding Month
Finally, February is National Wild Bird-Feeding Month. I suppose this comes in the dirty end of winter because it’s probably the hardest time for the little things to find food. Enjoy The Birds, The Wild parrots of Telegraph Hill, The life of birds, and Kes.
Eric Brightwell is an adventurer, writer, rambler, explorer, cartographer, and guerrilla gardener who is always seeking writing, speaking, traveling, and art opportunities — or salaried work. He is not interested in writing advertorials, clickbait, listicles, or other 21st century variations of spam. Brightwell’s written work has appeared in Amoeblog, diaCRITICS, and KCET Departures. His work has been featured by the American Institute of Architects, the Architecture & Design Museum, the Craft & Folk Art Museum, Form Follows Function, Los Angeles County Store, Skid Row Housing Trust, and 1650 Gallery. Brightwell has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Magazine, LAist, Eastsider LA, Boing Boing, Los Angeles, I’m Yours, and on Notebook on Cities and Culture. He has been a guest speaker on KCRW‘s Which Way, LA? and at Emerson College. Art prints of his maps are available from 1650 Gallery and on other products from Cal31. He is currently writing a book about Los Angeles and you can follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
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