A Day in the Country – 1936 Renoir

It’s a truncated film made from a feature project that was turned into a short film because of Renoir’s inability to finish It has just gorgeous photography (Visconti was the dp)—many critics have marked that he mirrored his father’s painting style here for this film There is a wonderful trade mark through-the-window Renoir shot here The editing, like the narrative, is light and airy- perfect for the frivolity- plotless with some gorgeous tracking shots along the river The storm montage sequence reflects the loss of innocence during the love-making scene- pretty strong stuff for 1936 It’s a film of

A Day in the Country – 1936 Renoir2017-04-28T16:06:43+00:00

Cluny Brown – 1946 Lubitsch

Sadly, not one of his best films, this was Lubitsch last before his death It still has the trademark “Lubitsch touch”- which is mainly sophisticated dialogue and narrative (I think someone orders a martini in every one of his films, and here the two men about to fight spend a long time explaining and discussing the gentlemanly rules) and breezy editing Strong cast from Jennifer Jones in the title role (She has amazing screen presence here playing an eccentric and spirited woman) to Lawford, Una O’Connor, Haydn, Boyer and Aubrey Smith Not in the top 10 of 1946 but

Cluny Brown – 1946 Lubitsch2020-07-03T10:31:41+00:00

The Parallax View – 1974 Pakula

It’s the middle film in the paranoia trilogy Pakula did from 1971-1976--- all 3 films (klute, all the president’s men) are superb Rightly so- this films comes up often when critics talk about the best political or paranoia films of all-time After the breathtaking prologue- the forward dolly “warren commission”-like statement shot and finishing free-frame is wonderful The eerie score certainly adds to the atmosphere There’s a long brainwashing video sequence that certainly made me think of a clockwork orange There is just one wonderful set piece after another ( space needle, gorge damn, the yacht, the parallax corporation

The Parallax View – 1974 Pakula2020-07-03T10:31:42+00:00

Comes a Horseman – 1978 Pakula

It seems like an odd choice to make a Western (albeit a 20th century-set western) after the paranoia trilogy of klute, parallax view, and all the president’s men. Pakula seems freed of the dark city and there are a lot of gorgeous long shots showing off the landscape photography (of Gordon Willis) here. Like most of Pakula’s work it does feature a corrupt system of power- and Robards plays the evil patriarch very well- like he would do several times in his career (magnolia amongst others) Nomination for Richard Farnsworth here- He’s excellent as is Jane Fonda and Robards—Caan

Comes a Horseman – 1978 Pakula2017-04-26T20:42:06+00:00

The Horse Soldiers – 1959 Ford

Certainly a lesser archive entry from Ford This is a really nice title sequence shot at magic hour with the sun in the background with music playing and a long string of riders single file on horseback William Holden (who may have been the second biggest star in Hollywood at the time behind Wayne) does a superb job going toe to toe with Wayne in performance and presence- this conflict (medical officer vs Calvary leader) would play out in other films and shows (star trek for one) It lays on the Ford slapstick comedy, the shtick, with constance towers,

The Horse Soldiers – 1959 Ford2020-07-03T10:31:42+00:00

We Own the Night – 2007 Gray

Another shockingly underrated film from Gray- I hate to admit it but the French (who adore Gray) are certainly correct in anointing him as a major auteur even when the MC critics (59 score) misevaluate him The cast is wonderful- Duvall is just one of the many nods at Coppola and the Godfather again from Gray The film’s narrative is really like a reverse version of the godfather – instead of Pacino, who is straight, getting pulled into the family business of crime—Phoenix plays the sketchy night-club guy who gets pulled into the family business – being a Cop.

We Own the Night – 2007 Gray2017-04-21T17:04:49+00:00

The Yards – 2000 Gray

After a disappointing debut, little odessa, it is the arrival of young auteur (31 at the time) James Gray Gray’s marks as auteur draw tons of similarities to coppola- the classic narrative here (which is really well done) owes much to the Godfather and american new wave cinema of the late 60’s and 70’s—his casting of james caan, Burstyn and Dunaway also are a nod to that—both Burstyn and Caan are terrific here Overall it’s just a jaw-dropping cast not only with those actors mentioned here previously but young actors Wahlberg, joaquin phoenix and Charlize theron The lighting and

The Yards – 2000 Gray2021-10-27T16:56:19+00:00

Accident – 1967 Losey

It opens with a powerful shot with accident audio off camera and a great dolly shot focusing in on the house From that strong opening there’s a real sense of strong framing with the bottle of whiskey, car, and bodies thrown from the accident The film as a whole is ultra-austere- just so understated and English- Bogarde is a big part of that with his manicured and internalized performance- he’s like a tea kettle slowly boiling after the woman he loves/lusts sleeps with basically everyone around him except him Heavily ambiguous and implied Interesting long sequence of acting with

Accident – 1967 Losey2017-04-19T14:13:51+00:00

The Entertainer – 1960 Richardson

It’s the second film from Richardson after his debut the year prior look back in anger (1959), part of the sort of british new wave but better known as like the angry British films from this era from him and Lindsay Anderson Full of cruel life and realism Olivier is absolutely brilliant here- he’s usually so regal in his performances but he’s a complete scoundrel or as someone mentions “a bit of a bastard”- shows Olivier’s range Early performances from Finney and Alan Bates and Livesey from colonel blimp is quite good as well Really haunting rendition of “why

The Entertainer – 1960 Richardson2017-04-18T16:02:57+00:00

Citizen Kane – 1941 Welles

The film is nothing less than a perfect melding of cinematic ingenuity and narrative brilliance- both perfectly executed and daringly unique It’s jarring how different it looks than every other film before it and nearly every one since New angles and experimentation with miniatures, deep focus black and white photography The narrative flashback structure Heavy on montages but none of them throwaway or half hazard It begins Welles obsessions not only with windows (shots through windows and reflecting off windows) but mirrors as well (lady from shanghai) Certainly could be called, along with maybe raging bull, the best biopic

Citizen Kane – 1941 Welles2017-04-17T14:36:56+00:00

Sudden Impact – 1983 Eastwood

It’s the 2nd best Dirty Harry film after the 1971 Don Siegel original. This one isn’t nearly as good but again has a great director- this time Clint himself. Most well-known for the famous “go ahead and make my day line”. The line is superb but that’s not it, it’s great writing of course, but it doesn’t work without Eastwood in front of and behind the camera- it’s really well shot with a tight pull in Sandra Locke can’t act but just like her performance in josey wales she’s perfect for this role- she’s icy and traumatized killer and

Sudden Impact – 1983 Eastwood2017-04-17T13:51:08+00:00

Dirty Harry – 1971 Siegel

The opening shot- a pragmatically chosen zoom shot (yes it’s 1971 and zooms are abound but this is a sniper shot of the killer) In that opening shot the wonderful jazz score is given full showcase as well- it’s from the guy who did cool hand luke and the mission impossible tv show score Accused, famously, by Pauline Kael of being a facist right wing film. This is really a negative review and criticism that is outside of the film world though- it has no bearing on the quality of the film from an artistic evaluation standpoint I’ve seen

Dirty Harry – 1971 Siegel2020-07-03T10:31:42+00:00
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