Arrival – 2016 Villeneuve

There’s much to chew on here that still can’t be fully accomplished in two viewings What I noticed on the second viewing is how straight-forward the voice-over prologue is by Adams—it’s laying out the ending for you which I love Gorgeous set piece (picture above) of mist coming off the mountain and into the valley—it’s a long, very well done helicopter shot I’m not sure about the sequence where we go to Renner’s voice-over for a long montage- seems like poor form to have the dueling voice-overs (we go back to adams for the ending) Adams’ performance, Villeneuve’s direction

Arrival – 2016 Villeneuve2017-06-26T20:32:38+00:00

I, Daniel Blake – 2016 Loach

This social political drama won the Palme d'Or Reminded me of Kurosawa’s ikiru- a damnation of Japanese bureaucracy Ellipsis editing- lack of music—it’s in the vain of cinema’s realism or neo realism (or neo neo-realism) Loach is a solid filmmaker but he’s not the dardenne brothers- no handheld camera to create immediately and intimacy—not quite the formal rigor of the Belgium realist masters—nor their penchant for beautiful images A very rich, memorable title character Fits in loach’s political filmography but not nearly as good as kes In my archive but not in the top 10 of 2016 Recommend

I, Daniel Blake – 2016 Loach2020-07-03T10:31:37+00:00

The Man Who Wasn’t There – 2001 Coen

This is far from the Coen’s best work but it’s a tribute to their depth of filmography just how good this “B-side” film is Certainly is fully a coen brothers film- but also pays tribute to noirs, old Hollywood, james m. cain pulp novels—with the story narrative, voice over, black and white photography Deakins work with that b/w photography is stunning- it’s the coens only film in black and white The cast is stunning with a real depth of talent. Actors as good as Scarlett, Richard Jenkins, and others fill out the ensemble but Billy Bob Thorton in the

The Man Who Wasn’t There – 2001 Coen2021-08-26T02:03:29+00:00

Interstellar – 2014 Nolan

There is such economy in the screenplay- the word “ghosts” is mentioned like 4 times in the first 8 minutes—I think Nolan is the far superior filmmaker (and writer) but I do see similarities with m night Shyamalan (they create labyrinths) and I think critics have a hard time with that sort of level of calculation (I think detractors would say it borders on manipulation)—Spielberg does it as well--- Matthew McConaughey’s cooper character says “I’m not always going to be there to help you”- I think some would say this is good form setting up the plot—others hate the

Interstellar – 2014 Nolan2017-06-21T17:32:31+00:00

Basic Instinct – 1992 Verhoeven

Like many of Verhoeven films it was severely underrated by critics but if you dig into the reviews- they admire Verhoeven’s style (at least a lot of them do) but cringe at the sleaziness of much of the content- which doesn’t factor in at all in my evaluation I love the vertigo-like opening with the Oscar nominated score by Jerry Goldsmith Borrows from jagged edge and de palma- but mainly it borrows from Hitchcock—specifically vertigo. The de palma comparisons come with the elevator stabbing scene and the psychiatrist involvement in dressed to kill- but even saying it compares to

Basic Instinct – 1992 Verhoeven2020-07-03T10:31:37+00:00

Gran Torino – 2008 Eastwood

It’s a fringe recommendation for me but despite the clichés and bad acting from the supporting players (boy does this film have some flaws) I think the sincerely in the relationships and characters are formally well earned Eastwood also has some auteuristic marks in the film from the preacher scenes (million dollar baby) and the spitting (directly from outlaw josey whales) Some great dialogue exchanges with Eastwood- both on his own and some nice scenes with John Carroll Lynch Not in or near the top 10 of 2008 but in the archives Recommend

Gran Torino – 2008 Eastwood2017-06-19T14:36:24+00:00

Bull Durham – 1988 Shelton

Rightly praised for its colorful screenplay by Shelton (who spent 5 years in the minors himself) and for the strong 3 leads (Costner, Sarandon, and Robbins) who would become major stars for the next decade—all three leads are superb but I think Sarandon largely makes the film work- she’s amazing with accent- her “patronizing” It’s not great direction from Shelton—there are 2 montages in the first 5 minutes- the black and white photos of all-time baseball greats over the opening titles is great but the ball park “rock around the clock” is uninspired and, to make matters worse, repeated

Bull Durham – 1988 Shelton2020-07-03T10:31:37+00:00

Loving – 2016 Jeff Nichols

Nichols and his two leads (Negga and Edgerton), through nuanced and un-showy performances, go through pains to set up their love, these two people, and their circumstances as both common and some sort of eden of perfectness The film is paced, measured, intelligent but also rather unremarkable which is disappointing now that we’re some years removed from nichols shotgun stories (2007) which is a great debut film and take shelter (2011) which is a transcendent sophomore effort Nichols also does a good job of making urban living (DC here) look like doing time in the state pen Some very

Loving – 2016 Jeff Nichols2017-06-12T18:19:33+00:00

Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters – 1985 Schrader

Schrader, for what it’s worth, considers this film his best film as director Philip Glass’s luminous score and John Bailey’s photography (especially some of the venetian blind lighting/shadow work) helps make the film a truly magnificent work— the neon lights through venetian blinds in bed sequence is stunning- schrader does some great venetian blind work (taken mainly from bertolucci’s the conformist) in american gigalo as well Ebert says “the most unconventional biopic I’ve ever seen, and one of the best” There are 4 chapters set up in the beginning telling you the titles of the 4 much like the

Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters – 1985 Schrader2020-07-03T10:31:39+00:00

Enter the Dragon – 1973 Clouse

Lalo Schifrin’s (cool hand luke, dirty harry, bullitt) helps set the film apart and above lesser Bruce less and other genre films- the film is very score-heavy and dialogue is, by Clouse, smartly used pretty sparingly Sadly it’s Bruce Lee’s last film (and my only archiveable film to date). I think it’s fair to project he would’ve made quite a few more based on the quality of this film Clouse borrows from the James Bond series- focusing a little more on revenge and honor but he’s got bond-like lead henchman here (with a huge face scar) and a big

Enter the Dragon – 1973 Clouse2017-06-06T15:04:02+00:00

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington– 1939 Capra

Tour-de-force from Jimmy Stewart- especially in the last 30 minutes with the filibuster sequence Capra and Stewart sure are the normal rockwell of cinema- Definition of wholesome with his “gee whiz” sayings and naivety- it will test people but you can’t be too cynical- this film will win those over much like they do the jaded (at the beginning) jean arthur Rumor is Arthur wanted deeds star gary cooper for Jefferson Smith but cooper couldn’t have pulled off the intelligence (nor the passion in the last half hour) stewart gives the character Fast-paced wipe editing- 7 different characters speak

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington– 1939 Capra2017-06-05T21:08:24+00:00

The Bitter Tea of General Yen– 1933 Capra

Much like capra’s it’s a wonderful life the film can get very dark- early on there’s a hanging man in war-ravaged china blocking the mise-en-scene like a von Sternberg film Quickly edited but there’s some mistakes here with some slopping in scene dialogue continuity editing- Capra would get much better Very nice post-war set pieces with tons of extras- powerful scenes There’s a very interesting surrealism interlude- almost like a small silent film featuring the Nils Asther character as an almost nosferatu-like vampire with long nose and fingernails—it has very dramatic music like the silent, too I love Stanwyck

The Bitter Tea of General Yen– 1933 Capra2017-06-05T20:45:07+00:00
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