The Wolf Man – 1941 Waggner

The atmospherics in the forest with the lighting and mist make for a very strong visual The cast is excellent as well- Lon Chaney Jr is perfect as the likeable, well-intentioned, charming, but physically intimidating “wolf” ( double meaning here going after engaged woman) protagonist I get a big kick out of the father/son casting here with Claude Rains at 5’6 with On Chaney Jr and his big wide frame Legosi is so good in his scene- seems half out of it- goes by his own name “Bela” Rounding out the 4 good actors is Maria Ouspenskaya- twice nominated

The Wolf Man – 1941 Waggner2017-10-31T17:35:03+00:00

The Black Cat – 1934 Ulmer

Great film for multiple reasons: Yes, we have Bela Legosi and Boris Karloff going head to head but to the more seasoned admirer of cinema we have ulmer’s expressionist work with shadows and set design Universal vehicle after Dracula and Frankenstein The Edgar Allen Poe story has nothing to do with the film Legosi’s mannerisms are very strong—it’s a performances that walks the line of effective over-the-top-ness and campy—I think it’s the former Ulmer shows what he’d do 11 years later in detour/noir- we have constant rain and shadows here The Karloff cult here in Austria hints at Nazism

The Black Cat – 1934 Ulmer2017-10-30T18:57:44+00:00

Haxan – 1922 Christensen

It’s an ambitious work- both thematically and stylistically- from Christensen—Denmark Story told in 7 chapters In told in an essay style- I think Christensen sees himself almost as an educator- very didactic—he’s literally pointing things out (with a pointer) as we go through. It’s utterly fascinating stuff so that helps with his approach which is so pragmatic Artwork photographed, we also have the use of drawings and ornately designed miniatures Busy and beautiful mise-en-scene—animal skeletons and witches pot brewing No more a documentary than oliver stone’s JFK really—maybe slightly with sections where he’s it feels like he’s cataloguing different

Haxan – 1922 Christensen2020-07-03T10:31:19+00:00

Haywire – 2011 Soderbergh

It’s an interesting mixture of gorgeous photography and lighting (soderbergh), a very chill score (david holmes who also worked with soderbergh to create great atmospheric score for oceans 11 and out of sight) and heavy duty action sequences led by Gina Carano as protagonist She’s a newcomer and soderbergh is right to put her with veterans like mcgregor, michael douglas, banderas and bill Paxton and also in a couple good scenes with the talented michael fassbender and channing tatum Soderbergh’s harsh gorgeous yellow is used early (interrogation/meeting room in like 3 scene) and often. Highlights include a gorgeous escalator

Haywire – 2011 Soderbergh2017-10-30T17:09:03+00:00

Death Rides a Horse – 1967 Petroni

In the archives on the back of Lee Van Cleef and Morricone A horrifying opening—boy witnessing rapes of wife and mother and murder of entire family Crude and blunt in content (see above and a sequence of bad guys force feeding John Phillip Law salt before leaving him out to die of dehydration) and style-- it’s actually a decent match of both Heavy zooms and jump cuts It’s not leone but the editing and very inspired Reoccurring sequence of boy (john Phillip law as man) seeing red tinted flashback montages every time he sees an identifying trinket (tattoo, earring,

Death Rides a Horse – 1967 Petroni2017-10-30T16:46:38+00:00

The Mummy 1932 – Freund

Freund, the director here, was a top-tier DP during the era- he show many of murnau’s films. He shot fritz Lang’s metropolis. An Austrian cinematographer There was a real exploration of king tut that made this story relevant at the time Big follow up to universal and karloff’s Frankenstein in 1931 There are narrative shortcomings—“here (eager young explorer)—stay here and watch this casket we just found while we go outside and discuss this possible curse” Karloff’s screen presence and otherworldyness should not be discounted- he’s a great watch The story is the Dracula story—Edward Van Sloan plays the exact

The Mummy 1932 – Freund2017-10-27T20:41:58+00:00

A Raisin in the Sun 1961 – Petrie

The entire cast is amazing but it’s Poitier’s show. Very rarely has he played such a (largely… there reformation here at the end) unlikeable character. He’s a fireball of energy Like many stage plays of the era there is sharp writing, nastiness and acidity Around Poitier Ruby Dee, Claudia McNeil and Diana Sands are superb It’s the original stage cast— and it’s not their fault- it’s petrie’s- but it feels stage-bound and there’s some speechmaking surely that comes from borrowing so heavily from that art form and medium 2 close-ups on Poitier- he’s the only character that gets one-

A Raisin in the Sun 1961 – Petrie2017-10-27T20:25:53+00:00

Blade Runner 2049 – 2017 Villeneuve

There should be praise for Gosling, Ford, Roger Deakins and Dennis Gassner (the product designer who worked on road to perdition, skyfall, o brother where art thou?) but this is Villeneuve’s show and he’s in total visual command of this brilliant film Intelligent reflections and meditations on what it means to be human This is amongst the best work for deakins (only one I think right now is clearly superior is assassination of jesse james)—he has roots in dark sci-fi dystopia with 1984’s 1984 which is beautifully photographed. The entire BR 2049 is so visually arresting-- highlights I’ll mention

Blade Runner 2049 – 2017 Villeneuve2020-07-03T10:31:21+00:00

Topper – 1937 McLeod

McLeod directed some good Marx Brother’s movies. This movie is part screwball 1930’s comedy depression escapism, part marx brothers slapstick, and part HG Wells/James whale invisible man Spawned multiple sequels (without cary grant who essentially became a star in 1937 with this and the awful truth Very dark death drunk driving premise Supporting characters are superb- it’s really a film that stars constance bennett and roland young (uncle willy from Philadelphia story)—Grant is third banana and then we have alan mowbray as the hilarious one-lining wry butler and billie burke who would be glenda the good witch in wizard

Topper – 1937 McLeod2017-10-18T16:10:46+00:00

Paris, Texas – 1984 Wenders

It’s another gorgeous travelogue road trip wenders film with photography from Robby Mueller (dp of dead man, many of the jarmusch films actually, and worked with Von Trier on breaking the waves and dancer in the dark) even if it isn’t half as beautiful as kings of the road (also shot by Mueller) Sum of the parts are tremendous—we have a great lead performance from veteran supporting actor and this generation’s ward bond harry dean stanton. It’s written by sam shepard and ry cooder does the acoustic minimal music Rustic photography of the southwest—plenty of road signs (ongoing visual

Paris, Texas – 1984 Wenders2020-07-03T10:31:21+00:00

The Invisible Man – 1933 Whale

The Invisible man is an overlooked whale film simply because it isn’t a Frankenstein It’s his best edited film Claude rains is very good in a memorable first archiveable role- all vocal (and well done at that) until the final scene where he’s just lying there for 20 seconds The film eagerly moves—just like the camera. Love the tracking shot through the tavern in the opening and how the film tracks away from rains saddened fiancée Again, like in bride of Frankenstein in 1935 we have a mooning una o’connor for laughs Like Frankenstein this is a scientist driven mad by ego and scientific

The Invisible Man – 1933 Whale2017-10-16T17:24:22+00:00

Dracula – 1931 Browning

The first 15-20 minutes are superb— the introduction tracking shot of Lugosi as Dracula- getting out of his coffin- is amazing as are the series of establishing shots getting closer and closer to the castle Shot by wonderful DP Freund—shot metropolis and worked with Murnau—I go back and forth about the choice to spotlight Lugosi's eyes. It’s effective- which I think matters in horror especially- but it does feel a little like cheating Towards the end, especially the scenes with an awful van helsing, elements of the film are filled with heavy dialogue and feel very early 1930’s stagey

Dracula – 1931 Browning2020-07-03T10:31:21+00:00
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