The Cider House Rules – 1999 Hallström

A solid movie, one with plenty of flaws but has enough positives for me to place it in the archives—though—not near the top 10 of 1999. It’s not only based on Irving’s brilliant book- but he wrote the screenplay and I think it’s his only one Every humane and heart-felt moment is followed up with a broader miss and overly intentional “lump in the throat” moment—I think there was one too many of the “Princes of Maine, Kings of New England” lines but even as it exists- it still largely works because of Michael Caine—it could be a complete

The Cider House Rules – 1999 Hallström2018-01-15T19:25:04+00:00

Day of Wrath – 1943 Dreyer

The film was during Nazi occupation, so that allegory serves beyond even the world of the film’s narrative First feature in 11 years for Dreyer (Vampyr was 1932) It’s a story of persecution just like Joan of Arc Beautiful long opening take of Anna Sviekier’s Herlofs Marte fleeing His style forms and aesthetic choices largely vary throughout his work, but, as always, you get intelligence and theology Gorgeous tracking shot of the young suspected witch ending in a corridor with parallel columns (see pic) Historical statement on hiding those on the run, hypocrisy and the repercussions on silence The

Day of Wrath – 1943 Dreyer2020-07-03T10:31:11+00:00

There Will Be Blood – 2007 P.T. Anderson

Perhaps the most ambitious film, artistically, of the 21st We’ve seen PT do Altman and Scorsese but I think this tends more towards Kubrick and Welles—but at the same time it’s his entirely—especially with the master backing it up as a companion piece in 2012. It makes it even greater Medication on capitalism, greed, and monomania Called by many the great American novel on film of the 21st century—so many of them saying “this thing will be studied” There’s a bit of John Huston’s Noah Cross (damn what a villain) in Chinatown with DDL and a little of Elmer

There Will Be Blood – 2007 P.T. Anderson2020-07-03T10:31:12+00:00

Michael Clayton– 2007 Gilroy

After decades as a writer (bourne) it’s an extremely impressive debut feature from Tony Gilroy and his strongest screenplay as well Many critics note the verdict with Newman as a comparable film or some of the Pollock or Lumet films of the 1970’s—it certainly has that edge and vibe The 4 leads are wonderful--- Wilkinson, Clooney, Swinton and even Pollock (yep--- well cast and an homage as well) as Marty Bach is very deserving of praise. He’s the least of the four here but like eyes wide shut Pollock is just so damn good at playing a man of power The opening monologue,

Michael Clayton– 2007 Gilroy2021-12-14T00:10:51+00:00

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford – 2007 Dominik

Known at the time as a tumultuous shoot, box office bomb, and for being treated indifferently by the critics (68 on metacritic) it is now, rightly, known for being a masterpiece and one of the best films of the decade There is a folkloric importance or substance to the film Both Casey Affleck and Brad Pitt are revelations in the two leads, often paralleled and compared, and formally, beautifully woven together with dueling executions (both involving Affleck’ Bob Ford) It’s simply Roger Deakins’ greatest work. He’s practically came out and said as much about the night scene with the

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford – 2007 Dominik2021-09-02T03:12:12+00:00

Downfall – 2004 Hirschbiegel

A fantastically written and acted film with a tour-de-force performance by the great Bruno Ganz as Adolph Hitler Hirschbiegel has not really been impressive before or after There’s a character formal arc here- the film starts showing Hitler as caring and gregarious. I’m sure this offended some. It shows flashes of him being a human being. But there’s a transformation here and devolution into madness (or even more madness than he already had) in the bunker. The settings, similar to the U-boats in Das Boot (a great film to pair) makes for such claustrophobia. We’re stuck in this bunker

Downfall – 2004 Hirschbiegel2020-07-03T10:31:14+00:00

Room at the Top – 1959 Clayton

The film, and Clayton, are central figures in that social realism British new wave of the late 50’s and early 60’s that include the loneliness of the long distance runner (Tony Richardson’s work in general), Saturday Night and Sunday Morning and The Pumpkin Eater (also from Clayton)—very anti-Hollywood and angry films—love them all Won the Oscar for writing and Simone Sigoret- she won best actress and she’s terrific here The first just outright reference to sex in British film and we also have the use of “bitch” in very harsh terms several times The nom for Hermione Baaddeley is 2 min and 19 seconds of

Room at the Top – 1959 Clayton2018-01-09T19:04:10+00:00

Velvet Goldmine – 1998 Haynes

Flawed film, with some visual highlights, from a talented director Haynes uses the Coen’s Carter Burwell for the music It’s a film about David Bowie—though not about Bowie—much in the way I’m not there is from 2007 from Haynes. I’m not there is the superior work but they are clear film relatives (as are safe, far from heaven and carol from Haynes) Quote intertitles I love as well as setting up both 1974-1984 time era The narrative is taken from citizen kane- it’s a reporter looking into a hoax assassination of Rhys Meyers’s Bowie character. The reporter (Bale) is

Velvet Goldmine – 1998 Haynes2020-07-03T10:31:14+00:00

Mourning Becomes Electra – 1947 Dudley Nichols

Dudley Nichols is a long-time screenwriter- lots of Hawks and Ford in the filmography including Air Force and Stagecoach- it’s telling the Eugene O’Neill’s name gets top billing (from his play of course) It’s a fringy recommendation—all acting and writing—Michael Redgrave is the standout (he’s carrying scars of the war with him and going mad with guilt) to me but Raymond Massey and Rosalind Russell are superb as well. Kirk Douglas is pretty much a pretty face and empty suit here. Great shot to end the prologue coming up from behind in a slow tracking shot One of those

Mourning Becomes Electra – 1947 Dudley Nichols2018-01-09T18:10:22+00:00

Vampyr – 1932 Dreyer

Once you get over that it’s going to be a somewhat (relative to a top 25 film of all-time) disappointing follow-up to the passion of joan of arc (Dreyer’s previous film) it’s a very impressive gothic/expressionist moody slow-burn of a film Gorgeous wallpaper throughout- great décor I’m guessing Julian West (plays lead Allan Grey) was chosen for those wide expressive eyes (he’s no Falconetti but still) The film is filled with film technique invention and experimentation. We have a great scene of a superimposed show of a creature along the river Plenty of work with shadows Rolling tracking shots

Vampyr – 1932 Dreyer2020-07-03T10:31:14+00:00

The Shape of Water – 2017 del Toro

It’s a blend of many films and influences (del Toro is a notorious cinephile-- Hawkins' character's apartment is even directly above a movie theater) but, clearly, a work that only del Toro could come up with. It, quite brilliantly, has his stamp all over it. There are archetypes and genre-blending but it’s never a copy or a genre film (aside from his own genre which almost all great auteurs create). Influences include 50’s sci-fi (creature from the black lagoon of course), Tim Burton (sort of a modernized gothic expressionism), Wes Anderson (that décor and color pattern could almost be

The Shape of Water – 2017 del Toro2020-07-03T10:31:14+00:00

Punch-Drunk Love – 2002 P.T. Anderson

PT’s stated goal was to “make an art-house Adam Sandler movie” and it was purposefully anti-ensemble multi-character epic like boogie and magnolia Jon Brion’s brilliant and experimental score (this is the pre-Greenwood PT era which makes me think PT is the genius here on the music (not to say Greenwood and Brion aren’t both brilliant and possible geniuses as well) but there are such commonalities here with how segments of this sound (especially in scenes he’s ratchetting it up (think forklift accident here, oil rig explosion in There Will Be Blood) match shots from TWBB and the master (opening

Punch-Drunk Love – 2002 P.T. Anderson2020-07-03T10:31:14+00:00
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