The Ghost and Mrs. Muir– 1947 Mankiewicz

Mankiewicz is my next auteur/director study after Antonioni- this is actually his fourth film behind the camera but sadly the first available for studyIt’s oddly random that I’m seeing this so closely tied to David Lean’s (or Noel Coward’s) 1945 Blithe Spirit- a film/comedy about the afterlife starring Rex Harrison (Harrison is the spirit here as opposed to the previous work and he’s much stronger here)The Bernard Herrmann score here is excellent—it’s radiant and voluminous- it fills the screen- he called it his single best work- and although I disagree- who am I to say?Not sure if it’s a

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir– 1947 Mankiewicz2020-07-03T10:29:49+00:00

The Passenger – 1975 Antonioni

I reserve the right to change my mind (I haven’t seen the Mystery of Oberwald- I can’t find it- and have only seen Identification of a Woman once) but The Passenger is last great work from one of cinema’s true masters TSPT #161 of all-time at time I’m reviewing I’ll get to it in more detail later but the tracking shot through the bars at the end of the film is the greatest single shot in Antonioni’s career (even if he did the best work of his career on the whole in the 60’s), and among the greatest single

The Passenger – 1975 Antonioni2021-04-07T23:24:33+00:00

Annihilation – 2018 Garland

1.0 Feb 2018 Shows that Garland’s directorial debut, Ex Machina, was no fluke The film is filled with many of the same preoccupations as Garland’s debut—heavy stuff—metaphysical and existential with a dark outlook in the sci-fi genre It’s a coup for Portman and feather in her cap but not much for the rest of the cast. I wish Oscar Isaac could be in everything- he’s superb in his few scenes Any critic that doesn’t mention “Tarkovsky” “Stalker” and or “the room” is suspect and/or negligent It has its own voice for sure but it’s a cousin to Arrival and

Annihilation – 2018 Garland2020-07-03T10:29:49+00:00

Zabriskie Point – 1970 Antonioni

It’s a flawed work but contains several elements that have much in common with films of masterpiece caliberFlop for Antonioni- perhaps his biggest and infamously included on list of 50 worst films from Harry Medved, Dreyfuss, Medved—but it’s not that- it’s still a great film—ambitious as hell artistically even if it does not all land Lead protagonist- Mark Frechette was a real-life counterculture figure and robbed a bank and was killed in prison in 1975—he’s not a great actor and although Antonioni does not need his actors to “perform” (compare the 1975 Nicholson performance in The Passenger to One

Zabriskie Point – 1970 Antonioni2020-07-03T10:29:49+00:00

Rembrandt – 1936 A. Korda

Another strong performance in the prime of Charles Laughton’s career. He’s coming off the Oscar win for The Private Life of Henry VIII in 1934 and another nom for Mutiny on the Bounty in 1935 Despite the casting trends towards a dour and cantankerous old man- Laughton and do humor and good cheer like he does effectively in the opening- there’s clearly range, Hunchback, royalty— as much range as any actor in that era this side of Paul Muni. Laughton is fascinating in every scene- animation without overacting Love the “10 years later” title card with a Rembrandt mural

Rembrandt – 1936 A. Korda2021-02-08T19:42:27+00:00

Eighth Grade – 2018 Burnham

It’s a strange comment coming off my most recent review/post with Antonioni’s Blow Up but I think this film is going to suffer for being so of-the-moment. It’s a short film and the amount of it that’s about the delivery of YouTube, snapchat, “Gucci”, selfies “lit” slang from the teacher and the dap from the other teacher—the film has a time capsule sequence but it feels like the text/art itself here is going to be one- and not in a good way- we’ll seeElsie Fisher’s awkward performance demands your empathyThough this is not the aim, this isn’t poetry with

Eighth Grade – 2018 Burnham2020-07-03T10:29:49+00:00

Blow-Up – 1966 Antonioni

Another brilliant work from Antonioni during this streak from L’Avventura to Blow-Up where he made five films in seven years that are either masterpieces or right on the fringe It’s a break for Antonioni in many ways- Michelangelo Antonioni felt that the film marked a "radical" departure from his previous films. "In my other films, I have tried to probe the relationship between one person and another--most often, their love relationship, the fragility of their feelings, and so on. But in this film, none of these themes matters. Here, the relationship is between an individual and reality--those things that

Blow-Up – 1966 Antonioni2021-02-16T22:18:11+00:00

If Beale Street Could Talk – 2018 Barry Jenkins

Jenkins, just three films into his oeuvre, has a voice- you can compare him to Demme in the brilliant close-ups, WKW in the tone, photography still and mood, but I’d also like to throw Douglas Sirk in the mix with Beale Street and it’s not just the autumnal color scheme to the set design and costume work- there’s a clear detail in the mise-en-scene that Sirk also had Along with Burning this score here, from Nicholas Britell, is the score of the year. It’s lush- reminded me of 2017’s Phantom Thread from Jonny GreedwoodAdored the 360 shot of Stephan

If Beale Street Could Talk – 2018 Barry Jenkins2020-07-03T10:29:49+00:00

Moonlight – 2016 Barry Jenkins

A loud proclamation of a new voice in cinema- Jenkins’ debut, 2008’s Medicine For Melancholy is a C+ ugly (not his fault—it cost like nothing to make) version of Linklater’s Before Sunrise- but Moonlight is his arrival (and judging from his follow up Beale Street his aesthetic tendencies and marks of his auteur status) A meditation on masculinity—and, quite miraculously, we have one of the 21st century’s best cinematic character studies and it’s about a shy character- so rare and refreshing- a counter-point Apparently a 1.5 million budget which is astonishing giving how beautiful the film is- detailed as

Moonlight – 2016 Barry Jenkins2021-06-04T18:09:34+00:00

Inside Out – 2015 Docter and Del Carmen

Wondrously candy-colored—a complex world and narrative with rich detail uncovering the complexity of the mind One of animation, sci-fi and Pixar’s go to composers- Michael Giacchino—a great one here- not on the level of Up but few scores areImaginative and witty screenplay- justly earned a nom for best original—it’s cultivated and nuanced to make you care about the family- and Joy Cutting to mother and father’s inner monologues with their emotions is genius- him playing sports in his headThe Bing Bong character and scenes are great- devastating There’s nods and clear influences of Inception and world-building as memories collapse“Chinatown”

Inside Out – 2015 Docter and Del Carmen2020-07-03T10:29:49+00:00

Red Desert – 1964 Antonioni

Antonioni’s first color film and his best film overallAntonioni- like Fellini, Kurosawa, Ozu and the other early masters who started in b/w uses color like a weapon- expressive-- he actually painted part of the landscape here (red of course), goes for very bold primary, a blue shack, yellow smoke from the factory Richard Harris- this isn’t a bad performance but I wouldn’t call it a major accomplishment for him like it is for Vitti—apparently Harris punched Antonioni during shooting and left early (they used a stand-in). Harris asked why Antonioni wanted him to walk “diagonally” and Antonioni told him

Red Desert – 1964 Antonioni2020-07-03T10:29:49+00:00

Closer – 2004 Mike Nichols

I love the Mike Nichols-ness of the telephoto lens crossing the street (utilized to great effect in Nichols’ The Graduate) opening and closing bookends--- also—this is clearly a 4-person chamber piece with roots in the theater much like Nichols’ work Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolfe and Carnal Knowledge Beautiful Damien Rice songs Clive Owen- (amazing from 1998 to 2006) and Natalie Portman fair far better than Julia Roberts (a distant fourth) and Jude Law—the stripping scene between Woen and Portman is likely what earned them justly Oscar noms) Tremendous writing and ccting- verbal sparring Owen is epic-- brilliant—the scene

Closer – 2004 Mike Nichols2021-06-03T10:22:58+00:00
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