The 17th Best Director of All-Time: Max Ophüls

Ophüls. During 2011 and 2012 I saw all of Ophüls’ available films (his early pre ww2 German films are largely unavailable or lost). After leaving his homeland (Germany) he made a few films in Hollywood like Lang and other German defectors and then from 50-55 (just before he died, at age 55) made 4 films in a 6 year period in France- those films are MS, MP, MP, and MP.  Sadly, he died with two top 100 all-time films as the last two films on his resume. I think he was the best director in the world during this

The 17th Best Director of All-Time: Max Ophüls2020-07-03T10:29:33+00:00

High Society – 1956 Walters

An impressive remake of Cukor’s 1940 The Philadelphia Story. Grace Kelly plays the Katharine Hepburn role, Bing Crosby plays the Cary Grant role and Frank Sinatra plays the Jimmy Stewart role. It’s a testament to the three actors how well they follow up the legends in the 1940’s film. The only one of the six with no acting Oscar is actually Cary GrantGrace Kelly’s last movie and she’s incredible here—so sad- what a talented actress and incredible beauty Grace Kelly's last film- a very good performance and the essence of chic Unlike Cukor’s version in B/W this is in

High Society – 1956 Walters2020-07-03T10:29:33+00:00

The 16th Best Director of All-Time: Jean-Luc Godard

Godard. I feel like I’ve written so much about Godard over the years. I’ll be the first to grant that if you consider documentaries and experimental cinema alongside narrative fiction cinema, then Godard would probably be closer to a top 5 auteur. I don’t…. so he isn’t. All of my top 10 films of Godard are from his 60’s period. From 1960-1967 Godard went on an incredible run both with big masterpieces (Breathless, Pierrot le Fou, Contempt) and high productivity (10 archiveable films in 8 years). It’s reminiscent of Coppola’s run from 1972-79 with 4 masterpieces (3 of them

The 16th Best Director of All-Time: Jean-Luc Godard2020-07-03T10:29:33+00:00

The 15th Best Director of All-Time: Paul Thomas Anderson

Paul Thomas Anderson. Anderson’s 4 films in the top 100 (work from 2009 or newer not yet eligible) puts him tied with Welles for second place behind only Kubrick (5) and that’s his case—and what a case. Sarris (after Boogie Nights) “Not since the mysteriously reclusive Terrence Malick has there been such an explosion of sheer talent on the American movie.”  There are only two living directors ahead of PT right now on my all-time director’s list and that’s Scorsese and Coppola and those two giants are 28 and 32 years older respectively—this basically means Anderson is peerless in

The 15th Best Director of All-Time: Paul Thomas Anderson2020-07-03T10:29:33+00:00

The Wicker Man – 1973 Hardy

It’s a superb screenplay- Sergeant Howie as the no-BS cop and audience surrogate through this mesmerizing pagan village and murder mystery One of Christopher Lee’s best roles/films and that’s saying something with this robust and varied resume Strong build-up and chilling climax Well-constructed- starts with Howie at the church- communion Really bad music—and lots of it doesn’t help Imagery- the orgy on the lawn Much of the screenplay doesn’t really take sides- Lee’s character is intelligent and thought out (largely) The late decision to go to inner-monologue and letter reading from Hardy is a mistake and bad form—the addition

The Wicker Man – 1973 Hardy2021-03-20T18:14:31+00:00

The Detective – 1954 Hamer

Name also known as “Father Brown” Hamer the director of Kind Hearts and Coronets Guinness is a chameleon- he disappears- hard to imagine this same bumbling clever Priest is the oak-tree in River Kwai just three years later It’s not The Third Man tunnel scene but I love the chase in the catacombs- a nice touch for a settingGuinness’ character is like James Bond- always one step aheadA strong narrative—it moves (wipe edits help) and has witty dialogue Peter Finch is a very worthy advisory (seeing him, in a movie with Guinness play a guy who can transform is

The Detective – 1954 Hamer2019-04-29T16:26:06+00:00

Diane – 2018 Kent Jones

First fiction feature from (previously) documentary filmmaker Kent JonesMary Kay Place is great here in the lead- best known to me previously as the mumbling secretary in Being John MalkovichEstelle Parsons is also great in a few scenes at age 91 (best known for Bonnie and Clyde- her Oscar win for supporting)- my first archiveable film for her in 48 years—haha- 1970’s I Never Sang For My Father (ok I guess she’s in 1990’s Dick Tracy for a second) There is a strong formal tie here- between each scene (Place oscillates between talking to friend, checking on drug-addict son,

Diane – 2018 Kent Jones2019-04-29T16:15:57+00:00

Permanent Vacation – 1980 Jarmusch

A fringe recommendation and entry in the archives but I think there’s enough there that formally connects with Jarmusch’s oeuvre—even if this doesn’t sniff his 1984 follow-up Strangers in Paradise Inspired by Chantel Ackerman with the final shot of the NYC skyline from the boat that just holds – a very cool shot)16mm in color, 75 minutes student film Jazz, Graffiti, very urban fish out of water--- sirens, reading  poetry the beginning for formal master Jim Jarmusch- urban, chic Love the opening- rhythmically edited with voice over, setting and surrounding- it’s really a montage of a series of empty

Permanent Vacation – 1980 Jarmusch2020-07-03T10:29:33+00:00

Endless Desire – 1958 Imamura

Imamura’s sophomore effort and first archiveable film (after Stolen Desire- also from 1958 which is a miss)This has a fully engaging narrative (largely from Lloyd Bacon’s Larceny, Inc with Edward G. Robinson from 1942) and the first traces of Imamura’s mise-en-scene brilliance- shots behind barrels, shots blocked by a ladder, shoji doors, etc. Wipe edits Shot of feet and moves up the body like Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train A great shot of the four characters discussion their plan at different depthsReverse shot broken up by Shoji doors and windowsIt’s a fascinating premise (Woody Allen would use it again

Endless Desire – 1958 Imamura2019-04-29T15:44:38+00:00

Wonder Wheel – 2017 Allen

A film that will be rediscovered by cinephiles in 20 yearsBeautiful opening shot of 1940’s Coney Island with extras in a wide shot opening wide shot of Coney Vittorio Storaro as cinematographer here and it’s breathtaking, the show after that wide shot opening of Juno Temple arriving in Coney Island entering under the wheel—a stunner—Storaro’s use of color throughout is spectacular 2 minutes later, a jaw-dropped of a shot as Juno Temple walks under the wheel Kate’s performance is solid as well- Temple does well but there’re the only two really- Kate’s is a bit of Blanche DuBois from

Wonder Wheel – 2017 Allen2020-07-03T10:29:33+00:00

The 14th Best Director of All-Time: Jean Renoir

Renoir. Renoir dominated the 1930’s making 7 of the top 100 of the decade and a whopping 5 of the top 18 films. 14 total archiveable films is very respectable (I need to rewatch half of them as it’s been a decade or more) and we have 2 films in the top 100 (Grand Illusion and The Rules of the Game). I’ll get to it more below in style but he’s one of the fathers of camera movement—taking up the mantle or baton toss if you will almost directly from Murnau who passed away in 1931—the same year of

The 14th Best Director of All-Time: Jean Renoir2020-07-03T10:29:33+00:00

The 13th Best Director of All-Time: François Truffaut

Truffaut. No frogs in the top 10? Blasphemy, right to a country with such a rich tradition in cinema? I know. I’m actually more bullish on Truffaut than most cinephiles. Playful and largely accessible- he’s very different from like Kubrick, Bergman and Tarkovsky.  He arrived on the scene with three big masterpieces, gave us the first masterpiece of the French New Wave (as an important a movement as any in film history), basically invented the freeze frame (from his mentor and hero Hitchcock but it was not alive in 1959), gave us the closest thing to “catcher in the rye” there

The 13th Best Director of All-Time: François Truffaut2020-07-03T10:29:33+00:00
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