The 48th Best Director of All-Time: Werner Herzog

Herzog. Herzog has almost equal importance in the documentary community but of course that’s not counted here. I’m a much bigger fan of his five Kinski collaborations than TSPDT and not as sure on his work with Bruno S. Of course here I rated Herzog better than his compatriots (Wenders and Fassbinder) from the New German Cinema era. His best films are just simply better than Fassbinder’s best films but the depth of Fassbinder is pretty overwhelming so that could change over time. Herzog has three films in the top 500 (very good for this far down on my countdown)

The 48th Best Director of All-Time: Werner Herzog2020-07-03T10:29:20+00:00

Jackie Brown – 1997 Tarantino

The third film from Quentin Tarantino--- a very strong effort if falling short of the transcendent brilliance of Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs Tarantino’s first (and only to date) adaption- Elmore Leonard’s “Rum Punch”   Tarantino himself compares the film to Rio Bravo praising the hangoutability or rewatchability of the film and how the best part of Hawks masterpiece is just hanging out with Wayne, Dean Martin, Walter Brennan and Ricky Nelson—and he’s right about Rio Bravo but that film has an relaxed narrative and has the four lead actors just holed up together in a room for the

Jackie Brown – 1997 Tarantino2021-06-02T17:51:48+00:00

The 47th Best Director of All-Time: D.W. Griffith

Griffith.  Five years ago I would not have Griffith in the top 50 directors of all-time. Another example of why this is an always-evolving list that I hope to pause and update every 4-5 years. As I’ve written before, I believe The Birth of a Nation’s disgustingly racist content unfairly drops its reputation as a work of art. Also, I believe my Intolerance viewing in 2015 was one of those jaw on-the-floor-can’t-believe-what-I-just-saw-cinema viewing moments. It’s very hard to compare Griffith to his contemporaries since he really didn’t have any. I’m obviously happy with his spot on this list because of the size of

The 47th Best Director of All-Time: D.W. Griffith2020-07-03T10:29:21+00:00

Pulp Fiction – 1994 Tarantino

A three-pronged masterpiece--- magnificent writing (on par with or superior to the great works of say Bergman or Before Sunset),  tour de force direction behind the camera (the dance contest sequence, the freeze frame on Amanda Plummer with soundtrack drop), and a structural non-linear sonic boom Such confidence from Tarantino- this thing could have gone so wrong— Wigs on our three leads, 40 minutes longer than Reservoir Dogs (153 minutes)The freeze frame on Amanda Plummer opening is a jaw-dropper—I’ve overlooked it- one of cinema’s great freeze frames--- holy hell. And then we go to the music drop of “The

Pulp Fiction – 1994 Tarantino2020-07-03T10:29:21+00:00

Reservoir Dogs – 1992 Tarantino

A remarkable debut—a born virtuoso-- like Welles, The Coen Brothers or our two fathers of the French New Wave this one comes direct from Tarantino as a wholly realized voice and cinematic vision A taut 99 minutes— so weird given the rest of QT’s sometimes overly-talky work (I mostly don’t even acknowledge Death Proof but even that is 113 minutes) Dark and nihilisticNo score to speak of – all pop/rock soundtrack work (which would be a Scorsese’ism—as is the casting of Keitel)—the closest connection to the plot would probably be Kubrick’s The Killing but there are references to many

Reservoir Dogs – 1992 Tarantino2020-07-03T10:29:21+00:00

You Can Count on Me – 2000 Lonergan

Kenneth Lonergan’s debut- an undoubtedly gifted writerGratifying setting-- small-town AmericaGlowing 4 stars from Travers and EbertRich characterizations and performances from Laura Linney, Mark Ruffalo, Matthew Broderick and the young Rory Culkin – Linney is wonderful- this is the first of three nominations for her—and this is a coming out for the revelatory Ruffalo. He’s wounded, vulnerable, a little dangerous- this would be Ruffalo’s second best performance to date behind 2007’s Zodiac Between drama we get a little bit of a moody score and Bach with shots of the small town and country sideThese people are lost, Linney’s character balancing

You Can Count on Me – 2000 Lonergan2020-07-03T10:29:21+00:00

The 46th Best Director of All-Time: Mikhail Kalatozov

Kalatozov. With only three films in the archives (I’ve tried to find others but no luck yet) Kalatozov is an interesting case. His three films are big stylistically muscular ambitious films and the images below alone make a strong case (and of course can’t fully take into effect his revolutionary work with camera movement). It is simple- he if he had more films like this he’d be closer to a top 10 filmmaker than a top 50 filmmaker- he’s a major “style-plus” auteur. Best film:  I Am Cuba.  It took me a long time to get to Kalatozov’s I Am

The 46th Best Director of All-Time: Mikhail Kalatozov2020-07-03T10:29:21+00:00

The 45th Best Director of All-Time: Satyajit Ray

Satyajit Ray. He’s much more than just the Apu trilogy as recent viewings of Charulata, The Big City and The Music Room have proven. Ray’s case is he is a Mount Rushmore realist (along with Rossellini, De Sica and perhaps the Dardenne brothers or Kiarostami at this point but that 4th is a good debate) with an impressive 5 top 500 films. If I ever fully come around on the Apu trilogy (I have all three outside my top 300) he may shoot even farther up this list. Best film:  The Music Room. I think Ray unquestionably improved as

The 45th Best Director of All-Time: Satyajit Ray2020-07-03T10:29:21+00:00

Coffee and Cigarettes – 2003 Jarmusch

11 separate vignettes filmed over the course of nearly two decades Black and white, stationary camera, urban coffee houses—vices (cigarettes and coffee as the title states), graffiti on the wall to start us on the Steven Wright and Roberto Benigni I won’t go as far to say it’s a meditation on anything but it’s an intelligent look at awkward silences, human interaction and encounter It’s clearly minor Jarmusch—slight—one critic calls it an auteurs “doodles” and I like that —he has a background in shorts and his films prior to Dead Man—clearly created segments in Stranger in Paradise- Night on

Coffee and Cigarettes – 2003 Jarmusch2020-07-03T10:29:21+00:00

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai – 1999 Jarmusch

Like all of Jarmusch’s work- a heavy formal achievement—here the main feats are the dissolve edits (largely in the first 30 minutes), Rza’s score, and the meditative readings (through title card breaks)—the pairing of all of these with the stoic performance by Forest Whitaker and the use of pigeons as a reoccurring motif formal mastery from Jarmusch Whitaker is on screen almost the entire time but doesn’t have any diegetic dialogue (he does some voice over) until 35+ minutes into the film Rza’s score echoes Neil Young’s in Dead Man- repetitive (which fits Jarmusch’s formal renderings of his works)

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai – 1999 Jarmusch2020-07-03T10:29:21+00:00

Dead Man – 1995 Jarmusch

Hypnotic masterpiece – Jarmusch’s greatest achievement Goes back to black and white photography after two consecutive color films- he’s 3/3 even through 6 films at the time of Dead Man This is his first narrative structure since Permanent Vacation that isn’t broken into distinct sections by region—in Stranger Than Paradise it’s NJ/Cleveland/Florida, then Down by Law it’s New Orleans/prison/escape and of course the 5 separate cities in Night on Earth Easily his most beautiful film visually from a photographic standpoint The final film performance by Robert Mitchum (couple of great funny scenes) Name “William Blake”- and the poetry is

Dead Man – 1995 Jarmusch2021-09-16T02:21:46+00:00

That Uncertain Feeling – 1941 Lubitsch

A weaker effort (box office bomb not that that matters) from Lubitsch which is no insult but not enough to vie for one of his best or 1941’s best. A remake of his own work Kiss Me AgainBreezy, it moves Lubitsch was a different kind of escapism in the depression era- rich, sophisticated (if not a little silly), idle rich, films- this is his first set in the US but it’s the Park Avenue upper crustSig Ruman comes along and gives the film a shot of life—Melvyn Douglas, Burgess Meredith and Merle Oberon all equip themselves well in the

That Uncertain Feeling – 1941 Lubitsch2020-07-03T10:29:21+00:00
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