A Time to Live and a Time to Die – 1985 Hsiao-Hsien Hou

This is the earliest Hsiao-Hsien Hou film I’ve seen and it’s an impressive work—it’s most outstanding for the hypnotically beautiful compositions. HHH doesn’t move the camera, doesn’t work in close-up really, we have these (below) elegant bodies in the wide frame, shoji doors, depth of field work sublime mise-en-scene here-- truly stunning Oddly enough HHH claims to have never seen an Ozu film at the time of making this film. That’s almost impossible to believe- HHH is his own filmmaker, but to say more than a few words about this film without mentioning Ozu would be crazy--- static camera,

A Time to Live and a Time to Die – 1985 Hsiao-Hsien Hou2020-07-03T10:29:04+00:00

Seven Psychopaths – 2012 Martin McDonagh

The melding of comedy and violence a la Tarantino with some of the stream of consciousness metanarrative work of Charlie Kaufman (particularly Adaptation)—Martin McDonagh’s strengths are in his writing Adore the glowing 0/4 review from Rex Reed—a badge of honor- hahaWe get one freeze-frame on the first psychopath – drops that aesthetic choice quicklyMagnificent opening of Michael Pitt and Michael Stuhlberg—this is true Tarantino- mob-guys, Travolta and Samuel L making small talk The Hollywood sign—this is a metafiction—the lead, Colin Farrell is a screenwriter, he’s named Marty (hey), he’s working on a script called Seven Psychopaths Writers block and

Seven Psychopaths – 2012 Martin McDonagh2020-07-03T10:29:04+00:00

The 89th Best Director of All-Time: Oliver Stone

Stone. I’ve thought for years that Stone is underrated for two reasons: 1. His subjects are controversial (Lars von Trier is polarizing on metacritic but has managed to be adored by TSPDT) 2. He’s a very American director (regardless of his politics I feel like the subject and content of most of his films are very American-centric) and I feel like this hurts him on lists like TSPDT. Basically too much of the conversation is on the subject of the films which isn’t something I think matters when we’re talking about film art. Stone should be ranked higher. I

The 89th Best Director of All-Time: Oliver Stone2020-07-03T10:29:04+00:00

The 88th Best Director of All-Time: William Wyler

Wyler. He only has 3 films in the TSPDT top consensus 1000. I’ve got that many in the top 500 and a whopping 8 in the top 100 of their respective decade (which since I do not have a top 1000 yet is about as close as I can get to approximating).  Wyler’s strength is his depth because I’ve never thought of including one of his films in my top 100 or even top 200 (in fact his first film does not show up until #436). So, it may seem odd that he’s on this list at #88 but

The 88th Best Director of All-Time: William Wyler2020-07-03T10:29:04+00:00

The War of the Worlds – 1953 Haskin

George Pal produced and is generally considered the “author” of the film (not director Byron Haskin) – Pal would go on to make (and actually direct) 1960’s The Time Machine – both adaptations of essential sci-fi novelsGordon Jennings won the Oscar for his special effects work It’s an update of the HG Wells novel- Wells’ novel is 1897 London and this is 1953 California—it puts it in the modern political sphere so we have the cold war (though it isn’t explicitly about the Soviets) – we’re in the nuclear age It could benefit from a better cast—they’re really stiff

The War of the Worlds – 1953 Haskin2020-07-03T10:29:04+00:00

The 87th Best Director of All-Time: Steven Soderbergh

Soderbergh. It seems unlikely that Soderbergh won’t have 20+ archiveable films when it’s all said and done (he’s at 15 as of 2019) and that’s remarkable for a contemporary auteur. This is 3 and 5 ahead of Linklater and Spike Lee who are Soderbergh’s contemporaries and both are also extremely prolific. The fact that Soderbergh almost always serves as high on DP (I’ll get to that more below in stylistic traits) makes it all that more impressive. He only has two top 500 films though and 4 films that are in the top 100 of their respective decade (which

The 87th Best Director of All-Time: Steven Soderbergh2020-07-03T10:29:04+00:00

The 86th Best Director of All-Time: Richard Linklater

Linklater. Linklater is no visual master and only has two films in the top 500 of all-time. However, has an unbelievably (had to double-check) high 8 films that land in the top 100 of their respective decade. Linklater is incredibly prolific (12 archiveable films) and some dry spells (the period between Before Sunset and Before Midnight from 2004 to 2013 was really weak) but the body of work cannot be denied. As we look forward when the 10-year moratorium lifts on the top 500 clearly films like Before Midnight and Boyhood in back to back years will also change an auteurs trajectory. 

The 86th Best Director of All-Time: Richard Linklater2021-08-17T10:41:25+00:00

Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore – 1974 Scorsese

There are long periods in which we are just watching great acting and writing – rare for a Scorsese film—but a few flourishes from the auteur, including that Wizard of Oz-like opening, elevate it over the standard strong docudrama the gorgeously saturated-in-red-studio backlot opening Ellen Burstyn gives a tour-de-force here in the lead- she won the Oscar for it. The ensemble is incredible as well. Diane Ladd (supporting nom), a young and eccentric Jody Foster, Kris Kristofferson’s easy charm--- Harvey Keitel is too much of a New Yorker to pull off the Cowboy role here- but I’d argue it’s

Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore – 1974 Scorsese2020-07-03T10:29:06+00:00

The 85th Best Director of All-Time: Otto Preminger

Preminger. Preminger made 4 outstanding top 500 of all-time films that helped him make this list. That many films in the top 500 would normally warrant a higher ranking but Preminger has zero films in the top 300 so they’re (Anatomy of a Murder, Laura, The Man with the Golden Arm, Fallen Angel) all wedged between 300-500. The remaining body of work of his is uneven but deep (15 archiveable films total) and stylishly directed (he loves the rolling tracking shots) even if the final product isn’t always perfect. Many think of Preminger as the stereotypical director: accented and

The 85th Best Director of All-Time: Otto Preminger2020-07-03T10:29:06+00:00

Army of Shadows – 1969 Melville

A masterful war/spy film told with intelligence and a distinct tone (through Melville’s mature style)--- and draped in a jaw-droppingly beautiful and consistent mise-en-scene of muted blues, grays, and midnight indigo day-for-night shots day-for-night shots Opens with an impressive prologue—German soldiers goose-stepping past the Arc de Triomphe—Melville fills the entire frame Meticulous in the visual design from the color palette chosen by Melville, to the rain and night sequences just after the opening credits-- clearly setting the visual tone- a gorgeous wall-art shot here The score sounds a little like a precursor to John Carpenter’s HalloweenGreys, blues, very bleak

Army of Shadows – 1969 Melville2020-07-03T10:29:06+00:00

Watership Down – 1978 Rosen

Starts with John Hubley’s gorgeous avant-garde drawing and fable origin story prologue—he was fired by producer Rosen during the direction of the film (Rosen took over) The style consists of some gorgeous nature arkwork and the simulated rolling tracking shots (pushing forward like Michael Curtiz) as we push past grass in the countryside Great surrealism sequence showing the prognostication – it happens again in flashback form to show what happened of the borrow—great imageryPredators and land development out to get these rabbitsA really beautiful shot that shows the sky changing to pink duskAnother standout sequence is the simulated 360

Watership Down – 1978 Rosen2020-07-03T10:29:06+00:00

Toy Story 2 – 1999 Lasseter, Brannon & Unkrich

In medias res opening like all of the Toy Story films- of them playing The enemy is greed here- adult collectorsAgain, the talented voice cast is worthy of praise- Hanks, Tim Allen and the ensemble back from the first film—this time the addition of Joan Cusack as JessieThere’s a great visual in Al’s Toy Barn where we have a giant wall of Buzz Lightyear’s with our Tim Allen Buzz walking along the ground The “When She Loved Me” montage with accompanying song by Sarah McLachlan is magnificent. Gut-wrenching. The transitions are even imaginative wipes using an object. Some of

Toy Story 2 – 1999 Lasseter, Brannon & Unkrich2020-07-03T10:29:06+00:00
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