Bad Education – 2004 Almodóvar

My second time viewing it, first since theater in 2004, and what a revelation It’s a captivating multi-layered web narrative trapped in a world with transcendent visuals "a rapturous masterwork" in 4 stars from Travers “Almodóvar mixes Hitchcock with Double Indemnity, a song from Breakfast at Tiffany’s and countless other movie references into a hot-blooded tale of deception and murder” Wesley Boston Globe “This is a brilliantly structured hall of mirrors that wrapsCatholicism and the movie industry into a tasty film noir” The titles are very Hitchcockian—Saul Bass-like. They’re stunning- I’m upset I couldn’t find a screengrab to share

Bad Education – 2004 Almodóvar2021-11-23T23:21:44+00:00

Millennium Mambo – 2001 Hsiao-Hsien Hou

Like all of Hsiao-Hsien Hou’s work it’s observational in style--we are tracking the life of Qi Shu’s Vicky—mostly in one room— Hou’s camera is often lingering at a distance in long takes right on her shoulder as she goes about her day to day. Sometimes she’s fighting with her boyfriend, but often just hanging out, drinking, listening to music Many critics call it “minor” Hsiao-Hsien Hou—tough to say but there are a couple of inarguable highlights like the opening as we track Qi Shu in a great slow-motion shot. Her hair is bouncing and cinematographer Mark Li Ping-bin (he

Millennium Mambo – 2001 Hsiao-Hsien Hou2020-07-03T10:28:58+00:00

The King of Comedy – 1982 Scorsese

There are three stand-alone bravura sequences in Scorsese’s The King of Comedy: the freeze frame credits, the shot of De Niro with the cardboard audience backdrop, and the lighting of the house of Sandra Bernhard—all three scenes are detailed below—masterful The #5 for Scorsese on the TSPDT top 1000 behind the obvious big 3 and Mean StreetsStarts with the ugly tape recording of De Niro’s standup Very quickly we get to that incredible freeze shot of Sandra’s hands on the windshield. It’s stunning- one of the best uses of the stylistic technique in cinema history. It holds throughout the

The King of Comedy – 1982 Scorsese2020-07-03T10:28:58+00:00

The 100th Best Director of All-Time: John Carpenter

Carpenter. Carpenter’s filmography would rank him farther down the list (around #125-130) but there’s authorship in his work that isn’t there with directors ahead of him on the filmography list like William Friedkin or Milos Forman. He’s also not as front-loaded with one big film like Curtiz (Casablanca), Carol Reed (The Third Man), Argento (Suspiria) or Peter Jackson (LOTR). It’s a small window, but from 1978 to 1982 Carpenter was one of the best filmmakers on the planet. gorgeous landscape shot from The Fog- an underrated little film sort of lost in the strong run from Carpenter from 1976

The 100th Best Director of All-Time: John Carpenter2020-07-03T10:29:00+00:00

Al Capone – 1959 Richard Wilson

An impressive film—Richard Wilson is no auteur but the direction is beyond competent, Lucien Ballard (Peckinpah’s best work) is the DP, Rod Steiger gives a tour-de-force lead and the writing and ensemble are great, tooHalf of the main cast is from On the Waterfront—Steiger of course—but the always solid Martin Balsam and Nehemiah Persoff (really good as well) Half of the main cast is from On the Waterfront—Steiger of course—but the always solid Martin Balsam and Nehemiah Persoff (really good as well) Steiger—big and bold performance. Method. Big swings in emotion- scenes of fighting and shouting. It’s a resume-enhancerThe

Al Capone – 1959 Richard Wilson2020-07-03T10:29:00+00:00

Champagne – 1928 Hitchcock

Most memorable for being (I believe) cinema’s first freeze-frame. But it isn’t just in the archives for this one cinematic flourish—this film is a series of high-wire stylistic exercises Trojan-horsed in a pretty bland narrative  The freeze-frame is brilliant- and it’s important—Truffaut is the auteur most aligned with the freeze and it makes sense that it’s from Hitchcock. You can trace the roots back. Silent, comedy—the set-up (a lot of light flapperism that is a distant cousin plot to 1934’s Oscar-winner It Happened One Night Bookend visual flourishes- shot through the champagne glass- ingenious bookend visual flourishes- shot through

Champagne – 1928 Hitchcock2020-07-03T10:29:00+00:00

The 99th Best Director of All-Time: Hayao Miyazaki

Miyazaki. With Walt Disney’s actual influence as a film artist/director (vs. his acknowledged brilliance as a businessman, innovator and producer) an ongoing debate for decades there is little disagreement from most cinephiles that Miyazaki is the grand master of animation amongst auteurs. It’s actually hard think of who would be 2nd behind him? It would probably be Sharpsteen, Satoshi Kon, Docter, Bird, Stanton, or Lasseter, but name the 4th or 5th best movie from those guys… even 3rd in some cases… very weak. Miyazaki has 10 archiveable films and though they’re not all top 100 films of their respective decade, they all bear

The 99th Best Director of All-Time: Hayao Miyazaki2020-07-03T10:29:00+00:00

The Peanut Butter Falcon – 2019 Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz

Not groundbreaking by any stretch but the cast and consistent southern soundtrack lug it through into the archives Shia LaBeouf certain has found something with his southern hobo trashy (almost like he’s auditioning for a Harmony Korine film) charming romantic lead—he plays on a variation of American Honey here- his greatest role to date- and he’s strong here carrying the film93 minutes- key- breezy, lots of sweet montages of comradery The ensemble is strong- John Hawkes doesn’t have more than 30 words but it’s a role if you were closing your eyes you’d cast him as (southern villain in

The Peanut Butter Falcon – 2019 Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz2020-05-12T12:33:40+00:00

Raging Bull – 1980 Scorsese

From the onset of the film with the Cavalleria Rusticana Intermezzo from Mascagni with slow-motion photography and the fog behind the ring you know you’re witnessing a masterpiece From the onset of the film with the Cavalleria Rusticana Intermezzo from Mascagni with slow-motion photography and the fog behind the ring you know you’re witnessing a masterpiece The sequences in the ring I think have a strong case for being the greatest directed cinema in the art form’s history – Scorsese masterfully speeds up and slows down the photography. He uses flashbulbs for lighting, for psychological effect, and for those

Raging Bull – 1980 Scorsese2020-07-03T10:29:00+00:00

The 98th Best Director of All-Time: Ernst Lubitsch

Lubitsch. For this list it is best not to look at Lubitsch’s best film but the quality and consistency of authorship of his 6th, 7th, 8th best films.  These are all excellent films that carried “the Lubitsch touch” which has been a term around now for 80+ some years to describe Lubitsch’s sophisticated content and direction. This far down the list of the all-time greatest auteurs it’s impressive to have two of the top 500 films (even if there isn’t a masterpiece) but, more importantly for Lubitsch’s case, it’s those 6 films that are in the top 100 of their

The 98th Best Director of All-Time: Ernst Lubitsch2020-07-03T10:29:00+00:00

Millennium Actress– 2001 Kon

It’s exceedingly worthy of praise and study and not simply for the mind-expanding mental gymnastics required to stay up with the various scenarios and narrative slivers Auteur-driven animation is pretty rare and Satoshi Kon has a narrative and visual style as unique as (but surely very different) Hayao Miyazaki—surrealism, reflexivity, narrative ambition and dexterity A film about unrequited love- tragic--  and really dueling pursuits-- Chiyoko Fujiwara’s relentless pursuit of the man she loves—and the fandom and pursuit of her from the former co-worker and fan/documentary filmmaker Kon is a master of storytelling structure—not different from Kurosawa, Lynch, Nolan—the film

Millennium Actress– 2001 Kon2020-07-03T10:29:00+00:00

Cruel Intentions – 1999 Kumble

Transcends (that word choice may be an overstatement) beyond guilty pleasure mainly because of Kumble’s writing—it’s such a deliciously wicked—Machiavellian-- adaptation of the 18th century book by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos and excellent (superior to this film) 1988 film by Stephen Frears The debt owed to the Frears film is clear—we have the casting of Swoosie Kurtz (the psychiatrist in the uproarious opening) – clearly the name is just a quick synonym searchThe houses and opulent settings these live in could easily be from Dangerous Liaisons or Marie Antoinette or Tom Hooper’s The King’s Speech 97 minutes- it snaps

Cruel Intentions – 1999 Kumble2019-08-15T14:09:14+00:00
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