Den of Thieves – 2018 Gudegast

Director Christian Gudagast clearly worships at the altar of Michael Mann and Heat – haha- at least half the reviews mention it (what are the other half watching?)Gerard Butler is really strong in the lead—drunk, arrogant, swollen, masculine – he’s in the Pacino Heat role Gerard Butler is really strong in the lead—drunk, arrogant, swollen, masculine – he’s in the Pacino Heat role Starts with a big heist in medias res, and then we’re off with the aftermath with dueling crews of cops vs. robbers in this urban western“Keep the heat off you” in the testPablo Schreiber (the De

Den of Thieves – 2018 Gudegast2020-07-03T10:28:52+00:00

The Assassin – 2015 Hsiao-Hsien Hou

Two elements make this one of 2015’s best films--- the wall-art photography exterior establishing shots (this is actually new for HHH after 3+ decades of making films) and the interior use of silk curtains to produce his trademark layered Ozu-like mise-en-scenes one of the elements that make this one of 2015’s best films--- the wall-art photography exterior establishing shots (this is actually new for HHH after 3+ decades of making films) Won best director at Cannes hereBoxy aspect ratio, b/w prologue and then we’re off and running in the luminous 35mm color photography, frequent DP Mark Lee Ping BingHHH

The Assassin – 2015 Hsiao-Hsien Hou2020-07-03T10:28:55+00:00

Stargate – 1994 Emmerich

I’m not the world’s biggest admirer of Roland Emmerich (I think this is the only film in the archives) but I think this one is worthy of a fringe recommendation and entry to the archives  Ebert famously killed it—and he has some points with the narrativeThe James Spader and Kurt Russell characters are pretty flat architypes on the page—“what happened to him?—his kid died” (talking about Russell) but Russell especially transcends the broad strokes of his character with his stare and non-verbal performance Russell especially transcends the broad strokes of his character with his stare and non-verbal performance I

Stargate – 1994 Emmerich2020-07-03T10:28:55+00:00

Cape Fear – 1991 Scorsese

It was no secret at the time that this was a “one for them” project in a deal he made with Spielberg’s Amblin/Universal after more passionate projects like The Last Temptation of Christ and Goodfellas but it’s hard to tell that from the results—Scorsese is absolutely not just going through the motions. Cape Fear is yes, a remake, and yes, from pulpy material—but it is fervently directed, entertainingly, and an artistic triumph From “Entertainment Weekly—“Proves that when a maverick virtuoso like Scorsese sets his mind to it, making ''mainstream'' movies is one more thing he can do better than

Cape Fear – 1991 Scorsese2020-07-03T10:28:55+00:00

Goodfellas – 1990 Scorsese

One of Scorsese’s three finest films (spending too much time arguing between this Raging Bull, and Taxi Driver isn’t fruitful) which puts it up there all-time with any film (it is my current #22 film of all-time as of 2019). I would argue that it’s the most rewatchable film of all-time- I don’t think there’s a more enjoyable (and faster) 142 minutes in cinema historysome masterpieces have a brilliant narrative, some have 2-3 show-stopping formal or stylistic high-water marks... Goodfellas has one of cinema's 10 greatest narratives and is wall-to-wall virtuoso-stylistic, auteur cinema -- there are a dozen highlights

Goodfellas – 1990 Scorsese2020-07-03T10:28:55+00:00

The 103rd Best Director of All-Time: Bob Fosse

Fosse. Quality (and consistency) over quantity is the case for Fosse. He only directed 5 films (between 1969-1983) and all are in the archives, 3 in the top 100 of their respective decade (the 3 1970’s films) and 2 landed in the top 500 of all-time. The 3 big ones all feature performers (Liza in Cabaret, Hoffman as comedian Lenny Bruce, and Roy Scheider playing essentially Fosse himself in the autobiographical All That Jazz) and Fosse’s trademark performance structure. There’s more consistency here than say Dark Knight/Memento from Nolan, Exorcist/French Connection from Friedkin, or even One Flew Over the

The 103rd Best Director of All-Time: Bob Fosse2020-07-03T10:28:55+00:00

The Last Temptation of Christ – 1988 Scorsese

Seeing it here (probably for the 5th time) for the first time in the immediate wake of Scorsese’s previous oeuvre is to see the connective tissue between with the Catholic guilt that pervades so much of Scorsese’s work- here mainly in the look at the duality of man—like Keitel’s Charlie from Mean Streets, Willem Dafoe’s Christ is overcome with doubt, contradictions, temptation, sin and inner conflict.  Keitel here (as Judas) even says “Every day you have a different plan”. He is a very real and complex character. A debt surely owed to Bresson’s confessional Diary of a Country Priest

The Last Temptation of Christ – 1988 Scorsese2020-07-03T10:28:55+00:00

The 102nd Best Director of All-Time: John Huston

Huston. Huston’s strength is his depth of filmography. He’s a style-minus director so he needs that filmography to compete on this list. When Bogart gems like Key Largo and Beat the Devil are a director’s 8th and 9th best film it means you really have director with an abundance of great films. Of course Huston’s two best films (both in the top 500 of all-time) are also largely carried on the back of Bogart as well and I would listen to an argument that Huston should be closer to #150-200 on this list and that Bogart is one of the very rare actor as

The 102nd Best Director of All-Time: John Huston2020-07-03T10:28:55+00:00

Rambo: First Blood Part II – 1985 George Cosmatos

It’s a different film than 1982’s First Blood- this is more like a straight revenge (simple, over the top) 1980’s action B-movie. First Blood is trying to say something and strikes a more specific mood--- creates an actual character—this is weaker in that respectthe title hurts my head to think about Stallone has almost always been chasing the Eastwood star/actor/director (or artist) playbook—here there is a lot of Eastwood from his spaghetti Leone “Man with no name” stares and the plot is pretty close to a 1-man Dirty DozenIconography—the serrated knife, that stiff bodybuilder walk, the muscles, the machine

Rambo: First Blood Part II – 1985 George Cosmatos2020-07-03T10:28:55+00:00

Flight of the Red Balloon – 2007 Hsiao-Hsien Hou

So Café Lumiere (from 2003, one of HHH’s strongest efforts) was an outward homage to Ozu while still staying true to Hou’s voice and brand as an auteur himself--- this is much the same with a nod to Lamorisse’s 1956 short film The Red Balloon – these two films (both superb) are companion piecesLong takes for HHH- a stylistic indicator for HHH- starts with one here that’s like the plastic bag scene from American Beauty (1999) from Sam Mendes as we follow the red balloonHHH’s other trademark is being able to beautifully set the mise-en-scene and this film has

Flight of the Red Balloon – 2007 Hsiao-Hsien Hou2020-07-03T10:28:55+00:00

The Man in the Moon – 1991 Mulligan

A very solid film—a recommend that won’t touch the top 10-20 of 1991 but is a tender coming of age drama with the debut performance of a 15 year old Reese Witherspoon (who apparently landed the role on an audition for an extra) and the final archiveable film for Robert Mulligan as director (To Kill a Mockingbird) Mulligan’s best work have nostalgia and child acting (To Kill a Mockingbird (ok not so much the nostalgia here) and Summer of 42’ Elvis—an obsession of young Reese in the film—the film tenderly captures the feeling of a first kiss, first love,

The Man in the Moon – 1991 Mulligan2019-09-20T20:43:20+00:00

Around the World in 80 Days – 1956 Michael Anderson

Famous for winning best picture at the Academy Awards (it doesn’t make the top 10 of the year in any yet let alone in a year with The Searchers, Written on the Wind, A Man Escaped, Aparajito, etc), all the celebrity cameos (from Buster Keaton to Sinatra to George Raft, Red Skelton, John Mills, etc) and the 65mm photography--- it’s not an outwardly bad film (obviously, I mean it’s in the archives here) Based on Jules Verne’s novel and it has that imagination (I love how it starts with the Saul Bass titles and the Georges Méliès mention in

Around the World in 80 Days – 1956 Michael Anderson2020-07-03T10:28:55+00:00
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