Midsommar – 2019 Aster

Viewing 1 in July 2019, Viewing 2.0 January 2020With this and 2018’s Hereditary as his debut, Aster has announced himself as one of the preeminent auteurs in cinema, genre artist or otherwise Starts with a mural, then a beautiful montage (stunning landscape photography) of Winter and the foundationary long America-set prelude is important to the character building and formal construct—all darkly lit the suicidal sister says "everything's black" in the email—almost like a Fincher film (as juxtaposition to the brightly lit day-time washed out whites of Sweden’s summer)—it also is a comment on Dani’s (a spectacular Florence Pugh) psyche

Midsommar – 2019 Aster2020-07-03T10:28:33+00:00

The Man From London – 2007 Tarr

Only when sandwiched between Werckmeister Harmonies (and this was 7 years in the making after that film which was 6 years in the making after Satantango) and The Turin Horse does Tarr’s The Man From London disappoint. Still, a Bela Tarr B-side puts most of the rest of the cinema world shame with its genius Rhythmic long takes-- with languid camera movement, spectacular black/white photographyThe opening is a 13-minute hypnotic shot (set to eerie organ music)—Tarr is really just setting the scene of the upcoming crime taking place like Rear Window. (in the next shot). Tarr’s camera starts with

The Man From London – 2007 Tarr2020-07-03T10:28:33+00:00

Step Brothers – 2008 McKay

Absolutely hilarious- one of the funniest movies of the 21st centuryThe laughs are layered in and it gets funnier with every rewatch -- it was probably the fifth time I saw it before I started just randomly telling friends and strangers alike that "these empanadas are starting to sweat"It doesn’t have all of Adam McKay’s marks of authorship (as we’d see later in The Big Short, Vice) but we start with a ludicrous quote like all of his films—and it’s about comically selfish and absurd characters. It doesn’t have all of Adam McKay’s marks of authorship (as we’d see

Step Brothers – 2008 McKay2020-07-03T10:28:33+00:00

Green Book – 2018 Farrelly

Green Book historically will go down as one of the lesser deserving Best Picture winners. That’s not Green Book’s fault, and it is not alone (The Artist from 2011 is just as undeserving and there are a dozen others that are in the same ball park) 1989’s Driving Miss Daisy (which this shares a ton in common with) also is far from being the best film of its year (1989 in that case). It’s a drama/comedy blend—a two-hander with (sometimes comically) dissimilar characters. Plenty of scenes to chew on and chemistry for the two talented actors: Mahershala Ali (Oscar

Green Book – 2018 Farrelly2020-01-16T19:37:01+00:00

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 – 2011 David Yates

If you want to combine DH Part 1 and Part 2 that’s totally fine—the combined work would be in the archives—I’ve found that Part 2 is much strongerThe narrative absolutely soars—Part 2 in particular is a lighting fast 130 minutes and the arch of the characters and story get an epic fitting conclusionThe entire talented ensemble is praise-worthy—but here, Daniel Radcliffe and Ralph Fiennes stand-out. Fiennes is always good—and I know that Radcliffe is good by the mere fact that he doesn’t get absolutely blown off the screen with FiennesIt is not quite Azkaban or Half-Blood Prince with the

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 – 2011 David Yates2020-07-03T10:28:33+00:00

The Passion of Joan of Arc – 1928 Dreyer

Saw it for probably the 5th time in January 2018—6th time in January 2020 It’s a film I’m going to try to get to every year or so. It’s formally flawless and stylistically audacious at the same time. It’s one of the 15-20 films I think you could legitimately call the greatest film of all-time at this point. Shockingly enough (he’s known for taking a lot of time between his work)- this was Dreyer’s 9th film—he has 9 from 1919 to 1928—he’d slow down considerably after this and would only have 4 more over the rest of his life

The Passion of Joan of Arc – 1928 Dreyer2020-09-14T18:45:20+00:00

Mr. Turner – 2014 Leigh

Mr. Turner is partly true to form Leigh (plotless, rich characterizations) and partly paving new ground (some of the visuals here put David Lean to shame) some of the visuals here put David Lean to shame 4 nominations for Mr. Turner – Cinematography, production design, costume and music—all absolutely deserving—artistically transcendent—Timothy Spall in the lead (this is more of a one-man show than any other Leigh film) won the best actor at Cannes150 minutes—Saul Bass-like inspired titles The gauntlet is thrown down early by Leigh and his cinematographer Dick Pope—the film starts on a windmill landscape. It may be

Mr. Turner – 2014 Leigh2020-07-03T10:28:33+00:00

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – 2009 David Yates

I’m disappointed in myself that I was oblivious to this film’s (readily apparent) beauty until this most recent rewatch. It’s been the biggest revelation for me rewatching the series of films--- I think I’ve seen enough of David Yates as director (good—but nothing special) to attribute the artistic triumph of the film here to director of photography Bruno Delbonnel. Yates directed the Harry Potter before and after this (both without Delbonnel) and they don’t look like this. There are a dozen breathtaking frames. There’s Draco Malfoy at the sink with Harry behind him, the landscape establishing shots, the room

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – 2009 David Yates2022-01-01T02:22:20+00:00

An Elephant Sitting Still – 2018 Bo Hu

Simultaneously Bo Hu’s impressive debut and, tragically, his final film—as he took his own life at the age of 29 before the film’s release. Bo Hu was a student of Bela Tarr- and you can see the influence, this is in color (sort of, it is a really compelling choices in color design—it is a lifeless black, white and grey- very dreary – matching the pervading tone of the film) and Tarr always worked in B/W – but clearly the long complex tracking shots are from Tarr—a foreboding sense of doom as well. Bo Hu uses the titular elephant

An Elephant Sitting Still – 2018 Bo Hu2021-04-18T10:55:34+00:00

The 139th Best Director of All-Time: Tod Browning

Browning. Browning, after Gus Van Sant, is the second director to make the list without a top 500 film. For the consensus critics list (I’ll get to it more below) - that film is Freaks. I’ve seen it- multiple times, just don’t think it’s on that level and I believe the consensus to be incorrect. Browning’s case is that that all of his six film in the archives below (especially the top five) bare his stamp of authorship. It’s so rare and refreshing in the 1930’s and 1940’s Hollywood system to see an auteur making unapologetically one-person driven films.

The 139th Best Director of All-Time: Tod Browning2020-07-03T10:28:36+00:00

The 138th Best Director of All-Time: Terence Davies

Davies. Terence Davies delivers the harsh realities of life in a swooningingly lyrical style. His resume includes a top 500 film, 3 films in the top 100 of their respective decade (and The Long Day Closes and The House of Mirth aren’t far off from making it 5). Davies makes clear and consistent aesthetic choices as well.  He makes period films that feel like they’re evoked reminiscences rather than reality (even though they are often dismal and dark). There is a vintage crisp photography and immaculate mise-en-scene staging with each film. Best film: Distant Voices, Still Lives. Still his

The 138th Best Director of All-Time: Terence Davies2020-07-03T10:28:36+00:00

The 137th Best Director of All-Time: Abbas Kiarostami

Kiarostami. Kiarostami is an accomplished auteur and worthy acolyte of the cinematic realists. If you roughly break down the auteurs by those that are grounded in realism, and those grounded in exresspionism—again—he’s an important figure in the former category. His dedication to what is authentic has been cause for genre/categorization discussions/debates over the years as much of his docudramas—are—really—documentaries (or a composite of the two). This makes it tough for me as I do not watch and study documentaries (I studied them in college and found far too often they were subject/agenda-driven in their goal and ambitions instead of

The 137th Best Director of All-Time: Abbas Kiarostami2021-07-05T11:44:22+00:00
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