Countdown – 1967 Altman

It doesn’t rewrite the book on Robert Altman, Robert Duvall or James Caan by any stretch but it is a solid little film- rests somewhere outside the top 20 of 1967It was Altman’s first feature in 10 years (second overall after 1957’s The Delinquents (I haven’t seen)). He had worked in tv and documentaries since—shorts, too. Apparently Warners Brothers didn’t think much of this and locked him off the lot after seeing the finished product (they specifically hated his overlapping dialogue (since has become his trademark)). I’m not positive but I believe they altered the finished product. I don’t

Countdown – 1967 Altman2020-03-31T16:27:06+00:00

Night of the Living Dead – 1968 Romero

There are two movements going on here in George Romero’s debut film Night of the Living Dead- a changing of the guard for the horror genre, and an important film for the history independent cinema From the outset Romero has an excellent and far-reaching subtext—the US flag in the cemetery (in that really well-done and haunting opening) in the center of the frame. You pair that with the distressing still-frame montage ending over the credits—powerful From the outset Romero has an excellent and far-reaching subtext—the US flag in the cemetery (in that really well-done and haunting opening) in the

Night of the Living Dead – 1968 Romero2021-02-25T19:49:07+00:00

The 169th Best Director of All-Time: James Gray

Gray. James Gray’s best work (though his top four films are all really strong and closely clustered) has come in the 2010’s so he’ll vault up this list in the upcoming years. His resume’s strengths are the whopping four films that land in the top 100 of their respective decade (there’s nobody left with that I don’t think) and the reoccurring Francis Ford Coppola-like classicism in his works. I’ll get to it more below but Gray is largely ignored in his native United States (sort of- I mean he gets the best of the best cast in his films)

The 169th Best Director of All-Time: James Gray2020-07-03T10:28:20+00:00

The 168th Best Director of All-Time: Edgar Ulmer

Ulmer. On a shoestring budget Ulmer produced one of the best 1930’s horror films (The Black Cat) and one of the absolute staples and best films in film noir (Detour). Both show off Ulmer’s talents for truly outstanding visuals—you can draw a pretty direct line between them. Having both a top 500 film of all-time and two films in the top 100 of their respective decade is pretty rare here at spot #168—certainly the strength of Ulmer’s case. The archiveable filmography is light though and it isn’t lost on me that The Black Cat and Detour both run under

The 168th Best Director of All-Time: Edgar Ulmer2020-07-03T10:28:20+00:00

Intolerance: Love’s Struggle Throughout the Ages – 1916 Griffith

A staggeringly ambitious (both in grandeur and structure) early masterpiece—experimental Griffith lays out the complex structure in the opening titles—he’s weaving together moments of, yes, intolerance, throughout the ages—these four narratives unfold, in harmony, throughout Another brilliant stroke is having Lillian Gish as the as the eternal mother character rocking the cradle—Griffith bounces the four progressing narratives off of these scenes. Great film form. Another brilliant stroke is having Lillian Gish as the as the eternal mother character rocking the cradle—Griffith bounces the four progressing narratives off of these scenes. Great film form. Griffith opens the book Intolerance as

Intolerance: Love’s Struggle Throughout the Ages – 1916 Griffith2020-07-03T10:28:20+00:00

Train to Busan – 2016 Sang-ho Yeon

A strong entry into the horror/zombie subgenreI’ll be comparing it to other films below but I think it all starts with Romero’s work—sociopolitical entertainment in this specific mode The neglectful father is a fund manager, starts the film off as entirely selfish—both his daughter and the greater humanity are victims (he’s making a move in the market that is going to have repercussions that will harm the general populace (he uses lemming in the text) which is a metaphor for the movie). Certainly 28 Days Later from Danny Boyle an influence in the genre of note, I think Bong

Train to Busan – 2016 Sang-ho Yeon2020-07-03T10:28:20+00:00

Mon oncle d’Amérique – 1980 Resnais

An absolutely masterful dissection of the human condition, an accomplishment in editing, and a piece of cinema that should be used to showcase the possibilities strong film form A highly ambitious film without one single impressive camera movement or singularly beautiful or painterly frame Starts with the collage of frames on the wall and a bit of a declaration of the attempt here to explain the nature of being Starts with the collage of frames on the wall and a bit of a declaration of the attempt here to explain the nature of being The multiple narrators is a

Mon oncle d’Amérique – 1980 Resnais2020-07-03T10:28:20+00:00

The 167th Best Director of All-Time: James Ivory

Ivory. James Ivory is the director of the Merchant Ivory brand- and it is a brand- a clear and distinct style and taste. Ismail Merchant is the producer and James Ivory is most often credited with being the artistic creative engine of the partnership (not totally unlike the Archers – Powell/Pressburger with Michael Powell getting the bulk of the artistic credit). It shouldn’t go without mention that the majority of their work as from the screenwriting pen of Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (which may seem odd because Ivory is a heck of a screenwriter himself and just won the Oscar

The 167th Best Director of All-Time: James Ivory2020-07-03T10:28:20+00:00

Two Days, One Night – 2014 Dardenne

The perfect marriage of this era’s greatest cinematic realists (The Dardenne brothers) and perhaps this generation’s most gifted actress (Marion Cotillard). This is their first time working with a “star”. I thought of Ingrid Bergman’s work with Rossellini and like Sophia Loren working with De Sica in 1960’s Two Women. Like all of the work from the Dardenne brothers  it has a social conscious, a systemic critique, about the working class, universal Shot in long takes (most of Cotillard’s encounters with coworkers are in a single shot), handheld camera at medium close-up—real location shooting, she’s wearing the same tank

Two Days, One Night – 2014 Dardenne2020-03-23T18:04:25+00:00

The 166th Best Director of All-Time: Tim Burton

Burton. Eight films with Tim Burton’s unmissable gothic fingerprint is the reason he lands on this list. He doesn’t have a top 500 of all-time film (and unlike some others I’m pretty certain of that) and that’s a blemish, even this far down, but if Beetlejuice and Corpse Bride are his sixth and seventh best films? No, they’re not Pan’s Labyrinth (and Burton is no Guillermo del Toro- a contemporary that is an apt comparison), but that’s depth and quality there. gorgeous work in Beetlejuice- gothic establishing shot, color splashes a shot absolutely out of Caligari Best film: Ed

The 166th Best Director of All-Time: Tim Burton2021-06-14T20:03:40+00:00

Muriel, or the Time of Return – 1963 Resnais

Similar to Hiroshima Mon Amour and Last Year at Maridenbad in some regards (meditating on memory, a playful deconstruction of traditional plot and character motivations)—Muriel, of the Time of Return makes the tragic mistake, immeasurably unlike Resnais first two films (this being his third), of being visually unbeautiful and flat Resnais’ third feature fiction film—first in color. There’s no real achievement here in color. I’m not sure the reason for the decision. This is also a disappointment given the work other great auteurs were doing in the era like Antonioni in Red Desert in 1964 and Contempt from New

Muriel, or the Time of Return – 1963 Resnais2020-07-03T10:28:20+00:00

The 165th Best Director of All-Time: John Woo

Woo. Woo’s case is his unabashed style and depth of filmography—there aren’t too many style-plus auteurs left this far down the list with a fourth best film as good as Hard Boiled or fifth as strong as A Bullet in the Head. If great auteurs can often be parodied (think Wes Anderson’s SNL skit) then how about John Woo? One of my major problems with Woo (and the reason I probably have a hard time finding room for the films in their respective top 100 of the decade) is how close they walk the line to camp. Leone could

The 165th Best Director of All-Time: John Woo2020-07-03T10:28:22+00:00
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