The Ninth Gate – 1999 Polanski

It’s a far cry from The Ghost Writer let alone Chinatown or Rosemary’s Baby but Polanski’s The Ninth Gate is still a very worthy B-side entry Once again Polanski, the occult and the devil – eerie hanging opening gets you involved immediately Tracking shots through Frank Langella (very good here)’s lecture, down the row of booksLike Chinatown an unscrupulous detective (Johnny Depp this time) is hired to solve a mystery sort of by the person who is guilty (Ghost Writer)There’s also a bit of The Last Crusade here with Langella playing the Julian Glover role—ransacked apartments, a book guiding

The Ninth Gate – 1999 Polanski2020-07-03T10:28:07+00:00

The 189th Best Director of All-Time: John Sayles

Sayles. Sayles is an Altman acolyte surely influenced by Nashville-largely making politically charged ensemble dramas set in a specific area and at a specific time. His debut Return of the Secaucus Seven was a thoughtful portrait of a group of friends reflecting on their past and where they are today- a film that would influence (or at least remarkably resemble) the 1983 ensemble hit The Big Chill from Lawrence Kasdan. Sayles often wrote screenplays or acted to make money for his films and is a major figure in independent cinema (a career arc remarkably similar to John Cassavetes). After

The 189th Best Director of All-Time: John Sayles2020-07-03T10:28:07+00:00

The 188th Best Director of All-Time: Joseph Lewis

Joseph Lewis. New York born Lewis made over 40 features, all of them B-movies, but many were destroyed or are permanently lost so there aren’t a ton available today. He ended his career in the mid-1960’s making television shows but around that time he was discovered by the New Wave critics—Gun Crazy a bellwether film, and clearly Lewis’ crowning achievement—but The Big Combo proves he’s no one-hit wonder. Best film: Gun Crazy. There is not a lot separating Lewis’ Gun Crazy and Penn’s Bonnie and Clyde in quality. The 1967 masterpiece has the bravura montage finale but Lewis’ work

The 188th Best Director of All-Time: Joseph Lewis2020-07-03T10:28:07+00:00

The Great Silence – 1968 Corbucci

Corbucci’s most serious film, a brilliant revisionist western starring two titans of European cinema, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Klaus Kinski, just because they became household namesA devastating Morricone score as well- perhaps not as catchy as some of his other works—but more nuanced and layered- quite beautiful Corbucci’s trademark zooms throughoutBoth actors play it pretty close to the vest actually- which is Trintignant’s trademark style (and he’s one of the best ever at it) but it’s rare to see Kinski not go bananas (who was no stranger to Spaghetti westerns- he was in For a Few Dollars More with Leone

The Great Silence – 1968 Corbucci2020-07-03T10:28:09+00:00

Drunken Angel – 1948 Kurosawa

The first of 16 pairings (in 16 years) between the acclaimed director/actor pairing of Kurosawa and Mifune – perhaps the greatest pairing in the cinema historyIt was Mifune’s fourth film, but the first I have seen and the first in the archivesThe titular character isn’t Mifune but Takashi Shimura and rumor has it the film was supposed to be more centered on Shimura (he’s still the lead) but Kurosawa was so impressed with Mifune’s talent that he expanded the young actor’s part. It’s sort of Kurosawa’s Fonda and Wayne (John Ford—even if the Shimura character more resembles a drunk

Drunken Angel – 1948 Kurosawa2020-07-03T10:28:09+00:00

La Vie de Bohème – 1992 Kaurismäki

A bit of a change of pace from Kaurismäki—unlike his Proletariat Trilogy (color films, very short, set in Finland, single protagonist) this is a black and white film about three characters (further cementing Kaurismaki with Jarmusch) who are artists, living and struggling in Paris. It still has his dry deadpan, black sense of humor—Wes Anderson is in this family, Roy AnderssonAbout a writer, painter, and musician—but bohemians--- bounders and ramblers, romantic, broke, drinking About a writer, painter, and musician—but bohemians--- bounders and ramblers, romantic, broke, drinking No scoreGarbage, clutter, rusticated art kitsch—Wenders or Gilliam meets Jarmusch—black and white nice

La Vie de Bohème – 1992 Kaurismäki2020-07-03T10:28:09+00:00

The 187th Best Director of All-Time: Zhangke Jia

Zhangke Jia. Like all most great auteurs it is the accumulation of Zhangke Jia’s body of work that you can fully appreciate the artist. He’s the leading director of the sixth generation of Chinese directors (fifth generation is the likes of Yimou Zhang and Kaige Chen). I’ll get to it more below but he likens himself to Ozu and Hsiao-Hsien Hou but I see more Antonioni in Zhangke Jia. The filmography depth is really what lands him here- A Touch of Sin is a really strong effort and I have it as his sixth best work. He’s a formal

The 187th Best Director of All-Time: Zhangke Jia2020-07-03T10:28:09+00:00

One Wonderful Sunday – 1947 Kurosawa

Almost like a combination of Open City from Rossellini and Brief Encounter from David Lean (maybe a tad of depression-era Capra)- a two-hander romance, a couple drifting through a city (during a set period of time), in war-ravaged and poverty-stricken post WWII JapanThe couple has no money, a hole in shoe—Kurosawa says it’s based on a DW Griffith filmDialogue like “dreams won’t fill your belly”- survival—“the war destroyed that dream”- hard-hitting great use of lighting here- this is absolutely a painting to be hung on the wall The message is hit and driven home—inflation and black marketA great shot

One Wonderful Sunday – 1947 Kurosawa2020-07-03T10:28:09+00:00

An Affair to Remember – 1957 McCarey

It has a lofty reputation as one of the great classic romances – it’s a fine film, and in the archives, but artistically it is dwarfed by comparison if you look at what say Douglas Sirk was doing in the melodrama genre during this stretchThey are much more prevalent in contemporary cinema of course- but there were remakes and sequels even back in the day—for McCarey this is remaking his 1939 film Love Affair—and that’s after doing a sequel for Going My Way This is more trivia than anything but this film had quite a renaissance in the 1990’s

An Affair to Remember – 1957 McCarey2020-07-03T10:28:09+00:00

Brother Orchid – 1940 Bacon

A moderately successful comedy brought to life by an inspired lead performance by Edward G. Robinson and Bogart waiting in the wings ready to break out in 1940. Certainly a factory product- Warners Bros was cranking them outOne of five collaborations between Edward G and Bogart Like Larceny Inc. (made two years after with Lloyd Bacon) Edward G. comically riffs upon his popular gangster role in Little Caesar (made a decade before)—his name here is “Little John”- this is decades before De Niro would do this is in a number of films (including Analyze This) and Brando in The

Brother Orchid – 1940 Bacon2020-05-18T14:16:40+00:00

The Bells of St. Mary’s – 1945 McCarey

The sequel to 1944’s best picture winning Going My Way, Bells of St Mary’s reunites McCarey and Bing Crosby and then brings Ingrid Bergman in for the Barry Fitzgerald role--- this was nominated for all the people involved- Bing, Bergman, MCarey and picture and didn’t deserve one of them There’s a lot of talent involved even if Bergman and Crosby don’t have half the chemistry Fitzgerald and Crosby do (to her defense, the Fitzgerald character is just much stronger)- but the ensemble Una O’Connor (from Bridge of Frankenstein among other things) and Henry Travers (who would play Clarence the

The Bells of St. Mary’s – 1945 McCarey2020-05-18T13:10:22+00:00

The 186th Best Director of All-Time: Tony Richardson

Richardson. Tony Richardson is the leading voice of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s Kitchen Sink Realism movement in the UK—also known as the angry young men movement or the British New Wave. What a stretch he had from 1959-1965! Richardson made four (the first four below) in this mode—sort of a combination of neorealism and like the Brando/Clift Elia Kazan movement in the early 1950’s. Jack Clayton’s Room at the Top is there, Resz’s Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, The Sporting Life by Lindsay Anderson and Kes from Loach later in the decade is part of this school.

The 186th Best Director of All-Time: Tony Richardson2020-07-03T10:28:09+00:00
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