1933

best film:  King Kong. It is a weaker year at the top- I’ll get to it in the overrated section but there is no masterpiece in 1933. Still, King Kong is not a film to be missed—essential and entertaining. King Kong is not a film to be missed—essential and entertaining most underrated:   Footlight Parade is the most underrated film of 1933. It can’t find a spot in the top 2000 according to the TSPDT consensus. I’ll get to it more it more in the trends section below but it is one of a trio of films from

19332020-10-01T13:09:57+00:00

The Scar – 1976 Kieslowski

The feature debut for the great Krzysztof Kieslowski at age 35. He had made a ton of documentaries prior and this is certainly made with that background in mind- realism It is a study of a man, played by Franciszek Pieczka, the building of a factory in a community- the “development of a village”– about local politics and a damning tale of bureaucracy. Sort of like Grapes of Wrath but from the other point of view. We even have a bulldoze a house scene Opens of a shot through trees in a forest- a nice frame, static- medium long—Kieslowski

The Scar – 1976 Kieslowski2020-09-30T18:28:11+00:00

1932

best film:  Love Me Tonight by Mamoulian.  It’s a storytelling innovator for sure (introducing singing in the middle of a scene—not just “performance” musical like The Jazz Singer) and first musical masterpiece. But, it’s no stodgy “first” film that’s appreciated by scholars for simply for being the pioneering film-- the first to make an attempt at a new mode/genre. It’s well-executed, smart, directed with pace and solid affection towards the audience. It’s extremely accessible film,too with a winning performance by Maurice Chevalier. It’s a storytelling innovator for sure (introducing singing in the middle of a scene—not just “performance”

19322020-09-29T18:23:57+00:00

1931

best film:  City Lights from Chaplin. M from Lang is a fine choice as well—both would be the single best film in virtually any year in the 1930’s (outside of perhaps 1939 with Renoir’s The Rules of the Game).   from the opening of Chaplin's City Lights- the best film of 1931 M from Lang (here) is a fine choice as well—both would be the single best film in virtually any year in the 1930’s (outside of perhaps 1939 with Renoir’s The Rules of the Game)   most underrated:   The 3 Penny Opera from Pabst. The

19312020-09-28T18:10:49+00:00

Felicia’s Journey – 1999 Egoyan

It is a disappointment coming off of Exotica and The Sweet Hereafter from Egoyan (and gets lost a bit in 1999’s incredible year)-- but certainly much stronger than the average film made by anyone else Opens with a gorgeous long floating tracking shot through an immaculately designed period interior—like the opening of The Irishman meets the home of Todd Haynes Far From Heaven (both films after this of course) It was jungle green in Exotica, red and green in The Adjuster, a sky blue in The Sweet Hereafter- Egoyan is back with his dedication to a specific color scheme

Felicia’s Journey – 1999 Egoyan2020-09-25T13:34:24+00:00

The Social Network – 2010 Fincher

It’s a film that may combine the best work of both David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin Hard to top Travers: “The Social Network lights up a dim movie sky with flares of startling brilliance. Director David Fincher (Fight Club, Seven, Zodiac) puts his visual mastery to work on the verbal pyrotechnics in the dynamite, dick-swinging script by Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing), and they both do the best and ballsiest work of their careers. The Social Network gets you drunk on movies again. It deserves to go viral.” https://www.rollingstone.com/movies/movie-reviews/the-social-network-113030/ From the fist glorious (maybe the best single shot in

The Social Network – 2010 Fincher2020-09-24T19:12:35+00:00

7th Heaven – 1927 Borzage

One of the great romance dramas of the silent era- Frank Borzage’s 7th Heaven is indeed moving—but also features several stunning cinematic highpoints Opens on the streets of Paris just before the breakout of World War I. Charles Farrell is introduced working in the sewer (it isn’t Caligari but a great set design there with a light coming in on him that Borzage would pair with the final shot) quickly we’re introduced to Janet Gaynor as well (best known for Sunrise in the same year- the Oscar winner for best actress). It is a larger triumph for Gaynor than

7th Heaven – 1927 Borzage2020-09-23T19:32:45+00:00

1930

best film:  The Blue Angel from von Sternberg. Von Sternberg is as married to mise-en-scene as Renoir or Ophuls is to camera movement or Eisenstein is to montage and editing. The Blue Angel has a simple (yet tragically haunting) narrative but the busy mise-en-scene---using set pieces to divide and design the frame-- is really unparalleled. This is von Sternberg’s greatest achievement. von Sternberg is as married to mise-en-scene as Renoir or Ophuls is to camera movement or Eisenstein is to montage and editing most underrated:   There are three options here. Both of von Sternberg’s 1930’s masterpieces fall outside of

19302020-09-23T13:43:02+00:00

Young Ahmed – 2019 Dardenne

It is a B-side, lesser work in the decade-spanning career of major auteurs – the Dardenne brothers The brothers are social realists—THE social realists of the last 20-30 years – a stripped down style, handheld camera, lots of close-ups, moral dilemmas often featuring amateur actors in real locations A brisk 85 minutes—almost like a tragic novella The Dardenne’s give leave breadcrumbs along the way telling the story of their titular character here- he has an absent father (he has a picture of him under his rug that he prays on), his mother drinks, he has a cousin who he

Young Ahmed – 2019 Dardenne2020-09-22T13:46:23+00:00

1929

best film:  Pandora’s Box from G.W. Pabst Pabst’s film features an enthralling narrative and rich characterizations Louise Brooks and her tragic character, Lulu, are/were so influential to the time and to cinema lore (see films and outright homages by Tarantino (hair by Uma in Pulp Fiction), Demme (Melanie Griffith in Something Wild), Fassbinder (actual film Lola– 1981) and Demy (ditto- character and film named Lola – 1961)—Brooks herself was a pop icon in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s from this film A rich study on the male gaze The structure of the film is set up in act’s- each scene/setting is an

19292021-05-08T11:30:53+00:00

Timbuktu – 2014 Sissako

It is really a film about an occupation of a town– that’s Sissako’s message. In a way it isn’t much different from Shane or Rio Bravo (or say German films made during the occupation like The Seventh Cross I saw just a few weeks ago or even Casablanca). There is good and evil in this film as clearly as white hats and black hats in westerns (here they open with these evil men in trucks chasing down and shooting at poor animals) The local people are arrested for peacefully playing music, there is a new language barrier, soccer is

Timbuktu – 2014 Sissako2020-09-21T14:16:39+00:00

The Sweet Hereafter – 1997 Egoyan

An emphatic follow-up to 1994’s Exotica—Egoyan proves himself to one of cinema’s finest directors during this stretch of time in the mid-1990’s—compiling now twin achievements of  pain and loss Like Exotica, this starts with a tracking shot during the credits laying out the color design that is going to fill the frame throughout the next nearly two hours. This is a washed out blue—almost like a sky blue- if you’re familiar with Steve McQueen’s work (McQueen debuted more than a decade after this film of course so this is a comparison, not influence)—it is the color in Shame. Egoyan

The Sweet Hereafter – 1997 Egoyan2020-09-21T13:46:06+00:00
Go to Top