best film:  Citizen Kane from Orson Wells. It is the year of Welles arrival and Citizen Kane. There are countless shots and sequences that are just so endlessly innovative. It’s a visual showpiece from beginning to end.   deep focus mastery, again and again Welles puts objects and characters in these glorious foreground/background splits The film is nothing less than a perfect melding of cinematic ingenuity and narrative brilliance- both perfectly executed and daringly unique It’s jarring how different it looks than every other film before it and nearly every one since New angles that cinema had never


Jabberwocky – 1977 Gilliam

This is Terry Gilliam’s first solo effort as director after co-directing Monty Python and the Holy Grail in 1975. Based on a poem by Lewis Carroll -talk about a match for Gilliam’s world Gilliam obviously takes the strategy laid out by Jaws just two years prior as they don’t show the titular beast/monster for much of the film. They even copy the music from John Williams a bit A quick nod to The Marx Brothers and Duck Soup as the one of the announcements here is that they conquered “Freedonia” Michael Palin here as Dennis Cooper- an everyman and

Jabberwocky – 1977 Gilliam2021-06-03T10:24:25+00:00

Three Colours: Red – 1994 Kieslowski

The warmest film of Kieslowski’s trilogy and his entire career—both emotionally (the color means fraternity here and that is certainly a match) and visually. It is a brilliant film on its own, but also a fitting finale (with a short coda attached) to the trilogy--- Kieslowski going Masterpiece, Must-See, and Masterpiece with the trilogy to end his career (and that is after Dekalog and Veronique). He would pass away in 1996 (at age 54)- but he had announced his retirement with this project and film. the color means fraternity here and that is certainly a match Opens

Three Colours: Red – 1994 Kieslowski2021-06-28T21:20:04+00:00

The River – 1997 Ming-liang Tsai

The story of a dysfunctional family – certainly the same voice as 1992’s debut Rebels of the Neon God.  It begins with Kang-sheng Lee (I believe in all of Ming-liang Tsai’s films) asked to pretend to drown in the river for a movie. There is so much time spent fussing over this mannequin—part of Ming-liang Tsai’s critique—fakery, this is not what real life is supposed to be. There is no genuine human interaction in this world. He develops an almost existential neck injury if you will (feels like the kind of unhealthy we get in Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s films or

The River – 1997 Ming-liang Tsai2020-10-26T13:47:11+00:00

Rebels of the Neon God – 1992 Ming-liang Tsai

One of the great titles in cinema- if Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers were called “Rebels of the Neon God” I think it would have twice the reputation it does now Ming-liang Tsai’s impressive debut. The parallel story of two troubled teens in Taipei, Taiwan. A story of disillusioned and disconnected youth Early in the film a struggling cockroaches is killed- reminded me a little of the scorpion metaphor in the opening of The Wild Bunch Early in the film a struggling cockroaches is killed- reminded me a little of the scorpion metaphor in the opening of The Wild

Rebels of the Neon God – 1992 Ming-liang Tsai2020-10-25T14:23:47+00:00


best film:  The Grapes of Wrath from John Ford . First off, it is gorgeously photographed. Ford is working with Gregg Toland one year before Kane. Henry Fonda also gives a transcendent performance- his best. With Grapes of Wrath as my choice here it also puts into perspective what a drop-off 1940 is at the top after 1939 (no slight to 1940, this is a compliment to 1939 as a year). Stagecoach is John Ford’s second best film and I have Grapes of Wrath as his fifth best. But I have Grapes as the best film of 1940 but Stagecoach doesn’t come out on top for 1939.


Three Colours: White – 1994 Kieslowski

Kieslowski’s Three Colours: White is always going to be sandwiched between Blue and Red and probably for that reason it is unfairly overlooked. I’m guilty of this, too- and was flat wrong with my prior assessment. It is the “equality” portion of the liberty/equality/fraternity color trilogy from the great master who liked arranging his works in the context of larger themes like that (including the 10 commandments and prior to his death was getting tor ruminate on a Heaven/Purgatory/Hell trilogy). White feels like the least on-the-nose of the three films in this trilogy—“equality” seems like a stretch. It is

Three Colours: White – 1994 Kieslowski2020-10-23T20:20:18+00:00

The Trial of the Chicago 7 – 2020 Sorkin

It is a testament to Sorkin’s pen and the actors involved that even if he’s not much of a director, The Trial of the Chicago 7 is absolutely riveting It opens on Lyndon Johnson footage—and proceeds to engage all the players in a sort of round-up montage all before the opening titles. Cutting, rat-a-tat trademark Sorkin dialogue- “apparently I’m paying you for your wisdom” Since 1992 with A Few Good Men (this too, an engaging legal drama)- Sorkin has been one of the best screenwriters and writers of dialogue period- and this does not disappoint. Every character in the

The Trial of the Chicago 7 – 2020 Sorkin2020-10-21T14:06:46+00:00

Three Colours: Blue – 1993 Kieslowski

It is the first film in Kieslowski’s Colours trilogy but also makes for a fine companion piece with The Double Life of Véronique which is Kieslowski’s film that precedes it.  The story is a little easier to pin down here- it is about a tragedy, loss, and the freedom (or liberty) moving on from that A meditation on grief. A cinematic tone poem. The blue color choice is brilliantly deployed. It matches the tenor – this is a somber film, a requiem in many ways. Juliette Binoche plays Julie- and like Véronique it is a one-woman show

Three Colours: Blue – 1993 Kieslowski2020-10-20T20:57:33+00:00

Monty Python and the Holy Grail – 1975 Gilliam, T. Jones

It is the Monty Python clan’s first narrative feature film and it is absolutely hilarious. Gilliam’s feature debut as well as he co-directed with Terry Jones Makes for a nice pairing with Woody’s comedy Love and Death which came out in 1975, too. These are comedies so sophisticated (in spots, it certainly isn’t all sophistication) you needed to see Ingmar Bergman first to understand some of the jokes—here we have the Swedish subtitles in the opening and  The Seventh Seal scene- the scene of the flagellants in black cloaks (but here they hit themselves on the head with wooden

Monty Python and the Holy Grail – 1975 Gilliam, T. Jones2020-10-20T17:06:37+00:00

Wyatt Earp – 1994 Kasdan

So in 1993 and 1994 there was a bit of a war between Tombstone and Wyatt Earp. Costner was once attached the Tombstone film, parted ways after artistic differences and decided to make his own (he’s a clear fan of the western genre with this Dances With Wolves, Open Range). The two films were shot near the same time, same area. Tombstone is superior and it came out first. It is, and was viewed as, the more enjoyable of the two while this is bloated (3+ hours and big budget) and has an air of superiority to it that

Wyatt Earp – 1994 Kasdan2020-10-19T15:11:56+00:00

The Blackbird – 1926 Browning

Lon Chaney, the man of a thousand faces, carries this film playing dual roles – both The Blackbird and The Bishop- his own little version of Jekyll and Hyde A strong opening- a montage of close-ups of faces – people living in London’s limehouse district Chaney clearly relishes both roles- the sinister grin of The Blackbird and contorting his body, using the crutches, for The Bishop Browning makes a few mistakes here- he intermixes exposition title cards (this is a silent film) with dialogue cards. Two people will be talking and then he’ll have “years ago Polly had been

The Blackbird – 1926 Browning2020-10-19T12:45:05+00:00
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