I Don’t Want To Sleep Alone – 2006 Ming-liang Tsai

With his patented long takes, sparse dialogue, stationary camera, lack of close-ups, and undoubtedly his own unique rhythm —this is strong auteur cinema. Yet, like many of Ming-liang Tsai’s prior works (this is his eighth feature), there are a few stunning compositions, but also 15-20 minute stretches that simply do not impress Opens on a composition of a man resting/sleeping/recovering in a hospital bed, opera is playing, the window open. It isn’t just a title- the I Don’t Want To Sleep Alone describes the film—and the hypnotic (trance/dream-like) rhythm and sleepiness have to make cinephiles think of Apichatpong Weerasethakul

I Don’t Want To Sleep Alone – 2006 Ming-liang Tsai2020-11-14T18:03:08+00:00

Barry Lyndon – 1975 Kubrick

There are a few films that may be equal to Barry Lyndon’s visual beauty (from Days of Heaven, In the Mood For Love, others-- including  works from the great Kubrick himself) – but none that I’d say are comfortably superior Many aspects of Kubrick’s masterpiece are worthy of praise, but I want to get to the main point quickly- the film is driven by a rigorous, formal, visual approach using technology (the zoom lens) on masterful compositions. The Shining is largely driven by tracking shots (through the advent and development of the Steadicam) and here it is the zoom,

Barry Lyndon – 1975 Kubrick2020-11-14T18:22:18+00:00

Hacksaw Ridge – 2016 Gibson

Continues Mel’s meditation on violence (and beautiful photography- this film handsome to look at)- Braveheart, The Passion of the Christ and Apocalypto.  Andrew Garfield's character is religious, and the scenes in the second half on Hacksaw can be seen as hell on earth and have a biblical/religious connotation as well Continues Mel’s meditation on violence (and beautiful photography- this film handsome to look at)- Braveheart, The Passion of the Christ and Apocalypto.  I wasn’t as high on Garfield (who I think is a very good actor) as many critics and didn’t see him as a top five

Hacksaw Ridge – 2016 Gibson2020-11-12T13:55:30+00:00

I Know This Much Is True – 2020 Cianfrance

I Know This Much IS True features masterclass acting from Mark Ruffalo is on display in Derek Cianfrance’s six hour tragedy I Know This Much Is True has relationship and anger issues that remind you have his stunning breakthrough film Blue Valentine (2010) and a generational family interconnectivity (of transferring baggage and doom) from The Place Beyond the Pines. The somber, sad, tone pervades all three films (Cianfrance’s lesser, but still handsomely mounted, The Light Between Oceans is also an incredible bummer of a tragedy). This is who Cianfrance is—whether it is in a shorter film or the 378-minute

I Know This Much Is True – 2020 Cianfrance2021-06-11T15:30:58+00:00

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen – 1988 Gilliam

This is yet another reminder to seek out the film made directly following a masterpiece from any major auteur. I talk about Marie Antoinette from Sofia Coppola often, Woody’s Interiors following Annie Hall is one of these films--- and Terry Gilliam’s The Adventures of Baron Munchausen follows Brazil and perhaps because of that, I’ve been tragically underrating it for years Even detractors have to be blown away by the visual spectacularity—this is the final leg of the imagination trilogy from Gilliam—a boy (Time Bandits), man (Brazil) and elderly (here) this is the final leg of the imagination trilogy

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen – 1988 Gilliam2020-11-11T21:48:03+00:00

Salaam Bombay! – 1988 Nair

Mira Nair’s first feature after working in documentary films and that experience is certainly put into play here (location shooting, non-professional actors largely in the cast). This is realism, from the Italians in the 1940’s to the Apu Trilogy in the 1950’s and the Dardenne brothers in the 1990’s and beyond. I do think this has a bit of an element of Bunuel’s Los Olvidados (1950) to it—we have a harshness here, robbery, peeing in public, drinking, pimps, hash and a junkie friend Nair spent a lot of time in prep following and studying kids living on the streets

Salaam Bombay! – 1988 Nair2020-11-11T14:55:35+00:00

The Knack… and How to Get It – 1965 Lester

I forget Richard Lester is from Philly— between this here, The Knack… and How to Get It, and A Hard Day’s Night from the year before- the most 1960’s swinging-London films of all-time (along with maybe Blow-Up- also made by a non-British director). The knack is really “mojo”- or sex Filled with playful visual gags, great imagery (the women all in white sweaters on the stairwell waiting to audition, the painted white room), an active camera, thoughtful editing (low average shot length, freeze frame work, jump cuts) Jazzy score by the great John Barry (Bond movies, Out of Africa,

The Knack… and How to Get It – 1965 Lester2020-11-11T14:25:45+00:00

The Wayward Cloud – 2005 Ming-liang Tsai

Ming-liang Tsai’s seventh feature – and quite a controversial one with the sex and soft-core pornography (which is certainly part of  Ming-liang Tsai's critique). Ming-liang Tsai is commenting on the porn culture (and more importantly the world that would accept it as part of the norm)- but doing it he uses a ton of it here. This is one of the more bizarre films you’ll see. Kang-sheng Lee (Ming-liang Tsai’s male muse- he’s in all his film) plays Hsiao-Kang a porn actor who can’t make a genuine human interaction—dead inside, empty. It is no surprise to see that L'Eclisse

The Wayward Cloud – 2005 Ming-liang Tsai2020-11-10T12:59:46+00:00

The Yakuza – 1974 Pollack

The Yakuza is Paul Schrader’s first screenplay—coming from a story by his brother (who spent a lot of time in Japan), touched up by Robert Towne (wow), directed by a hot Sydney Pollack (coming off of Jeremiah Johnson and The Way We Were). It was the most expensive script sold at the time. Many veteran actors had a look at the lead, I don’t know if they turned it down or if Mitchum beat them out—but as Tarantino says (he has a nice essay on the film https://thenewbev.com/tarantinos-reviews/the-yakuza/) it is really the last time Mitchum would be good in

The Yakuza – 1974 Pollack2021-06-05T11:43:07+00:00

Goodbye, Dragon Inn – 2003 Ming-liang Tsai

Ming-liang Tsai’s sixth feature is his shortest at 82 minutes, almost entirely silent (no more than a few lines of dialogue in the film and then you overhear the dialogue from the 1967 Dragon Inn which is the film playing at the theater), little to no camera movements. Ming-liang Tsai’s film here is an impressive formal construction, and I’ll borrow from the great Andrew Sarris in the Observer when he says “The real star of the movie is the doomed movie house itself”. Ming-liang Tsai uses that setting, a dilapidated movie house, hallways, basement, projection room as a character.

Goodbye, Dragon Inn – 2003 Ming-liang Tsai2020-11-09T14:57:15+00:00

Stars in My Crown – 1950 Tourneur

Joel McCrea is rock solid Jimmy Stewart stand-in and the supporting cast here is loaded with steady actors—but it is the great Jacques Tourneur’s direction, particularly early on in the film, that makes it more than just a good story Tourneur has a slow reverse crane shot of the church in the opening shot—he pauses on a very nice black and white photograph of the church as the choir sings the title song There is a nostalgic voice-over of a small town- Walesburg and the story of Joel McCrea’s preacher The camera movement again makes it more than run

Stars in My Crown – 1950 Tourneur2020-11-09T14:09:06+00:00

City Slickers – 1991 Underwood

A charming little film that showcases some best of Billy Crystal’s comedic talents. Crystal was on a roll in 1991—not exactly a Kevin Costner sort of roll, but When Harry Met Sally was in 1989 and City Slickers is a solid comedy- and one of the five biggest box office hits in the USA in 1991 Has the cute little cartoon credit sequence, the booming Victor Young Shane-like score by Marc Shaiman and a talented group of actors surrounding Crystal. Daniel Stern (coming off Home Alone the year before) and Bruno Kirby are his buddies, Josh Mostel and David

City Slickers – 1991 Underwood2020-11-09T13:33:41+00:00
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