Wolfwalkers – 2020 Moore, Ross Stewart

This is now the third work from Tomm Moore (all of them co-directed by this is the first time with Ross Stewart) with previous works including The Secret of Kells (2009) and Song of the Sea (2014). This is the best of the three—but like all auteur cinema-- makes the previous two efforts stronger as well (I’m eager to revisit both Kells and Song of the Sea in the wake of the effort here). I used to hold the belief that three films is really where it the counting starts as it signifies a pattern but directors like Vigo,

Wolfwalkers – 2020 Moore, Ross Stewart2020-12-29T18:55:43+00:00

The Assistant – 2019 Green

A remarkable feature debut from Australian-born Kitty Green. The Assistant starts with an attention to detail you’d see from a realist. Julia Garner plays Jane- the titular character and the film convers one day in her life at work (a long, long day). Green starts capturing the fact that it is still dark outside when she starts her long commute over the bridge to New York City. It is silent opening (there can’t be more than a few dozen pages to the screenplay at that), making coffee, getting organized. Green dedicates 5 minutes of an 88-minute film to this

The Assistant – 2019 Green2021-12-15T14:14:02+00:00

The Hobbit – 2012-2014 Jackson

The reunion of Tolkien and Jackson, over a decade after the start of The Lord of the Rings, fails to live up to the achievement of its predecessor (heavy lies the crown sort of thing here with the expectations). This eight-hour film (broken up into three more commercially digestible chunks) would be a decent enough film by any other comparison (it is in the archives)—but compared to the promise of the 2001-2003 gargantuan masterpiece, it falls woefully short. on its own (which is certainly how you should judge it)- The Hobbit is worthy of praise and study

The Hobbit – 2012-2014 Jackson2021-06-06T21:53:03+00:00

Die Hard – 1988 McTiernan

Like McTiernan’s 1987 entry the year before, Predator, Die Hard is an updated (and modified) western. Instead of The Magnificent Seven (Seven Samurai) it’s Shane here in many ways Clichés are clichés for a reason and Die Hard would go on to be so influential to the action genre that it may seem cliché now—but it isn’t—it’s an architype – a standard and the premise has been copied a hundred time sense (DP Jan de Bont did it pretty well himself in Speed) Pure good and pure evil—much like Shane with Ladd and Palance—we have Willis and Rickman here

Die Hard – 1988 McTiernan2020-12-28T13:29:23+00:00

The Lord of the Rings – 2001-2003 Jackson

Peter Jackson’s magnum opus adaptation of Tolkien is one the seminal works of the 21st century. I’ve seen it a half dozen times at least—and my appreciation for it grows with each revisit. I’ll be treating it as one 10-hour film here as it was shot all at once, and I find it pretty fruitless to talk about the differences between the three separate films except for when it comes to description ambition incarnate-- in storytelling and visuals As I reread some of the initial reviews in 2001 when the film was first released—I’m so impressed with

The Lord of the Rings – 2001-2003 Jackson2021-04-18T10:43:41+00:00

1951

best film:  Early Summer from Ozu. The Japanese master made one of the best films of 1949 (Late Spring) and two years later he improves upon it ever so slightly (he’d do the same thing again two years later here with Tokyo Story in 1953). One noticeable major advance in Ozu’s style is his heavy use of Japanese Shoji panel doors/walls to frame and layer his mise-en-scene. It’s a thing of beauty that I haven’t read previously from any critic. Early Spring is the middle film in the Noriko trilogy (Late Spring the first one, Tokyo Story the third).

19512021-04-13T13:19:00+00:00

1950

best film:  Rashomon from Kurosawa.  Rashomon is a masterpiece on at least two levels: the use of deep focus photography combined with character blocking compositions (that’s one-- which rivals Citizen Kane– which is funny because Kane is also the film the subjective, unreliable narration, flashback structure is compared to) – and that aspect of Rashomon is probably overlooked because of the shock wave sent from the film’s audacious formal storytelling structure. At the 8 minute mark we get the famous shot of the sun, I’ve made the mistake of attributing this to Malick (it’s a s reoccurring trait of Malick’s), Apichatpong Weerasethakul (and I’m

19502020-12-23T15:55:02+00:00

Teorema – 1968 Pasolini

Pasolini’s sixth feature, second in the “mythical cycle” following Oedipus Rex in 1967. Along with his debut Accattone, Teorema is Pasolini’s greatest achievement thus far in his career in 1968. A very controversial film (name a Pasolini film that isn’t)—thumbs its nose at capitalism, religion--- it contains nudity, and Pasolini points the camera right at Terence Stamp’s crotch for about 10 of the 98 minutes of the film greens in the decor-- every color and ornament chosen-- and this is a very controversial film (name a Pasolini film that isn’t)—thumbs its nose at capitalism, religion--- it contains nudity,

Teorema – 1968 Pasolini2020-12-22T03:53:42+00:00

1949

best film:  The Third Man from Carol Reed has so many superior elements to praise: the Ferris wheel set piece, post-war Vienna as the film’s backdrop, it is written by freaking Graham Greene, you have the zither-based Anton Karas score, the spectacular chase in the sewers, the Welles cuckoo clock monologue, and one of cinema’s truly great endings. one of cinema’s truly great endings the spectacular chase in the sewers the justifiably famous ferris wheel set piece post-war Vienna as the film’s backdrop--- Reed plays with angles, natural lighting most underrated:  

19492020-12-21T18:15:35+00:00

Oedipus Rex – 1967 Pasolini

Provocateur Pier Paolo Pasolini officially moved away from the neorealist-leanings in his early work for his fifth feature (and first in color)- Oedipus Rex The is the first in the “mythical cycle” series (Teorema, Porcile, Medea) There is very little dialogue in the film- especially part one (broken up just about exactly half-way through)— a seven minute opening without any spoken dialogue at all (though there is a creative title card giving us the inner monologue dialogue of a toddler). There’s the birth of Oedipus shot through a window, breastfeeding, and an uncomfortable (precisely Pasolini’s aim) long take with

Oedipus Rex – 1967 Pasolini2020-12-19T21:50:25+00:00

Ran – 1985 Kurosawa

The pictorial beauty of Kurosawa's landscape long shots are masterpiece worthy—Kurosawa makes great use of every extra, color flourish in the frame, and set piece --whether it’s the mountains in the final climax battle, the valley in the opening, or the castle on fire  in the film’s best sequence one of sublime images in the opening of Kurosawa's 27th feature film Second to the stunning long shots-  I have to praise the formal elements Kurosawa goes back to again and again with the shot of the clouds and meditating on dreams and fate (the shot happens 7-8

Ran – 1985 Kurosawa2021-07-28T00:26:59+00:00

Sound of Metal – 2019 Marder

Sound of Meal is the debut film from Darius Marder—it touts an exquisite use of sound design and lead performance from Riz Ahmed. Marder’s sound design- coupled with some nice camera location choices (often right on Ahmed shoulder) put the viewer in Ahmed’s character’s headspace as he loses his hearing Marder is a former collaborator of Derek Cianfrance- Marder co-wrote The Place Beyond the Pines (2012) Ahmed displays a dedication to the role in both his use of sign language- and his drumming skills—hard not to think of Miles Teller’s work in Whiplash The opening four minutes are magnificent-

Sound of Metal – 2019 Marder2020-12-17T12:06:08+00:00
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