The Silent Partner – 1978 D. Duke

Decades before L.A. Confidential Curtis Hanson wrote this very clever screenplay It is a game of cat and mouse between the crafty, yet peculiar Elliot Gould character, and the menacing Christopher Plummer character. Gould’s character isn’t one you see often in these types of films (the entire film zigs when you think it is going to zag)- it is refreshing- he’s no victim and he’s not macho either. He reads the principles of chess and collects exotic fish. Plummer’s eyes (complete with mascara, eyeliner)—terrifying- in several long scenes he makes a point of not blinking—in a few scenes

The Silent Partner – 1978 D. Duke2021-01-24T14:31:09+00:00

One Night in Miami… – 2020 R. King

Phenomenal veteran actress Regina King (Jerry Maguire, Ray, If Beale Street Could Talk) has her directorial feature debut – One Night in Miami... Kemp Powers adapts his own stage play for the screenplay (he’s having a big 2020 with this and Soul – which he also co-directed) It is a fictional work but based on a true meeting between four of the most important (and talented) figures of the second-half of the 20th century: Malcom X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge), Cassius Clay (Eli Goree), and Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom, Jr.) It takes place, like the title says,

One Night in Miami… – 2020 R. King2021-12-07T16:04:19+00:00

The Cameraman – 1928 Keaton, Sedgwick

Buster Keaton’s 76-minute comic romance is his last hurrah. In total he’d work for 50 years in movies, have 150 credits or so to his name, but the sun really shined brightly on him and his work between the years 1923 and 1928—six short years Edward Sedgwick is credited but by all accounts Buster took over behind the camera after many failed attempts by Sedgwick The film was lost in 1951—so the restored version (the 4k transfer is awesome) we have today is missing three minutes It may be the closest film to a Chaplin narrative- Keaton plays the

The Cameraman – 1928 Keaton, Sedgwick2021-01-20T13:48:16+00:00

1958

best film: 1958 is a two-horse race at the top with Touch of Evil and Vertigo—any year with two of the best thirty films of all-time is a special one by definition. Still, ultimately when forced to pick, it is Hitchcock’s work that emerges as the crowning achievement of 1958 From Saul Bass’ gorgeous opening credits with Bernard Herrmann’s score (it has to be his finest, right?)—it is clear this film is different- even for Hitchcock—both his most ambitious film, the height of his perfectionism– and the greatest crystallization of his exposed psychosis on screen At 17 minutes we get

19582021-01-27T20:04:55+00:00

Ossos – 1997 Costa

Ossos is Pedro Costa’s third film, and first in the Fontainhas trilogy – the name of a destitute section of Lisbon. Costa largely uses a stationary camera (he has one very long tracking shot of the father walking down the street), deliberately paced—often objects or people will move into the frame—not the other way around The DP is Emmanuel Machuel who worked with Bresson on L’Argent and Costa, like Bresson, uses non-professional actors (and mostly throughout his work—aside from Down to Earth) Heavy realism in the themes- suicide and poverty--- on paper it sounds like a Dardenne film (they

Ossos – 1997 Costa2021-06-11T17:31:40+00:00

Blow the Man Down – 2019 Savage Cole, Krudy

Hats off to first time directors Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy for the narrative and formal achievement in 2019’s crime comedy thriller Blow the Man Down It is clear Savage Cole and Krudy studied the Coen brothers like crazy. This is part Fargo and part Blood Simple (the Coen’s own debut) Set (and shot on location and it shows) in a snow-bound fishing town in Maine—chowder, lobsters The score even has a Fargo-like jig, like Fargo there’s a giant landmark figure on the side of the road (here it is a lumberjack instead Paul Bunyan), and like Fargo-

Blow the Man Down – 2019 Savage Cole, Krudy2021-01-17T13:54:09+00:00

Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom – 1975 Pasolini

It seems clear that there are three ways to read Pasolini’s film. First—just the content and sort of description of what happens-- this description from IMDB sums it up “In World War II Italy, four fascist libertines round up nine adolescent boys and girls and subject them to one hundred and twenty days of physical, mental and sexual torture”.  This film is very controversial and for good reason. The content is hard to watch. Whether you admire the film or not, I don’t see how anyone could argue with the depths of evil depicted here and this should act

Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom – 1975 Pasolini2021-06-21T23:54:14+00:00

1957

best film:  The Seventh Seal from Ingmar Bergman Bergman’s first masterpiece—and a landmark film in 1950’s cinema A gray film- severe in tint and mood—Bergman sets the tone with the choir reigning down during the opening as we set out with the young Max von Sydow (just 28 years old here) and Gunnar Björnstrand back from the crusades as Death, incarnate, shows up on the rocks on the beach I forget how tight the film is- 96 minutes and I always forget the humor (pitch black–certainly) —it is heavy stuff- and von Sydow’s confessional soliloquy, the group of flagellants,

19572021-04-13T18:05:35+00:00

Bacurau – 2019 Dornelles, Filho

You could spend quiet a lot of time just talking about the various genres used when trying to describe Bacurau – it is a mashup, probably more going on here in that respect that even Bong’s work Bacurau is a fictional rural village in Brazil Opens on a retro Portuguese pop song while we’re floating around in space (before floating in on Brazil”—“a few years from now” The name of the school in the film is named after John Carpenter Wide edits—which is more Kurosawa/Lucas than Carpenter A split diopter at 26 minutes as Tony Junior approaches

Bacurau – 2019 Dornelles, Filho2021-01-13T14:32:49+00:00

Dark of the Sun – 1968 Cardiff

Jack Cardiff (DP on films like A Matter of Life and Death, Black Narcissus, and The African Queen) directs this action/adventure film – also known as “The Mercenaries” (same year actually as Corbucci’s film of the same name- The Mercenary). Like Corbucci’s film it is a nihilistic film about greed with a pretty callous approach to human life—this is about diamonds and cutthroat politics Shot in Jamaica and used quite well as a backdrop (falsely advertised as being shot in the Congo itself- where the film is set) Movie reunited Rod Taylor with Yvette Mimieux (his shirt off and

Dark of the Sun – 1968 Cardiff2021-01-20T16:14:24+00:00

Relic – 2020 James

A noteworthy slow-burn arthouse horror from director Natalie Erika James – her debut film Bound to frustrate traditional genre enthusiasts with her pacing—James is far more concerned with telling a nuanced story of dementia as horror metaphor, reoccurring visual imagery and some nice Polanski-like framing and use of the camera as voyeur The stained glass door window is a great visual focal point for James—it has a meaning in the narrative, it is bounced off of formally several times, it is set up in the opening, the ending, and it is certainly pretty to look at Elliptical editing in

Relic – 2020 James2021-01-12T16:29:04+00:00

The Go-Between – 1971 Losey

A coming-of-age story and a period costume drama that could have easily been from the later cycle of films from Merchant Ivory. Dominici Guard plays “Leo”- the boy, and literally the go-between passing notes from star-crossed (by class) lovers Julie Christie (playing Marian) and Alan Bates The film is taken to another level any time you get the pleasure of hearing Michel Legrand beautiful musical score--- it is voluminous—filling music Memorable shots of Christie, in all while, in her hammock- white umbrella Memorable shots of Christie, in all while, in her hammock- white umbrella Fairly heavy on

The Go-Between – 1971 Losey2021-01-11T19:16:29+00:00
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