Misery – 1990 Reiner

Rob Reiner is responsible for two of the very best Stephen King adaptations- 1990’s Misery and 1986’s Stand by Me. Both are part of Reiner’s phenomenal streak of good movies going from 1984’s This is Spinal Tap to 1992’s A Few Good Men As if Reiner and King weren’t enough already—they loaded up on the talent involved and tapped the shoulder of William Goldman to write the screenplay (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All the President’s Men) and they get a herculean effort from Kathy Bates (Academy winner for 1990). Bates had been around for a decade (she

Misery – 1990 Reiner2021-02-28T14:50:34+00:00

Lydia – 1941 Duvivier

Julien Duvivier’s Lydia can’t quite be called a remake of Un Carnet de Bal (also known as Christine from 1937). Duvivier remade a number of his silent films into talking films—but this is more a spiritual remake—instead of ten men we have three here (well four really), and the lead female isn’t a widow, she ran a school for blind children instead of marrying any of these men. But all the dialogue, scenarios, roles, have changed. The great Ben Hecht had a hand in the screenplay (as he did in hundreds of films during the era) A very fetching

Lydia – 1941 Duvivier2021-02-05T16:01:14+00:00

Force Majeure – 2014 Östlund

Force Majeure centers around a 3-minute shot that starts at the 11-minute mark. This Swedish family is sitting at an outdoor restaurant at a ski resort when an avalanche starts heading towards them. The man Tomas (played by Johannes Kuhnke) leaves his wife Ebba (Lisa Loven Kongsli) and their two kids. In the few minutes before the shot, and certainly the 90+ minutes that follow—we track the difficult conversations, awkward dinners, and nuances of a relationship after the fallout. The moment looms so large when hearing about it, it causes other people to debate and fight Östlund stretches out

Force Majeure – 2014 Östlund2021-02-28T12:51:11+00:00

Un carnet de bal – 1937 Duvivier

With Pépé le Moko coming out earlier in 1937—it certainly appears that this is at least the brightest of Julien Duvivier’s star—the moment he had the most clout and stature The narrative plays out similarly to Jim Jarmusch’s 2005’s Broken Flowers- Marie Bell plays Christine (another common title for the film)—it is a step by step episodic structure- Christine, now a widow, is going back to all of the old dancing partners and crossing them off on a list (10 total- but Duvivier doesn’t show all 10). Heavy wipes in transitions Floral arrangement in the frame of Christine’s mansion—I

Un carnet de bal – 1937 Duvivier2021-02-28T17:19:29+00:00

The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond – 1960 Boetticher

Budd Boetticher is only one year removed from his best work- 1959’s Ride Lonesome. So, you’d figure working with talented DP Lucien Ballard (The Wild Bunch) would yield better results The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond is a solid film (otherwise it wouldn’t be here in the archives)- but it does make you wish Boetticher had stuck to the western where he was most comfortable. Lead actor, Ray Danton doesn’t help. The handsome Danton plays Jack ‘Legs’ Diamond—and he just can’t act. Luckily (or perhaps BECAUSE of Danton)- there isn’t much to Diamond as a character- he’s not

The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond – 1960 Boetticher2021-02-07T13:25:33+00:00

Pépé le Moko – 1937 Duvivier

Pépé le Moko succeeds on three separate levels. First, Jean Gabin is undeniably commanding as the titular hero, gangster, and lover (this is largely a romance after all). The atmosphere of the Casbah of Algiers (some on-location exhibition shots, most shot on the studio lot) is material—it is cliché, but the setting is certainly a character in the film. Lastly, Julien Duvivier’s (who also gets credit for the aforementioned atmosphere) roving camera adds a kinetic element to the film that you couldn’t get if the acting, screenplay, and scenery were in the hands of  a lesser director. Duvivier does

Pépé le Moko – 1937 Duvivier2021-02-26T15:09:09+00:00

La tête d’un homme – 1933 Duvivier

La tête d'un homme, also known as either A Man’s Neck or A Man’s Head is a superb seedy crime story. Duvivier’s camera is constantly floating around—Murnau-like mobility (this is before Ophuls and Duvivier is a peer with Renoir) with Hitchcock’s keen focus on the details (Duvivier is telling you with the eyeline of the camera exactly what particulars of the crime he wants you to look at). Julien Duvivier is one of the “big five” of classic French cinema (Renoir, Carne, Clair, Feyder) The film starts on Willy (Gaston Jacquet) – and tracks with him as he strolls

La tête d’un homme – 1933 Duvivier2021-02-24T13:33:26+00:00

Martin Eden – 2019 Marcello

Martin Eden is a sweeping biopic transposing Jack London’s novel and setting it in Italy Pietro Marcello, like Kelly Reichardt and others, uses 16mm here. We’re at an interesting point in history when some are using 16mm like the 1960’s again. The film stars Luca Marinelli as the titular character—broken into two distinct halves. First it is about his origins- his struggle becoming a writer, lovestruck, romantic, ambitious, poverty-stricken. The second half of the film he has arrived, he is a renowned author, rich, but beaten down by life. His hair is now bleached his teeth are rotting. He’s

Martin Eden – 2019 Marcello2021-02-18T14:20:36+00:00

1963

best film:  Fellini’s 8 ½ stands above the rest in 1963 but it isn’t by a wide margin. Kurosawa’s High and Low is right there as is The Leopard from Visconti. Kurosawa’s use of the full widescreen (Tohoscope) 2.35 : 1 aspect ratio is astonishing. Deep focus black and white compositions have never been stronger. Welles may not be superior to Kurosawa in this regard. As for Visconti’s work, it features a dogmatic dedication to background set design, décor, costumes, wallpaper as art- hundreds of candles in the lighting- clearly a precursor to Barry Lyndon. 1963 is Fellini

19632021-02-22T13:20:40+00:00

Poil de carotte – 1932 Duvivier

Julien Duvivier remade his own silent film here for Poil de carotte—Harry Baur is back again as Monsieur Lepic—the father of the title character (carrot top)—his son, who is an unloved child-- ignored by Baur’s Lepic and abused by the mother (played by Simone Aubry) Like most of Duvivier’s work it is an unhappy fiction for the most part His always-active camera opens on a tour of the house—floating around lyrically from side to side Duvivier uses the montage, the close-up, the dissolve and the camera movement—here he leans in and out of the family pictures of the individuals

Poil de carotte – 1932 Duvivier2021-02-01T17:41:41+00:00

David Golder – 1931 Duvivier

A biopic filled with cinematic bravado that would make for a good double-billing with Welles’ Citizen Kane made a decade later The first sound film for Julien Duvivier – already a veteran with 10+ silent films under his belt—the first film with star Harry Baur as well—a talented big actor – sort of Emil Jannings (more subtle) meets Rod Steiger The first sound film and Duvivier isn’t scared at all by the new technology- he’s showing off in the opening montage—train whistles, loud, heavy dissolves with the noise- very busy- a “Golder is a scoundrel” and “Golder is a

David Golder – 1931 Duvivier2021-02-20T13:01:53+00:00

The Dig – 2021 S. Stone

Simon Stone’s The Dig features stellar performances, magic-hour photography, and some reoccurring overhead shot choices Clearly Stone is an admirer of Malick- sun flares on the lens, the camera pushing through the blades of grass and shots at just the right time of day (magic hour)--- this is the most sunshine I’ve seen in a British film- haha Set in 1939—based on a true story of an archeological dig and find just as the outbreak of war against the Nazis looms--- certainly the backdrop of war adds to the story’s immediacy Stone goes to the overhead angle several times

The Dig – 2021 S. Stone2021-05-03T14:07:41+00:00
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