Aar-Paar – 1954 Dutt

The fourth film (first in my study, first available) for director/actor Guru Dutt. Dutt directed a total of eight films – all in the 1950’s. Dutt died young- age 39 Here he plays Kalu- and there’s an undeniable charisma about him as an actor- sort of an endearing rogue with a smile. This is a love triangle romantic comedy (with a bit of crime thrown in-- this film has everything)– a Bollywood film with musical numbers where characters interrupt actions and break into songs- not different than Mamoulian’s Love Me Tonight in 1932. Dutt is an even better director

Aar-Paar – 1954 Dutt2021-02-16T19:07:17+00:00

Tenet – 2020 Nolan

Nolan’s Tenet starts in medias res like a Bond film with the vast crowd in the opera house (Nolan has declared his love for the 1977 Roger Moore Bond The Spy Who Loved Me) Tenet starts in medias res like a Bond film with the vast crowd in the opera house Nolan delivers on his now trademark colossal set pieces, editing precision and MacGuffins- worthy of comparisons to Michael Mann and Hitchcock The story is complex to say the least—at one point the character played by Clémence Poésy says “don’t try to understand it—feel it”- a great

Tenet – 2020 Nolan2021-03-20T12:44:33+00:00

The Zero Theorem – 2013 Gilliam

Proof that even minor-Gilliam is fascinating, and also that even in his most native genre (the retro future sci-fi dystopia, Orwellian nightmare) by 2013 Gilliam no longer has his fastball. James Verniere from the Boston Herald “To say that Gilliam has repeated himself is to say that John Ford made Westerns.” – I like that line  https://www.bostonherald.com/2014/10/10/terry-gilliams-zero-theorem-proves-to-be-fun/  An impressive tracking shot opening out of the cosmos on the screen pulling back to reveal the back of a naked, hairless, Christoph Waltz A trademark Gilliam low-angle shot just after that—Waltz’s character at his home with massive

The Zero Theorem – 2013 Gilliam2021-02-15T14:14:38+00:00

Saint Maud – 2019 Glass

Add Rose Glass to the very short list of gifted auteurs whose film I look forward to next. Saint Maud is Glass’s debut, and I’ve praised A24 many times here- and yes- they should get credit for endorsing these young talents- but that takes nothing away from the writer/director and vision here. Add Rose Glass to the very short list of gifted auteurs whose film I look forward to next Saint Maud’s house is built upon Schrader and Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. Schrader actually re-laid some claim to that in recent years with the brilliant First Reformed (2017)

Saint Maud – 2019 Glass2021-02-14T14:19:25+00:00

The Rental – 2020 D. Franco

The Rental is sort of half-way between The Cabin in the Woods and some of Polanski’s chamber dramas (Cul-de-sac, Death and the Maiden) Part drama, part horror and part thriller- the type of thriller where the vise continually tightens Directed by Dave Franco- brother of James- and it is perceptively scribed and lean – 88 minutes. It has modest aims and that running time suits- if this is another 20-minutes longer it may not be in the archives Dead Calm feels like another comparison. The four main cast members are fine- but I think Franco made a shrewd move

The Rental – 2020 D. Franco2021-03-17T14:07:21+00:00

The Magician – 1926 Ingram

Rex Ingram is the Irish director best known for The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse (1921) with Rudolph Valentino. The Magician is shot and set (largely) in Paris—and certainly had an influence on James Whale’s Frankenstein (even if The Magician seemed to borrow pretty liberally from Mary Shelley’s 19th century gothic novel). A great set piece – the operating theater with forty onlookers The film is about an evil magician/alchemist (Paul Wegener as Oliver Haddo) obsessed with the powers of real surgeon (Ivan Petrovich as Dr. Burdon) and a woman (Alice Terry as Margaret Dauncey) The narrative is engaging-

The Magician – 1926 Ingram2021-03-14T14:02:59+00:00

Dark Waters – 2019 Haynes

Sure, it’s always somewhat disappointing when a film with a director behind it capable of Safe, Far From Heaven and Carol, doesn’t live up to those works. Dark Waters, as strong as it is, is not going to be listed as one of the better films of the year like those previously mentioned efforts from Todd Haynes. The artistic ambitions here aren’t that grand and the material not as suited to Haynes’ talents. However, it is certainly worthy of the archives and a very good film, nonetheless. It is a smart and well-acted class action lawsuit procedural drama. If

Dark Waters – 2019 Haynes2021-06-06T21:45:23+00:00

1966

best film:  Persona. Persona is Bergman’s most avant-garde film. It is also his finest. It is cinematographer Sven Nykvist’s best work as well (that may be redundant- his best work was all with Bergman). The opaque narrative and doppelgängers have influenced everyone from Polanski, to Rivette, (Duelle) to Bunuel (That Obscure Object of Desire) to De Palma and Lynch (Mulholland Drive). The performances of Bibi Andersson and Liv Ullmann are superb, but it is Bergman, and his use of blocking/staging and lighting that make this an experimental and challenging masterpiece. Bergman does in close-up here what Kurosawa had been

19662021-03-14T12:36:23+00:00

Interiors – 1978 Allen

Woody Allen’s seventh feature (I don’t count What's Up, Tiger Lily?) and a major change in tone for him at this point in his career. It is his first film to have a very solemn tenor (going further than Annie Hall) and first not to feature him as an actor. Always look to the film after a giant masterpiece for an underrated work for a great auteur- this is a prime example (again directly after Annie Hall), Marie Antoinette from Sofia Coppola, One From the Heart is a good example as well after Apocalypse Now, certainly Ambersons, Juliet of

Interiors – 1978 Allen2021-02-12T19:28:21+00:00

Anna Karenina – 1948 Duvivier

There have been many adaptations of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina and a few, including Duvivier’s attempt here, are admirable, but none are transcendent. The most famous adaptation is probably Clarence Brown’s 1935 version with Garbo. Joe Wright did solid work on 2012’s version as well. Duvivier is back in the UK (Panique was at home in France in 1946) here The lyrical camera style of Duvivier’s is actually very similar to Joe Wright’s style Inspired use of train miniature in the opening At the 34-minute mark, just subtle little camera movements like Duvivier pulling back the camera and descending the

Anna Karenina – 1948 Duvivier2021-02-12T13:49:55+00:00

The Baker’s Wife – 1938 Pagnol

Playwright and director Marcel Pagnol returns with a modest, but charming tale set in rural France Much of the same cast from the Marseille trilogy is back including Raimu as Aimable Castanier (again Welles once said he was the greatest actor) and Fernand Charpin as Le marquis. I could watch these two act (with great writing at their disposal) for hours- which is good- because that is basically what Pagnol’s approach is as director A simple story of adultery and the ensuing melodrama—explored for dramatic and comedic purposes in each measure (Pagnol certainly uses “cuckold” in every film I’ve

The Baker’s Wife – 1938 Pagnol2021-02-11T17:06:03+00:00

The White Tiger – 2021 Bahrani

With the kinetic energy, pop soundtrack blend, and rags to riches coming of age story set in India- it is tough not to at least mention Slumdog Millionaire when discussing Ramin Bahrani’s (Chop Shop) The White Tiger- a thoroughly engaging story Bong’s Parasite from 2019 is also an important text and potential influence- this is a story and study of poverty and the class (or caste) system. Adarsh Gourav (playing Balram) is also the driver for this wealthy family. The story here uses the rooster coop metaphor instead of a parasite Voiceover narration- Balram is writing a letter to

The White Tiger – 2021 Bahrani2021-09-10T03:55:38+00:00
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