The Rocket From Calabuch – 1956 Berlanga

Berlanga’s fourth film, he brings back the wry voice-over and the small town just like his debut Welcome Mr. Marshall! (1953). He even gives us the number of the people living in the village (928) again. Stars British actor Edmund Gwenn (dubbed here). Gwenn's work is strong. Berlanga uses his kind face and disposition just like Miracle on 34th Street (even Hitchcock played off this with The Trouble with Harry in 1955). Gwenn plays a missing nuclear scientist trying to leave the world of politics and war behind. This is an ongoing theme for Berlanga- his dislike of politics

The Rocket From Calabuch – 1956 Berlanga2021-04-30T10:31:41+00:00


best film:  Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid from Sam Peckinpah barely edges out the five other masterpieces from 1973 for the top slot. This sort of quietly gives Peckinpah the best film of the year for the second time in five years. Peckinpah’s second masterpiece is a stylistic treatise that is shockingly close to The Wild Bunch  in overall quality. The Bob Dylan music, death scene of Slim Pickens’ character, the masterful opening credit sequence are all artistic highlights. a haunting shot from Peckinpah's masterpiece... ... a film that can go toe to toe with


Boyfriend in Sight – 1954 Berlanga

Berlanga’s third film, brimming with nostalgia for youth, romance and summer. Set in “Europe 1918” Berlanga’s trademark quick wit—“the highest he ever got in the army was draft dogger”. Under 90 minutes Breezy, Monsieur Hulot's Holiday (1953 just the year before) and Amarcord (1973) come to mind as comparisons. Boyfriend in Sight, like Welcome Mr. Marshall! is an ensemble comedy. The romance for 15-year old’s, cute, the end of innocence (Berlanga wants to extend this—he spoofs “adult life”- politics, war—here half the jokes are about war and the “war games” of the kids vs. the adults is a big

Boyfriend in Sight – 1954 Berlanga2021-03-16T15:59:36+00:00

A Separation – 2011 Farhadi

Asghar Farhadi’s fifth film is a profound meditation on divorce (every bit on the level of Kramer vs. Kramer, Marriage Story) and class (every bit on the level Parasite) Opens with a three-minute shot of Simin (played by Leila Hatami) and Nader (Payman Maadi) discussing their failing relationship. They are talking to the camera with the unseen judge. “He is a good decent person”. Farhadi goes to the “A Separation” title after and then the “written and directed by” long after the rest of the credits—bit of a diva move who can begrudge him after such a fantastic

A Separation – 2011 Farhadi2021-04-26T23:06:52+00:00

Welcome Mr. Marshall! – 1953 Berlanga

The debut film from Spanish auteur Luis García Berlanga Welcome Mr. Marshall! is made in the vein of Preston Sturges. An average small village in Spain prepares themselves for the arrival of American visitors—and comedy ensues 78-minutes that fly by, very low ASL- average shot length. It is like Capra’s It Happened One Night (1934) in that way- Berlanga doesn’t let any one shot or scene linger Fernando Rey provides the hilarious voice-over narration. He even freezes the frame to stop time, changes the story and says “It’s easy- just like that”—Berlanga manipulating form – “I’ll introduce him later”.

Welcome Mr. Marshall! – 1953 Berlanga2021-03-16T14:12:48+00:00

Aladdin – 1992 Clements, Musker

Aladdin fell smack dab in the middle of Disney’s renaissance or boom of hand-drawn animated musicals during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s—a run of six years that started with The Little Mermaid (1989), went to Beauty and the Beast (1991) and ended with The Lion King (1994). Eight-time Oscar winner Alan Menken (who is the original composer of the music for all except The Lion King) is as much the reason for this boom as anyone Great establishing shot of the city of animated city of Agrabah Stunning animation using blue day for night of the sand dunes

Aladdin – 1992 Clements, Musker2021-04-25T12:30:52+00:00

Band of Outsiders – 1964 Godard

Band of Outsiders or Bande à part makes for a worthy companion to Breathless. These may be the two most accessible works of Godard’s career (not that he’s an auteur where “accessibility” is a major focus) It is 95-minutes, far less heavy than the films between this and Breathless (Band of Outsiders is his seventh film overall). He’s back in the crime genre, though this is more of a Godardian postmodern riff on the heist film where he takes the air and suspense out of it completely. Though they are all playful and reflexive in their own ways, his

Band of Outsiders – 1964 Godard2021-04-24T14:29:49+00:00

True Grit – 2010 Coen

For their fifteen film the Coen brothers chose to adapt the work of Charles Portis (author of True Grit) in their first outright western (certainly No Country For Old Men is a western in many ways). It is also a remake of the successful 1969 Henry Hathaway John Wayne vehicle (in his Oscar-winning role). Both films are very worthy of study. The opening shot of the 2010 Coen’s brother film is one of the greatest single shots in the brothers’ oeuvre. This is their 10th collaboration with the masterful Roger Deakins (it is one of his best single shots

True Grit – 2010 Coen2021-04-24T14:47:47+00:00

Contempt – 1963 Godard

Godard at the peak of his powers. Astoundingly, this is Godard’s sixth film—all since his debut in 1960 of course. This is Godard’s second film in color with the wider format (after A Woman is a Woman), his largest budget, and biggest financial success (which he could not have cared less about probably- haha) CinemaScope process, aspect ratio 2.35 : 1 Narrator speaks the credits, starts with showing the director of photography Raoul Coutard (who worked on all of Godard’s important films) tracking along and a Bazin quote After that it opens with a nude, bottoms up Brigitte Bardot—red,

Contempt – 1963 Godard2021-04-23T15:07:50+00:00

Sparkle – 1976 O’Steen

There is a lot of talent working here in Sparkle. Curtis Mayfield (Super Fly) does the score and songs, Bruce Surtees (Dirty Harry, Lenny) is the cinematographer, and I find it nearly impossible to believe that this film didn’t make Lonette McKee a massive star. McKee is probably most recognizable to cinephiles for her work with Spike Lee (small roles in Jungle Fever, Malcolm X, He Got Game). She’s 22 years old here and this is her debut- she’s magnetic. The Detroit-born singer and actress is beautiful and gifted- and frankly the film suffers in the last 20-minutes without

Sparkle – 1976 O’Steen2021-04-24T23:15:29+00:00


best film:  The Godfather from Francis Ford Coppola It’s certainly not hard to find aspects to praise even after ten viewings of the film The opening long take is an absolute stunner and certainly not something I appreciated when I first started getting into cinema I think I may have referred to Fincher as “the master of darkness” on past posts but of course Godon Willis- the DP here- is that (he was NOT nominated for an Oscar here). Pakula films, Woody Allen films- but nothing better than this this collaborations with Coppola. So many dissolves in


Cronos – 1993 del Toro

Guillermo del Toro was just 29-years young at the time of the release of his debut film Cronos. Only two years earlier Cuaron made his debut with Sólo con tu pareja (1991)—the two of them marking the Mexican New Wave- or Nuevo Cine Mexicano. Iñárritu got a later start with his debut in 2000 Opens with an enigmatic prologue on immortality and alchemy, the title of the film on a neon sign reflected off a puddle It is half monster movie, half moral fable—the friendly unknown is never the real evil for del Toro. He almost always has the

Cronos – 1993 del Toro2021-04-20T13:03:50+00:00
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