Port of Call – 1948 Bergman

For Ingmar Bergman’s fifth film (and second in the archives) he finds himself on the docks again just like 1947’s A Ship to India. Unlike directors in the 21st century, Bergman is allowed to learn as he goes as a burgeoning auteur- sort of like a working apprenticeship as he makes at least a film every year. Most directors now would be fifteen to twenty years into their career (at least) by the time they made their fifth film. Nine-Christine Jonsson plays Berit- a suicidal girl with a cold “reforming” mother. When the story flashes back (almost every Bergman

Port of Call – 1948 Bergman2022-01-09T14:21:10+00:00

Berberian Sound Studio – 2012 Strickland

Berberian Sound Studio is the second directorial effort from Peter Strickland. The film follows a British, timid sound editor named Gilderoy (Toby Jones) as he works away from home in Italy on a macabre Giallo horror film. Strickland clearly adores and has autopsied these films- he knows them like the back of his hand. As the mixer- Gilderoy smashes watermelons to substitute for some gruesome murders on screen, users a blender noise as a stand-in for a chainsaw. This is Italian cinema in the 1970s, so this would be a film where the sound is dubbed entirely. The director

Berberian Sound Studio – 2012 Strickland2022-01-17T13:46:03+00:00

The Fury – 1978 De Palma

Still not yet 40 years old, The Fury, is already Brian De Palma’s eleventh (11th) film- fourth (4th) in the archives. John Williams (year after Star Wars, and the same year as Superman) does the music. The Fury is also notable as being the debut film for a young Daryl Hannah. De Palma’s camera is active of course- early on during the Israel sequence De Palma pushes the camera on a pendulum back and forth. De Palma does this a half dozen times throughout the film for some lovely stylistic/formal consistency. However, when and where to deploy this stylistic

The Fury – 1978 De Palma2022-01-16T13:24:32+00:00

Midnight Express – 1978 Parker

Midnight Express is easily one of the great prison break films. Surely, The Shawshank Redemption, A Man Escaped and The Great Escape are there on the short list as well in this nice little subgenre. There is even a mention that “This is not Stalag 17” in the text during Midnight Express. Alan Parker is at the helm- and the ambitions are grand. The writing is big (this is the screenplay that put young Oliver Stone on the map), the score is big (Giorgio Moroder’s synthesizer score is his breakthrough as well- and he and Stone would be part

Midnight Express – 1978 Parker2022-01-15T14:27:53+00:00


best film:  Inception from Christopher Nolan There are many ways to attempt to tackle Christopher Nolan’s Inception. It is one of the boldest films of the 21st century. Nolan pushes the conceptual and visual boundaries—he disorients, then reracks and compiles often through his greatest weapon: parallel editing. Hans Zimmer’s hammering score helps open the film—throwing down the gauntlet early (along with the breathtaking visuals of Saito’s (Ken Watanabe) place) for this elaborate work of cinema. Zimmer will mirror Nolan’s intricate narrative by marrying this score to Edith Piaf ‘s “Non, Je ne regrette rien” – pure genius https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YB-wuKo9rW0 . Inception is undoubtedly auteur cinema.


Wild Indian – 2021 Corbine Jr.

Wild Indian is the debut film from writer/director Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr. The film follows two men- Makwa and Teddo- both as children and as adults (Michael Greyeyes plays the older version of Makwa and Chaske Spencer is in the role Teddo). Wild Indian is a depressing film- there is a savage event that takes place when they are young that changes the trajectories of the lives of Makwa and Teddo. Corbine Jr. seems to be making quite a statement about the world (or the United States) in which it is Makwa who ends up successful (a sort of

Wild Indian – 2021 Corbine Jr.2022-01-13T21:23:21+00:00

Flowers of Shanghai – 1998 Hsiao-Hsien Hou

Hsiao-Hsien Hou’s Flowers of Shanghai is an adaptation of an 1892 novel. It is set in the “pleasure quarters in Shanghai”-a brothel- and the girls have names like “Crimson”, “Jasmin”, “Jade”, “Emerald” and “Pearl” The film consists of 38 long takes with no closeups or cuts within a scene (with one exception). HHH’s camera hovers, it observes- and the period production design and décor are simply sublime. There are emerald lanterns, elegant costumes and an ever-present haze of opium smoke. Aside from just the long take, HHH’s primary tool is the camera pan- and this is a purposeful pan

Flowers of Shanghai – 1998 Hsiao-Hsien Hou2022-01-12T13:56:55+00:00

Family Plot – 1976 Hitchcock

Family Plot is the last film from Alfred Hitchcock who died in 1980. This is Hitchcock’s 53rd film. The crew surrounding Hitchcock on his last effort is top notch. Ernest Lehman wrote the screenplay (and it, and the way it plays with narrative form, is unquestionably a strength of the film). Lehman was a multiple nominee who also wrote North by Northwest and Sweet Smell of Success (certainly two of the stronger screenplays of the 1950s). Family Plot also catches John Williams in the year between Jaws (1975) and Star Wars (1977). Since Torn Curtain in 1966, Hitchcock had

Family Plot – 1976 Hitchcock2022-01-12T12:42:21+00:00

A Ship to India – 1947 Bergman

Ingmar Bergman was not yet thirty (30) years old still when he made his third film, and first archiveable film: A Ship to India. With so many of the great masters from Ford to Ozu to Bergman- their start was rather inauspicious. They almost get to be an apprentice on the job as they hone their art. Even A Ship to India, which is far better than his debut Crisis, gets off to a slower start with miniatures Bergman users for the ships. They are horrendous—they are bad by 1917 standards. Quickly after the opening though, there is a

A Ship to India – 1947 Bergman2022-01-10T13:56:30+00:00

tick, tick…BOOM! – 2021 Miranda

Lin-Manuel Miranda is already long since a household name to those not living under a rock somewhere since 2015’s “Hamilton”- but this is actually his first effort as a film director. tick, tick … BOOM! stars Andrew Garfield as Jonathan Larson and it is based on a true story. The film recounts sections of Larson’s life as he struggled to make it on Broadway. Larson’s life was tragically cut short just prior to the premier of his musical “Rent” in 1996. Garfield dedicated a year of his life to hone his singing skills and it pays off here. He

tick, tick…BOOM! – 2021 Miranda2022-01-09T17:42:35+00:00

To Sleep with Anger – 1990 Burnett

This is only Charles Burnett’s third feature. His debut was 1978’s Killer of Sheep. Though it starts out grounded in realism (certainly Killer of Sheep is an important film in the independent and realism movements), Burnett’s To Sleep with Anger (also written by Burnett)’s premise is a descendant of Jean Renoir’s Boudu Saved from Drowning (1932) with Danny Glover as the Michel Simon character. “He is a master of wearing out his welcome” is from the text. Glover’s Harry disrupts Gideon and Suzie- a normal complete with their Cain and Abel (one good, one bad) sons. Harry is superstitious,

To Sleep with Anger – 1990 Burnett2022-01-08T13:05:14+00:00

American Hustle – 2013 O. Russell

For at least one moment in time in 2013 it felt like David O. Russell was taking over- and with American Hustle, he outduels Scorsese. American Hustle feels like the best kind of improvisation- not the kind where a film feels like it could really use a good writer- but a film where spontaneity translates to energy. Russell should be given credit for creating this atmosphere where his actors all feel like they are throwing 100 miles per hour (exhibit A. is Jennifer Lawrence is doing a music video with cleaning supplies to “Live and Let Die” halfway through

American Hustle – 2013 O. Russell2022-01-07T23:29:06+00:00
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