Riders of Justice – 2020 Jensen

Riders of Justice achieves a rare little trifecta- it is funny,  it is filled with good action, and it is still is far more intelligent than the average film. The film is set in Estonia. It opens with a chain of events (bike stolen, skipped school) resulting in a train accident and the wife of Markus (Mads Mikkelsen) and mother of Mathilde (Andrea Heick Gadeberg) is killed. Otto (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) is one of the survivors of the “accident”. Otto is a statistical data theorist, and he eventually connects with Markus about his theory of the accident. At the

Riders of Justice – 2020 Jensen2022-03-16T21:50:08+00:00

Three Crowns of the Sailor – 1983 Ruiz

Raul Ruiz is a very worthy Orson Welles acolyte and Three Crowns of the Sailor is certainly among his greatest achievements. The Chilean auteur’s most important collaborator here is French cinematographer Sacha Vierny. Vierny worked with Resnais on Hiroshima Mon Amour and Last Year at Marienbad. Vierny would be Peter Greenaway’s most trusted ally as well- working on A Zed & Two Noughts, The Belly of an Architect and The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover- all of Greenaway’s most essential works. Ruiz employs both color and black and white photography. This is the surrealistic trek from

Three Crowns of the Sailor – 1983 Ruiz2022-03-10T13:58:39+00:00

Joy Ride – 2001 Dahl

Director John Dahl was no slouch in the 1990s and early 2000s. He made The Last Seduction in 1994 and in 1998 it was Rounders. Here he is aided by a sharp screenplay by J.J. Abrams. Joy Ride stars young actors trying to break through in 2001. This includes Paul Walker, Steve Zahn and Leelee Sobieski. Walker is a handsome leading man playing Lewis, Zahn is legit funny as the smartass, troublemaker, immature prankster Fuller, and Sobieski looks like a young version on Helen Hunt (certainly Hunt was a big star in the late 1990s with both Twister and

Joy Ride – 2001 Dahl2022-03-09T14:24:44+00:00

Les vampires – 1915 Feuillade

Despite the name, Louis Feuillade’s (written and directed) Les vampires is a crime saga and is more of a precursor to the Dr. Mabuse films from Lang or Zodiac from Fincher than Nosferatu from Murnau or Vampyr from Dreyer. It is split into ten chapters. The chapter titles are brilliant: “The Severed Head”, “The Deadly Ring” and so on. It is fascinating from the outset. Édouard Mathé plays Philippe Guérande- a reporter for the Globe and he is investigating a ring of criminals/secret society called The Vampires. Blue shading at the 16-minute mark as the characters turn off the

Les vampires – 1915 Feuillade2022-03-05T13:33:55+00:00

The Last Duel – 2021 Ridley Scott

The Last Duel marks Ridley Scott’s thirteen (13th) archiveable film and it comes at age 84. Scott was going for a sort of Spielberg-like twofer in 2021 with The Last Duel and House of Gucci. They are both worth seeking out and are entertaining- but without a doubt, The Last Duel is the superior work. The film is famously co-written by the screenwriting team of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. This is their first screenplay together since 1997’s Good Will Hunting- the film that won them Oscars helped launch them into stardom. Here they make the shrewd move of

The Last Duel – 2021 Ridley Scott2022-03-07T12:45:59+00:00

Silent Light – 2007 Reygadas

Silent Light is a story set in a Mennonite community in Mexico. Reygadas uses non-professional actors who speak Plautdietsch- a dialect used by Russian Mennonites. Johan (Cornelio Wall) is ravaged by guilt over his affair with Marianne (Maria Pankratz). His wife Ester is played by Miriam Toews. The genre is melodrama, but the style is undoubtedly dedicated to realism. Reygadas uses 35mm and 2.35 : 1 aspect ratio. Carlos Reygadas’ Silent Light starts and ends with two of the strongest shots in 21st century cinema. To open the film, the camera pans across the stars in the sky

Silent Light – 2007 Reygadas2023-09-20T19:47:41+00:00

Diner – 1982 Levinson

Barry Levinson was forty years old when he made his debut film. He had some juice coming off of cowriting the screenplay for 1979’s And Justice for All. Levinson talks about the old adage “write about what you know”- and he does that here with this film about young men in their early twenties growing up in Baltimore. This is the first of Levinson’s Baltimore trilogy (Tin Men in 1987 and Avalon in 1990). Apparently, many of the details and vignettes are taking directly from Levison’s life. The football quiz that Guttenberg’s character gives his fiancée is something Levinson’s

Diner – 1982 Levinson2022-03-05T12:51:47+00:00

The Dry – 2020 Connolly

Eric Bana plays a federal agent name Falk who returns to his hometown. The town is ravaged by an ongoing drought and by a recent murder/suicide by one of Falk’s childhood friends. Director Robert Connolly directs and co-writes the screenplay based on the Jane Harper novel. The desperate circumstances brought on by the drought are mentioned by the opening titles, the radio, a preacher and the father of the parents of the deceased- all early in the film establishing the atmosphere of dread. There is a great city vs. rural dynamic as Falk is now an outsider (and one

The Dry – 2020 Connolly2022-03-03T12:40:45+00:00

Pain and Glory – 2019 Almodóvar

Even in the long and storied career of Pedro Almodovar- 2019’s Pain and Glory is a superior work. Almodovar works in melodrama- one of the all-time greats—like Fassbinder and Sirk—but the autofiction (his word in the film) here pushes this more towards Fellini (critics have mentioned that this is his 8 ½ and that is an apt description). Some of Almodovar's earlier works have been broader almost Preston Sturges-like comedies (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown) and others have leaned towards Hitchcock (The Skin I Live In). The beauty in Pain and Glory stars early with

Pain and Glory – 2019 Almodóvar2022-03-02T12:46:36+00:00

The Hand of God – 2021 Sorrentino

The Hand of God is as strong as anything from Italian auteur Paolo Sorrentino outside of his 2013 work The Great Beauty. The film opens with a Diego Maradona quote- the film’s title comes from the great football/soccer player. This is the coming-of-age story of Fabietto (Filippo Scotti)—somewhere in the middle of the 1980s. Madrona’s famous hand of God goal was 1986. A VHS copy of Once Upon a Time in America (1984) from Leone is in several scenes and Fabietto has his Walkman on him constantly. The Hand of God marks the fourth archiveable film between Sorrentino and

The Hand of God – 2021 Sorrentino2022-02-17T22:57:19+00:00

Lust for Life – 1956 Minnelli

Vincent Minnelli is certainly the perfect choice as director for a film on the life of Vincent van Gogh. Minnelli had a nearly unparalleled eye for color among his peers, and this is shot in glorious CinemaScope on location in France and Belgium. Rare to see- but the opening of the film thanks all the museums for sharing the artwork and allowing them to be used in the film From about 1940-1961 Hungarian composer Miklós Rózsa was one of the best working. His resume includes The Killers, Double Indemnity, The Lost Weekend, Asphalt Jungle- this score here sort of

Lust for Life – 1956 Minnelli2022-02-28T14:40:20+00:00

Moonrise – 1948 Borzage

Moonrise is Frank Borzage’s best work of the 1940s and it marks his third consecutive decade of making ill-fated romance melodramas. Dane Clark plays Danny Hawkins and Gail Russell plays Gilly. Borzage supports them with a capable supporting group that includes Ethel Barrymore, Rex Ingram (as Mose) and Lloyd Bridges (who does not stick around long). The story set up with an accidental (ish) murder is straight out of noir. This is set in the country though (small town Virginia), and Borzage’s genre is most definitely melodrama. In a phenomenal opening shot Borzage’s camera tracks feet in the

Moonrise – 1948 Borzage2022-02-27T13:03:15+00:00
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