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A Trilogy of Pre-Code Hollywood

So, over the last year my movie-watching habits have changed a bit, school got hard and heavy (as it always does), I canceled my Netflix DVD service, I discovered the joys of the streaming service FilmStruck, and I found out you can rent movies from the library.  That last one has ended up being the … Continue reading

The Films of Christopher Nolan: “Insomnia” (2002)

Last year, with the announcement of Dunkirk (2016), we began a journey into the films of Christopher Nolan. So far we have covered Doodlebug (1997) and Following (1998), and Memento (2000). These two films delve into the mind and the unreliable narrator. People are flawed and cannot be trusted and Nolan wants us to know this. Before we dive into this review of Insomnia … Continue reading

“Silence” (2016, dir. Martin Scorsese)

Martin Scorsese has turned his camera toward the subject of faith in the past. The results have often been met with much negative press. His film The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) was denounced by the Catholic church, inspired boycotts by non-Catholic Christian groups, and caused protests in general. These reactions seems strange because, in large part, Scorsese is simply a … Continue reading

The Problem with Favorites: “La La Land” (2016, dir. Damien Chazelle)

There is a great issue with writing out a list of your favorites of any given thing. Whether it be your favorite meals, songs, books, or movies, you always work from a reservoir of knowledge limited by whatever exposure and understanding you have of that thing. When writing about your favorite Queen songs, you can … Continue reading

“The Lady From Shanghai” (1947, dir. Orson Welles)

The classic film-noir character of the femme-fatale was never a key figure in the films of Orson Welles. His films tended to focus on larger than life characters who led themselves into destruction, but Welles’ off-screen relationship with Rita Hayworth led him to plant her in the very midst of The Lady From Shanghai. In a … Continue reading

“Grizzly Man” (2005, dir. Werner Herzog)

Shortly after Grizzly Man begins we learn the fate of its central figure. Timothy Treadwell, a man who has dedicated his life to “protecting” bears, and his girlfriend are going to be mauled, killed, and eaten by one of the animals which he so deeply loved. Grizzly Man falls into the typically Herzogian theme of a man … Continue reading

“The Birth of a Nation” (1915, dir. D.W. Griffith)

Let me start by saying that this is a difficult film to tackle. On the one hand you try to view it as an important piece of filmmaking history, meanwhile, on the other hand, you feel so appalled by what you see that your gut reaction is simply to turn away and stop watching. The Birth of … Continue reading

“A Poem is a Naked Person” (1974, dir. Les Blank)

The films of Les Blank are not quite documentaries, but are also not fiction films. They lack narrative and structure, and yet aren’t experimental. The world of Les Blank occupies its own time, space, and logic. His films look like no others, and yet do not feel foreign or overly strange. This film, supposedly about … Continue reading

Hope in “The Shawshank Redemption”

There’s something inside that they can’t get to, that they can’t touch. It’s yours. Hope. -Andy Dufrense Let me tell you something my friend, hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane. -Red Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies. -Andy Dufrense I … Continue reading

“Badlands” (1973, dir. Terrence Malick)

There are enigmatic directors out there: names like Stanley Kubrick and David Lynch might be counted as two of the, for instance. But no one, and I mean no one, holds a candle to Terrence Malick. This man has rarely been photographed in the 43 years since his career began and, to my knowledge, has … Continue reading

“Faces” (1968, dir. John Cassavetes)

One of the big complaints I have about “independent” film today is that it’s hardly distinguishable from studio filmmaking. This is a world where The Artist (2011, dir. Michel Hazanavicius), 12 Years a Slave (2013, dir. Steve McQueen), and The Birth of a Nation (2016, dir. Nate Parker) are considered independent cinema. Now, before you start throwing complaints my … Continue reading

“Shock Corridor” (1963, dir. Samuel Fuller)

A few years back I was on a kick of watching the original series of The Twilight Zone. I’ve recently picked the show back up again, but that’s another issue for another day. During that time I saw the film Vampyr (1931, dir. Carl Th. Dreyer), and I wrote a short film called On Dear Ears (2015, dir. … Continue reading

“All That Heaven Allows” (1955, dir. Douglas Sirk)

Currently I’m watching through a list of 85 films mentioned by Martin Scorsese during an interview. The movies are a random assortment of movies that Mr. Scorsese just happened to talk about during the course of the lengthy interview. It’s not a “list” which he purposefully curated or anything like that, and yet these are 85 … Continue reading

“Shadow of a Doubt” (1943, dir. Alfred Hitchcock)

Hitchcock left behind a rather eclectic and large body of work. Among those films he often said Shadow of a Doubt was his personal favorite. In this film Hitchcock ramps up the tension and puts every single technique for which he is known to the test. The film mainly concerns a young girl, Charlie (Teresa Wright), … Continue reading

Director Profile: Fritz Lang (1890-1976)

The Europeans graced us with many great artists across many different mediums, but I will make this claim: none were greater than Fritz Lang. His body of work highlights and gives great weight to that of the German Expressionism movement, and his work also is a forerunner of most everything we know today. Lang’s DNA can … Continue reading

Director Profile: John Ford (1894-1973)

I once saw a conversation on the IMDb message boards of what the “Mt. Rushmore” of American cinema would look like. I remember names like Billy Wilder, Martin Scorsese, Howard Hawks, Michal Curtiz, and others being thrown around, but I distinctly remember one name remaining all the while: John Ford. His name remained soundly set … Continue reading

Top Ten Movies (as of 4-21-16)

Every year around this time I try to make a top ten list. This morning Facebook kindly reminded me of this tradition so I now take laptop in…uhh…lap to pen this year’s list. This list kind of just evolves and changes and morphs. It’s also super off-the-top-of-my-head and by the seat of my pants, so I request … Continue reading

“Inside Llewyn Davis” (2013, dir. The Coen Brothers)

As I move through the films of the Coen Brothers I find myself falling deeper and deeper into a very strange world filled with odd people and bizarre situations. The characters in these films operate on a wavelength with which I am completely unfamiliar. It’s a joy and a pleasure to experience the world of the … Continue reading

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