This category contains 43 posts

“Body and Soul” (1947, dir. Robert Rossen)

Occasionally I will run across the title of a movie and instantly think, “I need to watch this.” That very thing happened last week when I was browsing a sub-reddit for classic cinema and found a post for the film Body and Soul. I was instantly taken in by the poster and by the subject … Continue reading

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 Cinematic Monolith: “Napoleon” (1927, dir. Abel Gance)

In the hallowed halls of cinematic history there stand a few monolithic films, in the shadow of which all following films stand. 1927’s great, ever elusive Napoleon by director Abel Gance might be chiefest among them all. Not only is it a technical marvel that even few modern films can hold a candle to, it is also an … 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

Favorite 2016 Movies

I didn’t get to see as many new movies in 2016 as I would have liked (there’s one movie I went to see but didn’t get to — I’ll save that story for here in a minute), but of the movies that I did see, five came forward in my mind as my favorites. There are … Continue reading

“No Blood Relation” (1932, dir. Mikio Naruse)

Mikio Naruse, once one of the most championed of Japanese filmmakers, is today incredibly overshadowed by the names Akira Kurosawa, Yasujiro Ozu, and Kenji Mizoguchi — among others. His work is largely unknown outside of the circles of die-hard cinema fans, and even within that group he is mainly known among those who primarily focus … Continue reading

“Only Yesterday” (1991, dir. Isao Takahata)

Only Yesterday was originally released in 1991 in Japan but did not receive an American theatrical release until earlier this year (2016). I suspect its release coincided with the announcement that Studio Ghibli, the animation studio behind the film, and its main animator, Hayao Miyazaki, who served as producer (not director) on were closing up … Continue reading

“Cabiria” (1914, dir. Giovanni Pastrone)

Typically when people talk about the movie changed how movies are made, The Birth of a Nation (1915, dir. D.W. Griffith) is the movie that is brought up. Yet for all of its technical achievement, Cabiria, made the year before and on the other side of the world, has all the technical marvel of Griffith’s civil war film, but … Continue reading

“Chimes at Midnight” (1965, dir. Orson Welles)

As I’ve written before, the career of Orson Welles was a difficult one at best. His filmmaking is a series of production starting and then funding falling through. He would weasel and scheme his way into making the films that he wanted to make, meanwhile promising to make the films his producers wanted to make. This back … 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

“Aguirre, the Wrath of God” (1972, dir. Werner Herzog)

Over the years much has been made of the rocky relationship between director Werner Herzog and actor Klaus Kinski. At various times they would scream at one another, point guns at each other with threats of violence, and overall give the impression of not enjoying their time together. As a director myself, I’ve had some collaborative relationships … 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

“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

“Picnic at Hanging Rock” (1975, dir. Peter Weir)

Picnic at Hanging Rock looks and feels like a nightmare. The visuals, diffused and dreamy, hint that we are watching something not quite real, and yet the film’s earthen appearance solidly bedrocks it in some sort of reality similar to our own. Its narrative asks many questions of its viewers but supplies no answers, meanwhile giving a … Continue reading

“Journey to Italy” (1954, dir. Roberto Rossellini)

I’ll admit that Italian cinema is a massive blindspot in my film knowledge and viewing. I’ve seen a few of the big films like Bicycle Thieves (1948, dir. Vittorio de Sica), and 8 1/2 (1963, dir. Frederico Fellini), and some newer stuff like Cinema Paradiso (1988, dir. Giuseppe Tornatore) and Life is Beautiful (1997, dir. Roberto Benign). Beyond those four films — and a … 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

“Pather Panchali” (1955, dir. Satyajit Ray)

I remember telling someone how excited I was for the Criterion release of this film and its two sequels. I remember telling this person that these films were Indian and their remark: “Like Bollywood?” they asked. “Well, not exactly,” I said. Ray’s film has a visceral and raw quality which begs a comparison to the Italian … Continue reading

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