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  • Public Enemies 2009

    ★★★★★ Rewatched 26 Sep, 2014

    I've gone from disliking this film to loving it to now finding it one of the best of the last decade. A crime movie that foregrounds the allure of iconic criminals while thoroughly countering it with a brutal vision of single-minded crooks and equally simple cops. (In an amusing twist, it is the nascent FBI that is seen as far more nefarious by the public at large in this movie, distrustful of a Depression-era government body formed, in part, to…

  • Eraserhead 1977

    ★★★★★ Rewatched 20 Sep, 2014

    A perfectly calibrated film. The length of time it took to assemble the full thing can be felt only in how carefully ordered everything is, how exacting the sound design. It may have had lasting cult popularity because it's "weird," but I think it held on for how evocative it is, how well it nails that sense of being trapped by automation and shrieking metal and the feeling that a city is really an alien planet capable of corrupting our very DNA. Lynch wouldn't make a better movie until FWWM.

  • The Texas Chain Saw Massacre 1974

    ★★★★★ Watched 19 Sep, 2014

    One of the few canonical classics of New Hollywood I think still deserves its full rep. Such a multivalent film, and also one of the few horror movies to keep me in total terror the whole time without resorting to cheap tricks.

  • Manhunter 1986

    ★★★★★ Rewatched 18 Sep, 2014

    MANHUNTER is not Michael Mann's best film, but that does not preclude it from being one of the best American genre films of all time. Its mixture of exacting, over-researched realism and pure, unabashed style may have nominally inspired an entire generation of TV shows that have made bank for CBS, but nothing in CSI's invasive forensic illustrations (copped from THREE KINGS more than this) produces the same effect of total identification with its ostensibly chilly, distant characters.

    Mann explores…

  • The Innocents 1961

    ★★★★★ Watched 17 Sep, 2014 1

    One of the best horror movies ever made. Profoundly unsettling, and so distinctive from the usual, expressionist b&w horror in its minimal use of crazed lighting, its idyllic setting, and its focus on Kerr displaying her character's interiority rather than displacing it through the production design. Really great stuff, I wasn't expecting to be this taken with it.

  • From the Clouds to the Resistance 1979

    ★★★★★ Watched 22 Aug, 2014

    The opening vignettes of mythological discussions are seemingly at odds with the subsequent leap to the postwar era, but the film links various forms of struggle across the ages: against Nazis, against internal fascists, against age, against the gods themselves. It grounds conflict as not only a necessity of drama, but of a life worth living. The Straubs' structural filmmaking is a marvel, subtly iconographic even in its matter-of-fact compositions.

    The first segment shows a nymph shot so that the…

  • Phantom of the Paradise 1974

    ★★★★★ Rewatched 22 Aug, 2014

    The best rock movie since THE GIRL CAN'T HELP IT. Neck and neck with CARLITO'S WAY as my favorite De Palma.

  • Out of the Past 1947

    ★★★★★ Watched 19 Aug, 2014

    Fortuitous to get a copy of this right after mainlining Tourneur's biggest modern disciple, Costa. I'd forgotten what a breathtaking film this is, clearly informed by Tourneur's Lewton work. As Ebert so smartly noted, light is thrown between characters to catch their cigarette smoke, and that focus on the gaps, the emptiness, transfigures the director's preoccupation on a spiritual absence in the Lewton horrors with a moral one.

  • Colossal Youth 2006

    ★★★★★ Watched 18 Aug, 2014

    If Costa's work through IN VANDA'S ROOM was a constant series of revisions and self-criticism, COLOSSAL YOUTH is what resulted once he finally had everything in place. It builds on its predecessor rather than rewrites it, both in its political content (moving from the demolished Fontainhas to a new housing project that is just as meagre yet stripped of any shred of humanity) and aesthetic (its highly advanced use of shadow, color and light, Costa now totally at home with…

  • In Praise of Love 2001

    ★★★★★ Watched 17 Aug, 2014 2

    An exquisite work, filled with Godard's irascible antagonism but filtered through a lens of somber, even melancholic reflection. I don't envy the film's showing on 9/12/01, where its justifiable protests against American cultural imperialism ran afoul of that instant-reactionary zeal that swept Americans regardless of erstwhile political allegiance. And granted, some of its attacks, such as America's total lack of history, or the mischaracterized notion that Spielberg never paid Schindler's widow, but I'm reminded of JLG's equally pissy, incorrect estimation…

  • In Vanda's Room 2000

    ★★★★★ Watched 18 Aug, 2014

    This is the moment Costa was building up to his entire career, a breakthrough in his filmography of constant critical self-examination and a direct engagement with the morality of being a director. IN VANDA'S ROOM isn't (just) striking for its immersion into docufiction but for the total erosion of the barriers Costa previously found in his attempts to film neglected communities. This isn't reality—Costa used his now-stripped crew and unintrusive DV setups to allow for multiple takes to get his…

  • The Gang's All Here 1943

    ★★★★★ Watched 10 Aug, 2014

    It's a loaded sentiment to say a musical's songs are a bit dull and still find it one of the most overwhelming musicals ever made, but when Busby Berkeley is directing and choreographing the songs could be Nickelback tunes for all I care. The camera seems forever in motion, with judiciously synchronized and contrapuntal movements and cuts that add visceral punch to everything while also lending appreciative time to every arrangement of dancers and the performers' individual talents. Its use of color also verges on the Archers-esque. I might need to finally break down and get a region-free player for MoC's upcoming Blu-Ray.