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  • A War

    A War 2015

    ★★ Watched 27 Jan, 2016

    "Lindholm stacks the narrative deck here—the only revelation to be made is that war is morally ambiguous, a sentiment expressed with maximum tedium. It would help if the filmmaker had the performances feel less plainspoken or gave the film more adrenaline through the camera, but the reserved choices turn into monotony. The film shows no effort to avoid taking sides, but it stakes itself in the worst kind of attitude: a general ambivalence without any stake in specifics."

    In the words of Glenn Kenny, join the army motherfucker. Review over at In Review Online.

  • Mike Nichols: An American Master

    Mike Nichols: An American Master 2016

    ★★★½ Watched 07 Feb, 2016

    Hard for me not to watch this and look for signs of Elaine May in terms of her other works, though I'm maybe not familiar with the American Masters series to know what's her work and what's the series. But a few things stick out, and pardon me that I'm abandoning my neo-formalist methodology of film analysis to read further into things that I usually do:

    1) While May is really just cutting an interview, there are clearly sequences where…

  • 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

    13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi 2016

    ★★★½ Watched 12 Jan, 2016 1

    "There is an adrenaline to the way Bay shoots action, constant cutting and zoom shots and all that 'chaos cinema' people like to hate. But the intensity follows a logic, and the overhead shots always reorient the space. Working with Miami Vice cinematographer Dion Bebe, Bay’s digital images carry an intense immediacy. Blood is never shied away from, less triumphant than shocking. The blurriness feels authentic, and a few choice shots from drones don’t create a clear rhythm, but one…

  • Gun Crazy

    Gun Crazy 1950

    ★★★½ Watched 14 Jan, 2016

    Discussed with "Czar of Noir" Eddie Muller on the latest episode of the podcast, who recently published his own book on the film that goes into the history of the production. I agree with Eddie that it's probably smart to take auteurism down a notch, though I think part of that would be less a problem if you focused away from thematic relevance and toward the problem-solver method of aesthetic study, but that's really my own domain. Anyways, great movie, and way too oddly topical.

  • Sixty Six

    Sixty Six 2015

    ★★★★ Watched 18 Jan, 2016 1

    "Klahr’s film opens with a quote from Breton and Eluard: 'Let the dreams you have forgotten equal the value of what you do not know, and Sixty Six certainly operates on a dream logic, if only for its rather crude juxtapositions of nonsensical images. The blank spaces are easily filled in with our imaginations; the literally thin characterizations given depth through juxtapositions, and the world becomes three dimensional through its aural suggestion."

    An early contender for my favorite film of 2016, or at least a wonderful introduction to an artist whose work I hadn't followed before. More discussed on the podcast.

  • Get Your Man

    Get Your Man 1927

    ★★★ Watched 11 Jan, 2016

    1) This film isn't that far from a lot of late 20s comedies about pre-arraigned marriages falling apart due to the entrance of another woman (the marriage European, the woman almost always American). However, there's a scene where Clara Bow's character learns that the bride-to-be also has her own man she truly loves. I'm not sure that this was Arzner's invention—though this plot element never appears again. But it does balance the sexes a film like Hawks's Paid To Love

  • Speedy

    Speedy 1928

    ★★★½ Watched 30 May, 2015

    "Lloyd balances Speedy’s gags with both the fantastic and the realistic, relying on his character’s obliviousness to find himself in social situations part in the Manhattan and Brooklyn locales that become absurd through naturally logical causation. A date at Coney Island where a live crab slips into his pocket becomes both a horny pincher that shows the all-too-innocent Lloyd having to display a mix of awkward innocence and self-righteous anger, which only exacerbates situations into higher absurdities."

    Capsule continues here.

  • The Gunfight at Dodge City

    The Gunfight at Dodge City 1959

    ★★★ Watched 23 Dec, 2015

    "Its ’50s political allegory of violence and power feels rather standard, but Newman’s images give the film an unexpected life throughout its short, less-than-80-minute running time. The widescreen frame and Technicolor-images allow Newman to keep his camera rather tame amidst the chaos, preferring dynamic staging of actors across a frame with selective shadows to highlight their psychology."

    Capsule continues here.

  • Schindler's List

    Schindler's List 1993

    ★★★★ Rewatched 06 Nov, 2014

    I've been working forever on a piece about my most hated film of the 2015, Son of Saul, but it's finally close to publishing (the good price of working with great editors). At one point, I had this tangent on Schidnler's List, which I saw on 35mm for the first time back in 2014. A much better movie that I remembered—or to say, I only remembered the most horrifying parts. Beyond what I have below, I'm surprised how acrobatic Spielberg's…

  • In Jackson Heights

    In Jackson Heights 2015

    ★★★½ Watched 17 Dec, 2015

    Keith Uhlich and I have a healthy debate/conversation about this film in our podcast of the favorites of the year. I agree with Keith that in a way, the subject of the documentary doesn't entirely grove onto Wiseman's form, but in a way that I found myself wanting with more questions that I usually feel after watching one of his films. But what does appear on screen is quite extraordinary, so this is still quite something spectacular.

  • Mistress America

    Mistress America 2015

    ★★★★ Rewatched 29 Dec, 2015

    A film about finding a mentor to imitate and then betraying them. So a personal pick here. I discuss this in Part 2 of our podcast wrap-up of our favorite movies of 2015, and below is my capsule for The Film Stage's list:

    A coming-of-age tale disguised as a writer’s process, Noah Baumbach’s second collaboration with Greta Gerwig places her as the faux-mentor to Lola Kirke’s NYC ingénue. Both inspired by Gerwig’s blissful energy but aware of her apparent obliviousness…

  • Creed

    Creed 2015

    ★★★★ Watched 24 Dec, 2015

    The Genius of The System. I'm as shocked as anyone that this film is on my Top 10 of 2015 list, and you can listen to my reasons here. But totally forgot to mention that great shot where Adonis shadowboxes his father (Kris Tapley has a nice write up about it here), and I'm still thinking of Jordan's line reading of the dramatic climax of his character in the sudden energy, followed by the Rocky theme and now I'm getting…