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  • Too Much Johnson 1938

    Watched 28 Aug, 2014

    Watched the workprint version, which often features alternate takes and untrimmed scenes, though the thing wasn't meant to be watched as a cohesive narrative anyways. What strikes me about Welles's approach to slapstick comedy is his bold use of deep focus to create three dimensions, as well as exploit this for comedic purposes. This isn't meant at all as a knock on Keaton, Chaplin, and Lloyd, but their films often operate in a two dimensional manner for the most part…

  • Lucy 2014

    ★★★½ Watched 09 Jul, 2014

    Writing about movies is often a case of revelativsm. Case and point: I don't think we'd really care about Lucy if current blockbusters weren't in an era of Strained Seriousness. But as a 90s throwback jam (this is my Awesome Mix Tape), it's sensationally fun and feels genuinely crafted instead of processed. Even before the film's ludicrous premise (which doesn't matter), Besson gives us three sequences that are right out of the Mamet playbook. Character A wants this from Character…

  • Guardians of the Galaxy 2014

    ★★½ Watched 04 Aug, 2014

    From Merriam-Webster:
    Fine (adjective): good, acceptable, or satisfactory
    —used in an ironic way to refer to things that are not good or acceptable.

  • Lilac Time 1928

    ★★★½ Watched 15 Aug, 2014

    A Wings cycle film that focuses more on the woman, with Colleen Moore doing something kind of similar to the work Gloria Swanson was doing with Allan Dwan in Stage Struck. What's striking here are some of the camera movements. Specifically, while they are motivated by character movement, Fitzmaurice often moves the camera at a slight angle or track that moves what feels independent of the movement of the characters. In thinking about realism in cinema, this sort of subtle…

  • Level Five 1997

    ★★★★ Watched 19 Aug, 2014 1

    Reviewed on the latest podcast, and while I'm in the bag for this kind of thing, it's still a stunning work. One could simply replace the entire syllabus of an Introduction to New Media class with this film.*

    *Do not actually skip your readings for class. Stay in school.

  • Catch Us If You Can 1965

    ★★★★ Watched 21 Jul, 2014

    As if Antonioni directed A Hard Day's Night, a wondrous critique from within the system. Discussed in the latest podcast with Village Voice critic Stephanie Zacharek. Meat For Go!

  • Our Man in Havana 1959

    ★★★ Watched 21 Aug, 2014 1

    A lot of the filmmaking seems a bit too kind for what could have been a ridiculously radical and subversive satire in the vein of Ishtar, but Greene and Reed are just too nice when it comes to this kind of parody of Greene's own novels. The slanted camera angles feel forced and the various comic set pieces are always played for a type of genteel laugh that stays within boundaries. Reed gets a lot of information through his frames—widescreen…

  • America 2014

    ½ Watched 06 Jul, 2014 1

    My favorite part was all the hissing and shouting from the audience when they showed the footage of Obama saying that you could keep your current doctor under the ACA. It did feature D'Souza eating a hot dog though, so half a star.

  • Nothing Sacred 1937

    ★★★ Watched 10 Aug, 2014

    A weird meshing of great talents that just seem somewhat unsuited for each other: the talky cynicism of screenwriter Ben Hecht and the rough and tumble casualness of director William Wellman. Fredric March's plays too much of a stern type here to make the laughs stick, and a lot of his lines just kind of drop there; Lombard fairs much better, especially the chemistry with Charles Winninger. She feels looser and more manic than March's single track performance. Hecht's best…

  • Double Play: James Benning and Richard Linklater 2013

    ★★★½ Watched 01 Jul, 2014

    Discussed with its director Gabe Klinger here. Enjoyable to watch two legends discuss and dissect each other work, and to look at them both as distinctly American artists interested in cinema's ability to capture time and moments in their reality (Rabbit Hole discussion: is temporal documentation an American phenomenon?). As I mentioned to Gabe, I never really thought about Benning and Linklater as common artists, but they do fit together quite well (helped by Gabe's editing of moments of their…

  • The Lovers on the Bridge 1991

    ★★★★ Watched 05 Aug, 2014

    Reviewed in the latest podcast, which as I say, feels like a lost and rediscovered collaboration between Roberto Rossellini and Ingrid Bergman. Glad to have seen this on 35mm, where the dirt of the skin becomes so vividly tactile.

  • The Bowery 1933

    ★★★★½ Watched 06 Jul, 2014

    Discussed with Gabe Klinger on the latest podcast, but make sure you watch the 1900 actuality Namo Village before listening (though watch on mute - that added score is awful), which we discuss in addition to the film. This might be Walsh's masterpiece, or at least his most deeply felt work.