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  • The 47 Ronin 1941

    ★★★★ Watched 15 Feb, 2015

    "Because Mizoguchi’s camera is often distant, it might seem like a passive viewer, idly accepting the images that lay before the spectator. But the way his characters move, always in reserve, always holding back, suggests a title wave of emotion that can never be reached. And thus The 47 Ronin is both a film of great honor and great tragedy, the possibilities of human desire are supplanted by social codes, a timeless tale repeated in so many of Mizoguchi’s films."

    Reviewed in the latest episode of The Cinephiliacs.

  • JFK 1991

    ★★★★ Rewatched 10 Feb, 2015

    Reviewed with Kristopher Tapley on the latest episode of The Cinephiliacs. Still as insane as possible, and totally a blast to watch. The Sisey Spacek problem, unaddressed in our conversation, is still embarrassing.

    JFK As Clue: Homosexual Tommy Lee Jones and Joe Pesci, with a CIA patsy and two other positioned squads for a turkey shoot, in a military industrial complex coup d'etat.

  • A Day in the Country 1936

    ★★★★★ Rewatched 09 Feb, 2015

    "To say Renoir captures action is to say his cinema is one of gestures, movement, emotions, smiles, tears, and kisses. While typically known for a use of deep focus, his formal patterns are more elusive than such a description could suggest. He rarely repeats shots and refuses to establish space, but in lieu of these filmic patterns he captures something akin to contemporary realism. This occurs both in the film’s visual sense of the world around them — trees move…

  • Jewel Thief 1967

    ★★★½ Watched 09 Feb, 2015

    Reading Neepa Majumdar's chapter on the disembodied voice in Bollywood cinema activated a crucial understanding in something I kept active attention to during Jewel Thief: the body, or the lack of one in musical numbers. In the 1950s Hollywood musical, the body is everything. Kelly and Astaire are giants because of the way they move, often depending on long takes and long shots to make sure their bodies are in full action. The spectacle itself is seeing how they move,…

  • Jake 2013

    ★★★½ Watched 10 Dec, 2014

    Watched in anticipation of my Cinephiliacs interview with its writer/director Doug Dillaman, who I was at least on friendly terms before viewing, just to throw that out there. I was immediately struck by his use of 2.35 framing in this comedy, which often worked to his advantage during the early passages to keep me visually interested before the plot kicked in. Because I wasn't entirely expecting the tonal shifts in this film, it came off as unexpected and a bit…

  • My Neighbor Totoro 1988

    ★★★½ Watched 13 Dec, 2014

    Miyazaki is someone who has never made a film I haven't liked or at least felt enraptured with at some moment, though these never push too much into my truly favorites. Given a second pass here, I feel this one could do it for me: minimalist plotting, impressionist visuals, a focus on the simplicity of life as its own complex cinematic existence that in a way reminds me of some passages in Young Mr. Lincoln. These are all points discussed between Doug Dillaman and myself in the latest Cinephiliacs, so take a listen.

  • Jupiter Ascending 2015

    ★★★ Watched 06 Feb, 2015 8

    Like Lynch's Dune, this scores points for simply being not uninteresting. As many others have rightly noted in comparison to a certain recent Marvel spectacle, you can feel there were drawings on a table with these designs before they went to the computers. More than that, each place/world seems to have a very different architecture instead of a sameness. It also had that elephant man thing, which was great. A few things of note:

    -One of the things Wachowskis do…

  • Mr. Majestyk 1974

    ★★★½ Watched 29 Jan, 2015 1

    Used the latest Establishing Shots to discuss my new fascination with Charles Bronson as an action body: a very strange choice until you begin considering how he uses his personality to be unassuming to make the work of violence all the more surprising.

    This is another strong entry from Fleischer. Very relaxed in its plotting and never rushed, with a lot of space for the actors to move around in the frame, which takes away a sense of fatalism and…

  • Mahanagar 1963

    ★★★½ Watched 02 Feb, 2015

    The Big City is a strong example of why close reading of politics in Ray is essential. At one point, it could be said to be simply a film that re-asserts the importance of capitalist patriarchal society. But a closer look at the film reveals a series of contradictory tensions that the film never endorses. Perhaps its ending—a hopeful reunion of two individuals but still a belief in searching out labor as a solution toward financial strife—can be seen as…

  • Awaara 1951

    ★★★½ Watched 26 Jan, 2015 1

    I'm currently taking a graduate seminar on the history of Indian Cinema. While I feel like I have a strong footing on the general trends and history of most international cinemas (even Nollywood!), India (and really Bollywood) have always been somewhat outside my grasp and understanding. It's kind of the last major black hole of my film knowledge. There are course posting and comments and what not, so I'll be sharing some of those here with you guys to play…

  • La Cienaga 2001

    ★★★ Watched 21 Jan, 2015

    "If you look closely, you can see that much of what will infect this social-class satire is set up, as well as in the rhythmic pace of Martel’s choice of micro-specific shots....Thus, spatial coherence is broken into individual pieces that rely on objects and gestural intuition to focus character while still building space. Material bodies will play an important role in defining character as much as any dialogue."

    As great as Martel's stylistic and intuition here, I agree with some…

  • Duelle 1976

    ★★★★★ Watched 20 Nov, 2014 1

    For me, simply one of The Truly Great Movies. A work that starts out as ordinary and slowly inundates us into first a movie world and then a fantasy world, all while using documentary technique to keep us centered in the streets of Paris. The battle for the Fate of Earth isn't above us—it's right in front of us. Considered lesser Rivette in some circles, but it's adoration and attachment to noir and B-movies is what elevates this beyond anything…