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  • That Night's Wife

    That Night's Wife 1930

    ★★★ Watched 18 May, 2015

    "The opening of That Night’s Wife, especially, feels like a series of intensely connected pillow shots: an empty street, a bag of money, the sudden appearance of a gun, and then the left of a handprint. This opening feels like a more minimal recreation of the famous opening to Fritz Lang’s 1928 film Spies, where individual elements create the totality of the world in a way classical continuity editing would lack the needed suspense to open the picture."

    More on Ozu's crime dramas here.

  • Walk Cheerfully

    Walk Cheerfully 1930

    ★★★ Watched 17 May, 2015

    "Walk Cheerfully opens with a long backwards tracking shot along a number of automobiles to reveal a single man running, suddenly followed by a mass group chasing him. (This is not too far off from the opening moment of Mad Max: Fury Road, to make an impossible cinephile connection.) "

    More examination of Ozu's gangster films and an industrial analysis of the visual look of Shochiku Studios over here.

  • The Seven Deadly Sins

    The Seven Deadly Sins 1962

    ★★★ Watched 21 May, 2015

    (Godard segment: Sloth)

  • No No Sleep

    No No Sleep 2015

    ★★★½ Watched 18 May, 2015 2

    It'd be a shame if Moving Image's recent Tsai Ming-Liang retrospective didn't plan on traveling (to either Los Angeles or anywhere, honestly), because three films (Stray Dogs and two Walker shorts) in and this guy is doing something that's harder and harder to describe. Shots dedicated to close-ups on sweat dripping down a face is not the kind of thing you're prepared to think about when watching most movies.

    No No Sleep takes Lee's ever-slow-moving monk out of the public…

  • In the Street

    In the Street 1948

    Watched 10 May, 2015

    Discussed in the tribute to the work of film critic James Agee on the latest episode of the podcast. A beautiful curiosity of both performance and voyeurism as well as a stunningly coy political statement against Robert Moses's coming reconstruction and gentrification of the city. Agee's key contribution—the children rushing at the camera—is cinema at its best, two worlds colliding in joy.

  • Soft Rain

    Soft Rain 1968

    ★★★½ Watched 14 May, 2015

    This is sort of the avant-garde equivalent of that moment in The Truman Show when Jim Carrey realizes the pattern of people going around his street. Shot from a far distance toward a not particularly busy street in Manhattan, the 3-4 minute reel of film unfolds silently, capturing people walking and cars moving. It plays three times with a space in between, and each time becomes a puzzle to determine if the reel that unfolds is in fact the same…

  • Mad Max: Fury Road

    Mad Max: Fury Road 2015

    ★★★½ Watched 07 May, 2015 1

    ::steps up to microphone:: HELLO!!!? IS THIS THING ON!!!? ::turns hyperbole-meter dial from 11 to 7:: Hello? Much better.

    Mad Max: Fury Road is quite a lot of fun, and understands for the most part that its mission is simply to deliver "a lovely day." It's also a very physical and tactile blockbuster that understands the elements of its universe. One of the first shot features Max driving away in his motorcar, and Miller holds on the trail of dust…

  • Chimes at Midnight

    Chimes at Midnight 1965

    ★★★★½ Rewatched 09 May, 2015 11

    Welles is perhaps the greatest amateur in cinema, having never learned to "properly" direct because of the artistic success of Citizen Kane. His camera placements are always off in some way: actors are pushed too close in, the angle much too slanted, the sight lines mismatched. Characters jump off screen and then back into place without reason, and spatial relations are constantly shifting with motivation. Actors deliver Shakespearean dialogue much too pointedly, as if they were still on the stage…

  • The End

    The End 1953

    ★★★ Watched 26 Mar, 2015

    Discussed in the latest podcast with San Francisco blogger Brian Darr, where we dive into how the film adapts Fog City into its anxious world. Not as beloved for me as it is for Brian—cinephilia wouldn't be interesting if we all loved the same films—but an interesting way of translating beat poetry into cinema through both discursive editing patterns and direct address. For being such a didactic film, it also integrates its own didacticism into the very fabric of the spectator's response, a very important way to not completely alienate me. Also I really should have written about this in Approaching The End.

  • Once Upon a Honeymoon

    Once Upon a Honeymoon 1942

    ★★★½ Watched 25 Mar, 2015

    Discussed at quite some length with Fernando F. Croce on the latest podcast. I'll admit the rhythmic imbalance between the high and low threw me while I was watching this, but the more I discussed the way the comedy works in this film with Fern, the more I see it as so key to its design. I don't discuss this necessarily, but I do think the final epilogue of the film seems so out of place, and I'm not sure…

  • The Puppetmaster

    The Puppetmaster 1993

    ★★★★½ Watched 18 Apr, 2015

    There are five puppet performances in the film. Each begins with a large establishing shot that frames both the audience and the greater landscape.

    The first is a single take, entirely staged from the audience perspective. There is just enough space on the edges of the frame to view wind flowing in the trees.

    The second begins the same way, but there is a cut halfway through to the back of the stage, where Hou shows how the puppeteers operate.…

  • Mission Kashmir

    Mission Kashmir 2000

    ★★½ Watched 13 Apr, 2015

    Something perhaps worth noting in Mission Kashmir that is the influence of Hong Kong cinema entering the language of Bollywood cinema. There are a few tics that I would point to that seem to develop out of Hong Kong's 1980s boom, one of the few other regions of the world which has developed a popular cinema that could locally and internationally compete with Hollywood. Firstly, the use of Steadicam tracking shots throughout the film. While most of the Bombay-based cinema…