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  • 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…

  • Clouds of Sils Maria

    Clouds of Sils Maria 2014

    ★★★½ Watched 23 May, 2014

    Considered here at Cannes, and then later discussed in relationship to L'Avventura through an Assayas interview on the Criterion. Want a second visit to look at how Assayas works through his mise-en-scene and framing, which is tellingly lucid as much as it's unobtrusive. His collaboration with performers, to not mold them but use their very distinctive styles of acting become the text itself, is a key to some of the film's success. Curious to revisit to see if the final…

  • Lost River

    Lost River 2014

    Watched 20 May, 2014

    Slammed this at Cannes last year, and sticking to my guns that this is the culmination of a kind of bro-art cinema: Lynch, Malick, Cianfrance, and Refn all mixed in together to create a statement about the Power of Gosling's Directing (which is quite strikingly similar to how he acts in movies). It's a poor imitation of each auteur's baseline description to what makes them a cult favorite, without any understanding of how those images are employed in their films.…

  • Leave Her to Heaven

    Leave Her to Heaven 1945

    ★★★½ Watched 17 Feb, 2015

    Discussed with Kiva Reardon on the latest episode of the podcast. Brilliant use of muted color palettes (at least according to the recent Blu-Ray), long takes, and withholding of music—which I associate with a certain tendency of "realism" within the framework of the overelaborated melodrama. Standard [7] rating comes from the somewhat rough last 20 minutes, ie. as much as I enjoy Vincent Price, his intense elocution just isn't as fun as watching Tierney get what she wants.

  • The Grim Game

    The Grim Game 1919

    ★★★ Watched 29 Mar, 2015

    Covered in my wrap-up of the Turner Classic Movie Film Festival:

    "What’s fascinating to watch during these tricks is that Houdini isn’t so much the magician we think of now. His style of escape is to remove the chains off by sheer force, seemingly breaking and bruising his arms in the process. The camera captures this often without cutting, and thus the illusion is preserved."

  • In the Land of the Head Hunters

    In the Land of the Head Hunters 1914

    ★★★½ Watched 01 Mar, 2015

    "Curtis, however, didn’t turn to cinema simply to document the people (the term 'documentary' didn’t even come into existence until the 1920s), but wanted to use cinema’s ability to turn reality into drama. And thus many of the rituals he wanted to film — the dances, the battles, the clam-digging — were chosen specifically for their 'dramatic purposes.' Curtis is certainly right that there is excitement in watching these sequences, particularly the handheld cameras aboard canoes during battle sequences. And…

  • Selma

    Selma 2014

    ★★★½ Watched 10 Feb, 2015

    Ended up including a bit about this in a new piece about historical archives, cinema, and thinking:

    "The film’s use of unbalanced frames, often shoving figures to one side, lent an unhinged feeling to the sly manipulative forces at hand in contrast to the public spectacle its characters wanted to create. Its editing emphasized the power relations in sequences, giving the meat of her narrative — people in rooms talking and planning — a sense of crafted manipulation, which is…

  • Ride the Pink Horse

    Ride the Pink Horse 1947

    ★★★½ Watched 24 Feb, 2015

    "What gives Ride The Pink Horse its spark is this turn toward the normal bounds of what we watch when we watch. It’s a picture about the margins — of America, of masculinity, of race — and thus defines itself by the constant turns. Despite its possible status as a postwar film, Ride the Pink Horse fits better as a timeless film, by which I mean, rather literally, time-less: its universe exists outside time. Nobody really has a past, and nobody really has a future. Everyone exists only in this moment."

    More here for the Criterion release.

  • Journey into Light

    Journey into Light 1958

    ★★★★ Watched 14 Mar, 2015

    Reviewed on the latest podcast. Maybe not the most inventive film, but I found its economic clarity and attuned sense to the extraordinary within the mundane quite affecting, and then finally found myself as transformed as Sterling Hayden at the climax of this film. Should really make Stuart Heisler (Sarris in American Cinema: "He has moments of insight and charm scattered like loose beads on a sawdust-covered floor.") a project for further research.

  • The Milky Way

    The Milky Way 1936

    ★★★★ Watched 16 Mar, 2015 2

    Spieled on this film in the latest podcast, and kind of surprised it has such a low reputation (Kehr: "The moves are familiar and they don't begin to suggest the ingenuity Lloyd was capable of.") Strikes me as the kind of center of the McCarey universe—working with performers who all bringing different rhythms, and then timing shots to create unexpected beats—and then Lloyd is mighty wonderful even with a voice. Really worth seeking out.

  • The Last Days of Disco

    The Last Days of Disco 1998

    ★★★★ Watched 17 Feb, 2015 1

    Discussed on the podcast with Calum Marsh, as well as the film's novelization written by Stillman (which is totally awesome—It's written from the perspective of Jimmy in 1999, after the film is released in his world, so it's extremely self-reflexive). I feel like I want to integrate every line of dialogue into my own life. "The way I see it, Brutus was a good friend to Caesar."

    Also what the hell happened Kate Beckinsale? Someone give Noah Baumbach her phone number, stat.

  • The Cloud-Capped Star

    The Cloud-Capped Star 1960

    ★★★½ Watched 09 Mar, 2015

    What creates style? Talking about style is easy (to an extent), but finding the motivating factors behind it is difficult. We'll talk about influence in the most common terms (he influenced him, etc), use the context of a nation, or simply point to a theoretical or philosophical system. I found myself pondering this watching Ghatak's "modernist" (a tenuous word) cinema, made in 1960 at the same time Breathless debuts in Paris, L'Avvenutra in Venice, Cruel Story of Youth in Tokyo,…