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  • Mysterious Intruder 1946

    ★★★½ Watched 16 Jul, 2014

    Reviewed with former NYTimes DVD columnist and MoMA curator Dave Kehr as part of our larger look at The Whistler series in the latest podcast. This is the best of the five films I saw: Castle finally achieves a mysterious beauty along with DP Philip Tannura (who worked previous with Edgar Ulmer and Edward Dmytryk), where his deep focus finds the correct high contrast expression, and the script by Eric Taylor is the most complex, while also coming closest to…

  • Pickpocket 1959

    ★★★★½ Rewatched 17 Jul, 2014

    Less Haneke or Tarkovsky, much closer to Raoul Walsh or Mervyn LeRoy. Considered the new Criterion Blu here in terms of how often economic the film's narrative and visual strategies can be, with some questioning of the always reverent approach to the filmmaker as opposed to inquiry into film style.

  • Transformers: Age of Extinction 2014

    ★★★ Watched 15 Jul, 2014

    "A colleague of mine once posited that movie theaters are slowly morphing into the mall—a space for people to hang out more than experience film, and this film certainly made that experience seem like less a warning of doom than a proposition of truth. Goodbye Cinema, Hello Capitalism 2.0."

    More considered here.

  • Crooklyn 1994

    ★★★½ Watched 02 Jul, 2014

    A good double feature with Meet Me In St. Louis, a coming of age musical set in something that resembles paradise, with hints of the hard times that will come. Not that Lee isn't here shying away from the hard times that already plague his family: a black neighbor is arrested on the basis of a white man's call, paying off the electric bill is never guaranteed, and food stamps are a part of life. Lee's story, written with his…

  • Poor Little Rich Girl 1965

    Watched 24 Jun, 2014 3

    Discussed with J. Hoberman for the latest episode of the podcast, who calls this a work of pure cinema. One of these days, I would love to see what these films look like on film instead of cruddy YouTube transfers.

  • 2001: A Space Odyssey 1968

    ★★★★★ Rewatched 05 Jul, 2014 3

    Stray thoughts on an umpteenth viewing, first time in 70mm.

    -A lot of science fiction critics will cite films for what they get right and wrong about the future, which always strikes me as a very dumb way to look at any type of science fiction. And even for what Kubrick gets "right" here, we also have companies like Pan American Airlines, Liberty Bell Telecom, and Howard Johnson's hotels. But there is a point in the emphasis on technology here.…

  • Tale of Cinema 2005

    ★★★½ Watched 20 Jun, 2014

    City Of Sadness
    Seen in a retrospective.
    Reality lingers
    As both story and memory.
    Contemplation before Marlboros.

    A filmic life becomes a real life, except it goes too far. The film works partially on three layers that define its three act structure. There is the short film, the man reflecting on the film and trying to re-create it in some ways, and finally the revelation (perhaps a lie) that the man was already the reality reflected onto film. Either way,…

  • Ida 2013

    ★★ Watched 30 Jun, 2014

    Same principle of shot composition as I found in Godzilla, but almost worst here, because the shots so deliberately call attention to themselves that they end of refracting nothing beyond their own creation. There’s no suggestion of an inner life, no gestures that take on a physical quality, only an artificial surface. (And do not compare to Bresson – yes there’s questions of faith and some rigor, but his shots were simple, rarely long takes, and build around patterns of…

  • Policeman 2011

    ★★½ Watched 18 Jun, 2014

    Muscle preparation
    Sacrificing one for all.
    Class revolution
    Prepared for weeks
    Shortened in seconds.

    Some of the same formal qualities that made the shots of Lapid's 2nd feature, The Kindergarten Teacher, which I saw at Cannes, an exciting approach to formalism that didn't stay trenchant in one type of shot. One of the best aspects of his new feature, I remarked, was that it was nice to see an Israeli film on the festival circuit that had no interest in…

  • The Battle of San Pietro 1945

    Watched 09 Jun, 2014 2

    John Huston's "fake" propaganda movie, but unlike other faked documentaries covered by Mark Harris's book, San Pietro won large favor with critics and audiences for its aesthetic brutality. Both James Agee and Manny Farber went for it, the latter calling it, "breathtaking reality, fullness of detail and sharp effect from shot to shot." Knowing the footage is "fake" thus makes watching it strange. My favorite moment in Wyler's real Memphis Belle was watching the 16mm footage of a downed B-17…

  • 22 Jump Street 2014

    ★★½ Watched 19 Jun, 2014

    Lord and Miller want to be Joe Dante, but there's a fundamental issue that has held back this and The Lego Movie for me: these films need to be able to be taken at face value at the same time they can be seen as satirizing/critiquing their subjects. I don't remember the first film being this sloppy, whether it was the lazy camera images that seem rarely planned with the same visual sophistication (see: the "stoner" in the background of…

  • A Touch of Zen 1971

    ★★★★ Watched 06 Jun, 2014 1

    A mama's boy paints
    A portraiture of resistance.
    The leaps of legends
    As fantastic as ghosts.
    Bow before Buddha.

    Using what critical facilities I have when it comes to 1960s-70s Asian cinema (ie. fairly limited), what is striking to me in the work of King Hu is how pointedly different it is from an action choreographer like Lau Kar-Leung. Notably, Hu's action is at one more simple and more fantastic. The sequences here (which the first only happens after an…