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  • Apur Sansar

    Apur Sansar 1959

    ★★★½ Watched 10 Jun, 2015

    "Blending elements of lyricism and bitter realism, Apu Sansar finally grasps for the existential. But one thing remains constant through Ray’s mise-en-scéne: he uses the tools learned as a graphic designer to create direct and clear narrative intentions while also forming gorgeous images."

    My Bergman reference was tossed from the final draft, and I'm not sure this entirely works, but I think few would disagree the marriage montage may be the best moment of the entire trilogy. The whole "wander…

  • Aparajito

    Aparajito 1956

    ★★★ Watched 07 Jun, 2015

    "If Pather’s melodic swaying created a sense of a space in which time felt static, what remains so surprising of Ray’s follow-up is its economical delivery, speeding from the oceanside city of Varanasi to a religious outpost and finally to Kolkata, as Apu abandons his religious roots to become a modern man—though not without cost."

    My least favorite of the trilogy, and reading between the lines of the above line probably suggests why: there's more of a linear connection of…

  • Pather Panchali

    Pather Panchali 1955

    ★★★★½ Watched 07 Jun, 2015

    "Ray never suggests causality and avoids moral juxtaposition; he simply uses the ebbs and flows of poetic rhythm to create a fluid melodrama. In fact, Pather Panchali concludes not with death, but a revelation about the nature of the world that awaits Apu, one that paints jadedness onto his rose-colored eyes. The rustling wind sways in one direction while the railroad steams toward modernity."

    Still kind of shocked at what this movie is versus what I originally thought it was…

  • In the Shadow of Women

    In the Shadow of Women 2015

    ★★★★ Watched 09 Nov, 2015 3

    From the latest podcast:

    "The film doesn’t turn on the revelations of such scandals, but the way they use them to abuse each other, and particularly how Garrel shifts the emphasis of the mise-en-scene from mostly horizontal planes to vertical ones, creating striking and uneven frames, which can only be resolved with a push toward the center. In The Shadow of Women has been described as a comedy, perhaps because its ending is more or less on a happy resolution,…

  • Right Now, Wrong Then

    Right Now, Wrong Then 2015

    ★★★½ Watched 09 Nov, 2015

    From the latest podcast:

    "For the first hour, Hong plays close to his usual mode, with a few interesting modulations. Most importantly, he breaks away from his standard two shot, pushing his actors closer together to work an image with depth. The standout sequence, with his two actors sitting at a sushi bar, continues some of the more detailed gesture work the South Korean director began in Our Sunhi, using deliberately calibrated body positions and tonal inclinations, producing a more subtle transition than sometimes the brashness that soju often produces."

  • The Lobster

    The Lobster 2015

    ★★ Watched 02 Nov, 2015

    From the latest podcast:

    "Shot in controlled static frames, Lanthimos puts all of his effort into static construction, leaving nothing to chance. His playful references to Jean Renoir feel ill-advised; Renoir showed a world in which society is brimming with rules, but leaving them always to the abstract. Lanthimos never has the imagination to trust his audience. Ferrel and his co-star Rachael Weisz make good of their playful attitude, but it’s hard to find interest in a comedy that rarely challenges beyond its initial setup, lulling into comfortable platitudes."

  • Out 1

    Out 1 1971

    ★★★★ Watched 20 Jul, 2015

    Discussed with Jonathan Rosenbaum, former critic of The Chicago Reader (not to mention author of Essential Cinema, Goodbye Cinema, Hello Cinephilia, and a dozen other essential books), on the latest episode of The Cinephiliacs. I was slightly annoyed when Jonathan chose this as it meant having to skip out of waiting for the restoration, plus it meant non-ideal viewing situation, but it's an immersive experience that was an easy and quite enjoyable sit. Rivette has always captured the idea of…

  • Where the Sidewalk Ends

    Where the Sidewalk Ends 1950

    ★★★½ Rewatched 03 Nov, 2015 1

    For the class I'm teaching, each of us wrote film notes for one of the lectures / films as supplementary guides for the undergraduates. I drew the Preminger straw. Bonus points for my enemies—I was forced to discuss themes.

    Like many films of the postclassical era, Where the Sidewalk Ends came together not by means of a single studio, but a multiplicity of writers, producers, and actors forming a tenuous alliance. In United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc. (1948), the…

  • Dead Man

    Dead Man 1995

    ★★★★ Rewatched 23 Oct, 2015 2

    Reviewed with Glenn Heath Jr. on the latest episode of the podcast. Still one of the best "revisionist Westerns," in part because Jarmusch has no interest in depicting the West "as it really was." Instead, this is a film that wants to depict the West as a representation of an idea, where nothing is really something in existence ("Where'd you get that clown suit, Cleveland?" "Actually..."). Would make a triple feature of this with Welles's The Trial and Straub-Hulliet's Class Relations, and in a way, Dead Man picks up where that film ends on the train.

  • The Firemen's Ball

    The Firemen's Ball 1967

    ★★★½ Watched 21 Oct, 2015

    "While working toward high comedy reminiscent of the Marx Brothers, Forman employs a naturalistic style: Real firemen were cast for the film, and their mumbling and stumbling conveys authenticity. The dance hall architecture creates an opulent grandness, but Forman shows little grace, always on the precipice of breaking into pure chaos—culminating in the firemen rushing out to stop a fire of a residing elderly man. But there’s no use in trying to stop the flames; all the firemen can do…

  • The Assassin

    The Assassin 2015

    ★★★★ Rewatched 16 Oct, 2015

    "The complexities of the political allegiances become less allegorical and more emotional through the slow spooling out of exposition between reflective pauses. Hou rhythmically edits more than usual, continually realigning his characters in relation to their spaces and ideologies within the chamber set pieces. More than that, The Assassin features Hou’s most traditionally exciting sequences, using Stedicam movements into empty spaces to suggest the present of the looming assassin, followed by quick-cut action sequences with skillfully choreographed fights."

    The little…

  • Crimes of the Future

    Crimes of the Future 1970

    ★★½ Watched 14 Oct, 2015

    "He composes things off-balance—characters appear too close to the camera, actors are spaced too far apart, and negative space often feels prioritized. Cronenberg pays attention to the architecture of his frames, but characters and creatures are treated with indifference: objects in the world for investigation, not sympathy."

    My latest column for Aklasu Magazine dishes on the early Cronenberg joint, with a few jabs at auteurist critics who never examine formal qualities as much as thematic quality (#Brand).