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  • Niagara 1953

    ★★★ Watched 22 Jul, 2014

    "Henry Hathaway's hypnotic contemplation of two American monuments, Niagara Falls and Marilyn Monroe," writes Dave Kehr in his capsule, and shot mostly on location in a very Hathaway-esque way where the landscape functions as an obvious but unintrusive metaphor for the drama unfolding (the falling ice of Spawn of the North; the raging river of Bottom of the Bottle). Here you've got two overwhelming spectacles: the giant waterfalls and Monroe's swinging hips that Don Wilson can't help but stare at…

  • Panelstory - Or Birth of A Community 1979

    ★★★★ Watched 24 Jul, 2014

    You'd think that given the absolute love that Daisies inspires among cinephiles that more would search out the other films of Věra Chytilová, but that is likely an issue of access. A general search on Amazon reveals not a single other feature of her work has been put out on a Region 1 DVD. Rather than "blame the cultural gatekeepers," this is just one of the lasting effects of the digital transition and the paradox of film history, which seems…

  • Eva 1962

    ★★½ Watched 17 Aug, 2014

    Fascinating as its own period knock off, but feels like Pauline Kael's attempt to prove the failure of Resnais and Antonioni "Come Dressed As the Sick Soul of Europe" by writing one of these scripts herself. That is to say, Eve is sexier and more showy than anything Antonioni made, but it's a highly obvious and empty affair. Losey—perhaps a hand for hire here? (Rosenbaum notes his original cut ran another 50 minutes, though I think this would have worked…

  • Too Much Johnson 1938

    Watched 28 Aug, 2014

    Watched the workprint version, which often features alternate takes and untrimmed scenes, though the thing wasn't meant to be watched as a cohesive narrative anyways. What strikes me about Welles's approach to slapstick comedy is his bold use of deep focus to create three dimensions, as well as exploit this for comedic purposes. This isn't meant at all as a knock on Keaton, Chaplin, and Lloyd, but their films often operate in a two dimensional manner for the most part…

  • Lucy 2014

    ★★★½ Watched 09 Jul, 2014

    Writing about movies is often a case of revelativsm. Case and point: I don't think we'd really care about Lucy if current blockbusters weren't in an era of Strained Seriousness. But as a 90s throwback jam (this is my Awesome Mix Tape), it's sensationally fun and feels genuinely crafted instead of processed. Even before the film's ludicrous premise (which doesn't matter), Besson gives us three sequences that are right out of the Mamet playbook. Character A wants this from Character…

  • Guardians of the Galaxy 2014

    ★★½ Watched 04 Aug, 2014

    From Merriam-Webster:
    Fine (adjective): good, acceptable, or satisfactory
    —used in an ironic way to refer to things that are not good or acceptable.

  • Lilac Time 1928

    ★★★½ Watched 15 Aug, 2014

    A Wings cycle film that focuses more on the woman, with Colleen Moore doing something kind of similar to the work Gloria Swanson was doing with Allan Dwan in Stage Struck. What's striking here are some of the camera movements. Specifically, while they are motivated by character movement, Fitzmaurice often moves the camera at a slight angle or track that moves what feels independent of the movement of the characters. In thinking about realism in cinema, this sort of subtle…

  • Level Five 1997

    ★★★★ Watched 19 Aug, 2014 1

    Reviewed on the latest podcast, and while I'm in the bag for this kind of thing, it's still a stunning work. One could simply replace the entire syllabus of an Introduction to New Media class with this film.*

    *Do not actually skip your readings for class. Stay in school.

  • Catch Us If You Can 1965

    ★★★★ Watched 21 Jul, 2014

    As if Antonioni directed A Hard Day's Night, a wondrous critique from within the system. Discussed in the latest podcast with Village Voice critic Stephanie Zacharek. Meat For Go!

  • Our Man in Havana 1959

    ★★★ Watched 21 Aug, 2014 1

    A lot of the filmmaking seems a bit too kind for what could have been a ridiculously radical and subversive satire in the vein of Ishtar, but Greene and Reed are just too nice when it comes to this kind of parody of Greene's own novels. The slanted camera angles feel forced and the various comic set pieces are always played for a type of genteel laugh that stays within boundaries. Reed gets a lot of information through his frames—widescreen…

  • America 2014

    ½ Watched 06 Jul, 2014 1

    My favorite part was all the hissing and shouting from the audience when they showed the footage of Obama saying that you could keep your current doctor under the ACA. It did feature D'Souza eating a hot dog though, so half a star.

  • Nothing Sacred 1937

    ★★★ Watched 10 Aug, 2014

    A weird meshing of great talents that just seem somewhat unsuited for each other: the talky cynicism of screenwriter Ben Hecht and the rough and tumble casualness of director William Wellman. Fredric March's plays too much of a stern type here to make the laughs stick, and a lot of his lines just kind of drop there; Lombard fairs much better, especially the chemistry with Charles Winninger. She feels looser and more manic than March's single track performance. Hecht's best…