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  • Woman on the Run

    Woman on the Run 1950

    ★★★ Watched 07 May, 2016

    "The film pivots to Ann Sheridan, who talks of her husband like a mutt deserving to be put out of his misery — meaning he’s in real bad news. If Scott energizes her performance with zealous lust, Sheridan plays a Robert Michum-esque mope, eventually guilted into finding her man’s whereabouts."

    Reviewed as part of a double feature Blu-Ray release from Flicker Alley

  • Too Late for Tears

    Too Late for Tears 1949

    ★★★½ Watched 07 Mar, 2015

    Driving along with her dull husband, Scott’s Jane Palmer has a bag of $60,000 literally drop in her lap. Goody two-shoes husband wants to hand it to the authorities, but she sees this as the opportunity to finally lean in. DP William C. Mellor lights Scott’s eyes with glee while first lips curl downward. Her pantsuits keep her motions limited and her back arched—with anything looser, who knows what damage could be done?

    Reviewed as part of a double feature Blu-Ray release from Flicker Alley. That poster sucks because it's really Scott who should be slapping Dan Duryea.

  • The Nice Guys

    The Nice Guys 2016

    ★★★ Watched 09 May, 2016

    "Gosling has finally turned the entire table by transforming himself into vulnerable, limb-flailing, high-pitched screamer. Gosling may not match Jerry Lewis in its body contortions and vocal inflections (leave that to DiCaprio), but he makes an effort that brings the film out of its comfort zone."

    Review for LAist. Wish I liked this more, but as I discuss here, this thing is ridiculously slack in its plotting and its general construction of 1970s LA (shot in Atlanta—fuck you tax breaks).

  • Out of the Past

    Out of the Past 1947

    ★★★★★ Rewatched 29 Mar, 2016

    Discussed on the latest podcast with Hollywood historian Tom Doherty. One thing that struck me on this viewing is how often this film seems to change genres and styles as it goes. Instead of being an all-noir affair, it seems to switch around. The opening is as majestic as always, followed by the dark car ride turning into the dark meeting with Douglas. Then it's to the African American bar, like something out of a Harlem Renaissance movie before it's sunlit Mexico. And that's just the first 20 minutes.

  • Sunset Song

    Sunset Song 2015

    ★★★★ Watched 27 Apr, 2016

    "While the exteriors were shot in 65mm, it is the digital work of the Arri Alexa for the interiors that speaks so evocatively. Chrissy need never cry, because the walls seem to share her grief at every moment. The camera often turns from its characters—occasionally to give them privacy for both their happiest and most crushed and pained moments—as the walls and windows are so colored with their ur emotions. As the war overtakes the narrative, the light of God…

  • Girls About Town

    Girls About Town 1931

    ★★★½ Watched 12 May, 2016

    Kay Francis's eyes bulge almost out of her face as she sees a very young and very hot Joel McCrea for the first time.

    One very interesting technical feat of a shot occurs about halfway through the film. McCrea and Francis stroll at the Los Angeles Zoo (if it's re-created in a set, it's quite well done), and the camera on a dolly strolls with them. Suddenly, the camera slides into the cage of a bear, and the creature stares…

  • Captain America: Civil War

    Captain America: Civil War 2016

    ★★ Watched 02 May, 2016 5

    "The cast seemed to have put in a good deal of work in their choreography, but the constant handheld cameras swerve too quickly to register it. Single punches and kicks are often broken into four or five (and at one point, eight!) separate shots when a single take could inspire a jolt...Defenders of the Marvel style might argue they have the visceral effect of a Paul Greengrass film (e.g. the Bourne series), but there's no momentum built; just sloppy, often blurry, confusion."

    Jesus Fucking Christ. My first review in my new mainstream blockbuster duty for LAist.

  • Possession

    Possession 1981

    ★★★½ Watched 05 Dec, 2015

    "So crazy ya gotta see it!!!" is not usually my genre forte, so I was surprised how rigorous this study of a marital breakdown can feel. Yes, the actual physical embodiment of plot is insane, but it's the grace moments—the score chills, the camera cuts into a close-up—that create an intense emotional structure that makes the rest of what happen here feel part of a rigorous logic. I discuss this with MD Film Fest programmer Eric Allen Hatch on the latest podcast.

  • The Meetings of Anna

    The Meetings of Anna 1978

    ★★★½ Watched 10 Apr, 2016

    Chantal Akerman almost exclusively works on horizontal planes of space. Her compositions are known for their flat, minimalist staging, and she usually cuts with perpendicular angles to emphasize each shot's flatness. So one of the many surprising shots in Les Rendez-Vous d'Anna comes early. Anna leaves her hotel in Germany, and the camera tracks alongside her in a horizontal dolly. Suddenly, a flash of vertical motion interrupts the frame. It's a female maid, almost nonchalantly in the background, waving a…

  • Quick Change

    Quick Change 1990

    ★★★★ Watched 29 Feb, 2016

    Truly a "where has this movie been my entire life" moment watching this beautiful gem, which Eric Hynes and I discuss on the latest podcast. One thing I forgot to note: this film gives us basically zero exposition about the characters we're following and why until about 1/3 of the way through the movie. And even that first third basically throws us right in the situation and makes us into observers. Which is to say, the film has no interest in spoon feeding us anything, even if it's just a "dumb comedy."

    Randy Quaid screaming into the air is my spirit animal.

  • The Parallax View

    The Parallax View 1974

    ★★★★ Watched 21 Mar, 2016

    [Notes from a larger paper for students]

    A film like The Parallax View is an example of a studio-financed, independent production. Its executive producer, Gabriel Katzka, ran his own company and co-produced with all of the major studios during the 1970s (as well as co-producing a kung fu film with Hong Kong’s Shaw Bros). Pakula himself began as a producer at Columbia Pictures in the 1950s, but formed his own producing-directing team with Robert Mulligan to make films like To…

  • The Tamarind Seed

    The Tamarind Seed 1974

    ★★★½ Watched 15 Nov, 2015 1

    "Edwards’ best films (The Party, Breakfast At Tiffany’s) put loose performances within straightforward frames, which allows for unexpected surprises. With The Tamarind Seed, the director instead employs a series of zooms, cross-cutting, and tracking shots with strong Hitchcockian command, suggesting the power fabrications that truly control this romance. And yet, Andrews and Sharif playfully construct their intimacy with authenticity, in contrast to the constant exposition by the various heads of state, ratcheting the tension of whether this romance can resolve…