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  • Wanda 1970

    ★★★★ Watched 28 Jan, 2014

    Broken Angel
    In a white dress
    Traveling through the muck.
    The pains of uncertainty
    All for what looks like love.

    An interesting failure by the Dardennes might be the best way to describe what's fascinating about Loden's singular feminist text. An early long shot put's Loden's white angel walking through a muddy mechanical environment that seems so hostile. Shooting in an intensely visceral 16mm, Loden opts for the ultimate abused woman narrative - a woman who has so little self…

  • Humanity and Paper Balloons 1937

    ★★★★ Watched 18 Jan, 2014

    A thin line
    Like poorly cut fish
    Between a party and a wake.
    Samurai and peasant
    Pride and money.

    Rob Sweeney provides an excellent primer on Yakamana, an extraordinary director who possibly provides one of the greatest tragedies in the history of cinema with the loss of so much of his work. I saw this under poor circumstances - not enough coffee in a theater that was too warm, which provided an unwanted sleeping sensation - and now many months…

  • Master of the House 1925

    ★★★ Watched 14 Apr, 2014

    Domestic tyrant
    Turns wife to maidservant.
    As irises shift
    Retreat to the corner
    To unite the dinner table.

    Considered here for the new Criterion Blu. Would recommend anyone who gets this disc watch the Bordwell video essay immediately after. Another reminder that telling a simple film narrative can be a highly complex endeavor.

  • Oh... Rosalinda!! 1956

    ★★★★½ Watched 01 Mar, 2014

    Vengeance of the bat
    By masquerade of dancing and deception
    Whiskey wine champagne or coke
    На здоровье to all!

    Not considered Powell & Pressburger canon for who the hell knows why. Before the credits can even start properly, Anton Walbrook sneaks in through a door and plays maestro to the events in a way not to dissimilar to his La Ronde character, who gives us the sense of the magic of this postwar Vienna, playing the contradictions of the four military…

  • Frozen 2013

    ★★★ Watched 05 Apr, 2014

    I thought Olaf was the funniest part. The rest is less of some sort of brilliant subversion of the Disney formula--it's too contradictory in parts to really be that--than a slightly oddball version of it. But like Tangled, it's a perfectly acceptable entry in the Disney princess canon with some good numbers, unnecessary third act twists, and many moments that made my girlfriend go "AWWW." I watched this after not sleeping for 48 hours.

  • Canton Viper 1983

    ★★½ Watched 18 Apr, 2014

    Formation tactics
    Are nothing against emotion.
    Training a killer
    To kill oneself.

    Completely forgettable South Korean kung fu flick. Its most fascinating features are really only when it does something weird or wrong, like the hilariously bizarre formations during the first fight or the unexplained uses of magic in later fights (each power is used once and then never has a narrative payoff). Fight scenes are nicely choreographed without being particularly engaging, and the plot is mostly a drag. However, it made a good double feature with 36th Chamber, however, in that it made me realize what makes good kung fu stand out.

  • Non-Stop 2014

    ★★★½ Watched 28 Mar, 2014 1

    Security protocol
    As a matter of shot-reverse shot.
    The greatest suspect
    Is our own moral failings.

    The cat's out of the bag on the "Liam Neeson, Total Fucking Badass" train so the fact these films are more entertaining than the usual summer affair isn't surprising anyone. Neeson has for the most part worked with highly competent filmmakers, the best of them by far being Jaume Collet-Serra. While Carnahan went for the serious existential vibe with Neeson in The Grey,…

  • Stranger Than Paradise 1984

    ★★★★ Watched 02 Apr, 2014

    Un-Divine Comedy
    Of the American Drag.
    Waiting for life
    In motels and movies.
    Stare into the void.

    While never outside my wheelhouse, Jarmusch has been a flavor generally hard for me to groove on, which makes this now period historical film much easier to digest. It's easier to place the filmmaker in the context of the death of New Hollywood and the Reagan years, of a bunch of outcasts literally sitting around waiting for something, anything, to happen. Is it…

  • Sweetgrass 2009

    ★★★½ Watched 17 Apr, 2014

    Moving white sea
    Through the mountains
    One last time.
    A sheepish stare
    As Rorschach test.

    Though I haven't seen People's Park yet, I prefer the human experiments of Harvard SEL to their animal ones (or even a better way, their travelogues than their struggles of daily life ones). Barbash and Castaing-Taylor must've realized they hit the jackpot with the sheep staring in the camera moment and thus used it as a Great Train Robbery opening so people who would otherwise…

  • The Blue Angel 1930

    ★★★★ Watched 01 Apr, 2014 1

    Field trip
    Sound spaces for silent desires.
    Blonde who can't help it
    Reduces a professor to poultry.

    One of four Von Sternberg/Dietrich films discussed ever too briefly on this week's podcast. Seen in the rarer English version (does language play an issue into the German version in the difference between High German and Low German?). Seems like the obvious starting point for the collaboration where the Dietrich character is probably given the least complexity as much as the folly for…

  • Hard Boiled 1992

    ★★★★ Watched 12 Mar, 2014

    Export demand
    During the last stand of honor.
    The bullets dance
    For the spectacle of light
    But the innocent matter.

    I realize I broke one of the rules Matt Lynch and I set forth for our podcast discussion of this truly spectacular movie in the haiku.

  • Meet Me in St. Louis 1944

    ★★★ Watched 02 Feb, 2014 5

    The seasonal swings
    Of family in harmony.
    Trolly of community
    And broken snowmen.
    Love across the window

    I hate child acting from the period almost uniformly, so excuse me if I find the two little kids from this otherwise precious family somewhat excruciating to watch, especially when they get an entire 20 minute Halloween sequence. The cut to young Tootie crying in "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" is quite shocking, so why do we need an overblown snowman destruction…