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  • Only Angels Have Wings

    Only Angels Have Wings 1939

    ★★★★★ Rewatched 04 Jul, 2015 1

    Discussed with Lea Jacobs, one of the best film historians working today, on the latest episode of the podcast. Along with Rio Bravo, the quintessential Hawks movie for not only its rhythmic patterns, attention to a very subtle structure in its mise-en-scene, but always carrying a certain existential weight to why the hell are we doing this? that always remains unanswered, unchecked, and unwritten. But as in all the great Hawks, there is the group, a certain social democracy that remains a base ideology that could never be challenged. It's both the tragedy and the greatness of the American ethos.

  • Belly

    Belly 1998

    ★★★½ Watched 09 Jul, 2015 1

    "The film cuts out to Time Square on New Years’ the confetti pouring down in a vision of beauty that recalls the ending to Kathryn Bigelow’s Strange Days. What does it say that a woman and an African American are the ones who predicted the new millennium could bring a time of utopia? Belly, for both its beauty and its incompetence, remains a singular work of American cinema."

    Reviewed on the latest podcast.

  • Gloria

    Gloria 1980

    ★★★★ Rewatched 07 Jul, 2015

    Discussed in the new episode of the podcast with Adrian Martin, who has been teaching this film since 1982 and just did a 5 week seminar on it. As I mention, what separates out Gloria from the rest of the post-Faces Cassavetes work is that it does not take place in a hermetically sealed world. And yet, he still finds ways to integrate his style into the world of New York, creating both a time capsule and a psychological impression.…

  • Nights of Cabiria

    Nights of Cabiria 1957

    ★★★★½ Rewatched 18 Jun, 2015

    Discussed on the third anniversary of The Cinephiliacs with Two Lovers and The Immigrant writer/director James Gray. Had not seen a Fellini since my first year of college, and this made me want to give him another spin—clearly an adroit classicist at heart as much as Antonioni was, but with a bouncy surface that indulges in order to reveal hidden layers of depth within the emotions. There's a clarity to the filmmaking that instead of simplifying moments gives them enormous depth and breathe. Perhaps the greatest film performance of all time.

  • Magic Mike XXL

    Magic Mike XXL 2015

    ★★★★ Watched 29 Jun, 2015 7

    "In the history of photography and film, getting the right image meant getting ones that conformed to the prevalent ideas of humanity. This included whiteness, of what colour—what range of hue—white people wanted white people to be....Movie lighting assume, privilege, and construct whiteness" —Richard Dyer, "Lighting For Whiteness"

    The history of Hollywood in many ways is the history of the construction of whiteness. This goes beyond simply films that have depicted African Americans in stereotypes or margnizaled their roles in…

  • Shoah

    Shoah 1985


    *Based on various excerpts that amounted to around two hours, but if the rest of this film is as strong, this could be an all time for me*

    Shoah may be Exhibit A for a consideration of “pure cinema,” a needlessly debated and fraught term that often creates exclusionary practices, but appears quite apt here. Godard exclaimed that cinema’s greatest tragedy to the 20th century was the fact moving image cameras were never brought into the camps, but Lanzmann’s film…

  • Nixon by Nixon: In His Own Words

    Nixon by Nixon: In His Own Words 2014

    ★★★ Watched 11 Jun, 2015

    The role of Nixon in Our Nixon and Nixon By Nixon is quite strikingly different, especially given that both films emerged out of the release of new archival materials of the president’s time in office in 2012. Lane’s Our Nixon privileges the home movie footage made by Nixon’s closest aids, while Kunhardt’s Nixon By Nixon takes more interest in the voice tapes. Of the two, Nixon By Nixon seems more interested in the historical consequences of Nixon, and his role…

  • Nobody's Business

    Nobody's Business 1996

    ★★★½ Watched 09 Jun, 2015

    “The truth is I don’t care.” Much of Alan Berliner’s documentary of his father’s life is made up through the contentious battle between the filmmaker’s subject and himself. While the filmmaker has turned his camera on his father, the father consistently repeats that he deems his life and his family’s history unworthy of filming, lacking any importance in the grand scheme of the world. But Berliner’s goal is to reveal this contentious sparring (which he literally animates through archival footage…

  • Tongues Untied

    Tongues Untied 1989

    ★★★½ Watched 09 Jun, 2015

    *Happy SCOTUS decision y'all*

    The key sequence in Tongues Untied comes about halfway through when director Martin Riggs intercuts footage of various black cultural leaders discussing their fears and paranoia over homosexuals. This includes political leaders like Louis Farrakhan and stand up comics like Eddie Murphy. As the voiceover explains at that moment, the problem of the black gay community is the silence they hold during these moments, allowing others to speak for them. Tongues Untied is thus an attempt…

  • Hapax Legomena I: (nostalgia)

    Hapax Legomena I: (nostalgia) 1971

    ★★★★★ Rewatched 09 Jun, 2015

    Hollis Frampton’s (nostalgia) has obvious traces of the documentary—we can assume that the photos being described in the voiceover correlate to the truth claims they represent. But of course, that issue of correlation is one of the central conceits here. The voiceover is first of all not that of director Hollis Frampton, but Michael Snow (who at one point must describe himself as described by Frampton), and secondly the relationship between the visual viewing of the photos and the listening…

  • Pitch Perfect 2

    Pitch Perfect 2 2015

    ★★★½ Watched 24 May, 2015

    "Unlike fraternities or sororities, the extra-curricular activity is almost an entirely new world for film, and the way that director Elizabeth Banks handles the camaraderie that occurs in the film. In a quiet campfire sequence, the girls simply go around discussing their futures while also relaying how their lives have been shaped by each other. It strikes with such honesty and heartfelt emotion, that listener, I must admit there was perhaps a single tear on this reviewers face, and when…

  • Stop Making Sense

    Stop Making Sense 1984

    ★★★★½ Watched 03 Jun, 2015 2

    One of the most pure Mise-en-scène movies, with a performance at its center that rivals the most creative and physical work of Jerry Lewis and Denis Levant. Discussed with Tim Grierson in the latest podcast, and well worth listening to.