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  • 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…

  • Under the Skin 2013

    ★★★½ Watched 07 Apr, 2014

    This review reportedly contains spoilers. I can handle the truth.

  • An American in Paris 1951

    ★★★★ Watched 22 Feb, 2014

    Tap on canvas
    For lovers under the bridge.
    Man's got rhythm
    Woman has grace
    Who could ask for anything more?

    Never understand why things like this start to get a bad rap when they're so delightfully playful and a showcase for such grandiose movement. Prefer Minnelli's literally throw the book out plotting of The Band Wagon but he keeps everything paper-thin here anyways, and if you're questioning how a man and woman could fall in love from just dancing under…

  • Violent Saturday 1955

    ★★★½ Watched 08 Mar, 2014

    No-so innocent town
    Gets a shotgun wake up call.
    Justice be thy God's will.

    A nifty little small town thriller about the way that small towns have their ugly secrets buried underneath their facades, and all it takes is some explosives to unpack this. Not sure I buy much of the drama of this, but three things stick out:

    1) The intense dance sequence shot in the middle of the action that interlocks three different narratives in one shot, with…

  • Secret Defense 1998

    ★★★★ Watched 10 Feb, 2014 2

    The sounds beyond space
    Hide a conspiracy
    As groping hands
    Replace missing women.
    "The Truth is out there."

    Four films into the mammoth of cinema that is Jacques Rivette, his films only seem to becoming denser, the qualities of his cinema more opaque and the obvious pleasures challenged. All four films have featured conspiracies of some sort, and here it begins from the sounds we here just beyond the frame (whether believer brother and skeptic (redhead!) sister are an homage…

  • Love Me Tonight 1932

    ★★★★½ Watched 26 Jan, 2014 1

    Isn't it romantic
    How love's charm
    Turns a tailor to a prince
    And a princess to Mimi?
    The Fools of The Game.

    Mamoulian never struck me as particularly a great director before (the special effects shot in his Jekyll & Hyde the standout of otherwise a quite plain drama). The opening city symphony is fun, but "Isn't It Romantic?" is suddenly revelatory - begins with simple two shots in mirrors and then moves from location to location in different arrangements based…

  • Man of Iron 1981

    ★★½ Watched 05 Feb, 2014

    Politics is personal
    When the protest of the past
    Lies heavy on the present.
    Citizen Poland.

    There's some sort of running trend that it seems all Eastern European cinema kind of just gave up by the time the 1980s rolled around, making political films and Cannes winners that feel very important but test all of my patience (The Turkish 1982 winner Yol is the other big one here, but that one has a little more via its cross-section narrative). Here's…

  • The Best Years of Our Lives 1946

    ★★★★★ Rewatched 09 Mar, 2014 3

    Mark Harris wrote a great book about the Hollywood filmmakers who went to WWII and shot all the footage we now know today. And then they had to come back to a Hollywood that had in many ways forgotten them. One of them, William Wyler, made this fantastic film, so I talked to him about his book and this masterpiece.

  • Sorcerer 1977

    ★★★★ Watched 22 Mar, 2014

    Mechanical beasts
    Controlled by banished men
    Against The Wrath of God.
    Join the laughing chorus.

    Reviewed on the podcast here. Prefer Friedkin's vision to Clouzot, whose films don't do particularly much for me (My favorite is The Murderer in Apartment 21). I think the key being Clouzot can really shoot a tense sequence (his version of the blow up the rock is much better than Friedkin's), but I've always found the characterizations and motivations in Wages of Fear to be unearned and somewhat at odds with the actual plot. Friedkin knows his nihilism.

  • The LEGO Movie 2014

    ★★½ Watched 30 Mar, 2014

    I noted one scene in particular in this film: the entrance to “Cloud Cuckoo Land” and its seemingly benevolent overload that’s half unicorn half Hello Kitty product. In the film’s brief minute long expositional introduction to this odd space, it suggests somewhere that the anarchic do-what-you-want land is unsustainable and its mandated happiness is perhaps leading toward trouble. All that’s abandoned when Bad Cop and his fellow Baddies destroy all of Cloud Cuckoo Land, so any chaos that was to…