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  • Whirlpool 1949

    ★★★★½ Watched 13 Sep, 2014

    The opening shot looks mundanely common but the space and flow into the department store include two moments where what our eyes are trained to see suddenly shift and we follow something else. Perspective becomes misdirection, which moves from the mise-en-scene to the narrative level, a story about the literal control of sight and thus the mind. Routinely dismissed compared to the other Premingers of this era, perhaps because of absurdity of the plot (which is not that different from…

  • Foreign Correspondent 1940

    ★★★½ Watched 02 Sep, 2014 2

    Peaks in the middle with the visual joke of Joel McCrea on top of the hotel, busting the lights and creating "HOT EUROPE." It's that kind of winking amusement one requires from Hitchcock, the sense that even though the situation may be serious, there's still time for jokes and romance (what else are we fighting for?). The film is essentially a negotiation of producer Walter Wagner's attempt to enlighten the American people to the war across the Atlantic and Breen's…

  • Vertigo 1958

    ★★★★★ Rewatched 11 Sep, 2014

    A film surrounded by ghostly presence, taking on a form of the supernatural - an unconscious in most of Hitchcock's films but text here. It extends through the environment of San Francisco, a city filled with fog, haunted houses of sad histories, and most essentially a European flavor, carried over brick by brick. Stewart tracks a haunted being, a performance in which he recognizes both the artifice and the reality, but can't tell that only the emotional core remains authentic.…

  • Songs From the North 2014

    ★★★ Watched 04 Sep, 2014 1

    Filed this review for the TIFF premiere. This should be more interesting than it actually comes off as—Yoo has a lot of fascinating aesthetic and narrative ideas here. But I think it's only half explored, and the moments she films of "real life" seem a little to surface oriented. I think it's key that the one moment where she really explores this banality well is dependent on her titles cards forcing/asking psychological questions of the citizens we see, instead of organically emerging from their own existence. Not every documentary has to be Disorder, but I hope Yoo goes further with her next one.

  • Double Indemnity 1944

    ★★★★★ Rewatched 09 Sep, 2014 1

    "I don't know why they always put the things I want on the top shelf."
    "I'm at your services whenever you need me...expenses paid of course."
    "You know they give you free matches when you buy these cigars."

    For a genre that's known for its outsiders, its characters in desperate need that they turn to crime because they have nowhere else to turn, this is a film set completely in the milieux of middle-upper class society. Everyone has an automobile…

  • Why Be Good? 1929

    ★★★½ Watched 06 Sep, 2014

    Beyond the narrative (a pretty good Pre-Code comedy in the same vein of Clara Bow's It!*, most fascinating in terms of its critique of slut shaming!!), this was the first silent film I saw with an entirely Vitaphone soundtrack. While most of the work is basically doing whatever an orchestra would have done, there were a few great uses of sound effects, most particularly two drunken idiots yodeling via two muted trumpets, the sound right on key with their actions.…

  • The Princess of France 2014

    ★★★½ Watched 24 Aug, 2014

    My full review at The Film Stage. A Tough Film for the usual reasons. At once Pineiro's most satisfying film when it comes to its narrative structure (aka what it sets up in the first 10 minutes is resolved in the final 10 minutes), but the digressions here are harder to place together, especially because the first half of the film and the second half of the film seem to have different meta-thematic interests. Nonetheless, the man's examination of how…

  • Jauja 2014

    ★★★½ Watched 18 May, 2014

    Reviewed at Cannes here (and discussed on the podcast at 14:23 here). The film's ultimate goals haven't become less decipherable since viewing it, but there is something here about, um, excuse me for the reference, an "Empire State of Mind" (emphasis on Empire) that transcends spatial and temporal boundaries, as well as filmic reality ala the scrapped ending for La Libertad. None of that matters too much—I'm more content to enjoy this as a slow cinema jam than anything else, and it's one of the most gorgeous films (35mm!) to grace a screen in recent memory.

  • Travelin' On 1922

    ★★★ Watched 01 Sep, 2014

    A 1962 study of the Western notes that this was the last of William S Hart's classical style films. "One had to admit that his work had become unabashedly sentimental, in its own way as cliche-ridden as the slick 'B' pictures he detested so much." A Motion Picture News piece from 1923 makes it sound like many assumed the picture would be Hart's last (who had taken a two year absence from production). The story seems less hokum than the…

  • The Eternal Grind 1916

    Watched 01 Sep, 2014

    A Mary Pickford melodrama. The only copy of this is a nitrate print in the Cinémathèque Française, with French intertitles (a video transfer was made). It's also only the first half of the film (something those familiar with The White Shadow will realize is an all too common part of silent film archives). Some of the shots of New York and in particular, the Lower East Side, are phenomenal—it's like watching The Immigrant as if shot in 1916. The staging…

  • 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…