Made and released on the cusp of World War II, Jean Renoir’s The Grand Illusion was the first film not in English to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture, and deservedly so. Renoir’s stunning masterpiece is one of the most powerful and convincing arguments against war ever put to the screen, but not because of any horrific depictions of cruelty or violence. More Paths of Glory than Come and See, The Grand Illusion calmly refutes the necessity of…
Love is an optimistic feeling. Besides offering an immediate sensation of fleeting joy, it promises a future where that feeling of yearning is replaced with a more stable contentment. Relationships, after all, are built around the idea of two people connecting and mutually improving the lives of each other. Love is so often characterized as a selfless act, but in the context of Leaving Las Vegas it’s actually quite the opposite. Among a great many other things, the film is…
There's a moment in Taxi Driver when Travis Bickle is balancing his TV set with his foot. There's a light tension in the air as it oscillates back and forth between the force of his foot and gravity. Ultimately it falls over, and its assured destruction is perhaps the film's most obvious parallel to Travis's own downward spiral. Teetering on the edge in his own mental illness and isolation, Travis is very much that TV set.
So frustratingly close to becoming a modern masterpiece, held back literally by a handful of clumsy scenes of exposition.
Roger Deakins is a treasure. The first shot of Ryan Gosling's silhouette against the harsh orange of poisoned Las Vegas air is *perfect*. Its jaw-dropping beauty caught me off guard even on a second watch.