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  • Kiss Me Deadly

    Kiss Me Deadly

    Noir apocalypse and the neanderthal detective, "let him go to hell." A hundred bizarre, brilliant tremors in Aldrich's annihilating masterpiece, all building up to the revelation that the coveted, enchanted glow is really a mushroom cloud, pushing humanity back into the ocean.

  • World for Ransom

    World for Ransom

    A nervy burlesque of John Huston's exotic thrillers, with Aldrich showcasing the "hoodlum’s touch" needed to whip up clueless soldiers of fortune and atomic MacGuffins in preparation for Kiss Me Deadly. Old faces, modern anxieties as the remaining curlicues of classical bravery expire amid shoestring mock-ups of foreign clutter.

  • Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles

    Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles

    Habit, "the most imperious of all masters," analyzed six ways from Sunday as a time bomb with a 201-minute-long fuse. Bressonian lampoons of Julia Child cooking shows, a masterpiece of absences, a prisoner polishing the bars of her own cage until a missed hour causes the universe to shift. Far from a release, orgasm is the ultimate loss of control.

  • Alice Adams

    Alice Adams

    Cinderella and the glue factory. Money is family, an ailing father and a needling mother embody the middle-class household the social-climbing heroine seeks to shed. The party sequence, with Alice getting her feet crushed on the dance floor by a wistful momma’s boy, suggests Jane Austen’s "rotary motion attributed to giddiness and false steps," or at the very least Visconti by way of Charley Chase. George Stevens' camera scarcely softens the mortified smiles and anxious guffaws of the bourgeois-wannabe protagonist,…

  • Hitchcock

    Hitchcock

    My favorite screen portrayal of Hitchcock is a seconds-long juxtaposition of images in Godard's Histoire(s) du cinéma: Une histoire seule, where a pic of Hitch with arms extended "framing" a scene is superimposed over footage of a protesting Ingrid Bergman being smooched in Renoir's Elena et les Hommes.

    My least favorite has Anthony Hopkins encased in a fat suit, waking from a nightmare about his new movie's box-office chances: "What if it's another Vertigo?"