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  • La Dolce Vita

    La Dolce Vita

    DISPATCH FROM CANNES, 1960 -- DAY 7

    It is a shame that Bazin did not live long enough to see Fellini's newest, given how insightful his view of Nights of Cabiria was. "Voyage to the End of Neorealism" he titled his piece on what was, until now, Fellini's best film.

    Perhaps we can simply borrow some of his insights?

    [quote]Events to not "happen" in Fellini's world; they "befall" its inhabitants; that is to say, they occur as an effect of…

  • Ballad of a Soldier

    Ballad of a Soldier

    DISPATCH FROM CANNES, 1960 -- DAY 4 OF FESTIVAL

    They don't celebrate Mother's Day in either France or Russia in the same way or same day as we do in the States, but someone involved with Cannes' scheduling must have noted that this ode to the mother-son bond was showing on the day before, perhaps hoping its notices would America at the appropriate time.

    As you might guess from the title, there is more to Grigori Chukhrai's second film (his…

  • The Revolt of Mamie Stover

    The Revolt of Mamie Stover

    Surprisingly deft in its Code-compliant depiction of a hooker with a heart for gold, Mamie Stover fits Jane Russell as well as her wardrobe: even as her title character struggles, we never once believe that she is not at the advantage in any interaction she has. One reason her pairing with Marilyn Monroe works so well in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is that Marilyn so often plays women who seem to be completely ignorant of their effect on men, while Russell…

  • The Narrow Margin

    The Narrow Margin

    The Narrow Margin moves with the unalterable momentum of the train that provides the bulk of its settings, a good thing as a few of the more thrilling twists don't necessarily withstand much scrutiny. The central characters keep their motivations close their chests, and it's to the cast's credit that they play the surface rather than the hidden motivation, letting actions speak loudest when comes time for revelations and resolutions. Marie Windsor, later of Kubrick's The Killing, stands out particularly…

  • The Innocent

    The Innocent

    Visconti's cinema was always fascinated with endings, so it's fitting that his final film is an angry bullet into the cold heart of a corrupt nobility. Whereas, say, The Leopard depicts an old man's resignation in the face of his caste's decline, L'Innocente shows us the anger of a younger man born too late to fully enjoy the spoils. Giancarlo Giannini is perfectly suited to play the rake who ultimately lacks the ability to enforce his will on anyone around…

  • The Seventh Seal

    The Seventh Seal

    I've loved this movie for twenty years, but I've never been as moved by it as I was tonight -- even granting the 63-year head start, this is (so far) the only film to show what it's like to live in 2020.

  • Water Lilies

    Water Lilies

    Both a rough draft for and temporally-shifted prequel to the sublime Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Celine Sciamma's sumptuous debut forges the path her latest triumph will follow: the power of the look, the importance of seeing, the bonding of a shared walk, and the memory of the journey being more lasting (and more meaningful?) than the impossibility of making it to the destination.

  • Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

    Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    It's striking to me how no advocates of this film seem to even reckon with how at-best cheap and at-worst grossly manipulative and exploitative it is to use a real tragedy to provide stakes for what ultimately becomes a garish cartoon.

    I'm willing to give QT the benefit of the doubt and believe he meant to make something that was a tribute: a way of using the power of cinema to at least, for a moment, in a world of…

  • Eyes Wide Shut

    Eyes Wide Shut

    This film conveys more in focal lengths than 97% of films convey in dialogue.

  • Her Smell

    Her Smell

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

  • Non-Fiction

    Non-Fiction

    Olivier Assayas seems constitutionally incapable of making a movie that is only one thing. From the bifurcated structure of Boarding Gate to the mundanely supernatural suspense of Personal Shopper, (itself something of a twin of Clouds of Sils Maria), from the genre collisions of Irma Vep to the reversals of his entries into the omnibus films Paris, je T'aime, and To Each His Own Cinema, there is a narrative and tonal restlessness that often matches his camera. Is it any…

  • Long Day's Journey Into Night

    Long Day's Journey Into Night

    Last Year at Kaili