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 The Latest Fourteen

 The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
 Valhalla Rising
 Avatar
 No Country For Old Men
 3:10 To Yuma
 Pan's Labyrinth
 Tristram Shandy
 Broken Flowers
 Hitchhiker’s Guide
 Old Boy
 Kinsey
 The World
 Zatoichi


Out tomorrow on DVD!

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and Shit.

Yay!


Now Playing

Swedes Again - everywhere! They're taking over.

Norwegians - everywhere! They're taking over.

Swedes - everywhere! They're taking over.

Koreans - everywhere! They're taking over.

Paprika – coming to a spice rack near you. May 25th?

Hoax – not a huge fan of richard gere but i know and like the story from Welles' F is Fake. plus lasse hallstrom is a good director. so...i might, rent this when it comes out. i have to stay inside. you know. the whole going outside thing...

Incredibles 2 – hasn’t come out. But I’m sure it will some day. And I’m here to tell you now–not to bother. Unless you really liked the first one that much. Then I guess you can, huh?

Get An LCD? - look. movies suck nowadays. let’s face it. they just do. get a damn video projector and stick with the good films.

Ink Stream - A small stream of ink comes out of the screen and douses the viewer.

Note to Publishers or Agents (in Algiers and other)




What would I tell them?

Q: if you were going to give some advice to a young person who is just starting to get into watching film seriously, what would you tell them?

A: Try to know as little as possible about each film before you see it. Sometimes it’s hard to avoid reading about certain films—and reviews can help us decide whether we want to see a film or not—but you must be extremely vigilant—that when you’re reading a review—and they start to talk about what happens and say too much—you have to stop reading right away—like a match about to burn your finger.

A: Knowing about the director is okay.




Movie reviews is so stupid

There is no good reason why anyone should read a review before they see a movie. They give away too much and add little. Professionally rendered blurbs can be helpful in deciding if you want to see a movie or not. Film criticism can be good if it doesn’t suck. But movie reviews? Please. Can’t live with them, can’t stop them being printed.

To Say No: Somebody Has To Do It

From what I can see, most critics are all too in love with _______ . These critics are either stupid (Leonard Maltin) or too sobered up (Roger Ebert). The only valid argument I’ve heard in support of _______ is from _______ who admittedly just wants to see _______. But no serious critic can give this film anything more than a B+ rating. This review is not to help you decide if you should go see _______. You shouldn’t. Nor is it for those who have already seen the film and wish to be reminded of what they’ve just seen. Certainly not. It is to provide comfort and succor to those unfortunate people who are are pathologically obsessed with great filmmaking, extremely judgmental, generally bile-filled, cynical, pompous, occasionally giving way to fits of self-righteous gesticulation and essentially uninterested in anything but the pursuit of genius in art (and just how all around wonderful people like us are).




List of Movies In Chronological Order

Skyfall (2013)

Some Guy

Better than Pacific Rim? Too close too call? Who cares?



Avengers (2012)

Saw this because everybody else did. It's passable but only barely more interesting than Iron Man. Best part clearly anything to do with The Hulk, and this is because Mark Ruffalo is a good actor. The rest of the cast (except for Morton Downey, Jr) was feckless. The action was no better than X-Men, and that's unimpressive considering X-Men came out some several years earlier. Some good lines. Some boring lines. Typical Summer blockbuster crap. Nothing special here.



The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

Joss Whedon

Blank.

Drive (2012)

Nicolas Windig Refn

Good. See this or Valhalla Rising. But you don't have to see both. Unless you really want to. Atmosphere music lifted right from Fitzcarraldo. As If we wouldn't notice. It's fine though. Refn has gone from imitating Kubrick to imitating Lynch. Not new, but still fun.



Blitz (2011)
I should get a dollar, or at least a small scar, for every one of these awful action-hero films I see. Alas. Yet another unknown marker on the slow crawl to death. In fact, as I write this, I’ve literally already forgotten what this film is about. My brain looks out for me. Even if I won’t.



The Descendants (2011)

Once every ten years, either by hook or by crook, I see a popular Hollywood drama. Mediocre would be the better term. This film is just a mess. The only redeeming thing about this film is the soundtrack, which is authentic. Question: When are we going to take Hollywood off the respirator? There is mainstream and there is not mainsteam. And never the twain shall meet. This is a fact which is proven over and over. And yet, every ten years…



The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011)

Swede

I think what happened here is the filmmakers tried to incorporate too much of the novel into the movie, and it just makes it too long. I don't have a problem with the style of filmmaking. It just needs to be shorter. To be a better film. It needs to be edited better. Bergman for example could have achieved all these emotions in ninety minutes or less. And that is the context by which I am being such a bitch here. The Lives of Others, I suspect, is a better film. And even it could have been a little shorter. It's okay to have a two hour film. Don't get me wrong. This film was way longer than that. So basically, what I'm saying is: don't bother. Just make an effort to see other better, older Swedish films, which are certainly out there. This film adds little to the canon. Just a decent overly under-edited mashup of things we've seen before. My review is starting to get long winded. This is how I felt at 4 in the fucking morning last night as I had to finish this film. Whatever. I was desperate, for narrative. (see "I was hot and I was hungry.") Addendum: Oh I get it. You have to watch all three. With Bourne Identity you really don't. But here you do. Well. You don't really. You should just watch none of them. But anyway. Fact is the third and final film in the trilogy is definitely better than the others. Still not worth the time (I don't think), but just to note the third film ties the storyline together, spends less time on character development, and just gets to the point.



The Trip (2011)            

Michael Winterbottom

Steve Coogan and Rob Bryden go on a road trip in England. Same co-leads from Tristram Shandy six years earlier. The story is basically what I just said. Obvious themes of existential angst, midlife crisis seem to be recurring among Coogan and Bryden's entire body of work, at least to my eye. So basically if you know and like these actors, you will enjoy this film. With Michael Winterbottom, I feel like you should just pick any of his films. You will either like them all or like none. If you are one of those types who says I love Doctor Strangelove and The Shining but I hated Full Metal Jacket or some other idiosyncratic combination of Kubrick's works, then fuck off my page. Or explain yourself. One of the two. Please.



Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2011)

Not Important

Sigh. I was expecting much more. You've seen this so who cares what I think. Let me just say that it's so sad to me they couldn't do what Peter Jackson did with Lord of the Rings. Looking back, the only two Harry Potter movies which stood out (as movies) were the third (best, Cuaron) and the fourth (not Cuaron, not as good, but better than the others, and yes, partly because of dragons). So the point here, is that a good story still needs a good filmmaker to become a good movie. That's actually not news. But it's just the cumulative sorrow that we as a society absorb as we continue to condone this illegitimate procession.



Outrage (2011)  

It’s very compelling. Clearly Takeshi Kitano is a master. At times the film seems like a parody of yakuza B-movies. At other times there a flickers that I took as very layered and masterful comments on society in Japan (and probably the rest of the world too). I am reluctant to say a lot about this film. I have too much respect for Kitano to judge quickly. I think it would be safer for me to read other more knowledgeable people’s comments on this film and react to those. Rather than stab blindly at it myself. Not now.



Thor (2011)
Better than expected for a Marvel Comic film. Directed by Kenneth Branagh. Huh. Is that interesting?



Transformers 2 (2011)
This is bad. This is worse than Avengers because it doesn’t even have any decent actors. It’s just terrible. I lasted about two hours.



Mission Impossible 4 (2011)
Just awful. Maybe if I now watch MI-2, I’ll have a point of reference. I should probably watch MI-2.



Super 8 (2011)
JJ Abrams pairs up with Stephen Spielberg to make a Stephen Spielberg-like film. Surprise. Like the slurpee I had last weekend, fun but not that memorable. More like E.T. than Stand By Me and not as good as either.



Le Havre (2011)
Anyway I saw Le Havre (2011) on DVD. It was not too bad. I feel this guy is doing his level best to replicate Bresson's visual style, although of course his tone is more sentimental. Characters and character motivation is portrayed so directly and in the strangely simultaneous hot and cool fashion it reminds me of Bresson and Melville and I would even suggest Jacques Becker. Slight hint of Black Orpheus (1959) as well. Is this visionary or original filmmaking? I don’t know. Maybe. Certainly it will be enjoyed by any fans of Melville, possibly Becker (the old man has a certain Jean Gabin quality for sure), even Tati (Playtime) is evoked in the seemingly unapologetic musical detour. Baguettes feature prominently in this film, which is more than I can say for Brooklyn.



Bunrako (2010)  

Guy Moshe

This is good. Better than Tarantino. Not as good as Takeshi Kitano. This film is actually fun. It’s got the same number of filmic references as Tarantino. But the difference is the references are canonical, not simply idiosyncratic. Somehow I think that means something. Or should I say, “That’s the spirit.”



Trollhunter (2010)    

André Øvredal

Awesome. This is pretty well different from most other films. I have to say I really enjoyed this film.



True Grit (2010)
True Coen affected style. Meh. It’s entertaining, but it’s no revelation. The comfort food of cinema.



Man From Nowhere (2010)
Ridiculous adolescent vengeance flick. This is awful even by the standards of its own genre. Wow.



Man From Nowhere (2010)
I saw this fucking movie twice? You’ve Got to be fucking kidding me. I need to keep better records.



Stark Trek VI (2009)

JJ Abrams

On second thoughts, not very good.



In The Electric Mist (2009)

Bertrand Tavernier

Love this director. Films are acquired taste, but definitely good. More interesting than the Coens, in my opinion. John Goodman is in this (if that helps you believe me).



Bad Day to Go Fishing (Mal Día para Pescar) (2009)
Watched half before Netflix took it away. I need to get this film back. This film was really compelling. Okay now I’ve seen the whole thing. (Netflix works in mysterious ways.) Wow. I have no idea what this film means. Like God and Netflix, the meaning of Spanish films has and perhaps always will elude me.



Valhalla Rising (2009)    

Nicolas Winding Refn: Pusher, , Drive

More review soon. This film is long and slow but good. This director is self-important, but he should be paid attention to because he might make some great films. He may already have right here with this one. Like anything serious. It takes time. It's open to interpretation. I will try to not speak to soon. But I am excited. I admit. About this film. I'm also mad for Mads. Oh my god. Mads Mikelsson. Fucking great.



Avatar (2009)

Not Important

I suppose I have only myself to blame for watching this. And everyone else who kept talking about it. Which was really nobody. I just saw too many ads on TV. And that works. I'm human. Really. Okay, so there is nothing new here. There is one thing I took away from this film, which lasted about two days. A very serious, two-day long fetish for intergalactic interspecies romance. And not just any IIR. One with glowing neon blue skin. Angry eyes, probably yellow. It was all so fast. Who is twice my height. And--well you can see I've already put way too much thought into this. Film sucked.



Police, Adjective (2009)    

Corneliu Porumboiu

This film is awesome. Really high quality. Subdued auteurism. They would have called this the New Sincerity if it were Wes Anderson. This is better than that. This is more like Theo Angelopoulos.



Sherlcok Holmes (2009)
The one with Morton Downey Jr. Very boring. Guy Ritchie is not a good director.



Reykjavík to Rotterdam (2008)
Okay. Not all Scandinavian films require my explanation.



The Dark Knight (2008)
Meh. Yes I know. Heath Ledger. Sure. Still meh.



A Film With Me In It (2008)  

Ian Fitzgibbon

It’s good. Nihilistic sensibility of Dylan Moran on display.



The Windmill Movie (2008)

Film itself is okay. It's as much depressing as it is interesting. I almost kind of feel bad for the guy that it was made posthumously, because there may have been good reasons he never actually made this film. I actually wonder if making it is in a way a mistake or betrayal. Total non sequitur: I would really like to know if there was any intimacy between the widow and filmmaker during the making of this film. THAT is what I most want to know. The rest I get. The rest I get.



Hellboy II (2008)  

Guillermo del Toro

Fuck yea. I like this better than Pan’s Labyrinth for sure. If you like Hellboy, you will like Hellboy 2. Fuck yea. There should be a law that all sequels must be directed by the same person.



Sky Crawlers (2008)  

Mamoru Oshii

Interesting to a degree. I feel qualified only to compare this with other films in the same genre. So as compared to Ghost in the Shell, I would say, not quite as exciting for sure. But if we consider the film's slow pace as a chance for introspection, philosophical injection, reflection and other isms, then it's okay. It offers some ideas which seem different. Probably not earth shatteringly different. More just confirmatory, but certainly not a bad repackaging of some weighty concepts. Will probably not see again, but glad I saw. This experience does nothing to alter my passive, but serious, search for anime even almost as good as Akira (1988). That day will come, I have to believe. And when it does, I want to be ready. For me it’s important to not see too many contenders in the mean time. I will go back into anime hibernation for a while in order to keep myself naïve. I believe this will be the best strategy. Unless someone has any suggestions?



Indiana Jones Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

Well...if you already like Raiders, then see this. It's a fun reminder of what we liked about the series. If you are ambivalent, then probably skip it.



Sukiyaki Western Django(2007)
Takashi Miike

Totally silly, but entertaining. Similar to Bunraku, but probably not as tight.



Time Crimes (2007)
Another? Quirkly seemingly underbudgeted but strangely compelling ?unassuming science fiction movie not made in The United States by The United States or for The United States. I enjoyed it. I won’t watch again. But I’m sure I wanted to see the ending. I have no clue what it was about. No clue. Still don’t. Read Roger Ebert on it. Still no clue. Spanish.



Dororo (2007)
The phrase “crazy whack funky” does not even begin…to describe this film. Do not tell @Carrie I said this. But this film is almost ridiculous. But it’s fun. But if you tell her I will definitely cut off your arm.



Beowulf (2007)

Bob Zameckis

I thought it would be really bad. Turned out to only be a little bad. It seemed to not take itself too seriously, which for a CGI film, is a good thing. I watched this because I feel I can never get enough mythology, and I thought this would be a lot easier than going back and re-reading the actual poem. That’s right. I like my mythology handed directly to my fat ass on a couch. Anyway so this film isn’t completely horrible and I really don’t know why. Maybe it was because the monsters and men were not so straight forward. Did the filmmakers get out of the way enough to let the strength of the original myth come through? Or did they, of course, try their best to ruin it, but in the end you just can’t keep a good myth down? Does it matter?



Big Man Japan (2007)   

Fucking hilarious. Full stop.



No Country For Old Men (2007)   

Not Important

The Cohens have always annoyed me for making almost great films. This is their best so far, in my opinion. I'm going to put that down to the high quality of Cormac MacCarthy's novel. And how suitable it is to the atmosphere the Cohen's are able to creat with this film. It's as close to rural Texas as you can be, while still being filmic enough to have some magic. The casting was also excellent. The Spanish actor cast as the main baddie psychopath. Wow. Just awesome. Woody Harrelson does a decent job. This is like Bottle Rocket directed by David Lynch. Or something. I don't know. I still think the Cohens are overrated. But this film is pretty damn good, even I have to admit.



3:10 To Yuma (2007)

some guy

not bad. not great either. i liked the look of it. the tone seemed appropriate. the acting was all-around good (particularly the villain's right hand man). the action was gripping and enjoyable. unfortunately, there were too many throwaway lines and plot elements which were too predictable, cliche or extraneous to be forgiven. i'm beginning to think that at this point in the game there are only a few winning hands left.



Ward No. 6 (2006)
Very compelling. And why not emulate Tarkovsky? Who else would you emulate? Besides Bresson. Based on a Checkhov work. Does this remind me of other films based on Chevhov. Like My Dinner With Andre (1981), Vanya on 42nd Street (1994). Not really.



White Palms (2006)
Compelling. Would not watch repeatedly because it’s a bit heavy handed (by eastern European standards). It’s like Lasse Hallström’s My Life As A Dog (1985), but with more sour and less sweet. It’s good. All the pieces of the film are good. All the acting is good. All the scenes are good. Everything is pretty much good. The only criticism I would offer is that the film’s components are presented in such a way that not all the parts flow seamlessly into each other. Compare with Itami’s Tampopo (1985), which is even more disjointed, but somehow works as a cohesive whole. I am too lazy to figure it out, but one could point to tonal shifts throughout the film, which may be counterproductive. I don’t have a remedy. I don’t want to recut the film. But someone probably could. If you want to evoke the Full Metal Jacket (1987) argument, multiple films in one bridged by overlapping themes and at least one character, that’s fine. You can do that. But then we still have an argument. It doesn’t bring peace.



12:08 East of Bucharest (2006)

Corneliu Porumboiu

This film is just hilarious. This is great satire yet with ample sincerity and humanism. In the school of Christopher Guest.



Flame and Citron (2006)
I just love Mads Mikelson. You could even say I’m mad for Mads. I’m sorry. I couldn’t help myself. Anyway, it’s a perfectly suspenseful film. Not sure if anyone needs to go out of his/her way.



The Lives Of Others (2006)  

Insert Later

More review soon. Good film. Not bad.



Dottie Gets Spanked? Bronson (2006)  

Nicolas Winding Refn: Pusher, Bronson, Drive

I watched a weird ass movie tonight on Netflix. About Britain’s most notorious prisoner. Yeah. It’s weird. It’s like “Naked Lunch” meets “A Clockwork Orange”. Srsly. It’s weird. But compelling. I can’t NOT recommend it. Let us say. So. The directors I see this guy emulating are, 1) Kubrick 2) David Cronenberg 3) others I haven’t thought of? 4) He himself mentions Tarkovsky in one interview. Um…that’s pretty large talk there Mr Refn. The question is whether he will emulate less and bring something more definitely original to the party.



Bothersome Man (2006)

Good. Like a dystopic Groundhog Day. Also uses much of same music as Wong Kar-Wai both literally in one instance and “close enough” in another. So yea. It’s good though. Film is a slightly--err much--tamer version of Gilliam’s Brazil. Zak Galafinakis would tell another version of the same story in Visioneers (2008).



Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)  

Guillermo del Toro

The two things this movie has left me with are the specific imagery of the second challenge and the overall meaning of the story as allowed by a good, uncompromising ending. But contrary to the prevailing sentiments by film critics (who have apparently been watching Pirates of the Caribbean instead of honing their critical faculties, by which I mean reading Borges and not going to a lot of bad movies), the film was good but not great. There are two different films here, the fantasy and "the other one." The problem is, however, that "the other one" really isn't all that compelling, and in fact, we care even less about it than we otherwise might if we weren't so eager to get back to the fantasy film the whole time. So what you have is half of a really neat movie inside of half of a solid movie. What is that? And when I say the "non-fantasy film" was only solid, not great, I am right. Don't argue with me. We don't have time.

I basically feel that del Toro is gifted in many ways, especially visually, but also in a more general sense, his imagination is very free from constraints and unbounded. Perhaps it is this very “carefree” quality which is also his weakness, at least for my taste. He doesn’t follow the rules quite enough regarding cohesion, tightness, realism. When not engaging in fantasy, at which del Toro clearly excels, his narration becomes clumsy at times falling back on cliché, predictability and formalism. And most sadly, simple heavy-handedness or repetition, particularly in the domestic scenes (the film continued to make the same one-dimensional point about the “evil” captain over and over almost to my bored despair; wouldn't it have been much better for example if you really weren't totally sure whether he would ______ in the end?) Perhaps del Toro should be made to work either with great actors (Ron Perlman) or in collaboration with other writers in order to provide us with what really is his great talent but to a more artistically perfect end result. Like Miyazaki.

“This is a metaphysical vision, shot through with poetry, and unlike the visions in Babel and Children of Men, it doesn't predetermine anything.” – Jonathan Rosenbaum
Yes, as I say, watch better films. Cuarón and Iñárritu have lost their way. Del Toro still has a chance. The only person who seems to have any clue, among all the reviewers I’ve surveyed, is, ironically, for me, Anthony Lane:
“The question is, do the two halves of the movie fit together? What does Vidal’s attempt to suppress the freedom fighters have to do with fauns and giant toads? There is, thank heavens, no neat allegorical match. Take the long-fingered, hairless figure whom Ofelia finds in her nightmare, and who, as if in homage to Buñuel, screws his eyeballs into his palms and holds up his hands in order to see and pursue her. He does not represent a historical person, or embody a single threat; he simply conjures an atmosphere of cannibalistic fear, and thus feels gruesomely right for an age of schism and feud. The odd thing is that, for all this adhesive detail, del Toro lets the fantasy slip slightly from his grasp, preferring to focus on the brutalities of fact. By the end, the three tasks seem of limited consequence, whereas the fate of Vidal—and of the steel-willed housekeeper, Mercedes (Maribel Verdú), who has taken Ofelia to her bosom—tightens to a merciless climax. So smartly has del Toro thought his fable through, and so graceful is his grasp of visual rhyme, that to pick holes in it seems mean; yet “Pan’s Labyrinth” is perhaps more dazzling than involving—I was too busy reading its runes and clues, as it were, to be swept away. It is, I suspect, a film to return to, like a country waiting to be explored: a maze of dead ends and new life.”
But I am mean, so:

[spoiler] The best thing is obviously the second challenge with the eating-monster guy-thing. But even that was diminished by the girl’s too last-minute decision (about the grapes). The real story (as it would really have been or as I wanted it to be) would not have happened that way. Something “better” would have happened. Something which was more consistent with the girl’s character to that point. Of course, you can argue in the context of the entire sequence being merely her “fantasy” or “dream” even that her actions merely played out her own internal guilt and misgivings about her own “claim to the thrown.” In other words, she is unsure of herself, so she imagines herself taking a misstep. I accept this interpretation, but only in retrospect, once having digested the larger meaning (that it really was all just “in her mind”), which we only learn at the end, and then going back and re-playing the film again, in my mind. Thus, we have a film which works better after you’ve watched it than while you are watching it for the first time. Curious. However, I believe the suddenness and randomness of her actions did (at the time) seem to take away from the seriousness of the fantasy plotline. In other words, they sort of made a farce of what was up to then much more serious and compelling. When Orpheus turns to look back at Eurydice, there is some deeply rooted instinctual reason for this. But here, it just seems tacked on. There needs to be more justification. Perhaps he should have built more of the girl’s “guilt” or “insecurity” into her plotline before and after that scene so as to better integrate that element into her story. This is just a question. I don’t have a complete answer here. In any case, I will stick with Miyazaki for now. [/spoiler]

Or Spirit of the Beehive (1973), which is also a much more sophisticated film. Or for more on the pre-Spanish Civil War aristrocratic themes as well as issues of women, little girls and big ones, and men (who are essentially all the same at any age, in Spain), dare to see Viridiana.



Tristram Shandy (2006)            

Michael Winterbottom

Okay, of course I saw this film. And of course, it was really good. But fuck you Steve Coogan. [sample]



Lady Vengeance (2005)

Chan Wook Park: Old Boy

Korean Peter Greenaway. Probably same thing I said about Old Boy. Lots of color and sensual cinematics. How is it different? More disjointed. More Korean? I found some moments in this film very amusing. Not sure if that’s the correct response. If you like Old Boy then you will like this film. I don’t feel I have anything useful to add, so I’m finished here.



History of Violence (2005)
Music reminds you of Contempt (1963), no? Sure it does. The film is okay, but it’s not something I would ever watch twice or even tell someone else to watch. It’s just okay. The acting (apart from the main co-leads) is so wooden I am forced to comment. Similar themes already covered more convincingly in Contempt (1963), Straw Dogs (1971) and probably countless other films. This is not a bad movie. Just not nearly as interesting as other Cronenberg films. I noticed a lot of critics raved about this film. They are wrong.



Alien Versus Predator (2004)
Watched it in Spanish on YouTube. I should do this more often. I don’t speak Spanish. I think that helped.



Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004)
What can I say? It’s not as bad as Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull? Or maybe that’s wrong. Maybe I should say it’s not better than Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull? I hope this helps you. Wait. Let me do one better. Don’t see this film. Instead see Hellboy (2004) or Hellboy 2 (2008). Much better. Now we’re good.



Broken Flowers (2005)             Carmen San Diego style

Jim Jarmusch: The guy who made one of the silliest 80’s movies of all times that may not actually been made in the 80’s, Ghost Dog (are you serious? The same man who was just arrested last week at a republican funraiser for streaking across the ballroom with little american flag tassled to his buttocks while shouting the stars and bars through a megaphone? That guy? And now he turns around and comes up with this—clearly one of the least horrible films of the year? are you serious? wow. I guess times have changed. People change. I don’t but I guess some other people do. Live in the now, I always say.

dear phillip,

saw ‘broken flowers’ yesterday. not that bad actually. not perfect (useless flashbacks showing same footage twice, some of the jokes verging on patently stupid, bill murray almost playing it too cool). but by and large not that bad. worth the 90 mins. sort of a straightforward, minimally-offensive representation of one kind of reality. It’s sort of what todd solondz and rebecca miller both tried to achieve (‘happiness,’ ‘personal pee pee’), but couldn’t because they were too forceful. jarmusch (and i hated his only other film i’ve seen, ‘ghost dog’) is too forceful too, but for some reason I feel more lenient toward him. my only other complaint is that there just wasn’t enough pedophilia. there was some, but surely there could have been much more.

read more of your book recently. enjoying it terribly. my only complaint is that there just isn’t enough pedophilia in it.

love anyways,

w



Hitchhiker’s Guide to Your Galaxy (2005)  

“Shouldn’t we, uh, lay down on the ground and put bags over our heads or something.”
“You could.”
“Will it help?”
“Uh...no.”


I don’t get bent out of shape over whether a movie does justice to the book or not. And I think people who do should have their insides carved out with a spoon. Anyway, I liked it. It certainly seems to have, at least captured the spirit of the book as I remember it from so many years ago. The voice over narrative is in the same dry, playful style of the Gods Must Be Crazy. And it works. The characters were all compelling. I got a little bored with the female lead Trillion. From a 21c realpsychology point of view, her motivation struck me as somewhat arbitrary and boring. Plus she reminded me of a younger Meg Ryan (or even a prime Sean Young), which did nothing to add. But that could just be casting. Or that could be because that’s how Douglas Adams’ female roles are supposed to be. Not being an expert on casting, females or Douglas Adams, I am reluctant to comment. (Even though I kind of just did.)

I found the humor to be ample and consistently light-hearted. I was very surprised to learn that Marvin was not voiced by Alan Richman. Some other British guy, apparently. Sounds like Alan Richman. To be honest, if I had known it wasn’t Alan Richman all along, I probably would have gotten bored with that character. Okay I’m totally full of shit. It was Alan Richman. The guy who played Zaphod Beeblebrox was all energy and for the most part entirely entertaining. John Malkovich was great in his brief part, although that was a plotline which seemed to have gotten shortchanged. But I think there was definitely a flavor of Being John Malkovich throughout, so his influence was there (even when it wasn’t). Wait, what?

The visual stylings were sort of like an odd marriage of Dune and Brazil meets Red Dwarf (the female lead in Red Dwarf is where they wanted to have gone with Trillion; maybe.) All in all I thought it was solid, light-entertainment, which was fairly consistently funny without trying too too hard. It didn’t change my life. And I won’t go out of my way to see it again, but I don’t regret seeing it. Which is more than I can say for a lot of you turd directors. Yeah, you. Chris Columbus, I’m talkin’ to you.



Old Boy (2005)  

Chanwook Park

Peeter Greenaway directs a Seijun Suzuki film in Korean under the pseudonym Chanwook Park. All torture scenes had the Peter Greenaway stamp of dark approval, built on weird lighting and oddly peculiar music. Another Greenaway tactic was the heavily crafted repetition of certain elements. The final scene kind of reminded me of Blade Runner actually in a sort of an “all is already lost so my goal is really just to show you this one thing before I self-destruct” way. Mr Han even looked a little like Rutger Hauer with his bleach blonde hair, and physical presence. Or maybe I’m thinking of Takeshi Kitano. Pacemaker thing = heart plugs in Dune. Sewage system running through floor in penthouse? You guessed it, Baron Harkonnen’s digs in Dune. Boiee.



Saraband (2005)

Ingmar Bergman

The long awaited sequel to Scenes from a Marriage. It’s good. It’s standard Bergman stuff. No pain, no gain. And let me assure you there is both here.


Kinsey (2004)  

Some guy, who cares

Kinsey would have been really fresh twenty years ago. But not not now. The film couldn’t decide if it was Far From Heaven or a PBS documentary. Solid acting all around. Believable atmosphere. Lots of tweed. But the film was aimless and got more and more boring as it began to drag on. Instead of this film, you should try Cronenberg’s Naked Lunch. You’ll love it.



The World (2004)  

Latest film by Jia Zhangke. Talk to your local art house theatre today. Demand playage. Sadly though, I fear this one may not be quite as good as his last one, Unkown Pleasures. It’s because Jia was on crack. Yes, I know it’s hard to believe. No, this is a very good film. The meaning is all there—the depth, the thought, the pause. But there are certain elements in the film, which I bristled at on purely aesthetic grounds. The cell phone interludes. And it just seemed like maybe the film was trying too hard (to be all things to some people). Wait, actually, I’ve been thinking about this lately, and maybe it is better than I first thought. My new theory is that the fact that the characters are all pre-occupied wholly with their own (and some Russians’) personal lives, and don’t seem to give a fig for the globalization and "progress" happening in modern China around them. And that this is a gently subversive (and humanistic) statement on the part of the director. Yes, that is my new approach to this film (two years after I saw it).
Jia talks about his crack addiction: “Unknown Pleasures was the ending of my previous phase,’’ he says. “I’ll restart from scratch to make my next movie, with new methods and production modes. But I shall stick to the same theme and same people. I am excited about it and will try my best to make it accessible to domestic audiences.’’


Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman (2004)  


Please. This is just a great film.



Hellboy (2004)  

Is an amalgamation of all the best aspects of Lethal Weapon, Raiders, X-Men and Hellraiser (no not Hellraiser) all fused into one very active little genre film. It goes way beyond expectations with the immensely charismatic performance of Ron Perlman as Hellboy, or H.B. as he is affectionately referred to by his ex-girlfriend.

Hellboy delves sensibly into the inner psychology of its red hero and in doing so acquires a real human interest angle. Whereas Wolverine’s past is about as intriguing as it gets, his present is fairly straightforward. Watching Wolverine cut people is exhilerating. Watching him brood is filler. But when Hellboy broods, we brood with him. And we really don’t know which way he’s going to go ultimately, and that makes all the difference.

Hellboy’s attempt to rekindle his relationship with his former girlfriend is a wonderful Mathew Broderick-esque sidestory. And the Nazi villain who seems to be kept alive in part by a mechanical device derives from an very odd Mexican film called Cronos, whose cast included, you guessed it, Ron Perlman. Good ideas don’t die easy.


Dogville (2004)  

Napoleon Dynamite (2004)  

Jared Hess

This film is pretty funny. Is Jared Hess picking up the ball that Wes Anderson dropped? Probably not. [timeout]



The Man of the Year (2003)
Compelling. Gritty. Good. So are some candy bars. Why do I feel like I’m watching Scarface (1983)? I cannot be too unreserved with my praise. A lot of chaos in the unfolding. So it’s not actually totally straightforward and is perhaps deceptively impressionistic. It might be interesting to compare this film to Drive (2011). In spite of whatever shortcomings it has or may have, the social commentary seems very genuine. Rather than a top down lecture on law and order in early 21c Brazil, we get more an embedded view from inside. So the picture may be blurry, at times, out of focus, even out of bounds. It all seems quite real, mostly. A less con-fabricated and therefore excusable version of Amores Perros (1996). What I found on the internet is others have compared this to City of God (2002), which I probably should now see. Okay I’ve now seen City of God. What a disaster. Oh dear. No. That isn’t art. That is glitzy docudrama about Brazilian slums, which is probably about as truthful as an Oliver Stone film. The Man of the Year is a serious artwork. Like it or not. Thank god for comparators. 



Okay I’m not finished. City of God is like some kind of documentary that thinks it's that awful american film Traffic (2000), which was awful. Film seems put together by a subcontracted Nike ad producer/team and almost entirely devoid of any let alone an singular artistic vision. Changing to sepia for flashbacks? City of God what an annoying film. Made to appeal to video gaming children. City of Gamers?

Okay so back to The Man of the Year. Two minutes of modern research suggests the filmmaker has only made two major films, with some TV work as well. When I first saw WITHNAIL & I (1987), immediately I was bursting to see more films by Bruce Robinson (happily starring Richard Grant). Disappointing then to not see the collaboration ever reach the same heights again. How to Get Ahead In Advertising (1989) is not bad, though.

But none of this means you shouldn’t see The Man of the Year. And if you haven’t heard of it, then it’s overlooked. By you. I will not, however, say you need to see it. I won’t go that far. Because I don't know what else is happening in your life. Because I never ask, or maybe you’re just too distant. Anyway, so now we’ve got two good Brazil films! Who knows, maybe more! The Man of the Year. And Senna (2010).



Gozu (2003)
Okay so i just saw a film called “Gozu” made in 2003 by a craZy japanese director. Wow. Two things. One. Shades of Juzo Itami’s Tampopo (1985), which was equally disjointed vignette structure and also effective for it. And two. This is way better than the latest Cronenberg pap. Which i saw. And which I think is pap. I think Cronenberg may have peaked many years ago. Unless I’m just missing something. Gozu is a beautiful film. Ostensibly about Yakuza but it really transcends. Has as much to do with Yakuza as Tampopo did cooking, which is some or maybe a lot actually. Whatever. 



When The Last Sword Is Drawn (2003)
This movie is too long.



Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2003)  

Even worse than I expected.



Lost In Translation (2003)  



Lost In La Mancha (2003)  

Terry Gilliam’s documentary on the non-making of Don Quixote. Very interesting if you like Terry Gilliam, documentaries, Johnny Depp, or if you think about making movies.



X2 (2003)  

Not as good as the first one. But not as bad as Matrix Reloaded.



Master and Commander (2003)

Beautiful film, but rushed. Weir tries to make a two hour film out of what should have been a ten-hour Mobile Masterpiece Theatre. Never quite fully engages. Couldn’t not think of it as Russell Crowe (as opposed to the character he was playing). Peter Weir’s Fisher King? Robin Williams? Hmm… Glad I saw it...
at home (though)
(but) on a projector.


Better Luck Tomorrow (2003) *

Justin Lee attempts to transpose Tarantino-esque juxtapositions onto suburban Orange county, and the results are uneven. The dialogue is extra uneven. The film has the same look and burdensome first-person narrative as Rebecca Miller’s recent Personal Velocity. The thoughts and actions of the characters often are implausible. Don’t argue with me. The real story (as I read about it) actually makes a lot more sense than Justin Lee’s artistic version. Either Lee has a loose grasp on reality, or he thinks we do.

* Neutral rating. No thumbs given.



Safe Conduct (2002)
Bad movie. About the DVD: Throw it away don’t give it away.



Personal Veloceraptor (2002)  

Adaptation (2002)  

Spike Jonze: Being John Malkovich

Clearly, the best film of 2002 and probably the best I’ve seen since WKW’s In The Mood For Love (2000). More later.

Lord of the Rings II (Two Towers) (2002)  



Far From Heaven (2002)  
Dottie Gets Spanked?

Very good, but over-rated. Dennis Quaid should get Russell Crowe’s Oscar for ‘best looking constipated for an entire film.’ The other leads should definitely get awards too. Dennis Haysbert, best ‘makes everything seem in slow motion,’ and Julie Ann-Moore best ‘white lady who falls in love with black gardener because that’s what the script says.’ But seriously, Todd Haynes can be proud—of Dennis Quaid. But seriously, the film is very well made, very smooth. I never object to consistent and thick stylization. The film’s atmosphere, I hope, is what critics are responding to, and a large part of it has to do with the successful use of tension. Always there, like a suffocated blackhead on your face. 1 Haynes lets it come to the surface and exude a little pus now and then, but it never pops. Even as people are blowing up at each other, attempting to share, and saying good-bye for good, the thick membrane is never actually broken. The pace, restraint, forbidden love and unresolved tension in Far From Heaven is not unlike Wong Kar-Wai’s In The Mood for Love. But other than Dennis Quaid’s character, everyone was too predictable. Cliché is fine, predicatable is not. Dennis Haysbert’s character was awfully nice and perfectly boring. I would love to have him as a neighbor. Half way through the film, I started thinking about my job, how I’ve been slacking off too much. What should I do with my career? Marriage? Kids? A Dog? Then I got bored with that and returned my attentions once again to the film, just in time for the big understated finale.

1 Rebecca Miller tribute.


Eight Mile (2002)

When your car won’t start at all, you must Xzibit. When you’re feeling kinda small, you must Xzibit. Xzibit good. Back to the trailer, it’s not too late. To not see this film. [Note: There is some guy named Xzibit in the credits]



Bowling for Columbine (2002)  

And the award for best documentary film in 2002 goes to [pause] Bowling For Columbine, Michael Moore. That does it. The Academy is now officially brain dead.

Spirited Away (2002)  

Oh my god. Review in progress. (Help shape it)



The Fast Runner Atanarjuat (2002)  
Inuit Indian Director: once directed a sea lion to ‘park it over there

Finally, the Inuit Indians have gotten off their asses and given us the great film we deserve. It’s definitely worth seeing. It’s epic for the most part, but with a sense of intimacy, which is no doubt helped along by the up-close, hand-held filming methods. It’s compelling, and if you take a big wizz before starting, you won’t even notice that it’s roughly—it’s three frigging hours long! This movie boasts a number of items not commonly seen in Los Angeles including seal oil, genuine walrus tusks, and people snarfing raw caribou meat. Well, I said commonly.

Editor’s Note: He obviously saw the movie, but I don’t think he understood any of it.



Minority Report (2002)
Trailer not so bad
I almost want to see this.
More like HBO

Mystic Masseur (2002)

It’s a nice little story.

Parrot: That’s it? That’s your review?

Uh.

Parrot: Come on. you’ve got to be kidding. I mean you must have something more than that?

Nice colors.

Parrot: Oh, please.

Well shot?

Parrot: I’m outta here.

In all seriousness, if you like this picture, you will like this movie. It’s as simple as that. Okay, it’s not as simple as that. This film is like the Disney version of The Harder They Come only with a bit of Being John Malkovich quirkiness thrown in. It’s odd. It’s nice, but it’s inevitably light weight.


Star Wars II - Attack of the Clones (2002)

Apparently, George Lucas phoned in his movie, so I’ll phone in my review. In fact, I’m finished with Lucas. That’s right. I’m not even going to see this one. In fact, I will solemly pledge to never see this film. The temptation is strong. But the hatred is stronger. The force, meanwhile, can be found on a VHS copy of the original ’pre-touch up’ Star Wars. But here’s a review from Movies 101 that seems to be appropriately bitter. And I must give credit to the Self-Made Critic for his wonderful open threat to Lucas “If you do that, we promise to go see it. And we will not burn you in effigy.” I love burning people in effigy, or anything in effigy. I just love effigy. Is that so wrong?

Okay, I saw it. The best part about watching this film on DVD is not having to rewind it afterwards. You can just get up and do something else, like you never saw it. It’s a lot like the Harry Potter film in that there is some prepubescent exilheration and a somewhat interesting fantasy world, but when it’s over, you’re sort of left thinking, ‘yeah, and?’ The other reason to watch this on DVD is you can fast forward over any scene with just Annikan and Natalie Portman. To not do so will take several years off your life, which, if you’re old enough, may spare you from still being alive for the third one. - 12/02

The most interesting thing in the film is Lucas’ silly attempt to legitimize the name Jar Jar Binks by having a character called Jar Jar Fett, which only backfires bringing us all down a level.



Gosford Park (2001)  

Lord of the Rings (2001)  

The best part of the film is when they come out of the dark cave place, and it seems like everything is going in slow motion, and the embers are falling around them like snow, and there’s this sort of quasi-Jesus non-demoninational religious undertone happening. And with the music playing too, this scene becomes very powerful. I think it’s probably the best moment in the film.


Harry Potter (2001)  

The best part of this movie was when it was over. And I could go back to hanging upside down by a rope while neighborhood kids swing at me with baseball bats.


Together (2001)     

Swedish Guy:<moviefone>Sorry, a biography is not available for this person.< /moviefone>

Okay, very busy, so this is just a preliminary review. Very thoughtful and interesting film. Story about a group of people living in a commune (I think in the seventies in Sweden). All of the ten or so characters are very three dimensional. I found myself quite sympathetic to the sub-plot of the small children in particular. I think that’s what he wanted. The film can be contrasted with an earlier film called Happiness, which was infinitely less enjoyable. Together has several moments of clever and amusing dialogue, and there was plenty of genuine insight along with intense, dramatic flurries. The director has also interjected a fair chunk of musical enhancement. Moments combining good music with visually pleasing sequences, be they plot-advancing or just character portraying, are the little orgasms of film. In keeping with today’s Norse theme, I refer you to the many scenes in which Conan simply plays with his sword and flexes his muscle to a nice soundtrack by Basil Poledouris or the highly charged scene in Wong Kar-Wai’s Fallen Angels where the guy walks away from the girl, and she collapses in the stairwell to a crescendo of held power notes.1 Don’t even get me started on Kubrick. Anyway, these are the nicotine moments that make susceptible people like me watch certain movies ten or twenty times. Together has a few of these moments, but probably not enough to make me buy it on DVD. It can be accused of contrivance, not in a sense that its characters were not believable and consistent, but simply that they would all be under one roof at the same time, in the same film. It’s a stretch, but one that is necessary to make this kind of movie. Overall, I think it was a very solid film, and it should be seen.

1 Well it’s a noun now.



Mulholland Driveway (2001)    

David Lynch: Wild At Heart, Blueish Velvet, Dune, other stuff

I walked out of Mulholland Drive, and some big fat guy said to his medium-sized friend, “I’m glad we don’t have to do a term paper on this”, and I thought:
a) Me too
b) I’m glad I don’t have to read your term paper on this.
c) Brilliant fat guy, brilliant fat guy.
d) Nothing, my brain was already done for the day.
e) Short Cuts, Pulp Friction, Been John Malkovich, Hellraiser, Debbie Does L.A.



Ghost World (2001)      



  • Oh my god, the review, it’s vanished! just like a...like a... Oh no, wait, here it is.




Donnie Darko (2001)    

Michael Winterbottom

This is a very good film. It has a very real and believable quality to it. Not in terms of plot, but just character motivation. Every character is believable within the context of the film. I would argue this film is more credible than Dazed and Confused. It’s also poignant in a way that so many 80s cult classics are. We all knew someone in adolescence like the main character in this film. What I like most about this film is it just takes its own time. It seems to almost invite the eager critic to complain about something seemingly slow or tangential. And yet – the film just doesn’t care. And more power to it.

Black Hawk Down (2001)

Me, You, Them (2001)  

Andrucha Waddington [timeout]

Want to see a movie with a prominent female lead?
Want to see a movie with a husband that has the coolest voice ever?
Want to see a movie with terrific acting all around?
Want to see a movie that gives you a palpable impression of rural Brazilian life?
Want to see a movie with an intriguing, original screenplay?
Want to see a movie with dancing and Brazilian music?
Want to see a movie that’s better than Like Water for Chocolate any day.


[Me, You, Them and gauguin]




In The Mood For Love (2000)    

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)  

Chicken Run (2000)  

Great film for both chickens and adults. Similar to Toy Story in its rescue hero theme, which by the way is a very popular theme among children I’m led to understand, but it’s more raw art and style and less Disney bull crappie. But let’s be realistic. It’s not THAT raw or art. It’s sort of a compromise between Nik Park’s original ways and something that will appeal more broadly to kids, otherwise known as ‘making some money for a change’. If you want your babies to grow up smart like European children, you better take them to this movie. It won’t work, of course, but at least no one can say you didn’t try.



8 ½ Women (2000)  

Peter Greenaway

Okay my review of this film was really stupid so I've gone back and chopped it into pieces: pants down. amusing. slow, not wholesome. stunning. The Academy should, in addition to renouncing all prior decisions and dismembering itself immediately, do away with cinematography and replace it with a category called "most milkshakes". 8 ½ women could win. It won’t appeal to everyone. It will appeal to between four thousand to five thousand people. I myself didn’t think I would want to see it again right away. But now I do. But even now I still have not done. 2013: I'm waiting. Biding my time. I have the DVD.

If you want to read what somebody much fatter than me has to say about Greenaway, you should read Roger Ebert’s review of The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, but not until after you’ve seen it, of course. And if Blockbuster* is out, you can also look for the twenty percent more perverted European version, the The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Brother. I think Roger Ebert is probably the only person out there who really gets Greenaway.**

* Ha ha how dated.



Snatch (2000)  

Guy Ritchie

Watched first 8 minutes. Got bored.



Gladiator (2000)     or was it    

The Big Lebowski (2000)
I enjoyed the film. I admit. Okay. Fine. But it’s not on the level of other cult films,  and people shouldn’t be talking about this or the Coen Brothers as much as they do. Just go see Withnail & I (1987) or Donnie Darko (2001), both of which are better films than this, and get back to me. I’m sure in 2000, this film would have seemed more interesting than it does to me today. The Steve Buscemi effect (also known as The Buscemi Pathos): definition: every film with Steve Buscemi in it takes on of a certain quality or timbre of pathos, which cannot occur without [Steve]. However, because the effect is so powerful, like a black hole, no film with [Steve] can transcend or escape the resulting phenomenon.



Battle Royale (2000)
Seems almost Korean. Worth it just for the occasionally (unintentionally?) hilarious line. “I’ve always hated you. Now die.”

The sequel Battle Royale (2003) I only watched the first half.



Being John Malkovich (1999)  

Spike Jonze

This is a strange movie. But funny. And intelligent. The two funniest parts I remember are the towel ordering scene and that long sequence of John Cusack becoming the combination puppeteer/media darling in John Malkovich’s body. Did I not say it was strange? As expected, Malkovich was brilliant throughout, and the plot is completely off the wall. In fact, it may not have ever been on the wall to begin with. The film is definitely worth seeing even if it is like your older-brother Ned’s undisciplined step child. There are some extra silly parts in which I begin praying that any film students out there are not taking any notes. For example, the whole monkey thing was just stupid. Monkeys are never funny in movies and should only be used to annoy people like Darren in Bewitched. Fantastic plot elements and even loose ends are totally acceptable to this reviewer, but the movie has another, more serious problem. It becomes a bit of a tug of war between different themes that don’t exactly work in the same film. There’s the Chasing Amy three way thing, the John Malkovich thing, the first puppeteering thing where we respect the sensitive/misunderstood/artist played by John Cusack and then throw in ten minutes of Cocoon at the end for good measure. The only thing this movie didn’t have was John Cleese as a last minute villain-tourist-tightrope walker. And although Maxine was a passable if ultimately less than inspiring femme noire, I’m not sure her behavior is consistently in character. But maybe this doesn’t matter? Maybe this movie should get an additional thumb up just for the “It’s MY HEAD...It’s MY HEAD...” line, which is possibly the funniest line in any film since Renoir’s Grand Illusion when Maréchal puts on that dress and the soldier gives him that ‘you actually look pretty good look’ and he just gives him that sort of ‘quickly raised eyebrow’ look, which is not technically a line, but it’s damn funny. And I know John Malkovich, of all people, loves that scene.

At this point I would like to, for no reason, insert my favorite line and the only one I remember from Soul Man. “Get me more watermelon, bitch. And where’s my heroin needle while you’re at it white fat-ass slut.”


Dogma (1999)

This little film defines mediocrity. I only review it because you liked it. Chris Rock and Jay and Silent Bob are entertaining as usual, but they are better appreciated in their own context (e.g. Clerks, or in the case of Mr. Rock, standup comedy). Alan Richtman is always good, but his part is minimal. Linda Fiorentino is hot, but this isn’t porn, so who cares. Matt Damon has an abundance of boyish charm, but his screen presence is consistently marred by Ben Affleck, who cannot even be discussed seriously as a person, let alone an actor.



Ghost Dog (The Way of the Samurai) (1999)

Jim Jarmusch

Wow. I had heard Jim Jarmusch’s name tossed about so much over the years. I was definitely expecting more than this. It’s substantially worse than Lars Von Trier’s Dogville and may even be encroaching on territory I had once thought could only be occupied by Luc Besson’s Leon: The Professional. Imagine a Chuck Norris film without the karate action or a completely serious Kurt Russell flick. Because that’s exactly how out-of-sync this movie is. As with Dark City, anyone who wants a once-viewed copy of Ghost Dog should give me their mailing address and wait approximately three days.


The Sixth Sense (1999) I see dead movie revievers

M. Knight Sha Na Na

Good movie to rent. Quite compelling. Ending has quite a little twist like The Usual Suspects light. It’s also strangely similar to a film called Angel Heart with Mickey Rourke, whom ironically, I used to confuse with Bruce Willis. You should probably not rent Angel Heart, unless you read about it on Amazon and it seems like something you might like.


Autumn Tale (1999)  

Eric Rohmer

Yes. Yes. Yes. The nose is simple and unassuming, but the mid to late palate is as compelling and seductive as grenache can be without overwhelming. This film is a Gigondas that walks among Chateauneuf’s. Whereas Life is Beautiful is big, Autumn Tale is small in scope. It’s a tale about meeting people, falling in love or trying to fall in love, and making wine in the Rhone Valley. The dialogue is dry, understated and credible. Or perhaps that’s just the way French people are. What? The translated subtitles are fairly good with a tolerable amount of simplification (filtration). The characters are well-developed and interesting to the point you’ll feel like you’ve made several new friends [similar to Rushmore]. If you passed on this year’s Richard Gere, Julia Roberts flick, this is the movie you were saving yourself for. Fabulous QPR (quality-price-ratio) at $7.

Recommended drink: Gigondas from a good producer



The Phantom Menace (1999)

Rushmore (1999)  

Wes Anderson

Everyone I ask about this film says, “If I could make a movie, this is exactly the movie I would make.” But I learned more from this movie than the fact that my friends are all latent film makers. Rushmore brilliantly captures what high school was like for a lot of us (rich kids). This is not to say the story is very realistic, but the atmosphere is one we (formerly overprivileged children) can easily understand and enjoy. Unpredictable, interesting and very three dimensional characters abound. As for the humor, it coats the palate with amusement that goes well beyond the parking lot. In addition to clever and quotable dialogue (see below), Rushmore has another kind of humor, which plays off the viewer’s own interpretations and expections. The film takes realistic situations and moves them inconspicuously to the absurd so that you realize it too late and can only be amused and impressed.1 The attractive teacher represents the mysterious, romantic, and let’s not forget entirely doable type of woman that obsessive, sensitive boys are always wanting (not me, of course—give me Pam Anderson and her silicon valley every time). Thus, the movie is double secret effective in that you (male viewers) fall for her as well only to have healthy disillusionment when you realize, some time after you get back to your car, that these ‘beautiful, romantic’ women with deep blue eyes and British accents don’t really exist. Or if they do, you can’t have them. Nevermind that my review makes a big deal of this one aspect of the film. There are several other equally axiomatic relationships between other characters. Finally, Bill Murray does a fine job in his supporting role, and Max is played well by a talented young actor, who’s actually a real person off-screen. You don’t need to read Roger Ebert’s review except that he makes an interesting comparison between Max and Charles Foster Kane. And that’s why he gets the big bucks and a syndicated column, whereas I get to pay an internet service provider, so I can publish these reviews. It’s not that I can’t afford it, but the shame, the shame. [probation] [the shit] [bag of cocaine]

1 Needs example.

2 Need examples.



Wing Commander (1999)

Oops.



Dark City (1998) 

Alex Proyas

Fuck Roger Ebert. He was never going to acknowledge my site anyway, so I have no reason to kiss up. This is the first DVD I regret buying. I don’t buy a lot of films sight unseen unless they’re on the Criterion Collection (not counting ‘Chasing Amy’ ‘Armageddon’ or ‘Traffic’). But I made an exception for Dark City because I had heard Roger Ebert talk it up like it was the coolest thing since Metropolis. It was not the coolest thing since Metropolis. It started off promisingly, but ended up a combination of Batman, The Truman Show and Flatliners all trying to be Hellraiser. It was moderately entertaining, but less than the sum of its parts, especially Hellraiser. It’s a rental all the way. Fuck Roger Ebert. I think Gene Siskel could do a better job from his grave, although I’ve heard otherwise. If anyone wants a Dark City DVD, you can send me email from the contact page.


Life Is Beautiful, Really (1998) 

This film really loved me. It reminds me of Cinema Paradiso with the two themes of paternal sacrifice and massive viewer crying. It’s a bit more conventional or straightforward in terms of plot, but both movies leave you with deep feelings of joy and sadness and a desire to go forth and appreciate your own life more. Don’t let the film’s commercial success take away from your enjoyment of Brittney Spears’ or her nipple. One thumb up. Rest in peace.


Fallen Angels (1998)

Wong Kar-Wai

Alas, what can I say about Fallen Angels? One sub-plot is about a callous young assassin who is constantly being followed around by really cool music. The other is a perfectly/overly sentimental story about a guy who is energetic, likeable and mute. Both he, the assassin and their women are troubled. Come to think of it, everyone in this film is troubled and with them do we sympathize. If you have a problem with having your strings pulled or sympathizing in general, then you might not like this film. But if you don’t mind that, you’re in luck, because this is artful sentimentality at its finest. Each sub-plot will appeal to the ostensibly disparate sides of your personality. It’s like having a beef and vegetarian taco on the same platter or making love to your wife and mistress at the same time. Chinese reggae. I for one love dining out with Hong Kong Wong. At first I was attracted to the sultry women and violence, but later I came to think more about the mushy stuff. Sex, violence, mushy stuff—what’s the connection?


Chasing Amy(1997)

Kevin Smith Most argued about Criterion Collection selection after Armaggeden (1998).



The Fifth Element(1997)

Luc Besson Silly. Spectacular. Not as edgy as Total Recall.



Your Friends and Neighbors (1997)  

Why are the worst directors always the most prolific? The opening credits roll by to a wonderful Metallica song rendered in classical style (a la Kronos Quartet). Luckily, I was munching on puffed corn kernels in a boerre blanc sauce, so everything was okay. The film is downhill from there. You can substitute the review for Happiness minus the pedophilia, not that there isn’t plenty of shock for shock’s sake here too. It’s also not quite as annoying as Happiness and has a more straightforward plot. Complicated plots are the sheep’s milk of cinema. They can result in some of the most wonderful (The Usual Suspects) and hideous products. Actually, the complexity of Happiness leaves the door open for people to call it art. Nobody in their right mind can call Your Friends and Neighbors art. The characters are all annoyingly neurotic with few redeeming qualities. So by the end of the movie, one just doesn’t care what happens. In fact, I can’t even remember what happened. Anyway, don’t bother with this movie.



12 Monkeys (1995)

Terry Gilliam

Terry Gilliam films are always too long. But fine. It’s not bad. As far as Bruce Willis Science Fiction goes it’s certainly not as bad as The Fifth Element (1997). Yikes. If that’s your favorite film on your dating website profile then we’re not dating. What 12 Monkeys does do, however, is give us a chance to talk about Lebbeus Woods. Google Terry Gilliam and Lebbeus Woods. Just do it. Good times. Obviously I have nothing important to say about this film. Brad Pitt overacts (Blame Gilliam for letting him? Blame Brad Pitt’s parents? Blame yourself, somehow?) And Bruce Willis is just a terrible great actor who should only be in Hollywoodblockbusters. Why is Gilliam so insistent on using big name actors? Heath Ledger in Parnassus (2009)? And so on. Many great directors use big name actors, and this is fine. But the question which is not clearly answered for me is whether Gilliam’s films could be better without these actors? I’m not sure that “just because you can” is a good enough reason, if you’re Gilliam.



Judge Dredd (1995)
As bad as you think. Don’t question my viewing choices.



The Crow (1994)

Alex Proyas

Alex Proyas is tedious and not that great. But the film has Bruce Lee’s son in it. So that’s historical.



True Lies (1994)

James Cameron

Pretty standard Hollywood fare.



Shallow Grave (1994)

Danny Boyle

Ewan McGregor’s dialogue is so Trainspotting voiceover-like that that to may as well be a descriptor. Speaking of Ewan McGregor, Christopher Eccleston is great and that’s why I watched this in the first place. As well as Criterion, which yes, this film should definitely be. This film is great for just listening to while you do something else. You can watch the first portion and get a sense of the visual. Once you know the characters the film becomes like a play where plot and sound are enough and the visual is unnecessary. Not that many films can function as either audio alone or audio/visual both with equal aplomb. So that makes this film useful right there. Although Danny Boyle talks a lot about the visual aspects of the film in his commentary so maybe you should watch it. I just want to emphasize the sound is what takes this film to a higher level and out of its time as well. It becomes a timeless play, like tragic comedy, which you pop in and it happens all over again, right there on your screen or set box, and not somewhere else far away.



Vanya on 42nd Street (1994)

Louis Malle

Seems like it should be a sequel to My Dinner With Andre (1981). In some ways it is, but in other ways it's not. I would say if you loved My Dinner, then see this one. If not, then skip. I don't think it should be seen as stand-alone by itself.



Jennifer 8 (1992)

Bruce Robinson

Such a strange, awkward film. Moody. Is this early 90s film style acting like mid 80s film style or late 80’s film style impersonating an early 90s film? Spooky film. (Guy from Jaws is always spooky). John Malkovich’s role in this film anticipates the Goren (Vincent D’Onofrio) from “Law and Order Criminal Intent”. This reminded me of Nighthawks (1981) with Sylvester Stallone and Rutger Hauer.



Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

James Cameron

I forgot how annoying, and dated, this film is. So much potential. Such a great story. So inferior to the original. Still an action packed and not boring film. Just has some horribly bad acting and dumb parts in between good action sequences. Introns and exons. If not for the original this film would be useless.



10 to Midnight(1983)
Stupid but typical revenge film from the 80s with Charlie Bronson.



Pauline at the Beach (1983)
Yup. Just what you expect from Eric Rohmer. It's not stupid.



My Dinner With Andre (1981)

Louis Malle

This is just a great film. Is amazingly powerful. And Roger Ebert was dead right in his lavish praise for this film. Two people having a dinner conversation as a plot conceit? It works. Has a tension like Hitchock’s Rope (1948), but is in many ways totally different than that. The film thrusts you into an awkward situation from the start and we are forced, through expert technique by Malle, to endure every possible anxiety with “eyes completely open.” There is no escaping from the reality at hand. And yet as the film progresses, initial anxiety gives over to a more honest and unfiltered participation in what seems as authentic and searching a  conversation as any two actors could have on film. Now I need to go see Rope. Dammit.



The Long Good Friday (1980)
Yes this is like the alternate universe UK version of Cassavetes’ Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976). Seriously. See both. Know what I mean. I know what I mean. Good film. Solid. Fits right in its era.



Mon Oncle d’Amerique (1980)

Alan Resnais

It’s entertaining, disjointed, and long. Like F for Fake by Orson Welles. Is it as good as that? Ending reminds of Andrei Rublev in form/technique.



Overlord (1975)
We follow the path of a young British boy recruited into service in World War II. Aspects of the film seem to share some common themes with Full Metal Jacket (1987), but the tone is entirely different. Very nice, soft, in fact beautiful black and white film footage is matched perfectly with the gentle demeanor of our main character. The most important thing about this film, I believe, is the very consistent tone. The intercut archival war footage, might be expected to make the film suffer from disjointedness or interrupted plot, but it doesn’t. This is the beauty. The editing is done so that the final effect is like a trance or long poem rather than a usual movie. Therefore, the full effect of this film is not yet known to me. It will take some time. It will happen in flashbacks and comparisons, which will become necessary. Instead of comparing this film to Full Metal Jacket, however, I would recommend comparing it with Tarkovsky’s Mirror (1973).



Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974)

Rainer Werner Fassbinder

This is a great film. Like so many films by Bergman, Cassavetes, and other Fassbinder films, Ali is exquisitely painful and nourishing at once. Counterpoint to Cassavetes’ Woman Under The Influence.



Le Grand Amour (1969)

Pierre Etaix

Where has Pierre Etaix been hiding all my life. Filmmaking reminds me of Bunuel in technique, particularly the surrealist sequences. The morality and character study is more like Bunuel and perhaps Alan Resnais, I would think, and less didactic, ponderous or overly philosophical than Eric Rohmer or Jean-Luc Godard. Etaix doesn’t rely on dialogue or quotations as much as simply providing a window into the desires and thoughts of the characters. In addition, Etaix uses a technique found in Jacques Tati works, which is the element of visual surprise, which I suppose is in service of the narrative, but regardless is pure pleasure to watch. Objects become animated and seem to have a mind of their own, often moving suddenly to a subtly dramatic effect. In Tati this would be any number of items, usually man-made symbols of progress serving to thwart or frustrate the protagonist and generate a sort of commentary on the world depicted. In the case of Etaix these things do not themselves tell the story, but rather they provide accent and color as the inner thoughts of characters are illustrated. So it’s different from Tati, but there is a commonality there in visual technique.

None of the above is meant to say Etaix is at all derivative of those other directors, but simply to give some sense of what to expect, to the uninitiated, which was myself until recently. It is my hope others will be encouraged to seek out these films, and report back.

By the way, the dream sequence involving the beds on the road had me laughing harder than I’ve laughed in a long time. That alone is worth the bother. People can probably point to things in Etaix and be critical, but he is funny. This is not in question. There are some moments in this particular film which are absurdly amusing.

Concern: Is Etaix possibly restricted in the universality because the viewpoint is too limited to Etaix’ own personal experience, anxieties, desires. I wonder if this diminishes the impact on some audiences, which do not personally identify.



The Immortal Story (1968)

Orson Welles

Wow. I am so happy to have seen this film. Don’t listen to me about it. Just see it. ASAP.



Daisies (1966)

V?ra Chytilová

People have called the film “absurdist” and “anarchic” and “feminist”. How about just awful? This film is painfully annoying. I saw it because it was in my Hulu+ queue. It was in my queue because people said it was “a milestone in the Czech feminist movement.” It’s two young girls playing with food for an hour. It’s really that pointless. There are a few visually interesting moments. I was fast forwarding by the end. I kept watching in the hopes there would be some meaning. But it never happened.



Repulsion (1965)

Roman Polanski

The following I read online: “Repulsion is widely considered a classic of the psychological thriller genre…Film critic Bosley Crowther of The New York Times gave the film a positive review stating, “An absolute knockout of a movie in the psychological horror line has been accomplished by Roman Polanski in his first English-language film.”

I agree with the above and would add that this film has Catherine Deneuve. Also, Polanski must be given credit for making a solid psychological thriller. This must be a very difficult genre to work in because the films are either riveting or completely awful. There’s just no room for error in this genre. So give Polanski proper respect. I think Kubrick must have lurnt a thing or two from the Roman.



Onibaba (1964)

Kaneto Shindô

It’s good. Visually it will remind of so many contemporary Japanese late feudal Japan period films. Maybe you will want to compare with Woman of the Dunes (1964)? It’s kind of a psychological thriller/cautionary tale. In purely thematic terms, perhaps even Virgin Spring by Ingmar Bergman might be worth comparing. Kwaidan is right out. Don’t compare to Kwaidan. This film has more in common with Roman Polanski than Kwaidan. Ha!



Topkapi (1963)

Jules Dassin

Not nearly as compelling or suspenseful as other Dassin films, Thieves Highway or Open City. Still I enjoyed the backdrop of Istanbul. The film looks great, in other words. And is the typical Technicolor travelogue we get from these old big tent films, which are from “an era” and from the perspective of “the other”. Jean Renoir’s The River comes to mind. Black Narcissus. Others. The plot drags on a bit, however. Peter Ustinov is worth noting for his ubiquity.



The Trial (1963)

Orson Welles

Just watched again. Film just keeps getting better and better. Long live Orson Welles.



Mamma Roma (1962)

Pier Paolo Pasolini

Just finished Mamma Roma. Wow that's a good movie. Been watching it over 3 months. I grind slow but I grind fine. Anyway, wow that's a good movie. Wow.







The Trial of Joan of Arc (1962)

Robert Bresson

Stands out from other Bresson films at the least because the film seems to have more dialogue, and the subtitles come fast and furious. This may seem trivial, but I would be careful about seeing this in the cinema if I didn’t comprehend French fluently. I had my finger on the pause button constantly. In other news, it’s a rewarding film. Powerful as expected. My finger hurts.



Il Posto (1961)

Ermanno Olmi

What a great film. I love it. Starts out being a coming of age plot, but by the end is about so much more. Starts out being about the “job for life” which is at the center of so much discussion in most European countries. And by the end is about so much more. In fact this film is just about more from the beginning, middle and end. The energy and anticipation of job-seeking is so well represented. Young lead reminds me of a more recent film Submarine (2010) by Richard Ayoade. Similar disposition and even striking resemblance.

“The face of the lead is everything. It says everything.” –Ermanno Olmi The shared adventure of youthful detourism is exhilarating. Adventurous “day in the life” quality similar to Agnes Varda’s Cleo from 5 to 7.

So much is conveyed visually both in foreground, through subtle character actions and nonverbal gestures, and background with documentary-like backdrop and scene setting to create a moving visual tapestry. This is truly exquisite filmmaking which transcends/succeeds Italian neo-realism.



Victim (1961)
Good British film. Americans made 12 Angry Men (1957), a film about twelve angry men. The British made this. The politics of this film is not just ahead of its time. It’s ahead of our time. Last night the Rolling Stones played Glastonbury for the first time ever.



The Apartment (1960)

Billy Wilder

This film would be very much diminished on a small screen. The most interesting thing about this film is not the story or plot, which I can soon forget, but the visual tapestry. The inside of the apartment itself becomes somewhat of a major character. The bathroom, the medicine cabinet, the bedroom, the kitchen, the hallways. As for plot it’s exactly what you might suppose a drama-comedy starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine might be like. Retrospectively relies on all the clichés about climbing the corporate ladder, everyone is having an affair (and by everyone I just mean men because women are objects), neighbors are nosy but only because deep down they care. Waiters don’t judge they just want the tip. And HBO’s “Mad Men” is no longer necessary. It’s a good film but it’s too long and has to be viewed over two nights. And if not on a big screen don’t bother.



India Matri Bhumi(1959)

Roberto Rosselini

This is one of the most beautiful films I've ever seen. Pure pleasure to watch. Absolute pleasure. I was totally not expected this film.



12 Angry Men (1957)

Sydney Lumet

Solid solid film. Drama. Suspense. A room full of jurors go at it. That's pretty much it. Pretty simple. But these are some great actors and the dialogue is just solid.

Now this film I also saw twice. Again, because I forgot I’d already seen it until well into it. This could be brain rot or maybe this is what happens to people as they age. I don’t know what to do about this problem. Anyway, it’s fine. I mean that I saw this film again. It’s gritty and good, and in black and white. As a time capsule for looking into another world, in point of fact New York City, but it’s not the same New York City of today, so it’s somewhat irrelevant where it is. It’s just The Big City. But for me it doesn’t have the same degree of tension and urgency of Thieves Highway (1949) (also Jules Dassin), which I rate higher. It’s better than Law and Order, I can guarantee you that.



A Kid For Two Farthings (1955)

Carol Reed

So besides The Third Man (1949), I had no idea what Carol Reed had done. Except Night Train to Munich (1940), which I saw a while ago. People said it’s similar to an Alfred Hitchcock. I suppose I should see it again. So A Kid For Two Farthings has a kind of a family plot or neighborhood plot more like. The fact that it’s all shot in a London studio is completely obvious. And great. It furthers a special kind of atmosphere, which seems to happen most in film noir, except this is in Technicolor. So that’s even better. A Technicolor film noir. The film has plenty of bad acting. In fact all the acting is overdone and again, that’s just fine. I don’t know if this is on purpose or not and it doesn’t matter. So this would be an ordinary B-movie except the atmosphere transcends. There is a kind of suspenseful ominous tone throughout the film which seems to have more in common with Touch of Evil (1958), which was made by Orson Welles and not Carol Reed. I still have no idea what a farthing is.

Other Carol Reed films I haven’t seen:

House of Bamboo(1955)

Samuel Fuller

Better than it should have been. Because Samuel Fuller is great.



Hobson’s Choice (1954)

David Lean

At first I noticed how beautiful the restored black and white film really is. And it really is beautiful to look at. Then I got bored of Charles Laughton’s character. Then he grew on me. Then I still wasn’t sure. And finally, by the end, I was glad I’d seen the film. It’s just a nutritious and serious film. Has a very typical David Lean epic quality to it where you feel you really get to know the characters. I don’t want to summarize the plot at all. It’s about a bootmaker patriarch and his three daughters, marriage, and the idea of partnership. I will try to come back here later with something meaningful to say about the plot of this film. Visually it musn’t be questioned. Historically, as a period film, it seems to have as much resonance as any other first rate drama such as Citizen Kane or Young Mr Lincoln. It’s not too long. It’s a straight realist film with a plot which could work in a theatre as a play.



The Browning Version (1951)

Anthony Asquith

Is this film darker than other Asquith films? Maybe I’m just ignorant. Film had a dramatic tension better than your average play. Definitely watch this through to the end. I’m not sure how much I buy the story but the characters are so well drawn and compelling it doesn’t matter.



Sanshiro Sugata (1943)

Others have probably discussed technical issues with this film’s restoration. We could talk about cinematics in terms of Kurosawa’s career arc, but let’s not. The ending reminded me a little of Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), where you have a duel take place between hero and baddie. Questions like, “Should we have to fight to the death for honor?” anticipate so many other films and quotes from films to follow. “If I’m gonna get my balls blown off for a word, my word is pun tang.” (Full Metal Jacket, 1987) This film has a notably more optimistic view of humanity, redemption as opposed to revenge, than the more hard-boiled reposts which come quickly to mind by the likes of Kubrick, Leone, Takeshi Kitano, and Kurosawa himself, later. [spoiler] After the duel, you could ask, but are no at all surprised, why the hero is so determined to not stay behind with the love interest. [/spoiler] If you are a fan of Kurosawa, I agree with the assertion by the Eclipse people this film is worth seeing.



L’assassin habite au 21 (1942)

Henry-Georges Clouzot

It kind of has an obvious dark humor or satire to it which is funny but overall it’s not as intense and gripping as some of Clouzot’s later films. It’s almost like the film is pulling punches. That all said. It’s still Clouzot. And it must be watched. And enjoyed.



Visiteurs du Soir, Les (1942)

Marcel Carne

Awesome. Feeling similar to Children of Paradise, especially in the first half. By the end the story seems to have taken a slight wayward turn or else I just wasn’t paying as close attention. So in that sense the film doesn’t seem quite as tight as Children. Will definitely try another Marcel Carne film. Still shots are fairy-tale like and on level with Orson Welles or Jean Cocteau.



21 Days(1940)

Basil Dean

Is compelling because Lawrence Olivier is just so good. The hat tip move among other gestures are just so good. Maybe I’m jumping on the band wagon. Anyway that’s my story. The bulk of the film is otherwise somewhat forgettable. The plot is about a somewhat irresponsible young guy trying to make the most of his borrowed time (21 days) with his girlfriend/fiancée (it wasn’t clear or I can’t remember). Anyway the love story didn’t compel me as much as that in, let’s say, The Year of Living Dangerously.



Q Planes (Clouds Over Europe) (1939)

Arthur B. Woods, Tim Whelan

This was very entertaining but I didn’t find too much depth of character. But that is not to say the characters weren’t interesting. Just not much depth or back story (implied or other). Dialogue less memorable than a Preston Sturges film. On the plus side, Lawrence Olivier.



Young Mr. Lincoln (1939)

John Ford

Propaganda. Good propaganda. But propaganda nonetheless. I felt it was my responsibility to see a John Ford film so I would know what Manny Farber means when he refers to them. For a better morality lesson from Henry Fonda I would recommend instead Sydney Lumet’s Twelve Angry Men. This is not Jean Renoir.



Zero de Conduite (1933)

Jean Vigo

I was blown away by this film. It’s taken cinema 80 years to not achieve this much.

Diary of a Lost Girl (1929)

G.W. Pabst

I saw Diary of a Lost Girl for the first time (the old Pabst film?) // wow // very long isn’t it? But good. These old German films (silent and otherwise) by these old timers? Are really something else aren’t they? And by something else I mean they are literally “something else”. I can’t even compare them to other films. They are so different in so many ways. The threads connecting them with other more familiar, more recent cinema cover such a span of time, surely. That my ignorance leaves me perplexed. Delighted of course. Because these are masterpieces, surely. There is such wonder. The cinematics in purely visual terms. and timeline terms. Pacing. etc. but also the content. The “other worldly” of 20s German society coming directly through as though it were a time capsule.

These “very old” films. For me. Are a good mix of work and pleasure. It really does take effort and concentration to view them. But there is much payoff. I think. Both spiritually and intellectually for the undertaking. I need to see all of these old silent films wth. Why have I not done this? My experience sofar with the Germans is they all seem to rely on a great deal of suspense. They are so tight. Like a jack-in-the-box tight. The absence of spoken word is entirely irrelevant insomuch as it takes nothing away. Just different.




Movies You Should Rent                 Cereals You Should Eat                 People You Should
Free Advice: Take that movie review and-

Below are a list of films I have seen and can vouch for their greatness. They can be flawed, even heavily, but still they must have enough greatness in them either in part or in whole in order to make this list. When it says “Try one film by Director X,” that means this is a director with a very peculiar (often disturbing) style which will appeal to some and not others. I can accept someone saying, “I just don’t like Peter Greenaway.” That’s okay. If you were to say, “I just don’t like Renoir.” Then I would say you need medication. So I say “Try one” and see if you like it. You will definitely have a reaction. Finally, please come back now and then as the list is always growing. I am always searching for new films, new directors and newer ways of “organizing” the list. Oh, and please don’t hesitate to write me with suggestions, arguments, laments, questions, or just to tell me nice things. This way of “discussing” will hopeful help us toward greater understanding of both the films and each other.

[D] means link to Amazon so you can get technical specs on it, etc. I may at some point make little [N]’s for Netflix, but we’ll see. [cb] are my little comments. [essays] are essays which I think are not bad, although they are really meant to be read after you’ve seen a film, not before. [other] could be a sound clip, still, or video clip from the film or some extra from a disc or some other little flash thing I may have made from the source material (because I could not prevent myself from doing so; believe me, I wish I could). These are again generally for after you’ve seen a film to help further your enjoyment. If you do not see a film which surely should be on here, do not despair. That simply means either I (or Criterion) just haven’t gotten to it yet (alors). In time. Everything in time.



Three Kinds Of Movies

1) First, there is plain and simple exposition. These are the films where the story basically tells itself. Many documentaries fall into this category as well as films like The Harder They Come. A great film, but who made it? I don’t know either. This type of film is like good journalism. The stories you remember, not who writes them.

2) Then, there is the heavy-handed, flagrantly crafted film. This is Kubrick and Godard and company. It’s all about the style. These are the visual artists for whom composition is king. These are the guys who made films in black and white long after there was color. They don’t make music, but they know how to use it. They can take some good visuals, and mix them with bits of themes and dialogue, drama and movement, and put it in your brain like an addiction. Wong Kar-Wai is kind of one of these.

3) The third type of film is the combination of the first two, mixing selfless exposition with visual splendor. They are some of the best films of all, and yet oddly, rarely seem to emerge outside of serious film circles. These are films which contain both stylistic genius as well as solid fundamental truth. Kenji Mizoguchi’s Ugetsu comes to mind. Andrei Tarkovsky’s Mirror is equal part truth and pure visual poetry. And it’s barely available on DVD from Kino. Andrei Rublev is one of the greatest film ever made. It’s unassailable. It’s available on Criterion. But have you seen it? Jean Renoir’s Rules of the Game breaks all the rules without breaking any. That one you’ve heard of? Come on? Yasujiro Ozu’s Tokyo Story only just came out on DVD. This world is a joke. I was born, but...

The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) [D]

Films by Jean Renoir

Boudu Saved From Drowning (1932) [D] [simon]
La Grand Illusion (1938) [D]
Rules of the Game (1939) [D] [cb] [mekas]
Diary of a Chambermaid (1946) [V] [timeout]
The River (1951) [D]
French Cancan (1955) [D] [cb] [interview]
Elena and Her Men (1956) [D]
Films by Henri-Georges Clouzot
Le Corbeau (1943) [D] [timeout]
Quai Des Orfèvres (1948) [D] [tostitos lime]
Wages of Fear (1953) [D] [cb] [criterion] [timeout]
Diaboliques, Les (1954) [D] [cb] [criterion] [timeout] [scoopy]
The Mystery of Picasso (1956) [D] [timeout] [trailer]
Films by Jacques Becker
Casque d’Or (1952) [D] [cb] [timeout]
Touchez Pas Au Grisbi (1960) [D] [ebert] [title] [timeout]
Le Trou (1960) [D]
Films by Robert Bresson [creeley] [gorlitz]
Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne (1945) [D] [timeout]
Diary of a Country Priest (1954) [D]
A Man Escaped (1957) [D] [cb]
Pickpocket (1959) [D] [cb] [ebert] [interview]
Au Hasard Balthazar (1966) [D]
Mouchette (1967) [D] [interview]

A Gentle Woman (1969) [D]
Lancelot of the Lake (1974) [D] [cb] [courtly love]
L’Argent (1983) [D] [cb]
Films by Jean-Luc Godard
Breathless (1961) [D]
A Woman Is A Woman (1961) [D] [criterion] [tim's blog] [timeout] [that book scene]
My Life To Live (1962) [D]
Band of Outsiders (1964) [D] [criterion] [the madison]
Contempt (1964) [D] [cb] [trailer] [criterion] [flash]
Alphaville (1965) [D] [cb] [criterion] [sarris] [todd] [natasha] [natasha]
Masculin, Feminin (1966) [D] [timeout]
Pierre Le Fou (1969) [D]
In Praise of Love [at the bookshop]
Films by François Truffaut [book]
The 400 Blows (1959) [D]
Shoot the Piano Player (1960) [D]
Jules et Jim (1962) [D]
Stolen Kisses (1969) [D]
Bed and Board (1970) [D]
Love on the Run (1979) [D]
Jules Dassin Films
Thieve’s Highway (1946) [D] [cb]
Night and the City (1950) [D]
Rififi (1955) [D]
Films by Luis Buñuel [interview]
Un Chien Andalou (1928) [D] [ubu]
L'Âge d'Or (1930) [D]
Diary of a Chambermaid (1965) [D] [timeout]
Belle De Jour (1968) [D] [ebert]
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972) [D] [cb] [criterion] [the Buñuel martini] [i shit on your entire army]
Phantom Of Liberty (1974) [D] [cb]
That Obscure Object of Desire (1977) [D] [essay]
Films by Bertrand Tavernier
The Clockmaker (1976) [D] [cb] [shake my hand] [burning car]
Coup de Torchon (1981) [D] [criterion]
A Sunday in the Country (1984) [D] [cb] [ebert] [painting]
Films by Louis Malle
Murmur of the Heart (1971) [D]
Lacombe, Lucien (1974) [D]
Aur Revoir Les Enfants (1987) [D]
Other French Films
L’Atalante (1934) [D] [papa jules] [timeout] [rosenbaum] [ebert]
Port of Shadows (1939) [D] [cb]
Children of Paradise (1946) [D] [cb] [criterion]
Orpheus (1950) [D] [cocteau] [senses]
Bob Le Flambeur (1955) [D] [cb] [timeout]
Black Orpheus (1958) [D] [cb] [essay] [timeout] [trailer]
Cleo From 5 to 7 (1962) [D]
Le Cercle Rouge (1970) [cb] [D]
Try one Jacques Tati: Mr Hulot’s Holiday (1953) [D], Playtime (1973) [D] [cb] [timeout]
Try one Eric Rohmer: My Night At Maud’s (1970) [D] [cb] [in the street], Claire’s Knee (1971) [D], Chloe in the Afternoon (1972) [D], Autumn Tale (1998) [D] [cb] [kent jones on rohmer]
De Sica Films
Shoeshine (1947)
The Bicycle Thief (1949) [D] [cb] [ebert] [timeout]
Umberto D (1955) [D] [timeout]
Antonioni Films
L’Avventura (1961) [D] [cb] [criterion] [timeout] [essay] [sweet site]
La Notte (1961) [D] [long pauses]
Il Grido (1962) [D]
Eclipse (1962) [D]
Red Desert (1965) [D]
Blow Up (1966) [D] [timeout] [Blow Up Your .AVI]
Fellini Films
Top 10 Films of All Time
The Rules Of The Game * 2001: A Space Oddysey * Stalker * Contempt * My Life to Live * 8 ½ * Kwaidan * Wild Strawberries * The Magnificent Ambersons * Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie * The Wild Bunch
La Strada (1954) [D]
I Vitelloni (1956) [D]
Nights of Cabiria (1957) [D] [ebert]
La Dolce Vita (1959) [D] [ebert]
Eight and a Half (1962) [D] [cb] [books] [comments] [saraghina] [in the bathroom] [in the bathroom]
Juliet of the Spirits (1965) [D] [criterion]
Amarcord (1974) [D] [criterion] [puffballs]
Try One Pasolini Film: Accattone (1961) [D], The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964) [D], Mamma Roma (1962) [D], ?Salo (1975)

Other Italian Films
Il Posto (1961) [D]
I Fidanzati (1963) [D]
Cinema Paradiso (1989) [D] [explain]
Il Postino (1995) [D]
Big Night (1996) [D] [soundtrack] [silly]
Most Hitchock Movies [hitchbooks]
The 39 Steps (1935) [D]
The Lady Vanishes (1938) [D] [cb]
Rebecca (1940) [D]
Shadow of a Doubt (1943) [D]
Notorious (1946) [D]
Rope (1948) [D]
Rear Window (1954) [D] [poster]
The Trouble With Harry (1955) [D] [pretty mother]
To Catch A Thief (1955) [D]
Vertigo (1958) [D]
North by Northwest (1959) [D]
Psycho (1960) [D]
The Birds (1963) [D]

Other Hitchcock’s: Blackmail (1929), Murder! (1930), Rich and Strange (1932), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), Sabotage (1936), Secret Agent (1936), Young and Innocent (1937), Jamaica Inn (1939), Foreign Correspondent (1940), Mr. and Mrs. Smith (1941), Suspicion (1941), Saboteur (1942), Lifeboat (1944), Spellbound (1945), The Paradine Case (1947), Under Capricorn (1949), Stage Fright (1950), Strangers on a Train (1951), I Confess (1953), Dial M for Murder (1954), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), The Wrong Man (1956), Torn Curtain (1966), Topaz (1969), Frenzy (1972), Family Plot (1976).
Powell and Pressburger Films
The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1945) [D] [cb]
Black Narcissus (1947) [D] [cb]
The Red Shoes (1948) [D]
The Tales of Hoffmann (1952) [D] [timeout]
Films by or containing Orson Welles
Citizen Kane (1941) [D] [poster]
The Magnificent Amberson’s (1942) [V]
The Lady from Shanghai (1947)
The Third Man (1950) [D] [cb]
Touch of Evil (1958) [D] [touch of prufrock] [ebert] [opening shot] [i am the one talking behind the camera]
The Trial (1963) [D] [cb]
F for Fake (1974) [D] [cb]
Top 10 Films of All Time
Andrei Rublev * The Mirror * Tokyo Story * Boudu Saved from Drowning * L’Avventura * La Grand Illusion * Children of Paradise * Seven Samurai * Citizen Kane * Monty Python’s Life of Brian * Once Upon a Time in the West
Stanley Kubrick Films [collection] [1] [2] [3]
Day of the Fight (1951)
Fear and Desire (1953)
Killer’s Kiss (1955)
The Killing (1956) [D]
Paths of Glory (1957) [D]
Spartacus (1960) [D] [timeout]
Lolita (1962) [D]
Dr. Strangelove (1964) [D] [cb] [war room] [war room] [yahoo]
2001: A Space Oddysey (1968) [website] [mind is going] [daisy]
A Clockwork Orange (1971) [D] [sounds] [the post-corrective school]
Barry Lyndon (1975) [D] [cb]
The Shining (1980) [D] [VW Fox] [cb] [timeout] [very definite ideas] [i think] [trailer] [the gold room]
Full Metal Jacket (1987) [D] [cb]

Yasujiro Ozu [more]
I Was Born, But... (1932) [V]
A Story of Floating Weeds (1934) [V]
Tokyo Story (1953) [D] [kevin lee]
Floating Weeds (1959) [V]
Good Morning (1962) [D] [cb] [rosenbaum] [screw that] [charles moore]
Akira Kurosawa

Top 10 Films of All Time
A Man Escaped * Wages of Fear * Kwaidan * La Dolce Vita * Solaris * The Good, The Bad, The Ugly * The Godfather * Fitzcarraldo * That Obscure Object of Desire * M
Seven Samurai (1956) [D] [essay]
Rashomon (1958) [D] [discuss]
The Hidden Fortress (1958) [D] [cb]
Throne Of Blood (1961) [D]
Yojimbo (1961) [D]
Sanjuro (1962) [D] [trailer]
Dersu Uzala (1974) [D] [filmref]
Kagemusha (1980) [D]
Ran (1985) [cb] [D] [filmref]
Seijun Suzuki [senses of cinema] [deep focus]
Tokyo Drifter (1966) [D]
Branded To Kill (1967) [D] [cb] [slap1] [slap2]
Other Suzuki Films: Youth of the Beast (1963) [D], Gate of Flesh (1964) [D], Story of a Prostitute (1965) [D], Fighting Elegy (1966) [D]

Other Japanese Films
How anyone could see the body of Japanese films, and not fall in love with this country is...well anyway, in order to get the most out of the body of "samurai" films, I think it might help to contextualize yourself by concomintantly watching some of the many wonderful documentaries available on the topic. [D] [D]

Ugetsu (1954) [D] [cb]
Harakiri (1963) [D]
Kwaidan (1965) [D] [trailer] [the earless]
Samurai Spy (1965) [D]
Sword of the Beast (1965) [D] [macias] [share my hatred]
Sword of Doom (1965) [D] [cb]
Samurai Rebellion (1967) [D]
Kill! (1968) [D] [cb]
Tampopo (1986) [D] [cb]
Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman (2004) [D] [cb]
Werner Herzog Films
Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1973) [D]
The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (1974) [D] [cb] [cambodia]
Stroszek (1977) [D] [the banker] [a bird] [quiet bird]
Fitzcarraldo (1982) [D] [cb] [an email] [a bird] [a dilemma]
Other Herzog Films: Woyzek (1976)
Try one Fassbinder film: The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972) [D], Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974) [D], The Stationmaster’s Wife (1977) [D], Lola (1981) [D], The Marriage of Maria Braun (1982) [D] [cb], Veronika Voss (1982) [D], more

Other German Films
M (1933) [D] [cb] [ebert]
The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum (1975) [D] [cb]
Some British Films
Withnail and I (1987) [D] [cb] [timeout]

Try one of the following (these are dramas; they are about acting, emotion, to be subconsciously consumed): Mona Lisa (1986) [D], Naked (1994) [D] [cb]
Peter Weir Films
Picnic At Hanging Rock (1975) [D] [trailer]
The Last Wave (1979) [D] [timeout] [parking] [parking]
The Year of Living Dangerously (1983) [D] [timeout]
Nicolas Roeg Films
Walkabout (1971) [D]
The Man Who Fell To Earth (1977) [D] [timeout]
Bad Timing (1980) [D]
John Cassavetes Films
Shadows (1959) [D]
Faces (1968) [D]
Woman Under the Influence (1974) [D]
The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976) [D]
Try one Sam Fuller: Shock Corridor (1963) [D], The Naked Kiss (1964) [D] [cb]
Try one Robert Altman: M.A.S.H. (1970), McCabe and Ms. Miller (1971), Nashville (1975)
Try one Krzysztof Kieslowski: The Double Life of Véronique (1991) [D], Blind Chance (1987) [D]
Try one Roman Polanski: Knife in the Water (1962) [cb] [D]
Try one Peter Greenaway: The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1990) [D]
Try one David Lynch: Eraserhead (1976) [D], Blue Velvet (1986) [D]

Films by Lynne Ramsay
Ratcatcher (2000) [D] [music] [music]
Morvern Callar (2002) [D]
My People Have Suffered Now So Will You

Andrei Tarkovsky Films [more]
The Steamroller and the Violin (1962) [D]
My Name Is Ivan (1963) [D]
Andrei Rublev (1966) [D] [j hoberman] [scoopy] [jester] [sack of vladimir] [skinflint]
The Mirror (1974) [D] [cb] [cb] [filmref] [timeout] [speak loudly and clearly]
Solaris (1979) [D] [stanislaw lem]
Stalker (1979) [D] [car scene] [beach with telephone]
Nostalghia (1983) [D] [tim (i think)] [nostalgia]
The Sacrifice (1986) [D] [cb]
Top 10 Films of All Time
M * The 7th Seal * Lancelot of the Lake * Ran * Ugetsu * The Shining * Amarcord * Blade Runner * The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser * L’Atalante
I Have Suffered Now So Will You

Ingmar Bergman Films

He knows I’m only kidding. Ingmar Bergman is the only known film director to have punched a critic for giving him a bad review.
Wild Strawberries (1957) [D] [criterion]
The Seventh Seal (1958) [D] [cb]
Through A Glass Darkly (1961) [D] [cb]
Winter Light (1962) [D]
The Silence (1962) [D] [cb]
Persona (1967) [D]
Cries And Whispers (1972) [D] [cb] [long pauses] [1] [2] [3]
The Magic Flute (1975) [D]
Autumn Sonata (1978) [D]
You Have Suffered Enough, Now Just Relax And Soak In These Music Videos

Wong Kar-Wai Films
Days of Being Wild (1991) [D] [cb] [water train: fyi, this is it, this is one of THE moments in cinema]
Ashes of Time (1994) [D] [intro] [i’ll kill you just for that video] [i wanted to save your arm] [jealous] [peach blossoms]
Chunking Express (1995) [D] [stomptokyo review]
Happy Together (1997) [D] [start over]
Fallen Angels (1998) [D] [pillion]
In The Mood For Love (2001) [D] [cb] [cannes site] [official site ] [soundtrack]
2046 (2004) [D]
Films by Jia Zhangke [more] [kevin lee]
Xiao Wu (1997) [D]
Platform (2000) (a film about architecture) [D]
Unknown Pleasures (2002) [D] [cb] [drink up] [red flag] [bustop] [cellphone]
The World (2004) [D]
Try One Ming-liang Tsai: The River (1997) [D] [cb], What Time Is It There? (2001) [D] [timeout], Goodbye Dragon Inn (2003) [D]

Films by Hou Hsiao-hsien
Flowers of Shanghai (1998) [D] [cb]
Films by Theo Angelopoulos
Landscape in the Mist (1988) [D] [cb]
Cultural Experiences
The Harder They Come (1973) [D] [timeout] [seduction] [sound + vision] [jimmy cliff] [criterion] [sf chronicle]
The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980) [cb] [N/A][timeout]
The Buena Vista Social Club (1998) [D]
Selected Westerns [images journal]

In this category, it is very important that you watch these films in chronological order, a very underrated practice. The idea is that you will better appreciate the development of the genre or something to that effect. If you don’t like that explanation, than just do it because it seems like the right thing to do. Also, you will not fully appreciate how much of a departure is Unforgiven unless you’ve already seen Eastwood’s earlier films. Note To Aspiring Critics: ‘For a Few Dollars More’ is substantially better than ‘A Fistful of Dollars’ and although you can (and should) buy the entire triology for like ten dollars on the non-criterion MGM Walmart special, you really only NEED to watch ‘FFDM’ and ‘GBU’ but you may as well watch them all, if only to agree with me, and then love me.
High Noon (1952) [D]
For A Few Dollars More (1965) [D] [well, well, if it isn’t the smoker] [you shouldn’t have shot those apples off that tree] [any trouble boy] [carpenter’s story]
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) [D] [you bastard] [...shoot don’t talk] [your mother] [bastard] [collect] [aim] [bridge] [spurs] [you dig] [idiots]
Once Upon A Time In The West (1968) [D] [cb] [claudia] [but they were his men] [just a man] [just a man] [something to do with death]
The Wild Bunch (1969) [D] [cb] [my silver] [any other way] [why not] [let’s go]
Unforgiven (1992) (see above note) [D] [decent review]

Alternatives:

Sergio Leone: A Fistful of Dollars (1967) [D]
Clint Eastwood: Hang ’Em High (1968) [D], Joe Kidd (1972) [D], High Plains Drifter (1973) [D], Outlaw Josie Wales (1976) [D], Pale Rider (1985) [D]. Two Mules For Sister Sara [D] is not quite as good, but it has its moments. [take off your hat]
Peckinpah: Pat Garret & Billy the Kid (1973) [T.S.] [ho, now] [god damn him too] [so am i] [link] [are they asking me?] [my friend] [dog] [fabulous melancholy] [eno] [black harris]
Truth of Steel Films
The Road Warrior (1981) [D] [cb] [we go in] [violence] [dogs]
Conan the Barbarian (1982) [D] [soundtrack] [cb] [he won’t cry] [what is best] [high adventure] [riddle of steel] [riddle of steel] [riddle of steel] [drown] [my snake] [flesh] [compare] [theme one] [theme two] [success] [my own daughter]
The Terminator (1984) [D]
Die Hard (1988) [D]
Also see at least:
One Hong Kong-made Bruce Lee film (Fists of Fury, The Chinese Connection, Return of the Dragon)
One Dirty Harry film

Made in America
Top 10 Lists (What They’re Good 4)
Top 10 Lists are important because they help us to decide whether things we’re not sure about are okay or not. Then if it appears in a Top 10 list, we know it’s okay. For example, I was wondering if it’s okay for the story to be about just yourself and it still be a great film, or whether it has to be about something more epic, historical, Virgil. Then I decided this was a dumb question.

But what about babies? Is it okay to use babies in a film? A quick look over my own Top 10 reveals no films in which babies play a key role. Well, there is that scene in Mirror when they look at that baby and he is all smiling and plump. I guess he does play a pretty key role in that scene. But it’s not like he sings a song or anything. So the answer is yes, you can use babies, but only in one scene.

Monkeys are right out.
Stories

My Man Godfrey (1936) [D] [cb]
Sullivan’s Travels (1941) [D]
The Palm Beach Story (1942) [D]
On the Waterfront (1954) [actually, it was you charlie...]
Anatomy of a Murder (1959) [D]
The Graduate (1967) [D]
Harold and Maude (1971) [D]
The Godfather (1972) [D]
The Godfather II (1974) [vendetta] [D]
Badlands (1973) [D] [timeout]
Chinatown (1974)
Jaws (1975) [D] [VW Fox]
Rocky (1976) [D] [face knife]
Pulp Fiction (1994) [D] [VW Fox]

Downward Spiral

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) [D]
Taxi Driver (1976) [D]
Raging Bull (1980) [D] [small hands] [opening] [opening] [opening]
First Blood (1982) [D]
Scarface (1983) [D]
Once Upon A Time In America (1984) [D]
Teenage Classics: Fast Times At Ridgemont High (1982) [D], Sixteen Candles (1984) [D], The Breakfast Club (1985) [D], Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986) [D]

Woody Allen Films
Annie Hall (1977) [D]
Manhattan (1979) [D] [cb]
Sleeper (1973) [D]
Made in Mexico
Amores Perros (2000) [D] [soundtrack] [cb] [car chase]
Science Fiction/Fantasy Films
Star Wars (1977) [original version only] [light saber] [how are you?]
Empire Strikes Back (1980) [V]
Alien (1979) [VW Fox]
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) [V] [why on earth is this not available on D?] [making this up] [rosenbaum]
Blade Runner (1982) [D] [cb] [timeout] [my mother] [lesbian] [time to die] [we’re stupid] [more life] [where are you going] [i’ve seen things] [too bad]
Tron (1982) [cb]
Dune (1984) [D] [cb] [navigator] [spice] [spittle] [homeworld] [my name] [water of life] [father] [send them back] [inevitable] [reed]
Aliens (1986)
Brazil (1986) [D] [cb]
Predator (1987) [D]
Robocop (1987) [D]
Starship Troopers (1997) [D] [cb]
Lord of the Rings (2001) [D]
Hellboy (2004) [D] [cb]

Listed Elsewhere: If it’s good, and it’s not here, it’s probably listed somewhere else (like by director or something).
Horror Films
Psycho (1960) [D]
The Exorcist (1973) [D] [VW Fox]
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) [D]
Carrie (1976) [D]
Halloween (1978) [D]
Friday the 13th (1980) [D]
Poltergeist (1982) [D]
A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984) [D]
Hellraiser (1987) [D] [cb]
Scream (1996) [D]
Ringu (1998) [D]
Ju-On (2
Cartoons
All of Chuck Jones’ Cartoons
Alice in Wonderland (1951) [D] [cb] [who r u?] [more sounds]
Akira (1988) [D] [cb]
Ghost in the Shell (1996) [D] [cb]

Films by Hayao Miyazaki
My Neighbor Totoro (1988) [into the cave] [D]
Porco Rosso (1992) [D]
Princess Mononoke (1999) [D]
Spirited Away (2002) [D] [cb]
Howl’s Moving Castle (2004) [D] [cb]

Classic Comedies (I can’t believe you haven’t seen...)
The Bank Dick (1940) [D] [ebert]
Jacques Tati’s Mr Hulot’s Holiday (1953) [D]
Monty Python’s Holy Grail (1975) [D] [flying circus?]
Animal House (1978) [D] [sounds] [harold ramis]
Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979) [D]
Caddyshack (1980) [D] [sounds]
Airplane (1980) [D] [sounds] [black] [shirley] [jive ass turkey]
Flying Ingot (1982)
Strange Brew (1983) [D]
Spinal Tap (1984) [D]
Top Secret (1984) [D] [melted aligot]
Real Genius (1985) [D]
Fletch (1985) [D] [sounds]


Movies I Almost Saw But Didn’t

Grindhouse - I want to see this. But I will be satisfied with the trailer. And just leave it at that. It's an exciting trailer though, my lord.

Babel - I just cannot bring myself to see another I... film. Ever since he started using big name actors. I enjoyed Amores Perros (2000) so much. And I just don't want to do something that may tarnish that memory. Am I wrong?

Little Miss Sunshine - Little Miss I Don't Have Time. I thought I wanted to see this. But thank the gods a friend told me it sucked. Then another friend wrote a review which also said it sucked. Now there can be no more doubt.

Me, You and Everyone We Know - will probably see, because how can you not see a film by someone named Miranda July? Except if you’ve read fluxblog’s unfavorable ratings of it.

The Beat That My Heart Skipped – would see, but probably won’t because of Roger Ebert.

Penguins - Yes, I’m sure it’s great. But I already watch more nature shows on PBS than I care to admit. I think I’ll be okay.

Batman Begins - I was not going to see this until I saw that people seem to be genuinely pissed off at each other about whether this film is good or not. This made me start thinking about actually seeing this. And then I noticed it was 140 minutes long. Umm, let me think about it no.

Kill Bill 2 - eh, saw the first one. was okay, not worth seeing a repeat of the same. of course, that’s not true. i will see the second one (on video, someday) and forget this pledge she was ever made. [stephen himes] [deep focus] [review and discussion]

Coffee and Cigarettes - I might see this on video. Wait. Wait a minute. Isn’t this by that same guy that did Ghost Dog? Because oh my god, that movie was embarassing--to film. God it was horrible. I mean horrible. I mean, I can’t believe how bad it was? I had to purge. Yea, so, okay, now I’m curious. Now maybe I should see this film.

Master and Commander - Almost: Peter Weir. Didn’t: Russel Crowe.

Mystic River
Guest Comments:

My thoughts upon seeing Mystic River—as billed, there was superb acting by both Tim Robbins and Sean Penn. Sean Penn played to type, Tim Robbins did not (unless you think it was in the vein of Shawshank Redemption) so more kudos to Tim Robbins. I thought the best scene was one in which Sean Penn’s father in law forgoes consoling Sean in order to lecture him on his familial responsibilities. The moment when Sean Penn explains how his daughter has a “look like she’s never going to see you again” is also superb. Yet, this wasn’t a great movie. Kevin Bacon was leaden and his subplot was absurd. There is no explanation of why we should care about his troubled mute wife or why he went to college and abandoned the neighborhood. Laura Linney’s ode de Macbeth at the end was out of nowhere and totally misplaced.

City of God

The blonde ex-pat says:

please watch city of god, if you havn’t already. probably been out since jan 2002 in usa. i loved it so much. read many reviews that compared it to amores peros. have no goddam idea why. just because it’s south american probably. which is retarded. it’s like saying withnail and i and four weddings and a funeral are similar. ok, obviously not the same thing, but you know what i mean.

Eight Mile: Okay, I actually never considered seeing this.

Eight Women: I might have been tempted to see this.

Eight Miles of Women: Okay, I totally have to see this if they make it.

Naqoyqatsi: I can’t even say it.

Secretary: This might not be bad. I like James Spader. Wait, no. I definitely am not going to see this.

Mostly Martha: Probably would like this. I might see this someday. They say it’s like Big Night. I liked Big Night, but I haven’t watched it in a while.

Road to Perdition: I don’t even know what perdition means, but we don’t have to get into that. Maybe they’re trying to say road to nutrition? I don’t know. The comments on the ad say the film will be a classic, just like they said about his previous film. Sam Mendes is the name of the director, which you can find using a magnifying lens over the region of the credits at the bottom of the ad. A good movie, people remember the name of the movie. A great movie, people remember the name of the director. The only way I am going to see this movie is if people start saying how great it is like they did American Beauty, and I have to come out of retirement and start kicking some ass. Tom Hanks is a solid actor as is Paul Newman. And Jude Law was cool in A.I., so for that reason alone, this movie is probably going to be worth seeing for the rest of you.

The Other Inuit Movie: Can’t remember the exact title. It’s like, The Fast Runner Atunafish, or something, but God dammit if it hasn’t been out in Boston and New York for like 2 weeks already, and my town still doesn’t have it. Please call your local independent theatre and ask them, ‘why the hell aren’t you showing this film?’ Ask them just like that, and they will surely show it right away. [saw it: see review]

Minority Report: My friend said there was too much footage of Tom Cruise playing around with wiring, and it got boring. The key point here is that I have a friend. [Note: have now seen it. Sucked.]

Dog Town and Z-boys: I totally would have seen this, but I didn’t for reasons now forgotten.

Nine Queens: I totally would see this, but it’s not playing in my town. Piece of shit town. [Note: I have since moved to another town, but have still not seen this film]

Y Tu Mama Tambien: And I thought it was tan bien all this time. You know, like tan buena. How dumb am I? Pretty dumb. I just need to see more Spanish written. And what better way than to see this film, which probably has like one or two lines of dialogue. Anyway, I totally almost saw this film. Maybe I’ll rent it. And not tell.

The Royal Tennenbaums - Would have seen this one if everyone and their reptile hadn’t said Rushmore was better. I mean, it’s not like a director has to always outdo himself or anything. That would certainly be an unfair expectation, and I would certainly never heap it. But then again, my time is precious, obviously.

Lantana - I definitely would have seen this film.

Mulholland Drive - Again, the two-hour rule, and what’s more, how many surrealist directors can one get to know in one movie-watching career. The last thing I remember from David Lynch was some scene from a movie called “Wild At Heart” with Laura Dern and Nicholas Cage. I remember it was powerful, but it could have also been because I was so much younger then. I think when you’re young, everything just seems like a bigger deal, or maybe I just remember it that way. And now I will show you a very bad bit of movie review, a bad bit of any writing for that matter. I was exposed to this on a web site, the name of which I won’t bother to mention as it would serve no useful end:

I don’t mean to gloat. But I’ve been feeling a lot smarter ever since I polled all my David Lynch-loving friends and found out that I’m the only one even hazarding a claim to having figured out the director’s latest puzzle, ‘‘Mulholland Drive,'' from top to bottom. So maybe I’m the Einstein of the Peakies crowd (that would be us unrepentant ‘‘Twin Peaks'' buffs to you) or maybe I’m just delusional. I should tell you that I did figure out the big secret of ‘‘The Sixth Sense'' about 20 minutes in—but like I said, I’m not here to brag.

I now know more than one red-headed female who would respond to this by smugly asking if I would like a dollar. So I finally did see Mulholland Drive. I figured our local art house was just going to keep showing it until I went. [saw it: see review]

Lost and Delerious - The New York Times says “...it often has a camp ludicrousness, evoking an “Afterschool Special” inspired by the pages of Penthouse Forum.” I think they are trying to say it’s not a good movie, but all I’m hearing is afterschool special and penthouse. Why am I not seeing this film, again?

Le Placard (The Closet) - This looks like a pretty good one and it’s only eighty-four minutes. The only thing I think whenever someone mentions Gerard Depardieu is this time I was in French Class in grade school, and our teacher, whose progressive qualities we, in hindsight, took very much for granted, had us watching a Depardieu film called (in translation) The Return of Martin Guerre. This is the classic story of the guy who goes off to fight a war and gets killed, but his war-buddy decides to come back home and impersonate him. Happens all the time. And this leads to many awkward, but strangely titillating scenes, particularly those involving his wife. The film was remade as a stupid Richard Gere, Jody Foster flop called Summersby, which was neither strange nor titillating, but which I saw in high-school when I was impersonating someone who sees dumb movies. Anyway, there’s a part in the French film where M. Depardieu returns to the village of his war-killed buddy and someone says, quite astutely I might add, ‘Hey, you look so different. You’re such a big man now, and you have a nice beard.’ And M. Depardieu says smartly, ‘C’est la guerre’, which either means ‘It’s war’ or ‘they didn’t have any shaving cream.’ I’m not exactly sure, but either way, who would disagree with anything Gerard Depardieu says.

Amores Perrier-something - Okay, I was sorry that I couldn’t see this movie by first time director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu because it violated my two hour rule that I had just implemented after seeing Traffic and Crouching Tiger back to back. However, that little picture just looks great, doesn’t it? And moreover, someone I know and could love has told me the film is really high quality. And so too say most of the Amazon reviewers, amateurs to be sure, but honest and committed are they. And so I inch ever closer to seeing the film, but still I am unable to get past the thought of dog violence. Perhaps some day I will feel less for dogs, or perhaps someone will convince me to see it regardless. Perhaps I will see it with someone who can tell me when not to look. I realize this goes against most of what I preach, but I know the meaning of indelible. [saw it: see review]

Yi-Yi (A One and A Two) - I bet this would have been great. This nice girl of seemingly abundant intelligence has written urging me to see this film. I think women are smarter than men. [saw it: every day is a first time]

Memento - Did I see this? I can’t seem to remember now? Huh.

You Can Count On Me - A trusted friend says this film was really good. Trusted friend? Who says that? God I hate myself.

Waking Life - Rented it. Sucked. I can totally explain why to anyone who is interested.

Billy Elliot - Would have seen this if I hadn’t already been Brassed Off. Pete Postlethwaite works for Kaiser Sose, you know. That’s cool.

Forgot the title? - Same guy as Cinema Paradiso: How could it be bad? I heard it was bad.

Chocolat - Looks like Water for Chocolat without the, like, water. [Discuss]

Chunhyang - I heard this was a classic story. I have this Korean friend who said it would be boring, but she didn’t like In The Mood For Love, so her opinion is essentially worth zero bok choi stalks.

Others I wanted to see but you wouldn’t let me: Elling, Bartleby, Goya, Solas, Place Vendôme, Titan A.E., Blood Simple (Director’s Cut), Croupier, Standing in the Shadows of Motown, Intacto, Talk To Her, Amandla! A Revolution in Four Part Harmony, The Station Agent


Movies I Didn’t See But Someone Else Did

Sideways - I’m already into wine and Eric Rohmer. Do I really need to see this?

Farenheit 911 - not art. not news. not seeing it.

The Hours: I will not watch The Hours I won’t. I will not watch it on a boat. I will not watch it on a tram. I will not watch it in a van. I will not watch it when I’m cold. I will not watch it when I’m old. I’m sick of films on books I am.

Pearl Harbor

Reign of Fire: I was recently dining with friends at an upscale Transylvanian restaurant, and they were talking about this ridiculous movie called Reign of Fire, in which these conspicuously small dragons take over the world. The conversation shifted to some bad Richard Gere movie that had also just come out, and someone facetiously commented that it might have been better with a couple more dragons. And then someone said, “What movie wouldn’t be better with a couple of extra dragons? And everyone giggled, and then came the beautiful moment when all of the sudden the giggling stopped and their was this unspoken, shared realization that this was probably true. Something said facetiously turns out to be the truth. Now that doesn’t happen every time I go out for dinner, and I’m so glad I was there.

Titanic: Most recently, Jim Shepard has edited the book Writers at the Movies: 26 Authors Celebrate 26 Memorable Movies, which was been named a Chicago Tribune Editor’s Choice. Literary editor Elizabeth Taylor writes that, “As a fan of Jim Shepard’s fiction, I picked up this anthology of essays by fiction writers and poets with enthusiasm and was not disappointed . . . I had no interest in seeing Titanic, but after Lorrie Moore described it as ‘part Wild Kingdom, part Lady Chatterley’s Lover,’ I succumbed.”

Loyal fans, I promise you - I will not succumb.


Miscellaneous Video Productions I Can Recommend

PBS Mystery

Full Circle with Michael Palin (1998) [U.K.]
Not Rick Steves. Say no more, squire!

Ken Burns’ Jazz Series
Worth every minute of it, and brother that’s a lot of minutes.

Anything by Ken Burns
Ken Burns taking a dump, would probably be great. And plus, my god, he’s soo young. Have you seen how young he is? He looks like, thirty-five tops. Jesus Christ such talent!

The Rotten Fruit [samps]
Think of it as Ken Burns with a twist—of arsenic.

Chihuly Over Venice (Neo-documentary, 1998) [OOP]
Documents the work of the great glassmaker Dale Chihuly. Inspiring and educational to see the artistic process in terms of both the individual and the teamwork involved in glassmaking. A pearl is when Chihuly takes time out to enjoy some prosciutto in Venice.

Fellini - I’m a Born Liar (2003) [D]
Really nice feature-film quality documentary about the technique of maestro Fellini. Great stuff here.

Frank Lloyd Wright Documentary [D]
I’ll talk about this more later, but there are two advantages to seeing Lloyd Wright’s work on video. First, you would never be able to pilgrimage your way to all of them in person in one lifetime. Second, you would never see the aerial shots and other odd angles afforded by the small cranes of a documentary film. And these angles compliment and add to the experience of actually seeing them in person. They really do. The question is, 'Which method should you choose if you could only have one?’

Nostromo (Conrad story, Mobile Masterpiece Theatre, 1996) [OOP]
This guy’s accent is so damn cool—it alone is worth your time. Even better than Christopher Lambert in Highlander!

Great Trailers Worth Mention

Great trailers have a pace and a life of their own. They not only make you yearn to see a film, but they also provide a unique form of satisfaction, which can scarcely be overstated. Here are some of the great trailers available to man:

2046 * The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie * That Obscure Object of Desire * Barry Lyndon * Black Orpheus * Contempt * Days of Being Wild * Happy Together * Hellboy * Kwaidan * Mystery of Picasso * Picnic At Hanging Rock * Sanjuro * Year of Living Dangerously

I don’t have the Trainspotting trailer on me, but it’s great, and so is the the soundtrack, although some intelligent reviewers disagree.



Edited Movie Links (My Own Private dmoz.org)

Okay so the problem with link lists is that they are always changing. Except mine. Mine do not change. Because I just can't keep up. So actually, never mind my link list, because thank god for Kevin Lee, whose list is way better and more up to date. Just thank god.


My Little Link List (for films)

What’s About To Happen?

  • www.moviefone.com tells you what’s playing in a theatre near you and provides an appropriately useless synopsis.


What’s Happening? What Happened?
  • The The Internet Movie Database is huge. For each film, it offers cross referencing to director and actor filmographies. And it has reader comments just like Amazon with an equally varied range in insightfulness.
  • Masters of Cinema is a great site that focuses only on the great films.
  • Filmmaking.com is a major resource for would be filmmakers and critics.


Holding the Line


Syndicated

  • Strictly Film School
    Okay, this is pretty much my site x100. This guy covers everything. And has the same approach as me. Navigation is easy. You will need to be careful not to trip over a few spoilers here and there because he assumes you have either seen the films or are vigilant about this sort of thing. I don't always agree with his analysis. But if you want to learn about the best films and trace the connections. This is where you go.

  • Senses of Cinema
    Definitely one of the best film sites I’ve seen. Amazing. That they don’t have a link to me.

  • Chicago Reader Film Section
    Reviews by By Jonathan Rosenbaum. I don’t have time to read them and see if he’s any good. But I love Chicago, and the site looks pretty. Okay, now I’ve read a review by Mr. Rosenbaum. Finally, a film critic smarter than me. Everyone. Go and read this guy. Damn. He really knows a lot.

  • Roger Ebert’s Movie Reviews provide insight at times, although some of his opinions make you wonder.

  • Filmsite dot org
    This is a good reference although they have pop-up ads and the reviews verge on pod race long. What’s the point of repeating the entire plot of the film? You could see two movies in the time it takes to read one of these reviews. This is the first review site to inform me that Spike Lee is black.

Not-Syndicated (Newest Additions at Top)




Special Features

What About Art Films? * Photography Is Why * The Film Timeline * Size * Context * Open Letter To Criterion * Godard Equals Cool * Rosenbaum on Barthes on Film * Cinematography * But Isn’t It Cheating? * Not the Worst Writing On Film I’ve Ever Seen * Architecture in Cinema * Ben Affleck: Worst Actor in History or Just Pretty Damn Bad?
Little (Inspired) Essays

Pairing Food with Film * Film Is Great, Theatre Sux * Film: The Right Hobby * Bullshit Science Fiction Films

Directors (Who Would Kill Themselves Now, If They Had Taste)

Michael Moore * George Lucas * George Lucas II

Critics [venom I] [venom II] [venom III]

Manny Farber * Phillip Lopate * Pauline Kael * James Agee * Robin Wood * Leonard Maltin * Anthony Lane * Other Film Critics



Film Schools I Associate Myself With



Recommended Books On Film

  • Totally, Tenderly, Tragically: Essays and Criticism from a Lifelong Love Affair With the Movies by Phillip Lopate
    Phillip Lopate is a fantastic essayist. His analysis is thoughtful, thorough, and very well balanced.

  • Negative Space: Manny Farber On The Movies by Manny Farber
    If you don’t have anything nice to say, you’re probably Manny Farber. But seriously, everyone says he’s a genius, so buy his book. I have to admit I am still trying to understand where he’s coming from, or where he went. Anything. But I did buy his book, and there is no doubt in my mind that he is a genius. Clearly there is insight, knowledge, power in his words.

  • Against Interpretation: And Other Essays by Susan Sontag (woman)
    Highly recommended to me by several colleagues. Comes with free T-Mobile phone.

  • Placing Movies by Jonathan Rosenbaum
    Informative and honest discussion on the practice of film criticism itself. Update: I’ve read several more of the essays in this book. There’s some really good ones in here. The only issue is some of them discuss films you haven’t seen. I will make a list of the essays in here which I enjoyed, and indicate which films you’ll have to view prior to reading them. Such lists need to be made for all good film critics (I think).

  • I Lost It At The Movies by Pauline Kael
    Selected reviews and essays. Has review of La Grand Illusion, which is perhaps the most perfectly-crafted film review ever written. Also has some great essays including a fiesty refutation of auteur theory and how to survive a chemical attack planned by salty arabs, which seems eerily prescient.

  • Sexual Politics and Narrative Film by Robin Wood
    On order. I’ve read some of his stuff before, and he sounds smart.

  • The Films of Andrei Tarkovsky: A Visual Fugue by Vida T. Johnson (contributore)
    Looks good so far. I need to read more books on film. I need to read more books on Andrei Tarkovsky.

  • Kubrick: Inside a Film Artist’s Maze by Stanley Thomas Nelson (man)
    Perhaps the most extensive Kubrick apologist around today. I find this an informative resource. Doesn’t really say anything you couldn’t figure out on your own, but if you _love_ Kubrick, you should get this book.

  • Time Out Film Guide (14th ed.) by Various (people)
    My friend says this is a very good review/reference source. It’s basically a list of those little capsule blurbs as appearing at some time in London’s Time Out Film Guide. Okay, so I’ve ordered it. All I have to say is it better damn well be good, or I know someone who may be waking up to the low, buzz of a (fully armed) Predator drone. Okay, I got it. My basic reaction is, well, it’s fun to go through and cross-check against films you’ve already seen. Some of the blurbs say it better than I would have thought it. Some of them, the ones written by GA, who happens to be the main editor, are complete garbage. Others pretty much affirm what I already thought. So again, if you’re writing a book or maintaining a website on film and you want to check & balance your sanity, then by all means, this tool is for you. But there’s too much review and random spoiling for it to be useful for films one has not seen. For advice and guidance with that, there is me. There is only me. Use me.


Magazines On Film

"...rich and absorbing..."
(NY Times)

"...just plain dull."
(Entertainment Weekly)

  • Film Comment
    Bi-monthly film journal from the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Looks at U.S. and world cinema, actors and directors, past and present. Writing sometimes intelligible, and when it is, you wish it weren’t. Top 10 lists laughable. Does not want your submissions.

  • Sight And Sound
    Monthly from the British Film Institute.



Tell Us What You Think (Or Don’t)

Please send me your opinions about films. And if they make any sense whatsoever, if they say anything good about my site, or if they make you look really really stupid, I’ll be sure to post them right away, or my name isn’t Coldbacon, and it isn’t.

Number of Times I say ‘critic’ on this page: 19 including this one.
Number of Times I say ‘totally’ on this page: 14 including this one.
Number of Times I say ‘Clive’ on this page: 2 including this one.
Number of Times I’ve worn out my welcome with random precision: countless.






and movies are a gateway and a guide toward wonderful music. let the filmmakers show you the way. (not clear channel.)



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This site is dedicated to Vassily Fedyaev. (what comes around goes around.)

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The Four Types of Reviews On My Site

1) normal mildly ironic rants about crappy films that you probably liked
2) my attempt to sound like a real film scholar (don’t bother reading these if you haven’t seen the film)
3) simple eulogies to great films (i.e. the “you need to go and rent this” paragraph)
4) completely wack reviews which i myself totally deny writing but somehow here they are on my site