1970: The Conformist (Bernardo Bertolucci)
I really can't say I fully understand the story of the movie. Nor can I really say that I fully care. If someone forced me to choose the color film that I think is the most beautiful in the history of the medium, this would be my choice.
It seems that this movie, more than any other, influenced the great look of The Godfather. And the way that Bertolucci and Vittorio Storaro film murder - slowly, carefully, and with rapt attention - certainly recalls Coppola's approach a couple years later.
A complete filmmaking marvel, and one of cinema's most staggering, hallucinatory achievements.
Other contenders for 1970: There are a good number of titles I still need to see. These are: Michelangelo Antonioni's Zabriskie Point, Jerzy Skolimowski's Deep End, Michael Wadleigh's Woodstock, Franklin J Schaffner's Patton, Albert Maysles, David Maysles, and Charlotte Zwerin's Gimme Shelter, Gilbert Cates' I Never Sang for My Father, Vittorio De Sica's The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, Claude Chabrol's La rupture, Jean Eustache and Jean-Michel Barjol's Le Cochon, Francois Truffaut's L'enfant sauvage, Werner Herzog's Fata Morgana, Luis Bunuel's Tristana, Bernardo Bertolucci's The Spider's Stratagem, Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg's Performance, and Jean Renoir's Le petit theatre de Jean Renoir. From this year, I really like Robert Altman's MASH and Eric Rohmer's Claire's Knee. I love Bob Rafelson's Five Easy Pieces and Jean-Pierre Melville's Le cercle rouge. And my closest runner-up is Sam Peckinpah's The Ballad of Cable Hogue.
10/23/11 I watched Michelangelo Antonioni's Zabriskie Point. Hints at some fairly large ideas but never quite coheres into anything memorable. Seems to be a lazy and hazy A. Far from his great works.
9/22/13 I watched Luis Bunuel's Tristana. Of the 20 or so proclaimed masters of cinema, I probably continue to struggle the most with Bunuel. I have yet to find a real entry point into his work and although I have liked a couple of his films - Los Olividados and Land Without Bread - I struggle more often than connect deeply with his work. I like some of the unusual camerawork in this one, the re-focusing and the sometimes quirky zooms, and I thought the final montage at the end was interesting. Overall, however, the story left me pretty cold.
12/14/13 I watched Paul Mazursky's Alex in Wonderland. Somewhat interesting as a capsule of LA in the late sixties and early seventies but far too self-absorbed and derivative to be affecting. I grew weary after about a half hour.
10/19/14 I watched Gilbert Cates' I Never Sang for My Father. It is at times a very touching film particularly when Hackman and Douglas share the screen. But Cates does not seem to have much of an aesthetic grasp of cinema and as a film it somewhat goes through the motions.
1/4/16 I watched Jacques Demy's Donkey Skin. Demy proves yet again that he is almost without rival when it comes to using color. He also shows that Cherbourg/Rochefort were no fluke, that he is an absolute master at creating cinematic moments that float, light and delicate in their deep belief in love and an exalted beauty. It did not move me to the level of Cherbourg but I enjoyed seeing it as further proof of Demy's unique skills and sensibility.
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