Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Reel Adventures 6!

Like these movies?  Join us for Reel Adventures 6 on March 1 at RW Norton Art Gallery!

It will be a fun-filled night of team trivia and discussion around the 2017 film, Get Out.

General public tickets go on sale this Friday, February 2!

Tuesday, January 30, 2024


More European in its textures and shape than American indy or mainstream

Monday, January 29, 2024

Swing Time

Great primer for the elegance and chemistry of Astaire/Rogers

Friday, January 26, 2024


 Cinema + Poetry

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Orphans of the Storm

The amount of cinematic language in which Griffith already seems proficient in 1921 is staggering - the close-up, cross-cutting, the tracking shot, to name but a few.  But even more impressive is the way Griffith builds suspense particularly whenever the sisters threaten to meet.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

The Beaches of Agnes

I have seen a few other filmmakers go down this path of personal essay or stream of conscious autobiography (Marker and Godard, particularly).  But neither is able to articulate their personality and give you a feel for who they might be as a a person better than Varda does here.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

The Secret of the Grain

Kechiche is one of a couple of handful of filmmakers I rank as current day masters of the medium.  Here's where I would start.  If you like it, I have three or four others I would put you onto.

Monday, January 22, 2024

Don't Look Back

Dylan is one of my heroes.  This and the first Scorsese doc are my favorites.

Friday, January 19, 2024


Exudes that very New Wave quality of youth meandering through a city trying to find purpose and place

Thursday, January 18, 2024


When I look at Fargo, one of the aspects I most admire is its sense of design and rhythm.  Everything seems considered and everything feels unusually cohesive.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Double Indemnity

Provides a road map for making a film noir

Tuesday, January 16, 2024


For the marriage of the Nouvelle Vague's playfulness with Donen's sublime taste

Friday, January 12, 2024

Desert Island Film 113

A very strong addition to the kid in peril genre that includes 400 Blows, Kes, and Germany, Year Zero

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Desert Island Film 112

When coupled with Killer of Sheep, Burnett's previous feature, we have the most singular vision of Los Angeles the cinema has produced

Monday, January 8, 2024

Desert Island Film 111

Powell-Pressburger-Cardiff.  One of the greatest visual collaborations in the history of film.

Friday, January 5, 2024


I went into Mann's latest film, skeptical to say the least.  Although I taught a college course on him, I really had not been fully moved by one of his films since The Insider (24 years ago!) and he hadn't made a film since Blackhat (8 years ago!)

All that to say, I was completely unprepared for the experience of Ferrari.  First off, nothing in Mann's body of work resembles it in look.  Gone is the cool, heavily stylized photography of the Thief-Ali period.  Gone is the self-conscious, digital experimentation of the Collateral-Blackhat period.  Ferrari finds Mann working in a much more naturalistic register, not only in the way the film is shot and production designed but also in the framing (again, gone are the myriad of jump cuts and extreme close-ups).     

Mann has always been incredibly precise in his location scouting, his character research, his attention to detail.  But what has always seemed like an almost unparalleled approach in truth seeking in terms of directorial preparation has always been expressed in a much more heightened and mannered execution.  For the first time the feel of how Mann approaches his work is echoed by what comes out the other end.

There has a been a knock on Mann his entire career about his female characters.  Their lack of dimension.  His lack of attention to him.  Penelope Cruz's Laura is his strongest female character to date and one any woman's director would be proud to claim as their own.

Certain works by certain artists force an entire reconsideration of an artist's career.  With Ferrari, Mann reminds us that at his heights he is every bit as effective as Scorsese, Coppola or any other filmmaker that has emerged since the end of classic Hollywood.  But, unlike his aforementioned peers, with Ferrari, Mann still seems to be growing at the tail end of his career, reaching heights that he's been chasing since the very beginning.    


Thursday, January 4, 2024

Desert Island Film 110

For being utterly unique as a biopic

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Desert Island Film 109

One of the great snow covered films in the history of cinema, one of the best horror films of the 80s and of course one of Carpenter's very best

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Desert Island Film 108`

The first Spike Lee film I have seen that backgrounds style and lets the people and events stand for themselves

Monday, January 1, 2024

My Top Films Seen in 2023

Here are the films, new and old, that I saw and most admired in 2023.

Victor Erice's Close Your Eyes
Erice grapples with his place in cinema and cinema's place in the world.  It's a shame that we have so few of his works since there is such a depth of feeling and an epic desire to give us clarity that only a handful of filmmakers today can claim.    
Sam Peckinpah's Ride the High Country
Timing is a critical part of appreciating certain works of art. Sometimes you discover them when you're too young, sometimes when you're too old, and sometimes the timing is just right.  I have probably watched this early Peckinpah western 2 or 3 other times, never quite clicking with it like some of my peers.  But this time it was different.  As can be expected with Peckinpah, it takes you into some dark, uncomfortable places (Elsa's wedding night!)  What's less expected are the final minutes, the depth of humanity of Peckinpah's characters, and the weight Peckinpah is finally able to leave you with as he pays tribute to the slow disappearance of a certain kind of man in a certain kind of world.
Jonathan Demme's Stop Making Sense
One of these films I thought I had seen until I watched it again.  The real star is Byrne who you can't take your eyes off of.  And if the measure of a good concert film, and I haven't seen many concert films in general, is if it entertains you while giving you a better sense of what the band looks and feels like then Stop Making Sense is hugely successful.  
John Ford's The Sun Shines Bright
I have been watching more John Ford of late than I ever have and it is clear I am only beginning to scratch the surface of who he was as a filmmaker.  What seems clear to me at this point is that he was deeply interested in America, where we had been and where we might be going.  He wanted to tell our history, examine it, and expose our people for the times they fought for unjust causes.  The more I watch, the more Ford seems like the narrative version of Wiseman, a filmmaker deeply concerned with our institutions and the very foundation on which this country is supposed to rest.
Frederick Wiseman's Menus-Plaisirs Les Troisgros
In one sense, you could say Wiseman is treading familiar ground in a familiar way, which means one of the most masterful observers the cinema has produced is observing the world in his masterful way once again.  But I saw new stylistic elements here, whether it was Wiseman's quick cutting and multiple close ups as the intensity ramps up when Michel cooks kidneys or the handheld camera that previously was far less prevalent and noticeable in Wiseman's work.  Another full on immersion from Wiseman that says a lot about food, high-end restaurants but most important about our people and our world.
Justine Triet's Anatomy of a Fall
My favorite of the Triet films I have seen thus far.  It does what I always wanted to pursue in my work, merging French naturalism with strong plot and mystery elements.
Victor Erice's El Sur
It is Erice's most accessible film I have seen to date.  A poetic and beautiful film that primarily explores the relationship between a daughter and her father and the views and feelings the young have for the older generation as they discover their flaws and their humanity.
Henry King's The Gunfighter
An extraordinary western that is most impressive in how many later noir films and later westerns it prefigures in its fatalistic setup.  King's direction is concise and sharp and it is the emotional weight he infuses into the story that makes the greatest impact.  
Adam Price's Borgen
One of the most instructive pieces I have seen on politics and one of the most impressive television shows I have watched.  Like The Wire and the first season of True Detective, you have to accept that little to nothing else from the medium will ever deliver at the same level.