Month: October 2011 (Page 1 of 2)

Directors Who Can Do No Wrong #4: Terrence Malick

From an auteurist standpoint, the great directors have the power to transform bad, lackluster, or cliched material into great art. But even the mightiest directors have had a few duds. Robert Altman’s Quintet is ignored by almost everyone; stalwart Fordians do not look kindly upon Born Reckless; even the hardcore Hawksians consider Trent’s Last Case to be without merit. (There is also some disagreement regarding A Song is Born.) Hitchcock had Juno and the Paycock, and Michael Mann probably doesn’t like to think about The Keep.

It’s quite rare, then, that a filmmaker (or, occasionally, a filmmaking team) should pitch a no-hitter, from start to finish. Here’s a list of ten. For sanity’s sake we are grading on a slight curve: feature filmmakers only, their documentary work (if any) doesn’t count, nor do their shorts, TV episodes, and “etc” work.

The Thin Red Line (1998)

4. Terrence Malick

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Directors Who Can Do No Wrong #5: Robert Bresson

From an auteurist standpoint, the great directors have the power to transform bad, lackluster, or cliched material into great art. But even the mightiest directors have had a few duds. Robert Altman’s Quintet is ignored by almost everyone; stalwart Fordians do not look kindly upon Born Reckless; even the hardcore Hawksians consider Trent’s Last Case to be without merit. (There is also some disagreement regarding A Song is Born.) Hitchcock had Juno and the Paycock, and Michael Mann probably doesn’t like to think about The Keep.

It’s quite rare, then, that a filmmaker (or, occasionally, a filmmaking team) should pitch a no-hitter, from start to finish. Here’s a list of ten. For sanity’s sake we are grading on a slight curve: feature filmmakers only, their documentary work (if any) doesn’t count, nor do their shorts, TV episodes, and “etc” work.

Le diable probablement / The Devil, Probably (1977)

5. Robert Bresson

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theFilmsaurus recommendations 10/28: Leone, Argento, Swanberg

Today’s Year is 1971.

Today’s Top Tier selection is Duck, You Sucker (dir: Sergio Leone)

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Notes on Black Narcissus (Powell & Pressburger, 1947)

Top Tier, 1947

[Note of introduction: this is a reprint from an unexamined/essentials post from last year, after a third or fourth viewing of Black Narcissus – the first on Blu-ray]

Black Narcissus has inspired much well-deserved cooing over its potent and complex images, and much well-earned discussion over what we may take as its thesis. (The consensus, of which I’m a part, seems to be that the nuns represent our inability to escape our natures, and that physical spaces can have non-physical essences.) I don’t feel encouraged to throw any more coins into those two fountains, at least not with traditional means. What I’d prefer to do, what I like to do every now and then, is post the notes I took – hurriedly – during the course of the film. They have been edited and sometimes completely re-written for presentation, by which I mean I have tried to turn each blast of the pen into a proper, grammatically correct sentence that contains a full thought.

Why notes? Because there are reams of critical/appreciative essays on Black Narcissus. My intention is not to go through the film, but to nibble at the edges; to stick pushpins into specific moments that caught my eye, my ear, and my thoughts.

The following roughly corresponds to the film’s timeline.

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Directors Who Can Do No Wrong #6: Yasujiro Ozu

From an auteurist standpoint, the great directors have the power to transform bad, lackluster, or cliched material into great art. But even the mightiest directors have had a few duds. Robert Altman’s Quintet is ignored by almost everyone; stalwart Fordians do not look kindly upon Born Reckless; even the hardcore Hawksians consider Trent’s Last Case to be without merit. (There is also some disagreement regarding A Song is Born.) Hitchcock had Juno and the Paycock, and Michael Mann probably doesn’t like to think about The Keep.

It’s quite rare, then, that a filmmaker (or, occasionally, a filmmaking team) should pitch a no-hitter, from start to finish. Here’s a list of ten. For sanity’s sake we are grading on a slight curve: feature filmmakers only, their documentary work (if any) doesn’t count, nor do their shorts, TV episodes, and “etc” work.

Late Autumn (1960)

6. Yasujiro Ozu

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theFilmsaurus recommendations 10/27: Naruse, Corman, Welles

Today’s Year is 1964.

Today’s Top Tier selection is Yearning (dir: Mikio Naruse)

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Directors Who Can Do No Wrong #7: Carl Theodor Dreyer

Carl Th. Dreyer

From an auteurist standpoint, the great directors have the power to transform bad, lackluster, or cliched material into great art. But even the mightiest directors have had a few duds. Robert Altman’s Quintet is ignored by almost everyone; stalwart Fordians do not look kindly upon Born Reckless; even the hardcore Hawksians consider Trent’s Last Case to be without merit. (There is also some disagreement regarding A Song is Born.) Hitchcock had Juno and the Paycock, and Michael Mann probably doesn’t like to think about The Keep.

It’s quite rare, then, that a filmmaker (or, occasionally, a filmmaking team) should pitch a no-hitter, from start to finish. Here’s a list of ten. For sanity’s sake we are grading on a slight curve: feature filmmakers only, their documentary work (if any) doesn’t count, nor do their shorts, TV episodes, and “etc” work.

Ordet (1955)

7. Carl Theodor Dreyer

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theFilmsaurus recommendations 10/26

Today’s Year is 1991.

Today’s Top Tier selection is A Brighter Summer Day (dir: Edward Yang)

Gu ling jie shao nian sha ren shi jian / A Brighter Summer Day (Edward Yang)

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What if Netflix Ceased to Exist?

Science fiction nightmare scenario!

Picture this: having already, wisely, ditched Netflix’s disc service for streaming-only, you wake up to learn that Netflix will cease operations altogether, 30 days from today. In other words, you have 30 days to watch films until the company, hollowed out from fleeing investors and more rapidly fleeing subscribers, blinks out of existence like the LED light on an unplugged electric appliance. What do you watch?

Arbitrarily assuming you only have time for one movie per day (and most of us have less time than that), here are a few streaming titles you could get to first:

#30-21:

30. The Sound of Fury aka Try and Get Me!

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Directors Who Can Do No Wrong #8: Andrei Tarkovsky

From an auteurist standpoint, the great directors have the power to transform bad, lackluster, or cliched material into great art. But even the mightiest directors have had a few duds. Robert Altman’s Quintet is ignored by almost everyone; stalwart Fordians do not look kindly upon Born Reckless; even the hardcore Hawksians consider Trent’s Last Case to be without merit. (There is also some disagreement regarding A Song is Born.) Hitchcock had Juno and the Paycock, and Michael Mann probably doesn’t like to think about The Keep.

It’s quite rare, then, that a filmmaker (or, occasionally, a filmmaking team) should pitch a no-hitter, from start to finish. Here’s a list of ten. For sanity’s sake we are grading on a slight curve: feature filmmakers only, their documentary work (if any) doesn’t count, nor do their shorts, TV episodes, and “etc” work.

Nostalghia (1983)

8. Andrei Tarkovsky

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