Month: November 2011 (Page 1 of 2)

1910s

Sumerki zhenskoi dushi / Twilight of a Woman’s Soul (Yevgeni Bauer)

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1919

TOP TIER:
Barrabas (Louis Feuillade)
Blind Husbands (Erich von Stroheim)
Broken Blossoms (D.W. Griffith)
A Romance of Happy Valley (D.W. Griffith)
True Heart Susie (D.W. Griffith)

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What’s Playing in NYC (Turkey Edition)

Okay, cinephiles, web traffic is way down thanks to the holiday, so I thought I’d sneak out a quick, low-rent (video debut!) edition of “What’s Playing in New York City,” with respect to those doing the Thanksgiving thing. Enjoy!

Future editions, of course, will have more “video essay” panache, flashing lights, film clips, girls making out, the whole kit.

1920s

Applause (Rouben Mamoulian)

1929

TOP TIER:
Arsenal (Alexander Dovzhenko)
Big Business (James Horne and Leo McCarey)
Un chien andalou (Luis Bunuel)
Diary of a Lost Girl (G. W. Pabst)
The General Line (Sergei Eisenstein)
Lady of the Pavements (D.W. Griffith)
Liberty (Leo McCarey)
Lucky Star (Frank Borzage)
The Man with a Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov)
Pandora’s Box (G. W. Pabst)
Queen Kelly (Erich von Stroheim)
The River (Frank Borzage)
Thunderbolt (Josef von Sternberg)
Woman in the Moon (Fritz Lang)

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1930s

Stagecoach (John Ford)

1939

TOP TIER:
Drums Along the Mohawk (John Ford)
Love Affair (Leo McCarey)
Only Angels Have Wings (Howard Hawks)
The Roaring Twenties (Raoul Walsh)
The Rules of the Game (Jean Renoir)
The Spy in Black (Michael Powell)
Stagecoach (John Ford)
The Story of the Late Chrysanthemums (Kenji Mizoguchi)
When Tomorrow Comes (John M. Stahl)
The Women (George Cukor)
Young Mr. Lincoln (John Ford)

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Joan’s Beach

The Woman on the Beach (Jean Renoir, 1947)

“You liked me once.”

“Sure…for ten minutes…one ginny evening.”

– actual dialogue from Female on the Beach

Jean Renoir’s The Woman on the Beach – his last assignment for Hollywood, a film that preceded a four-year gap ending with The River – is the only film I can recall that dissolves, after a non-verbal opening, into a sleeping man’s dream, effectively rendering the rest of the film (even though he soon wakes) somewhat distant and phantasmal. Renoir was hardly the only filmmaker to use the beach, the shore, and the breakers to act upon the film (and us) as a surrogate subconscious, the kind that takes and devours, in its undertow, rather than gives or reveals. Jean Epstein’s 1948 masterpiece, Le tempestaire, uses a Griffithian, rolling sea as a monolithic agent of fate, visibly impassive; even something supposedly light, like Blake Edwards’ 10 shows its protagonist (Dudley Moore) mesmerized into catatonia by the crashing waves, while recent American favorites such as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Inception promote subtext to text, using the land-ocean border to represent the disintegration of memory and sanity.

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1940s

Under Capricorn (Alfred Hitchcock)

1949

TOP TIER:
Colorado Territory (Raoul Walsh)
I Shot Jesse James (Samuel Fuller)
I Was a Male War Bride (Howard Hawks)
Jour de fête (Jacques Tati)
Late Spring (Yasujiro Ozu)
Only a Mother (Alf Sjoberg)
Puce Moment (Kenneth Anger)
The Reckless Moment (Max Ophüls)
Reign of Terror (Anthony Mann)
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (John Ford)
Le silence de la Mer (Jean-Pierre Melville)
The Small Back Room (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger)
The Spider and the Fly (Robert Hamer)
They Live by Night (Nicholas Ray)
The Third Man (Carol Reed)
Under Capricorn (Alfred Hitchcock)
The Undercover Man (Joseph H. Lewis)
White Heat (Raoul Walsh)

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1950s

Rio Bravo (Howard Hawks)

1959

TOP TIER:
The 400 Blows (Francois Truffaut)
Anatomy of a Murder (Otto Preminger)
The Crimson Kimono (Samuel Fuller)
Day of the Outlaw (Andre de Toth)
Fires on the Plain (Kon Ichikawa)
Floating Weeds (Yasujiro Ozu)
Il generale della Rovere (Roberto Rossellini)
Hiroshima, mon amour (Alain Resnais)
The Horse Soldiers (John Ford)
Imitation of Life (Douglas Sirk)
India: Matri Bhumi (Roberto Rossellini)
The Indian Tomb (Fritz Lang)
Nazarin (Luis Bunuel)
North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock)
Ohayo (Yasujiro Ozu)
Pickpocket (Robert Bresson)
Picnic on the Grass (Jean Renoir)
Ride Lonesome (Budd Boetticher)
Rio Bravo (Howard Hawks)
Le testament du Docteur Cordelier (Jean Renoir)
La Tete contre les murs (Georges Franju)
The Tiger Of Eschnapur (Fritz Lang)
Verboten! (Samuel Fuller)

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1960s

Le gai savoir (Jean-Luc Godard)

1969

TOP TIER:
<—–> (Michael Snow)
Age of Consent (Michael Powell)
Andrei Roublev (Andrei Tarkovsky)
Army of Shadows (Jean-Pierre Melville)
L’Amour fou (Jacques Rivette)
Boy (Nagisa Oshima)
Une femme douce (Robert Bresson)
Katzelmacher (Rainer Werner Fassbinder)
Mississippi Mermaid (Francois Truffaut)
My Night at Maud’s (Eric Rohmer)
The Night of Counting the Years (Shadi Abdel-Salam)
Still (Ernie Gehr)
Tom, Tom, the Piper’s Son (Ken Jacobs)
A Touch of Zen (King Hu)
The Wild Bunch (Sam Peckinpah)

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1970s

All That Jazz (Bob Fosse)

1979

TOP TIER:
10 (Blake Edwards)
Alien (Ridley Scott)
All That Jazz (Bob Fosse)
Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola)
Bloody Kids (Stephen Frears)
Doomed Love (Manoel de Oliveira)
Drugstore Romance (Paul Vecchiali)
The Herd (Zeki Okten)
The Hypothesis of the Stolen Painting (Raul Ruiz)
La luna (Bernardo Bertolucci)
The Marriage of Maria Braun (Rainer Werner Fassbinder)
Real Life (Albert Brooks)
Stalker (Andrei Tarkovsky)
Trouble at Night (Catherine Breillat)
Vengeance is Mine (Shohei Imamura)

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Directors Who Can Do No Wrong #1: Eric Rohmer

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.

Ma nuit chez Maud / My Night at Maud's (1969)

1. Eric Rohmer

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