Month: October 2012

Jerry Lewis Directs

It’s said that, years ago, you could start a fistfight by suggesting that Alfred Hitchcock was a “real artist,” as opposed to a simple, impersonal craftsman of high-octane entertainments. On the same bubble, if you said that Jerry Lewis was an artist, and not a goof-off prankster who ran that telethon once a year, you had to be careful, or the men in white coats might come to take you away.

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New to Netflix

Hi there, here are some new additions to Netflix Instant that are worth taking a look at:

Elena (Andrey Zvyagintsev) – another acclaimed drama from the director of The Return

Polisse (Maïwenn Le Besco) – from the 2011 Cannes competition slate

Monsieur Lazhar (Philippe Falardeau) – an Oscar-nominated film from the 2011 season, also well-reviewed on release

TheFilmsaurus Recommends: Brick (Rian Johnson, 2005)

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Brick

One of the strongest films in current theatrical release is Rian Johnson’s Looper, a thrilling and well-written sci-fi noir that showcases the writer-director’s knack for combining genre kicks with sophisticated storytelling, out of which, through layers of ingenious narrative construction, emerges a surprising depth of emotion. Looper makes for a formidable hat-trick as it follows Johnson’s second and first features: The Brothers Bloom and Brick – brilliant films in their own right.

The latter announced Johnson as a talent to be reckoned with, winning the Special Jury Prize (Originality of Vision) at the Sundance Film Festival. Engrossing, literate, melancholy, and brilliantly shot by Steve Yedlin, Brick isn’t afraid of getting a little skin under its fingernails, or blood on its high-tops.

Recommended for a user who likes: The Grifters

Format requested: Netflix, Hulu, etc.

Availability in the US: streaming instantly on Netflix, as well as Amazon Instant Video. Want media that you can touch and hold? Brick was released last year on DVD and 1080p Blu-ray, the latter edition DVDBeaver-approved marginally over a 1080i edition that was released overseas. Netflix streams the film in HD, with English subtitles.

Also by Rian Johnson: Looper (2012) and The Brothers Bloom (2008).

Also with Joseph Gordon-Levitt: The Lookout (2007), Mysterious Skin, (2004), Inception (2010), Lincoln (forthcoming)

TheFilmsaurus Recommends: Le cercle rouge (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1970)

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Le cercle rouge

From Jean-Pierre Melville, master of the dour, contemplative, yet visually transfixing French crime thriller, an unusual heist film starring screen legends Yves Montand, Gian Maria Volonté, and Alain Delon.

Recommended for a user who likes: The Thing, Mean Streets, 2001: A Space Odyssey, There Will Be Blood, Chungking Express

Format requested: Amazon Instant Video

Availability in the US: on DVD and (much better) Blu-ray from the Criterion Collection, Le cercle rouge can also be rented or purchased via Apple iTunes.

Also by Jean-Pierre Melville: Le Samouraï (1967), Army of Shadows (1969), Le Deuxieme Souffle (1966), and Le Doulos (1962).

Also with Alain Delon: Le Samouraï (1967), L’eclisse (1962), Nouvelle vague (1990), The Leopard (1963)

Also with Yves Montand: The Wages of Fear (1953), Let’s Make Love (1960), La guerre est finie (1969)

Also with Gian Maria Volonté: Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (1970), The Mattei Affair (1972), The Working Class Goes to Paradise (1971), A Bullet for the General (1966)

TheFilmsaurus Recommends!

Readers! In the interest of making my grand TheFilmsaurus project more fun, more interactive, as well as more, let’s say, actionable, I have set up a Form on the web-based form service Wufoo. How it works: you fill in the form (where you are, what kind of films you like, etc), and I’ll create a blog post right here dedicated to one film that I’m recommending, on the basis of your data.

(This will be completely anonymous – neither your name nor your email address will be disclosed.)

In time I hope to have a real page integrated with TheFilmsaurus.com, but as of this second, you can check out the feature right here. Feedback welcome!

Being a Post on 1990s Cinema and Lady Directors

Ladies

Response to the AV Club‘s “50 Best Films of the 1990s” series was quickly characterized by the hot-button issue of female directors, or the absence thereof from the canon. Scanning the list, which was assembled from ballots by staffers and regular contributors, the “50 Best” is, unsurprisingly, a triumph of sameness, neither outrageous nor particularly heroic. All the usual suspects are present, from arthouse strongholds (Kieslowski’s Red, Egoyan’s Exotica) to cinephile fan favorites (Pulp Fiction, Rushmore) to consensus classics whose awards and accolades have survived the hangover purge of 10-15 years’ worth of hindsight (American Beauty falls, Schindler’s List survives). It’s pretty much the list you’d expect from a team of well-read critics.

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