• Stop Making Sense

    Stop Making Sense

    ★★★★★

    As Dave Kehr writes, part of it is the purity of it all. Rather than behind-the-scenes stuff or even cutaways to anything else, it's "musicians simply as people doing their job and enjoying it." The set is built before our eyes, where performance is a construction as much as anything else. The movement, the dancing, the sounds, the pure joy. I took a bit of a formalist viewing, thinking about "Why this shot?" at every moment. There's no exact strategy…

  • The Terminator

    The Terminator

    ★★★★

    Had not seen this in a decade, which also corresponds with the decade I finally got into the Corman / AIP / New World Pictures school of cinema, and you can see how impressive all the work here is in that context. Half mold of High Concept thrown onto the Corman school of cutting corners. No fancy locations—almost all shot right near downtown Los Angeles at night, with every cut to a new scene right after anything necessary plot wise…

  • Twister

    Twister

    ★★★½

    A perfect High Concept marriage of title, poster, and movie that couldn't fit more neatly into a Save the Cat manual (revisions by Joss Whedon and Steve Zallian). Made me incredibly nostalgic for the End of History vibes this gives off, from the easy dichotomies throughout the film between essentially bra-less Helen Hunt and stuck up sex therapist Jami Gertz to the corporate backed high technology group vs Bill Paxton's voodoo sixth sense about storm chasing ("He's in it for…

  • Fire Dragon

    Fire Dragon

    ★★★½

    As a union researcher with a ton of projects related to safety on set, I am happy this exists and I don't want to ever think about how many violations on set this movie would have caused if made today.

  • Fargo

    Fargo

    ★★★★

    Takes the traditional "small town crime story" and spins it with specificity (Go Gophers). One thing I noticed in this rewatch is the usual form of this narrative is everyone becoming horrified by the fact such violence could exists in these areas. This is never the case here: nobody acts surprised by the initial murders. Even when stray characters (the bartender near the lake, Mike when he calls Marge, etc.) mention it, they don't act like this is a shocking…

  • La région centrale

    La région centrale

    Strange truncated version that ran only 90 minutes; the entire projection team was essentially coy about what happened. Obviously having never seen it before I had no idea that the last reel they showed us was the final reel of the film.

    Officially declaring having seen La Région Centrale (For Those Who Don't Have The Time)

  • Jewel Robbery

    Jewel Robbery

    ★★★★½

    Not a Lubitsch film, but I joined Devan Scott on his podcast "How Would Lubitsch Do It?" to give a breakdown of every Hollywood studio from the 1920s through the 1940s. We discussed the influenza pandemic and how it consolidated distribution and exhibition, the role of the government in creating Hollywood's global brand, and the role anti-Semitism played in shaping the censorship boards. Plus, Devan couldn't help but ask about Jewel Robbery, a film I recommended him once and what remains I think perhaps the most essential film of Hollywood Pre-Code. Check our our talk here!

  • I Don't Want to Be a Man

    I Don't Want to Be a Man

    ★★★½

    I joined the all new How Would Lubistch Do It? podcast to cover a myriad of issues on this defining early feature of the director's career, including covering its oft inclusion as a key early work of Trans Cinema.

  • The Cardinal

    The Cardinal

    ★★★★

    In one of my likely abandoned history articles, I was writing a history of copyright law in postwar France, and particular the fights around whether directors would be formally given "moral rights" and thus bestowed as authors within the legal landscape of art (for thos trivia nerds: it was this law that allowed the Huston family to sue and stop the colorization of The Asphault Jungle in the 1950s). What struck me is how little involved the major film critics…

  • Glass Onion

    Glass Onion

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    One of the main complaints repeated around Glass Onion as was in Knives Out is whether the numerous references to reality and “the present” to put it bluntly, is a shtick. I think if you pick up any Christie novel or watch any of the early 30s films like The Thin Man, you will find actually a surprising number of references, whether to Princess Elizabeth, Mary Augusta Ward, or the Dick Jurgens Band, things that will immediately set the era.…

  • The Fabelmans

    The Fabelmans

    Wild that the two most important cinematic references Spielberg uses beyond his own filmography is Antonioni's Blow Up and Leni Riefenstahl's Olympia.

  • The Decks Ran Red

    The Decks Ran Red

    ★★★½

    Maybe as Twitter dies and my new job is less focused on writing about old films I can get back into the letterboxd game...

    Shown at the Academy Museum obstensibly as part of a Dorothy Dandridge series, here forced into a role playing the Maori wife stuck on a boat. The film can't decide whether Dandridge should be a sex kitten or a vulnerable ingenue sadly so she does her best alternating between the two. But that's all sideshow to…