Sunday, November 30, 2014

November: Roll Call

11/1- Treme (3 episodes)*
         NIGHTCRAWLER (Dan Gilroy)*
11/3- Treme (2 episodes)*
         NIGHTBREED: DIRECTOR'S CUT (Clive Barker)*
11/4- DOUBLE INDEMNITY (Billy Wilder)
         BIRDMAN (Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu)
         THESE AMAZING SHADOWS (Paul Mariano) (Documentary)*
         ALTMAN (Ron Mann) (Documentary)*
11/5- PERFORMANCE (Nicolas Roeg)*
         DEAR WHITE PEOPLE (Justin Simien)*
11/6- WILD AT HEART (David Lynch)
          INSIDE LEWYN DAVIS (Joel and Ethan Coen)
11/7- MEMENTO (Christopher Nolan)
         INTERSTELLAR(Christopher Nolan)*
11/8- SUNSET BOULEVARD (Billy Wilder)
11/10- A PLACE IN THE SUN (George Stevens)*
11/11- INCEPTION(Christopher Nolan)
          THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (Christopher Nolan)
11/12- SOME LIKE IT HOT (Billy Wilder)
11/13- M. HULOT'S HOLIDAY (Jacques Tati)*
11/14- CHINATOWN (Roman Polanski)
           WHIPLASH (Damien Chazelle)*
11/15- INTERSTELLAR(Christopher Nolan)
           Consumed by David Cronenberg*
11/17- SULLIVAN'S TRAVELS (Preston Sturges)*
           MISSING (Costas Gravas)*
11/18- THE APARTMENT (Billy Wilder)
            Preston Sturges: The Rise and Fall of An American Dreamer (Kenneth Bowser)*
11/19- CATCH-22 (Mike Nichols)
11/21- LAST ACTION HERO (John McTiernan)
           THE GRADUATE(Mike Nichols)
11/22- THE GREAT ESCAPE (John Sturges)
            MASK(Peter Bogdonavich)*
            The Knick (2 episodes)*
11/23- WHITEY: THE U.S. VS. JAMES BULGER (Joe Berlinger)*
            CARNAL KNOWLEDGE (Mike Nichols)*
11/24- TO BE OR NOT TO BE (Ernst Lubitsch)*
11/25- CITY LIGHTS (Charles Chaplin)
11/26- RASHOMON (Akira Kurosawa)
11/28- SILKWOOD (Mike Nichols)*
           TOPKAPI (Jules Dassin)*
           ANGELS IN AMERICA (Mike Nichols)*
11/30- THE HUNT(Thomas Vinterberg)*

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Sullivan's Travels

"I want this picture to be a commentary on the modern condition, stark realism, the problems that confront the average man."

"But with a little sex."

This is the first Preston Sturges film I have watched and I have to say I had a blast watching it. Sturges' movies have been championed by the likes of Quentin Tarantino, Richard Linklater and the Coen Brothers. The latter being strongly influenced by his screwball comedies through films like Hudsucker Proxy and O Brother Where Art Thou? A play to the title of the movie that Joel McCrea's character is trying to get made.

Screwball comedies were a big thing in the late 30s and 40s. Ernst Lubitsch and Preston Sturges proved to be masters of the form. The former creating classics like Trouble In Paradise and To Be Or Not to Be. The latter making a string of pictures for Paramount.

Sturges started out as a playwright and decided to reinvent himself by writing Hollywood pictures starting with The Great McGinty. He went a step further and  kicked down the door for the writer/director. At the time a writer/director wasn't nearly as common as it is today. A writer could have more say in how his words were presented if he occupied both trades.

The screwball comedy aspect is sublimely balanced out by poignancy. There is a scene that involves convicts watching a cartoon that is as timeless as it is inspiring. The plot being increasingly unpredictable as it unravels. It's a flawless film crackling with energy and great performances.

"There's a lot to be said for making people laugh." There is, Mr. Sturges. And there's not enough that can be said about how you accomplished that with your films.

Go to 7:20 to hear Quentin geek out on Sturges:

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Whitey: The United States of America V. James Bulger

The documentaries of Joe Berlinger have always been morally and intellectually engaging. Working with Bruce Sinofsky on Brother's Keeper, the Paradise Lost Trilogy and Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, they were able to create some of the best true crime documentaries as well as a candid portrait of a metal band about to unravel. Now, Berlinger takes on  more true crime subject matter with Whitey: The United States of America Vs. James Bulger.

The trial of Bulger is out of the ordinary. It spawned a litany of books about the case as well as being the inspiration for William Monaghan's script for The Departed. The documentary traces the facts to interviews with prosecutors, witnesses, relatives of victims and associates of Bulger. What is so engaging about it is that the crimes of Bulger is just a small piece in a larger puzzle. A puzzle in which the pieces are conveniently tossed to the side by prosecutors to hide a greater injustice.

The FBI's connection to Bulger is something that is dissected. Yet I wanted more. The case is something that could easily have been a series of documentaries. It opens up a pandora's box of questions: Why was Bulger the only one on trial? How is James Connelly the only FBI agent indicted? If the FBI had "nothing to hide", why were witnesses getting killed? How far does it actually go?

In not being allowed to film in federal court as he did in Brother's Keeper and Paradise Lost, Berlinger said that he was pushed even further to get all aspects of the case and embed it in order to get deeper context.

What is so disturbing about this documentary is how those questions echo throughout the minds of all the relatives of the victims involved. It's a case that is far from over in the minds of several of those involved.


You can watch this documentary on NetFlix Instant.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Favorite Actors: Jack Lemmon

"Most actors can show you one of two things and they've emptied their shelves. Jack Lemmon is Macys, Tiffany's, and Sears Roebuck, catalog and all."  Billy Wilder

June 27, 2001. It was my 15th birthday and it is also, sadly, the passing of one the legends of the silver screen. If you had told me who Jack Lemmon was I would know but I wouldn't have near the amount of admiration and love for him as I do now. Lemmon was someone who often got pigeon holed as the funny man. His collaborations with Walter Matthau and Billy Wilder . But to say that he was "the funny man" would be to roll a die and think it would only turn up 1. He had tremendous range as an actor and showcase it through his 50 years of acting.

Beyond just being an outstanding actor, he was known as one of the kindest, genuine people in Hollywood. He strove to perfect each performance. It wasn't about the awards. It was about the work. He wanted to transport the audience to a special place. His son Chris writes in his book "A Twist of Lemmon" that his father would say to himself "Magic time" before the cameras would roll. Those really are the best words to describe a performance from the actor.

If I were to make a short list of my favorite actors, Jack Lemmon would be on there. Here are eight reasons why:


1. C.C. Baxter in The Apartment (1960)

If Some Like It Hot represented Jack at the height of his comedic powers, The Apartment shows just how broad a scope of characters he can play. Wilder pushed him to play not just the funny man but a touching, heartfelt character. C.C. Baxter was Lemmon's first leading role as a romantic love interest. A groundbreaking film from Wilder, The Apartment was a film in which Lemmon had to carry. The dramatic demands, the comedy and the romance. He managed to pull all of it off in spades and gave one of the truly mesmerizing performances in film.

2. Jerry in Some Like It Hot (1959)

In Ed Sikov's book Sunset Boulevard: Life and Times of Billy Wilder, Jack Lemmon goes on to say that one of the best scenes he was ever in was a scene between him and Tony Curtis. It is when Lemmon tells Curtis that he got engaged to Joe E. Brown's character. Billy Wilder ended up giving Lemmon maracas and it causes him to take the scene to unmatched levels of comedy performance.

It's tough to perfect a role in a film. It's tougher to play a role in which that character has to play a whole different role. Lemmon invests so much into the character of Daphne that is looks seamless.

Billy Wilder brilliant script's gave Lemmon full range of his comedic talents. It all adds up to one of the great pieces of dialogue to end any film that is shared between Lemmon and Joe E. Brown. That's how you end a movie. Even more, that's how you create a great performance.

3. Joe Clay in Days of Wine and Roses (1962)

Joe Clay is a man swallowed up by addiction. There is a scene in here that takes place in a greenhouse that ranks with some of the best acting you will see. He accomplished that in two takes. True desperation. A heartbreaking performance that proves Lemmon can play dramatic tragedy with equal measure as comedy.

4. Shelley Levine in Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

Shelley Levine is a character you will never forget after you've seen this movie. Al Pacino, Kevin Spacey, Ed Harris, Alec Baldwin and Alan Arkin are able to keep up with the genius dialogue of David Mamet. Baldwin's speech raises the stakes and everything afterward consists of people trying to close leads. Out of all of them though, Lemmon finds a way to dance with desperation in his character, Levine is someone who, if something positive happens, he will tap dance over another person's face with his ego. Then again, what salesman doesn't do that? It's a strong dynamic that Lemmon nails.

5. Felix Ungar in The Odd Couple (1968)

Abbott and Costello. Laurel and Hardy. Lemmon and Matthau. Having been brought together by Wilder in The Front Page and The Fortune Cookie, the comedy duo embarked upon their funniest effort yet in The Odd Couple. Lemmon's straight man is the constant foil for Matthau. Taking the idea "Cleanliness is next to godliness" to a whole insane new level. Lemmon and Matthau had a few great collaboration with The Fortune Cookie and The Front Page, but they really master the 'comedic duo' as Felix Ungar and Oscar Madison.

6. Ed Horman in Missing (1982)

Costa Gravas' powerful political filmmaking doesn't gives us easy answers. With Sissy Spacek and Jack Lemmon in Ed Horman is a man desperately trying to find his son, who mysteriously disappeared during the coup in Chile in 1973. Lemmon plays the tragic side as a father who never fully accepted his son. Missings show the actor being able to use neurotic energy to create a raw performance in Ed Horman.

7. Jack Godell in The China Syndrome (1979)

The paranoid thriller was a staple of 70's cinema. The China Syndrome falls into that category. It's an interesting combination of Sidney Lumet and Alan Pakula that bolsters three big name actors: Michael Douglas, Jane Fonda and Mr. Lemmon. The Canne Film Festival would honor Lemmon for his work in the film. A nuclear power plant worker who is terrified, Lemmon plays Jack Godell as someone riddled with fear.

8. Paul Finnigan in Short Cuts (1993)

There are several great performances in Short Cuts, but there is just something about the monologue Jack Lemmon gives to Bruce Davison. The mannerisms, the cadence, the delivery. Take note. That is how you deliver a monologue.

Magic time, indeed.

Sunday, November 16, 2014


Stage 1: Backlash

Christopher Nolan is back with his ninth film, his greatest creation yet. A film that explores the ideas of time, gravity, relativity, and mankind's exploration into the unknown. It is not only Nolan's most ambitious effort, but in many ways, his most personal. With any film of ambition, critics, reviewers, and bloggers will normally be split into two camps. With degrees of other reviewers being either slightly toward the hate or slightly toward the love. So let me preface this with saying not only do I endorse the film as Nolan's masterpiece, I think it is one of the best films of this decade.

The Dark Knight, Inception and The Dark Knight Rises all have a singular thing in common as far as reviews go: They led people to fight about the director on their blogs. Anticipation, hype and speculation all contribute to expectations toward a film. Why is Heath Ledger being cast as The Joker? Will Dark Knight Rises be better than Dark Knight? Was the Ellen Page character necessary and if so why was she a fountain of exposition? How did I get here? This is not my beautiful house. This is not my beautiful wife. And so on.

This brings us to Interstellar. Reading over all the reviews has been maddeningly frustrating. So here is what I gathered from the criticisms:

-You have the plot hole people. Most of which have all been refuted by either Nolan, physicist Kip Thorne, Neil DeGrasse Tyson or people who actually paid attention to the film.  Plot holes have been something critics use in just about every film dealing with science fiction. It's nothing new and it has gotten to the point where it borders down to lazy writing.

Imagination does not require a film to be abstract. All of science fiction is not like 2001. Nor do I want it to be. 2001 is 2001. It's genuinely frustrating that a scifi film, or any genre film for that matter cannot tackle ambitious concepts without being labeled as either "Too easy to follow" or "too complicated and abstract." Genre films are malleable to the ideas you present in them. If you have a filmmaker as smart as Nolan- who never once said "I am making Interstellar to be super smart"- working on a genre film like science fiction, then you get something interesting.

- "It's a flawed masterpiece"

The definition of a masterpiece is someone's greatest piece of work. So to have someone call this a flawed masterpiece is extremely contradictory. It's a term commonly thrown around that makes me scratch my head. Another word for it is magnum opus which is Latin for "great work" which refers to the most renowned achievement by an artist. This term in particular can be applicable with Nolan's later work because it is being done a large scale. What you are positing in saying a masterpiece is flawed is that there are obviously things wrong with it. You can't have your cake and eat it too. 

-"It was surpassed by Big Hero 6 at the box office so it obviously can't be that good."

Box office gross should not determine the quality of any film. If that were the case, Shrek 2 would be considered one of the greatest films of all time. The numbers game of how much did Movie X gross on opening day has been the media's way of sabotaging Hollywood. So it clearly should not be a factor into talking about the actual movie rather than a bunch of numbers. 

-The potshots at sentimentality. "It used too much emotion." 

Yes, sentimentality can sometimes hurt a movie. The Kick the Can segment in Twilight Zone: The Movie is a shining example. That doesn't eliminate it  from being applied to the template of a genre film. Especially when it works so well here. We live in age where shitting on a movie is looked as being much hipper than actually going out to see that movie. Maybe it comes from a certain age group in reviewers. But what I do know is that movies, at their best,  can be cathartic experiences for people dealing with their own personal struggles. Maybe there was a scene or a character they connected with. So to automatically chastise the movie for its sentimentality, is a big knee jerk reaction and feeds into the cynical, tragically hip mindset.

If it's being too sentimental, it also overstayed its welcome. Complaints of length or saying Nolan's reach exceeded his grasp could be lumped in with those that would label something pretentious.
Imagine people damning The Big Lebowski for being too funny. Or The Elephant Man for being too sad. People love a sure thing. They need to know what a film is trying to say. "It would be good if Nolan only focused on one thing." Reviews have gone so far to say that fans of the movie are not honest if they don't say they are conflicted. When you have people writing those things in a review, it's a sign to tune out to what the rest of the reviewer has to say. You don't insult the audience you want to read your review.

-Then there's the people like Andrew O'Hehihr at Salon who never really puts anything subjective into his review. He just finds it cool to make fun of the movie while never giving something to chew on.

I've read several of the Interstellar pieces on Salon and on other sites. They all seem to have one thing in common: some sort of vendetta against Nolan. Going so far as to asking why wasn't there more sound when the wheels on the bottom of TARS scraped the surface. You know, last-ditch-effort things a reviewer makes up in order to fill a word count that his editor gave him for the article.

Reviewers who just poke fun at something without pointing out what they particularly don't like about come off as people who think they are smarter than the film and/or the filmmaker. Nothing quite reeks of arrogance like someone who takes a shit on a movie in which years of hard work was put into. So throw that one out.

Two of my favorite movies, 2001 and Magnolia, received mixed reviews at the time of their release. The similarity between those two movies and Interstellar is that all three tackle bold and ambitious themes and story. They go for the fences where so many movies these days don't even attempt at trying. Nolan is constantly targeted because he is an ambitious director. And he doesn't cheapen the experience by saying that his film Interstellar is going to be an intellectual labyrinth that only the highest of intelligence will understand. He wanted to take the audience to a place they haven't been before and use scientific thinking in doing so.

Anytime you do something weird or surreal you will get compared to Lynch. Likewise, anytime you do something ambitious, Kubrick is thrown around. Therefore, expectations that an ambitious work has to be as good as a Kubrick work start seeping in. Take the films for what they are. Not what you want them to be.

STAGE 2: In order to know where you are going, you have to know where you came from 

Interstellar, like Contact in the 90s, and The Right Stuff in the 80s, relishes in the ideas of space exploration. What is out there? Nolan cites in several interviews going into the release and after its release, just how big an influence The Right Stuff had on Interstellar's first act. For the tone or look of the film, Nolan usually screens a film for his crew to tell them that's the kind of feel he wants to achieve. For Batman Begins, he screened Blade Runner for the crew. For The Dark Knight, he screened Heat. For Interstellar, he screened The Right Stuff. Matthew McCoughnahey's character of Cooper even feels like an estranged son of Chuck Yeager. It goes to show that mankind's greatest endeavors is great material for rich, human storytelling.

The passage of time is another theme that colors many of my favorite films. Which was the main plot of Boyhood and something that film pulled off magnificently. In an interview, Nolan mentioned that the main antagonist of the film is time. Addressing it from a story standpoint rather than a subject. The subjectivity and fungeibility of time is nothing new to Nolan. Memento's Leonard Shelby and the dream extraction team from Inception can tell you this. Here, he masters the use of it. My heart rose into my throat from being hit with wave after wave of emotion in a handful of scenes where time is a central idea.

In intertwining these two major themes, Nolan has crafted a film that has hit me on a personal level. You know those films where you think they were written for you? The ones where you feel alone in the audience and your ass lifts out the chair the moment the score comes in? This is one of those movies. 


The technical gravitas Nolan has here doesn't just extent towards the vastness of space. We see it at an elemental level: earth, air, water. All of this is used within the narrative to achieve a type of grandness. A strong proponent of 35mm film stock, Nolan uses the format along with IMAX and 70mm to allow the viewer to see  his uncompromising vision unfold. Cinematographer Hoyte Von Hoytema's talents extend to the natural lighting of the exteriors of a house to the vastness of space to the look of the planets that are visited. The camera mounts on the space suits prove that the IMAX camera, big as it is, can be used like a handheld camera. The presentation is something to behold.

Hans Zimmer's score conjures up the magic of Philip Glass, a man who has written minimalist scores for movies (the Qatsi trilogy) that explore the syncopation of time and place. Zimmer adds lush orchestration around this that compliments the scenes wonderfully. It's a score that will be on repeat in my car for days.

The acting of the film is excellent across the board. Matthew McCoughnahey gives a performance that ranks with Rust Cohle and Killer Joe Cooper. Anne Hathaway continues to show versatility by playing a character whose arc allows another human component to the proceedings through a speech regarding love. Jessica Chastain gives some of her emotionally strongest work here and realistically makes the growth of Murph her own character. 

The realism of the film is something that stands out. In employing an astronaut on the set as well as having physicist Kip Thorne as a consultant, Nolan creates a scientifically accurate universe and allows us to believe in its realism and plausibility. Eschewing computer generated graphics, Nolan uses real sets that makes the audience feel like they are there. 

This is a film that will sustain the test of time. My honesty level is at 100% when I say this is a film that has moved me to tears. It has moved me tremendously in basking in the idea of man as pioneers and explorers who seek answers to questions that have existed for hundreds of years. Its films like Interstellar that allow us to look at our place in the universe from a very emotional, heartbreakingly human standpoint.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Know Your Role

The Cool Girl

The Hero

The Rebel

Places everyone. 

Look at these 3 pictures. 2014 has shown us that living up to someone else's expectations only ends in character assassination. If these films are about anything, they are about wringing out the water on people's perceptions on gender, fame and race. Whether the setting is in a house, on a stage, or on a campus. 

The society and environments these characters inhabit help push them along into their respective roles. Riggan Thomson is an actor who used to play a superhero who is now directing and acting a play. Amy Dunn is living in a society where in order to be cool girl you have to be hot, smart, funny and loves sports. Samantha White finds herself thrust into the role of being the strong, take-no-shit leader when she gets elected as the Head of the House on campus. All three are told to play the hand they are dealt. 

In Dear White People, Coco Conners wants to climb the social hierarchy when she hears about a producer is looking at the campus for stories and people. In Gone Girl, Amy Dunne uses the media to her advantage to paint the character of her accused husband as the reason as to her disappearance. In Birdman, Riggan Thompson is someone who is trying to survive after the cameras stopped rolling and the curtains started rising. All three use it differently in the context of the situation they are in. 

When looking at the effects of fame in even a passive way, both Amy Dunne and Riggan Thompson's daughter Sam share some DNA. No, Sam is not nearly as cold as Amy Dunne. But their parents' obsession with the spotlight has had major effects on their personalities. For Amy, her parents would turn all her failures into triumphs through a series of books titled Amazing Amy. Sam Thompson is the child of a blockbuster film star. But his neglect and pursuit of the spotlight would turn Sam into who she is now. 

Dear White People, Justin Simien's first feature film, is an assured debut that is as promising as it is abrasive. In an interview, Simien states his influences being Woody Allen and Wes Anderson. Something I love. I admit, the trailer for the film brought to mind School Daze. So a straight line was forming from Simien to Spike Lee. The director does say Do the Right Thing was an influence but  I was happily proved wrong when I thought it was the only influence. This is a filmmaker and film that refuses to fit into the round little holes Hollywood hands out. 

The main characters of DWP all stare into the camera at some point. We see the anger, rejection, and fear run through their veins and pour onto the screen in cutting dialogue. They are not caricatures. Though to some in the film, that is exactly what they are. Or at least what they are conditioned and taught to believe. 

Role playing. That is one of the major themes of Dear White People and can even be extended to Gone Girl and Birdman. So lets break it down. 

  1. Birdman takes the literal approach where the character of Birdman haunts Riggan Thomson and chides him into donning the suit one last time. A comeback. Or as Norma Demond would want to say, a return. In a career defining performance, Michael Keaton inhabits the character with dreams of delusional grandeur. 
  2. Gone Girl deconstructs the notion of the female victim with surgical precision and clarity. Amy Dunne didn't just end up the way she did. Nor did Nick Dunne for that matter. Societal conditioning and the way thy were brought up created the characters they are in the film. How the media takes the narrative of something and runs with it, then when confronted with the real story, they exonerate themselves and their past coverage gets swept under the rug. It's an ugly beast and it all feeds into itself. 
  3. Coco Conners, Samantha White, Tony Fairbanks, and Lionel Huggins  are presented, on the surface level, as The Rebel, The Diva, The Poster Child and The Token. The characters manage to circumvent their respective labels and make the audience think about real issues about what it means to be black in the supposed Post Racial America. It's not easily digestible. Nor should it be. When confronted with the notion that racism is still institutionalized in a country whose president is a person of color, there is nothing easy about it. This is wisely manifested in all of the main characters on campus. 

The characters refused to be boxed in, labeled and given an identity. They deconstruct the social concepts of race, gender and fame and in turn give us people we will never forget. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Judging Books By Their Covers: Or, Crazy Cool Film Titles

Wild At Heart

Let's Scare Jessica Death

Only God Forgives

God Forgives...I Don't

The Blood Spattered Bride

Angels With Dirty Faces

Fiend Without A Face

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

The Killing of A Chinese Bookie

Live Like A Cop, Die Like A Man

The Taking of Pelham 123

Punch- Drunk Love

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

God Told Me To

I Spit On Your Grave

Don't Torture A Duckling

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia

Switchblade Sisters

Sweet Sweetback's Badasssss Song

Killer Klowns From Outer Space

House With the Laughing Windows

and of course

Have a favorite title of your own? Drop it in the comments section below. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Films I'd Like to See Added to Criterion Collection

The bi-annual Criterion sale is something every fan of film loves. To us, it's Christmas. To celebrate the upcoming sale on November 15th I thought I would create a list of movies I would want to see in the Criterion Collection the most. This year saw two films I have been wanting to be added to the collection finally get their due: Eraserhead and Todd Hayne's Safe.

Don't see any of your favorite titles? Create your own! I'm not asking in an antagonistic way. I am honestly interested in what other film fans would like to see added to the collection.


The Fisher King (1991- Terry Gilliam)*
previously available on Criterion laserdisc

The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976- Nicolas Roeg)*
Already on blu ray but out of print

Wrong Men and Notorious Women: The 39 Steps, The Lady Vanishes, Rebecca, Spellbound, Notorious (1935, 1938, 1940, 1945, 1946- Alfred Hitchcock)
A Must have.


5 Films By Preston Sturges (The Lady Eve, Sullivan's Travels, The Palm Beach Story, Miracle At Morgan's Creek, Unfaithfully Yours) 
Everyone from Tarantino to Linklater to the Coens have bowed at the altar of this genius screenwriter/director. Lady Eve, Unfaithfully Yours & Sullivan's Travels are already on Criterion DVD. I am hoping they roll out the same treatment they gave to Jacques Tati this year.


Don't Look Now (1973- Nicolas Roeg)
Don't Look Now is out of print and struggling to find a home. It's friends Walkabout, The Man Who Fell to Earth, Bad Timing, and Insignificance would like to hang out.

Mulholland Dr. (2001- David Lynch)

The Best of Youth (2003- Marco Tullio Giordana)
An Italian epic masterpiece as grand and operatic as the two Godfather films.

The Day of the Jackal (1973- Fred Zinneman)
Because it may be Zinneman's crowning work as a director.

The Insider (1999- Michael Mann)
The ultimate nighttime movie. A perfect script from Eric Roth. Great performances from Crowe and Pacino.

The Brood (1979- David Cronenberg)
Divorce- Cronenberg style.

The Age of Innocence (1993- Martin Scorsese)
Scorsese and Thelma at their stylistic peaks. Marty having fun with the costume drama. Scorsese's most emotionally brutal picture.

Dead Man (1995- Jim Jarmusch)
A poem to the West penned by William Blake. Flawless casting. Score by Neil Young. Robby Muller's cinematography.

The Black Cat (1934- Edward G. Ullmer)
Karloff. Lugosi. The darkest of the classic Universal horror films.

The Devils (1971- Ken Russell)
An occult film from a good director.

Begotten (1991- E Elias Merghige)
This little artifact...holy shit.

Experiment In Terror (1962- Blake Edwards)
A sultry, haunting score by Henry Mancini. The neglected B-side to Days of Wine In Roses.

Witness For the Prosecution (1957- Billy Wilder)
Marlene Dietrich's wildest performance. Up there with Anatomy of A Murder and 12 Angry Men as a courtroom drama.

In Cold Blood (1967- Richard Brooks)
Capote's vision. Conrad Hall's photography. Coming to terms with mortality.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978- Philip Kaufman)
They get you when you sleep. Michael Chapman's cinematography. Paranoia.

Betty Blue (1986- Jean Jacques Beineix)
The eroticism. The madness. Beatrice Dalle.

Targets (1968- Peter Bogdonavich)
One of Karloff's last performances. Bogdonavich's first good film.