Hsiao-Hsien Hou conveys the haunting silence of the KMT in A City of Sadness (1989)

The film communicates emotion and repression masterfully, living under a psychotic, militaristic, and violent regime. It’s a film that spans generations of family characters, who all, one-by-one, get picked off by the military with no reason given – senseless violence and a provocative look at life under oppression of this nature. The craft of the production design and blocking makes each scene feel crucial and that urgency is felt through every scene and performance. And Tony Leung is excellent here, taking a vulnerable stance against a vicious, fascist government that’s unafraid of its citizens. It’s the film at the birth of a nation and shows the messy fallout from an occupying government leaving citizens out for ransom. It’s a horrifying realization and perspective on how large-scale cultural change can impact people. Hsiao-Hsien Hou conveys this through embittered personal memory, and the threatening atmosphere. … More Hsiao-Hsien Hou conveys the haunting silence of the KMT in A City of Sadness (1989)

The Towering Inferno – a senseless, stupid return to the time of 1970 disaster movies

The pinnacle of awful 1970s spectacle films where the one and only attraction being the large scale cast where 95% of the budget went to the talent. It’s the awful disaster films where producers thought it was entertaining to kill off a bunch of celebrities en masse. Even if that bit of horrific black comedy appeals to you, the comedy is done in a non-specific way that doesn’t accentuate the massacre. The tone is so flat that it earnestly feels like they’re trying to tell a serious story and not one half-baked in mediocre ideas born out of the A-list cast. … More The Towering Inferno – a senseless, stupid return to the time of 1970 disaster movies

The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz (1955) is Buñuel brilliantly playing off genre

The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz subverts all expectations of the noir genre. It runs counter to every natural impulse within the genre and all the familiar conventions. It’s funny because only a director with a deep understanding of noir conventions could make something this explicitly sideways. It’s a dark, symbolic narrative that follows a character in Archibaldo (Ernesto Alonzo) who yearns to be a hardwired serial killer he’s envision since he was a boy but unfortunately for him, is confined to his mundane life as an upper class bachelor with sociopathic tendencies. It’s a case of hilarious timed writing with many plot devices that take the quintessential noir intensity and alter it for comedic effect. Buñuel brilliantly plays off the basic moodiness of the genre while keeping his placid style. There’s a sense of truth in all his work and once again here as Archibaldo desperately wants to die a criminal with no morals, but is remembered as an upstanding citizen who helped others. … More The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz (1955) is Buñuel brilliantly playing off genre

Iranian New Wave sensation Downpour (1972) is an incisive social critique

Downpour is our predilection for scandal surfacing in destructive and ignorant ways. Behram Beyzai’s vision for Hekmati’s (Parvis Fannizadeh) character was that of a humble servant of the community, within an innate sense of goodness, yet he still gets exposed inside of a communal lie meant to suppress an outsider’s influence. It’s a daring piece of filmmaking, with a provocative visual element, conveying deep seeded desire that can’t be expressed in words. It’s a poetic script, even if mired in malicious rumors … More Iranian New Wave sensation Downpour (1972) is an incisive social critique

The Slow Storytelling of Bela Tarr’s Sátántangó and the nihilistic outlook

The establishing shot has become a mainstay of Tarr’s filmography. A sort of unexpressed realism, where he’s unafraid to show the journey, in its entirety, from one point to the next. He won’t cut away from the scene until the subject has safely reached their desired location. It’s not a reprieve for the audience or the filmmaker, it’s simply letting the action play out as it happened. At times, this type of slow-moving transition has thematic and narrative significance, but other times it’s meant solely to have the audience suffer alongside the character for extended stretches of time. … More The Slow Storytelling of Bela Tarr’s Sátántangó and the nihilistic outlook

The Best Damn 501 Films Ever Made: Part Seven (199-150)

Part One – Part Two – Part Three – Part Four – Part Five – Part Six –Part Seven – Part Eight – 199. A Woman Under the Influence (1974) Dir: John Cassavetes (2) DP: Al Ruban (2), Mitch Breit (2) Editor: David Armstrong (1), Shila Viseltear (1) Writer: John Cassavetes (2) Starring: Gena Rowlands … More The Best Damn 501 Films Ever Made: Part Seven (199-150)

The 501 Best Damn Films Ever Made: Part Three (400-350)

Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 4 – Part 5 – Part 6– Part 7 – Part 8 Quick Note: We’re starting to get down to some of the best films ever made. Part three introduces the Coen’s, Wilder, Tarantino, Frankenheimer, Wes Anderson, Paul Thomas Anderson, Murnau, Kieslowski, Melville, Bong Joon-ho onto the list with innovative … More The 501 Best Damn Films Ever Made: Part Three (400-350)