Favorite films

  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring
  • Autumn Sonata
  • Paisan

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  • Senso

    ★★★★½

  • Bellissima

    ★★★

  • La Terra Trema

    ★★★★★

  • Ossessione

    ★★★½

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  • Paisan

    Paisan

    ★★★★★

    “Paisà.” A corrupted word from the Italian-American “paesano,” roughly translated as “buddy,” “countryman,” or “neighbor,” often used by American soldiers during the war as a friendly way of greeting their Italian comrades. 

    The word underscores the entire philosophical tenor and humanist soul of Rossellini’s avant-garde masterpiece, a defining film of the neorealist movement that is much closer to traditional definitions of neorealism than his previous work. Nonprofessional actors, authentic locations, and documentary newsreel techniques are all in full force, with…

  • Eyes Wide Shut

    Eyes Wide Shut

    ★★★★★

    The phrase “eyes wide shut” is a contradiction in terms. Eyes can be “wide open,” suggesting a conscious knowledge or clear awareness of something, but eyes cannot be literally “wide shut” unless we approach the confusion of the term as a paradox of perception. For example, eyes might be figuratively “wide open” in the dream world with eyes literally “wide shut” to reality. A person’s eyes can be “wide open” to a number of pleasures and fantasies while keeping their…

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  • Senso

    Senso

    ★★★★½

    In which Visconti sheds the gritty skein of proletarian neorealism and addresses class struggle at a much higher, more elegant pitch. SENSO is what we might refer to as romantic realism, sensual realism, or what Phillip Lopate calls “operatic realism.” We are no longer mired among the poor or steeped in working class despair, as Visconti’s technicolor flourishes and gilded set pieces are more interested in exposing the decadent aristocracies. Marxists have long convinced us that “class struggle” is an…

  • Bellissima

    Bellissima

    ★★★

    Working class folk dream of middle class life in the movies. Italian queen Anna Magnani plays an overbearing mother from the lower ranks of Rome, an everyday aspirant who dreams of upward mobility and sacrifices everything to see her daughter become a future star in the world of Cinecittà. Proud and blinded by unrealistic expectations, her vision of the world is dominated by a simple illusion: Get into showbiz, get out of poverty, miraculously advance. She's not the penniless "woman…

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  • The 400 Blows

    The 400 Blows

    ★★★★★

    The final freeze-frame says it all. 

    Antoine has arrived on a vast and lonely coastal shore, liberated from the clutches of family and authoritarianism, with nothing to restrict him but the infinite possibility of the ocean. Days of crime, reform and hooky-playing are miles behind him. Detention centers are a thing of the past. Police can’t arrest him. Teachers can’t chide him. Parents and absent role models will no longer hurt him. And in this moment of idealization he feels…

  • Monos

    Monos

    ★★★★½

    MONOS exists on another planet, a perilous edge of the world fantasy that injects you with a syringe of Lord of the Flies + Aguirre, the Wrath of God. A brutal, unflinching fever dream that takes you hostage for 102min, starves you of its sociopolitical context, then forces you to survive its guerrilla anarchy. These are the lost boys and girls of Neverland. A dysfunctional young militia being trained for a war they can hardly understand, pushed to revolution more…