Favorite films

  • Lawrence of Arabia
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • Ran
  • Secrets & Lies

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  • Licorice Pizza

    ★★★

  • Baby Doll

    ★★★

  • Home from the Hill

    ★★★★

  • The Swimmer

    ★★★

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  • No Country for Old Men

    No Country for Old Men

    ★★★★★

    A determined but hapless man who thinks he’s more competent than he is gets mixed up in a crime, and everything proceeds to go horribly wrong. That's a plot hook that the Coen brothers have riffed on several times throughout their shared career, most visibly so in Blood Simple, Fargo, and this, their first film conventionally adapted from a literary source.* What distinguishes No Country for Old Men’s take on this plot hook from its predecessors’, and indeed from the…

  • The Rules of the Game

    The Rules of the Game

    ★★★★★

    When you’re starting out on your cinephile journey, Jean Renoir’s The Rules of the Game* is one of the first experiences you’re likely to have where a film’s lofty reputation confuses you. I say this as someone who had such an experience. I first saw the film at age 16, when my knowledge of world cinema and filmmaking in general was still developing - to give you some sense of where it was, I was confident enough to say that…

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  • Licorice Pizza

    Licorice Pizza

    ★★★

    Apparently people are finding this... funny? And - and emotionally resonant? I don't know what film those people saw, but I don't think it can have been the one I saw, because the one I saw was a completely neutral experience from start to finish. The acting is pretty good, the cinematography does a magnificent job of aping Gordon Willis (a good thing), and it's wonderfully designed and dressed, but the screenplay isn't up to it. There's no characterisation to…

  • Baby Doll

    Baby Doll

    ★★★

    I can't really get a handle on why this doesn't work for me. It feels as though Kazan (who's never been known for his light touch) is either unwilling or unable to treat this as a comedy, while Tennesse Williams's script is very obviously the work of a playwright, and so the finished product just lumbers along without much energy.

    Ranking Elia Kazan

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