• Will-o’-the-Wisp


    The (English-language) title is apt; that this so blatantly announces itself from the jump as diaphanous & intentionally elusive allows it to get away with quite a lot. The framing device & the central plot need much more elaboration to really hang together in any kind of coherent or even meaningful way, it's really just a series of intriguing set pieces. Awareness of Portuguese history + contemporary politics & culture certainly connects some dots, & does really bring out the gallows humor.

    And goddam…

  • Pom Poko

    Pom Poko

    Was startled & then impressed by the unsentimentality, which more than occasionally tips to outright harshness & existential despair. But also rowdy & shambly in a delightful way, & if not exactly horny, then obsessed with male genitalia in a way that is genuinely shocking to Americans accustomed to rigid culturally-enforced sexlessness with anything that might cross the eyes of children (apparently this is a prominent aspect of tanuki folklore, & I appreciated this historical & cultural specificity was retained).

    At the same time, the story…

  • Dragonwyck


    Perhaps too much movie packed into what, at its gothic heart, boils down to a high-minded bodice ripper—but very enjoyable. It's not that I disagree with Richard Brody's insistence that for his directorial debut Joseph L. Mankiewicz (who also adapted the script from Anya Seton's novel) is attempting to layer upon the central story of doomed romance multiple historical, political, philosophical, & even metaphysical dimensions, I just find the results far less successful than him (he's also notably silent re: multiple…

  • Antonio Gaudí

    Antonio Gaudí

    Watching this on the long flight home from a first visit to Barcelona? Groundbreaking! But an ideal viewing situation nonetheless. Heavily indebted to Last Year at Marienbad in its form—languid tracking shots through & across elaborate edifices set to ethereal music—but the experience of watching it now has an interesting effect of collapsing time in uncanny ways as well, providing an opportunity to directly compare many locations as they were in the 1980s & now.

    Compared to the packed pilgrimage sites they…

  • Passages


    Movie villain: Tomas. Actual villain: Martin.

    jkjk, Sachs is a filmmaker who imbues his characters & depiction of interpersonal dynamics with way too much complexity & subtly to even attempt sorting actions & behavior into neat good/bad categories. But as exasperating & messy as Tomas' behavior was, I often found myself even more frustrated by Martin's passive aggressiveness, which is just as damaging to a relationship in its stealthy way.

    But what a magnificent trio of actors, who are asked to perform an emotional…

  • Legend of the Mountain

    Legend of the Mountain

    Unfurls itself so majestically, at its own pace & according to its own rhythms & internal logic; I was utterly enraptured. I've been experiencing the longest cinematic drought in the 20+ years since I first started watching films seriously (lack of time/energy + diverted interest/focus), & it surprised me that when I did finally feel in the mood to sit down & watch a movie I was drawn to one nearly 3.5 hours long. But this was just perfection, the potent reminder I needed…

  • Hiroshima Mon Amour

    Hiroshima Mon Amour


    Not just one of the greats, but imo THE great film; no other seems to contain so many mysteries & spins me off in new, unanticipated directions with each subsequent viewing—which has now been many over the years.

    Sometimes I find myself more drawn to the conceptual aspects of the film & find pleasure in puzzling over trying to figure out what Resnais & Duras are attempting to convey regarding time, history, & the ethics of memory, etc; other times it’s its physicality & intense…

  • Cafe Electric

    Cafe Electric


    Decisively disproves Dietrich’s later characterization of her silent film appearances as inconsequential bit parts: while not one of the film’s stars, she certainly has one of this film’s major featured roles. Here she plays Erni, the spoiled, headstrong daughter of a wealthy entrepreneur who falls for—& is promptly taken advantage by—a petty thief & likely pimp played by Willi Forst, in his major first screen role.

    Unfortunately the final reel of the film is now…

  • Sans Soleil

    Sans Soleil

    Remains richly generative through each successive viewing. This was my third? fourth? revisit & I've been amazed each time how it feels like encountering a new film, as if the images, ideas, & voiceover have completely reshuffled & reorganized themselves since the last watch.

    What I most appreciated this time around is how it never tries to decode or fully explain, but allows each culture encountered to retain its sense of idiosyncrasy, its aura of mystery & unknowingness to the outsider. Yes, it poses…

  • Vertigo



    No, not the greatest film ever made—"just" the greatest American one, IMO. Also, for me, a formative text, a crucial encounter that triggered my initial cinephilia, & played an not-entirely-unconscious role in my later decision to relocate & settle in San Francisco myself.

    And I did go through a long interval where I felt the need to reject my once-favorite film—there's a reason it's one of the titles Laura Mulvey famously singled out—but just like one of Saul Bass's iconic spirals it…

  • The Lost City of Cecil B. DeMille

    The Lost City of Cecil B. DeMille

    The documentation of a passion project, a Herculean multi-decade effort to excavate the set of DeMille's 1923 epic The Ten Commandments from beneath the Santa Barbara dunes, where it was buried after filming concluded. It's heartbreaking to watch the team foiled at every turn by unnecessary bureaucratic red tape & frequently turned into a political football; it gives a pretty insightful case study of how quickly historical preservation gets deprioritized & finally abandoned despite the best efforts of all involved.

    The silver…

  • Cinderella


    Reiniger does not demure from the harsh brutality of the original fairy tale—Disneyfied this is not, I shuddered at one unexpectedly violent act of (literal) cutting—which contrasts wonderfully with the whimsical touches she brings to her rendition of this most-familiar story. Was particularly impressed with the composition of the framing, the black screen opening up in unexpected places & ways to showcase a vignette-like moment before swallowing it back again into the expanse of plain black; the possibilities of negative space truly is limitless. Cinderella's exquisite filigreed ballgown is certainly one of Reiniger's finest creations.