DREAMS OUR STUFF IS MADE OF
Goody - more treasure!
Limite (Mario Peixoto,
(Edmund Goulding, 1947).
Tyrone Power, tired of being typecast in heroic pretty-boy roles, optioned William Lindsay Gresham's pitch black noir novel himself. His nasty, snapping performance as an amoral carnival grifter turned society mentalist and, eventually, high class spiritualist con man, is an extremely unsettling and atmospheric journey through the darkest of noir worlds, where the lowest conceivable human depths are represented by the sideshow geek, a rotgut drunk biting the heads of chickens for a bottle a day. Along the way the film manages to condemn psychiatry and showcase the talented Joan Blondell and Colleen Gray in sympathetic roles. Although Hollywood managed to add its requisite glimmer of hope at the end, that touch can't possibly diminish the cautionary bleakness of this tale - like a fatal car accident, it's horrifying, but you can't look away.
-- Mark Netter
for Bobby Fischer (Steven Zaillian, 1993).
submit that this is one of the best sports movies ever made. Ah, you
say, but it's about a board game! Chess is not athletic, and therefore
not a sport. Perhaps, but as a film it features all the elements of
the best sports stories: raw talent under development, enigmatic mentors,
burnout. Pushy parents living vicariously through kids. Matches filled
with palpable tension. Add a stellar cast (Joe Mantegna, Ben Kingsley,
Laurence Fishburne) led by Max Pomeranc giving one of the best child
performances since Mary Badham in To Kill a Mockingbird, and
you have a film that never gets old for me. And I don't enjoy playing
chess at all.
Warriors (Walter Hill, 1979).
Concepts don't get much higher than the basic premise of Walter Hill's paean to New York City street life. A Coney Island gang is wrongly accused of murdering a beloved gang lord, and must fight their way across town to their home turf. But a routine plot synopsis doesn't do justice to the energy and style Hill and company bring to the film. The little touches, like the literal and figurative mouth of the radio DJ who delivers late-breaking updates between spinning the platters that comprise most of the film's wonderful soundtrack or the different styles of gang the heroes must go through (I'm a personal fan of the Baseball Furies), make The Warriors worthy of its cult status.
-- Ed Owens
The Man in the White Suit
(Mary Harron, 2000).
The Uninvited (Lewis
Champagne for Caesar
(Wim Wenders, 1984).
Written by L.M. Kit Carson and Sam Shepard, Paris, Texas
posits amnesia as the natural extension of American alienation. Wenders
continues his fascination with the mysteries of the road, and Harry
Dean Stanton gives a rare leading man performance as a man in search
of his identity as well as the reason why he lost it. The estrangement
climaxes literally behind glass, with Stanton and Nastassja Kinski doing
perhaps the best work of their careers.
Big Clock (John Farrow,
One sign of a really good suspense movie is that I'm willing to watch it more than twice. This clever little crime film doesn't get mentioned much, what with all the great film noir being made during that period, but it holds my attention every step of the way. A woman has been murdered, and a witness has a description of a suspect leaving her apartment. A magazine editor (Ray Milland) knows that he is the man that the witness saw - but he's innocent, and he must investigate the crime and pretend to search for the suspect. He only has an hour to nail his boss, the real killer (Charles Laughton), before being identified himself. Maureen O'Sullivan (Mrs. Farrow) helps him out, George Macready is Laughton's evil sidekick, and Elsa Lanchester turns up in a brief, but funny and marvelous bit part. Milland is at his most appealing. Laughton is great as a detestable villain. Watching the movie is like reading a stylish page-turner - smooth in style, but with plenty of tension, it clips along at a fine pace, and winding up with an inspired "poetic justice" type ending. Pure entertainment.
-- Chris Dashiell
The Hidden (Jack
Captures the time in which it's set with uncanny accuracy - those last
days of the 60s when we knew we had to become grownups but resisted
it with all our might.
Mile (Steve DeJarnatt, 1989).
director views the proceedings with an eye for more than a simple apocalyptic
fable. The very conventions that have led some to dismiss the film as
dated or cliché are cleverly subverted through DeJarnatt's awareness
of the medium and its methods (the foregrounding of time and and pace,
the narrative presentation of evolution and de-evolution, the evocation
of notions of underlying cultural paradigms). Whether watching the film
for the first time or revisiting it after a long absence, watch closely,
for God is truly in the details.
Sweetback's Baad Asssss Song (Melvin Van Peebles, 1971).
In the middle of watching this movie, nearly two decades after its release, the elderly white woman in the next seat turned to me and whispered, "This movie is dangerous!" Melvin Van Peebles self-financed (with some help from Bill Cosby), starred in, wrote and directed the first completely unrestrained African American cinematic utterance, and it still shocks all these years later with raw sexual and violent imagery, and an incendiary point of view. In Sweetback's world, rich white folks come up to Harlem to watch black folks fornicate, and our racist state condemns any truly virile black man to life on the run, if at all. It's even more of a racial Rorschach Test than Do the Right Thing, but the next great wave of African American filmmakers - including Spike Lee, The Hughes Brothers, and even Melvin's son Mario Van Peebles - owe a world of debt to the pioneer filmmaker and film that broke all the rules.
-- Mark Netter
(Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1955).
Beyond the clever plot mechanics, what's different about Diabolique
is that Clouzot has a real sense of evil - not abstract evil or comic
book evil or evil that somehow has nothing to do with us - but actual
The Honeymoon Killers
Beautifully filmed, weird, wild, horrifying, and even a little funny.
Celine and Julie Go Boating
Donnie Darko (Richard
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