Monday, September 19, 2016

The Wild Bunch

1969, US, directed by Sam Peckinpah

I finally had the opportunity to see this on the big screen, in glorious 70mm -- such that every exploding blood pouch gets the epic treatment. Although there are many memorable moments, Robert Ryan is mesmerizing as an unusually ambiguous hero, the kind of conflicted character whose checkered past would rapidly become more familiar in the 1970s. While the blood-soaked finale of this uncompromising film lodges deeply in the memory, I'd completely forgotten the fine interplay between William Holden/Warren Oates/Ernest Borgnine. It's both a resolutely male film and a rough-edged critique of American masculinity -- almost a farewell, too, to a much-beloved genre, which still turned out to have a little life in it. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Toy Story

1995, US, directed by John Lasseter

I hadn't seen this since its release, but it turned out to be a perfect Friday-night outing with the boys -- as charming and energetic as I remembered, and with the scary bits judged just right for the younger set. It's also brief -- I note that the running time creeps up with each of the subsequent installments.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

So Long At the Fair

1950, UK, directed by Terence Fisher and Anthony Darnborough

A film that might pair rather well with Gaslight, as a young woman visiting Paris in 1889 becomes embroiled in what seems like an utterly absurd situation where her brother and his entire hotel room appear to have disappeared. Dirk Bogarde's not at his best here, but the set-up is rather well-handled, and there's a real frisson of strangeness at times. 

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Shaun the Sheep

2015, UK, directed by Richard Starzak & Mark Burton

As good as anything Aardman as produced, with their usual spectacular attention to detail -- on every level, from the physical world to the numerous jokes (some of them intended more for accompanying adults). The Aardman films sometimes occupy a world slightly out of time, and the stylisation here often reflects that -- the urban backdrops, the vehicles -- but in terms of electronic communication it's absolutely up-to-the-minute, creating an enjoyable off-kilter sense of time.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

No Abras Nunca Esa Puerta

1952, Argentina, directed by Carlos Hugo Christensen

Based on Cornell Woolrich again, writing as William Irish, and this time adapted in Argentina -- a country previously unknown to me as a purveyor of noir pictures. The same director made another Woolrich adaptation around the same time and indeed the original intention was apparently to do a triptych but they expanded the third story leaving this film with just two entries, both very fine: the camerawork is spectacular at times, showing that noir put down deep roots elsewhere, too, and both stories have a strong twist in the tail. 

The Boys from Fengkuei

1983, Taiwan, directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien

Very much a film where we see Hou's style coming into being, in particular with respect to the measured pace and the careful framing -- especially in the urban sequences, where the use of doorways (and other openings) or balconies foreshadows his later use of space. However, he also manages to capture a good deal of the vibrancy -- both good and bad -- of urban life: the film is certainly not stately in its progression. The main distraction is a classical soundtrack that's without subtlety -- very obvious choices, though apparently this is a step up from the film's original pop backing.


List of all movies

Most of the images here are either studio publicity stills or screen captures I've made myself; if I've taken your image without giving you credit, please let me know.

About Me

Boston, Massachusetts, United States