Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Il Generale Della Rovere (1959) – relatively conventional by Rossellini’s standards, but an increasingly rich and surprising moral canvas
Animal Kingdom (2010) – distinctive in parts, but ultimately another “whatever” addition to one of the most over-explored subjects in cinema
Last Tango in Paris (1972) - even clearer now how the sex is a device, deployed in a deconstruction of Brando both forensic and operatic...
Certified Copy (2010) – a skillful, alluring enigma, but smart rather than wise; you admire the film's tactics more than its ultimate vision
The Yes Men Fix the World (2009) – consistently funny and valuable, but like all that’s progressive in this world, confined to the margins
Chocolat (1988) – quietly builds to an astonishingly comprehensive critique of colonialism, ventilated by Denis’ peerless cinematic poetry
Solitary Man (2009)
- highly enjoyable for Douglas’ perfect grasp of the character, but ultimately seems merely to throw in its hand
6ixtynin9 (1999) – well done in a familiar post-Tarantino vein, but just a doodle next to the director’s luminous Last Life in the Universe
Saint Joan (1957) – an eccentric addition to the legendary films about Joan, best regarded maybe as a discussion-prompting counter-strategy
Tristana (1970) – magnificent study of power relationships; might ultimately almost stand as the most elegant and refined of horror films
City Island (2009) – quirky, colorful and fluid enough to lead you happily along, although ultimately ends up pretty soft (don’t they all?)
Immoral Tales (1974) – Borowczyk’s idiosyncrasies and rhythms separate him from a mere pornographer, but maybe not by as much as you’d like
Nights and Weekends (2008) – an interesting look at a particular strand of modern relationship, making a general virtue out of shallowness
Tartuffe (1926) – hardly Murnau’s most major work, but still very diverting and fluent, although with some definite structural redundancy
R.P.M. (1970) – a useful reference point at least in demonstrating why Zabriskie Point is so underrated; inadequate for most other purposes
Les anges du peche (1943) – much more conventional in its style and attitudes than later Bresson, but at least halfway to the master
Taxi Driver (1976) – a brilliantly vivid, intuitive movie, endlessly fascinating even if you suspect it’s largely an arbitrary quasi-fantasy
Les amours imaginaires (2010) – has a feeling of running on the spot (a 60’s Godardian kind of spot, stylistically if not intellectually)
The Docks of New York (1928)
- a more mature and exquisite balance between social realism and romantic stylization than in Underworld...
Around a Small Mountain (2009) – a beautiful, consciousness-enhancing Rivette miniature, albeit relatively less vital than his greatest work
Shock Corridor (1963) – a scaldingly iconoclastic expression of multi-faceted Cold War American madness (and it even has “Nymphos!”)
Incendies (2010) – study of war's perverse legacy might have worked as a theatrical abstraction; dubious in this glossy, literal-minded form
A Canterbury Tale (1944) – a relatively gentle, brilliantly integrated and intuitive expression of Powell/Pressburger’s preoccupations
The American (2010) – very stylish deployment of very familiar elements; but comparisons to Antonioni, Melville etc. not remotely deserved
Vampyr (1932) - owing less to vampire mythology than to Dreyer's vision of a cinema (and even a consciousness) moving beyond constraints...
Examined Life (2008) - the showcasing of philosophers is mostly interesting, but you wish the film did more than just nod and listen...
Midnight Cowboy (1969) - a classic of sorts I guess, but looks awfully contrived and melodramatic now, a garish would-be "adult" cartoon
The Life of Oharu (1952) - beautifully evocative tale of a woman's fraught life, carrying magnificent societal and psychological complexity
The Countess (2009) - sadly straightforward, hinting at times at a feminist metaphorical significance which it falls far short of achieving
Act of God (2009) - meditation on lightning doesn't deliver much of an intellectual or thematic jolt, mostly passing by in pretty passivity
Amarcord (1973) - a graceful memoir, full of striking moments, but hard to say it contributes heavily to Fellini's preeminent reputation
Green Zone (2010) - deploys one of the great crimes of our time as a basis for high-velocity myth-making; still, more cunning than it seems
Le silence de la mer (1949) – Melville’s exquisite treatment makes an inherently literary concept into a quietly enthralling moral tale
Broadway Melody of 1936 (1935) - feels largely assembled from whatever/whomever was sitting in the MGM inventory, but what an assembly line!
Of Gods and Men (2010) - primarily of men though; immaculately examines the incremental steps (unknowing and knowing) toward an extreme fate
Alice in Wonderland (2010) - much like the Cheshire Cat, this flavorless version largely erases itself from your mind as you watch it
Le cake-walk infernal (1903) - the Lady Gaga video of its long-ago day, an inexplicable but exuberant Melies piece of musical mythology
Cemetery Junction (2010) - very entertaining, but ultimately feels more like a nostalgic pastiche than a full-formed story of real people
The Big Red One (1980) - in its expanded form, brilliantly & turbulently portrays how war rewrites all we know about the world & ourselves
Queen to Play (2009) - pretty schematic self-improvement story overall, benefiting from mild class consciousness & Bonnaire's inherent depth
Borderline (1930) - still interesting for strenuous experimentalism, despite unsophisticated basic content and clunky would-be liberalism
I'm Still Here (2010) - fairly diverting but seldom actually satisfying or instructive; the points it might be making would be minor at best
Jigoku (1960) – popping with dark and lurid imagery, and undeniably starkly handsome, but hard to see it as much more than a potboiler
Lovely, Still (2008) - acceptably sweet when playing things straight; the climactic "revelation" obscures more than it illuminates though
The Last Command (1928) - deliriously fascinated by grandeur and the perversity of fate, strongly anticipates von Sternberg's greatest works
Biutiful (2010) - dubiously focuses more on conventional spiritual blather & sentimental invention than on tangible exploitation & suffering
Hopscotch (1980) - a bit creaky in parts, but pleasing for how Matthau's unsentimental pragmatism shapes the personal and political alike
Year of the Carnivore (2010) - sells short a potentially workable premise through timidity and ill-considered cuteness...where's the meat?
L'ami de mon amie (1987) - instructively setting Rohmer's familiar preoccupations in the dehumanizing context of modern development
Lolita (1962) – maybe it ain't Nabokov, but seems now like a cunning blueprint for 2001, transcending to Quilty's mansion/the next dimension
Happy Tears (2009) - underwhelming family chronicle, consigning intriguing elements and a bright cast to drab, uninsightful mournfulness
Okaasan (1952) - Naruse's quiet, highly observant tribute to a mother's fortitude, set against post-war struggle and familial dislocation
Faces (1968) - a fascinating study in vulnerability and its covers and deflections; more raw and less stylized than much of later Cassavetes
The Town (2010) - reminiscent at almost every turn of Michael Mann's Heat, and not once to this movie's advantage; blandly efficient at best
Dogtooth (2009) - perfectly (if necessarily rather coldly) achieved; magnificently ambiguous, but spilling out meaning and provocation..
Body and Soul (1925) - still a moving depiction of the rural black community's inner fractures, marked by unusual emphases and rhythms
Ricky (2009) - nicely-crafted fusion of gritty and fantastical certainly has theoretical merit, but still seems kinda like Ozon's lost it...
Underworld (1927) - most alluring for how von Sternberg is drawn away from genre mechanics toward desire, obsession and provocation
Target (1985) - Arthur Penn in action director mode, and very effectively, but surely sublimating his great skills more than he might have..
Parade (1974) - a deceptively simple-looking final note for Tati, wondrously binding performers and audience in a celebration of creativity
Enemies: A Love Story (1989)
- humanely comic, often mesmerizingly understated fable on the Holocaust's incalculable emotional turmoil
La Luna (1979) - stunningly orchestrated psychological turbulence, classically beautiful and deeply perverse in almost all respects
Survival of the Dead (2009) - a tight, pristine, mostly conventional genre piece, with the zombies' allegorical impact largely eroded by now
Still Walking (2008) - graceful depiction of family get-together; largely unsurprising, but distinguished by its relative tough-mindedness
Paul Robeson: Tribute To An Artist (1979) - limited by brevity, but fully establishes his remarkable artistic capacity and symbolic power
Daddy Longlegs (2009) - a remarkable character study, and surely one of the most grievously under-appreciated of recent American films
Shame (1968) - superbly setting out the moral mess of war; perhaps the Bergman film that best resists the caveats sometimes applied to him
Another Year (2010) - gorgeously resonant; astonishing when it allows you to glimpse the existential hell engulfing some of the characters
The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue (1974) - ends up more run-of-the-morgue than the title and initial sequences promise, but still fun
Citizen Kane (1941) - it's true, one of the most enthralling achievements in cinema, especially if you're in tune with Wellesian resonances
Cloud Nine (2008) - way too tough-minded and rigorous to be dismissed as old person porn, although one's reaction is inevitably ambiguous..
Missing (1982) - perhaps too schematic for maximum impact, but Lemmon's crumbling under the cold weight of realpolitik still hits home
The Disappearance Of Alice Creed (2009) - nicely ambiguous, well-controlled thriller; maybe it aims relatively low, but hits all its targets
City of Sadness (1989)
- superbly intuitive reflection on loss and dislocation, meticulously considered and yet almost mystically graceful
Somewhere (2010) - Coppola has a gorgeous sense of place and texture, although applied to a somewhat narrow thematic/existential purpose
The Killer Inside Me (2010) - less striking (or shocking) than the early notoriety suggested, but an interesting tonal exercise at least
Providence (1977) – engrossing for sure, but less aesthetically imposing than Marienbad, and less spirited than most of Resnais’ later work
Leslie, My Name Is Evil (2009) - it's stylistically interesting, but feels mostly like an artistic hammer applied to a mere thematic nut
The Law (1959) - sometimes seems intriguingly wayward and provocative, at other times merely lurid and shapeless...certainly not dull anyway
Four Friends (1981) - still engrossing for how the turbulence of America's evolution embeds itself in the film's structure and texture
Nostalgia for the Light (2010) - a smooth joining of philosophical and political dots, but doesn't strike me as profoundly as it does some
The Wolfman (2010) - entertaining and handsomely executed, but over-calculated and overly controlled, without a hint of wildness in its DNA
Tragedy of a Ridiculous Man (1981) - another uniquely textured Bertolucci reverie, richly provocative on capitalism and its fractures
Shanghai Express (1932) - still a dazzling, intricate construction of pure cinema; its unity of purpose and vision remains entirely unfaded
Triage (2009) - fairly gripping when dramatizing war; less so as it gets bogged down in homefront therapy, even if sensitively done
Antonio das Mortes (1969) - near-mesmerizing, poetically intense political mythmaking, feeling as if torn from a country's bleeding heart
Alex In Wonderland (1970) - some striking if scattershot imagery, but I'm glad Mazursky stabilized and decided to go the Blume In Love route
New Gladiators (1984) - shockingly dull, murky and clumsy, with Fulci seemingly too disengaged even to take care of exploitation-film basics
Blue Valentine (2010) - a terrific, immaculately acted illustration of how cinema still illuminates even the most familiar human mechanisms
Angel (2007) - Ozon is typically effective at portraying feminine will and desire, although the overall impact is rather underwhelming here
Chimes At Midnight (1965) - the tone is regretful, but it's an immensely evocative affirmation & embodiment of Welles' commitment to renewal
Identification of a Woman (1982) - a gorgeously orchestrated expression of Antonioni's classic themes; a mere notch below his greatest work
Victor/Victoria (1982) - although widely celebrated, seems to me the start of Edwards' decline, neutering most of its potential provocations
It's Complicated (2009) - but of course it isn't - on the contrary, it's simple and banal; also glossy, complacent, a waste of great actors
Trilogy: The Weeping Meadow (2004) - an eloquently bleak expression of the fragmentation of war, expressed through staggering imagery
How Do You Know (2010) - a pretty comprehensive, miscast failure, lacking any kind of pace or style; utterly irrelevant to all our lives
Native Land (1942) - as sure of itself as an old-time sermon, and stirring as much anger and shame; still sadly relevant to these grim times
Film socialisme (2010)
- Godard pushes us out to the edge of our understanding and endurance, in the hope we may crawl back with open eyes
True Grit (2010) – strips away the first film’s ingratiating layers to reclaim the gorgeous starkness; perhaps the most rigorous Coen film
True Grit (1969) - even before the Coen version, this never seemed like more than an easy romp, making lazy use of Wayne and much else
Genealogies d'un crime (1997) - imposingly clever and impressive, but perhaps too stately and tonally unvarying to stand among Ruiz's best
Fedora (1978) - a lost-in-time oddity in Wilder's filmography, it's insufficiently incisive and often stodgy, but still patchily intriguing
The King's Speech (2010) - well-told; intriguing enough about establishment symbolism, the embryonic media etc to avoid mere curio status
4 aventures de Reinette et Mirabelle (1987) – perhaps one of the purest, most delicate expressions of Rohmer’s concept of a “moral” tale
Remember My Name (1978) - intriguing, but ultimately rather thin if set against later, emotionally lusher Rudolph films such as Choose Me
Public Speaking (2010) - a smooth if limited showcase for the iconoclastic if limited Leibowitz; Scorsese's mostly happy to sit and chuckle
Les plages d’Agnes (2008) - a quirky, evocative delight, embracing whims and new technology, eloquently shaded by past loss and tragedy
Days Of Wine And Roses (1962) - atypically stark Edwards; still scary for depicting love and mutual delight becoming helplessly destructive
The Fighter (2010) - weirdly over-valued, adding very little to the Rocky tradition; to me feels caricatured and even condescending at times
Le royaume des fees (1903) - watching several Melies films reveals the limitations of his vision, and yet, what a miracle he existed at all!
The Boys (2009) - an unremarkable but engaging little documentary, easily opening up our hearts (as a song might put it) to the Shermans
The Proud Valley (1940) - still fascinating for its merging of social document, wartime myth and calm cultural fusion (Robeson in Wales!)
A Brighter Summer Day (1991) - Yang's meticulous, spellbindingly resonant examination of a country and its youth in painful formation
Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer (2010) - shrewd, utterly depressing anecdote on America's distorted values & power structures
In Praise Of Older Women (1978) - bland, murky and mostly unerotic; a bit like a sleepy man's Unbearable Lightness of Being
Yi Yi (2000) - Yang's luminous, enveloping, ultimately optimistic vision of the continuum of life and the enduring possibility of renewal
The Bitter Tea Of General Yen (1933) - a simultaneously idealistic and perverse drama; weird and insinuating in a way you seldom see now
Kick-Ass (2010) - shows the strain of trying for new routes through well-explored territory; zippy, but no more than the sum of its parts
A Hen In The Wind (1948) - one of Ozu's saddest, most pointed films, an immensely humane examination of the bitter price of just keeping on
Penn And Teller Get Killed (1989) - first a showcase, then a cosmic extrapolation; more aligned to earlier Arthur Penn films than it seems
The Emperor Jones (1933) - almost plays now like a white man's confused, fearful blackness fantasia; fascinating even when essentially nuts
Numero Deux (1975) - Godard's grim depiction of decayed relationships in a corrupted age; deliberately offputting, but ultimately haunting
Brigadoon (1954) - Minnelli's gorgeous direction makes this (potentially merely silly) conception almost impossibly lovely and transcendent
Black Swan (2010) - seems to me a pretty thin aesthetic and psychological creation, surprisingly monotonous to watch and largely meaningless
Vision (2009) - at heart, another account of a strong-willed woman challenging the prevailing order, but with some satisfying ambiguities
O.C. And Stiggs (1985) - another case study in how Altman's bag of tricks turns unpromising material into something weirdly alluring
Duelle (1976) - Rivette is one of my all-time favorites, but this is a second-tier work, adds only incrementally to his overall achievement
Mark Of The Vampire (1935) - weirdly disconnected (but entertaining) for most of the way, and then suddenly all makes sense! (sort of...)
Hearts And Minds (1974) - a milestone of documentary & morality, exploring the multiple levels of horror & delusion surrounding Vietnam
Le voyage dans la lune (1902) - still a gorgeous, resourceful fantasy; a visionary affirmation of cinema's possibilities, and of mankind's
Edge Of Darkness (2010) - effective but overly mechanical, under-politicized thriller, with an unusually acute strand of pain and steeliness
Un chambre en ville (1982) - astonishing, troubled Demy musical, moving into much darker, provocative territory; should be much better known
Les Girls (1957) - pleasant enough, but not hard to list all the ways it should have been better; seems muted and dampened down overall
The Army Of Crime (2009) - an ambitious cross-section of occupied France; effective, but conventionally so next to Guediguian's earlier work
Brewster McCloud (1970) - Altman indulges himself to the hilt here, but it's surprising how coherent a vision he ultimately generates
The Father Of My Children (2009) - mostly familiar virtues but with a lot of extra seasoning for cinema lovers; astutely engaging throughout
Love & Money (1982) - very strange early Toback, grandly ambitious & radical at times, knowingly absurd at others; quite rewarding overall
The Only Son (1936) - more raw, socially charged and nakedly moving than most of the later Ozu films, but entirely as enveloping
127 Hours (2010) - adequately fulfills the challenges it sets for itself, but doesn't really offer much reason why anyone should care
The Woman On The Beach (1947) - the end is overly literal, but for the most part it's a quietly strange, rather hauntingly lovely miniature
Diabolically Yours (1967) - flat, assembly-line psychological thriller glossiness, although pretty well suited to Delon's steely remove
The Crazies (2010) - much sleeker than the ragged original, which of course makes it less interesting, and with minimal allegorical clout
Metropolis (1927) - amazing how much tighter it seems in this restored version; the political undercurrents remain as ambiguous as ever
Pandora And The Flying Dutchman (1951) - perhaps the best Powell/Pressburger movie made by someone else - intensely mythic and expressive
Inside Job (2010) - less insightful or galvanizing than it should be, never getting much of a handle on the ideological/cultural issues
The Man Who Loved Women (1977) - highly idealized, but oddly if drably persuasive, reflecting Truffaut's considerable sensitivity & fluidity
The Ballad Of Cable Hogue (1970) - Peckinpah beautifully ventilates this cantankerous yarn, almost at the peak of his confident mythmaking
Ajami (2009) - well-handled, anthropologically intriguing at times, but pretty conventional compared to, say, the transcendent Une prophete
Alexander The Last (2009) - interesting, but rather strenuously experimental and elliptical; the lilting tone is nice enough anyway
The Girl On A Motorcycle (1968) - blissfully ridiculous fetish drama; even seen through trash-friendly glasses, gets monotonous pretty fast
Carlos (2010) - dazzlingly conceived & executed, though with less room for the artistic daring that makes Assayas' work so thrilling overall
Trucker (2008) - so predictable and straightforward it might have been stenciled rather than actually filmed; doesn't exhibit much courage
The General (1926) - a perpetual delight, alert both to the grandness of America in formation and to human mysteries (& oh yeah, it's funny)
L'amour par terre (1984) - without delving deep into Rivette you'd never realize his almost Ozu-like devotion to certain themes and motifs…
8 1/2 Women (1999) - a diverting creation overall, but less stimulating than any random five minutes from Greenaway's titanic film The Falls
Jennifer's Body (2009) - a pretty complete missed opportunity, with glossy genre mechanics swamping any allegorical or satiric intentions
Rikyu (1989) - a rather plodding and understimulating historical study, especially in comparison to Teshigahara's earlier achievements
Caught (1949) - in many ways a rather strange tale of values and morality, made utterly compelling by Ophuls' fabulously nuanced direction
Hereafter (2010) - as low-key and matter-of-fact a "supernatural" picture as you'll ever see, which seems to be the Eastwood way of things
Stalker (1979) - strange, troubling and increasingly thrilling, suggesting the hopelessness of any intercourse between faith and rationality
A Letter To Elia (2010) - Scorsese's truly more galvanizing and moving nowadays when illuminating his heroes than he is in his own films
Tales Of The Golden Age (2009) -
doesn't add much to one's preexisting sense of the era; entertaining but surprisingly straightforward
Morocco (1930) - a movie where the perversity of desire is baked into virtually every frame, leading to one of the all-time great endings
An Autumn Afternoon (1962) - I'd rather lose myself within Ozu's cinematic universe than almost anyone else's; this is a gorgeous final note
The Social Network (2010) - yep, just about as good as they say; a gorgeously stylized & nuanced modern fable, honed with terrific instincts
The Chess Players (1977) - a deliberately artificial creation & an old man's film, but it's always historically interesting, sometimes more
The Hangover (2009) - surprisingly coherent & consistently handled; way less crass than it might have been (sure, damning with faint praise)
Death In The Garden (1956) - much more constrained than Bunuel's greatest works, but he fills the movie with elegant, biting commentary
The White Stripes Under Great White Northern Lights (2009) - a solid, visually striking showcase for the band's amazing musicianship
Une Femme Douce (1969) - Bresson explores the terrifying allure of suicide as a logical response to a compromised, suppressing world
The Prowler (1951) - a terrific thriller and commentary on the limits of the social contract, with a memorably resentful Heflin performance
Va Savoir (2001) - beautiful late Rivette; a benevolent expression of the liberating power of creativity and theatricality
The Promise (2010) - solid examination of Springsteen's methods, but too pristine to be ranked among the great rock documentaries
The Gold Diggers (1983) - Potter elegantly taps the pleasures of classical cinema while wittily freeing it from dull masculine dominance...
The Circus (1928) - one of Chaplin's loveliest films; there's some egotism at its center, but also a deep sense of the fragility of glory
Arabian Nights (1974) – probably the least enveloping of the Pasolini trilogy, but still provocatively evokes an alternative ideology
Love Streams (1984) - one of my desert island movies; an audacious and gorgeous quasi-fantasy, superbly extending Cassavetes' previous work
Pirate Radio (2009) - certainly watchable, but stuck in the same rompish groove from start to end, with little period flavor (& few laughs)
The Aviator's Wife (1981) - doesn't have the revelations of the greatest Rohmer work, but then the weightlessness is inherent in the theme
You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger (2010) - has some resonance if you've followed Allen since the golden days; maybe not much otherwise
Death By Hanging (1968) - breathtaking at times in how the remarkable Oshima keeps shifting the cinematic, thematic and moral space
The Merry Widow (1934) - completely charming illustration of Lubitsch's elegance, and very clear-eyed at its center about human compromises
The Big City (1963) - a terrific, instructive illustration of Ray's sensitivity, exploring traditional values under threat in changing times
The Damned United (2009) - brassily & very entertainingly reminds you how big-time sports used to be rooted in community & in real passion
Man Hunt (1941) - less sulphuric than Lang's greatest work, but exciting for the theme of moral flippancy coalescing into righteous purpose
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010) - one of the year's most graceful films; profound about our governing spiritual malaise
Where The Wild Things Are (2009) - Jonze makes stunning choices of design and tone throughout; it's surprisingly affecting and grounded
Miss Mend (1926) - fascinating as cultural history for its ideologically loaded take on the US, and still pretty effective as story-telling
Bitter Victory (1957) - a magnificently stark indictment, drawing on the symbiosis of biting human intimacy and the desert's bleak symbolism
A Perfect Couple (1979) - one of Altman's relatively minor, eccentric diversions, but still showcasing his offbeat, intuitive handling
Dersu Uzala (1975) - highly scenic tribute to noble primitivism is always engaging, but isn't one of Kurosawa's strongest in any sense
The Red Shoes (1948) - shimmers with intense beauty & powerful undertones, although not quite as valuable to me as Powell's "weirder" works
Passing Strange (2009) - terrific record of a kick-ass show, transcending post-modern cliches through great energy, eloquence and musicality
2 ou 3 choses que je sais d’elle (1967) - can anything be salvaged from the banal, depraved structures in which we've locked ourselves?
Limelight (1952) - expresses with rigid poignancy a psyche largely defined by distortions and past glories, with no redemption but applause
Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (2004) - interesting for evoking, albeit a bit messily, a very specific time and place in movie culture
Boy Meets Girl (1984) - unfolds like a troubled, sometimes transcendently sensuous dream, clawed from the darkness; gorgeously intuitive
A Matter Of Life And Death (1946) - emblematic Powell - extremely old-world English, but also wildly exotic and cinematically daring
On Dangerous Ground (1952) - has a great physicality at times, but overall carries the feeling of a prototype for Ray's fuller achievement
J’ai tue ma mere (2009) - finely crafted with a great control of style & tone, but still minor - hard at this stage to accept the Dolan hype
Bringing up Baby (1938) - almost mystically funny and profound; still dazzling for how the relationship can be so irrational and yet so true
Four Nights Of A Dreamer (1971) - as the title suggests, foregrounds the abstract, quasi-romantic aspects of Bresson's stunning cinema
If God Is Willing...(2010) - instructive and provocative in parts, overly familiar and sketchy in others...but easily worthwhile overall
Dust In The Wind (1986) - less provocative and instructive than Hou's greatest work, but overflowing with gorgeous imagery and observation
Advise & Consent (1962) - massively gripping, exploring the necessity and limitations of structure and ritual with almost supernatural poise
Day Of Wrath (1943) - compelling expression of how female desire, in a superstitious world, seems almost indistinguishable from pure evil
Hachi: A Dog’s Tale (2009) - appealing for its idealistic sense of community & loyalty, & for making Gere look like a dog's dream owner!
Daisies (1966) - an giddy, thrilling but principled vision of liberation, implicitly criticizing all that we squander in free societies
Crime And Punishment (1935) - a weird, barely-controlled melting pot, but Lorre's crazed engagement with the world carries a real charge
Le signe du lion (1959) - early Rohmer seems as interested in playing God as exploring inner mysteries; an intriguing launching pad anyway..
My Darling Clementine (1946) - one of Ford's starkest and greatest works, depicting stability and myth gradually asserting itself over chaos
The State Of Things (1982) - I hate to go with the flow on this, but Wenders' key films sure seemed more important then than they do now
Verboten! (1959) - packs a remarkably potent survey of attitudes into less than 90 minutes, with incredible low-budget resourcefulness
Chloe (2009) - massively lamentable effort; even calls into question Egoyan's basic competence and feeling for how humans actually function
Lebanon (2009) - functions more as a blackly clever concept movie than a
progressive commentary on war; always intriguing, but limited
The Shanghai Gesture (1941) - von Sternberg conveys a total immersion in the crazed artificiality, creating something truly weird & striking
The Ascent (1977) - one of the most vivid portrayals of humans being tested and (in part) failing, allowing a spawn of provocative readings
The Wrong Man (1956) - one of Hitchcock's most reality-anchored films paradoxically becomes one of his most existential, even Bressonian
The Key (1983) - functions like a Bertolucci knock-off without his exquisite sensibility; interesting enough, but doesn't gel into much
To Have And Have Not (1944) - a film of mystical unity; how can it be so alluring & stylized while also so gripping & morally instructive?
La Dolce Vita (1960) - I'm not the greatest Fellini admirer, but this is undeniably fascinating, phenomenally orchestrated and calibrated
My Dinner With Andre (1981) - an indulgence for sure, but the emotional and thematic takeaway is pretty satisfying, almost despite itself
The Music Room (1958) - stately and quietly moving, attentive both to the majesty and the hopelessness of its protagonist's worldview
Women In Trouble (2009) - I guess the big message here is that the porn life is just a life like any other; sure, I'll subscribe to that...
Celine et Julie vont en bateau (1974) - simply one of the most rigorous, sustained, tangible, meaningful fantasies in all of cinema
Petulia (1968) - less interesting now for the flash and "kookiness" than for the sure sense of a society losing touch with its own needs
Last Year At Marienbad (1961) - the comparisons re Inception aren't entirely misplaced, but they only show up Nolan's literal-mindedness
Minnie And Moskowitz (1971) - perhaps more revealing of the coarseness in Cassavetes' sensibility than his more complex & accomplished works
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2009) - seeing this unremarkable movie in isolation, it's a mystery why this material is currently so hot
She Wore A Yellow Ribbon (1949) - beautifully explores the rituals and myths of the West, their glory and fragility and inadequacies
Europa 51 (1952) - a thrilling expression of faith taking root among the post-war ruins, and the governing ideology's rejection of it
Everybody's Fine (2009) - largely like a glossy, maudlin, schematic variation on Tokyo Story; still, De Niro is quietly affecting at times
The Mother And The Whore (1973) - one of the greatest films on sexual politics - despairingly chronicles the limits of the human project
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) - always intriguing how Kubrick seems as fascinated by our banality as our (still dazzlingly imagined) promise
The Girl On The Train (2009) - another impeccable, insinuating Techine meditation on human interactions, possibilities and mysteries
Get Low (2010) - never achieves any great lift-off, and often fussily handled, but expert old-timer acting keeps it interesting enough
Psycho (1960) - the formal discipline and astonishing structure almost distracts you from its magnificent strangeness & near-abstraction
Malpertuis (1971) - a much more intimate form of mythmaking than we're likely to see again; remains odd and surprising even if you know it
Michael Jackson's This Is It (2009) - commendably disciplined; focuses on process & musicianship, leaving intact what remains of his mystery
The Devil, Probably (1977) - mesmerizing and remarkably tough-minded, although ultimately one of Bresson's simpler works, probably
The Box (2009) - it's no surprise when the initial intrigue gets crushed by overblown mythology, but it's still disappointing just how much
Le Samourai (1967) - over time you view it increasingly as endlessly fascinating performance art, built around private versus public rituals
The Runaways (2010) - largely successful in transcending cliches and methodically tapping the (albeit rather confused) feminine perspective
The Mother Of Tears (2007) - has all of Argento's weaknesses, but the strengths overcome them this time - repulsive, but ruthlessly gripping
Woodstock (1970) - the director's cut; probably evokes the scope & the heart of the overall event as well as any mere 3 1/2 hours ever could
Helas pour moi (1993) - achingly beautiful; transmits profound sadness that (to put it very basically) the world can't be better than it is
Paranormal Activity (2007) - effective enough, although only by declining most of the possibilities the genre (& cinema in general) present
Paris Belongs To Us (1961) - Rivette's fascinating debut; often feels like a cross between the later him and someone a bit more conventional
Motherhood (2009) - casting Thurman in this put-upon role is fanciful, but on the other hand she does carry the movie (what there is of it)
La naissance de l’amour (1993) - very haunting, sculpted in extreme melancholy & lost possibility; evokes strong desire to see more Garrel
Prodigal Sons (2008) - interesting throughout, but never amounts to more than the sum of its parts, despite somewhat strenuous attempts
The Phantom Of Liberty (1974) - Inception my foot!...the stuff of dreams is here, but also of profound engagement (and it's way more fun)
Moon (2009) - not much here to disrupt one's orbit; could have used the color of Silent Running, or just a sliver of anything 2001 had
Le Plaisir (1952) - remarkable in every way; almost seems to distill all human knowledge of desire and fulfillment into just 90 minutes
The Invention Of Lying (2009) - hard to believe Gervais settled for such a conventional, fuzzy approach to this concept, but here it is...
L'amour fou (1969) - unusually raw and gritty for Rivette, and completely fascinating, not least as a "prologue" of sorts to Out 1
Inception (2010) - seriously overpraised in some quarters; an impressive piece of structuring, but with little overall meaning or relevance
Dillinger Is Dead (1969) - ...but hope survives (barely), in Ferreri's weirdly playful, meticulous, iconoclastic prescription
Soul Power (2008) - terrific if fragmented piece of strutting archaeology; falls in the tiny category of movies you wish had been longer
Lions Love (1969) - Varda takes a ride on a conceptual bronco and mostly holds on; knowingly messy, but also moving and piercing at times
Taking Woodstock (2009) - pretty fatal evidence for those who try to claim Ang Lee as a great director; has no texture or feel for anything
Out One (1971) - a truly unique viewing privilege, rich in creativity & mystery while exploring an immense intellectual disillusionment
Surrogates (2009) - some arresting images and ideas, but overall very thin; reminds you at every stage of other more fully-developed movies
The Long Long Trailer (1953) - enjoyable, eternally resonant missive from a culture defined entirely by commodities and stereotyped desires
I Am Love (2009) - remarkably sensual and attentive and pleasurable, although just too narrow I think to be valued at the highest level
Julia (2008) - a remarkable, daredevil study in performance, with Swinton just scintillating; I sure wish Zonca worked more frequently
Lady Oscar (1979) - sadly plain and straightforward compared to Demy's great work, barely tapping the material's considerable possibilities
The Joneses (2009) - has some nice satirical touches here and there, but it's seldom as biting or disquieting as you'd like it to be
Variety Lights (1950) - largely sentimental, although with a cold streak; expertly engrossing, but only hints at Fellini's later ambitions
All Of Me (1984) - still a joyous viewing experience, galvanized by Martin's amazing performance and a total conviction in the fairy tale
No Subtitles Necessary: Laszlo & Vilmos (2008) - a bit unbalanced (what's with all the Frances coverage?) but valuable and evocative overall
The Human Condition II (1959) - patiently & eloquently extends the first film's humanist project, reaching a chilling arrival point
The Kids Are All Right (2010) - a surprisingly conventional (while well-executed & funny) surface, but with real underlying conviction
Legal Eagles (1986) - lumbering and almost entirely toothless, but quasi-interesting for a kind of courtly quality that's seldom seen now
The Fireman (1916) - moves rapidly from balletic ass-kicking to a potted arson drama, as if summing up Chaplin's escalating ambition
Ponyo (2008) - as charming & iconoclastic as all Miyazaki's work, with an accessible (but hardly simple) vision of delight & transcendence
Cold Souls (2009) - certainly well handled; intriguing for how Barthes makes elements of potentially nutty fantasy seem almost desolate
Abbott And Costello Meet The Mummy (1955) - a sad sight by any measure, especially for the duo's overwhelming lack of energy and intuition
El Topo (1970) - amazingly confident, visually ravishing, structurally startling mythmaking, with more humanity than the legend may suggest
Downhill Racer (1969) - remarkably desolate sports movie, with Redford at his coldest, finding little distinction between triumph & wipe-out
Sherrybaby (2006) - puts most of its chips on Gyllenhaal, which works out fine, but the "grittiness" remains within accessible limits
The Unholy Three (1925) - mesmerizing whenever it hits its gorgeously freakish stride, although it ultimately peters out a bit
Nobody Waved Good-Bye (1964) - fascinating study of a glib teenager, born in wrong time and place, basically talking himself into oblivion
Hello Goodbye (2008) - utterly underdeveloped; feels like the main motivation was to deploy two stars for some kind of tax write-off scheme
Going Shopping (2005) - pretty and pleasant but utterly toothless Jaglom creation doesn't exactly suggest a very expansive worldview
Night Of The Demon (1957) - increasingly anguished blend of British drabness & wild mysticism; full of fascinating linkages & implications
Ossos (1997) - precisely evokes a startling local reality while experimenting with Bressonian aesthetics...a long way from later Costa
The Art Star And The Sudanese Twins (2007) - despite the odd background, a pretty flat reverie on the fine line between art and exploitation
Middle Of The Night (1959) - despite Mann's drab direction and a weak ending, fairly moving for the fluid writing and March's authenticity
The Prisoner or: How I Planned To Kill Tony Blair (2006) - absurd/horrifying, tightly-focused complement to wider-scale Iraq condemnations
Blaise Pascal (1972) - not quite as meticulous as Cartesius in charting the topography of a great mind, but immensely informative and worthy
Winter's Bone (2010) - provocative and seemingly informative as a window on a startlingly self-contained community; very cannily handled..
The Carey Treatment (1972) - always intriguing for how Edwards' deadpan style so perfectly wraps around Coburn's near-mystical sense of self
The Private Lives Of Pippa Lee (2009) - interesting to try building a movie around such a self-effacing character, but doesn't yield much
Mr. Thank You (1936) - sets out many of Japan's strains & tensions of the time, but with a delightful sense of community & possibility
The Honey Pot (1967) - hardly Mankiewicz at his best, and outright clunky at time, but mostly gets by on classically elegant performances
New York, I Love You (2009) - feels like everyone involved had a gun at their heads, forcing them to do the dreamy wistful thing...
Intentions Of Murder (1964) - extremely twisted and disconcerting tale of female empowerment in a painfully mixed-up post-war Japan
Splice (2010) - ideas count for much less here than the genre's demands for speed & clarity; imagine Michael Mann addressing such themes...
The Human Factor (1979) - suitable final note from Preminger dryly captures the Cold War's weird mixing of formality and derangement
La constellation Jodorowsky (1994) - doesn't adequately convey his artistic significance, but valuable for various personal insights
Let There Be Light (1946) - a window on the dawn of our new ultra-therapized age, simultaneously both humane and somehow depersonalizing
The Burning Plain (2008) - diverting enough, but ultimately predictable and unrevealing; the smart-alec structure counts for very little
The Human Condition I (1959) - powerfully sets out the meagre possibilities for progressive humanism in a time of fear and self-interest
A Perfect Getaway (2009) - has the same surprise ending as every other movie now; genre pieces like this sure used to have more color
Return Of The Secaucus Seven (1980) - still engaging but seems very conventional now, and often pretty forced; provides only modest insight
Intimate Enemies (2007) - soberly gripping; an effective historical reference point re appropriate terms of engagement with "terrorists"
The Exiles (1961) - utterly no feeling of artifice; the sense of existential loss and separation from their original purpose is overwhelming
Spread (2009) - good evocation of decadence, but otherwise pretty soft; Kutcher is much better at cool distance than at loss & devastation
The Grim Reaper (1962) - parade of deprived souls has early signs of Bertolucci's analytical prowess & some sad, chilling social observation
Gumshoe (1971) - the dissonant, stylized Liverpool setting works well at first, but ultimately the impact is self-defeatingly generic
Brothers (2009) - has some pleasant naturalistic moments, but overall too sculptured & pretty; way below the (overrated) Danish original
In Vanda's Room (2000) - fascinating as anthropology, dissolving any conventional relationship between humanism and aesthetic calculation
Harry Brown (2009) - relentlessly and distastefully silly, although Caine's dignity and the over the top "grittiness" help it roll along
L'histoire d'Adele H (1975) - elegantly & enigmatically reflects on the historical perception of female empowerment as a form of madness
Three Lives And Only One Death (1996) - very elegant metaphor for creativity & engagement, so gracefully handled it almost seems rational
The Girl In The Park (2007) - certainly modest, but benefits enormously from Weaver's moving performance and from some intriguing psychology
The L-Shaped Room (1962) - not too distinctive, but true to Caron's lovely fragility and to the lousy economics governing all the lives here
The Yacoubian Building (2006) - epic saga of changing times in Egypt, sometimes cheesy, but also often bold & anthropologically interesting
The Two Jakes (1990) - surprising Nicholson would be such an uninspired director; lousy instincts & pacing kill off the promise throughout
Oceans (2009) - easily labeled a spectacle for kids, but forget being a cineaste - just as a human, what could be more elevating than this?
The Unknown (1927) - the closing stretch is still as unnerving as anything you'll ever see, with Lon Chaney at his most mesmerizing...
The Czech Dream (2004) - amusing real-life anecdote of expert hoax, ultimately crafting some nice parallels with the pro-Europe movement
Orphan (2009) - throws a silly excess of ingredients into the pot, and it's hopelessly formulaic, but done with darkly handsome proficiency
No Regrets For Our Youth (1946) - variable but evocative early Kurosawa; a stylistic mixed bag, building to a back-to-the-land paean
Choke (2008) - largely rancid viewing experience; feels like being cornered in a topless bar by a smutty relationship therapist
Surveillance (2008) - makes most sense if seen as a kind of depraved performance-art tone poem, otherwise it just seems messy and tone d
O'Horten (2007) - pretty thin, even by the standards of such throwaway quirkiness; intriguing at times for its sense of a waking dream
Moby Dick (1956) - inadequately sustained, but with the right sense of inner coherence, however self-destructive, found only in obsession
Battle For Haditha (2007) - for me much more impactful and moving than The Hurt Locker, although some might consider it unsubtly anti-US
Vertical Features Remake (1978) - a major step ahead in the fascinating progression of Greenaway's short films, cranking up the mythology
Voices From Beyond (1994) - Fulci's last film shows him in sure decline; it's visually undistinguished with little sense of conviction
Stuck (2007) - a highly gripping little curio, pumping everything there is to be had from its nutty premise, and then knowing when to quit
Please Give (2010) - nicely explores issues of fulfillment & obligation within a very smart structure; intriguing and engaging throughout
The Falls (1980) - amazing myth making, even when heavy going; makes you marvel anyone could have so much creative capacity and discipline
Everlasting Moments (2008) - restrained memoir, usually choosing not to stare directly into the hurt; the impact is precise but modest...
The Good Night (2007) - one of those celebrity-laden exercises where you get the feeling they all forgot halfway through why they bothered..
The Daytrippers (1996) - perpetually underrated, nicely balanced between sharp observation and whimsicality (a pointer who can't point!)
I Married A Monster From Outer Space (1958) - from the opening stag that feels like a wake, effortlessly resonant about 50's discontent..
Tickets (2005) - Loach's bit is happily familiar; Olmi's overly sculptured; Kiarostami's surprisingly easygoing; overall elegant but limited
You Don't Know Jack (2010) - Pacino is terrific, but a bland-ish movie -mostly limits itself to presenting Jack's side cleanly and clearly
Walkabout (1971) - gorgeously achieved; constantly surprising & productively disorienting, although without the layers of Roeg's later works
Nothing But The Truth (2008) - mostly workmanlike, with little texture, but easy to watch & an OK primer on some freedom of the press issues
The Diary Of An Unknown Soldier (1959) - Watkins' style is already remarkably formed and raw, even if the antiwar sentiments are familiar
Simon Of The Desert (1965) - how do you prove your piety without placing yourself as close to Satan as possible (like, on the dancefloor!)
Lianna (1983) - conveys a real fascination with the possibilities for female growth & self-expression, although often succumbs to convention
Golden Boy (1939) - Holden still feels modern but a lot of the rest is pure shtick; generally compelling though, sometimes even dazzling
The Secret In Their Eyes (2009) - the best foreign film Oscar goes once again for easy glitz; this beats Audiard & Haneke?...gimme a break..
River Queen (2005) - reminiscent at every turn of better films, and a bit of a slog, but has its watered-down Malick/Campion-esque moments..
The Loneliness Of The Long-Distance Runner (1962) - compared to similar films of the time, a bit strenuous in its structure and symbolism
Save The Green Planet (2003) - potentially tiring high-octane fantasy (spanning Kubrick to Saw) easily gets by on polished giddiness
The Gladiators (1969) - hits plenty of punches, and delightfully strange at times, but more didactic and narrow than Watkins' best work
The Knockout (1914) - almost embryonic in its technique, but takes a leap when Chaplin appears, already radiating screen-friendly agility
Dead Snow (2009) - Nazi zombie gore against pristine white backgrounds; utterly nutty, but gets the pace and attitude bloody right
Sitting Ducks (1980) - as always, Jaglom's heart is in the shambling, sometimes touching sense of community; but not his most achieved work
And Now For Something Completely Different (1972) - even some of Python's best bits struggle against the heavy-footed overall approach
Jules et Jim (1961) - after many viewings, it seems often forced to me, although with perpetually intriguing technique & sexual politics
The Wild Angels (1966) - the early sense of liberation doesn't last for long; turns into a surprisingly rigorous deconstruction of the myth
There's A Girl In My Soup (1970) - the cardboard-like Sellers/Hawn relationship never makes an iota of sense; pointlessly watchable at best
La petite Lili (2003) - evolves rather unexpectedly into a strange meditation on cinema's healing power; overall enjoyable, but unsatisfying
The Uneasy Three (1925) - quite elegant Leo McCarey comedy showing his escalating complexity, riffing nicely on the era's moral principles
The Blind Side (2009) - sure, might have deserved the Oscar attention, just like I might be eating the world’s most nutritious Twinkie bar
Coraline (2009) - very tangibly enchanting, and watching it shortly after Valerie And Her Week Of Wonders helps jazz up the subtext
Valerie And Her Week Of Wonders (1970) - mysteriously fascinating, overflowing reverie on the potential havoc of unleashed female sexuality
Spring Breakdown (2009) - shrill, shallow spectacle tries to talk a good game about poor female empowerment, when not crudely exploiting it
La bete humaine (1938) - still a disquieting, hugely confident work, most chilling for its grim insinuations on impact of industrialization
All The President's Men (1976) - as free of cliche & excess as such a film could possibly be; handsomely resonant about corruption & power
Mes nuits sont plus belles que vos jours (1989) - strangely ripe and moving, crafting a zone of expression outside normal laws & conventions
Heller In Pink Tights (1960) - some heavy plotting, but enchantingly illustrates how theatrical flourish enchants even the tough & the jaded
The Immigrant (1917) - Chaplin calibrating & deepening his comedy here, growing increasingly intricate & subtle as the backdrops get bigger
Mother (2009) - Bong is a shrewd and subtle stylist, and it's a gripping narrative, but the movie's after-taste is ultimately pretty generic
Tracks (1977) - Jaglom's artful swing from the convivial to the deranged speaks volumes about the impact of Vietnam on the national psyche
Killing Me Softly (2002) - idea of applying a (way) outsider's perspective (Chen Kaige!) to familiar titillation material falls utterly flat
The Young Girls Of Rochefort (1967) - a sprawling dream of community; takes your breath away how many things Demy holds in alignment here
Management (2008) - minor and stilted, with an old-hat turning-round-your-life theme, & two stars who seem to belong on different planets
Some Came Running (1958) - fascinating melodrama, with a persistent sense of longing and rootlessness and enormous depth of expression
Greenberg (2010) - has its moments throughout (Gerwig brings a lot), but seldom as original or existentially captivating as Baumbach intends
Empties (2007) - has an amiable glow, but suggests no reason at all for existing, other than the director finding a lead role for his dad
The Cheat (1915) - a rich narrative of transgression; more evidence of how inadequately DeMille's later reputation sums up his full career
Human Resources (1999) - examines with great, sympathetic precision the toll of an ideology built on inherently soul-destroying structures
Transsiberian (2008) - very gripping in a somewhat old-fashioned, wintery way, and highly atmospheric; Brad Anderson is quite underrated...
Crisis (1946) - premonitions of later Bergman, especially in the tortured gigolo character, but for now he lets small-town values win out
Precious (2009) - less of a "“sociological horror show” than I'd feared, but minor; often feels like a weird collage of gimmicky ideas…
Barfly (1987) - diverting enough, but flatter and less informative than its roots and Schroeder's achievements elsewhere would suggest
Cartesius (1974) - a transcendent project in education & illumination, particularly viewed now, with integrity & reason so widely degraded..
The Passionate Friends (1949) - highly engrossing as it acts out the ambiguity in the title - a relationship lacking a natural equilibrium..
Outsourced (2006) - conventional in its approach to emotions and issues, but makes some good points about the West's dwindling hegemony
Macbeth (1982) - told in just two takes; conveying the spooky sense of maybe being Macbeth's posthumous telescoped tortured recollection...
The Godless Girl (1929) - maybe God wins the day this time, but DeMille doesn't leave much doubt it might ultimately swing the other way
Un prophete (2009) - a punchy narrative for sure, very intuitive & resonant re implications for Europe's old guard as its power hollows out
Twentynine Palms (2003) - the elemental, searching quality is intriguing, but hard to shake off the sense of a cruder Zabriskie Point
When Did You Last See Your Father? (2007) - well, not as recently as I saw a dozen other equally inconsequentially "sensitive" movies
Battle In Seattle (2007) - effective overall in navigating the big picture; less so when resorting to conventional character arcs
Walker (1987) - pretty didactic at times, but a concentrated fist of a movie, mesmerizing as the deliberate anachronisms start to invade
Saute ma ville (1968) - as striking as Jeanne Dielman in a "performance art" kind of way, making domesticity spooky and imprisoning
A Foreign Affair (1948) - some flimsy foreground maneuvers, against a devastating Berlin backdrop & satisfying barbs at the hand that feeds
The Ghost Writer (2010) - a steely take on power: exhibits all Polanski's skill, but limited by genre-driven conventionality I think
Temple Grandin (2010) - bathed in an unimaginatively pristine glow, but generally engaging & informative about her achievements
Fish Tank (2009) - strong and intriguing throughout, with memorably abrasive character dynamics; almost unbearable tension at one point
Can She Bake A Cherry Pie? (1983) - really just a series of fragments, but striking for the sense of something deeply personal at its centre
The Holy Mountain (1973) - an astonishing, uncompromising, rebellious, exacting vision; all modern epics look merely disposable next to it
Desaccord parfait (2006) - feels like a tacky relic from the 70's; has possibilities on paper (like, Rampling!), realizes none of them
The Messenger (2009) - a moving, complex reverie about crafting meaningful self-identity within the
military worldview's distorted contours
The New York Ripper (1982) - benefits from Fulci's zealous approach to the slasher stuff, & from the backdrop of a crummy guilt-ridden city
Baghead (2008) - entertaining so-called mumblecore approach to Blair Witch-type material, although greater ambition wouldn't have hurt
Un lever de rideau (2006) - a pleasant & fluent, somewhat Rohmeresque miniature, but with a sense of strain that confirms Ozon's limitations
On The Beach (1959) - actually works better if taken as a metaphor for our slow-motion response to environmental & other pending crises
A Letter To Uncle Boonmee (2009) - on The Auteurs website; a suitable intro to Apichatpong's gorgeous (if initially head-scratching) work
Lake Of Fire (2006) - pristine & scalding; both sides have honesty & passion, but one side has more crazed (mostly male) self-righteousness
Vers Mathilde (2005) - a graceful, intuitive and logical documentary counterpoint to Claire Denis' awesome narrative films of this decade
Shutter Island (2010) - absorbing and fluent, but comically unworthy of a so-called greatest living director (low ambition, or insecurity?)
L'intrus (2004) - truly on the outer edge of what you can expect a (merely human!) filmmaker to create; just thrilling to contemplate
The Dragon Painter (1919) - a sweet, graceful, although immensely abbreviated (and, sure, silly) little fable; Hayakawa is very empathetic
Munchhausen (1943) - mostly a charming if chilly fantasy, very visually inventive at times, although has an air of superiority somehow
Anvil! The Story Of Anvil (2008) - good fun, well-pitched re both the poignancy and the Spinal Tap echoes, no Some Kind Of Monster though
The Happy Ending (1969) - quite personal & touching at times; too glossily calculated at others; hides a hankering to get raunchier I feel
Je, tu, il, elle (1976) - says much on societal/psychological strictures, while probing possibilities for productive human collision..
Satantango (1994) - as per legend, a starkly magnificent, slyly funny, not unduly punishing (!) 7-hour spiritual/social devastation epic
Ballad Of A Soldier (1959) - surely unfairly forgotten now; get past the pro-Soviet paeans and it's well-observed, touching, even surprising
In Search Of A Midnight Kiss (2007) - even at its best a poor dude's Before Sunrise, although unusually informative about the LA topography
Last Life In The Universe (2003) - a wonderful luminous film, with real weight and poignancy to its genre-grounded magic realism
10 Items Or Less (2006) - a self-regarding, tone-deaf stunt, rendering Morgan Freeman more annoying than would have seemed possible
Knight Without Armour (1937) - formed by long-out-the-window aesthetic conventions, but Feyder finds a tender core within the creakiness
Seance (2000) - narratively fairly straightforward, but genuinely creepy and troubling, with elements of strange, plaintive social critique
A Shot In The Dark (1964) - a very consistent, deadpan take on a brilliantly ambiguous “idiot” challenging order in a flatly venal world
Crazy Heart (2009) - the great Bridges could surely have gone further, into more complex territory, but the film doesn't want to go there...
La chambre (1972) - almost uncanny how such a simple formal idea seems to accommodate so much unsettling implication
Irma La Douce (1963) - 2nd rate Wilder at best: handsome and peppy, but so ridiculous it almost takes on an air of liberating abstraction
Fury (1936) - still potent damn-your-land-of-opportunity viewing, although melodramatic contrivance weighs too heavily in the second half
The Cure (1917) - important early insight that stuffy institutions are only validated by being mocked (for which it helps to be blind drunk)
Police, Adjective (2009) - a shrewd, deadpan expression of a cop's loss of individuality (which mainly only consisted of tedium anyway)...
Man Of The West (1958) - a fascinating, brooding genre piece, full of sublimated pain at old relationships and codes breaking apart
Smoke (1995) - nicely done and endlessly convivial; but acknowledging its own weightlessness doesn't ultimately equate to countering it...
The Phantom Carriage (1921) - grippingly structured and genuinely creepy, eerily conveying the pain both of this world and the next
Seems Like Old Times (1980) - was it really only thirty years ago that such amiable middle-aged plasticity could be a big-screen event?
The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus (2009) - plot has an utter "whatever" quality, but it's a good skeleton for Gilliam's inventive clutter
The Local Stigmatic (1990) - weird and almost entirely viewer-resistant, although testifies to Pacino's wayward theatrical roots
Grey Gardens (2009) - finds an honorable and moving approach to the characters, but still never completely shakes off a sense of redundancy
Gervaise (1956) – just as handsome as Children Of Paradise, poignantly contrasting her sweet industriousness and her lovers' venality
Tillie's Punctured Romance (1914) - cinematically dull, with lots of stilted activity, but also some elegance in the embryonic slapstick
Up In The Air (2009) - disappointingly weightless; feels created by people whose entire sense of the business world comes from other movies
Chinese Coffee (2000) - standard minor-league theatrics; Pacino and Orbach just have too much presence to embody these sad, minor lives...
The Little Fugitive (1953) - a great 50's New York time capsule, showing the ambiguous freedoms of youth in a less neurotic and cautious age
Tropical Malady (2004) - amazingly alluring and sensuous; takes a second viewing though to appreciate it as prose as well as poetry
Kings And Queen (2004) - often feels like a gorgeous caper, even as it skirts despair; Desplechin's grasp of human capacity is peerless
Avatar (2009) - full of pleasing (if confused) political provocation, although ultimately feels more like experiencing a game than a film
The Fatal Glass Of Beer (1933) - near brilliant in its beyond-whimsical form and content; Fields' persona is as stubbornly radical as ever
The Nutty Professor (1963) - shot through with elements of nastiness and twisted self-regard, with no interest in real people generally
Le Rayon Vert (1986) - not sure why this is so often cited as one of Rohmer's best, not that it isn't utterly engaging of course...
Big Deal On Madonna Street (1958) - a nice mix of broad and more subtle comedy, caper mechanics, and sometimes poignant social portraiture
Nine (2009) - I can’t recall a recent film with so little sense of spontaneity (especially murderous, obviously, for a musical)
Boomerang (1947) - fascinatingly ambitious procedural, built on meticulous organization, laying groundwork for Kazan's richer work to come
Confessions Of A Window Cleaner (1974) - under the relentless surface, really quite a melancholy window on a repressed and mediocre society
La regle du jeu (1939) - one of the truly great films; elegant beyond comparison; scintillatingly complex; possessing a mysterious harmony
Clean (2004) - another terrifically quirky examination by Assayas of globalization's existential toll, full of remarkable observations
Invictus (2009) - Eastwood's mega-pragmatic but principled form of stylization might by now be the most reliable tool-kit in the business...
La Chinoise (1967) - gorgeously vivid and stimulating; triangulates intellect and playfulness in a way that seems lost to mass culture now
Don Quijote de Orson Welles (1992) - shockingly slapdash in realizing Welles' intentions, but still an eye-opener, sometimes even beautiful
Casualties Of War (1989) - Vietnam as a purely cinematic creation, illustrating its horrible malleability both as experience and history...
Wristcutters: A Love Story (2006) - the grungy afterlife for suicides is initially intriguing, but peters out into meet-cute/new-age stuff
A Single Man (2009) - so being gay, it seems, mainly means being polite and pretty and wistful; a beautiful installation, but barely a film
La Route de Corinthe (1967) - some good moments, but an early sign of Chabrol's willingness to ease off artistically and enjoy the good life
Force Of Evil (1948) - compelling and politically charged; Garfield's is one of the all-time great portrayals of morally-bankrupt go-getting
Through A Glass Darkly (1961) - is the poor woman swallowed up for the sake of male unity, or liberated (to join God the spider?), or both?
Pigs And Battleships (1961) - inspired provocation of a chronically misled post-war Japan gone all but mad; leaves a corrosive aftertaste
Me And Orson Welles (2008) - knowingly old-fashioned and affectionate; feels true and informative as an evocation of Welles’ working methods
The Balloonatic (1923) - Keaton's customarily elegant staging and the ultimate escape from earthly ties creates something quite transcendent
The Valley (Obscured By Clouds) (1972) - a shaggy mysticism time capsule; goes from stilted to moderately enlightening, but always watchable
Jimmy Carter Man From Plains (2007) - maybe Carter was just too decent and thoughtful to be an effective President (Obama parallel ahead?..)
Claire's Knee (1970) - a kind of abstracted, sun-kissed Dangerous Liaisons; fascinating and nicely ambiguous, but second-tier Rohmer I think
Collapse (2009) - at least 90% correct if you ask me, and 100% riveting, even if you barely react to it with your usual aesthetic criteria..
L'Argent (1983) - I'm always in awe of Bresson's navigation between often horrifying specific causality, and inter-connection/predestination
The Insect Woman (1963) - an amazingly ambitious study of venality, although at least seems to allow mankind some faint remaining hope...
Knowing (2009) - if this had been made forty years ago pre-CE3K with a bit more grit, might have seemed like a true wonder; now, not so much
Ne touchez pas la hache (2007) - much more radical and adventurous than it first appears; beautifully strange and quietly savage...
Baby Face (1933) - concentrated spectacle of magnificent Stanwyck dissecting and blasting through men; amazing (except for soft ending)
L'aimee (2007) - Desplechin's quietly brave object lesson in creating resonance and texture from highly localized material
The Road (2009) - a bleak film for sure, but to little end; separated from the zombie apocalypse genre only by its self-righteous austerity
Killshot (2008) - efficient enough, but nothing about it even vaguely suggests the possibility of a higher-echelon Elmore Leonard flick...
Koko: A Talking Gorilla (1978) - through its careful observation of existential complexity, links compellingly to Schroeder's other work
The Candidate (1972) - the triumph of image-making over substance... perpetually resonant no matter how much the hairstyles change...
The International (2009) - like making a Bernie Madoff movie and, just to jazz things up, having him be a serial killer too...
The Headless Woman (2008) - strangely puts me in mind of Lynch's Inland Empire through its multiplicity of (real or imagined) implications..
The Ninth Gate (1999) - sad to see Polanski's sly sense of the perverse reduced to such glossy gobbledygook, no matter how easily watchable
Goya's Ghosts (2006) - handled fluidly enough, but the heavy use of dramatic contrivance puts it firmly in the annals of the second-rate...
White Cannibal Queen (1980) - as lousy a creation as you'll ever see, embodying every disdainful cliche applied to low-budget genre cinema
The Big Heat (1953) - Lang goes to the edge of the then-permissible, letting the stink of layers of corruption seep right to the surface
Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) - shimmers with painstaking respect for the integrity of an ecosystem, however quirkily and dreamily imagined...
Clash By Night (1952) - with everyone highly expressive of some deep block, feels much like Lang encroaching (with great precision) on Sirk
I Am Curious - Yellow (1967) - actually rather touching in portraying Lena's somewhat reckless curiosity & desire to make a difference..
Ornamental Hairpin (1941) - no Ozu, but still an engaging, structurally quirky miniature, full of insight into Japanese social rigidity..
Carnal Knowledge (1971) - now feels like a narrow performance art piece, if not a stunt, although Nicholson is eternally mesmerizing
Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans (2009) - funny how Herzog flourishes again as the state of our societal misdirection deepens..
House Of Bamboo (1955) - could be seen now as a beautiful abstract parody of globalization - men in suits whipping up cross-border mayhem..
Fando and Lis (1968) - Fellini, Makaveyev, apocalypse, chicks with whips, Garden of Eden...you gotta problem with that?...didn't think so!
The Racket (1951) - condensed and sharp, although its approach to visuals and relationships often feels too much like series TV to come..
The Railrodder (1965) - rather uneasily grafting an affectionate late Keaton tribute onto a Canadian travelogue; nice but not much more..
The Leopard Man (1943) - a remarkably strange, spare and concentrated parable on responsibility and self-definition in a confused world
Francesco, giullare di Dio (1950) - a stunning, humane evocation; perhaps Rossellini's necessary corridor to his great, complex 50's work..
Antichrist (2009) - suggests a horrific dislocation in our relationship with Gaia and so with each other...interesting when not too dour..
Putney Swope (1969) - funny how much resonance/vision some of the dada stuff has - the grotesque President even looks a bit like Reagan..
Felix Saves The Day (1922) - an inventive (if primitive) delight, still pleasing in how it defines and ventilates the physical & comic space
La boheme (1926) - you certainly understand how Gish evokes such sympathy, but she's so ethereal, physical desire seems almost grotesque..
A Clockwork Orange (1971) - I often think I'd be content (safer?) never to see this terrifying masterpiece again, and then I return to it
Bronson (2008) - watching this you feel relieved our social structures, lousy as they are, work as effectively for as many of us as they do
The Red Desert (1964) - sets out a form of hope and adaptation but at the terrible cost of alienation from all that's natural...
Blonde Cobra (1963) - "What went wrong?"...a suitably anguished final note for a deceptively tough-minded, uncompromising artwork...
Amreeka (2009) - now there's the immigrant experience - integration means being able to wear your White Castle uniform in public...
Promise Her Anything (1965) - almost (but not quite) dislocated and clunky enough to be intriguing, with Beatty's most ineffective work ever
An Education (2009) - Mulligan is a mixed blessing: not charismatic enough to be stunning, not ordinary enough to be convincing...
Fists In The Pocket (1965) - pivotal movie of modern Italy: moments of bonding and release intercepting the ongoing momentum toward doom..
35 rhums (2008) - might argue it unrealistically romanticizes normal life's quiet wonders, but for me Denis is now one of the very best..
Avanti! (1972) - conveys a moving sense of meditative renewal despite some questionable mechanics (and Mills really isn't so fat either..)
Capitalism: A Love Story (2009) - resist the self-serving capitalist machine by not paying a premium price to watch this second-hand news..
Pickup On South Street (1953) - still potent, triangulating Fuller's disdain for Communism with his gritty delight in Widmark's neutrality
The Men Who Stare At Goats (2009) - missed opportunities throughout - just stare at this obvious list of structural and thematic weaknesses
7 Women (1966) - Ford's transplanting of Western codes to China is fascinating, but did his Western heroes ever go through such contortions?
The September Issue (2009) - Wintour says fashion’s always about looking forward, not back, but that's the road to disposability, not art
Early Summer (1951) - one of my favorite Ozus...happiness as a weighing of outcomes, relative to possibilities seized and lost...
The Stalking Moon (1968) - a quietly insinuating Western, forged from absences and distances and wounded beauty
A Serious Man (2009) - I sometimes think the Coens know the workings of almost everything, but not the value of it...
Night Wind (1999) - a world with a limited supply of human viability and too many walking shells, and they grimly try to make it reconcile
Touki Bouki (1973) - challengingly structured Senegalese film conveys the country's parched texture while spinning some aspirational magic..
The Apartment (1960) -still striking for its cynicism and frequent callousness, but carries surprisingly little satiric force now
Flight Of The Red Balloon (2007) - Hou's transcendentally enchanting tribute to the intertwining of life and art; one of the decade's best
Breathless (1960) - never loses its sense of the near-miraculous, not least for seeming so impossibly coherent, and inevitable
In The Loop (2009) - very vivid about why things just get worse and worse; deranged performance art having replaced rationality and debate
House Of Games (1987) - works best the first time of course, but Manet's neurotic delight in his artifice remains clinically fascinating
Trouble The Water (2008) - even after Spike Lee's great Katrina work, there's enough there to disgust and depress you all over again...
Che (2008) - takes on a sad grandeur in the almost deathwish-tinged second half, as the limits of the revolutionary project become clear
Bright Star (2009) - remarkably moving; at its most beautiful when finding physical expressions for the ethereal web they create together
I Am Curious - Blue (1968) - every element is dated, from the politics to the pubic hair, but the earthy delight is still quite endearing..
The Informant! (2009) - rather under-nourished, unimportant application of Soderbergh's favorite "limits of control" theme...
North By Northwest (1959) - one of the most sublimely slippery movies ever made, supremely serious, and yet not at all...
Visage (2009) - sometimes quite mesmerizing, but most of the time, visual and thematic gibberish..Tsai's work is almost a chore to watch now
Inland Empire (2006) - you miss the easier pleasures of Lynch's earlier works, and yet at times this film seems to be redefining the world..
Pierrot le fou (1965) - watching prime Godard remains one of the most exhilarating journeys in cinema, and with the least amount of coasting
The White Ribbon (2009) - almost intimidatingly rigorous and subtle, allowing as many readings and implications as a coldly wrinkled palm
Mon Oncle (1958) - from the dogs running free, to mankind's declining spontaneity as it climbs the wage scale, seems richer every time
My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done (2009) - it's a sorry state when a Herzog film is most interesting for speculating what David Lynch put in
Boarding Gate (2007) - beneath the decadent surface, a vibrant, sensitive chapter in Assayas' gradual construction of a theory of everything
Life During Wartime (2009) - "In the end China will take over and none of this will matter"...Solondz, none of your crap matters now either
Fin aout, debut septembre (1998) - one of Assayas' very best films; the delicacy of emotion and complexity of interaction is often thrilling
Honeymoons (2009) - very accomplished although devastatingly depressing...a whole lot of hell and just shreds of (probably misguided) hope
Death At A Funeral (2007) - might have been directed by an extra-terrestrial...just a few token gross-out laughs escape from the coffin..
Soul Kitchen (2009) - well, why shouldn't Akin take a break if he wants to...the Hollywood remake will barely need a rewrite...
Bonnie And Clyde (1967) - I see more now how it's Bonnie who touchingly embodies the 60's metaphor, traveling from transcendence to oblivion
White Material (2009) - a shimmering Denis masterpiece, uncannily capturing every fraught moment, the weight of history, their intertwining
Walk Don't Run (1966) - drawing relentlessly on conventions that used to work but now don't..makes sense Cary Grant bowed out after this
Enter The Void (2009) - easy to disdain, but haunting (at least!) for attempt to dramatize trauma, to simultaneously regress and transcend..
The Life Before Her Eyes (2007) - another example of painstaking craft applied to material that's not worth a damn (in this life anyway)..
Le refuge (2009) - has the typical Ozon allure and skill with actors, but doesn't feel very necessary or important; dubious ending too...
Jeanne Dielman (1975) - the 2001: A Space Odyssey of domesticity, equally as rich in mystery and strange drama as the programming slips...
Hadewijch (2009) - still has elements of what alienates people about Dumont, but feels less like a lecture, more like a genuine search...
Mr Smith Goes To Washington (1939) - one examines the movie for signs of hope of turning round our current mess, but we're just too far gone
Vengeance (2009) - a dour creation, with failed Melville wannabe streak - memorable use of compacted trash bundles, among other "touches"
Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia (1974) - bring me even just 1 or 2 movies a year with such gritty mythic power (still 2nd level Sam tho)
District 9 (2009) - well, we screw up everything on earth, so why would alien arrivals fare any better...no CE3K-type wonderment here...
Targets (1968) - drawing an affectionate line under an expired horror aesthetic; if only Bogdanovich had remained this fresh and adept..
Tetro (2009) - not so thematically interesting except as an echo of earlier Coppola ground, but has an energetic, shimmering confidence
Eccentricities of a Blonde-haired Girl (2009) - any film with lines like "Commerce shuns a sentimental accountant" has to be cherishable!
L'intrus (2004) - utterly life-enhancing; perhaps the greatest film of the decade, although I might need an eternity to articulate why
Agora (2009) - impersonal and over-digitized, but all the contemporary resonance you want (Iraq? Putrid political cultures? Got it!)
The Rounders (1914) - very early, booze-sodden Chaplin is a static trifle, but startling for its full-on venomous portrayal of marriage...
Air Doll (2009) - often striking, but never transcends the feeling of being a movie you'd only make when you're out of good ideas..
Broken English (2007) - mostly conventional, but Posey nails her character, the dynamic with Poupaud is intriguing...and there's Paris!
Les herbes folles (2009) - in his late 80's Resnais still manages to suggest cinematic (and even behavioral) space not yet charted..
Big Eyes (1974) - difficult at this time/space remove to know how much his closing despair reflects a national existential fatigue or fear..
Swing Time (1936) - doesn't have the Minnelli/Donen-level moments, but it's astonishingly happy and sustained, and meticulously integrated
L’enfer d’Henri-Georges Clouzot (2009) - Clouzot's lost film would likely have been just a dated curio by now, but seen this way, it glows
Husbands (1970) - this biting dance with trauma is what awaits the Mad Men guys as the social contract fractures and darkens...
Cinema Museum (2008) - the sadness of the online era is we've lost the physical intricacy and splendor that once attached to film-watching
Backstory (2009) - documentary on rear projection vividly embodies how cinema not only survives but even thrives on its own deconstruction
Broken Embraces (2009) - highly entertaining, but Almodovar's inventiveness comes to feel like he's always turning away from something..
The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009) - take my once-decent concept and turn it into a romper room for old men, please!
The Last Days Of Disco (1998) - finely calibrated, stylized vision of disco's happy banality as never-to-be-regained social lubricant
Lorna's Silence (2008) - a more supercharged narrative than usual for the Dardennes, but bleeds truth about constraints of the new Europe
Jeanne La Pucelle: Les Prisons (1994) - moving second part sets out her downfall in a cultural/patriarchal context; overall - just brilliant
Jeanne La Pucelle: Les Batailles (1992) - Rivette superbly explores Joan of Arc as a social phenomenon, and a form of living theater..
Darling (1965) - feels like a hollow attempt to merge Antonioni (and a bit of Fellini) and the kitchen sink genre; minimal lasting interest
Le Testament D’Orphee (1959) - the closest modern cousins might be Matthew Barney's films, but they don't have Cocteau's playfulness
Love In The Afternoon (1957) - essentially incoherent but fascinating mixture of sentimentality and sleaze filtered through 50's codes..
Hannah Takes The Stairs (2007) - for all the naturalistic trappings, an idealized notion of young, brainy, accessibly pretty interactions
American Swing (2008) - story of New York swingers club is inherently diverting; not a very distinctive or expansive treatment of it though
Toronto Stories (2008) - imaginative second segment is easily the best - otherwise all appetizers, no kick - barely evokes the city I know..
Inglourious Basterds (2009) - Tarantino's gifts are formally dazzling at times; only immoral to me in the sense of any playing with history
Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) - never loses its rambunctious pleasure, even if it's a bit like watching a freeze-dried "official" version...
Thirst (2009) - the vampire genre just keeps on giving; works both as grim character study and as super-charged creator-destroyer metaphor
Lakeview Terrace (2008) - LaBute's early raw provocation still vaguely beats on, beneath levels of generic thriller gloss..
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (2008) - if only anything in this incredibly minor movie was as evocative and expansive as the title...
The Cove (2009) - increasingly, serious documentaries make you want to kill yourself; the only mildly cheery ones are on crappy marginalia..
F For Fake (1976) - becoming one of my favorite of all films - incredibly distinctive, provocative and (I increasingly think) self-revealing
It All Starts Today (1999) - good solid piece of muck-raking, but for posterity's purposes blown away by Cantet's later The Class
Mishima (1985) - Schrader over-thought and over-prettified himself here; should have channelled some of that delirious Cat People energy ..
Trafic (1972) - cinematically cruder than Tati's greatest work, although again shows his prescience, and unique approach to the punchline..
The Train (1965) - still exciting for the gritty physicality and the clever narrative - nowadays would be hyped up every which way...
Cria Cuervos (1976) - beautiful, masterfully constructed expression of intertwining memory and longing and childhood's complex perceptions..
In The Electric Mist (2009) - hardly smooth, but ultimately finds a distinctive way of conveying the pained legacy of the South's past...
Funny People (2009) - a big leap forward; a distant cousin to Scorsese's King Of Comedy, tho Apatow doesn't yet tap any broader implications
O Lucky Man! (1973) - more proof you never lose in the eyes of posterity by being imaginatively cynical about institutions and leaders..
Made in U.S.A. (1966) - made as the ratio of play and politics starts to shift - dazzling, but you miss some of the earlier, easier delight
Pineapple Express (2008) - perhaps the most persuasive claim for the Apatow factory to date; alchemy of vulnerability and carnage works!
Antonio Gaudi (1984) - you likely couldn't divine the Japanese perspective if you didn't know, but it makes perfect sense if you do..
What Just Happened (2008) - no doubt has some anthropological merit, but it's already the planet's most over-satirized milieu, so who cares
Nightwatching (2007) - interesting and accomplished in how form and content interact, but just doesn't seem too relevant to anything bigger.
Cassandra's Dream (2007) - an attempt to capture what worked pretty well in Match Point, but just seems marooned and flavourless here..
Silent Running (1972) - visionary in its way of course, although Dern sets a main tone of cantankerous individualism rather than idealism,,,
2 ou 3 choses que je sais d'elle (1967) - the peak of Godard's rapturous engagement with complexity, decay and its strange surface beauty..
Wendy and Lucy (2008) - brilliant, tragic, ultra-relevant depiction of the precariousness of quiet self-sufficiency in an age of decline..
Good Neighbor Sam (1964) - flabby, un-penetrating but amiable take on familiar theme of contemporary man stifled by corporatism and suburbia
The Music Lovers (1970) - Russell was always one of the best at capturing hedonistic bedlam, which almost makes up for everything else..
La sentinelle (1992) - early Desplechin in a quasi-thriller mode - has some directions he later abandoned, others he pursued and perfected..
La femme infidele (1969) - the barren bourgeoisie life virtually invites adultery and murder; dated of course, but still pretty potent..
Vendredi soir (2002) - a wonderful evocation of a one night stand, documentary-like and yet finding new ways to express the magical rush..
Humpday (2009) - excellently captures how articulate, educated guys can talk themselves into just about anything, and then back out again..
The Pornographers (1966) - full of startling compositions of all kinds - visual, narrative, psychological - evokes immense (if clinical) awe
Hair (1979) - mostly a forced attempt to find cinema in the joyously theatrical, although the final sense of loss is quite well realized..
Bruno (2009) - seems to me like a peppy, low-brow performance art thing, often real funny, but about as significant as a tiara on a poodle..
Bunny Lake Is Missing (1965) - initially has the effective flowing Preminger-brand ambiguity; but maybe genre mechanics take over too much..
Out Of The Blue (1980) - goofy but highly productive, fusing an often delirious foreground and a couldn't-be-flatter Canadian background..
Filth And Wisdom (2008) - well, if you didn't know Madonna made it, you'd never guess - deserves credit for pace and variety at least..
Johnny Got His Gun (1971) - unusual exercise in subjective cinema; you feel Trumbo wanting to get wilder, more perverse: wouldn't have hurt!
Food Inc. (2008) - in a more focused world, this would prompt real anger and action - in the decrepit one we occupy, likely nothing...
Of Time And The City (2008) - eloquent but rather too jaundiced; doesn't give any sense of how Liverpool spawned such humour and music..
Ramona (1910) - an entire novel in 20 minutes - cinematic narrative still working out its most basic moves; fascinating as history lesson..
Early Spring (1956) - Ozu bleakly examining post-war Japan's failed promises - a broader and sadder canvas than most of his later works..
New York, New York (1977) - endlessly intriguing, brilliantly abstracted take on dawn of modern popular/performance culture and its cost...
One-Eyed Jacks (1961) - Brando's really a fluid director - movie often seems ready to bust through convention more than it ultimately does..
Notebook on Cities and Clothes (1989) - Wenders' modish pronouncements about this and that just seem arbitrary, essentially meaningless...
Late Spring (1949) - more tragic with every viewing - the sense of a society demanding constant sacrifice of even modest personal desire..
Lilith (1964) - basic idea of carers being as troubled as the patients is familiar, but this really feels traumatized to its chilly bones..
Tokyo-Ga (1985) - idea of Ozu tribute is touching, but vague approach suggests Wenders' appreciation of Ozu is superficial at best...
Late Autumn (1960) - many echoes of previous Ozu of course, but also some sublime reinvention and surprise, and even successful defiance!
Kwaidan (1964) - maybe an investigation of how the creepy spirit world is also the best ventilation for a crushingly orderly society..
Une femme mariee (1964) - meticulous dissection of femininity as consumer culture takes off, swamping historical/psychological readiness...
The Hurt Locker (2008) - as solid as hell, but sure sounds like a lot of critics were mainly glad it wasn't Transformers 2 all over again..
La vie des morts (1991) - right from the start, Desplechin was already a master of physical, emotional and existential geography..
I Could Never Be Your Woman (2006) - wants to say something re distorted self-image of female baby boomers, but has no clear idea what..
The Girlfriend Experience (2009) - in common with his previous Che, this revolution cannot be maintained - a sadder future surely awaits..
Venus In Furs (1969) - enjoyable campy creation, not aesthetically that interesting despite the overflow of stylistic and thematic ideas..
Crazed Fruit (1956) - essentially about post-war Japan losing its way in the shadow of the West - simplistic but coldly fascinating..
Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis (2008) - biggest French hit of all time; if we (or even they) knew why, it would help a lot at the G8 summit..
A Married Couple (1969) - almost moving now in showing a certain kind of masculinity fading into oblivion (for the greater good of course)..
Reprise (2006) - the specifics are less interesting than the overall design and artifice; you get little real sense of the literary life..
The Class (2008) - fascinating as performance art; provocative about what makes for meaningful education in a multi-cultural world...
Cruel Story Of Youth (1960) - cruel indeed, suffused with pain, still a potent metaphor for Japan's underlying stasis and insularity..
There Was A Father (1942) - Ozu's great tragic theme - sense of duty and propriety limiting even simple happiness (personal and societal)..
The Peach Girl (1931) - still delicately moving for all its stiff primitivism, but one regrets so little sense of space or the masses..
Don't Touch The White Woman (1974) - unique, splatter-arty way of evoking a history of self-absorbed, deranged American imperialism..
Piccadilly (1929) - most striking for scintillating Anna May Wong - good reference point for studying evolving treatment of race and culture
Public Enemies (2009) - actually works as quasi-abstract meditation on image-making in age of corporatization and depersonalization...
Small Change (1976) - Truffaut's infectious delight in the variety of childhood experiences, nicely placed here in the surrounding community
Tokyo Sonata (2008) - excellent, fluid parable of dehumanizing, weirding effect of modern economy, and urgent need to go back to basics...
Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow (1963) - first sequence is best; all very easy and fluid with Loren always a dazzler - good 2nd level stuff...
Whatever Works (2009) - title meant to connote openness to possibilities; movie feels more like a series of random, drunken lurches..
Kill, Baby Kill (1966) - setting and state of mind fuse almost perfectly – story bleeds out in a collision of encounters and insinuations..
Recount (2008) - entertaining and cleanly (if blandly) told, but where's the anger - is all of this merely an amiable comedy of errors..?
Blame It On Rio (1984) - astonishing lumbering time capsule, has its transgressive elements, but general ambiance of a retirement home...
Ma nuit chez Maud (1969) - maybe the best movie argument for an examined life (or at least for calibrating the degree of unexamination!)..
Esther Kahn (2000) - strange, evasive, fascinating distant cousin to Cassavetes' Opening Night, about murderous cost of great acting...
Three Days of the Condor (1975) - has the Pollack trick of feeling meaningfully understated, without putting itself on any kind of line..
Cathy Come Home (1966) - brilliantly shows how quickly upward mobility turns; still as relevant as hell, since we never learn a damn thing..
Barocco (1976) - Techine later hit on an endlessly renewable template for easy-to-take complexity - this movie came before that though..
Deconstructing Harry (1997) - must have taken work to be so rancid and self-loathing, though often feels he edited the thing on imovie..
Boeing Boeing (1965) - the movie's sexism would be metaphysically challenging if it wasn't so bland and mechanical about everything..
Revolutionary Road (2008) - do they really carry unfulfilled potential, or are they the first seduced wave of now-chronic self-inflation?
The Brothers Bloom (2008) - the women bring infectious joy and style ; the men mostly bring the usual caper movie stuff; call it a draw..
A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy (1982) - primarily a technical exercise; never feels Allen has real affinity for the unleashed spirits stuff.
Le ballon rouge (1956) - always strikes me how the adult world integrates the balloon while the boys, symbol of the future, destroy it...
Edge Of The City (1957) - a second-tier On The Waterfront; balanced depiction of the black family is still fresh; other elements less so..
Getting Straight (1970) - still a useful time capsule if only for the Gould character's misogyny, homophobia, insecurity and self-loathing..
When a Woman Ascends The Stairs (1960) - women always bear the worst of it, although the men with their lies and evasions are barely freer..
Beyond The Rocks (1922) - huge ambition, subtle and nutty at different times, like early Hollywood ironing out the kinks in the formula...
Nixon (2008) - strange this quirky anecdote got so much attention - historical/thematic payoff is minimal, though it goes down easy..
A Christmas Story (2008) - Desplechin is a genius - basic form here is familiar, but complexity of execution is stunning and fearless..
Le Petit Soldat (1961) - ambitious early Godard, pained window into troubled national soul, but more constricted than great work to come...
L'Appat (1995) - compelling viewing in what's-the-world-coming-to vein, but you feel Tavernier imitates greatness more than exhibiting it..
Cadillac Records (2008) - you kind of miss the days when a little friendly corruption might be the price of true social/cultural progress...
Gomorrah (2008) - great, sociologically persuasive evocation of a hopeless network...you watch with despair, hoping we avoid the same fate..
Departures (2008) - a weepy dawdle, but the time spent on dead bodies does kind of get to you, if just through identification mechanics...
Up (2009) - great to watch, but more a technological achievement than an aesthetic one, or at least blurs the difference, like the iphone...
Les amours d'Astrée et de Céladon (2007) - Rohmer's lifelong project at its most elemental and sublime, yet still defining new territory..
The Sailor From Gibraltar (1967) - so preoccupied with "existential" poses and metaphors, it almost completely breaks up and drifts away..
Duplicity (2009) - sometimes so immaculate it seems to skirt profundity, although needed to hit the corporate amorality indictment harder...
Nobody's Fool (1994) - contrived take on small-town virtues, although maybe a partial blueprint for a better-proportioned future, I dunno...
Pontypool (2008) - a witty riff on the cracks in the Canadian melting pot; maybe it's our failed ideals that spawn the killer plague...
Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970) - focusing on failings and regrets, maybe echoing Wilder’s own ideal artistic climate passing by..
One Week (2008) - well, good to know he doesn't blame his sappy music-type problems and unfulfilled ambitions on his glorious homeland...
Sin nombre (2009) - very kinetic, but you suspect it reflects an outsider’s quasi-romantic impositions on a sadder and duller reality...
Hunger (2008) - sometimes recalls one of Kubrick’s filmic labyrinths, without ever reducing the potency of the central human experience..
The Palm Beach Story (1942) - unimaginable now a movie could be so deft and funny while also so giddily challenging in its sexual politics..
Bye Bye Monkey (1978) - extremely distinct take on decay - worth it if just for images of dead King Kong against the twin towers (yep!)...
Away We Go (2009) - basically about life momentum either making you grotesque or else defined by inner sadness; minor pay-off at best...
Shall We Kiss (2007) - as sterile and intuition-free as this kind of French relationship stuff ever gets, possibly directed by a computer...
Sugar (2008) - interesting angles on how major-league sports machine distorts economies and expectations (evokes debates re foreign aid...)
Fingers (1978) - highly subjective, somehow coherent, goofily satisfying portrait of dysfunction, in a world of confusing signs and traces..
1941 (1979) - Everything gets away from Spielberg here; like watching a robot deliver one-liners, you get the concepts, but miss the heart..
Sunshine Cleaning (2008) - minor tribute to heartland entrepreneurism, but with integrity; economic crisis gives it extra resonance...
PS re The Legend Of Lylah Clare - that's basically meant to be positive...
The Legend Of Lylah Clare (1968) - a touch of Hitchcock, a bit of Fellini, a taste of Wilder, and a whole lot of pretentious posturing crap!
Two Lovers (2008) - another example of finding greater profundity in the small machinations of conventional lives than in saving the world.
My Sex Life...(1996) - my favourite film of the last 20 years, a profound, varied, tumbling essay on self-examination and reinvention...
State of Play (2009) - already seemed outdated when it came out; best contemporary paranoia stuff still belongs to 1970's Alan Pakula...
La passion de Jeanne d'Arc (1928) - stark, stunning choreography of patriarchal vested interests spooked to the core by female activism...
Goodbye Solo (2008) - unconvincing central premise, but with rich, complex, moving insights into America's bumpy ongoing diversity ride...
Tokyo! (2008) - Carax's sequence is just loopy, but the other two nicely capture the city's complex negotiation between dreams and despair..
Tulpan (2008) - it's remote Kazakhstan, but might as well be the moon - feels anthropologically valuable, even when you suspect manipulation
Tyson (2008) - is he ultimately more than an outlandish mega-version of the prodigy that naively burns itself out? Damned if I know
Wise Blood (1979) - built from "damn the red states" building blocks, set on fire and molded into strange, sadistic, scary eloquence..
The Harder They Come (1972) - hard to separate anthropology from myth now..still mostly productive viewing, but a Sweetback extra lite...
Star Trek (2009) - finally goes where every bright progressive idea has eventually gone before - to another airless, graceless "franchise"..
Adoration (2008) - another treacly Egoyan puzzle movie, pleased as hell with itself, but wheezing under layers of stale "commentary"
Is Anybody There? (2008)...existential boundary-busting in Thatcherite Britain, from cradle to grave and beyond; less drab than it looks
Every Little Step (2008)...good fun, reminds you infrastructure of Broadway theatre often just as heavy and self-deluding as Hollywood..
Babes in Toyland (1934)...figure out how physical/psychological laws apply in this creepy thing..good future territory for (wooden?) shrinks
The Limits of Control (2009)..all we love and aspire to (aesthetic appreciation, uncomplicated eroticism) rises against Bush-era poison..
Zabriskie Point (1970)..now a beautiful tragic map of dreams/revolutions not seized, in a California not yet become the world's biggest lie
California Suite (1978)...I almost miss when such prosperous soft-concept bantering and low-energy plotting was fit for the big screen...
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