- Arrival (Denis Villeneuve)
- Big Eyes (Tim Burton)
- The Smallest Show On Earth (Basil Dearden)
- Carol (Todd Haynes)
- The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger)
- Seven Samurai (Akira Kurosawa)
- The Death of Stalin (Armando Iannucci)
- Homicidal (William Castle)
- Vacation From Marriage (Alexander Korda)
- The Scarlet Empress (Josef von Sternberg)
1- I found Arrival be intriguing until at the end, a whiplash revelation plunged the whole enterprise into a depressing place. Amy Adams is so wonderful in everything she does. More of her please.
2- I have never met a Tim Burton film I haven’t loved. They are all so quirky and so heartfelt at the same time. I loved Big Eyes. Another great Amy Adams showcase. An old-fashioned, unashamed Hollywood happy end, too.
3- Finally, a gay-themed movie that doesn’t fall into the Celluloid Closet cliche, and also is not a fluffy silly comedy! Carol is a beautifully modulated love story of two women in the 1950s. Gay identity is a big part of the story, of course, but what makes it so satisfying is that it is not the only part. These are multi-dimensional characters. Interesting meditations on class differences. And, amazingly, a beautifully delivered happy ending. Cate Blanchett should get a lifetime Oscar for the look she gives in the final frame.
4- The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp was a film I saw 40 years ago and remembered loving. This time around I still liked it a lot, but found that the idiosyncratic elements that the Archers bring to their films, which I once found thrilling, now struck me as a little forced. I really enjoyed seeing it again and was sad to think how Deborah Kerr is almost forgotten today.
5- Seven Samurai was one of the first Japanese films I watched. Year and hundreds of Japanese films later, I still like it, but I find that I am more partial to the modern-era films by Kurosawa. High and Low and Ikiru satisfy me more deeply than the Samurai era films do. But hell, was an enormous accomplishment this film is. I want to watch it again soon with the Criterion commentary track turned on. There is so much to see in every frame of this movie.
6- The Death of Stalin hilarious and eventually tedious but how wonderful to see Michael Palin as Molotov and Steve Buscemi as a priceless Krushchev.
7- I remembered The Scarlet Empress being a set designer’s fever dream of Expressionist insanity. This time I grooved on the weirdness (the sets, Sam Jaffe’s loopy performance), but I found the whole thing didn’t hang together as a complete work of art. The sum of the whole was less than the part
8- The Smallest Show On Earth is one of those tiny, delightful British comedies from right after WWII filled with quirky, lovable characters, cozy atmosphere and amusing plots. Lest I make it seem like a slight entertainment, let me stress that I have thought about this film every day since I watched it a few months ago.