- The Cabinet of Dr. Calegari (Robert Wiene)
- Nashville (Robert Altman)
- The Magnificent Ambersons (Orson Welles)
- La La Land (Damien Chazelle)
- The Best Worst Thing That Ever Happened (Lonny Price)
- Mifune: The Last Samurai (Steven Okazaki)
- The 400 Blows (François Truffaut)
- La Regle du Jeu (Jean Renoir)
- Crimson Peak (Guillermo Del Toro)
- Gojira (Godzilla) (Ishiro Honda)
1- Director Amy Heckerling was the Guest Programmer on TCM this month, and one of her picks was The Cabinet of Dr. Calegari. While introducing it, she said one of the funniest things I’ve heard in a long time: ‘It seems there was a shortage of right angles in Germany after World War I.’ I now officially love this woman.
2- It is interesting to have seen Nashville and La La Land so close together. Nashville is certainly not a musical in the general sense, but it is emblematic of how songs arise in movies since the end of the great era of musicals (roughly 1932 through 1965). These songs are performances of the characters. Some are deliciously terrible and some are very moving. But in no case, does a character break into song in a dramatic situation, with a song which highlights his or her emotion. That was the trope of the classic age of musicals. The plot would hit a dramatic point (or a comic point) and suddenly the character or characters would be singing, as if the music could elevate the dialogue to a level that mere speaking couldn’t. La La Land is a throwback to this style of song. Much has been said about how the success of this film will usher in a flood of such musicals. I am dubious. It has been too long since this sort of musical was common fare. Audiences are too used to either the way Nashville introduces songs or they are used to the Cabaret style where the songs are isolated moments which are outside of the narrative reality of the film – often the depiction of a performance. I hope that someone talented enough to be able to convince modern audiences that burst-into-song musicals are not ridiculous, but we’ll see……
3- The more I see of the French New Wave, the more I love Ingmar Bergman. I don’t have much use for this exuberant, youth-oriented genre. I find it very sloppy and tiresome. It does not age well. I always had it in my mind that The 400 Blows was an exception. I just found it tedious to get through, although Antoine Doinel is fun to spend time with.
4- Crimson Peak is a terrible movie that, as you are watching it, you think is a great movie. It has fantastic production values, super actors and a somewhat intriguing script….at least in the beginning. It soon peters out. I felt the same way about Pan’s Labyrinth. Heresy, I know
5- Look for a post about Gojira shortly
6- I guess it is still problematic to revere a pantheon of great films, but it is my experience that there are films that on repeated viewing become even more dazzling. Surely this is a mark of greatness. La Regle du Jeu and The Magnificent Ambersons are so stuffed with genius that I watch them drop-jawed