- The Birds (Alfred Hitchcock)
- The Last Wave (Peter Weir)
- Rio Grande (John Ford)
- Manchester-by-the-Sea (Kenneth Lonergan)
- The Man Who Could Work Miracles (Lothar Mendes)
- The Lost Squadron (George Archainbaud)
- Boy Erased (Joel Edgerton)
- Love, Simon (Greg Berlanti)
- The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro)
- Phantom Thread (Paul Thomas Anderson)
1- The Birds is one of the films I have seen the most times in my life. Others include Citizen Kane, Wild Strawberries, All About Eve, Nashville, The Shop Around the Corner and Celine and Julie Go Boating. They are like little vacations for me to resort towns that I know so well. Some of these resort towns are creepier than others. All are familiar as home.
2- I remember when the films of the ‘Australian New Wave’ hit New York City in the late 70s/early 80s. They had the effect on me that the appearance of the French New Wave must have had on my cinephile forebears in the late 60s/early 70s. Films like Picnic at Hanging Rock, My Brilliant Career, Walkabout, Gallipoli and The Last Wave were young, exciting and sometimes perplexing. Out of all of these, Picnic at Hanging Rock remains the most meaningful to me.
I hadn’t seen The Last Wave since my first viewing, and always considered it a companion piece to Picnic at Hanging Rock, mostly because they were shown on double bills throughout the 80s. Seeing The Last Wave again made me realize that it is a lesser film for exactly the reason why Picnic at Hanging Rock is a superior film: ambiguity. The mystery of Picnic at Hanging Rock is never really solved, but you realize that that is not the point of the film. The point seems to be the effect of disaster on the world. You would think that the same would be true of The Last Wave. I love the foreboding atmospherics and the tantalizing aboriginal hoodoo, but ultimately it is too much about a mystery that never is cleared up and it doesn’t satisfy the way the other film does. Still, it is a great watch.
3- I need to write a piece on John Ford’s Cavalry Trilogy. The Trilogy consists of Fort Apache, She Wore A Yellow Ribbon and Rio Grande, in descending order of greatness and complexity. They are all masterpieces. Stay tuned.
4- Manchester-by-the-Sea. The only word for it is ‘magnificent’. The complex relationships are handled so masterfully and the story is revealed so artfully. I am not a big believer in a movie needing to be ‘realistic’ to be great. Most of the time when filmmakers are reaching for realism, the results are embarrassing. Here, though, I felt that I was spending time with people I knew and understood. Not necessarily liked, mind you. The cumulative effect is devastating. The buzz before I saw it was that it was incredibly depressing. Obviously, the people who said this have had no life experience. Magnificent.
5- I knew that pre-code films were pretty loose with morals and conventions but imagine my surprise when I saw this in The Lost Squadron:
6- Regarding Boy Erased and Love, Simon I refer you to my post on movies targeted to a specific audience. I would be selling both of these short if I were to imply that they don’t appeal to a wider audience than Gay people. But Love, Simon is incredibly sweet and mostly just a Gay rom-com (not that there is anything wrong with that!) and Boy Erased is greater in its ambitions. The portrayal of the characters is nuanced, and transcends stereotypes. Thrillingly so. Lucas Hedges is amazing, just like he was in Manchester By The Sea.
7- The Shape of Water. Best Picture of the Year? Really? I have long ago given up on the idea of Oscars as the arbiters of anything, but this award really baffles me. Except for The Devil’s Backbone, every Guillermo Del Toro films I have seen collapses under the weight of its own diffuseness and studied weirdness. This is no exception. Please feel free to tell my why I am wrong here.
8- I went crazy for both Magnolia and Punch Drunk Love when they both came out. I also really liked Boogie Nights a lot. Since then I have felt a huge disconnect with the films of Paul Thomas Anderson. I hate it because I see the attention, intelligence and style that are lavished on these movies, as well as the incredible performances he gets out of his stars. But once again, Phantom Thread left me cold and confused. Not as cold and confused as The Master. Seeking your opinion here also as to what I might have missed.