USA

Roman Polanski – Chinatown (1974)

Polanski’s Oscar Nominated throwback to the noirs of the 40’s and 50’s starring Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway and John Huston.

Summary: A private detective investigating an adultery case stumbles on to a scheme of murder that has something to do with water

Review
Pin-striped suits, men’s hair parted slightly off-center like Richard Arlen’s, four-door convertible touring cars (not yet declared unsafe), official portraits of Franklin D. Roosevelt in public buildings, women with marceled hair, and elegant slouches. Read More »

Mark Rappaport – Mozart in Love (1975)

Quote:
Mark Rappaport’s second feature film (amongst a remarkable string of off-beat, experimental narratives that runs from CASUAL RELATIONS to CHAIN LETTERS) takes off from the deliberate anachronism of using modern props, performance styles and attitudes to evoke the romantic entanglements of the young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Rich La Bonte) with three sisters: Constanza (Margot Breier), Sophie (Sasha Nanus) and Louisa (Sissy Smith). This melodramatic plot of rejection, pining and sacrifice may have its basis in reality, but everything else is strictly stylized: back-projected settings, mix-and-match historical costumes, primary-colored walls, actors striking poses and the miming to records of Mozart arias, frequently interrupted by the raw audio track of real, untrained singing. Read More »

James Foley – At Close Range (1986)

Synopsis
One of the overlooked films of the 1980s, perhaps because it is such a downbeat tale of an amoral family. Sean Penn plays a kid whose small-time criminal impulses are stoked to a new level when he falls in with his father (Christopher Walken), a vicious career criminal for whom no problem is so large that it can’t be solved by a murder. At first exhilarated by the attention from his father (and the jobs he gives him to do), he gradually catches on to just what a bad guy Dad really is. But when he tries to extricate himself, he discovers that Dad now has him squarely in his sights. Penn is terrific in a role of emotional complexity, while Walken, king of the creeps, is positively frightening as this soft-spoken but highly lethal patriarch. Read More »

Stan Brakhage – Deus Ex (1971)

Deus Ex
I have been many times very ill in hospitals; and I drew on all that experience while making DEUS EX in West Pennsylvania Hospital of Pittsburgh; but I was especially inspired by the memory of one incident in an Emergency Room of SF’s Mission District: while waiting for medical help, I had held myself together by reading an April-May 1965 issue of “Poetry Magazine”; and the following lines from Charles Olson’s “Cole’s Island” had especially centered the experience, “touchstone” of DEUS EX, for me: Charles begins the poem with the statement, “I met Death – ,” and then: “He didn’t bother me, or say anything. Which is / not surprising, a person might not, in the circumstances; / or at most a nod or something. Read More »

Hannah Fidell – A Teacher (2013)

A high school teacher in Austin, Texas has an affair with one of her students. Her life begins to unravel as the relationship comes to an end.
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Jess Robbins – The Lucky Dog (1921)

The Lucky Dog is the first film to include both members of the famous comedy duo of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, later known as Laurel and Hardy and is the first occasion that they worked together. Though they appear in scenes together, they play independent of each other and not as the comedic team that they would later become. Read More »

Herbert Brenon – Beau Geste (1926)

IMDb user comments
Both this original and the Wellman remake are marvellous Golden Age films – it’s difficult to compare silents with talkies, or either to the book. In the book you use your imagination, this 1926 original had a cast of thousands, ’39 was a populist version with identical screenplay, full orchestra and name changes, ’66 only had 2 brothers and muzak, whilst if made today would probably have nothing real in it at all. Read More »