Otto Preminger – The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell (1955)

A classic courtroom drama based on a true story, this is a surprisingly underappreciated classic given the direction of Otto Preminger and the star-power of Gary Cooper. Coop plays the title character, a post-WWI Army general who risked his career by challenging his superiors and disobeying orders to build a U.S. Air Force. More intellectual and less emotional than “Caine Mutiny,” it’s nevertheless expertly told and acted. Read More »

John G. Adolfi – A Successful Calamity (1932)

Plot: Henry Wilton is an elderly millionaire saddled with his selfish young second wife Emmy ‘Sweetie’ Wilton and a pair of spoiled grown children (Peggy and Eddie). To test his family’s mettle, Henry pretends to have gone broke. Just as he suspected they would, his children rally to their father’s side and change their ways: Peggy forsakes the fortune hunter George Struthers for the nice young man she’s really in love with, the polo coach Larry Rivers; while Eddie applies for a demanding job and performs admirably. Only Sweetie seems to desert Henry. Written by Robert Read More »

Gary Hustwit – Rams [German Version] (2018)

Synopsis
RAMS is filmmaker Gary Hustwit’s new documentary about legendary designer Dieter Rams. For over fifty years, Rams has left an indelible mark on the field of product design with his iconic work at Braun and Vitsoe, and his influence on Apple. So at 86 years old, why does he now regret being a designer? RAMS is a design documentary, but it’s also a rumination on consumerism, materialism, and sustainability. Dieter’s philosophy is about more than just design, it’s about a way to live. The film also features an original score by pioneering musician Brian Eno. Read More »

Paul Vecchiali – C’est la vie! AKA That’s Life (1980)

The world and a life in four walls, and another portrait of a mother – selfish and generous, mercurial and unchanging. C’est la vie! (1980) takes Pagnol and Renoir’s experiments with open-air theatre to inspired and ecstatic conclusions, especially the latter’s love of depth-framing across windows and partitions, and lays the groundwork for Vecchiali’s later experiments with long-take space and time in Once More (1988). Also a pseudo-sequel to Marie-Claude Treilhou’s exquisite Simone Barbès ou la vertu (1980), reaffirming the Diagonale as not just a production model, but a kind of surrogate family, and a creative universe unto this forged community and itself. With Chantal Delsaux, Ingrid Bourgoin, Jean-Christophe Bouvet, and my beloved Hélène Surgère and Michel Delahaye. Read More »

Stephen Frears – Prick Up Your Ears (1987)

Quote:
“Prick Up Your Ears” is the story of Orton and Halliwell and the murder. They say that most murderers are known to their victims. They don’t say that if you knew the victims as well as the murderer did, you might understand more about the murder, but doubtless that is sometimes the case. This movie opens with a brutal, senseless crime. By the time the movie is over, the crime is still brutal, but it is possible to comprehend. Read More »

Leo McCarey – Duck Soup [+commentary] (1933)

Quote:
The small state of Freedonia is in a financial mess, borrowing a huge sum of cash from wealthy widow Mrs. Teasdale. She insists on replacing the current president with crazy Rufus T. Firefly and mayhem erupts. To make matters worse, the neighboring state sends inept spies Chicolini and Pinky to obtain top secret information, creating even more chaos. Read More »

Michael McCarthy – Mystery Junction (1951)

Synopsis:
Larry Gordon, well-known crime writer, is on a train journey when a scream is heard. Upon investigation, the guard had been mugged and a man murdered. Another man is arrested but the full story is yet to be discovered. Read More »