tongue-tied lightning


10 Great Films I Saw in March and April

Yeah, I’ve been neglecting the viewing logs.  I’ll get back to that in May.  In the meantime, here’s the best of what you missed.

All That Jazz (Bob Fosse, 1979) – This was far darker, and far better, than I was anticipating it being.  The performance of a career from Roy Scheider and the final musical sequence might be my favorite in the history of musicals.

Bigger Than Life (Nicholas Ray, 1956) – I suppose it would be an insult to Nicholas Ray to term this one a Sirkian melodrama.  There’s so much subtext going on here, the threat to the nuclear family comes from within.  Every bit as strong as Rebel Without a Cause.  If not stronger.

Born to Kill (Robert Wise, 1947) – Despite Wise’s directorial style being more Val Lewton than Fritz Lang this is one of the noirest noirs I’ve seen.  Lawrence Tierney completely owns this film.  Though he gets plenty of help from the supporting cast.

Cape Fear (J. Lee Thompson, 1962) – I struggle with this film in that its message is one I couldn’t disagree more with.  However, that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a great piece of filmmaking,  chilling and suspenseful, and contains what is probably the performance of Mitchum’s career.  Strangely, I saw Fritz Lang’s Fury this month which seems to carry the opposite message, one I agree with, but is a much less effective film.

Clash by Night (Fritz Lang, 1952) – A great blend of noir and melodramatic sensibilities.  I reviewed this here.

Cold Water (Olivier Assayas, 1994) – A great coming of age film.  The party scene that is its centerpiece is one of the more stunning pieces of cinema I’ve seen.

Late August, Early September (Olivier Assayas, 1998) – More Assayas, this time with Mathieu Amalric in the lead role.  It’s very much about death but also very clearly a celebration of life.  Assayas is consistently great and this film is no exception.

Man with the Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov, 1929) – There is no narrative to the film but it’s never less than engaging.  Just a stream of captivating images with the loose theme of filmmaking connecting them.  Many techniques we take for granted today were pioneered by Vertov and shown off to great effect in this film.

Nightfall (Jacques Tourneur, 1957) – An underrated noir.  Considered here.

Vera Drake (Mike Leigh, 2004) – A powerful film.  It completely devastated me.  Enough has been said about Imelda Staunton’s performance, but it bears repeating, Hilary Swank’s Oscar belongs to her.

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