Mineshaft Gap

It's a screening log, no more no less. Maybe I'll have something interesting to say one of these days...


Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451 is actually one of the better book adaptations I have seen. Mostly for Truffaut's inherent sense of what is different between film and novel, the visual element he brings crackles with life and many of his images, especially the last shots in the forest are very haunting.

Good performances, especially by Julie Christie in dual roles, anchor a very successful film.


I thought it was ridiculous when they said Match Point was one of Woody Allen's best films. It couldn't have been possible. But this is a film Allen has been trying to make for over thirty years. In finally succeeding at the drama his has always wanted to make, Allen has also crafted a brilliant thriller.

A bourgeois satire almost worthy of Godard, Match Point presents a group of morally bankrupt characters in an existential world. Reminiscent of Crimes and Misdemeanors, the tale of sin in a godless world is buoyed by great performances from Meyers and Johansson. In addition, it may be the most beautifully shot Allen film since Manhattan, with a tight construction and a wonderful screenplay. An excellent film.

Current 2005 Top 10:
1. A History of Violence
2. The New World
3. The Squid and the Whale
4. Match Point
5. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
6. Grizzly Man
7. The Devil's Rejects
8. Broken Flowers
Brokeback Mountain
10. Last Days

Still ahead of its time.

Romero's Martin is an amazing film, perhaps one of the greatest horror films ever made. It is unrivaled in vampire films, and perhaps only Romero's own Dawn of the Dead is better overall.

If the film were released today, I'm still not sure if it would find a wide audience. It may still be five years ahead of its time. Choosing to play the audience's sympathies like a violin, Romero alternates gut churning rape scenes and charming vignettes of social maladjustment. Truly a brilliant film.


Passion is either a masterpiece or I just desperately want it to be. I'm not sure. It is definitely audacious, breathtaking, confounding, illuminating, terrible, wonderful, joyous, sad, cynical, and optimistic.

Godard weaves the tale with his old "not in that order" dictum squarely in mind. We don't really understand what is all going on until perhaps an hour into the film, but just as in First Name: Carmen, then it snaps the rest of the film into sharp focus.

Godard's obsession with the image receives its fullest treatment here, as ideas of painting and film collide with the Marxian ideas of image and representation. Godard also contrasts concepts of passion and creation in the world of art and love. It is almost certainly Godard's most beautiful film, and perhaps one of his best.


For anyone not a Godard convert, there is almost nothing to be found in Soigne ta droite. It is a truly strange and idiosyncratic film that features a handful of genuinely funny scenes in the first 20 minutes and probably some of the most infuriating Godard afterwards. The film never pulls itself together and on the whole never connects with its audience.

A disappointment, but then it is also the first Godard I have seen that I do not like very much, which I find amazing. Next up: Passion.

Early AK.

No Regrets for my Youth is a rather bizarre early Kurosawa film. Made as a pro-Western parable of a woman's life before, during and after WWII, the film shows the beginnings of Kurosawaian styles and themes, but in a very rough form.

Merely an oddity, and nothing compared to his Stray Dog of three years later.

His Music.

I wasn't sure what to make of Godard's First Name: Carmen until the last few moments, and then I realized it was a great work. His amazing, perhaps unsurpassed, skill with music is on full display in this film. Beethoven and Tom Waits, a perfect combination I think. They serve as point, counterpoint to a tragic, yet farcical tale of the gamut of one young love.

I've moved on into the "late" Godard, skipping past most of his 70s work (though I have seen Tout va Bien and Letter to Jane). If they can all hold with First Name: Carmen, he actually might have a chance at surpassing Welles as my favorite director. Orson still has the edge, but especially if Passion is as good as I have heard it is, Jean Luc has a chance.

I love cinema!


Terrence Malik's lushes reverie, The New World, is brilliant and evocative, drawing forth more emotion and feeling than a dozen like minded epics. A story of love, both of people and of nature, is heartbreakingly romantic and pained yet in the end harsh and sad.

The acting is precise and deeply felt and Malik's tone poem style lends itself perfectly to this story. Pocahontas is so easily a tale of hokum, it took a genius to deliver a real, powerful, meaningful version of it. I can think of no film this year that understands the twisting pain of love as well as this.

To all the film's detractors, remember your criticisms in 20 years when people will see its grace and brilliance.

I can think of no better way to sum up
of The New World than the Sam Fuller quote in Pierrot le Fou: "Love, hate, action, violence, death. In one word: emotion."

Current 2005 Top 10:
1. A History of Violence
2. The New World
3. The Squid and the Whale
4. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
5. Grizzly Man
6. The Devil's Rejects
7. Broken Flowers
Brokeback Mountain
9. Last Days
10. Hustle & Flow

Pleased to meet you.

Sympathy for the Devil/One Plus One is a bizarre, difficult, effecting film from the much maligned Godard middle period. Just before the beginning of the Dziga Vertov group period, JLG goes to London to follow the recording of the Rolling Stones "Sympathy for the Devil". He intercuts amazing camerawork here with segments revolving around black militants and Anne Wiazmesky's Eve Democracy a Godardian post-intellectual revolutionary.

There is not a lot of intellectual or philosophical cohesiveness to the film, but I sincerely doubt Godard ever intended there to be. He poses grand ideas, dialectics between race and music, politics and pop. He has few answers and seems hardly even to begin to judge, but it is still interesting to watch Godard thinking out loud.

Albert pulls his punches.

Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World manages to exist in a filmic middleground where few movies lie. Perfectly fine, it inspires in me very little need for discussion. A quite funny first half and a mildly amusing second gives of a mix of feelings. Its a nice way to spend 110 minutes, and ones that I doubt I will ever think of again.

The improv bit was hilarious, though.

And so, by default, kicking off the 2006 Top Ten:

Current 2006 Top Ten:
1. Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World

Remember the thriller.

Wes Craven's Red Eye is his most assured work in ages and a Hollywood thriller than actually manages excitement. It is sad that the thrillers of the time of Welles and Hitchcock have completely fallen away to mostly Ashley Judd-Morgan Freeman treacle. Rachel MacAdams manages to be not annoying here, and while Murphy is too creepy at first, once his character is revealed he is spot on.

The third act falls apart, and the ending is terrible but there are some solid jolts along the way. Combine this with the excellent Jason Bourne films and maybe the American thriller can make a comeback. I hope so, at least.

The End of Cinema.

Jean Luc Godard's Weekend is breathtaking cinema, the kind that makes you want to run out and drag all your friends back into the theatre. And then perhaps you will run back out and begin to make film yourself.

Plotless, brilliant and difficult the film manages to string its sequences together into a hellish world of capitalist despair. The film seemingly progresses through the end of capitalism and into a nightmare world of anarchy. This is not Godard's endorsement of the revolution that he would soon be such a supporter of, indeed he is still several important months away from May 1968. This is a denoucment of what can happen, seen through the lens of the decadence of the French Revolution.

A scene early in the film, in which Corrine talks of a bizarre orgy in which she was a participant one ups Bergman's similar scene in Persona by adding a level of Dali surrealism and Godard's own gallows humor. It is also one of the most erotic scenes in all his work.

The tracking shot. It is well discussed and is as brilliant as Welles's in Touch of Evil. The best aspect of both is that it is not sheer bravado by the filmmaker. Godard's shot tells us everything he believes about the capitalist society. It is the Rosetta stone for understanding Weekend and all of his political work.

My thoughts are still jumbled and my head whirling. I can't wait to read more and see the film again. All I know is that this is brilliance of the highest order, and deserving of the spot I place it in my personal canon.

My 10 favorite films of all time:
1. Citizen Kane
2. Weekend
3. The Decalogue
4. Rashomon
5. A Woman Under the Influence
6. Playtime
7. Dr. Strangelove
8. The Royal Tennenbaums
9. Au Hasard Balthazar
10. Hannah and Her Sisters

Scorsese's first.

Who's That Knocking at my Door is better than Mean Streets.

I begin with that fairly controversial statement not to knock Mean Streets but to show just how well paced, affecting and mature a work Scorsese's first film is. He brings from Keitel one of the actor's few likeable performances (or at least a sympathetic one) and shows off his own film school pretensions that actually manage to come to a satisfying fruition.

It doesn't rank with Citizen Kane or Breathless in the alltime great debuts, buy Scorsese's first is a damn fine little film.

Gun Molls.

Cassavetes makes a genre film. Yes, it is definitely a little weird to think of the famed maverick auteur working in the confines of a gangster picture, but that is exactly what Gloria is. Evocative less of New York in 1980 than the film noir landscape of the 1940s and 50s, Cassavetes turns his typical actorly style towards a film that would also include chase scenes and a ridiculously high body count.

Gena Rowlands here plays a variant on her classic 70s Cassavetes roles, especially Mabel of A Woman Under the Influence. Gloria is Mabel plus confidence, even in the waning desperate throws of it.

If the director was working on new turf, Cassavetes had as an actor ample experience in this genre. He knows the ins and outs well enough to put a pretty bizarre spin on them. Especially strange is the performance of John Adames as the kid. His line delivery is not like a poor child performance, but also not like any kid I have ever met. It is a strange confluence of Cassavetes and what just must have been a really bizarre child. And it works. His playing off the assured performance of Rowlands opens up the film beyond a gangster picture into something else.

Not a great Cassavetes, but an interesting and undeniably fun one.

Country Mouse vs. City Mouse.

Jacques Tati is a brilliant filmmaker, one who begs to be see on the big screen. His work, simple funny little films about the joys of a quiet life, really only works in the darkened cinemas.

Unfortunately I have only been able to see one of his films in a theater, his masterpiece Playtime, and yesterday I watched the earlier Mon Oncle on DVD. Mon Oncle is a sweet, quiet look at Monsieur Hulot's relationship with his nephew and with modernity. Like the recurring dogs he traverses both the rapidly developing Parisian areas and his own more pastoral existence in a little
neighborhood where birds sing if you shine the light just right. Viewed in 1958 this must have been felt a warning, Tati showing what would happen. But now it is elegy to a bygone time.

The film features many great set pieces, including a fabulous factory sequence involving plastic piping that looks like sausage, but it is the small funny moments that will go on like the dog growling at the "angry" fishhead.

In the world we live in, the world Tati warned us about, it is far to easy to be distracted from one of his films. That is why the cinema is still ideal for its viewing. In the darkened room, in silence with a big audience the laughter becomes infectious and there is nothing to draw you away from Tati's unobtrusive films. If I ever start that cinematheque I know one of the first programs we'll have must be the films of Jacques Tati. Each one wonderful examples of the greatness of the cinema.

SF by JLG.

I first saw Godard's Alphaville the summer after I graduated high school. I thought it was cool looking, but it didn't really do anything for me.

I just watched it again a few hours ago, and boy what a difference three years can make. Alphaville is an amazing film, and one of my favorite Godards. It is a perfect mix of genres spy thriller and scifi mixed with distopian society.

Constantine and the amazing Anna Karina nail their parts, just the right tone of humor and tension. Coutard's camera was never better, and Godard keeps the story flowing along, combining brilliant visuals with his own bizarre wit. Amazing.

Liberal Filmmaking.

Stephen Gaghan's Syriana demonstrates everything that is wrong with liberal filmmaking. Gaghan's desire to tell the world what he believes is admirable, but also painfully boring.

Just as in Traffic, he chooses to follow far too many stories, which kills certain characters, Jeffery Wright especially is given a remarkably thankless role. The acting is quite good in spots, especially Clooney and , and the film is well shot; but on the whole it lacks in narrative direction and any sense of drama. Again, this would have made a stellar documentary but it makes a boring narrative film.


Toshiro Mifune was the biggest badass ever. None could match his charisma, power and all around badassery.

Kurosawa's Yojimbo shows Mifune's range brilliantly, not in the emotion of Rashomon or Seven Samurai but in his surprising mastery of deadpan comedy. Kurosawa constantly cuts back to Mifune for the reaction shot, that cut that lets us seen the nameless samurai may actually be the smartest guy in the room.

Channeling John Ford through a kimono, Kurosawa was the best western director to ever live. His composition is flawless, see the shot of Sanjuro on the belltower watching what he has wrought with glee. The characterization is effortless and the action breathtaking. Amazing.

Belmondo and Karina.

Pierrot le Fou is a brilliant film, one that shows Godard's mastery of all genres but his allegiance to none. He uses his greatest actors to the height of their iconic powers and creates an idyll as beautiful as any ever shot.

All this and it's funny, too. God I love Godard.

Reorganizing the All Time Top Ten.

I've been thinking long and hard about it, and here is my reorganized top ten of all time. I've dropped Ghostbusters from the list (that kills me, but so it goes...).

My 10 favorite films of all time:
1. Citizen Kane
2. The Decalogue
3. Rashomon
4. Band of Outsiders
5. A Woman Under the Influence
6. Playtime
7. Dr. Strangelove
8. The Royal Tennenbaums
9. Au Hasard Balthazar
10. Hannah and Her Sisters

Year's End.

As far as I am concerned, it has been a pretty great year for films. My top ten won't be finished until after Match Point, Three Burials and The New World and Cache, but as for the calendar year here is the list:

Current 2005 Top 10:
1. A History of Violence
2. The Squid and the Whale
3. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
4. Grizzly Man
5. Brokeback Mountain
6. Broken Flowers
7. Hustle & Flow
8. Last Days
9. King Kong
10. The Constant Gardener

I fully expect one of the aforementioned four to hit the list, hopefully the new Woody Allen. For films I missed, I wish I'd seen 2046, Capote, Me and You and Everyone We Know and many of the films that won't hit till much later (especially Best of Youth). The worst film of last year was hands down the abysmal Crash and the most overrated was the overlong at 77 minutes March of the Penguins.

Other great films of last year: Land of the Dead, Good Night and Good Luck, Kung Fu Hustle, The Devil's Rejects, Murderball, Serenity, Batman Begins, Layer Cake, Ong Bak, The 40 Year Old Virgin, Junebug.

Pretty damn good year.


It's All True would have been an incredibly interesting film by Orson Welles, the documentary, It's All True, is merely an oddity. The footage present is amazing, but clearly untouched by Welles, but watching rushes from the master is more interesting than 99% of what is released any given year.

It's another great if only, like so many in Welles's oeuvre.