L’Atalante (1934)

“What?  You closed your eyes?…Don’t you know you can see your beloved’s face in the water?…It’s true.  When I was little, I saw things like that.  And last year, I saw your face in the water.”

Could it be that simple, to just open your eyes?  Certainly not, but there is certainly something magically simple about love.  In all its frustrating complexity, it never deviates from the simple constant of feeling. Continue reading

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

1948 was an important year for the Western.  Movies like 3 Godfathers and Fort Apache were contributing to the overwhelming continuation to the genre by the team of John Ford and John Wayne.  Movies like Silver River with Erroll Flynn and Yellow Sky with Gregory Peck were headlining other great team-ups with superstar actors and directors (Raoul Walsh directed the former; William Wellman, the latter).  The second World War was drifting into the past, but its ripples were still freshly informing the new artistic psyche, and these team-ups were beginning to integrate a far more human arrangement into the Western to supplant what was originally a mythological archetype.  Method acting and human dilemma were rising to an important position in the way that Westerns were written.  While these aforementioned films, and others, were making their dramatic (or, at times, comedic) impact on what was, before the war, a simple formula, two films really made waves in 1948.  These two Westerns were The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and Red River.   Continue reading

Battleship Potemkin (1925)*

*And supplementary lecture on the nature of silent film.

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This blog is due for another silent film, and the one that I have selected is Battleship Potemkin (or, in Russian, Bronenosyets Potyomkin).  As was recently posted, Potemkin stands at number 2 on my list of the “Most Important Films of All Time.”  These are films selected strictly for aesthetic and technical innovation, with the qualification that said innovation produced radical change in the popular movie landscape, and not due to story or tertiary film elements along the lines of score, acting, or literary devices—save for those situations when one of those tertiary elements brought forth radical change (Wizard of Oz, for example).  These were, quite simply, decided upon the film itself.  Not the film as in “the movie,” but film as in the film, the literal celluloid collection.  Embracing film as a singular art medium is a necessary facet to understanding silent films, and is unfortunately lost in much of what we consider quality film criticism today. Continue reading

Apocalypse Now (1979)

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My structure remains.  Hitchcock, Coppola, silent film.  Hitchcock, Coppola, silent film.  Hitchcock, Coppola, silent film.  Perhaps after that, I’ll move on to other things.  As for Coppola, The Godfather movies provide only so much potency.  What The Godfather enjoyed, perhaps to a greater degree than any other movie was that it was a story so stunning–and so driven by motif and character–that it probably could have made itself.  Put a director with Francis Ford Coppola’s touch behind the camera and the movie no longer makes itself, but instead becomes the most precious clay a sculptor could ever want: a clay that becomes a masterpiece by mixing the perfection of the plot with the tenacious and dexterous master’s touch.  With that being said, there is perhaps no Coppola film that better exhibits the directorial skill of its creator than 1979’s Apocalypse Now. Continue reading

The Godfather (1972)

The Godfather

There is a somewhat calculated way that I go about selecting which films I want to review first, and I do it in accordance with what my imaginary audience would deem most useful.  If my true goal is to highlight the progression from casual to competent–and I believe that I have made that expressly clear–it would not be wise of me to jump into a review of L’Avventura or The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie. What I have found to be the best springboards for development as an active movie-watcher are any Hitchcock film, most Coppola films, and, surprisingly, silent movies.  I hope to use these three sub-groups in my preliminary reviews. Continue reading