Raise the Red Lantern (1991)

This is a movie with a simple plot, if you can call it a “plot”.  It’s more of an examination, a look-in on the life of an interesting and sad character.  This is a movie about a woman named Songlian, who is sent to an early twentieth-century harem to be a concubine to the rich landlord.  It’s simple enough.  There’s no real plot in terms of beginning, middle, and end.  It is mostly a documentary of her life—and her decline—as she struggles with the hostility of such an objectified existence. Continue reading

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Fantasy Academy Awards Ceremony

Okay, so this is a little indulgent.  But I can’t help but think that all this Academy Award talk in which I have been engaging can be diverting in this quest from casual movie watching to competency in film.  What I would like to do is bring back the discussion from contemporary films and set our sights backwards again, towards the vast world of cinema that encompasses over a hundred years of art and culture.  So, I’ve decided to go back and set up my own hypothetical awards ceremony, complete with honorary awards and imaginary glamor.  Imagine a red carpet with Miley Cyrus in her fishnet leggings and Audrey Hepburn in her black Givenchy dress; Jared Leto’s long hair followed by Humphrey Bogart in unbelted wool jackets.  The notion is enchanting, sure.  Those basketball or football video games that I like to play often have a “fantasy draft” setting or a pick-up game kind of setting were you can do the most absurd things: you can have LeBron James play against Oscar Robertson, or have the Detroit duo of Isaiah Thomas and Bill Laimbeer take on Michael Jordan and Dennis Rodman.  Why not do something like that for movies?  I consider this “fantasy academy” a well-earned journey into the indulgent imagination of my own self.  It is time to let all those worlds, the world of John Huston, the world of Federico Fellini, the world of Robert Bresson, the world of Martin Scorsese, and the world of Christopher Nolan, all come together in the ultimate exposition of glamor, art, competition, and class.  And considering the fact that my lists of the greatest directors and movies and acting performances are buried so deep in this blog, I feel like a resurrection of these lists in some new form is not an altogether bad idea, especially considering the fact that I just posted a page which, in essence, restated all the principles and theories that this blog has laid out thus far.  As long as I’m in the “reviewing” mode, I might as well review those earlier lists by having a little fun; having my own awards ceremony in my head.

The nominees are listed in alphabetical order.  There are 10 nominees for each category.  The winners are in bold.  I have hyperlinked all but one of the nominees to clips online (most of which can be found on YouTube) for your viewing pleasure. Continue reading

The Greatest Directors of All Time

Please read this list in conjunction with my chapter on Auteur Theory.  The list attempts to reconcile a given director’s overall oeuvre, cinematic contributions (to theory and culture), and my personal taste.  In some cases, I considered popularity; there is something to say about a directors ability to garner an audience.  You will see that a good number of usual favorites do not make the cut in this list.  That is because a lot of these, unfortunately, don’t live up to my standard. Continue reading