My Introduction to a Series of Essays on The Rules of the Game

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“The awful thing about life is this: Everybody has their reasons.”—OctaveThe Rules of the Game

Perhaps no other line in La Règle du jeu (The Rules of the Game) acts as a fairer summation of the movie’s plots and themes as this one, spoken by Octave, the intervening old man in a complex game of youth, love, and social impetus.  It is only fitting, in a meta-filmic sort of way, that Octave is played by the film’s writer, producer, and director, the man that most would consider the greatest of all French auteurs: Jean Renoir.  It’s like the author’s own film commentary, nestled into the screenplay itself, cozily and conveniently. Continue reading

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Laura (1944)

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With the close of both the Holiday Season and Awards Season, I move again to my series of reviews on American film noir in the 1940s.

Where Double Indemnity and The Maltese Falcon have survived into the 21st century with reputations intact as noir classics, Otto Preminger’s masterpiece Laura has been relatively forgotten outside of more expert circles.  Continue reading

The 101 Greatest Film Scores

Lists, and not baseball, have become America’s favorite pastime, and for fifteen years now, I have been passing as much time as anybody I know.   Continue reading

Seven Samurai (1954)

I plan on writing four different reviews on famous chanbara (or “samurai”) films.  Initially, I wanted to save the best for last, but, after writing my review on Hiroshi Inagaki’s The Samurai TrilogyI learned that I just couldn’t wait anymore.  Were I to keep waiting, I would have to keep mentioning Seven Samurai every other line in the other reviews, and you would not have the foundational benefit of having read a review on Seven Samurai.  So, I’m going to go ahead and save the best for second. Continue reading

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

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The holiday season doesn’t stop at Christmas.  It continues on through New Year’s Day…at least in our neck of the woods.  And, when it comes to New Year’s movies, there is none better than the great Frank Capra’s masterpiece, It’s a Wonderful Life. Continue reading

The Greatest Plot Twists in Movie History

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In light of my recent mention of the “Rosebud” plot twist in my series of essays on Citizen Kane, I think I’ll have some fun and make a list of the greatest plot twists in movie history.  But, of course, before you read my list, you have to read my ramblings about the topic at hand. Continue reading

The FilmSage’s Great Movies Video List

I’ve recently been engrossed in Roger Ebert’s published collection of essays entitled The Great Movies.  He was not a fan of lists, and this essay collection—along with his entries into the Sight and Sound poll—pretty much acted as his only dabblings in list-making.  The “great movies” of Ebert’s selection consisted of about 360 or so films ranging from Giovanni Pastrone’s 1914 silent epic Cabiria and ending with 2008’s beautifully quaint Japanese masterpiece from Yōjirō Takita, Departures.  These essays, therefore, were not meant to act as a cool countdown list; they were not even supposed to be comprehensive—there were a lot of great movies that Ebert didn’t write about (though he likely would have if he hadn’t passed away).  This collection, was instead to act as a tour, as it were, through the staples of a truly competent movie-connoisseur.

I have also compiled a list.  Continue reading

Kane the Man

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Charles Foster Kane walks through the threshold of the room that was once occupied by his beautiful wife—a shrine to her celebrity, a celebrity that was as empty as it was critically panned—but now stands wrecked and uninhabited.  Through his own machinations, he had made that woman who she was; not only was her fame a product of his intrusion, but so, also, was her marriage to him.  For years they had sat on opposite sides of the vast hall, she with her jigsaw puzzles on the floor, he in his throne-like master chairs, looking at the gargantuan fireplace before him.  Were there ever two more isolated activities than those?  Now, that void had been finally realized, and she had left him—for once, a decision based on her own free will.  His behavior had brought about her departure, and he recognized his role in it.  But, he would not be undone.  He had built that shrine, he would tear it down.  And so he had.  And now, behind him, the bedroom lays a shambles: statues, trophies, linens and furniture broken, torn and scattered throughout the room. Continue reading

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 Conversation (1974)

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Coppola’s most celebrated films are the first two Godfather movies.  The first came out in 1972, and the second came out at the end of 1974.  In between them, there was The Conversation.  The Conversation has lost much of his reputation and prestige over the last two generations or so, and that is a great misfortune for such a quality film, which played quality role in Coppola’s complete compendium.  The reason for this importance is simple: it is Coppola’s most personal, introverted film, in other words, it his most revealing auteur picture.  Understanding the context of auteurism improves the overall viewing experience of The Conversation. Continue reading