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Nostalghia (1983)
Filmmaker(s): Andrei Tarkovsky

A Russian poet and his interpreter travel to Italy to research the life of an 18th-century composer.

Architectural Poetry: the Form of Angst Writing film comments is a true pleasure -- there is nothing else like it. We have the freedom to assume that you, dear reader, have already seen plenty of descriptions about the story, the beauty, the meditative nature, the ambiguous...

Published January 23, 2024
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Gummo (1997)
Prepare to visit a town you'd never want to call home.
Filmmaker(s): Harmony Korine

Solomon and Tummler are two teenagers killing time in Xenia, Ohio, a small town that has never recovered from the tornado that ravaged the community in the 1970s.

She's Been Dead a Long Time ‘Man with the Movie Camera' meets ‘La Notte' meets ‘Harvey' through ‘Donnie Darko' -- and is as effective as any of them. And as tuned to video as other masters are to film. I was really impressed, and that's saying...

Published January 23, 2024
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Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
We are not alone.
Filmmaker(s): Steven Spielberg

After an encounter with UFOs, an electricity linesman feels undeniably drawn to an isolated area in the wilderness where something spectacular is about to happen.

The Third Narrative I give Spielberg little credit, even claim that he has taken us several steps backward in how we use our visual imagination. And for that he deserves distain. But he was not always excessively vulgar, visually lowbrow. Before ‘ET,' he did some strongly...

Published January 22, 2024
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Bastard Out of Carolina (1996)
Filmmaker(s): Anjelica Huston

A poor, struggling South Carolinian mother and daughter face painful choices with their resolve and pride. Bone, the eldest daughter, and Anney her tired mother, grow both closer and farther apart: Anney sees Glen as her last chance.

The Daughter's Revenge Angelica Huston is the rare child of the film business who really does have talent. That talent, a cinematic poise and a grand frame destined her to be somebody important. But her work has been infrequent and often quirky. One imagines that life is...

Published January 22, 2024
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Batman (1989)
Justice is always darkest before the dawn.
Filmmaker(s): Tim Burton

Batman must face his most ruthless nemesis when a deformed madman calling himself "The Joker" seizes control of Gotham's criminal underworld.

This Town Needs an Enema As with Gilliam, Tim Burton isn't a real filmmaker, rather a production designer with a quirky taste. He creates a feel and shoves in the usual elements of characters and story and such. But the idea is that the ‘feel' of...

Published January 21, 2024
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Last Man Standing (1996)
In a town with no justice, there is only one law... Every man for himself.
Filmmaker(s): Walter Hill

John Smith is a mysterious stranger who is drawn into a vicious war between two Prohibition-era gangs. In a dangerous game, he switches allegiances from one to another, offering his services to the highest bidder. As the death toll mounts, Smith takes the law into his own hands in a deadly race to stay alive.

Kurosawa on Kurosawa Students of film have great fun with situations like this. Here we have three films (‘Yojimbo,' 'Fistful,' and ‘Last Man') with the same script but entirely different cinematic philosophies. All do well at what they attempt. Kurosawa is one of the great innovators of...

Published February 27, 2023
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The 400 Blows (1959)
Angel faces hell-bent for violence.
Filmmaker(s): François Truffaut

For young Parisian boy Antoine Doinel, life is one difficult situation after another. Surrounded by inconsiderate adults, including his neglectful parents, Antoine spends his days with his best friend, Rene, trying to plan for a better life. When one of their schemes goes awry, Antoine ends up in trouble with the law, leading to even more conflicts with unsympathetic authority figures.

Real Fiction With this film began an experiment that was to ultimately fail after dozens of notable films. It was much like the experiment in art nouveau in architecture seventy years earlier. I suppose that every art has cycles which begin with a collapse of the...

Published December 11, 2022
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Clue (1982)
It's not just a game anymore.
Filmmaker(s): Jonathan Lynn

Clue finds six colorful dinner guests gathered at the mansion of their host, Mr. Boddy -- who turns up dead after his secret is exposed: He was blackmailing all of them. With the killer among them, the guests and Boddy's chatty butler must suss out the culprit before the body count rises.

Hasn't a Clue No genre has more opportunities for mind-bending and/amusing bends than the mystery. Especially film mysteries. And this one has a very promising foundation: a parody of a parody: ‘Murder by Death,' which itself was rather clever in a lowbrow sort of way. Add to...

Published November 18, 2022
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Sex and Lucia (2001)
Filmmaker(s): Julio Medem

Various lives converge on an isolated island, all connected by an author whose novel has become inextricably entwined with his own life.

And the Story Starts Again Halfway Written reality. I had the unexpected pleasure of seeing this soon after Ruiz's Proust. Both about writers creating a life. Time folding. Narrative layers. The three sisters from 'Alice in Wonderland,' here named Alsi/Elana, Lucia (the Alice, an anagram, in fact...

Published October 31, 2022
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Elvira Madigan (1967)
Filmmaker(s): Bo Widerberg

Hedvig Jensen is a famous ropewalker and is known to her public as Elvira Madigan. She meets Lieutenant Sixten Sparre, a Swedish officer who is married and has two children. They both decide to run away, but since Sixten deserted the army, he cannot find any job and the couple encounters many hardships. Moreover, while on the run, Sixten meets a friend who tries to convince him to come back to his country and family.

Love is When You Borrow Someone Else's Eyes One of the simple pleasures of life is to sit in a darkened theatre and have a film capture your soul, not as a single person, but as the whole sigh of the room. I saw this in...

Published October 31, 2022
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