In ‘Bergman Island,’ the Swedish master inspires a film of grace and lightness

Amy and Joseph can’t wait to get their hands on each other. As played by Mia Wasikowska and Anders Danielsen Lie, they’re a couple who won’t endure the trauma of losing each other again despite each having a companion. Over three days on Fårö island at a wedding they steal glances and kisses, eventually makingContinue reading “In ‘Bergman Island,’ the Swedish master inspires a film of grace and lightness”

A little joy into our humdrum lives: The twenty best musicals

Inspired by a WhatsApp post in which I solicited advice: do I show Singin’ in the Rain or Robert Bresson’s Pickpocket as a example of narrative in my film class? In three weeks my students have watched Touch of Evil (yawns), Playtime (a fascinated what-the-fuck-is-this?), The Grand Budapest Hotel (hello!), and Battleship Potemkin (bored what-the-fuck-is-this).Continue reading “A little joy into our humdrum lives: The twenty best musicals”

The best of Ridley Scott

Eight films is more than enough to commemorate a good director. When the clamor got out of hand in early 2016 about rewarding Ridley Scott with a Best Director Oscar, wags preferred to see the award as a career retrospective. They had a point — directors less talented in the last thirty years have thankedContinue reading “The best of Ridley Scott”

The best of Tommy Lee Jones

An example of an actor who understood he had only a few years to double his nest egg count, Tommy Lee Jones won an Oscar for his wily, sardonic turn in The Fugitive (1993) and for a few years became the new Gene Hackman, accepting roles good and terrible; for his trouble he won overContinue reading “The best of Tommy Lee Jones”

Ranking the Star Wars series

As coherences the Star Wars flicks are nightmares. Character traits get emphasized, disappear. Dialogue matters less than getting through pages of exposition. In the later films outer space and distant worlds boast surprisingly sparkling surfaces, as if Greedo and Jabba the Hutt’s sanitation workers scrubbed corners with Pine-Sol. No idea is so original that isn’tContinue reading “Ranking the Star Wars series”

Screenings #52

Capping a period of experiments as Martin Scorsese’s house screenwriter and as director of several films with one foot in the work of influences Carl Dreyer and Robert Bresson and another in the visual lexicon of fashion, Paul Schrader turned to the work of a Japanese writer whose polymathic sensibilities included a taste for sadomasochisticContinue reading “Screenings #52”

The best film sequels

Without The Empire Strikes Back, the Star Wars series would be pallid mythology, left to the devices of George Lucas (nevertheless, it often remains so). Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan’s script added wit and sophistication to the banter, deepened the Han-Leia relationship, and established Darth Vader as a conflicted but formidable foe. More importantly, IrvinContinue reading “The best film sequels”

The best of Don Siegel

Catching the man who would become president onscreen was one of my first film experiences. The scene I caught wasn’t the infamous, camp one in which Bonnie Prince Ronnie slaps girlfriend Angie Dickinson across the face with the biggest, most open right hand in screen history after she makes clear she’d rather stay with loverContinue reading “The best of Don Siegel”