E.A. Dupont’s VARIETE at the University of Chicago’s Film Studies Center

My latest blog post for Time Out Chicago concerns the University of Chicago Film Studies Center’s October 2 screening of Variete featuring a live score by the esteemed Alloy Orchestra. You can read the article in its entirety below.

Variete

University of Chicago will screen 1925 German film Variete with a live score

One of the supreme masterpieces of Weimar-era German cinema is set to make its Chicago re-premiere at the University of Chicago’s Film Studies Center on Sunday, October 2. Director E.A. Dupont’s Variete will screen in a new restoration with live accompaniment by the percussion-heavy three-man ensemble known as the Alloy Orchestra. Although I haven’t yet heard this new score, theHollywood Reporter called it “indispensable,” and said the film is “the vintage restoration sensation of the year.” Considering that Alloy’s score for Dziga Vertov’s Man with a Movie Camera is the greatest I’ve heard for any silent film, this upcoming screening should be considered essential viewing for local cinephiles.

Variete was Germany’s biggest box office hit of 1925. It came out during the height of the movement known as Expressionism but, in spite of the extraordinarily fluid camerawork of Karl Freund (Metropolis) and a clever plot about the sinister goings-on within a circus, Dupont’s movie actually feels closer to the social realism with which directors like G.W. Pabst (Pandora’s Box) and Josef Von Sternberg (The Blue Angel) would soon make their mark. The film begins with a prisoner, “Boss” Huller (Emil Jannings in an uncharacteristically restrained performance), breaking a 10-year vow of silence and telling a warden the tragic story, seen in flashback, of how he came to murder his unfaithful trapeze-artist wife (Lya de Putti). The whole movie is great but the highlights are the exhilarating trapeze sequences, the deft camerawork of which puts viewers in the middle of the action, creating a thrilling “you are there” effect.

Variete screens at the Logan Center for the Arts on Sunday, October 2 at 7pm. For more info visit filmstudiescenter.uchicago.edu.


The Last Ten Movies I Saw

1. Harmonium (Fukada)
2. The Immortal Story (Welles)
3. Chimes at Midnight (Welles)
4. In Bed with Victoria (Triet)
5. Sweet Dreams (Bellocchio)
6. Dirty Gertie from Harlem U.S.A. (Williams)
7. Office Space (Judge)
8. The Blood of Jesus (Williams)
9. Crosscurrent (Yang)
10. Mickey One (Penn)


Filmmaker Interview: David Lynch

I was thrilled to be able to interview David Lynch for Time Out recently. Here’s the interview in its entirety.

dkl

At 70-years-old, iconoclastic filmmaker David Lynch is more popular than ever. A much-publicized BBC poll of film critics around the world recently named his 2001 masterpiece Mulholland Drive the best film of the 21st century and anticipation for the much-hyped third season of Twin Peaks, which is scheduled to premiere on Showtime next year, has reached a fever pitch.

On September 25, Yoga Gives Back, a non-profit organization dedicated to alleviating poverty in India, will present Lynch with the “Namaste Award” at its fifth annual “Thank You Mother India” gala fundraiser. Yoga Gives Back is honoring Lynch for his humanitarian efforts through the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace, which helps children and adults in various areas of the world through the teaching and practice of Transcendental Meditation.

Lynch has said that he is honored to receive the award “on behalf of the thousands of teachers of Transcendental Meditation in India, the United States and all over the world who are working with great energy, wisdom and devotion in order create a more peaceful, progressive, and healthier world.” I recently had the chance to interview Lynch about his relationship to both meditation and creativity.

MGS: When you feel creatively blocked, how do you work through the problem?

DL: I desire an idea and after two-and-a-half minutes the idea comes.

MGS: Gun violence has reached epidemic proportions in my hometown of Chicago. How might Transcendental Meditation be used to combat this epidemic and increase peace at the local level?

DL: Sometimes violence can be done with fists. Sometimes with rocks. Sometimes with knives. Sometimes with baseball bats. Sometimes with hand grenades. Sometime with bombs. The whole idea is to get rid of the desire to create violence, or the need to make violence. If people are happy and blissful within, if they’re filled with universal love within, they don’t have any desire to hurt anyone or make violence. They just enjoy life and enjoy all the diversity in life. Every human being has a treasury of love and bliss within, and to access that treasure and infuse it we need a technique. Transcendental Meditation as taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi allows any human being to access that treasury within each of us, and utilize that treasury to enjoy a peaceful and blissful life. There are Vedic techniques that Maharishi brought out that eliminate the enmity in any enemy, these techniques raise collective consciousness and can be powerful enough to raise collective consciousness in whole nations and even in the whole world. These techniques bring real peace. Not just the absence of war, or the desire for violence, but the absence of all negativity. We could all very easily enjoy peace on earth, heaven on earth, if these technologies are utilized everyday on a permanent basis. Mankind was not made to suffer. Bliss is our nature. The individual is cosmic.

MGS: How do Transcendental Meditation and coffee relate to each other?

DL: Both are very enjoyable.

MGS: What’s something new you want to try that you’ve never done before?

DL: Making gold from lead.

MGS: The current cultural climate doesn’t seem conducive to filmmakers with personal visions. Do you feel optimistic about the future of the feature film?

DL: The feature film and the form of the feature film is not so pleasing to people these days. A continuing story seems to be what is interesting for people nowadays. Cable television is the new art-house.

MGS: “Binge watching” has become fashionable. Why is it important to you that Twin Peaks airs in weekly installments, rather than being released all at once?

DL: I’m not allowed to talk about Twin Peaks.

MGS: If the 70-year-old David Lynch could impart a word of advice to the 35-year-old David Lynch, what would it be?

DL: Don’t throw out your B negative!


The Last Ten Movies I Saw

1. Nosferatu (Murnau)
2. Moonlight (Jenkins)
3. La Perla (Fernandez)
4. The Bronze Buckaroo (Kahn)
5. Veiled Aristocrats (Micheaux)
6. The Ladies Man (Lewis)
7. Ten Minutes to Live (Micheaux)
8. The Girl from Chicago (Micheaux)
9. The Exile (Micheaux)
10. Audrey the Trainwreck (Ross)


The Third Annual Oakton Pop-Up Film Festival

I am excited to announce that, after the success of the last two Oakton Pop-Up Film Festivals in 2014 and 2015, I have programmed and will be hosting P.U.F.F. again. The screenings of this year’s four acclaimed independent American films, spanning various genres and styles, will all take place at Oakton Community College’s Footlik Theater (room 1344) in Des Plaines, Illinois, from Tuesday, November 1 through Friday, November 4. The first three screenings will be followed by Q&A sessions with the filmmakers, moderated by various Oakton Humanities professors, including yours truly. The screenings are all FREE and open to the public. Any of my students who attend a screening will receive extra credit points towards his or her final grade (see the extra credit page of your course website for more information). Don’t you dare miss it!

The full schedule:

Thao’s Library (Elizabeth Van Meter, 2015, 88 minutes)
Tuesday, November 1 at 2:00pm

thao

Winner of the Audience hoice Award at Geena Davis’ inaugural Bentonville Film Festival, this extraordinary movie depicts the unlikely friendship between two women: NYC-based actress Elizabeth Van Meter, grieving in the wake of the suicide of her younger sister (famed child aviator Vicki Van Meter), and Thanh Thao Huynh, a Vietnamese woman whose body has been ravaged by exposure to Agent Orange. One day, Van Meter saw a photograph of Thao by chance and learned that this young woman had created a makeshift library for the children in her small village. Van Meter reached out to Thao, and the two set out to build a permanent library, the journey of which is documented in this poignant, poetic and ultimately cathartic debut feature. Co-sponsored by the Women’s and Gender Studies program.
Followed by a live Q&A with director Elizabeth Van Meter conducted by Kathleen Carot.

Bloomin Mud Shuffle (Frank V. Ross, 2015, 75 minutes)
Wednesday, November 2 at 12:30pm

James Ransone (The Wire) and Natasha Lyonne (Orange is the New Black) star in this bittersweet “anti-romantic comedy” about aimless 30-somethings living in the suburbs of Chicago. Lonnie’s life hasn’t changed much in the 16 years since he graduated high school. Still painting houses, still drinking too much, still hanging out with the same old friends. As far as he can see, his only hope for the future lies in taking his physical relationship with coworker Monica to the next level. Written and directed by “mumblecore” veteran Ross (Audrey the Trainwreck). “Ross is so in tune with his characters that they never seem written or contrived… Ross’ directorial adroitness suggests a mature auteurism that is extremely rare in American lo-fi, micro-budget cinema.” – Don Simpson, Smells Like Screen Spirit
Followed by a live Q&A with director Frank V. Ross conducted by Michael Smith.

A F**kload of Scotch Tape (Julian Grant, 2012, 94 minutes)
Thursday, November 3 at 2:00pm

A musical neo-noir drama where a patsy is set up to take the fall for a kidnapping that leads to murder. When the money he is paid is stolen, he embarks on a rampage of revenge. Things go from bad to perverse as Benji (Graham Jenkins) must fight his way through father figures, hookers with no hearts, marauding men and the hopelessly lost. All singing, all-fighting – FLOST is a throwback to the crime films of yesteryear mixed with the music of Kevin Quain. Based on the writings of pulp-fiction writer Jed Ayres, FLOST mashes up film noir, musical drama and hard-hitting social injustice. Not for the faint of heart or humor. “Truly one-of-a-kind, a film that is destined to generate a substantial amount of buzz with indie film fanatics looking for something original, something outside of the proverbial box.” – Todd Rigney, Beyond Hollywood
Followed by a live Q&A with director Julian Grant conducted by Therese Grisham.

Buzzard (Joel Potrykus, 2014, 97 minutes)
Friday, November 4 at 12:30pm

buzzard-still-4

This pitch-black comedy from regional Michigan filmmaker Joel Potrykus (The Alchemist Cookbook) has been accurately described as “Office Space on Crack” (Indiewire). Paranoia forces small-time scam artist Marty Jackitansky (Joshua Burge) to flee his hometown and hide out in a dangerous Detroit. With nothing but a pocket full of bogus checks, his Power Glove, and a bad temper, the horror metal slacker lashes out. “Potrykus has fashioned a vigorous and strangely compelling character study, a sustained burst of punk-rock ferocity, and one of the most original American films to emerge in some time.”- Calum Marsh, Village Voice

This film festival is sponsored by the Oakton Community College Educational Foundation and its generous donors.


The Last Ten Movies I Saw

1. The Gold Rush (Chaplin)
2. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Wiene)
3. Casablanca (Curtiz)
4. Eleven P.M. (Maurice)
5. Everybody Wants Some!! (Linklater)
6. Bringing Up Baby (Hawks)
7. Sully (Eastwood)
8. Pause of the Clock (Christopher)
9. The Scar of Shame (Perugini)
10. City That Never Sleeps (Auer)


My Student Tomato-Meter: 2016 Edition

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The Fall semester just began, which means it’s that time of year when I post my updated “student tomato-meter” showing the aggregated results of the ratings — on a scale from one-to-10 — that my students have given to every movie I’ve shown in my film studies classes dating back to the Spring 2009 semester. I’ve now taught 84 classes and shown a total of 394 unique movies. Below is a list of all the films I’ve screened to date, presented in chronological order by release date, along with the average ratings given by my students. Below that I’ve also included a list of the top 10 highest-rated films. My goal as a teacher is to show at least one movie by every great director who ever lived. Please scan the list below and feel free tell me in the comments section who you think I might be missing!

Sherlock Holmes (Berthelet, USA, 1915) – 4.1
Les Vampires (Feuillade, France, 1915-1916) – 7.0
Broken Blossoms (Griffith, USA, 1919) – 5.9
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Wiene, Germany, 1920) – 6.8
The Golem (Wegener/Boese, Germany, 1920) – 6
The Phantom Carriage (Sjostrom, Sweden, 1921) – 7.3
Nosferatu (Murnau, Germany, 1922) – 6.5
Our Hospitality (Keaton, USA, 1923) – 8.4
Coeur Fidele (Epstein, France, 1923) – 5.2
Greed (Von Stroheim, USA, 1923) – 6.9
Sherlock Jr. (Keaton, USA, 1924) – 8.0
The Hands of Orlac (Wiene, Germany, 1924) – 6.2
Waxworks (Leni, Germany, 1924) – 5.1
The Freshman (Newmeyer/Taylor, USA, 1925) – 8.3
Seven Chances (Keaton, USA, 1925) – 8.2
The Navigator (Keaton, USA, 1925) – 8.1
The Gold Rush (Chaplin, USA, 1925) – 8.0
The Last Laugh (Murnau, Germany, 1925) – 6.5
Battleship Potemkin (Eisenstein, Soviet Union, 1925) – 5.1
The General (Keaton, USA, 1926) – 8.4
Secrets of a Soul (Pabst, Germany, 1926) – 6.6
Faust (Murnau, Germany, 1926) – 6.9
Sunrise (Murnau, USA, 1927) – 6.9
Metropolis (Lang, Germany, 1927) – 6.6
Hindle Wakes (Elvey, UK, 1927) – 6.6
The End of St. Petersburg (Pudovkin, Soviet Union, 1927) – 5.0
The Fall of the Romanov Dynasty (Shub, Soviet Union, 1927) – 4.0
The Docks of New York (Von Sternberg, USA, 1928) – 8.4
The Crowd (Vidor, USA, 1928) – 7.4
The Passion of Joan of Arc (Dreyer, France, 1928) – 7.2
Lonesome (Fejos, USA, 1928) – 6.7
A Cottage on Dartmoor (Asquith, UK, 1929) – 8.3
Lucky Star (Borzage, USA, 1929) – 8.1
Asphalt (May, Germany, 1929) – 6.8
Man with the Movie Camera (Vertov, Soviet Union, 1929) – 6.2
City Girl (Murnau, USA, 1930) – 6.7
L’age D’or (Bunuel, France, 1930) – 6.6
Earth (Dovzhenko, Soviet Union, 1930) – 3.6
City Lights (Chaplin, USA, 1931) – 8.5
M (Lang, Germany, 1931) – 8.1
Madchen in Uniform (Sagan/Froelich, Germany, 1931) – 7.1
Freaks (Browning, USA, 1932) – 7.1
Vampyr (Dreyer, Denmark/Germany, 1932) – 6.9
The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (Lang, Germany, 1933) – 7.6
Duck Soup (McCarey, USA, 1933) – 6.8
It Happened One Night (Capra, USA, 1934) – 8.5
L’atalante (Vigo, France, 1934) – 7.0
Top Hat (Sandrich, USA, 1935) – 8.6
My Man Godfrey (La Cava, USA, 1936) – 8.5
Modern Times (Chaplin, USA, 1936) – 8.0
Redes (Muriel/Zinneman, Mexico, 1936) – 6.9
The Awful Truth (McCarey, USA, 1937) – 8.5
Grand Illusion (Renoir, France, 1937) – 7.0
Bringing Up Baby (Hawks, USA, 1938) – 8.3
Alexander Nevsky (Eisenstein, Soviet Union, 1938) – 5.0
Midnight (Liesen, USA, 1939) – 8.7
Only Angels Have Wings (Hawks, USA, 1939) – 8.2
The Roaring Twenties (Walsh, USA, 1939) – 8.2
Stagecoach (Ford, USA, 1939) – 7.7
The Rules of the Game (Renoir, France, 1939) – 7.1
The Grapes of Wrath (Ford, USA, 1940) – 7.9
The Shop Around the Corner (Lubitsch, USA, 1940) – 7.4
The Lady Eve (Sturges, USA, 1941) – 8.2
Citizen Kane (Welles, USA, 1941) – 8.2
How Green Was My Valley (Ford, USA, 1941) – 7.8
The Strawberry Blonde (Walsh, USA, 1941) – 7.6
The Maltese Falcon (Huston, USA, 1941) – 6.9
Casablanca (Curtiz, USA, 1942) – 8.3
The Palm Beach Story (Sturges, USA, 1942) – 7.5
Aniki Bobo (De Oliveira, Portugal, 1942) – 7.2
Cat People (Tourneur, USA, 1942) – 5.6
The More the Merrier (Stevens, USA, 1943) – 8.2
I Walked with a Zombie (Tourneur, USA, 1943) – 6
Ossessione (Visconti, Italy, 1943) – 5.2
Double Indemnity (Wilder, USA, 1944) – 8.1
The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (Sturges, USA, 1944) – 8.0
To Have and Have Not (Hawks, USA, 1944) – 7.5
Brief Encounter (Lean, UK, 1945) – 8.0
Detour (Ulmer, USA, 1945) – 7.3
Rome, Open City (Rossellini, Italy, 1945) – 7.2
Notorious (Hitchcock, USA, 1946) – 8.5
The Best Years of Our Lives (Wyler, USA, 1946) – 8.4
My Darling Clementine (Ford, USA, 1946) – 7.5
The Big Sleep (Hawks, USA, 1946) – 6.0
Dead Reckoning (Cromwell, USA, 1947) – 8.2
The Lady from Shanghai (Welles, USA, 1947) – 7.9
Out of the Past (Tourneur, USA, 1947) – 7.7
Body and Soul (Rossen, USA, 1947) – 7.6
Pursued (Walsh, USA, 1947) – 7.1
Letter from an Unknown Woman (Ophuls, USA, 1948) – 8.8
Rope (Hitchcock, USA, 1948) – 8.7
The Red Shoes (Powell/Pressburger, UK, 1948) – 8.3
Bicycle Thieves (de Sica, Italy 1948) – 8.0
Call Northside 777 (Hathaway, USA, 1948) – 7.7
Germany Year Zero (Rossellini, Italy/Germany, 1948) – 7.6
Fort Apache (Ford, USA, 1948) – 7.5
Spring in a Small Town (Fei, China, 1948) – 6.7
Jour de Fete (Tati, France, 1949) – 8.7
A Letter to Three Wives (Mankiewicz, USA, 1949) – 8.4
White Heat (Walsh, USA, 1949) – 8.3
The Third Man (Reed, UK, 1949) – 8.0
Sunset Boulevard (Wilder, USA, 1950) – 8.8
Los Olvidados (Bunuel, Mexico, 1950) – 7.5
Devil’s Doorway (Mann, USA, 1950) – 7.3
Union Station (Mate, USA, 1950) – 7.3
The African Queen (Huston, USA, 1951) – 8.3
Singin’ in the Rain (Donen/Kelly, USA, 1952) – 9.0
Umberto D. (De Sica, Italy, 1952) – 6.8
The Big Heat (Lang, USA, 1953) – 8.5
Pickup on South Street (Fuller, USA, 1953) – 8.2
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Hawks, USA, 1953) – 8.2
Mr. Hulot’s Holiday (Tati, France, 1953) – 8.1
The Band Wagon (Minnelli, USA, 1953) – 7.9
Strangers on a Train (Hitchcock, USA, 1953) – 7.8
The Hitch-Hiker (Lupino, USA, 1953) – 7.7
City That Never Sleeps (Auer, USA, 1953) – 7.5
The Naked Spur (Mann, USA, 1953) – 7.0
Tokyo Story (Ozu, Japan, 1953) – 6.7
Ugetsu (Mizoguchi, Japan, 1953) – 6.7
Rear Window (Hitchcock, USA, 1954) – 8.9
Seven Samurai (Kurosawa, Japan, 1954) – 8.3
French Cancan (Renoir, France, 1954) – 8.2
Sansho the Bailiff (Mizoguchi, Japan, 1954) – 7.0
All That Heaven Allows (Sirk, USA, 1955) – 8.0
Artists and Models (Tashlin, USA, 1955) – 7.8
Kiss Me Deadly (Aldrich, USA, 1955) – 7.2
The Night of the Hunter (Laughton, 1955) – 9.1
Pather Panchali (Ray, India, 1955) – 6.4
A Man Escaped (Bresson, France, 1956) – 8.2
The Searchers (John Ford, USA, 1956) – 7.4
Bigger Than Life (N. Ray, USA, 1956) – 6.8
Aparajito (Ray, India, 1956) – 6.6
An Affair to Remember (McCarey, USA, 1957) – 8.1
Vertigo (Hitchcock, USA, 1958) – 8.8
Some Came Running (Minnelli, USA, 1958) – 7.9
Touch of Evil (Welles, USA, 1958) – 7.6
Big Deal on Madonna Street (Monicelli, Italy, 1958) – 7.5
Cairo Station (Chahine, Egypt, 1958) – 7.0
Throne of Blood (Kurosawa, Japan, 1958) – 5.9
Some Like It Hot (Wilder, USA, 1959) – 9.2
Anatomy of a Murder (Preminger, USA, 1959) – 8.9
The 400 Blows (Truffaut, France, 1959) – 8.8
North By Northwest (Hitchcock, USA, 1959) – 8.6
Rio Bravo (Hawks, USA, 1959) – 8.0
Pickpocket (Bresson, France, 1959) – 7.3
Hiroshima Mon Amour (Resnais, France, 1959) – 6.8
Psycho (Hitchcock, USA, 1960) – 8.7
Eyes Without a Face (Franju, France, 1960) – 8.4
When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (Naruse, Japan, 1960) – 8.1
Les Bonnes Femmes (Chabrol, France, 1960) – 8.0
Breathless (Godard, France, 1960) – 7.8
Accatone (Pasolini, Italy, 1960) – 7.6
L’avventura (Antonioni, Italy, 1960) – 7.4
The Housemaid (Kim, S. Korea, 1960) – 7.1
Last Year at Marienbad (Resnais, France, 1961) – 6.8
Viridiana (Bunuel, Spain, 1961) – 5.8
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (Ford, USA, 1962) – 8.3
Cleo from 5 to 7 (Varda, France, 1962) – 7.4
Vivre sa Vie (Godard, France, 1962) – 7.2
Le Doulos (Melville, France, 1962) – 7.1
Jules and Jim (Truffaut, France 1962) – 5.5
Contempt (Godard, France, 1963) – 8.5
Shock Corridor (Fuller, USA, 1963) – 8.4
The Nutty Professor (Lewis, USA, 1963) – 8.4
Black Sabbath (Bava, Italy, 1963) – 7.1
8 1/2 (Fellini, Italy, 1963) – 6.5
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Demy, France, 1964) – 8.2
Onibaba (Shindo, Japan, 1964) – 8.0
Band of Outsiders (Godard, France, 1964) – 7.4
Dry Summer (Erksan, Turkey, 1964) – 7.4
Pierrot le Fou (Godard, France, 1965) – 8.3
Alphaville (Godard, France, 1965) – 6.0
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Leone, Italy, 1966) – 8.8
Daisies (Chytilova, Czechoslovakia, 1966) – 7.2
Point Blank (Boorman, USA, 1966) – 7.0
The Pornographers (Imamura, Japan, 1966) – 6.9
Persona (Bergman, Sweden, 1966) – 6.4
The Graduate (Nichols, USA, 1967) – 8.8
The Young Girls of Rochefort (Demy, France, 1967) – 8.6
Play Time (Tati, France, 1967) – 8.2
Le Samourai (Melville, France, 1967) – 8.0
Bonnie and Clyde (Penn, USA, 1967) – 7.5
Don’t Look Back (Pennebaker, USA, 1967) – 7.4
David Holzman’s Diary (McBride, USA, 1967) – 6.9
Dragon Inn (Hu, Taiwan, 1967) – 6.5
Rosemary’s Baby (Polanski, USA, 1968) – 8.3
High School (Wiseman, USA, 1968) – 7.7
2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, USA, 1968) – 7.6
Inquiring Nuns (Quinn, USA, 1968) – 6.9
The Wild Bunch (Peckinpah, USA, 1969) – 8.1
My Night at Maud’s (Rohmer, France, 1969) – 7.8
Medium Cool (Wexler, USA, 1969) – 7.2
The Red Circle (Melville, France, 1970) – 9.1
Le Boucher (Chabrol, France, 1970) – 7.5
A New Leaf (May, USA, 1971) – 8.0
Two-Lane Blacktop (Hellman, USA, 1971) – 7.7
The Emigrants (Troell, Sweden, 1971) – 8.8
McCabe and Mrs. Miller (Altman, USA, 1971) – 6.9
Minnie and Moskowitz (Cassavetes, USA, 1971) – 5.2
Love in the Afternoon (Rohmer, France, 1972) – 8.6
The New Land (Troell, France, 1972) – 8.8
Solaris (Tarkovsky, Russia, 1972) – 6.9
The Exorcist (Friedkin, USA, 1973) – 8.1
The Long Goodbye (Altman, USA, 1973) – 7.9
Badlands (Malick, USA, 1973) – 7.6
The Mother and the Whore (Eustache, France, 1973) – 7.4
The Spirit of the Beehive (Erice, Spain, 1973) – 7.4
Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (Fassbinder, Germany, 1973) – 7.2
Touki Bouki (Mambety, Senegal, 1973) – 6.9
Blazing Saddles (Brooks, USA, 1974) – 8.4
Chinatown (Polanski, USA, 1974) – 8.2
Black Christmas (Clark, Canada, 1974) – 8.2
Young Frankenstein (Brooks, USA, 1974) – 7.6
Celine and Julie Go Boating (Rivette, France, 1974) – 6.8
The Irony of Fate: Or Enjoy Your Bath! (Ryazanov, Russia, 1975) – 8.5
Cooley High (Schultz, USA, 1975) – 8.3
Night Moves (Penn, USA, 1975) – 8.1
Grey Gardens (Maysles/Maysles, USA, 1975) – 4.2
Taxi Driver (Scorsese, USA, 1976) – 8.6
Mikey and Nicky (May, USA, 1976) – 6.4
Annie Hall (Allen, USA, 1977) – 6.6
House (Obayashi, Japan, 1977) – 6.4
One Way Boogie Woogie (Benning, USA, 1977) – 5.1
Halloween (Carpenter, USA, 1978) – 8.3
The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (Lau, Hong Kong, 1978) – 8.3
Days of Heaven (Malick, USA, 1978) – 7.4
Killer of Sheep (Burnett, USA, 1979) – 7.8
Raging Bull (Scorsese, USA, 1980) – 8.3
The Shining (Kubrick, USA, 1980) – 8.2
Popeye (Altman, USA, 1980) – 5.2
An American Werewolf in London (Landis, USA/UK, 1981) – 7.9
The Road Warrior (Miller, Australia, 1981) – 7.4
Trances (El Maanouni, Morocco, 1981) – 6.2
The Thing (Carpenter, USA, 1982) – 8.3
Blade Runner (Scott, USA, 1982) – 7.6
The Slumber Party Massacre (Jones, USA, 1982) – 6.8
Rock in Reykjavik (Fridriksson, Iceland, 1982) – 6.3
A Nos Amours (Pialat, France, 1983) – 8.5
Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (Oshima, Japan, 1983) – 8.0
Sans Soleil (Marker, France, 1983) – 6.2
Stranger Than Paradise (Jarmusch, USA, 1984) – 6.2
Vagabond (Varda, France, 1985) – 7.6
After Hours (Scorsese, USA, 1985) – 6.7
The Fly (Cronenberg, Canada/USA, 1986) – 8.0
Bad Blood (Carax, France, 1986) – 7.1
The Green Ray (Rohmer, France, 1986) – 6.1
The Dead (Huston, USA/UK, 1987) – 7.8
A Short Film About Love (Kieslowski, Poland, 1988) – 8.4
The Thin Blue Line (Morris, USA, 1988) – 7.9
Time of the Gypsies (Kusturica, Yugoslavia, 1988) – 7.0
A Short Film About Killing (Kieslowski, Poland, 1988) – 6.9
Drugstore Cowboy (Van Sant, USA, 1989) – 8.2
Do the Right Thing (Lee, USA, 1989) – 7.6
Goodfellas (Scorsese, USA, 1990) – 9.0
King of New York (Ferrara, USA, 1990) – 8.9
House Party (Hudlin, USA, 1990) – 6.7
The Lovers on the Bridge (Carax, France, 1991) – 8.0
Defending Your Life (Brooks, USA, 1991) – 8.5
Close-Up (Kiarostami, Iran, 1991) – 7.6
Slacker (Linklater, USA, 1991) – 7.0
Basic Instinct (Verhoeven, USA, 1992) – 9.0
Unforgiven (Eastwood, USA, 1992) – 8.6
Deep Cover (Duke, USA, 1992) – 8.5
The Player (Altman, USA, 1992) – 8.2
The Piano (Campion, New Zealand, 1993) – 8.4
Groundhog Day (Ramis, USA, 1993) – 8.4
Sonatine (Kitano, Japan, 1993) – 8.3
Matinee (Dante, USA, 1993) – 8.2
Dazed and Confused (Linklater, USA, 1993) – 8.2
Menace II Society (Hughes/Hughes, USA, 1993) – 8.0
Naked (Leigh, UK, 1993) – 6.3
The Bride With White Hair (Yu, Hong Kong, 1993) – 5.1
Chungking Express (Wong, Hong Kong, 1994) – 8.0
Hoop Dreams (James, USA, 1994) – 7.4
The Last Seduction (Dahl, USA, 1994) – 7.2
Ed Wood (Burton, USA, 1994) – 6.8
Devil in a Blue Dress (Franklin, USA, 1995) – 8.5
The Bridges of Madison County (Eastwood, USA, 1995) – 8.2
Dead Man (Jarmsuch, USA, 1995) – 8.1
Irma Vep (Assayas, France, 1996) – 7.2
A Moment of Innocence (Makhmalbaf, Iran, 1996) – 5.8
Jackie Brown (Tarantino, USA, 1997) – 9.2
L.A. Confidential (Hanson, USA, 1997) – 8.8
Cure (Kurosawa, Japan, 1997) – 8.2
Taste of Cherry (Kiarostami, Iran, 1997) – 7.2
The Mirror (Panahi, Iran, 1997) – 5.1
The Big Lebowski (Coen/Coen, USA, 1998) – 8.8
The Bird People in China (Miike, Japan, 1998) – 6.6
Office Space (Judge, USA, 1999) – 8.4
Peppermint Candy (Lee, S. Korea, 1999) – 8.2
Ravenous (Bird, UK/USA, 1999) – 8.0
Nowhere to Hide (Lee, S. Korea, 1999) – 7.6
Audition (Miike, Japan, 1999) – 7.5
Beau Travail (Denis, France/Djibouti, 1999) – 5.4
JSA: Joint Security Area (Park, S. Korea, 2000) – 8.6
Yi Yi (Yang, Taiwan, 2000) – 8.4
Dancer in the Dark (Von Trier, Denmark/Sweden, 2000) – 8.0
Failan (Song, S. Korea, 2000) – 8.0
La Captive (Akerman, France, 2000) – 8.0
The Day I Became a Woman (Meshkini, Iran, 2000) – 7.6
In the Mood for Love (Wong, Hong Kong, 2000) – 7.4
Needing You (To/Wai, Hong Kong, 2000) – 7.1
Sexy Beast (Glazer, UK, 2000) – 6.9
Italian for Beginners (Scherfig, Denmark, 2000) – 6.4
Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India (Gowariker, India, 2000) – 9.3
The Devil’s Backbone (Del Toro, Spain/Mexico, 2001) – 8.6
Mulholland Dr. (Lynch, USA, 2001) – 8.1
Avalon (Oshii, Japan/Poland, 2001) – 7.8
What Time Is It There? (Tsai, Taiwan, 2001) – 6.6
The Tracker (De Heer, Australia, 2002) – 7.9
Infernal Affairs (Lau/Mak, Hong Kong, 2002) – 7.8
Bollywood/Hollywood (Mehta, Canada/India, 2002) – 7.6
Far From Heaven (Haynes, USA, 2002) – 7.5
Memories of Murder (Bong, S. Korea, 2003) – 8.8
Oldboy (Park, S. Korea, 2003) – 8.6
A Tale of Two Sisters (Kim, S. Korea, 2003) – 7.8
Save the Green Planet (Jang, S. Korea, 2003) – 6.9
Before Sunset (Linklater, USA/France, 2004) – 9.0
3-Iron (Kim, S. Korea, 2004) – 8.8
Moolade (Sembene, Senegal, 2004) – 8.2
The Island of Black Mor (Laguionie, France, 2004) – 8.1
The Holy Girl (Martel, Argentina, 2004) – 6.9
Dumplings (Chan, Hong Kong, 2004) – 6.4
A History of Violence (Cronenberg, Canada/USA, 2005) – 8.3
Grizzly Man (Herzog, USA, 2005) – 8.1
The Proposition (Hillcoat, Australia, 2005) – 8.1
Three Times (Hou, Taiwan, 2005) – 7.5
Pan’s Labyrinth (Del Toro, Spain, 2006) – 9.3
The Host (Bong, S. Korea, 2006) – 8.9
Once (Carney, UK, 2006) – 8.8
Shaun of the Dead (Wright, UK, 2006) – 8.5
Black Book (Verhoeven, Denmark, 2006) – 8.4
Offside (Panahi, Iran, 2006) – 8.1
A Scanner Darkly (Linklater, USA, 2006) – 8.0
Woman on the Beach (Hong, S. Korea, 2006) – 7.1
Zodiac (Fincher, USA, 2007) – 9.1
My Winnipeg (Maddin, Canada, 2007) – 6.3
Let the Right One In (Alfredson, Sweden, 2008) – 8.7
Me and Orson Welles (Linklater, USA, 2008) – 7.9
The Headless Woman (Martel, Argentina, 2008) – 6.1
The House of the Devil (West, USA, 2009) – 8.1
Shutter Island (Scorsese, USA, 2010) – 9.5
The Social Network (Fincher, USA, 2010) – 8.5
Certified Copy (Kiarostami, Italy/France, 2010) – 8.5
The Ghost Writer (Polanski, Germany/France, 2010) – 8.0
The Hunter (Pitts, Iran, 2010) – 6.8
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Weerasethakul, Thailand, 2010) 6.6
Another Year (Leigh, UK, 2010) – 8.1
Le Havre (Kaurismaki, France/Finland, 2011) – 7.6
Bernie (Linklater, USA, 2011) – 8.9
The Skin I Live In (Amodovar, Spain, 2011) – 8.6
Drive (Refn, USA, 2011) – 8.1
Life Without Principle (To, Hong Kong, 2011) – 7.9
Sleeping Sickness (Kohler, Germany, 2011) – 6.6
This Is Not a Film (Panahi, Iran, 2011) – 7.1
Midnight in Paris (Allen, USA/France, 2011) – 7.7
Zero Dark Thirty (Bigelow, USA, 2012) – 8.9
Frances Ha (Baumbach, USA, 2012) – 8.7
Holy Motors (Carax, France, 2012) – 8.4
Silver Linings Playbook (Russell, USA, 2012) – 8.4
Spring Breakers (Korine, USA, 2012) – 8.3
Empire Builder (Swanberg, USA, 2012) – 7.7
The Master (Anderson, USA, 2012) – 7.6
Cosmopolis (Cronenberg, Canada/Germany, 2012) – 7.0
The Unspeakable Act (Sallit, USA, 2012) – 6.9
Shoals (Bass, USA, 2012) – 5.7
Dormant Beauty (Bellocchio, Italy, 2012) – 8.1
Barbara (Petzold, Germany, 2012) – 8.0
Nymphomaniac (Von Trier, Denmark/Germany, 2013) – 8.5
The Grandmaster (Wong, Hong Kong/China, 2013) – 8.2
Upstream Color (Carruth, USA, 2013) – 8.1
A Touch of Sin (Jia, China, 2013) – 7.9
Before Midnight (Linklater, USA, 2013) – 8.0
The Wind Rises (Miyazaki, Japan, 2013) – 7.8
Jimmy P. (Desplechin, France/USA, 2013) – 7.7
Under the Skin (Glazer, UK, 2013) – 7.3
Black Box (Cone, USA, 2013) – 7.2
Gloria (Lelio, Chile, 2013) – 7.2
Double Play: James Benning and Richard Linklater (Klinger, USA, 2013) 6.8
Only Lovers Left Alive (Jarmusch, USA, 2013) – 6.3
The Girls on Liberty Street (Rangel, USA, 2013) – 5.5
Snowpiercer (Bong, S. Korea, 2013) – 9.4
Stoker (Park, USA, 2013) – 8.9
Top of the Lake (Campion/Davis, 2013) – 8.1
Boyhood (Linklater, USA, 2014) – 9.5
The Grand Budapest Hotel (Anderson, USA, 2014) – 8.9
Actress (Greene, USA, 2014) – 8.3
Inherent Vice (Anderson, USA, 2014) – 8.3
The Babadook (Kent, Australia, 2014) – 8.1
Li’l Quinquin (Dumont, France, 2014) – 7.9
Goodbye to Language (Godard, France, 2014) – 7.6
Malaria (Shahbazi, Iran, 2016) – 8.8

The 10 Highest Rated Films:

1. Boyhood (Linklater, USA, 2014) – 9.5
2. Shutter Island (Scorsese, USA, 2010) – 9.5
3. Snowpiercer (Bong, S. Korea, 2013) – 9.4
4. Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India (Gowariker, India, 2000) – 9.3
5. Pan’s Labyrinth (Del Toro, Spain/Mexico, 2006) – 9.2
6. Jackie Brown (Tarantino, USA, 1997) – 9.2
7. Some Like It Hot (Wilder, USA, 1959) – 9.2
8. The Night of the Hunter (Laughton, USA, 1955) – 9.1
9. Zodiac (Fincher, USA, 2007) – 9.1
10. The Red Circle (Melville, France, 1970) – 9.1


The Last Ten Movies I Saw

1. Tiger Tail in Blue (Ross)
2. Man with the Movie Camera (Vertov)
3. The Goddess (Wu)
4. The Fits (Holmer)
5. Max Rose (Noah)
6. The X-Files: I Want to Believe (Carter)
7. Southside With You (Tanne)
8. Cool Apocalypse (Smith)
9. Cool Apocalypse (Smith)
10. Speedy (Wilde)


THE STYLIST at the Chicago Horror Film Festival

My latest blog post for Time Out Chicago is a review of Jill Gevargizian’s short film The Stylist, which will receive its Chicago premiere at the Chicago Horror Film Festival at the end of the month.

stylist

Guillermo del Toro once noted that the best horror tales are those where the authors are obviously in love with the monsters at their center. The general truth of this aphorism is certainly borne out by Jill “Sixx” Gevargizian’s The Stylist, a superb short that will receive its local premiere on Saturday, September 24 as part of the Chicago Horror Film Festival. This 15-minute exercise in grand guignol stars Najarra Townsend (Contracted) as Claire, a hair stylist with a peculiar idea about how to make her last client of the day, a woman getting ready for an important work event, look perfect. That something is not quite right with Claire is hinted at early on but becomes explicit in a disturbing scene involving a practical special effect that I won’t spoil, but stands as one of the most memorable pieces of shock cinema I’ve encountered in recent years.

The Stylist’s most impressive special effect, however, is Townsend’s lead performance. Note, for example, both Claire’s anguish and genuine concern for her victim in the immediate aftermath of the scene alluded to above. Townsend and Gevargizian create a moment of astonishing emotional complexity that may cause some viewers to sympathize with a psychotic character against their own better judgment. The film also intriguingly invites a feminist reading in its depiction of the social expectation that all women face to “look perfect,” as well as through a dry line about glass ceilings being “a bitch.” One hopes this aspect will be further developed when The Stylist is expanded into a feature (as is Gevargizian’s plan). In the meantime, local horror aficionados cannot afford to miss this pungent short.

The Stylist screens as part of “Shorts Block B” at the Patio Theater on Saturday, September 24 at 1:15pm. For more information, visit the Chicago Horror Film Fest’s official website.


The Last Ten Movies I Saw

1. Hohokam (Ross)
2. The Passion of Joan of Arc (Dreyer)
3. Enter the Void (Noe)
4. Call Northside 777 (Hathaway)
5. Cool Apocalypse (Smith)
6. Karat 14 (Shahbazi)
7. Ten Nights in a Barroom (Calnek)
8. The Flying Ace (Norman)
9. Body and Soul (Micheaux)
10. Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (Hancock)


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