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Author Archives: michaelgloversmith

About michaelgloversmith

Filmmaker, author and Film Studies instructor.

My Student Tomato-Meter: 2019 Edition

soup bath

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 124 classes and shown a total of 504 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. 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.

Les Vampires (Feuillade, France, 1915-16) – 7
Sherlock Holmes (Berthelet, USA, 1915) – 4.3
Broken Blossoms (Griffith, USA, 1919) – 5.9
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Wiene, Germany, 1920) – 6.9
Within Our Gates (Micheaux, USA, 1920) – 6.7
The Golem (Wegener/Boese, Germany, 1920) – 6
The Phantom Carriage (Sjostrom, Sweden, 1921) – 7.4
Nosferatu (Murnau, Germany, 1922) – 6.8
Safety Last! (Newmeyer/Taylor, 1923) – 8.4
Our Hospitality (Keaton, USA, 1923) – 8.2
Greed (Von Stroheim, USA, 1923) – 6.9
Coeur Fidele (Epstein, France, 1923) – 5.2
Sherlock Jr. (Keaton, USA, 1924) – 8
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 Gold Rush (Chaplin, USA, 1925) – 8.1
The Navigator (Keaton, USA, 1925) – 8.1
The Last Laugh (Murnau, Germany, 1925) – 6.6
Battleship Potemkin (Eisenstein, Soviet Union, 1925) – 5.1
The General (Keaton, USA, 1926) – 8.3
Faust (Murnau, Germany, 1926) – 6.9
Secrets of a Soul (Pabst, Germany, 1926) – 6.6
Sunrise (Murnau, USA, 1927) – 7
Metropolis (Lang, Germany, 1927) – 6.6
Hindle Wakes (Elvey, UK, 1927) – 6.6
The End of St. Petersburg (Pudovkin, Soviet Union, 1927) – 5
The Fall of the Romanov Dynasty (Shub, Soviet Union, 1927) – 4
The Docks of New York (Von Sternberg, USA, 1928) – 8.4
Speedy (Wilde, USA, 1928) – 7.5
The Crowd (Vidor, USA, 1928) – 7.4
The Passion of Joan of Arc (Dreyer, France, 1928) – 7
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
People on Sunday (Siodmak/Ulmer, Germany, 1930) – 5.2
Earth (Dovzhenko, Soviet Union, 1930) – 3.6
City Lights (Chaplin, USA, 1931) – 8.5
M (Lang, Germany, 1931) – 8
Madchen in Uniform (Sagan/Froelich, Germany, 1931) – 7.1
Freaks (Browning, USA, 1932) – 7.2
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
The Goddess (Wu, China, 1934) – 7.6
L’atalante (Vigo, France, 1934) – 6.8
Top Hat (Sandrich, USA, 1935) – 8.6
My Man Godfrey (La Cava, USA, 1936) – 8.5
Modern Times (Chaplin, USA, 1936) – 8
Redes (Muriel/Zinneman, Mexico, 1936) – 6.9
The Awful Truth (McCarey, USA, 1937) – 8.3
Grand Illusion (Renoir, France, 1937) – 7
Bringing Up Baby (Hawks, USA, 1938) – 8.2
The Lady Vanishes (Hitchcock, UK, 1938) – 8.1
Holiday (Cukor, USA, 1938) – 7.9
Alexander Nevsky (Eisenstein, Soviet Union, 1938) – 5
Midnight (Liesen, USA, 1939) – 8.7
The Roaring Twenties (Walsh, USA, 1939) – 8.2
Only Angels Have Wings (Hawks, USA, 1939) – 8.2
Stagecoach (Ford, USA, 1939) – 7.7
The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum (Mizoguchi, Japan, 1939) – 7.4
The Rules of the Game (Renoir, France, 1939) – 7
His Girl Friday (Hawks, USA, 1940) – 8.3
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
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) – 8.4
The Palm Beach Story (Sturges, USA, 1942) – 7.5
Aniki Bobo (De Oliveira, Portugal, 1942) – 7.2
Cat People (Tourneur, USA, 1942) – 6
The More the Merrier (Stevens, USA, 1943) – 8.3
I Walked with a Zombie (Tourneur, USA, 1943) – 6
Ossessione (Visconti, Italy, 1943) – 5.2
Meet Me in St. Louis (Minnelli, 1944) – 8.2
Double Indemnity (Wilder, USA, 1944) – 8.1
The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (Sturges, USA, 1944) – 8
To Have and Have Not (Hawks, USA, 1944) – 7.5
Murder My Sweet (Dmytryk, USA, 1944) – 7
Brief Encounter (Lean, UK, 1945) – 7.8
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
Dead Reckoning (Cromwell, USA, 1947) – 8.2
Body and Soul (Rossen, USA, 1947) – 7.6
Out of the Past (Tourneur, USA, 1947) – 7.6
The Lady from Shanghai (Welles, USA, 1947) – 7.5
Pursued (Walsh, USA, 1947) – 7.1
Black Narcissus (Powell/Pressburger, UK, 1947) – 7.1
La Perla (Fernandez, Mexico, 1947) – 6.5
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) – 7.9
Call Northside 777 (Hathaway, USA, 1948) – 7.5
Germany Year Zero (Rossellini, Italy/Germany, 1948) – 7.5
Fort Apache (Ford, USA, 1948) – 7.5
Spring in a Small Town (Fei, China, 1948) – 6.7
A Letter to Three Wives (Mankiewicz, USA, 1949) – 8.4
White Heat (Walsh, USA, 1949) – 8.3
The Third Man (Reed, UK, 1949) – 8
Jour de Fete (Tati, France, 1949) – 7.8
On the Town (Donen/Kelly, USA, 1949) – 7.4
Late Spring (Ozu, Japan, 1949) – 7.2
Sunset Boulevard (Wilder, USA, 1950) – 8.8
Los Olvidados (Bunuel, Mexico, 1950) – 7.6
Devil’s Doorway (Mann, USA, 1950) – 7.3
Union Station (Mate, USA, 1950) – 7.3
Stromboli (Rossellini, Italy, 1950) – 6.3
The African Queen (Huston, USA, 1951) – 8.3
An American in Paris (Minnelli, USA, 1951) – 8.2
On Dangerous Ground (Ray, USA, 1951) – 7.5
Singin’ in the Rain (Donen/Kelly, USA, 1952) – 9
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) – 7.3
The Naked Spur (Mann, USA, 1953) – 7
Tokyo Story (Ozu, Japan, 1953) – 6.7
Ugetsu (Mizoguchi, Japan, 1953) – 6.7
Rear Window (Hitchcock, USA, 1954) – 8.8
Seven Samurai (Kurosawa, Japan, 1954) – 8.3
French Cancan (Renoir, France, 1954) – 8.2
Sansho the Bailiff (Mizoguchi, Japan, 1954) – 7
The Night of the Hunter (Laughton, 1955) – 9.1
All That Heaven Allows (Sirk, USA, 1955) – 8
Artists and Models (Tashlin, USA, 1955) – 7.8
Kiss Me Deadly (Aldrich, USA, 1955) – 7.2
Pather Panchali (Ray, India, 1955) – 6.4
A Man Escaped (Bresson, France, 1956) – 8.1
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
Vertigo (Hitchcock, USA, 1958) – 8.8
Some Came Running (Minnelli, USA, 1958) – 7.9
Mon Oncle (Tati, France, 1958) – 7.9
Big Deal on Madonna Street (Monicelli, Italy, 1958) – 7.7
Touch of Evil (Welles, USA, 1958) – 7.5
Cairo Station (Chahine, Egypt, 1958) – 7
Ashes and Diamonds (Wajda, Poland, 1958) – 7
Throne of Blood (Kurosawa, Japan, 1958) – 5.9
Some Like It Hot (Wilder, USA, 1959) – 9
Anatomy of a Murder (Preminger, USA, 1959) – 8.9
North By Northwest (Hitchcock, USA, 1959) – 8.7
The 400 Blows (Truffaut, France, 1959) – 8.3
Rio Bravo (Hawks, USA, 1959) – 8
Pickpocket (Bresson, France, 1959) – 7.3
Hiroshima Mon Amour (Resnais, France, 1959) – 6.8
Psycho (Hitchcock, USA, 1960) – 8.7
When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (Naruse, Japan, 1960) – 8.1
Les Bonnes Femmes (Chabrol, France, 1960) – 8
Eyes Without a Face (Franju, France, 1960) – 7.7
Breathless (Godard, France, 1960) – 7.7
Accatone (Pasolini, Italy, 1960) – 7.6
L’avventura (Antonioni, Italy, 1960) – 7.4
Shoot the Piano Player (Truffaut, France, 1960) – 7.1
The Housemaid (Kim, S. Korea, 1960) – 7
Viridiana (Bunuel, Spain, 1961) – 7.4
Chronicle of a Summer (Rouch/Morin, France, 1961) – 6.9
Last Year at Marienbad (Resnais, France, 1961) – 6.8
The Ladies Man (Lewis, USA, 1962) – 8.3
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
Shock Corridor (Fuller, USA, 1963) – 8.4
The Nutty Professor (Lewis, USA, 1963) – 8.4
The Executioner (Berlanga, Spain, 1963) – 8.1
Contempt (Godard, France, 1963) – 7.7
Black Sabbath (Bava, Italy, 1963) – 7.1
Le Joli Mai (Marker, France, 1963) – 6.8
8 1/2 (Fellini, Italy, 1963) – 6.5
Onibaba (Shindo, Japan, 1964) – 8
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Demy, France, 1964) – 7.7
Band of Outsiders (Godard, France, 1964) – 7.4
Dry Sumer (Erksan, Turkey, 1964) – 7.4
Pierrot le Fou (Godard, France, 1965) – 8.3
Repulsion (Polanski, UK, 1965) – 7.4
Mickey One (Penn, USA, 1965) – 6.9
Alphaville (Godard, France, 1965) – 6
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Leone, Italy, 1966) – 8.8
Black Girl (Sembene, Senegal, 1967) – 7.8
Daisies (Chytilova, Czechoslovakia, 1966) – 7.2
Point Blank (Boorman, USA, 1966) – 7
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
The Firemen’s Ball (Forman, Czechoslovakia, 1967) – 8
Le Samourai (Melville, France, 1967) – 7.9
Branded to Kill (Suzuki, Japan, 1967) – 7.8
Bonnie and Clyde (Penn, USA, 1967) – 7.5
Don’t Look Back (Pennebaker, USA, 1967) – 7.4
La Collectionneuse (Rohmer, France, 1967) – 7
David Holzman’s Diary (McBride, USA, 1967) – 6.9
Dragon Inn (Hu, Taiwan, 1967) – 6.5
Rosemary’s Baby (Polanski, USA, 1968) – 8.3
Night of the Living Dead (Romero, USA, 1958) – 7.8
High School (Wiseman, USA, 1968) – 7.7
2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, USA, 1968) – 7.6
Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach (Straub/Huillet, Germany, 1968) – 5.3
The Wild Bunch (Peckinpah, USA, 1969) – 8.1
The Unfaithful Wife (Chabrol, France, 1969) – 7.9
My Night at Maud’s (Rohmer, France, 1969) – 7.8
Inquiring Nuns (Quinn, USA, 1969) – 7.1
Medium Cool (Wexler, USA, 1969) – 7
Antonio das Mortes (Rocha, Brazil, 1969) – 5.2
The Red Circle (Melville, France, 1970) – 8.4
Le Boucher (Chabrol, France, 1970) – 7.5
La Rupture (Chabrol, France, 1970) – 7
Wanda (Loden, USA, 1970) – 6
The Emigrants (Troell, Sweden, 1971) – 8.8
A New Leaf (May, USA, 1971) – 8.2
Two-Lane Blacktop (Hellman, USA, 1971) – 7.7
McCabe and Mrs. Miller (Altman, USA, 1971) – 6.9
Minnie and Moskowitz (Cassavetes, USA, 1971) – 5.2
The Godfather (Coppola, USA, 1972) – 9.4
The New Land (Troell, Sweden, 1972) – 8.8
Love in the Afternoon (Rohmer, France, 1972) – 7.8
Solaris (Tarkovsky, Russia, 1972) – 6.9
The Men Who Made the Movies: Howard Hawks (Shickel, USA, 1973)
American Graffiti (Lucas, USA, 1973) – 8.8
The Exorcist (Friedkin, USA, 1973) – 8.1
The Long Goodbye (Altman, USA, 1973) – 8
The Sting (Hill, USA, 1973) – 7.9
Badlands (Malick, 1973) – 7.6
The Mother and the Whore (Eustache, France, 1973) – 7.4
The Spirit of the Beehive (Erice, 1973) – 7.4
Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (Fassbinder, Germany, 1973) – 7.2
Touki Bouki (Mambety, Senegal, 1973) – 6.8
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
Night Moves (Penn, USA, 1975) – 7.4
Grey Gardens (Maysles/Maysles, USA, 1975) – 4.2
Insiang (Brocka, Philippines, 1976) – 8.7
Taxi Driver (Scorsese, USA, 1976) – 8.2
In the Realm of the Senses (Oshima, Japan, 1976) – 6.9
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
A Wedding (Altman, USA, 1978) – 8.4
Halloween (Carpenter, USA, 1978) – 8.3
The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (Lau, Hong Kong, 1978) – 8.3
Dawn of the Dead (Romero, USA, 1978) – 7.8
Days of Heaven (Malick, USA, 1978) – 7.3
Killer of Sheep (Burnett, USA, 1979) – 7.8
The Blues Brothers (Landis, USA, 1980) – 8.9
Raging Bull (Scorsese, USA, 1980) – 8.3
The Shining (Kubrick, USA, 1980) – 8.2
Melvin and Howard (Demme, USA, 1980) – 7
Popeye (Altman, USA, 1980) – 5.2
Thief (Mann, USA, 1981) – 8.5
An American Werewolf in London (Landis, USA/UK, 1981) – 8.3
Body Heat (Kasdan, USA, 1981) – 8
Possession (Zulawski, France/Germany, 1981) – 7.9
The Road Warrior (Miller, Australia, 1981) – 7.5
Trances (El Maanouni, Morocco, 1981) – 6.2
The Thing (Carpenter, USA, 1982) – 8
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
Sans Soleil (Marker, France, 1983) – 6.2
Stranger Than Paradise (Jarmusch, USA, 1984) – 6.2
Vagabond (Varda, France, 1985) – 7.4
After Hours (Scorsese, USA, 1985) – 6.7
The Fly (Cronenberg, Canada/USA, 1986) – 8
Bad Blood (Carax, France, 1986) – 7.1
The Green Ray (Rohmer, France, 1986) – 6.1
The Dead (Huston, USA/UK, 1987) – 7.8
The Thin Blue Line (Morris, USA, 1988) – 7.7
A Short Film About Love (Kieslowski, Poland, 1988) – 7.7
Time of the Gypsies (Kusturica, Yugoslavia, 1988) – 7
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
King of New York (Ferrara, USA, 1990) – 8.9
House Party (Hudlin, USA, 1990) – 6.7
Defending Your Life (Brooks, USA, 1991) – 8.5
To Sleep with Anger (Burnett, USA, 1991) – 8.4
The Lovers on the Bridge (Carax, France, 1991) – 8
Close-Up (Kiarostami, Iran, 1991) – 7.6
Slacker (Linklater, USA, 1991) – 7
Basic Instinct (Verhoeven, USA, 1992) – 9
Unforgiven (Eastwood, USA, 1992) – 8.6
Deep Cover (Duke, USA, 1992) – 8.3
The Player (Altman, USA, 1992) – 8.2
Candyman (Rose, USA, 1992) – 7.3
The Long Day Closes (Davies, UK, 1992) – 4.7
The Fugitive (Davis, USA 1993) – 9
The Piano (Campion, New Zealand, 1993) – 8.4
Dazed and Confused (Linklater, USA, 1993) – 8.4
Groundhog Day (Ramis, USA, 1993) – 8.4
Sonatine (Kitano, Japan, 1993) – 8.3
Menace II Society (Hughes/Hughes, USA, 1993) – 8.3
Matinee (Dante, USA, 1993) – 8.2
Naked (Leigh, UK, 1993) – 6.3
The Bride With White Hair (Yu, Hong Kong, 1993) – 5.1
Hoop Dreams (James, USA, 1994) – 8.1
Chungking Express (Wong, Hong Kong, 1994) – 8
The Last Seduction (Dahl, USA, 1994) – 7.2
Wild Reeds (Techine, France, 1994) – 7.1
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
The Typewriter, the Rifle and the Movie Camera (Simon, USA, 1996)
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
Lost Highway (Lynch, USA, 1997) – 8
Happy Together (Wong, Hong Kong, 1997) – 7
Taste of Cherry (Kiarostami, Iran, 1997) – 7.2
The Mirror (Panahi, Iran, 1997) – 5.1
The Big Lebowski (Coen/Coen, USA, 1998) – 8.7
The Last Days of Disco (Stillman, USA, 1998) – 8.4
Shattered Image (Ruiz, USA, 1998) – 6.9
The Bird People in China (Miike, Japan, 1998) – 6.6
The Hole (Tsai, Taiwan, 1998) – 5.8
Dead or Alive (Miike, Japan, 1999)
Office Space (Judge, USA, 1999) – 8.4
Peppermint Candy (Lee, S. Korea, 1999) – 8.2
Ravenous (Bird, UK/USA, 1999) – 8
Nowhere to Hide (Lee, S. Korea, 1999) – 7.6
Audition (Miike, Japan, 1999) – 7.5
Beau Travail (Denis, France/Djibouti, 1999) – 7.2
JSA: Joint Security Area (Park, S. Korea, 2000) – 8.6
High Fidelity (Frears, USA, 2000) – 8.5
Yi Yi (Yang, Taiwan, 2000) – 8.4
La Captive (Akerman, France, 2000) – 8
Dancer in the Dark (Von Trier, Denmark/Sweden, 2000) – 7.8
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
The Gleaners and I (Varda, France, 2000) – 5.4
Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India (Gowariker, India, 2000) – 9
The Devil’s Backbone (Del Toro, Spain/Mexico, 2001) – 8.6
Failan (Song, S. Korea, 2001) – 8.2
Mulholland Dr. (Lynch, USA, 2001) – 7.9
Avalon (Oshii, Japan/Poland, 2001) – 7.9
Fat Girl (Breillat, France, 2001) – 7
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) – 7.6
Distant (Ceylan, Turkey, 2002) – 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) – 8.9
3-Iron (Kim, S. Korea, 2004) – 8.8
Moolade (Sembene, Senegal, 2004) – 8.1
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
Ten Skies (Benning, USA, 2004) – 4.1
A History of Violence (Cronenberg, Canada/USA, 2005) – 8.5
Grizzly Man (Herzog, USA, 2005) – 8.1
The Proposition (Hillcoat, Australia, 2005) – 8.1
The Ice Harvest (Raimis, USA, 2005) – 7.8
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, Holland, 2006) – 8.4
Offside (Panahi, Iran, 2006) – 8.3
A Scanner Darkly (Linklater, USA, 2006) – 8
Woman on the Beach (Hong, S. Korea, 2006) – 7.1
12:08 East of Bucharest (Poromboiu, Romania, 2006) – 6.6
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Dominik, USA, 2007) 9.6
Zodiac (Fincher, USA, 2007) – 9.1
Eastern Promises (Cronenberg, Canada/UK, 2007) – 8.7
My Winnipeg (Maddin, Canada, 2007) – 6.3
Let the Right One In (Alfredson, Sweden, 2008) – 8.7
35 Shots of Rum (Denis, France, 2008) – 7.8
Me and Orson Welles (Linklater, USA, 2008) – 7.6
Happy-Go-Lucky (Leigh, UK, 2008) – 7.2
The Headless Woman (Martel, Argentina, 2008) – 6.1
The Hurt Locker (Bigelow, USA, 2008) – 9.4
3 Idiots (Hirani, India, 2009) – 8.5
The House of the Devil (West, USA, 2009) – 8.1
Change Nothing (Costa, Portugal/France, 2009) – 6
Shutter Island (Scorsese, USA, 2010) – 9.5
The Social Network (Fincher, USA, 2010) – 8.5
Certified Copy (Kiarostami, Italy/France, 2010) – 8.5
Another Year (Leigh, UK, 2010) – 8.1
The Ghost Writer (Polanski, Germany/France, 2010) – 8.02
The Hunter (Pitts, Iran, 2010) – 6.75
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Weerasethakul, Thailand, 2010) – 6.6
Audrey the Trainwreck (Ross, USA, 2010) – 6.4
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
Midnight in Paris (Allen, USA/France, 2011) – 7.7
Le Havre (Kaurismaki, France/Finland, 2011) – 7.6
Mildred Pierce (Haynes, USA, 2011) – 7.5
This Is Not a Film (Panahi, Iran, 2011) – 7.1
Sleeping Sickness (Kohler, Germany, 2011) – 6.6
Twenty Cigarettes (Benning, USA, 2011) – 4.6
Zero Dark Thirty (Bigelow, USA, 2012) – 8.9
Frances Ha (Baumbach, USA, 2012) – 8.7
Silver Linings Playbook (Russell, USA, 2012) – 8.4
Holy Motors (Carax, France, 2012) – 8.3
Spring Breakers (Korine, USA, 2012) – 8.3
Dormant Beauty (Bellocchio, Italy, 2012) – 8.1
Barbara (Petzold, Germany, 2012) – 8
Empire Builder (Swanberg, USA, 2012) – 7.7
The Master (Anderson, USA, 2012) – 7.6
Cosmopolis (Cronenberg, Canada/Germany, 2012) – 7
The Unspeakable Act (Sallit, USA, 2012) – 6.9
A Fuckload of Scotch Tape (Grant, USA, 2012) – 6.8
Neighboring Sounds (Mendonca, Brazil, 2012) – 6.4
Tabu (Gomes, Portugal, 2012) – 6
Shoals (Bass, USA, 2012) – 5.7
Snowpiercer (Bong, S. Korea, 2013) – 9.4
Stoker (Park, USA, 2013) – 8.9
Nymphomaniac (Von Trier, Denmark/Germany, 2013) – 8.5
About Time (Curtis, UK, 2013) – 8.5
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (Takahata, Japan, 2013) – 8.2
The Grandmaster (Wong, Hong Kong/China, 2013) – 8.2
Top of the Lake (Campion/Davis, New Zealand, 2013) – 8.1
Upstream Color (Carruth, USA, 2013) – 8.1
Before Midnight (Linklater, USA, 2013) – 8
A Touch of Sin (Jia, China, 2013) – 7.9
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
Contracted (England, USA, 2013) – 7
Only Lovers Left Alive (Jarmusch, USA, 2013) – 6.3
Double Play: James Benning and Richard Linklater (Klinger, USA, 2013) – 6.1
Stranger By the Lake (Guiraudie, France, 2013) – 5.7
The Girls on Liberty Street (Rangel, USA, 2013) – 5.5
Boyhood (Linklater, USA, 2014) – 9.4
The Grand Budapest Hotel (Anderson, USA, 2014) – 8.9
Actress (Greene, USA, 2014) – 8.3
Inherent Vice (Anderson, USA, 2014) – 8.3
Li’l Quinquin (Dumont, France, 2014) – 7.9
The Babadook (Kent, Australia, 2014) – 7.7
Goodbye to Language (Godard, France, 2014) – 7.6
Heaven Knows What (Safdie/Safdie, USA, 2014) – 7.5
Buzzard (Potrykus, USA, 2014) – 6.7
Wild Canaries (Levine, USA, 2014) – 6.3
Cool Apocalypse (Smith, USA, 2015)
Brooklyn (Crowley, UK, 2015) – 8.3
Thao’s Library (Van Meter, 2015) – 8.2
Mustang (Erguven, Turkey, 2015) – 8.2
Right Now, Wrong Then (Hong, S. Korea, 2015) – 8.1
Timbuktu (Sissako, Mauritania/Mali, 2015) – 7.6
Bloomin Mud Shuffle (Ross, USA, 2015) – 7.5
Tangerine (Baker, USA, 2015) – 7.5
Malaria (Shahbazi, Iran, 2016) – 8.8
The Wailing (Na, S. Korea, 2016) – 8.5
Donald Cried (Avedisian, USA, 2016) – 8.5
The Lost City of Z (Gray, USA/UK, 2016) – 7.9
Toni Erdmann (Ade, Germany, 2016) – 7.6
Aquarius (Mendonca, Brazil, 2016) – 6.6
Porto (Klinger, USA/Portugal, 2016) – 6.1
Mercury in Retrograde (Smith, USA, 2017)
Good Time (Safdie/Safdie, USA, 2017) – 8.8
Faces Places (Varda/JR, 2017) – 8.6
Signature Move (Reeder, USA, 2017) – 7.6
The Other Side of Hope (Kaurismaki, Finland, 2017) – 6.9
Rendezvous in Chicago (Smith, USA, 2018)
Burning (Lee, S. Korea, 2018) – 8
Madeline’s Madeline (Decker, USA, 2018) – 7.6
Future Language: The Dimensions of Von LMO (Felker, USA, 2018) – 7

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The Last Ten Movies I Saw

1. In the Land of Lost Angels (Mashbat)
2. Where’d You Go, Bernadette? (Linklater)
3. The Day After (Hong)
4. Bitter Money (Wang)
5. Three Sisters (Wang)
6. Mercury in Retrograde (Smith)
7. Mulholland Drive (Lynch)
8. Good Time (Safdie/Safdie)
9. Paris is Burning (Livingston)
10. Holy Motors (Carax)


MERCURY IN RETROGRADE Blu-ray / Talking Sci-Fi in Wilmette

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Emphasis Entertainment’s Deluxe Blu-ray of Mercury in Retrograde, which has a street date of August 30, is now available to pre-order from online retailers – including Amazon! Special features on the disc include:

Audio commentary with writer/director Michael Smith producer/actor Shane Simmons and producer Kevin Wright.

Ratatouille with Roxane (14 min) – Actress Roxane Mesquida hosts an impromptu cooking show in which she shows how to make authentic French ratatouille.

Behind the Scenes (3 min) – Writer/director Michael Smith and cast members Jack C. Newell, Shane Simmons and Najarra Townsend discuss the plot and themes of Mercury in Retrograde from the set of the film

Theatrical Trailer (3 min)

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Also, this Wednesday, July 31st at 7:00 pm, I will be giving a special Adult Summer Reading Club-themed talk at the Wilmette Public Library on the history of science-fiction movies. The talk will be augmented by clips of classic and important contemporary sci-fi — beginning with George Melies’ 1902 landmark A Trip to the Moon and ending with Jonathan Glazer’s Scarlet Johansson-starring Under the Skin from 2014. If you’re in the greater Chicago area, I hope to see you there! More info can be found on the WPL website here.


The Last Ten Movies I Saw

1. Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood (Tarantino)
2. Heaven Knows What (Safdie/Safdie)
3. 12:08 East of Bucharest (Porumboiu)
4. Days of Heaven (Malick)
5. Chungking Express (Wong)
6. Toni Erdmann (Ade)
7. Cleo from 5 to 7 (Varda)
8. Days of Heaven (Malick)
9. Aquarius (Mendonca)
10. Bicycle Thieves (De Sica)


Interview with THE KILLING FLOOR Producer Elsa Rassbach

The following interview I conducted with producer/writer Elsa Rassbach appeared at Time Out Chicago today:

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One of the most important cinematic events taking place in Chicago this year is the Logan Center’s preview screening of the 4K restoration of The Killing Floor. The locally made film, which originally aired on PBS in 1984 before screening at prestigious festivals like Sundance and Cannes, tells the true story of a poor black Southerner, Frank Custer (Damien Leake), who migrates from the rural south to Chicago in the early 20th century to work in a slaughterhouse. Upon arrival, he becomes involved in labor struggles involving a controversial and newly formed union, and eventually witnesses the notorious Race Riot of 1919. It’s an important history lesson, a compelling drama and a lovingly recreated period piece all rolled into one. The screening will take place on July 27 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the riot and will be followed by a panel discussion with the film’s producer and co-writer Elsa Rassbach as well as community and labor activists. We spoke with Rassbach in advance of the screening.

Tell me about your background as an artist and activist and the production company you founded that produced The Killing Floor. How did you end up making an independent film about this important chapter in Chicago history?

Though my family was neither left-wing nor union, I’ve been drawn to the struggle for social justice ever since high school, when we engaged in sit-ins at Woolworth’s in my hometown, Denver, in protest against the firm’s segregationist policies in the South. Following college in the U.S., I studied at the film academy in West Berlin, where people scoffed at the saying that “messages are for Western Union” and honored the work of politically committed artists like Berthold Brecht. My first short films were on feminist themes, but I soon developed a passionate interest in untold stories of history. I returned to the U.S. in 1972 and began reading more and more about the fascinating history of working people, who have played such an important role in our history, for which they have never been recognized. I found it astounding that I had never learned about these stories in school or college. Meanwhile I had been hired at the public television station in Boston, WGBH, to work on the first seasons of the NOVA series, and I received support from the National Endowment for the Humanities to develop a public television series on the history of the American labor movement. In William Tuttle’s book about the Chicago Race Riot I happened upon a footnote in which I discovered the two main characters in The Killing Floor: Frank Custer and Heavy Williams. These two black men, who both worked on the killing floor of a Chicago slaughterhouse, were testifying before a white federal judge, and the two were entirely at odds with each other in how they viewed the causes of the mounting racism from which they were both suffering. I was drawn to the complexity—the race riot was of course not just about black people vs. white people. So I ordered from the National Archives the entire transcript of the hearing in which the two testified. All of the characters who work on “the killing floor” in our film, both black and white, leapt out of the thousands of pages of testimony by a group of workers at the Wilson Meatpacking Company in June of 1919. I knew immediately that a film about them had to be made. I felt that the film needed not only to be dramatically compelling but also to be as accurate as possible—people should know this really happened. In the film the names of the main characters have remained the same as in the original testimony. And I founded a nonprofit production company to tell this story.

Leslie Lee was already an Obie Award-winning playwright when you engaged him to write the screenplay but what made you feel that Bill Duke, a terrific director who at that point had only directed television episodes, was the right person to helm this project?

Before I met Bill, I had worked closely with playwright Ron Milner and then with Leslie Lee on the script. Of the several directors I considered, Bill had the clearest and deepest understanding of what we wanted to achieve with the screenplay. I felt he had a visceral relationship with the characters. Beyond his experience directing action-packed television episodes, such as Hill Street Blues, Bill is also an alumnus of the Negro Ensemble Company in New York, which is known for producing plays about complex, sometimes disturbing, and often ignored aspects of the black experience and the American experience. Leslie Lee later became the company’s executive director. And many of the fine actors in the film had also been involved in the Negro Ensemble Company, including Moses Gunn, Alfre Woodard, Stephen Henderson, and Mary Alice. I felt that Bill was right for this project, and he even surpassed my expectations. He was able to handle the complex logistics of the film, which among other things involved shooting in a real killing floor where cattle were still being slaughtered in Chicago. He was also able to hold to the emotional core of this complex material throughout, directing fine, subtle and compelling performances that give the twists and turns of the story authenticity and dramatic power.

When I interviewed Duke a few years ago, he mentioned that Harold Washington was elected at the same time shooting on the film began, which felt auspicious for the production. Can you talk a little about what the atmosphere was like in Chicago, politically and otherwise, at that time?

I was so absorbed in producing the film that I was not out and about much in Chicago. But I was quite astounded and grateful at how much support we received to make this film. It was support that we desperately needed, because we really did not have enough money to do what we were trying to do. People who had worked on Harold Washington’s election campaign organized hundreds of volunteers who were willing to be extras in the film, and a steelworkers local on the South Side led by Ed Sadlowski did the same. Per an agreement with the Chicago entertainment unions, virtually everyone who had a paid job on the film deferred half of normal guild or union wages to make the production feasible on our scant budget. Not only the entire cast, but also the lighting crew, the makeup and hair stylists, and the Teamster drivers, among others, deferred half their wages, and we on the production staff did the same. In 1983, the workers at the Lincoln Meat Corporation in Chicago, where we shot the killing floor scenes, were mainly southern blacks or Poles just like the killing floor workers in 1919. They volunteered for many hours to teach our actors the ropes of working in a slaughterhouse. It was two and a half years since Ronald Reagan had taken office as President. People were already feeling the impact of the plans to decimate the American labor movement, and to some supporting the film was one way of pushing back.

The screening at the Logan Center will take place on the 100th anniversary of the 1919 Race Riot. Do you see any parallels between the era depicted in your film and the present day? Are there lessons in the film that you feel are particularly relevant to contemporary viewers?

I don’t know about lessons, but The Killing Floor explores an era that does have some important parallels to our own time. U.S. unions had been pretty much crushed in the 1890s. The film is set twenty-five years later, during and after World War I, when people were still searching for a way to reorganize and develop some bargaining power—for the sake of human dignity and democracy as well as to improve material conditions. When people do not have their own strong organizations bringing them together in a spirit of solidarity, competition for “the crumbs” begins. In the battle for scant resources, people can easily be set against each other, and racism mounts. Following the severe attacks on the labor movement that began in the McCarthy Era and have intensified in the 1980s until this day, we are now experiencing a truly frightening rise in racism reminiscent of 1919 . This is happening not only in the U.S., but also in Europe, where migrants and refugees from the Global South are competing for resources in northern cities. It is important to realize that while the protagonists in The Killing Floor were not able to prevail in their struggle for solidarity in 1919, their work sowed the seeds for important victories only 15 years later, in the 1930s, when benefits and reforms were won that we still enjoy today. Now we are in a time when we have a long way to go to rebuild the strength of the people’s organizations. Both courage and patience are called for.

The Killing Floor screens at the Logan Center for the Arts on July 27 at 7pm. Admission is free.


The Last Ten Movies I Saw

1. Breathless (Godard)
2. The Babadook (Kent)
3. Rear Window (Hitchcock)
4. Bicycle Thieves (De Sica)
5. Mustang (Erguven)
6. Lost Highway (Lynch)
7. First Name: Carmen (Godard)
8. Escape from New York (Carpenter)
9. The Image Book (Godard)
10. Blue Jay (Lehmann)


LA Premiere, Special Edition Blu-ray for MERCURY IN RETROGRADE

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I’m very happy to announce that my 2017 feature MERCURY IN RETROGRADE will receive its Los Angeles Theatrical Premiere at Rooftop Cinema Club in Hollywood on the evening of Wednesday, August 7. I will be there with stars Roxane Mesquida and Shane Simmons and producer Kevin Wright for a post-screening Q&A. This event will shortly be followed by a Special Edition Blu-ray release of the film by Emphasis Entertainment. You can purchase tickets for the screening at the Rooftop Cinema Club screening on the website of the venue and learn more details about the special features on the Blu-ray in a story at Screen Magazine.


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