Author Archives: michaelgloversmith

About michaelgloversmith

Filmmaker, author and Film Studies instructor.

My Student Tomato-Meter: Final Edition


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 138 classes and shown a total of 513 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. This is almost certainly the last time I will ever be doing this since the spreadsheet I have that contains this info is getting too large and unwieldy for me to maintain. But please scan the list below and feel free tell me in the comments section if there are any films not listed that you think I should show.

Les Vampires (Feuillade, France, 1915-16)7.0
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)6.0
The Phantom Carriage (Sjostrom, Sweden, 1921)7.4
Nosferatu (Murnau, Germany, 1922)6.8
Safety Last! (Newmeyer/Taylor, 1923)8.5
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)8.0
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 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)7.0
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
Speedy (Wilde, USA, 1928)7.5
The Crowd (Vidor, USA, 1928)7.4
The Passion of Joan of Arc (Dreyer, France, 1928)7.0
Lonesome (Fejos, USA, 1928)6.7
Pandora’s Box (Pabst, 1928)6.8
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)8.1
Madchen in Uniform (Sagan/Froelich, Germany, 1931)7.1
Freaks (Browning, USA, 1932)7.2
Vampyr (Dreyer, Denmark/Germany, 1932)6.9
I Was Born, But… (Ozu, Japan, 1932)7.6
The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (Lang, Germany, 1933)7.6
Duck Soup (McCarey, USA, 1933)6.8
It Happened One Night (Capra, USA, 1934)8.6
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)8.0
Redes (Muriel/Zinneman, Mexico, 1936)6.9
The Awful Truth (McCarey, USA, 1937)8.3
Grand Illusion (Renoir, France, 1937)7.0
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)5.0
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)7.1
The Wizard of Oz (Fleming, USA, 1939)7.4
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)8.0
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)6.0
The More the Merrier (Stevens, USA, 1943)8.3
I Walked with a Zombie (Tourneur, USA, 1943)6.0
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)8.0
To Have and Have Not (Hawks, USA, 1944)7.5
Murder My Sweet (Dmytryk, USA, 1944)7.0
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)8.6
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
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)8.4
The Third Man (Reed, UK, 1949)8.0
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)9.0
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)8.1
Mr. Hulot’s Holiday (Tati, France, 1953)8.1
The Band Wagon (Minnelli, USA, 1953)7.9
Strangers on a Train (Hitchcock, USA, 1953)7.7
The Hitch-Hiker (Lupino, USA, 1953)7.7
City That Never Sleeps (Auer, USA, 1953)7.3
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)8.8
Seven Samurai (Kurosawa, Japan, 1954)8.3
French Cancan (Renoir, France, 1954)8.2
Sansho the Bailiff (Mizoguchi, Japan, 1954)7.0
Senso (Visconti, Italy, 1954)7.8
The Night of the Hunter (Laughton, 1955)9.1
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
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)8.0
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)7.0
Ashes and Diamonds (Wajda, Poland, 1958)7.0
Throne of Blood (Kurosawa, Japan, 1958)5.9
Some Like It Hot (Wilder, USA, 1959)9.0
Anatomy of a Murder (Preminger, USA, 1959)8.9
North By Northwest (Hitchcock, USA, 1959)8.5
The 400 Blows (Truffaut, France, 1959)8.3
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
When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (Naruse, Japan, 1960)8.1
Les Bonnes Femmes (Chabrol, France, 1960)8.0
Eyes Without a Face (Franju, France, 1960)7.7
Breathless (Godard, France, 1960)7.6
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)7.1
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)7.3
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)8.0
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)6.0
Happiness (Varda, 1965)6.5
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Leone, Italy, 1966)8.8
Black Girl (Sembene, Senegal, 1967)7.4
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)8.9
The Young Girls of Rochefort (Demy, France, 1967)8.6
Play Time (Tati, France, 1967)8.2
The Firemen’s Ball (Forman, Czechoslovakia, 1967)8.0
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)7.0
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)7.0
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)7.0
Wanda (Loden, USA, 1970)6.0
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)8.0
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)8.1
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)5.1
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)7.4
My Brilliant Career (Armstrong, Australia, 1979)7.1
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)7.0
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)8.1
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)8.3
Blade Runner (Scott, USA, 1982)7.7
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)7.4
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
The Thin Blue Line (Morris, USA, 1988)7.7
A Short Film About Love (Kieslowski, Poland, 1988)7.6
Time of the Gypsies (Kusturica, Yugoslavia, 1988)7.0
A Short Film About Killing (Kieslowski, Poland, 1988)6.9
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Almodovar, 1988)8.0
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
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)8.0
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)8.3
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)9.0
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)8.0
The Last Seduction (Dahl, USA, 1994)7.2
Wild Reeds (Techine, France, 1994)7.1
Ed Wood (Burton, USA, 1994)6.8
Fallen Angels (Wong, Hong Kong, 1995)7.5
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)8.0
Happy Together (Wong, Hong Kong, 1997)7.4
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)7.0
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)8.5
Peppermint Candy (Lee, S. Korea, 1999)8.2
Ravenous (Bird, UK/USA, 1999)7.9
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)8.0
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)8.8
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)7.0
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)5.0
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
Love Actually (Curtis, UK, 2003)7.6
Before Sunset (Linklater, USA/France, 2004)8.9
3-Iron (Kim, S. Korea, 2004)8.7
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)8.2
A Scanner Darkly (Linklater, USA, 2006)8.0
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)6.0
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)8.0
The Hunter (Pitts, Iran, 2010)6.8
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)8.0
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
A Fuckload of Scotch Tape (Grant, USA, 2012)6.8
Neighboring Sounds (Mendonca, Brazil, 2012)6.4
Tabu (Gomes, Portugal, 2012)6.0
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)8.1
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)7.0
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)8.6
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)8.0
Madeline’s Madeline (Decker, USA, 2018)7.6
Future Language: The Dimensions of Von LMO (Felker, USA, 2018)7.0

The Last Ten Movies I Saw

1. Joni Mitchell: A Woman of Heart and Mind* (Lacy) – B+
2. Jimmy Carter: Rock and Roll President* (Wharton) – B
3. Mr. Klein* (Losey) – A
4. Odds Against Tomorrow* (Wise) – A-
5. The Lady Eve (Sturges) – A+
6. Taste of Cherry (Kiarostami) – A+
7. Inside Llewyn Davis (Coen/Coen) – A-
8. I’m Not There (Haynes) – B
9. No Direction Home: Bob Dylan (Scorsese) – A+
10. Gun Crazy (Lewis) – A


Preliminary Thoughts on the Complete Films of Agnes Varda

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The Criterion Collection’s recent Blu-ray release of the Complete Films of Agnes Varda is one of the most impressive home video box sets ever devoted to a single filmmaker. This mammoth set includes 21 feature films, 17 “official” shorts and a lengthy television miniseries (not to mention a Varda-directed made-for T.V. feature, the long-suppressed Nausicaa, and even more Varda-directed shorts among its many special features), the life’s work of a prolific director whose professional career spanned a whopping 65 years. The set makes the case that Varda, who has never gotten the full credit she is due as a filmmaker despite becoming a beloved icon of arthouse cinema in her later years, is one of the greatest artists to ever step behind a camera. Varda arguably founded the French New Wave when she made her first feature, the startlingly innovative La Pointe Court, in 1954, four years before Claude Chabrol supposedly accomplished the same feat with Le Beau Serge in 1958. And the winding path she pursued afterwards, first as a member of the “Left Bank” wing of the nouvelle vague (along with fellow cinematic titans Alain Resnais, Chris Marker and her husband, Jacques Demy), then as a fiercely independent filmmaker who always followed her own muse, was always exciting and edifying: From France to California to Iran, Varda made films wherever she pleased and about whatever subjects struck her fancy. After watching all 39 of her films, I can also now say that she never made a bad movie.

From a documentary short about the Black Panthers in 1968 to a magical-realist fable in which the then-100 year old cinema is personified by an old man played by Michel Piccoli in 1995, Varda’s filmography can also feel almost impossibly diverse in terms of subject matter and style. And yet binding together all of the disparate works collected in this box set is the sheer force of Varda’s winning personality. She always seemed genuinely curious about and sympathetic to the people who appeared in front of her camera – something that is especially true of “ordinary” people. In the segment devoted to Russia in her superb 2011 minisersies Here and There, for instance, Varda seems as interested in her working-class chauffeur as she does in the famous director Aleksandr Sokurov. Another through-line is her playful and humorous approach to film form. Varda’s painterly, always-meaningful use of color and her singular sense of composition and cutting frequently exhibit a sharp visual wit, a quality that is evident in everything from Coasting Along the Coast, a travelogue she was commissioned to make about the French Riviera at the dawn of her career, to her mature masterpiece (and the ostensibly dour) Vagabond in 1985. To be completely honest, her humor doesn’t always work for me. I find her sense of whimsy, manifested most explicitly in the more representational aspects of Lion’s Love (…and Lies), Jane B. par Agnes V. and One Hundred and One Nights, where actors self-consciously don exaggerated costumes and wigs and engage in “play acting,” to be a little grating.

But does any filmmaker who has made at least 10 narrative features and 10 documentary features have such a high batting average across both disciplines? I highly doubt it. Most of the time, when filmmakers known for their fiction work make non-fiction films, or vice-versa, they are merely dabbling. Varda’s friend Martin Scorsese has made some great documentaries, to be sure, but he will always be thought of and rightly celebrated primarily for his narrative work. By contrast, if one were to “disappear” all of Varda’s narrative films, she would still be considered a giant of the documentary form based on The Gleaners and I, Mur Murs, Daguerreotypes, Uncle Yanco and other films. And if, for some reason, Varda had never made any of those non-fiction works, she would still be considered a master of cinema because of extraordinary movies like Vagabond, Cleo from 5 to 7, Documenteur, Le Bonheur and more. Of course, it is somewhat counterproductive to think of her career in terms of “fiction vs. non-fiction” since part of Varda’s project from day one was to intertwine the two. La Pointe Court is essentially two movies in one: the (fictional) story of a disintegrating relationship told against the (documentary) backdrop of a rural fishing village. Later, Varda made the documentary Mur Murs about the public murals of Los Angeles, which she became fascinated by while making the fictional Documenteur; and the provocative narrative Kung-Fu Master! arose from the making of the non-fiction Jane B. par Agnes V. when the subject of the latter film, Jane Birkin, pitched a story idea to her director; Vagabond is a fiction feature that contains pseudo-documentary interview interludes. And so on.

It is probably impossible to do justice to the Complete Films of Agnes Varda in a review so soon after its release because the set is so elaborate it feels like it will take years before anyone reaches the bottom: almost every film is accompanied by a video introduction by Varda, even the shorts (in at least one instance her intro is longer than the film itself), and the features are contextualized by copious special features, many of which I haven’t yet gotten around to seeing. But suffice it to say that I could not recommend this set more highly. There have been few filmmakers in the history of cinema whose work has meant as much to me as Varda’s has. I saw my first film by her, The Young Girls Turn 25, at the Chicago International Film Festival in 1993 when I was an impressionable 18-year-old transplant from North Carolina and it was a life-changing experience. (You can hear the full story of that cinematic encounter on the first episode of my now-defunct podcast, the White City Cinema Radio Hour, where I discuss Varda’s career with critics Ben and Kat Sachs here.)  You can also read my interview with Agnes for Time Out Chicago, conducted in 2015 when she was in town for a retrospective of her film career and a photography exhibit/installation, “Photographs Get Moving (potatoes and shells too),” at the University of Chicago. Finally, you can read my obituary of her on this site from last year here. I loved her as a filmmaker and person and I couldn’t be happier that her complete works have been so lovingly preserved, collected and presented in this box set so that I can revisit them again and again in the future.

Below are my highly subjective rankings of all the features in the Complete Films of Agnes Varda. (Her work in the short-film format is also extremely important, and her best shorts are masterpieces, but they don’t lend themselves as easily to being ranked as the features do.)

Fiction Features

11. One Hundred and One Nights (1995) – B
10. Lions Love (…and Lies) (1969) – B
9. La Pointe Court (1954) – B+
8. The Creatures (1966) – B+
7. Jacquot de Nantes (1991) – A-
6. One Sings, the Other Doesn’t (1977) – A-
5. Kung-Fu Master! (1988) – A
4. Le Bonheur (1965) – A
3. Documenteur (1981) – A+
2. Cleo from 5 to 7 (1962) – A+
1. Vagabond (1985) – A+

Non-Fiction Features

10. Varda by Agnes (2019) – B
9. Faces Places (2017) – B
8. Jane B. by Agnes V. (1988) – B
7. The Gleaners and I: Two Years Later (2002) – B+
6. The World of Jacques Demy (1995) – B+
5. The Young Girls Turn 25 (1993) – A-
4. The Beaches of Agnes (2008) – A-
3. Daguerreotypes (1975) – A
2. Mur Murs (1981)  – A
1. The Gleaners and I (2000) – A+

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The Last Ten Movies I Saw

1. Tesla* (Almereyda) – A-
2. Nausicaa* (Varda) – I’m unable to give this a rating as it was reconstructed from a battered workprint and therefore incomplete. But, like all of Agnes Varda’s films, it is worth seeing.
3. The Gleaners and I: Two Years Later* (Varda) B+
4. Jacquot de Nantes* (Varda) – A-
5. Kung-Fu Master!* (Varda) – A
6. Jane B. par Agnes V.* (Varda) – B
7. Les Creatures* (Varda) – B+
8. Relic* (James) – B
9. Daguerreotypes* (Varda) – A
10. The Narrow Margin* (Fleischer) – A-

* First-time watch


Esthetic Lens: Creative Quarantine

It was an honor to be profiled recently by Esthetic Lens magazine. I got to talk about the postponed RELATIVE shoot and what I’ve been up to during quarantine. You can check it out here.

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The Last Ten Movies I Saw

1. La Pointe Court (Varda) – A-
2. The Cameraman (Keaton/Sedgwick) – A
3. Mur Murs (Varda) – A
4. Clash By Night (Lang) – A
5. She Dies Tomorrow* (Seimetz) – A-
6. Now and Then* – (Glatter) – C+
7. Good Time (Safdie/Safdie) – A-
8. The Sun Shines Bright (Ford) – A+
9. Days of Heaven (Malick) – A
10. Breathless (Godard) – A

*First-time watch


Stephen Cone’s HENRY GAMBLE’S BIRTHDAY PARTY

I wrote the following review of Stephen Cone’s HENRY GAMBLE’S BIRTHDAY PARTY for Cine-file Chicago.

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Stephen Cone’s HENRY GAMBLE’S BIRTHDAY PARTY (US)
Available to stream on the Criterion Channel with subscription

Across eight features and numerous shorts, Chicago-based independent filmmaker Stephen Cone has carved out an indelible niche in America’s 21st-century cinematic landscape. The son of a southern Baptist minister who came to filmmaking by way of theater, Cone has made a name for himself by chronicling the eternal conflict between the ways of the flesh and the spirit — always with an impressively humanistic eye and often within an adolescent/LGBTQ context. His heartfelt movies have steadily won over festival audiences and critics since THE WISE KIDS premiered nearly a decade ago but Cone stands to gain deservedly wider recognition than ever before now that the prestigious Criterion Channel is spotlighting three of his best films. HENRY GAMBLE’S BIRTHDAY PARTY, Cone’s seventh feature, is an ideal introduction to his work for the uninitiated. It’s a coming-of-age story in which an individual’s coming of age is telescoped into a single day and location: the titular 17th birthday party of the son of a “megachurch” pastor. The party takes place mainly in and around a backyard swimming pool and is populated by a large cast of teenage characters (i.e., Henry Gamble’s religious and secular friends) as well as their adult parents. Central among the many external and internal conflicts depicted in this charged suburban milieu is Henry’s coming to terms with his sexual identity. Although it has its cinematic forebears (an opening scene in which the closeted-gay Henry masturbates with his hetero best friend Gabe is an explicit homage to Andre Techine’s WILD REEDS), the film ultimately impresses for its cultural specificity: Cone has stated that the starting point for his original screenplay was the act of making a list of people he knew from childhood, a strategy that clearly pays dividends when it comes to such humorously authentic lines of dialogue as “Are you churched?” or “Well, Jesus drank.” Cone also admirably avoids stereotypes — he’s especially good at showing, in a realistic manner, how the tiniest cracks can appear in the belief systems of his evangelical characters — and his script is brought to life by a fine ensemble cast (Nina Ganet as Henry’s repressed older sister Autumn and Elizabeth Laidlaw as their long-suffering mother are especially good) and Jason Chiu’s masterful widescreen cinematography. (2015, 87 min, MGS)


The Last Ten Movies I Saw

1. Wagon Master (Ford) – A+
2. Carmen Jones* (Preminger) – A-
3. Rear Window (Hitchcock) – A+
4. Bunny Lake is Missing* (Preminger) – A-
5. Straight Shooting (Ford) – B+
6. Bicycle Thieves (De Sica) – A
7. Bad Day at Black Rock* (Sturges) – A-
8. Da Big Zip* (Alonzo) – B
9. Color Out of Space* (Stanley) – C+
10. Vertigo (Hitchcock) – A+

*First-time watch


The Ross Brothers’ BLOODY NOSE, EMPTY POCKETS

I reviewed the Ross brothers’ BLOODY NOSE, EMPTY POCKETS for this week’s Cinefile Chicago list.

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Bill Ross IV and Turner Ross’ BLOODY NOSE, EMPTY POCKETS (Documentary)
Music Box Theatre – available to rent digitally here.

For dive-bar aficionados and sleazy-atmosphere enthusiasts, BLOODY NOSE, EMPTY POCKETS may be the ultimate quarantine movie. A transporting work so pungent that you can smell it, the Ross brothers’ film documents the last 24 hours inside of “The Roaring 20s,” a colorful Las Vegas watering hole, before its permanent closure. It begins with Michael Martin, a charismatic patron who resembles a drunken, degenerate version of Seymour Cassell, waking up in the bar in the morning, doing a shot of bourbon from a coffee cup then heading into the bathroom to shave with an electric razor – all with the full blessing of the bar’s daytime staff. In one of many humorous lines of “dialogue,” Michael states that he takes pride in the fact that he didn’t become an alcoholic until after he was “already a failure.” Does that sad logic make you smile? Then this is a movie for you. Does it make you wince? It still might be a movie for you. Over the course of what seems to be a typical day and night, the bar slowly fills up with regulars, all of them memorable characters in their own right. They watch JEOPARDY, shoot the shit, dance to songs on the jukebox, and become increasingly intoxicated as the blinding sunlight visible through the establishment’s front door slowly fades from the sky, allowing the dingy, red-hued lighting of the bar’s interior to work its nighttime magic. BLOODY NOSE, EMPTY POCKETS is an exceptionally beautiful film, a tough but empathetic portrait of working-class American life that Charles Bukowski would have loved. Among the many memorable moments: A Grizzly Adams-looking bartender serenades the room with a surprisingly poignant cover of Roy Orbison’s “Crying” on an acoustic guitar; a woman proudly bares her “60-year-old titties” to the stranger on the barstool next to her; a cake, emblazoned with the words “THIS PLACE SUCKED ANYWAYS” in frosting, is consumed; Sergei Eisenstein’s Soviet Montage masterpiece THE BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN shows on a television monitor while country music incongruously fills the air; and the kids out back smoke weed while discussing the amount of Plutonium required to change the earth’s balance. There is nothing on screen to suggest that there are fictional elements, or filmmaking trickery of any sort, present – so revelations that the film’s cast was actually found after a nationwide audition process and that the bar’s interiors were shot in New Orleans (over a span of two 18-hour days) then cut together with exteriors of Sin City, has rankled some critics and viewers who claim to feel duped by the filmmakers’ supposed dishonesty. But combining documentary and fiction techniques is as old as the cinema itself and, in the end, what matters is not how the thing is done but why. I would argue that, by presenting The Roaring 20s as a kind of microcosm of contemporary America, a space filled with a multiracial cast of self-medicating “99 percenters,” the Ross brothers have created an indirect critique of late capitalism that feels more truthful than what could have been achieved through traditional documentary means. (2020, 98 min) MGS


The Last Ten Movies I Saw

1. Devil in a Blue Dress (Franklin) – A
2. The Awful Truth (McCarey) – A+
3. Hardly Working* (Lewis) – A-
4. Secret Honor* (Altman) – B
5. Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets* (Ross/Ross) – A-
6. My Own Love Song* (Dahan) – D-
7. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Wiene) – A+
8. Sherlock Jr. (Keaton) – A+
9. Mrs. Miniver (Wyler) – B-
10. Best in Show* (Guest) – C

* First-time watch


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