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Author Archives: michaelgloversmith

About michaelgloversmith

Filmmaker, author and Film Studies instructor.

Spike Lee’s BLACKkKLANSMAN

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Spike Lee’s galvanizing new comedy/drama BlacKkKlansman will be released in theaters this Friday, August 10, one year to the day after the notorious “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Viriginia became the site of violent clashes including a car attack that left one counter-protester dead. The release date is no coincidence: although the film is set in 1970s Colorado Springs, Colorado, one of its implicit aims is to use the incredible true story of a black undercover police officer’s successful infiltration of the Ku Klux Klan in order to examine America’s current cultural climate. The title cop, Ron Stallworth (played by newcomer John David Washington, Denzel’s son, in a charismatic, understated performance), communicated with the Klan via telephone then, taking a page from the Cyrano de Bergerac playbook, sent a white officer (Adam Driver, also wonderful) in his stead for face-to-face meetings. Bridging this era with the present is David Duke (Topher Grace), the KKK’s Grand Wizard who updated and sanitized the image of white nationalism, arguably paving the way for the racist hate-mongering that has characterized Donald Trump’s presidency. In telling this remarkable tale, Spike Lee has made his most vital narrative feature in decades and is deservedly receiving his widest theatrical distribution since Inside Man in 2006.

In spite of the seriousness of the subject matter, however, BlacKkKlansman is frequently hilarious as satire (especially the scenes involving Stallworth’s phone conversations with Duke). While Lee’s previous work has frequently been both sloppy and didactic, he’s able to pull off crazy tonal shifts here that are both complex and masterful – most notably in a startling coda using contemporary documentary footage that will undoubtedly be much talked about. BlacKkKlansman is also surprisingly taut as a genre piece; it’s a buddy cop film that nods to classic blaxploitation films from the era in which it’s set. The way it uses genre tropes to comment on social issues has caused some critics to compare it to Jordan Peele’s Get Out and Boots Riley’s Sorry to Bother You (which accomplished similar things with the horror and sci-fi genres, respectively). But the provocative way Lee superimposes the present onto the past ultimately put me in the mind of John Ford’s Young Mr. Lincoln more than any other movie: just as Ford’s myth-making about a canny young lawyer from Springfield, Illinois achieves a sublime poignancy because of the viewer’s knowledge of who Abe Lincoln will become in the future, so too does Lee achieve an ironic and tragic grandeur because of the viewer’s knowledge of what will happen to the whole damn United States of America after Stallworth’s assignment has ended. To paraphrase something Woodrow Wilson reportedly said about D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation (itself a major reference point in BlacKkKlansman), Lee’s essential new film is history written with lightning.

To find theaters screening the film, ticket info and showtimes, visit BlacKkKlansman’s official website.

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The Last Ten Movies I Saw

1. Sure Fire (Jost)
2. The 15:17 to Paris (Eastwood)
3. The Birdcage (Nichols)
4. I Don’t Care (Puccini)
5. Creepshow (Romero)
6. The Devil is a Woman (Von Sternberg)
7. The Scarlet Empress (Von Sternberg)
8. Blonde Venus (Von Sternberg)
9. BlacKkKlansman (Lee)
10. Safety Last! (Newmeyer/Taylor)


My Student Tomato-meter: 2018 Edition

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The Fall semester is about to 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 110 classes and shown a total of 479 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.

Les Vampires (Feuillade, France, 1915-1916) –  7.0
Sherlock Holmes (Berthelet, USA, 1915) – 4.3
Broken Blossosms (Griffith, USA, 1919) – 5.9
Within Our Gates (Micheaux, USA, 1920) – 6.9
The Golem (Wegener/Bose, Germany, 1920) – 6.0
The Phantom Carriage (Sjostrom, Sweden, 1921) – 7.4
Nosferatu (Murnau, Germany, 1922) – 6.7
Safety Last! (Newmeyer/Taylor, USA, 1923) – 8.4
Our Hospitality (Keaton, USA, 1923) – 8.4
Greed (Von Stroheim, USA, 1923
Coeur Fidele (Epstein, France, 1923)
Sherlock Jr. (Keaton, USA, 1924)
The Hands of Orlac (Wiene, Germany, 1924) – 6.2
Waxworks (Leni, Germany, 1924) – 5.1
The Freshman (Newmeyer/Taylor, 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, Russia, 1925) – 5.1
The General (Keaton, USA, 1926) – 8.4
Faust (Murnau, Germany, 1926) – 6.9
Secrets of a Soul (Pabst, Germany, 1926) – 6.6
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
Speedy (Wilde, USA, 1928) – 7.5
The Crowd (Vidor, USA, 1928) – 7.4
The Passion of Joan of Arc (Dreyer, France, 1928) – 6.9
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
People on Sunday (Siodmak/Ulmer, Germany, 1930) – 5.2
City Lights (Chaplin, USA, 1931) – 8.4
M (Lang, Germany, USA, 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)
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) – 8.0
Redes (Muriel/Zinneman, Mexico, 1936) – 6.9
The Awful Truth (McCarey, USA, 1937) – 8.4
Grand Illusion (Renoir, France, 1937) – 7.0
Bringing Up Baby (Hawks, USA, 1938) – 8.2
Holiday (Cukor, USA, 1938) – 7.9
Alexander Nevsky (Eisenstein, Soviet Union, 1938) – 5.0
The Lady Vanishes (Hitchcock, UK, 1938) – 8.1
Midnight (Leisen, 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) – 7.0
His Girl Friday (Hawks, USA, 1940) – 7.9
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) – 8.1
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) – 6.0
The More the Merrier (Stevens, USA, 1942) – 8.2
I Walked with a Zombie (Tourneur, USA, 1943) – 6.0
Ossessione (Visconti, Italy, 1943) – 5.2
Meet Me in St. Louis (Minnelli, USA, 1944) – 8.2k
Double Indemnity (Wilder, USA, 1944) – 8.1
The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (Sturges, 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) – 7.9
Detour (Ulmer, USA, 1945) – 7.4
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
Out of the Past (Tourneur, USA, 1947) – 7.6
The Lady from Shanghai (Welles, USA, 1947) – 7.5
Body and Soul (Rossen, USA, 1947) – 7.6
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, USA, 1948) – 8.3
Bicycle Thieves (De Sica, Italy, 1948) – 7.9
Call Northside 777 (Hathaway, USA, 1948) – 7.7
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, 1950) – 8.3
The Third Man (Reed, UK, 1949) – 8.0
Jour de Fete (Tati, France, 1949) – 7.8
Late Spring (Ozu, Japan, 1949) – 7.0
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
The African Queen (Huston, USA, 1951) – 8.3
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) – 8.2
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) – 7.4
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
The Night of the Hunter (Laughton, USA, 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) – 8.1
The Searchers (Ford, USA, 1956) – 7.4
Bigger Than Life (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
Touch of Evil (Welles, USA, 1958) – 7.6
Big Deal on Madonna Street (Monicelli, Italy, 1958) – 7.7
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
The 400 Blows (Truffaut, France, 1959) – 8.6
North By Northwest (Hitchcock, USA, 1959) – 8.7
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
Breathless (Godard, France, 1960) – 7.7
Eyes Without a Face (Franju, France, 1960) – 7.7
Accatone (Pasolini, Italy, 1960) – 7.6
L’avventura (Antonioni, Italy, 1960) – 7.4
The Housemaid (Kim, S. Korea, 1960) – 7.1
Chronicle of a Summer (Rouch/Morin, France, 1961) – 6.9
Last Year at Marienbad (Resnais, France, 1961) – 6.8
Viridiana (Bunuel, Spain, 1961) – 7.4
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) – 7.5
Vivre sa Vie (Godard, France 1962) – 7.2
Le Doulos (Melville, France, 1962) – 7.1
Jules and Jim (Truffaut, France, 1962) – 5.5
Le Joli Mai (Marker, France, 1963) – 6.8
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/Italy, 1963) – 8.0
Black Sabbath (Bava, Italy, 1963) – 7.1
8 1/2 (Fellini, Italy, 1963) – 6.5
Onibaba (Shindo, Japan, 1964) – 8.0
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Demy, France, 1964) – 7.4
Band of Outsiders (Godard, France, 1964) – 7.4
Dry Summer (Erksan, Turkey, 1964) – 7.4
Pierrot le Fou (Godard, France, 1965) – 8.3
Repulsion (Polanski, UK, 1965) – 7.4
Mickey One (Penn, USA, 1965) – 6.7
Alphaville (Godard, USA, 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
Black Girl (Sembene, Senegal, 1967) – 8.7
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, Cezchoslovakia, 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
David Holzman’s Diary (McBride, USA, 1967) – 6.9
Dragon Inn (Hu, Taiwan, 1967) – 6.5
La Collectionneuse (Rohmer, France, 1967) – 7.1
Rosemary’s Baby (Polanski, USA, 1968) – 8.3
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
My Night at Maud’s (Rohmer, France, 1969) – 7.8
Medium Cool (Wexler, USA, 1968) – 7.2
The Unfaithful Wife (Chabrol, France, 1969) – 7.9
Inquiring Nuns (Quinn, USA, 1969) – 7.2
Antonio das Mortes (Rocha, Brazil, 1969) – 5.2
The Red Circle (Melville, France, 1970) – 8.4
Le Boucher (Chabrol, France, 1970) – 7.5
Wanda (Loden, USA, 1970) – 5.8
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 New Land (Troell, Sweden, 1972) – 8.8
Love in the Afternoon (Rohmer, France, 1972) – 7.8
Solaris (Tarkovsky, Russia, 1972) – 6.9
The Godfather (Coppola, USA, 1972) – 9.4
The Exorcist (Friedkin, USA, 1973) – 8.1
The Long Goodbye (Altman, USA, 1973) – 7.9
The Sting (Hill, 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) – 6.8
Blazing Saddles (Brooks, USA, 1974) – 8.4
Chinatown (Polanski, USA, 1974) – 8.4
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
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
Insiang (Brocka, Philippines, 1976) – 8.7
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) – 7.3
Killer of Sheep (Burnett, USA, 1979) – 7.8
The Blues Brothers (Landis, USA, 1980) – 9.3
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
Possession (Zulawski, France/Germany/Poland, 1981) – 7.9
The Road Warrior (Miller, Australia, 1981) – 7.5
Trances (El Manouni, Morocco, 1981) – 6.2
Body Heat (Kasdan, USA, 1981) – 8.0
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/UK, 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
Mauvais Sang (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) – 7.0
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
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
The Long Day Closes (Davies, UK, 1992) – 4.7
Candyman (Rose, USA, 1992) – 7.9
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) – 8.4
Menace II Society (Hughes/Hughes, USA, 1993) – 8.3
Naked (Leigh, UK, 1993) – 6.3
The Bride with White Hair (Yu, Hong Kong, 1993) – 5.1
Hoop Dreams (James, USA, 1994) – 8.0
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
Devil in a Blue Dress (Franklin, USA, 1995) – 8.5
The Bridges of Madison County (Eastwood, USA, 1995) – 8.2
Dead Man (Jarmusch, 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) – 9.0
The Last Days of Disco (Stillman, USA, 1998) – 8.4
The Bird People in China (Miike, Japan, 1998) – 6.6
Shattered Image (Ruiz, USA, 1998) – 6.9
The Hole (Tsai, Taiwan, 1998) – 5.8
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, 1999) – 7.2
JSA: Joint Security Area (Park, S. Korea, 2000) – 8.7
High Fidelity (Frears, USA, 2000) – 8.5
Yi Yi (Yang, Taiwan, 2000) – 8.4
Dancer in the Dark (Von Trier, Denmark/Sweden, 2000) – 7.8
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 Drive (Lynch, USA, 2001) – 8.1
Failan (Song, S. Korea, 2001) – 8.2
Avalon (Oshii, Japan/Poland, 2001) – 7.8
What Time Is It There? (Tsai, Taiwan, 2001) – 6.6
Fat Girl (Breillat, France, 2001) – 7.0
The Tracker (De Heer, Australia, 2002) – 7.9
Infernal Affairs (Lau/Mak, Hong Kong, 2002) – 7.8
Far From Heaven (Haynes, USA, 2002) – 7.8
Bollywood/Hollywood (Mehta, Canda/India, 2002) – 7.6
Distant (Ceylan, Turkey, 2002) – 5.0
Memories of Murder (Bong, S. Korea, 2003) – 8.9
Oldboy (Park, S. Korea, 2003) – 8.9
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, 2004) – 8.9
3-Iron (Kim, S. Korea, 2003) – 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
Ten Skies (Benning, USA, 2004) – 4.1
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
The Ice Harvest (Ramis, USA, 2005) – 7.8
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) – 5.7
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
Happy-Go-Lucky (Leigh, UK, 2008) – 7.2
Me and Orson Welles (Linklater, USA, 2008) – 7.9
The Headless Woman (Martel, Argentina, 2008) – 6.1
The Hurt Locker (Bigelow, USA, 2008) – 9.4
The House of the Devil (West, USA, 2009) – 8.1
Change Nothing (Costa, France/Portugal, 2009) – 6.0
3 Idiots (Hirani, India, 2009) – 8.5
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 (Almodovar, 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
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
Shoals (Bass, USA, 2012) – 5.7
Neighboring Sounds (Mendonca, Brazil, 2012) – 6.4
Snowpiercer (Bong, S. Korea, 2013) – 9.4
Stoker (Park, USA, 2013) – 8.9
Nymphomaniac (Von Trier, Denmark/Germany, 2013) – 8.5
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) – 8.0
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
Contracted (England, USA, 2013) – 7.0
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) – 6.1
Only Lovers Left Alive (Jarmusch, USA, 2013) – 6.3
The Girls on Liberty Street (Rangel, USA, 2013) – 5.5
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (Takahata, Japan, 2013) – 8.2
Stranger By the Lake (Guiraudie, France, 2013) – 5.7
About Time (Curtis, UK, 2013) – 8.6
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
The Babadook (Kent, Australia, 2014) – 8.1
Li’l Quinquin (Dumont, France, 2014) – 7.9
Goodbye to Language (Godard, France, 2014) – 7.6
Buzzard (Potrykus, USA, 2014) – 6.7
Right Now, Wrong Then (Hong, S. Korea, 2015) – 8.1
Thao’s Library (Van Meter, USA, 2015) – 8.2
Timbuktu (Sissako, Mauritania/Mali, 2015) – 7.6
Bloomin Mud Shuffle (Ross, USA, 2015) – 7.5
Brooklyn (Crowley, UK, 2015) – 8.3
Tangerine (Baker, USA, 2015) – 7.5
Toni Erdmann (Ade, Germany, 2016) – 7.9
Malaria (Shahbazi, Iran, 2016) – 8.8
Donald Cried (Avedisian, USA, 2016) – 8.5
The Wailing (Na, S. Korea, 2016) – 8.5
Porto (Klinger, USA/Portugal, 2016) – 6.1
The Lost City of Z (Gray, USA/UK, 2016) – 7.9
Signature Move (Reeder, USA, 2017) – 7.6
Good Time (Safdie/Safdie, USA, 2017) – 8.8
The Other Side of Hope (Kaurismaki, Finland, 2017) – 6.9

The 10 Highest-Rated Films:
10. Jackie Brown (Tarantino, USA, 1997) – 9.2
9. Pan’s Labyrinth (Del Toro, Spain/Mexico, 2006) – 9.3
8. The Blues Brothers (Landis, USA, 1980) – 9.3
7. Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India (Gowariker, India, 2000) – 9.3
6. Boyhood (Linklater, USA, 2014) – 9.4
5. The Hurt Locker (Bigelow, USA, 2008) – 9.4
4. The Godfather (Coppola, USA, 1972) – 9.4
3. Snowpiercer (Bong, S. Korea, 2013) – 9.4
2. Shutter Island (Scorsese, USA, 2010) – 9.5
1. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Dominik, USA, 2007) – 9.6

 

 

 

 


The Last Ten Movies I Saw

1. Tangerine (Baker)
2. Dishonored (Von Sternberg)
3. Stranger By the Lake (Guiraudie)
4. About Time (Curtis)
5. Blindspotting (Estrada)
6. Breathless (Godard)
7. The Wailing (Na)
8. Days of Heaven (Malick)
9. Morocco (Von Sternberg)
10. Toni Erdmann (Ade)


“Filmmaker Friday” at Stage 18 Chicago This Friday

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A while ago I mentioned on this very blog that I am producing Roy’s World, a feature-length documentary about the writer Barry Gifford that is being directed by my friend Rob Christopher. This innovative film, now deep in post-production, will consist almost entirely of archival footage of Chicago from the 1950s and 1960s and is being narrated by the great actors Willem Dafoe, Matt Dillon and Lili Taylor. I’m happy to report that Rob and I will be co-hosting the inaugural “Filmmaker Friday” networking event at Stage 18 Chicago this Friday, July 13th, from 4:30-6:00pm. Any and all active IFP Chicago members are invited to come hang out with other members, find potential collaborators, and make connections. There may even be a little Roy’s World teaser unveiled at this event as well… We hope to see you there!


The Last Ten Movies I Saw

1. Breathless (Godard)
2. Bicycle Thieves (De Sica)
3. The Other Side of Hope (Kaurismaki)
4. Sorry to Bother You (Riley)
5. Devil in a Blue Dress (Franklin)
6. Out of the Past (Tourneur)
7. Brooklyn (Crowley)
8. Rear Window (Hitchcock)
9. La Belle Noiseuse (Rivette)
10. The Wailing (Na)


The Best Films of the Year So Far

All of these films first screened theatrically in Chicago in the first half of 2018. I’ve linked to my original reviews and podcast appearances where applicable and offer new thoughts on a few films I haven’t written about elsewhere. Enjoy.

20. Atoms of Ashes (Scrantom, USA)/Dancer (McCormick, USA)/Runner (Cooney, USA)

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Three astonishing debut shorts by young female directors, all of which received their Chicago premieres at local festivals (Women of the Now’s Anniversary Showcase, the Chicago Underground Film Festival and the Chicago Critics Film Festival, respectively). The future – of cinema, of everything – is female. I wrote capsule reviews of all three for Time Out Chicago: Atoms of Ashes here, Dancer here and Runner here.

19. The Art of Sitting Quietly and Doing Nothing (Alonzo, USA)

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I enjoyed this no-budget absurdist/minimalist comedy so much that I wrote about it twice (for Time Out Chicago here and Cine-File here) then moderated a post-screening Q&A with the cast and crew following the World Premiere at the Nightingale Cinema.

18. A Fantastic Woman (Lelio, Chile)

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Not as rich as Sebastian Lelio’s previous film, the sublime character study Gloria, this is nonetheless well worth seeing for Daniela Vega’s fantastic lead performance.

17. Annihilation (Garland, USA)

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Oscar Isaac is miscast but thinking-person’s sci-fi done large is always welcome and, for my money, this is a clear advance on Ex Machina for director Alex Garland.

16. Satan’s Slaves (Anwar, Indonesia)

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I’m grateful that Cinepocalypse brought this Indonesian horror film to the Music Box. It’s superior to Hereditary if only because the “Satanic” elements seem deeply rooted in the culture and religion of the characters and not just shoehorned in because the director is a fan of Rosemary’s Baby.

15. Future Language: The Dimensions of Von LMO (Felker, USA)

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Not just a music doc but also an impressive experimental movie crossed with a highly personal essay film. My capsule review at Time Out Chicago here.

14. Have You Seen My Movie? (Smith, UK)

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A clever and stimulating found-footage doc comprised of clips from other movies . . . in which people are watching movies. I discussed this on the inaugural episode of Cine-Cast, the Cine-File podcast, here.

13. Ismael’s Ghosts (Desplechin, France)

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This is Arnaud Desplechin’s worst film but it features Marion Cotillard dancing to the original Another Side of Bob Dylan version of “It Ain’t Me, Babe,” which elevates it to the status of essential viewing.

12. Savage Youth (Johnson, USA)

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Fascinating true-crime tale acted to perfection by a terrific young ensemble cast. I reviewed it for Time Out Chicago here and interviewed director Michael Curtis Johnson for Cine-File here.

11. The Green Fog (Maddin/Johnson/Johnson, USA)

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A hilarious and ingenious “remake” of Vertigo, which consists only of scenes from other movies and T.V. shows shot in San Francisco — though this won’t make a lick of sense if you don’t know Hitchcock’s masterpiece like the back of your hand.

10. Loveless (Zvyagintsev, Russia)

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Andrei Zvyagintsev’s damning indictment of Putin’s Russia disguised as a dour melodrama. Smart, exacting filmmaking.

9. Bisbee ’17 (Greene, USA)

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No American film this year feels more relevant than Robert Greene’s innovative doc about the U.S. government’s shameful deportation of recently unionized workers, many of them immigrants, from the title Arizona town 100 years ago. Capsule review at Time Out Chicago here.

8. Claire’s Camera (Hong, S. Korea/France)

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This was dismissed or damned with faint praise as lightweight Hong in some quarters but those critics are dead wrong. I wrote a capsule review of this great comedy for Time Out Chicago here.

7. First Reformed (Schrader, USA)

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I wrote on social media that I greatly enjoyed Paul Schrader’s “Protestant version of Diary of a Country Priest.” When asked by a friend to elaborate, I expounded: “Bresson has always been Schrader’s biggest influence and that influence is more pronounced in First Reformed than ever before. Some of the elements that can be traced back to Diary of a Country Priest specifically: the clergyman coming into conflict with his superiors for leading too ascetic a lifestyle, the way he bares his soul in his diary, his stomach cancer, his alcoholism, his search for grace in a superficial, material world, the austerity of the visual style, the transcendental uplift of the final scene, etc.”

6. Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc (Dumont, France)

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Bruno Dumont’s batshit-crazy electronic/metal musical about the childhood of Joan of Arc. I reviewed this for Cine-File here and discussed it on the inaugural episode of Cine-Cast, the Cine-File podcast, here.

5. The Woman Who Left (Diaz, Philippines)

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A companion piece to Lav Diaz’s earlier Norte: The End of History, this nearly 4-hour epic  — about a woman being released from prison after 30 years and searching for the man who framed her — has more intelligent things to say about “revenge” than all of Quentin Tarantino’s movies put together. Gorgeously shot in black-and-white and featuring a tremendous lead performance by Charo Santos-Concio (who came out of retirement to play the part).

4. Madeline’s Madeline (Decker, USA)

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A theater director asks a teenage actress to mine deeply personal emotional terrain – including the tumultuous relationship she has with her own mother – in order to workshop a new play. This wild and beautiful film, a quantum leap beyond Josephine Decker’s first two movies, cuts deep into the heart of the dubious emotional exploitation inherent in all director/actor relationships. Imagine Mulholland Drive from a truly female perspective and you’ll have some idea of what Decker is up to — but this exhilarating film looks and sounds like nothing else. Helena Howard should go down as a cinematic immortal for this even if she never acts in another film.

3. Phantom Thread (Anderson, USA/UK)

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PTA’s most perfect (though not greatest) film. I loved it as much as everyone and reviewed it for this very blog when it belatedly opened in Chicago in January. Capsule here.

2. 24 Frames (Kiarostami, Iran)

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Abbas Kiarostami’s final film — and final masterpiece — contains the most innovative use of CGI I’ve ever seen. Capsule review at Time Out Chicago here.

1. Zama (Martel, Argentina)

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Lucrecia Martel’s long-awaited return confronts colonialism and racism in 18th-century Argentina in a most daring and original way: by focusing on an entirely unexceptional man. It is also so radical and masterful in its approach to image and sound that it turns viewers into aliens (to paraphrase something Martel said to me in an interview, which you can read at Time Out Chicago here).


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