Category Archives: Uncategorized

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 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


RENDEZVOUS IN CHICAGO Watch Party!

There will be a Rendezvous in Chicago Facebook Live discussion featuring me and actress/casting director Clare Cooney on Sunday, May 17 at 8pm (CST). Clare and I will basically be drinking wine while watching the movie (FREE on Tubi) and talking about it. Feel free to join us by drinking, watching and listening along!

How it works:
1. If you’ve not already seen it, watch RENDEZVOUS IN CHICAGO in advance on Tubi or Amazon Prime (Hearing me and Clare talk about it will NOT be the ideal way to experience the movie for the first time).
2. On May 17, pull up RENDEZVOUS on Tubi here.
3. Join the “LIVE Video” on the RENDEZVOUS Facebook page here.
4. Be ready to chat and drink with us.
5. At 8pm (CST) sharp, we all press play at the same time!

RSVP here.
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Jia Zhangke’s I WISH I KNEW

I reviewed Jia Zhangke’s I WISH I KNEW for Cine-file Chicago on Friday. It screens three times at the Gene Siskel Film Center over the next week:

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Jia Zhangke’s I WISH I KNEW (Chinese Documentary Revival)
Gene Siskel Film Center — Friday and Saturday, 6pm and Wednesday, 7:45pm

I WISH I KNEW, a melancholy and meditative documentary portrait of Shanghai that received its world premiere in 2010 but is only now being released in the United States thanks to distributor Kino/Lorber, was originally commissioned to screen at the World Expo in Shanghai. It came in the middle of a seven-year break from narrative feature filmmaking for Jia Zhangke, a period in which the most important director of the Chinese film industry’s “sixth generation” made only documentaries and shorts, and was consequently treated as a minor work by most critics. Seen today, however, after a decade’s hindsight (i.e., after Jia went on to make a string of urgent and complex narrative movies about China’s rapid evolution towards a privatized economy and its leading role within 21st century global culture, films that critic Jonathan Rosenbaum might term “state-of-the-planet addresses”), I WISH I KNEW now looks like one of the key works in its director’s filmography. Confronting each new movie from Jia can be a bit of a bewildering experience, pushing even seasoned cinephiles like me out of typical patterns of response and judgment, which is perhaps one of the reasons why this vital 10-year-old work feels like it is somehow arriving on these shores right on time. I WISH I KNEW is a kind of city-symphony film for the modern age but one in which the city in question is revealed mainly through interviews with its citizens. Each interview subject—mostly middle-aged-to-elderly men and women—talks primarily about the experiences of their parents and grandparents in Shanghai; and thus the whole of this documentary, a deceptively simple accumulation of personal “oral histories” not unlike a filmic version of Studs Terkel’s interview books about Chicago, ends up being greater than the sum of its parts. Among the topics discussed are the establishment of Shanghai as a British treaty-port city in the mid-19th century, the Communist revolution, political executions, and the mass exodus of Shanghainese people to Hong Kong and Taiwan in the aftermath of World War II. While most of the interviewees are ordinary men and women, Jia does also feature some prominent Chinese filmmakers and actors including Wong Kar-Wai favorite Rebecca Pan (who weeps when reminiscing about her past and sings a beautiful song in Mandarin) and Taiwanese directing legend Hou Hsiao-Hsien (who knew little about Shanghai until he traveled there to research his 1998 masterpiece THE FLOWERS OF SHANGHAI). The final two interview subjects are the youngest, which is fitting in that they represent the city’s future, and their stories feel like they could serve as the basis for one of Jia’s narrative films: the first is a man who claims to have become absurdly rich overnight by speculating in securities and the second is a car-racing champion who moonlights as a best-selling novelist. Tying all of these disparate interviews together are wordless, lyrical sequences of a young woman (the great Zhao Tao, Jia’s long-time leading lady onscreen and off) traversing the city alone, from the Suzhou River to an empty movie theater to many building construction sites. This unnamed woman’s compelling presence seems to personify the spirit of Shanghai itself, a nexus of past and present, a place forever busy being born. (2010, 119 min, DCP Digital) MGS


The Last Ten Movies I Saw

1. 9 to 5 (Higgins)
2. Sherlock Jr. (Keaton)
3. Sorry, Wrong Number (Litvak)
4. Beanpole (Balagov)
5. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (Lynch)
6. Our Hospitality (Keaton)
7. Zombi Child (Bonello)
8. Sherlock Jr. (Keaton)
9. Mary, Queen of Scots (Rourke)
10. Call Northside 777 (Hathaway)


DIE HARD and HAPPY CHRISTMAS at the Beverly Arts Center

I wrote the following piece about a pair of alternative Christmas movies screening at the Beverly Arts Center this month for Time Out Chicago. It should appear there today or tomorrow.
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Tired of the same old Christmas-movie fare? The Beverly Arts Center Cinema is presenting a couple of alternative Christmas-movie screenings this month. On Wednesday, December 4, enterprising programmer Damon Griffin will host a screening of the most action-packed holiday movie of all time – John McTiernan’s Die Hard – and thus rebuff all those who would claim that Bruce Willis battling terrorists in a Los Angeles high rise has nothing to do with the spirit of the season; and on Wednesday, December 18, local writer/director Joe Swanberg (Easy) will appear in person for a Q&A following a screening of his 2014 Anna Kendrick-starring dramedy Happy Christmas.

Griffin, who has long supported the work of independent and local filmmakers describes Swanberg’s film in a press release: “Rather than simply another lo-fi naturalistic gasp of late mumblecore, Happy Christmas deserves to be ranked with any other essential windy city holiday film, of which there are a huge, or should we say HUGHES number; Planes Trains and Automobiles (Directed by John Hughes), National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (written by John Hughes) and Home Alone (also written by John Hughes). Swanberg more than rises to the challenge of matching Hughes’ drollness with a certain millennial empathy, emoting a sense, throughout the movie, that a complete standstill in life and total underachievement is nothing compared to the bonds of family, community, and cheesy erotica.”

For more information on both screenings, including ticket info and showtimes, visit the Beverly Arts Center’s website.


ALEXANDRIA… WHY? at Doc Films

I wrote the below review of Youseff Chahine’s ALEXANDRIA… WHY? for Cine-File Chicago. It screens at Doc Films this Monday night.

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Youssef Chahine’s ALEXANDRIA… WHY? (Egyptian Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) – Monday, 7pm (Free Admission)

In 1979, Youssef Chahine, the most famous of all Egyptian filmmakers, created a scandal with this taboo-busting autobiographical epic, the first of a trilogy that would include 1982’s AN EGYPTIAN STORY and 1989’s ALEXANDRIA, AGAIN AND FOREVER. ALEXANDRIA… WHY? recreates, with impressive period detail, the director’s hometown of Alexandria during the outbreak of World War II. The story interweaves the lives of many characters, chief among them Yehia Mustafa, a teen-aged student and movie lover (and stand-in for Chahine) who nurses his first stirrings of creativity as an actor and director in local theatrical productions. Two other narrative strands involve characters experiencing forbidden love: a Jewish woman who embarks on an affair with a Muslim man and, in the film’s most controversial angle at the time of its release, a gay English soldier who becomes involved with a rich Arab. But these personal stories are always juxtaposed against a wider political and historical context, as Chahine deftly uses stock footage of the war, clips from Hollywood musicals (which Yehia uses as a means to escape from the nightmare around him) and the depiction of air raids, black market activity, and interactions between Egyptian civilians and soldiers of the occupational British army. A supreme masterpiece of world cinema. (1979, 133 min, DCP Digital) MGS

More info at www.docfilms.uchicago.edu.


Keep Odd Obsession Movies Alive

My latest article for Time Out is about the campaign to save Odd Obsession, one of Chicago’s last remaining video rental stores.

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You can help save one of Chicago’s last surviving video rental stores

Since owner Brian Chankin founded Odd Obsession in 2004 (originally in Lincoln Park, now located in Bucktown), the beloved video rental store has amassed an impressive library of more than 25,000 titles on DVD, Blu-ray and even VHS. The store’s collection is organized by genre, country and director, and features a wide array of movies for all tastes, including classic Hollywood films, foreign movies and independently-released cult classics. From the beginning, Odd Obsession has distinguished itself by specializing in rare and off-the-beaten-path titles, including many that are not available on streaming services, making it an invaluable resource for local cinephiles. “This is a place where you can really embrace an all-inclusive sense of film history,” says Chicago Reader film critic Ben Sachs.

Chankin is now moving on to pursue other endeavors and is handing over the business to the store’s volunteer staff who hope to keep it afloat. The goal is to keep Odd Obsession’s collection available to Chicagoans with a new model of membership that will make the business sustainable well into the future. Long-time volunteer Josh Brown is leading this transition effort, which includes the Indiegogo fundraising campaign “Keep Odd Obsession Movies Alive!” For contributions of $120 to $400, customers can receive between three months and one year of free rentals (four at a time for a week’s duration with an “extreme late fee forgiveness” policy); but there are plenty of other more affordable perks too—including stickers for just $5 or a coffee mug emblazoned with the visage of Charles Bronson for $25. “This collaborative spirit driven forward can take shape in the form of community events and new extensions to the store’s mission,“ says Brown.

If you refuse to limit your movie-watching options to the titles provided by streaming services, you should take a look at Odd Obsession’s Indiegogo campaign and consider kicking in a few bucks to keep the local institution alive. With just five days left, the shop is only about a quarter of the way to its $25,000 goal—every dollar gets the volunteer staff one step closer to preserving an impressive collection of obscure flicks.


The Last Ten Movies I Saw

1. Devoured (Olliver)
2. Parasite (Bong)
3. The Lady from Shanghai (Welles)
4. The Whistlers (Porumboiu)
5. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Sciamma)
6. Varda by Agnes (Varda)
7. Detour (Ulmer)
8. The Cotton Club (Coppola)
9. Out of the Past (Tourneur)
10. Viy (Ershov/Kropachyov)


HEGEL’S ANGEL at the Collected Voices Film Festival

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Did you know there is no word for “you” in the Haitian language, only “we?” Simone Rapisarda Casanova’s masterful Hegel’s Angel, screening this Friday, October 13 at the Logan Center for the Arts as part of the Collected Voices Film Festival, is probably flying under the radar of most Chicago cinephiles but its Midwestern Premiere should be considered a must see for all local movie lovers. The theme of the fifth edition of this invaluable ethnographic film festival, the brainchild of filmmaker and programmer Ife Olatunji, is “Africa and her diaspora,” a concept embodied in Casanova’s experimental, richly lyrical portrait of the denizens of contemporary Haiti and their complex relationship to the outside world.

Hegel’s Angel provocatively combines fiction and non-fiction filmmaking techniques to capture the adventures of a boy named Widley as he traverses the Haitian countryside helping his father at work painting and hanging banners and visiting a local film editor in his leisure time. The editor is in the process of cutting a Haitian-shot film with an anti-“foreign charity” bent that was made by a foreign director who has since mysteriously vanished; and the meta-cinematic way that Casanova (an Italian filmmaker based in Canada) interweaves these two narrative lines adds up to a timely snapshot of a corner of the world that has traditionally been cinematically under-documented.

For more information about this screening of Hegel’s Angel, including ticket and venue info and showtime, please visit the Collected Voices Film Festival’s official website.


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