Monday, December 31, 2012

Top Films of 2012

1. The Angels’ Share (Ken Loach)
2. Laurence Anyways (Xavier Dolan)                      
3. Intouchables (Olivier Nakache, Eric Toledano, considered 2011 by IMDB)
4. Silver Linings Playbook (David O. Russell)
5. Cloclo/My Way (Florent Emilio Siri)
6. Barbara (Christian Petzold)
7. Holy Motors (Leos Carax)
8. Damsels in Distress (Whit Stillman)
9. Flight (Robert Zemeckis)
10. Paris Manhattan (Sophie Lellouche)

Honorable Mentions:
11. Bienvenue parmi nous (Jean Becker) 
12. Electrick Children (Rebecca Thomas)
13. Ginger & Rosa (Sally Potter)
14. End of Watch (David Ayer)
15. De rouille et d’os/Rust and Bone (Jacques Audiard)
16. Kahaani (Sujoy Ghosh)
17. Frankenweenie (Tim Burton)
18. To Rome with Love (Woody Allen)
19. Promised Land (Gus van Sant)
20. Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax (Chris Renaud, Kyle Balda)
Actress of the Year: Emilie Dequenne (A perdre la raison/Our Children)

Best Actor of the Year: Denzel Washington (Flight)
Honorable Mention: Denis Lavant (Holy Motors)

Best Writers: Matt Damon & John Krasinski (Promised Land)

Best Director: Xavier Dolan, Laurence Anyways

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Clown: Brazil's Best Foreign Language Submission at the 85th Academy Awards

The Clown evokes Charlie Chaplin and Federico Fellini.  After a slow start, the laughs started rolling in.

I will report on the submissions from Austria, Belgium, France, Mexico, South Africa, Sweden, and Switzerland soon. So far, the best contender is Intouchables from France which I included in the Top 5 Films this April.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Top Five Films of November, 2012
Deep Cover (1992, Bill Duke)
Flight (2012, Robert Zemeckis)
Frankenweenie (2012, Tim Burton)
Ginger & Rosa (2012, Sally Potter)
Koko, le gorille qui parle/Koko, The Talking Gorilla (1978, Barbet Schroeder)

Saturday, November 3, 2012
Hitchcock (2012, Sacha Gervasi)

Anthony Hopkins is a great actor and his portrayal of Alfred Hitchcock during the filming of Psycho is good.  However, James D'Arcy as Anthony Perkins eclipses Hopkins' performance.  Also, Helen Mirren shines as Alma Reville, Hitchcock's wife.  The audience gave her deserving applause after her shining moment in the film.  Scarlett Johansson and Jessica Biel do not really resemble Janet Leigh or Vera Miles respectively; the casting is a bit odd in that respect.  Fans of Hitchcock and Psycho will not be disappointed, but neither will their thirst be totally quenched.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Top Five Films of October, 2012
Holy Motors (2012, Leos Carax) Blog Post
The Tingler (1959, William Castle)
God Told Me To (1976, Larry Cohen)
Find Me Guilty    (2006, Sidney Lumet)
A Christmas Carol/Scrooge  (1951, Brian Desmond-Hurst)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Holy Motors: A Conversation That Doesn't Use Just Words

If you don't like "weird", then by all means stay away from this film. If you don't mind going out on a limb, you will discover an alternate universe full of mystery and surprises. By no means a masterpiece, it is more like an adventure full of weird, weird, weird weirdness and beauty beauty and more beauty if you know what I mean.

Denis Lavant plays a multitude of characters, each time completely transforming himself.  Great supporting performances by young actresses Elise Lhomeau and Jeanne Disson (who looks like a young Charlotte Gainsbourg).

Take a chance on this bizarre work.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Petition for Ray Carney to Return Mark Rappaport's Films

Independent filmmaker Mark Rappaport asked Boston University Professor Ray Carney to hold his "films, video masters, early drafts of scripts, duplicates of reviews and announcements" when he left to go to Paris according to Jon Jost's blog.  Unfortunately, when Rappaport came back and asked for the materials, Ray Carney decided to hold them hostage saying they were gifts (when Carney gave back some of Rappaport's materials, he demanded thousands in fees now that he claimed the works belonged to him).

If you want the full run down, check the blog.  If you want to support Mark Rappaport, please sign this petition:

Ray Carney has done the same thing to John Cassavetes and is keeping the first version of Shadows for himself.  Since Cassavetes has passed away, perhaps the rightful heir is his widow, Gena Rowlands, and not Ray Carney.

Carney has been hailed as a brilliant critic by several people, but it is clear that his actions are deceptive, unlawful, and evil.  Measures are being taken to find out how to get him removed from Boston University, despite his tenure.  The process could be long and hard, but it would be worth it. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Top Five Films of September, 2012
 The Game
Definitely a smart psychological thriller that keeps you guessing. Michael Douglas turns in one of his best performances; the film also features the underrated Deborah Kara Unger.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Definitely unintentional to watch two David Fincher films in a row, but both delivered. Also worth watching is the original Swedish The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009). There are differences that set both films apart, but they both follow the same storyline.
Undisputedly, the best Indian film I've seen. It's a great thriller and doesn't have any of the cliches of the genre.
The Landlord (1970)
 Definitely Hal Ashby's best film, it was also his first. It features non-stop laughs and delves right into class and race issues.

Robert Benton co-wrote the script for Bonnie and Clyde, one of my all-time favorites.  Places in the Heart does not disappoint. It is also set in the depression-era South and features an excellent cast (Sally Field, Danny Glover, Lindsay Crouse, John Malkovitch, and Ed Harris, among others). Sally Field also won her second Academy Award for her performance in this film. It is no wonder.  Definitely check it out.

Monday, September 10, 2012


September 2012

To all filmmakers, film critics, film archivists, film academics, curators, festival directors, and film enthusiasts everywhere—

I am writing to you because something very unforeseen, very unexpected, and most unpleasant recently happened in my life,

When I moved to Paris seven years ago, I had to decide whether or not to take with me copies of my films, video masters, early drafts of scripts, duplicates of reviews and announcements, etc. When I mentioned this to Ray Carney, tenured professor at Boston University and author of several books on John Cassavetes and who also claims he is “generally recognized to be the leading scholarly authority on American narrative art film,” he eagerly offered to hold all of my materials. I accepted his offer, with the understanding that he would return them to me upon request and that they remain at BU. Five years later, in 2010, I requested the return of some of my video masters to make copies of them for various film archives in Europe. Carney duly returned those video masters to me. They were in excellent condition.

Since that time, various companies have expressed interest in streaming my films, and UCLA, in conjunction with The Sundance Institute, have volunteered to archive video masters of Sundance alumni films. In early April, I made several requests to Carney for the return of my materials. I sent Carney several e-mails (to various e-mail addresses), and I called his home and office and left numerous messages. Carney ignored all of my attempts to reach him. As a result, I hired a lawyer and filed a lawsuit in Massachusetts, where a judge issued a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction against Carney. The court entered a default against Carney (who had not responded to my complaint) and ordered Carney to return the materials to me, or else be held in contempt of court. After that, Carney hired a lawyer who stated Carney intends to defend his conduct by arguing that I “gave” him the materials outright as “a gift.”

There is much at stake here for me. Without the digital video masters, my films, everything prior to 1990, Casual Relations, Local Color, The Scenic Route, Impostors, Mark Rappaport—The TV Spin-Off, Chain Letters, plus the High-Definition version of Exterior Night, cannot be made available for streaming, commercial DVDs, video-on-demand, or any electronic delivery system down the road. My life as a filmmaker, my past, and even my future reputation as a filmmaker are at stake. I gave Carney no rights to my materials except the right to hold them and return them to me on request. His lawyer has refused to disclose the current location of my materials.

Carney tried to cast doubt on the truthfulness of the inventory I presented. Furthermore, under oath, he stated “some of the items I received I no longer have because I gave them away to third parties. I discarded other items due to the degraded and unusable condition they were in when I received them. Finally, I discarded other items at later dates after they were worn-out by the normal wear and tear of being used.” This is sworn statement from Carney who, earlier, on his website bragged, “Mark is a great friend and gave me almost everything he owned when he left New York for France… So I am now the ‘Mark Rappaport Archive.’ I have the largest collection of material by him in the world: file cabinets and storage bins full of amazing things: production notebooks, film prints, rough drafts, revisions, scripts, film stock, DVDs, tapes, notes, jottings, journals, etc. etc. etc. It’s a dream come true for me and one of the major film collections by one of the world’s greatest artists. All being preserved for posterity at any cost.” (PLEASE NOTE: If this interests you, go to the website before this entry is removed.)

Elsewhere, he describes me as “a genuine national treasure.”

The judge, at a pre-trial hearing, demanded that Carney supply the court with a full inventory of what he still had, what he gave away, and what he destroyed. Carney subsequently delivered a full inventory—which included absolutely everything I gave him. None of it had been given away or destroyed. Although he clearly had perjured himself, I was ecstatic to learn my materials were intact. After four and a half months of this, Carney got in touch with me to propose a deal, saying, “I sincerely wish you well and I am sorry this issue has come between us.” “I am willing,” he writes, to “ship everything back for a modest consideration, simply to cover my costs and the time and trouble of having stored the material for the past seven-and-a-half years.” In return for my own films, I was to pay him $27,000! Some may call this extortion, I call it merely outrageous. Just to put it in perspective, that would equal 3 years of the monies I get from Social Security. To continue the suit to trial would have cost me about the same amount, in addition to the thousands I had already spent. I couldn’t afford to continue.

Just when I filed for a dismissal of the suit, Carney demanded back, because he claims they were part of “the gift” I gave him, the video masters that he returned to me in 2010—namely From the Journals of Jean Seberg, Postcards, Exterior Night, and John Garfield.

I’ve heard somewhat similar stories from other filmmakers, although none quite as breathtaking as this.

For a variety of reasons, I think this is a cautionary tale you might consider emailing to colleagues, friends, and acquaintances who are interested in the conservation and protection of works by non-mainstream filmmakers, film preservation in general, and archiving not just films but film-related artifacts of the recent past by independent filmmakers. Please feel free email this letter, post this on Facebook pages, and submit it to various blogs.

If you want to write about this situation, I have much more information.


Mark Rappaport

Also view Jon Jost's blog about this: HERE

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Top Five Films of August, 2012
Tabloid (2010, Errol Morris)
Errol Morris is a great documentarian, but this is probably his best film. It has everything including the kitchen sink. It keeps getting crazier until the view is left in complete disbelief.
Yeopgijeogin geunyeo/My Sassy Girl (2001, Jae-young Kwak)
I really didn't like the first half of the film; it felt it was trying too hard. However, the second part hit the emotional mark.
Hong fen/Blush (1995, Shaohong Li)
Critic Jonathan Rosenbaum has really championed this film for years and years, yet I only saw this film recently. It is a great, epic film and is directed by a woman.
Boy Meets Girl (1984, Leos Carax)
I have never been a fan of Leos Carax, but then I saw this film. He is known for being off-beat. This film has lots of charm that exceeds the weirdness.
Mr. Hoover and I (1989, Emile de Antonio)
A great documentary once again recommended by critic Jonathan Rosenbaum. This was about the fourth film I had seen by Emile de Antonio and this is definitely his best. Unfortunately, it was also his last film.

Honorable Mention:
The Last Detail (1973, Hal Ashby)
The Man in Grey (1943, Leslie Arliss)
It seems like Double Indemnity with a twist, but in fact, it came out a year before the Billy Wilder classic.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Top Five Films of July, 2012

The Angels' Share (2012)
Ken Loach's film was the best one I saw the whole entire month and will probably be the best film I see the whole entire year. Like all his films, it starts completely without hope. However, it's infused with humor and completely works on all levels. The actors were completely unknown to me, yet they couldn't have worked any better. This is definitely what a movie should be: you go in expecting to have a decent time, but instead are completely blown away. Rating: 10/10
Laurence Anyways (2012)
Sure, director is Xavier Dolan is only 23 years old. But he hit the nail on the head. This wasn't a film, but an experience. He unflinchingly takes you to hell and back, exposing people's hypocrisy and humanity. When I saw Dolan's first film J'ai tué ma mère/I Killed My Mother, I thought his style would work if he used better actors. Suzanne Clément (who was also in J'ai tué ma mère/I Killed My Mother) returns with perhaps more experience, but Dolan also brought Melvil Poupaud and Nathalie Baye to the table. Even though Nathalie Baye is a talented actress with an impressive resume, perhaps this is her best film.
Fingers (1978)
I saw this film in France, where it's called Mélodie pour un tueur (melody for a killer). Harvey Keitel plays a guy who is perhaps too old to start a career as a concert pianist, but does so anyway. In between his quest pursuing a girl named Carol (Tisa Farrow) and doing favors for his father, he takes his music seriously: always practicing and always bringing his boombox everywhere. Everyone who has been passionate about something can relate to him. Anyone who is wild about music should check this out. Lots of films try to be gritty and disturbing, but fail miserably. Fingers also explores a darker side of New York, when it was infested with crime and prostitution.
Ji dong ji xia/The Iceman Cometh (1989)
Non-stop action, laughs, and a great comparison of the Ming Dynasty to today's world (or rather, the late eighties). Definitely entertaining. Light, but not fluff.
Boyz n the Hood (1991)
Perhaps I'm a little late seeing this film. It was gripping and unrelenting. Definitely a must-see.
Calle Mayor (1956)
I was reminded of Neil LaBute's In the Company of Men upon viewing this film. Some callous men scheme to destroy one innocent women's life, blah blah blah. The difference between the films is that Calle Mayor has characters that are more real. Sure there are heartless lunatics, but at least one of the men who is inflicting pain on an innocent victim has a conscience. Definitely not well know, perhaps of its bleakness. However, it was definitely well-done and is also championed by former Chicago Reader critic Jonathan Rosenbaum.

Honorable mention:
Paris-Manhattan (2012)
The Importance of Being Earnest (1952)
Death to the Tinman (2007)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Top Five Films of June, 2012
The Handmaid's Tale (1990)
Great acting & directing. It's stylized and pretty interesting.
The Kiss (1929)
This Jacques Feyder collaboration with Greta Garbo was pretty funny. Also check it out on TCM for a great introduction by Robert Osborne.
Polisse (2011)
In New York, I saw this gripping tale. Maiwenn mainly showcased other actors' great performances. It was a film with very difficult subject matter.
Bienvenue parmi nous (2012)
I saw this film in Annecy, France. Great tale about an older man/younger women. Maybe it's a little bit cliched, but still enjoyable.
Die Stille nach dem Schuß/The Legend of Rita (2000)
Really cool and fun German gangster movie.

Monday, June 18, 2012

In Remembrance: Susan Tyrrell (March 18, 1945 - June 17, 2012)

Susan Tyrrell made an appearance at the Silent Movie Theatre on February 16, 2008 after they showed her film Night Warning. It stands out as probably the most interesting Q&A I have attended in Los Angeles over the years. I go back to my archives to bring you my thoughts:

She was in a wheelchair and wore devil horns on her head. Even though I was way in the back, she was full of so much fervor that she almost seemed possessed . She talked about being nominated for her performance in John Huston's Fat City coming to Hollywood for the Academy Awards. From the way she told it, I thought she WON the award. It wasn't until several months later when I was looking at the list of best supporting actresses when I couldn't find Susan Tyrrell...

She has appeared in several other notable films including:
Andy Warhol's Bad
John Water's Cry Baby

Every role has been memorable and she remains among one of my top favorite actresses. May she rest in peace and may she never be forgotten.

Related links:
100+ Favorite Actors
25 Underrated Actors

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Top Four Films of May, 2012
Dites-lui que je l'aime (1977)
A bizarre, crazy psycho-dramatic-romance, this film really showed the brilliance of Claude Miller, who unfortunately passed away earlier this year.
She's Back on Broadway (1953)
Virginia Mayo wasn't always the biggest star, and she has a lazy eye to boot. However, she shines in this film with incredible power as a washed-up actress who must choose between the man she loves and reviving her career.
I Was a Communist for the FBI (1951)
In a way, it was a little cheesy and over the top. Still it features a convincing and uncompromising federal agent who must pretend he's a communist in order to "catch the bad guys". Also directed by Gordon Douglas (She's Back on Broadway, Them!, So This is Love), he shows his versatility and his strength at displaying emotion from the actors as well as eliciting a reaction from the audience.
The Steel Trap (1952)
A great heist movie with one thing most do not have today: a conscience. Joseph Cotten reunites with Teresa Wright (Shadow of a Doubt), playing her husband, in a tense drama. He plays a loan officer that discovers a loophole in the extradition laws and decides he wants to rob the bank he works for. This film recently premiered on TCM. Thank goodness! Hopefully, they will show it more often.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Goodbye, First Love
 [Lola Créton in Goodbye, First Love]

In the wake of there being no female-directed films in competition for Cannes' Palme d'Or this year, Un amour de jeunesse aka Goodbye, First Love by Mia Hansen-Løve hits theaters.

Through her gentle style, Hansen-Løve relates a story of a girl named Lola through a period of about eight years.  As a teen, she falls in love with a guy named Sullivan (she is a minor and he is not).  His memory continues to haunt her until his return years later.

If you caught Hansen-Løve's last film, Le père de mes enfants aka Father of My Children a few years ago, you will probably already know that she is well on her way to developing interesting and complex films.

Unfortunately the bulk of today's audience is composed of people who expect explosions; the sophisticated viewer who doesn't mind an intelligent drama will probably like this film a lot.  Keep in mind that it centers around an emotional teen girl.  Some may like that more than others.

The only thing I can criticize has nothing to do with the movie itself: its title.  In French, it's very beautiful and poetic, literally translated as A Love From Youth.  The American title Goodbye, First Love is not only curt but gives everything away.  I usually tend to enjoy translated American titles that are closer to the meanings of the original language.

The above video is of Jacqueline Taïeb's song "Ce soir je m'en vais". It has not directly related to the movie, but is similar in its theme. Perhaps you would enjoy!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Top Five Films of April, 2012

Cloclo (2012)

Saw at COLCOA, the French film festival in Los Angeles, CA.

The Intouchables (2011)

Saw at COLCOA, the French film festival in Los Angeles, CA.

The Story of My Life (2004) 

Saw at COLCOA, the French film festival in Los Angeles, CA. Now available on iTunes.

L'art d'aimer (2011)

Saw at COLCOA, the French film festival in Los Angeles, CA.

Lake of Fire (2006)

Available on DVD.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Top Seven Films of March, 2012
Working Girl (1988, Mike Nichols)
Pygmalion meets All About Eve.
Desert Flower (2009, Sherry Horman)
The inspiring real life story of Waris Dirie, a girl who rose from being a girl in a small Somalian village to a supermodel. It's not as cheesy as it sounds. The film was very moving.
Margaret (2011, Kenneth Lonergan)
I had been looking forward to this film probably since 2000, when I saw Kenneth Lonergan's You Can Count on Me. Margaret also has the same depth and great performances from Anna Paquin, Mark Ruffalo, Matt Damon, Matthew Broderick, and more.
Yi ge dou bu neng shao/Not One Less (1999, Yimou Zhang)
In a day and age where people give up at the drop of a hat, this is an inspiring tale of a substitute teacher who went through great lengths to find a student who had to drop out of school.
Les roseaux sauvages/Wild Reeds (1994, André Téchiné)
Definitely André Téchiné's best film.
Dogfight (1991, Nancy Savoca)
This film is relatively unknown, but it floored me nonetheless. It is unique, while capturing the time period perfectly. I don't want to ruin anything, but I recommend it heartily.
A Taste of Honey (1961, Tony Richardson)
Definitely my favorite Tony Richardson movie. About a young woman seeking her independence.