Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Top Five Films of November, 2013

Aniki Bóbó (1942, Manoel de Oliveira)    
Herblock: The Black & the White (2013, Michael Stevens)
Jodorowsky's Dune (2013, Frank Pavich)
Boutique (2003, Hamid Nematollah)
Le nom des gens (2010, Michel Leclerc)

Sour Death Balls (1993, Jessica Yu) Video link
Prada: Candy (2013, Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola) Video link

Honorable Mention:
A Hatful of Rain (1957, Fred Zinnemann)
Tom à la ferme (2013, Xavier Dolan)
Nebraska (2012, Alexander Payne)
Wait Until Spring, Bandini (1989, Dominique Deruddere)
Sydney/Hard Eight (1996, Paul Thomas Anderson)
The Stoning of Soraya M. (2008, Cyrus Nowrasteh)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Top Five Films of October, 2013

Hævnen/In A Better World (2010, Susanne Bier)
Salinger (2013, Shane Salerno)               
Sicko (2007, Michael Moore)
La vie de bohème (1992, Aki Kaurismäki)
Next Stop, Greenwich Village (1976, Paul Mazursky)

Honorable Mentions:
Hands on a Hard Body: The Documentary (1997, S.R. Bindler)
Yesterday (2004, Darrell Roodt)

Great Shorts:
The Umbrella Man (2011, Errol Morris) Video link
Wes Anderson Spider-Man What if Wes Anderson Rebooted the Spider-Man Franchise?
A Parody by Jeff Loveness Video link   

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Favorite Films Directed By Women

Every March, I focus on watching films directed by women. I've made numerous wonderful discoveries that I hope to share with others.

There is the question of distinguishing between genders of a director. That most likely should not be done, as the work usually speaks for itself. However, being that women are often underrepresented and/or ignored, I feel I should pick up the slack.
Kyle Meyers asked me about my favorite films directed by women, so here is my top list:
  1. Cléo de 5 à 7/Cléo from 5 to 7 (Agnès Varda)
  2. Les demoiselles de Rochefort (Agnès Varda, co-directed with husband Jacques Demy)
  3. Les gens normaux n'ont rien d'exceptionnel (Laurence Ferreira Barbosa)
  4. Museum Highlights (Andrea Fraser
  5. Merrily We Go to Hell (Dorothy Arzner)
  6. My Life Without Me (Isabel Coixet)
  7. Nathalie... (Anne Fontaine)
  8. La teta asustada/The Milk of Sorrow (Claudia Llosa)
  9. An Education (Lone Scherfig)
  10. Mères et filles/Hidden Diary (Julie Lopes-Curval)
  11. La répétition (Catherine Corsini)
  12. Une vraie jeune fille (Catherine Breillat)
  13. Sedmikrásky/Daisies (Vera Chytilová)
  14. Tomboy (Céline Sciamma)
  15. White Material (Claire Denis)
  16. Film d'amore e d'anarchia, ovvero 'stamattina alle 10 in via dei Fiori nella nota casa di tolleranza...'/Love and Anarchy (Lina Wertmüller)
  17. Working Girls (Dorothy Arzner)
  18. Les glaneurs et la glaneuse/The Gleaners & I (Agnès Varda)
  19. Coup de foudre/Entre Nous (Diane Kurys)
  20. Chaos (Coline Serreau)
  21. Naissance des pieuvres/Water Lilies (Céline Sciamma)
  22. American Mary (Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska)
  23. Thèmes et variations (Germaine Dulac)
(originally published May 19, 2011)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Top Five Films of September, 2013

La vie d'Adèle (2013, Abdellatif Kechiche)
Imposters (1979, Mark Rappaport)
The World's End (2013, Edgar Wright)
Biloxi Blues (1988, Mike Nichols)
The Commitments (1991, Alan Parker)

Honorable Mention:
L'éternel retour (1943, Jean Delannoy)

Best Short Film:
From One Second to the Next (2013, Werner Herzog)
I will be very surprised if it doesn't win the Oscar for best short documentary.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Top Five Films of August, 2013

Les bien-aimés/The Beloved (2011, Christophe Honoré)
Adore (2013, Anne Fontaine)
Wordplay (2006, Patrick Creadon)
The Boxing Cats (Prof. Welton's) (1894, William K.L. Dickson, William Heise)
Aucassin and Nicolette (1975, Lotte Reiniger)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Top Five Films of July, 2013

Blue Jasmine    (2013, Woody Allen)

Jagten/The Hunt    (2012, Thomas Vinterberg)

Chasing Ice    (2012, Jeff Orlowski)

Love, Marilyn    (2012, Liz Garbus)

Huckleberry Finn (1920, William Desmond Taylor)

Honorable Mention:

Impardonnables    (2011, André Téchiné)

Best Shorts:

Emak-Bakia     (1927, Man Ray)

Vormittagsspuk/Ghosts Before Breakfast (1928, Hans Richter)

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Top Five Films of June, 2013

La noia/The Empty Canvas (1963, Damiano Damiani)        
Plimpton! Starring George Plimpton as Himself    (2012, Tom Bean, Luke Poling)    
Le capital/Capital (2012, Costa-Gavras)
Le silence de Lorna    (2008, Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne)   
Someone to Love    (1987, Henry Jaglom)   

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Top Five Short Films of May, 2013

Usually when I'm listing my top films, I don't put short films in a sub-category.  However, the problem was that I saw so many great films in May that I had to list the top 5 features and shorts separately to include them all.

Click on the name of the film to view it.

Swinging the Lambeth Walk (Len Lye) 
Bring Me the Head of Charlie Brown (Jim Reardon)
Bugs and Thugs (1954, I. Freleng)
Draftee Daffy (Robert Clampett)
Milk of Amnesia (Jeffrey Noyes Scher)

Honorable mention:
Changer d'image - Lettre à la bien-aimée (Jean-Luc Godard)

Top Five Films of May, 2013

3 hommes et un couffin        (Coline Serreau)
Balzac      (Josée Dayan)
The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear  great
Take Shelter        (Jeff Nichols) emotional
Time Indefinite        (Ross McElwee)

Honorable mention:
Bright Leaves   (Ross McElwee) a great sister piece to Time Indefinite
Boca de Ouro        (Nelson Pereira dos Santos) shown at the Hammer Museum recently

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Top Five Films of April, 2013

En cas de malheur (Claude Autant-Lara)
A brilliant film with Bardot and Gabin.

Au royaume des cieux (Julien Duvivier)
An intense boarding school drama by a master director.

Le prénom (Alexandre de La Patellière, Matthieu Delaporte)
English title: What's in a Name?

A disturbing yet entertaining film based on a play which also starred Patrick Bruel.

Mariage à Mendoza (Edouard Deluc)
English title: Welcome to Argentina
Kind of like The Hangover, but with a lot more class.

Quelques heures de printemps (Stéphane Brizé)
English title: A Few Hours of Spring
A gripping drama that was nominated for four Cesars (French equivalent of the Academy Awards).

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Top Five Films of March, 2013

A Constant Forge (2000, Charles Kiselyak)
The Trap: What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom (2007, Adam Curtis)
Dans la maison (2012, François Ozon)
The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996, Milos Forman)
Reprise (2006, Joachim Trier)

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Céline Sciamma's Tomboy

as published on Examiner.com and originally posted on this site Monday, June 20, 2011

Céline Sciamma's breakthrough film, Water Lilies, was a beautiful coming of age story that attracted a fair amount of attention due to word-of-mouth and popularity at film festivals.
Sciamma's second film,Tomboy, is a different animal, but has lots of similarities to its predecessor: swimming scenes abound and it is about a family that moves to a new neighborhood. It is about a girl named Laure who dresses as a boy and calls herself Mikael, deceiving the new children she meets. Initially, it didn't necessarily sound appealing to me, but based on Sciamma's last film, I needed to see it immediately.
The best part about Tomboy is how Céline Sciamma reveals Laure's secret to those around her. Laure pleads with her father (Mathieu Demy) for them to move again because she is thoroughly ashamed, while her mother takes harsh measures to correct her daughter's error, which is small compared to the punishment.
The questions that appear may seem to relate to gender and identity at first, but something greater here is at stake. There is also the issue of humanity vs. cruelty. Perhaps everyone has some kind of secret, because of the intolerance of their neighbors and friends around them.
At first, I thought that Tomboy would not be able to top Water Lilies. However, the film moved me more than I expected it to. Tomboy has more depth and heart than perhaps any film in the last several years. In addition, the characters are well-developed and well-acted and they do not have any cheesy or quirky lines that other films might contain.
This film might be slightly less marketable, because it refuses to sellout or do anything tacky or cutesy in order to make it more marketable. It's definitely worth checking out though, when it comes to a theater near you.
Tomboy played at the L.A. Film Festival in June.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Top Five Films of February, 2013

Nijûshi no hitomi/Twenty-Four Eyes    (1954, Keisuke Kinoshita) Criterion DVD
Safety Not Guaranteed    (2012, Colin Trevorrow)
Mr. Klein    (1976, Joseph Losey)
The Mexican Tapes: A Chronicle of Life Outside the Law    (1986, Louis Hock)
Lady Chatterley     (1993, Ken Russell)

Honorable Mention:
Milyang/Secret Sunshine (2007, Chang-dong Lee)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Media Supplement: Films Directed by Women in the Silent Era

For years, I have been researching female film directors who worked during the silent film era and am currently writing my Master's thesis on the ignored accomplishments of these women. Today, I launched my Kickstarter project for the media addendum. It will include footage from films and actresses portraying some of these women, such as Lillian Gish and Alice Terry.  I am so grateful to those who have contributed already.  Even if you don't have extra cash, feel free to spread the word about this project.


Link to the project: Media Supplement: Films Directed by Women in the Silent Era

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


This year's frontrunner in the Oscar's category of Best Foreign Language Film seems to be Amour.  It also has nominations in the Directing, Best Actress, and even Best Picture categories.

It may sound crazy, because director Michael Haneke's films are not usually for the faint of heart.  He revels in the discomfort of his audience and his films are not for everyone.  Until Amour.  There may be one very disturbing scene, unlike his Funny Games (either version, take your pick) which is non-stop cruelty and violence; he never lets you up for air.

I was expecting more from Amour.  Something that would maybe open my eyes.  Amour is probably Haneke's safest movie, which might make it so appealing to a broad audience.  I didn't really get it.  In a movie where a pigeon steals one particular scene, you have to wonder: is the pigeon really that intriguing or does Michael Haneke need to step up his game?

Good things have come out of this, though.  America is paying attention to Amour.  Jean-Louis Trintignant makes a triumphant return to the big screen after a hiatus.  Actress Emmanuelle Riva is nominated among the likes of Jennifer Lawrence and Naomi Watts.  Then take this College Humor spoof:


Perhaps the designer did not know Michael Haneke was Austrian. Perhaps the person did know and thought most people would be ignorant enough not to know the difference. It is still funny.  It would be even more humorous if Amour won Best Picture at the Oscars this year.  It is a longshot in that category, but almost a guaranteed winner for Best Foreign Language Film.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Top Five Films of January, 2013

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Un carnet de bal (1937, Julien Duvivier)
I saw some unusually strong films this month and this film is truly a masterpiece.  Duvivier features a woman looking back on all the men she has loved and all her regrets and turns it into something very beautiful. 

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The Silver Linings Playbook (2012, David O. Russell)
 After seeing all nine nominees for Best Picture, I think that this one is the strongest.  It won't necessarily win, but it would be great if it did! 

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56 Up (2012, Michael Apted, Paul Almond)
Michael Apted's documentary project following kids from the age of 7 up until the age of 56 is truly remarkable.  At one point, it seemed that some of the participants continued just for self-promotion; however this installment was just as excellent as the rest. Apted shows clips from the other documentaries, so the viewer is not lost following several people over several years. 

A British Picture (1989, Ken Russell)
Ken Russell is a remarkable filmmaker and he tells the story of his full career through the eyes of a young boy. This documentary can be found on YouTube.

Searching for Sugar Man (2012, Malik Bendjelloul)
Another amazing documentary. I heard so many good things about it from so many different people; this is the kind of film that spreads like wildfire by word of mouth. The story was unbelievable and it has a huge chance of winning this year at the Oscars for Best Documentary.

 Honorable Mentions:
Blackadder Christmas Carol (short)
Amantes (1991, Vicente Aranda)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Top Five Films of December, 2012

Maggie Cheung is a great actress and this biopic of a Chinese actress showcases her talent like no other. That is really saying something, because of the scope of her career.  Not only is Center Stage a masterpiece, but it is special.

Histoires de crevettes/Shrimp Stories (1964, Geneviève Hamon, Jean Painlevé)
An amazing documentary about shrimp.

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Manoel de Oliveira is currently over 100 years old. In 2001, he made this invaluable film which recounts his life. It is beautiful and worth watching.

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Vietnam remains a controversial topic, but this short documentary takes the cake. Hear first hand from soldiers about the horrors of the war.

 photo 66f9685d-5cbf-461d-a719-572566248002.jpgNadie hablará de nosotras cuando hayamos muerto/Nobody Will Speak of Us When We're Dead (1995, Agustín Díaz Yanes) 

Once again, Victoria Abril nails it. Considered one of Spain's top films for a reason.