Still awash in fresh memories of Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, I watched for the first time Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1975 film The Mirror. The problem I’ve had with Tarkovsky films in the past (especially Stalker, which I found tedious and nearly impenetrable though certain moments and images have stubbornly stuck with me) is that I feel like you need an advanced degree in Russian history to understand the context and symbolism. With Malick’s film, however, illuminating the way, I found Tarkovsky’s The Mirror to be deeply rewarding on multiple levels, and it emerged as an unforgettable cinematic experience deserving of repeated views.
The two films are strikingly similar: deeply personal, semi-autobiographical, supplemented by other art forms (classical music is used exquisitely in both, while The Mirror also drew upon original poetry) and constructed in a stream-of-consciousness style made to evoke dreams and memories. Both films are deeply rooted in the childhoods of their makers. Continue reading
In many ways, it’s difficult to look back on a decade in film through which one did not live and see the big picture. My view of the 1950’s is colored through black-and-white lenses – through the genres I love and turn to again and again no matter from which generation they sprang – the tales of the psychological, the thrillers, the noirs and all that seedy, dirty business. In the 1950’s that business was booming.
We had Alfred Hitchcock (Rear Window, Vertigo, North by Northwest) in his Renaissance period, Henri-Georges Clouzot (Wages of Fear, Les Diaboliques) and Billy Wilder (Sunset Blvd.) still in their prime, Jules Dasin (Night and the City, Rififi) at the height of his game, and Fritz Lang (The Big Heat) and Carl Theodor Dryer (Ordet) delivering their final masterpieces. Meanwhile, a new wave of filmmakers (Stanley Kubrick, Ingmar Bergman, Sidney Lumet and Francois Truffaut) sought to define their own styles and first make a name for themselves.
The 1950’s were epitomized by the two big P’s – Prosperity and Paranoia. Continue reading
It’s one of the greatest questions of modern times – is the order in which you place films in your Netflix queue victim to the luck of the drawl or is there a definitive art to this endeavor?
Sometimes I place movies in my queue I feel I need to watch just to say I watched them (even an amateur film critic like myself has to keep up with the latest releases no matter how bad I know they will be) or that I know will be gleefully awful (hello to you, my laugh-out-loud friend, Hobo With a Shotgun). But for the most part, I’m pretty selective in my choices and I try to find a balance in how I order my queue so that I have a steady and proportional stream of “I know these will suck” entries mixed with highly anticipated new releases and classics I’ve been long overdue to uncover.
Lately I’ve been struck with a series of disappointments that serendipitously found their way to the top of my queue. Continue reading