Top Fifty Films of the 60s — Number Thirteen

#13 — 8 1/2 (Federico Fellini, 1963) I have an aversion to dreamlike story structures, or even dream sequences in films, largely because they are often done so poorly. Never mind the frequency with which they’re little more than a fake-out, structured to set a character bolting upright in bed over whatever wicked turn just glimpsed in dreamland, an supposedly unnerving headspace depicted with essentially the same tone and approach as every other part of the film, all the better to deke the viewer. The real problem is that the depiction usually doesn’t resemble a dream all that much, instead … Continue reading Top Fifty Films of the 60s — Number Thirteen

Top Fifty Films of the 60s — Number Twenty-Eight

#28 — La Dolce Vita (Federico Fellini, 1960) I will concede from the beginning that I sometimes find the vivid abstractions of Federico Fellini to be too dizzying. I recognize his mastery of a certain form of cinema, even celebrate the way he eradicated boundaries with his skillful braiding of dream logic and traditional narrative. And yet there are times when there is just too much unpacking to be done, too much presented as a brazen challenge to the audience to find meaning in the obscurity. He writes an equation on a chalkboard and then uses an eraser to smear … Continue reading Top Fifty Films of the 60s — Number Twenty-Eight

Antin, Duplass and Duplass, Fellini, La Cava, Ray

Cyrus (Jay Duplass and Mark Duplass, 2010). After establishing themselves as slightly cheekier members of the mumblecore movement with the fun, cleverly self-referential Baghead, the Duplass brothers made their first venture into a film with actors carrying impressive resumes with them with the genially bleak relationship comedy Cyrus. John C. Reilly plays a despondent guy who begins to emerge from his post-divorce funk when he stumbles into a relationship with a beautiful woman played by Marisa Tomei. Matters are complicated, however, by her dependent son played by Jonah Hill, in one of his first real attempts at breaking the typecasting … Continue reading Antin, Duplass and Duplass, Fellini, La Cava, Ray

Cassavetes, Corbijn, Fellini, Lumet, Scott

Unstoppable (Tony Scott, 2010). There are few funnier things a Tony Scott movie can offer than a “Inspired by True Events” credit at the beginning. Scott isn’t a director completely devoid of charm and panache (like his rough American equivalent Michael Bay), but a reasoned approach to preserving the integrity of a story that has its grounding in real life is simply not something that’s going to happen with the director of Top Gun and Days of Thunder at the helm. At least his usual camera jitters are toned down a bit, although he maintains his penchant for the shock … Continue reading Cassavetes, Corbijn, Fellini, Lumet, Scott