Abrahamson, Ford, Lang, Moodysson, Saulnier

While the City Sleeps (Fritz Lang, 1956). This noirish drama from director Fritz Lang takes aim at the seediness of the newspapers and the cutthroat competitiveness of those in the media, tiltimng at both with equal vigor. When the newspaper owner’s son (Vincent Price) takes control upon his father’s death, he uses the recent emergence of a serial murdered dubbed “the lipstick killer” to pitch his various reporters and editors against each other in an effort to preserve their jobs or even claim one of the plum new positions available. Lang’s curiosity about the darker instincts that drive people gives … Continue reading Abrahamson, Ford, Lang, Moodysson, Saulnier

Donahue, Hitchcock, Lang, Scorsese and Tedeschi, West

The Sacrament (Ti West, 2014). Following a couple elegant, artful horror features, West finally goes where all modern directors with a propensity to scare must. The Sacrament is a “found footage” that relies on the conceit of a couple Vice News reporters who tag along when a fashion photographer acquaintance goes looking for his sister, who has become a resident with a cult-like commune that has recently relocated to a remote area in South America. The plot draws heavily on the 1978 Jonestown Massacre, right down to the notorious beverage of choice when it comes time to draw the experiment … Continue reading Donahue, Hitchcock, Lang, Scorsese and Tedeschi, West

Bayona, Lang, Moore, Sturges, Webb

The Impossible (Juan Antonio Bayona, 2012). At the very core of The Impossible is the commonplace sin of depicting a real-life tragedy in an Asian land through the experience of well-to-do, white, European travelers. The devastating tsunami that struck countries on the Indian Ocean on December 26, 2004 killed approximately a quarter of a million people in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand, but its obviously rich vacationers played by Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor whose story whose story needs to be told. This could be acceptable–albeit begrudgingly so–if the film still carried the sort of emotional weight that should … Continue reading Bayona, Lang, Moore, Sturges, Webb

Duke, Hitchcock, Lang, Lorenz, Rees

Trouble with the Curve (Robert Lorenz, 2012). A longtime Clint Eastwood collaborator–multiple credits as a producer and assistant director–makes his feature directorial debut, and it predictably looks like one of his pal’s stodgier efforts, right down to the venerable actor doing a variation of his Gran Torino gravel-voiced grump complaining about the kids these days. In Trouble with the Curve, Eastwood plays a old baseball scout who’s disparaged by the moneyball adherents in the deluxe offices, even though there’s some things you just can’t tell about a prospect from looking at a computer screen. The film is painfully simplistic, setting … Continue reading Duke, Hitchcock, Lang, Lorenz, Rees