Banks, Bergman, Hamilton, Limon, Polanski

1971 (Johanna Hamilton, 2014). Clearly positioned as a history lesson for those who venerate Edward Snowden for his digital freedom fighting in bringing to light information about the U.S. government’s shady spying on its own citizens, 1971 focuses in on a break-in at a Pennsylvania FBI office in the year of the title. Those who are shocked by the modern transgressions against privacy can watch this documentary for a bracing reminder that federal crime-fighting agencies are in full-scale same-as-it-ever-was territory, Patriot Act or not. Of course, that doesn’t make current abuses acceptable, but the indignation is best shaped as part of … Continue reading Banks, Bergman, Hamilton, Limon, Polanski

Top Fifty Films of the 60s — Number Three

#3 — Persona (Ingmar Bergman, 1966) I expend a lot syllables in these pieces considering how individual films fit in with the shifting trends of the cinematic era. Maybe they connect to the French New Wave, as a representative example of it or a film that bears its mighty influence. Or maybe a film forecasts the dark, intense revolution of American moviemaking on the horizon. And then there are those efforts that stand wholly apart from any such contextualization, that are astonishing entirely on their own terms, set against any era, any place, certainly any trend. That’s where the work … Continue reading Top Fifty Films of the 60s — Number Three

Top Fifty Films of the 70s — Number Twenty-Eight

#28 — Cries and Whispers (Ingmar Bergman, 1972) As always, I come to Ingmar Bergman as a wary traveler, an interloper into a cinematic world of abstract artistry that I’m not quite confident I’ll ever fully grasp. The legendary Swedish director, as much as anyone who ever stood on a movie set and told the cameraman where to point his machinery, comes at his films with a devotion to mood, deeply developed emotional truth and finding the profundity in that which is withheld. There are mysteries between the lines of his visual poetry and that is where the meaning lies. … Continue reading Top Fifty Films of the 70s — Number Twenty-Eight

Arteta, Bergman, Howard, Newman, van Heijningen

Cries and Whispers (Ingmar Bergman, 1972). This intricate, cerebral, elusive drama from the acknowledged master of intricate, cerebral, elusive dramas takes place at stately mansion at the end of the 19th century. A woman named Agnes, played by Harriet Andersson, is on her deathbed and is seen to by her two sisters, both returned home due to their sibling’s terrible need, and the loving household maid. Each character gets their own individual segment, usually devoted to a flashback to some terrible emotional incident in the past, Bergman scraping at their existential agony like a merciless physician slicing at a poisonous … Continue reading Arteta, Bergman, Howard, Newman, van Heijningen

Spectrum Check

This week, I contributed to our List Inconsequential feature on badass album covers by writing about the Sonic Youth album that includes their fierce collaboration with Chuck D and, even better, helped make possible their eventual, inadvertent and unbelievably cool collaboration with Christina Aguilera. I also wrote about the latest album from the Felice Brothers, one of way too many bands with the word “Brothers” in their name that emerged at roughly the same time. The new record was pretty good, though, even if it made me think anew about (and do fresh research on) the Creepiest Place on EarthTM. … Continue reading Spectrum Check

And our silver screen affair, it weighs less to me than air

McCabe and Mrs. Miller (Robert Altman, 1971). There are many who consider this film to be the quintessential Altman effort, and it’s not hard to see why. The hallmarks of Altman’s legend are all there: the overlapping dialogue, the moral ambivalence, the richly-conceived characters. Most importantly and impressively, the film is a thrilling example of the ways in which Altman pulls all these elements of his craft together to give the sense of a fully developed culture and society. The film is focused on the main characters, but the entire frame ripples with life. You feel as if you know … Continue reading And our silver screen affair, it weighs less to me than air