I guess you can't appreciate food, and sanity, until you've starved and gone mad for 59 days on an adrift fishing boat, as the four poor souls do in this brutal "boat" film from Kaneto Shindo. A savage companion piece to his earlier landlocked struggle film "The Naked Island".
Edward G. Robinson has one of his best early roles as Nick the Barber, a small town gambler who makes it big in the city, but a soft spot for blondes clouds his better judgement. James Cagney is around as Robinson's brother and prevailing right hand man, the only time the Warner Brother's stars ever appeared together. A great gambling movie, with some terrific Robinson one-liners.
Has any mother in the history of cinema loved a jerk son so much as the hero of this epic Shakespearian Indian film? Nevertheless, this is probably the best Bollywood film I've ever seen.
Deranged post-modern musical, thoroughly entertaining, with an excellent book by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman. Ellen Greene, who you never see anymore, is wonderful in the role of lifetime.
Of the few Shimizu films possible to find in the west, this may be the most visually sophisticated, and it bares certain thematic resemblances to the former "Children in the Wind" and the later "Ornamental Hairpin".
The rare Naruse film where the hero has almost no sympathetic qualities; a famous singer who treats his family and entourage like unwanted accessories to his greatness. Naruse's visual style improves throughout the '30's, but this isn't one of his best offerings.
Bertolucci was 22 when he made this great film? Stunning. I could barely walk when I was 22.
I love this movie, I'm a huge Kieslowski fan and this is one of his great films, but I swear I saw a microphone in one shot over Binoche's head, how on Earth did Kieslowski let that pass?
Did Kobayashi's masterpiece need a faithful remake? No, but I'm not going to second guess Miike, who has become one of the most interesting of modern Japanese directors, and this film is lovely to look at from beginning to end.
Glorious MGM product, the height of silent melodrama, with Garbo at her most beautiful as a hussy who, for some reason, has men constantly fighting gun duels over her. She gets her due, eventually, but it's a hoot watching her get there. Studio stalwart Clarence Brown and master women's cameraman William Daniels add class to the hothouse proceedings.
"The Lady Eve", "Sullivan's Travels", and "The Palm Beach Story" may be more famous, but this sweet, nutty, code busting small town farce is probably Sturges's funniest film. Bracken, Hutton, and Demarest top an ace cast, and look closely at Sturges's direction, it's as confident as ever, with numerous tricky, stylized tracking shots.
Moving from Paramount to Columbia for the remainder of his career, Hitchcock finally gets out all his obsession with the winged kind, and it's ugly, and he puts it on the back of a ditzy blonde. Essentially, it's Hitch's version of the apocalypse, or a apocalypse, and sadly, it's the last truly great film he ever made.
Coming on the heels of the armistice, Abel Gance makes the first, and arguably still the greatest of all anti-war films; a sweeping epic in which everyone, including the tragic love triangle at the center, is damned from the get-go. “The Big Parade”, “All Quiet on the Western Front”, and “Paths of Glory” follow down the line, but nothing is as powerful as Gance's dancing ring of skeletons.
Following "Rashomon" and "Ugetsu", Mori and Kyo are paired again, this time for Mikio Naruse, directing a sensitive drama about a close family torn apart by old fashioned ideas, and jealousy, when the middle sister comes home single, pregnant, and disgraced. Well acted all around; another emotionally poignant beauty from Naruse's greatest period.
A testament to how good 2012 has been, even the routine man-against-nature thriller is exceptional. Carnahan's best film since "Narc", and as scary as it's obvious frozen predecessor, John Carpenter's "The Thing".
This remains my favorite Soderbergh film, it's a pure delight, funny and moving, with a great '30's period detail.
John Ford's last film of the 50's, and of his myriad of films about the Cavalry, this is the only one to actually take place during the Civil War, recounting a daring Union mission behind enemy lines that turns the tide of Vicksburg. Entertaining, with Wayne and Holden in fine form, and lots of the usual goofy Fordian humor that permeats the masterpieces as well as the lessers, which this is of the latter.
This is light fare indeed for Hitchcock, following the dark, studio bound terror of "Rear Window", but Grant and Kelly spark fireworks, in the most literal use of the term ever.
130 minutes of abject misery and ten minutes of savior, well made and moving, but grueling.
Takamine, Nakadai, and Sada are all great in this decades spanning Kinoshita weeper, a love triangle filled with bitterness, hate, regret, and maybe, forgiveness. Par for the course for Kinoshita, master Shochiku cameraman Hiroyuki Kusuda's fluid camera movements.
I couldn't find the two hour British version, but the 90 minute version is available on a region two DVD, and it's a curio for Ford scholars and completists only.
This is deeply disturbing and affecting, a slow, pointed descent into chaos, of the mind and physical, that leaves you shaken. Michael Shannon is beyond great.
Kinoshita wasn't known for lavish war epics, rather intimate politically tinged family tragedies, but you get it all here, a strange samurai jidai-geki in black and white colored with shocking bursts of symbolic painted lenses. A unique, haunting film.
1927, the greatest year of the silent era, with this bittersweet Lubitsch masterpiece representative of MGM classicism and aesthetic might.
A toss up with "Rules of the Game" for the greatest French film of all time, which essentially announces Renoir at an artistic peak few directors ever achieve. By the time we leave Von Stroheim for dear Dita Parlo the movie overwhelms us with compassion. Studio Canal's new restoration is as spotless and crisp a restoration of a masterpiece as you'll ever see.
Mizoguchi's penultimate film, shot in color a year before his death, is a sweeping, over-the-top 12th century saga of family loyalty and class discrimination. Impressively mounted.
Like most of Godard except a very few this is both fascinating and wildly overrated.
Jean Harlow in a hilarious, sexy, cunning, catty performance as a man-eater climbing her way through society, one married boss at a time. Also hilarious, Una Merkel as her perpetually shocked and appalled best friend.
Well polished Warner Brothers fare, A list all the way, with a moving James Cagney as a boxer with a heart of gold. Top melodrama from the height of the studio system.
Tavernier's masterpiece, one of the most moving, beautiful films I've ever seen.