Sunday, January 02, 2022

Ancestral Teacher of a Generation (aka The Grandmaster)

Stand and Deliver

Horizontal; vertical: Those are the two characters that make up the word "kung fu," as we are told by Ip Man (Tony Leung), the real life martial arts master of the wing chun style and eventual mentor to Bruce Lee. Ancestral Teacher of a Generation [Yi dai song shi, also known as The Grandmaster (its English title appears at the end of the credits), 2013] exists in three different cuts of various lengths and unique content: a Hong Kong cut, an American cut (presided over by Harvey Weinstein, with Wong's supposed sign-off), and the domestic Chinese cut, which is the longest and, according to those who've studied all three versions, the richest. As Wong mastered the wuxia with Ashes of Time, so too in The Grandmaster does he present the most exciting kung-fu-movie-cum-dynastic-epic in years. But whereas Ashes of Time made jaw-dropping use of a lysergic color palette, The Grandmaster is all blacks, beiges, silvers, and whites — the falling rain 'steels' the image in this story that spans the 1930s to the '50s. Lessons:

"A bird that has no perch to sit on." — We've heard this phrase before, in Days of Being Wild

"I have two hands, but wing chun has eight kicks."

"A tiger never quits the mountain."

"As life as in chess, a move once made stays on the board."


The Books I Read in 2021

My Brooklyn Writer Friend

by Greg Gerke


Let Me Tell You What I Mean

by Joan Didion

2021 (1968-2000)

Small Fry

by Lisa Brennan-Jobs




by Thomas Bernhard

(translated by David McLintock)


Nicholas Nickleby

by Charles Dickens


Balloon Pop Outlaw Black

by Patricia Lockwood


No One Is Talking About This

by Patricia Lockwood


Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

by Quentin Tarantino


See What I See [Expanded Edition]

by Greg Gerke


Harmonium [Second Edition]

by Wallace Stevens


Harlem Shuffle

by Colson Whitehead


A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life

by George Saunders


Images en parole

[Images in Words]

by Anne-Marie Miéville


Caderno de rodagem: ‘Vitalina Varela’

[Shooting Notebook: ‘Vitalina Varela’]

by Pedro Costa, et al


Fear Stalks the Land!: A Commonplace Book

by Thom Yorke and Stanley Donwood


The Haitian Chronicles

by Douglas Turner Ward


“A Christmas Carol” and Other Christmas Writings

by Charles Dickens


The Old Curiosity Shop

by Charles Dickens



Saturday, January 01, 2022

The Films I Saw in 2021

First Seen of the Year: ‘Salut les Cubains’ [Salut, Cubans / Here’s to the Cubans] [Agnès Varda, 1964]

Last Seen of the Year: ‘Unconquered’ [Cecil B. DeMille, 1947]


Die 1000 Augen des Dr. Mabuse [The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse] [Fritz Lang, 1960]

2046 [Wong Kar-wai, 2004]

À bout de souffle [Breathless] [Jean-Luc Godard, 1960]

L’albero degli zoccoli [The Tree of Wooden Clogs] [Ermanno Olmi, 1978]

All I Desire [Douglas Sirk, 1953]

Les amants du Pont-Neuf [The Lovers of the Pont-Neuf] [Leos Carax, 1991]

The Amazing Plastic Lady [Martin Bell and Mary Ellen Mark, 1995]

Andrey Tarkovsky. A Cinema Prayer [Andrei A. Tarkovsky, 2019]

Annette [Leos Carax, 2021]

Ansiktet [The Face] [Ingmar Bergman, 1958]

Anticipation of the Night [Stan Brakhage, 1958]

Anvil: The Story of Anvil [Sacha Gervasi, 2008]

Apache [Robert Aldrich, 1954]

Apocalypse Now {Final Cut} [Francis Ford Coppola, 1979/2019]

A propósito de Buñuel [Speaking of Buñuel] [José Luis López-Linares and Javier Rioyo, 2000]

Arsenic and Old Lace [Frank Capra, 1944]

Attack [Robert Aldrich, 1956]

Auteur on the Campus: Jack Arnold at Universal! [Daniel Griffith, 2021]

Battling Butler [Buster Keaton, 1926]

The Beatles: Get Back [Peter Jackson, 2021]

The Beatles: Let It Be [Michael Lindsay-Hogg, 1970]

Beau travail [Nice Work] [Claire Denis, 1999]

Beeswax [Andrew Bujalski, 2009]

Being the Ricardos [Aaron Sorkin, 2021]

Bergman Island: Ingmar Bergman on Fårö Island Cinema and Life [Marie Nyreröd, 2004]

Beyond Therapy [Robert Altman, 1987]

Il bidone [The Swindle] [Federico Fellini, 1955]

Bijo to ekitai-ningen [The Beauty and the Liquid People] [Ishirō Honda, 1958]

The Black Cat [Edgar G. Ulmer, 1934]

Black Panthers {English-Language Version} [Agnès Varda, 1968]

Blonde Cobra [Ken Jacobs, 1963]

Blow Out [Brian De Palma, 1981]

The Blues Accordin’ to Lightnin’ Hopkins [Les Blank with Skip Gerson, 1968]

The Boat [Buster Keaton with Edward Cline, 1921]

Le bonheur [Happiness] [Agnès Varda, 1964]

Bride of Frankenstein [James Whale, 1935]

Bringing Up Baby [Howard Hawks, 1938]

Broken Lullaby [Ernst Lubitsch, 1932]

Brother to Brother [Rodney Evans, 2004]

Bullfighter and the Lady [Budd Boetticher, 1951]

Bu san [Inseprable Bonding] / Good Bye Dragon Inn [Tsai Ming-liang, 2003]

Capitalism: Child Labor [Ken Jacobs, 2006]

Capitalism: Slavery [Ken Jacobs, 2006]

Cet obscur objet du désir [That Obscure Object of Desire] [Luis Buñuel, 1977]

Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie [The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie] [Luis Buñuel, 1972]

Chaval [Mario Ruspoli, 1971]

Le Chavalanthrope [Mario Ruspoli, 1972]

Cheun gwong tsa sit [Spring Light Bursts Forth] [Wong Kar-wai, 1997/2021]

Chung-hing sam lam [Chungking Jungle] [Wong Kar-wai, 1994/2021]

Cinema 70 n.5: Luchino Visconti [Marcella Curti Gialdino, 1970]

Cinema senza tempo: Giulietta Masina, la forza di un sorriso [Timeless Cinema: Giulietta Masina: The Power of a Smile] [Sandro Lai, 2006]

Les cinq cents balles [Five Hundred Bills] [Melvin Van Peebles, 1961]

Citizen Kane [Orson Welles, 1941]

Clorae and Albie [Joyce Chopra, 1975]

College [Buster Keaton, 1927]

Colorado Territory [Raoul Walsh, 1949]

Commuters [Claudia Weill and Eliot Noyes, 1970]

Conjuring the Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story [Martin Scorsese, 2019]

Crash [David Cronenberg, 1996] 

Creature from the Haunted Sea [Roger Corman, 1961]

Les créatures [The Creatures] [Agnès Varda, 1966]

Cristo si è fermato a Eboli [Christ Stopped at Eboli] [Francesco Rosi, 1979]

Curb Your Enthusiasm: Season 10 [Larry David, et al, 2019]

Daguerréotypes [Agnès Varda, 1976]

Daguerreotypes, objets photographiques [Daguerreotypes: Photographic Objects] [Agnès Varda, 2005]

The Damned (Götterdämmerung) [Luchino Visconti, 1969]

Dance, Girl, Dance [Dorothy Arzner, 1940]

A Dandy in Aspic [Anthony Mann, 1968]

A Day in the Death of Donny B. [Carl Fick, 1969]

Deadbeat [Adele Franck, 2020]

Defending Your Life [Albert Brooks, 1991]

De l’origine du XXIe siècle pour moi [On the Origin of the XXIst Century for Me] [Jean-Luc Godard, 2000]

Le dernier verre [The Last Drink] [Mario Ruspoli, 1964]

Desire [Frank Borzage, 1936]

The Devil Inside Her [Zebedy Colt, 1977]

Dial M for Murder {2D Version} [Alfred Hitchcock, 1954]

Disputed Passage [Frank Borzage, 1939]

Django [Sergio Corbucci, 1966]

Djävulens öga [The Devil’s Eye] [Ingmar Bergman, 1960]

Doctor X [Michael Curtiz, 1932]

Donovan: “I Am the Shaman” [David Lynch, 2021]

Dont Look Back [D. A. Pennebaker, 1967]

Don’t Look Up [Adam McKay, 2021]

Don’t Play Us Cheap [Melvin Van Peebles, 1972]

Dos monjes [Two Monks] [Juan Bustillo Oro, 1934]

Dune: Part One [Denis Villeneuve, 2021]

Duo luo tian shi [Fallen Angels] [Wong Kar-wai, 1995/2021]

Él [Him] [Luis Buñuel, 1953]

The Elephant Man [David Lynch, 1980]

Elsa la Rose [Elsa the Rose] [Agnès Varda, 1966]

Eer [Kristoffer Borgli, 2021]

Erin [Martin Bell and Mary Ellen Mark, 2005]

Er shi si cheng ji [Story of Twenty-Four City] / 24 City [Jia Zhang-ke, 2008]

Exorcist II: The Heretic [John Boorman, 1977]

Le fantôme de la liberté [The Phantom of Liberty] [Luis Buñuel, 1974]

Fast Company [David Cronenberg, 1979]

Fast Times at Ridgemont High [Amy Heckerling, 1982]

Fa yeung nin wa [The Age of Blossoms / Those Wonderful Varied Years] [Wong Kar-wai, 2000]

Federico Fellini, un autoritratto ritrovato [Federico Fellini: A Self-Portrait Rediscovered] [Paquito Del Bosco, 2000]

Federico Fellini: Sono un gran bugiardo [Federico Fellini: I’m a Born Liar] [Damian Pettigrew, 2002]

Fête de la Musique [Agnès Varda, 2005]

La fête prisonnière [Captive Feast] [Mario Ruspoli, 1961]

La fille de l’eau [The Girl of the Water / The Current (“Le fil de l’eau”)] [Jean Renoir, 1925]

Five Graves to Cairo [Billy Wilder, 1943]

Fool for Love [Robert Altman, 1985]

Ford: “Built for America” [Terrence Malick, 2021]

A Foreign Affair [Billy Wilder, 1948]

The Fortune Cookie [Billy Wilder, 1966]

Francisca [Manoel de Oliveira, 1981]

The French Dispatch of the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun [Wes Anderson, 2021]

The Front Page [Billy Wilder, 1974]

A Fuller Life [Samantha Fuller, 2013]

The Furies [Anthony Mann, 1950]

The Georgetown Loop [Ken Jacobs, 1996]

Girlfriends [Claudia Weill, 1978]

Girls at 12 [Joyce Chopra, 1975]

Go Fish [Rose Troche, 1994]

Go West [Buster Keaton, 1925]

The Green Fog [Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson, and Galen Johnson, 2017]

La Habanera [Douglas Sirk, 1937]

Happy Hour [Ryūsuke Hamaguchi, 2015]

The Haunted House [Buster Keaton with Edward Cline, 1921]

Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse [Eleanor Coppola, 1991]

Hellaware [Michael M. Bilandic, 2013]

Hell Bent [John Ford, 1918]

He shang de ai qing [Love on the River] / Cry Me a River [Jia Zhang-ke, 2008]

A Hidden Life [Terrence Malick, 2019]

Hiding Out [Bob Giraldi, 1987]

High Score [William Acks, France Costrel, and Sam Lacroix, 2020]

High Sierra [Raoul Walsh, 1941]

His New Job. [Charles Chaplin, 1915]

History Is Made at Night [Frank Borzage, 1937]

The Hole {2D Version} [Joe Dante, 2009]

Les hommes de la baleine [The Men of the Whale] [Mario Ruspoli, 1958]

Horizons West [Budd Boetticher, 1952]

A Horse or a Mary?: Jack Ford: ‘Hell Bent’ [Tag Gallagher, 2020]

House of Wax {2D Version} [Andre de Toth, 1953]

Hua yang de nian hua [The Age of Blossoms] [Wong Kar-wai, 2000]

I Confess [Alfred Hitchcock, 1953]

Il était une fois… ‘Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie’ [One Upon a Time… ‘The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie’] [Anne Andreu, Marie Genin, and Serge July, 2011]

Ikwé: Woman [Caroline Monnet, 2009]

Les inconnus de la terre [The Unknown of the Earth] [Mario Ruspoli, 1961]

The Incredible Shrinking Man [Jack Arnold, 1957]

Indian Epic: 1: Der Tiger von Eschnapur [The Tiger of Eschnapur] [Fritz Lang, 1959]

Indian Epic: 2: Das indische Grabmal [The Indian Tomb] [Fritz Lang, 1959]

Ingmar Bergman, om liv och arbete, ett samtal [Ingmar Bergman: On Life and Work: A Conversation] [Jörn Donner, 1998]

The Irishman / I Heard You Paint Houses [Martin Scorsese, 2019]

Irma Vep [Olivier Assayas, 1996]

La Jetée {English-Language Version} [Chris Marker, 1962]

Jiaoyou [Excursion] / Stray Dogs [Tsai Ming-liang, 2013]

Joyce at 34 [Joyce Chopra and Claudia Weill, 1972]

Jungfrukällan [The Virgin Spring] [Ingmar Bergman, 1960]

Kansas City [Robert Altman, 1996]

Kárhozat [Damnation] [Béla Tarr, 1987]

Kill Bill: Vol. 1 [Quentin Tarantino. 2003]

Kill Bill: Vol. 2 [Quentin Tarantino, 2004]

The Kiss Before the Mirror [James Whale, 1933]

Klondike Annie [Raoul Walsh, 1936]

Knights of the City [Dominic Orlando, 1986]

Knives Out [Rian Johnson, 2019]

Lady Dynamite: Season 1 [Pam Brady and Mitch Hurwitz, et al, 2016]

The Last Warning [Paul Leni, 1928]

Lewat djam malam [After the Curfew] [Usmar Ismail, 1954]

Licorice Pizza [Paul Thomas Anderson, 2021]

The Lion Has WIngs [Michael Powell, Brian Desmond Hurst, Adrian Brunel, and Alexander Korda, 1939]

Lions Love… and Lies / Lions Love [Agnès Varda, 1969]

Little Stabs at Happiness… [Ken Jacobs, 1963]

Le livre d’image (Images et Paroles) [The Image Book (Images and Words)] [Jean-Luc Godard, 2018]

Lucía [Humberto Solás, 1968]

Luci del varietà [Variety Lights] [Alberto Lattuada and Federico Fellini, 1950]

Madam Butterfly [Tsai Ming-liang, 2008]

Mandabi [The Money Order] [Ousmane Sembène, 1968]

Man Seeking Woman: Season 1 [Simon Rich, Jonathan Krisel, et al, 2015]

Man Seeking Woman: Season 2 [Simon Rich, Jonathan Krisel, et al, 2016]

The Many Saints of Newark [David Chase and Alan Taylor, 2021]

Mario Ruspoli, Prince des baleines et autres raretés [Mario Ruspoli: Prince of the Whales, and Other Rarities] [Florence Dauman, 2011]

Masculin Féminin, 15 faits précis [Masculine Feminine: 15 Precise Events] [Jean-Luc Godard, 1966]

Materna [David Gutnik, 2020]

Meet the Fleet [B. Reeves Eason, 1940]

Memorias del subdesarrollo [Memories of Underdevelopment] [Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, 1968]

Merrily We Go to Hell [Dorothy Arzner, 1932]

Il momento della verità [The Moment of Truth] [Francesco Rosi, 1965]

Mong Kok Carmen / As Tears Go By [Wong Kar-wai, 1988]

Monterey Pop [D. A. Pennebaker, 1968]

The Mortal Storm [Frank Borzage, 1940]

Mouchette [Robert Bresson, 1967]

Movie That Invites Pausing [Ken Jacobs, 2020]

Mudar de vida [Change of Life] [Paulo Rocha, 1966]

Mystery of the Wax Museum [Michael Curtiz, 1933]

Nära livet [On the Brink of Life] [Ingmar Bergman, 1958]

El naúfrago de la calle de Providencia [The Castaway of calle de Providencia] [Arturo Ripstein and Rafael Castanedo, 1971/2000]

The Navigator [Buster Keaton with Donald Crisp, 1924]

Netemo sametemo [Whether Alseep or Awake] [Ryūsuke Hamaguchi, 2018]

Nightmare Alley [Edmund Goulding, 1947]

Nobody [Ilya Naishuller, 2021]

No Maps on My Taps  [George T. Nierenberg, 1979]

Le notti di Cabiria [The Nights of Cabiria] [Federico Fellini, 1957]

Objective, Burma! [Raoul Walsh, 1945]

Onde jaz o teu sorriso? [Where Does Your Hidden Smile Lie?] [Pedro Costa, 2001]

Our Hospitality [Buster Keaton, 1923]

Pain peinture et accordéon [Bread Painting and Accordion] [Agnès Varda, 2005]

The Painted Bird [Václav Mahoul, 2019]

Pandora and the Flying Dutchman [Albert Lewin, 1951]

Parting Glances [Bill Sherwood, 1986]

Peace on Earth [Hugh Harman, 1939]

Pepi, Luci, Bom y otras chicas del montón [Pepi, Luci, Bom and Other Average Girls] [Pedro Almodóvar, 1980]

Persona [Ingmar Bergman, 1966]

The Perfect Wife [William Kyle Gerardi, 2021]

The Phantom of the Opera [Rupert Julian, 1925]

Piazza Vittorio [Abel Ferrara, 2017]

Pickup on South Street [Samuel Fuller, 1953]

Pixote, a lei do mais fraco [Pixote: The Law of the Weakest] [Héctor Babenco, 1980]

The Plainsman [Cecil B. DeMille, 1936]

The Play House [Buster Keaton with Edward Cline, 1921]

Popeye [Robert Altman, 1980]

Pretend It’s a City [Martin Scorsese, 2021]

Les producteurs: Serge Silberman [The Producers: Serge Silberman] [Jacques Meny, 1985]

The Projectionist [Abel Ferrara, 2019]

Project Space 13 [Michael M. Bilandic, 2013]

Psycho [Alfred Hitchcock, 1960]

Rabid [David Cronenberg, 1977]

Ragbar [Downpour] [Bahram Beyzaie, 1972]

Reazione a catena (Ecologia del delitto) [Chain Reaction (Ecology of Crime)] / A Bay of Blood [Mario Bava, 1971]

Rebus-Film No. 1 [Paul Leni, 1925]

Red Ball Express [Budd Boetticher, 1952]

Regard sur la folie [A Look at Madness] [Mario Ruspoli, 1961]

Remember My Name [Alan Rudolph, 1978]

Réponse de femmes à une question produite par Antenne 2  pour le magazine ‘F. comme Femme’ [Women’s Response to a Question Put Forth by Antenne 2 for the Magazine-Show ‘F. comme Femme’] [Agnès Varda, 1975]

Ride or Die [Lily Citrin, 2021]

Rio Bravo [Howard Hawks, 1959]

Riot in Cell Block 11 [Don Siegel, 1954]

Roudau long hu bang [Judo Dragon and the Tiger List] / Throwdown [Johnnie To, 2004]

Rue Daguerre [Agnès Varda, 2005]

Sacrilege [Michel J. Rogers, 1971]

Salut les Cubains [Salut, Cubans / Here’s to the Cubans] [Agnès Varda, 1964]

Sál ztracenych kroku [The Hall of Lost Footsteps] [Jaromil Jireš, 1960]

San xia hao ren [Good People of the Three Gorges] / Still Life [Jia Zhang-ke, 2006]

Satans Lust [director unknown, 1971]

The Scary of Sixty-First [Dasha Nekrasova, 2021]

Lo sceicco bianco [The White Sheik] [Federico Fellini, 1952]

Second Look: Fellini [André Delvaux, 1960]

Sehnsucht nach Frauen: Dorothy Arzner [Longing for Women: Dorothy Arzner] [Katja Raganelli and Konrad Wickler, 1983]

Seven Chances [Buster Keaton, 1925]

Shake: Otis Redding at Monterey [D. A. Pennebaker, 1986]

Shan he gu ren [Old Friends Amid the Mountains and Rivers] / Mountains May Depart [Jia Zhang-ke, 2015]

She Freak [Byron Mabe, 1967]

Shou [The Hand] [Wong Kar-wai, 2004/2019]

Shanghai hua [Flowers of Shanghai] [Hou Hsiao-hsien, 1998]

Shiva Baby [Emma Seligman, 2020]

Shivers [David Cronenberg, 1975]

Siberia [Abel Ferrara, 2020]

Sicilia! [Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, 1999]

The Sign of the Cross [Cecil B. DeMille, 1932]

Simón del desierto [Simon of the Desert] [Luis Buñuel, 1965]

Det sjunde inseglet [The Seventh Seal] [Ingmar Bergman, 1957]

The Sky Socialist [Ken Jacobs, 1966/2019]

The Sky Socialist: Environs and Outtakes [Ken Jacobs, 1966/2019]

Smooth Talk [Joyce Chopra, 1985]

Smultronstället [The Wild Strawberry Patch] [Ingmar Bergman, 1957]

Soleil Ô [Sun, Oh] [Med Hondo, 1970]

Sommarnattens leende [Smile of the Summer Night] [Ingmar Bergman, 1955]

The Song of Songs [Rouben Mamoulian, 1933]

The Sparks Brothers [Edgar Wright, 2021]

Stan the Flasher [Serge Gainsbourg, 1990]

Stillwater [Tom McCarthy, 2021]

The Story of a Three Day Pass [Melvin Van Peebles, 1967]

La strada [The Road] [Federico Fellini, 1954]

Stopy [Footprints] [Jaromil Jireš, 1960]

Streetwise [Martin Bell, Mary Ellen Mark, and Cheryl McCall, 1984]

‘Streetwise’ Revisited: Rat [Martin Bell, 2021]

Strejda [Uncle] [Jaromil Jireš, 1959]

Sunlight [Melvin Van Peebles, 1957]

Suspicion [Alfred Hitchcock, 1941]

Sweet Sweetback’s Baad Asssss Song [Melvin Van Peebles, 1971]

Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One [William Greaves, 1968]

Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take 2-1/2 [William Greaves, 2005]

The Tall T [Budd Boetticher, 1957]

Tauw [Ousmane Sembène, 1970]

There’s Always Tomorrow [Douglas Sirk, 1956]

The Thing [John Carpenter, 1982]

Three Pick-Up Men for Herrick [Melvin Van Peebles, 1957]

Thunderbolt [Josef von Sternberg, 1929]

Tian zhu ding [Day of Destiny] / A Touch of Sin [Jia Zhang-ke, 2013]

Tiny at 20 [Mary Ellen Mark, 1993]

Tiny: The Life of Erin Blackwell [Martin Bell and Mary Ellen Mark, 2016]

Titón, de la Habana a Guantanamera, 1928-1996 [Titón: From Havana to Guantanamera, 1928-1996] [Mirtha Ibarra, 2008]

Tommaso [Abel Ferrara, 2019]

A Tom Tom Chaser [Ken Jacobs, 2002]

Tom, Tom, the Piper’s Son [Ken Jacobs, 1969]

Total Recall [Paul Verhoeven, 1990]

I tre volti della paura [The Three Faces of Fear] [Mario Bava, 1963]

The True Adventures of Raoul Walsh: Hollywood’s Legendary Director [Marilyn Ann Moss, 2019]

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me [David Lynch, 1993]

Uchū daisensō [Great Battle in Outer Space] [Ishirō Honda, 1959]

Uncle Yanco {Bilingual Version} [Agnès Varda, 1967]

Unconquered [Cecil B. DeMille, 1947]

Union Pacific [Cecil B. DeMille, 1939]

Valerie a tyden divu [Valerie and Her Week of Wonders] [Jaromil Jireš, 1970]

Ein verdammt gutes Leben: Howard Hawks, 19 Kapital aus den Erinnerungen eines Geschichtenerzählers [A Damn Good Life: Howard Hawks: 19 Chapters from the Memories of a Storyteller] [Hans C. Blumenberg, 1978]

Os verdes anos [The Green Years] [Paulo Rocha, 1963]

Visconti [John Abbott, 1969]

Vitalina Varela [Pedro Costa, 2019]

I vitelloni [The Loafers / The Fellas] [Federico Fellini, 1953]

Vive la baleine [Three Cheers for the Whale] {2007 Updated English-Narration Version} [Mario Ruspoli and Chris Marker, 1972/2007]

Das Wachsfigurenkabinett [The Waxworks Cabinet] [Paul Leni, 1924]

Watermelon Man [Melvin Van Peebles, 1970]

The Whirled [Ken Jacobs, 1961/1963]

Window [Ken Jacobs, 1964]

Wings of the Hawk {2D Version} [Budd Boetticher, 1953]

Wonderland [Michael Winterbottom, 1999]

Working Girls [Lizzie Borden, 1986]

The Wrong Man [Alfred Hitchcock, 1956]

Yi dai song shi [Ancestral Teacher of a Generation] {Long Chinese Cut} [Wong Kar-wai, 2013]

Ying sheng [Earning a Living] / The Hedonists [Jia Zhang-ke, 2016]

Yours, Mine and Ours [Melville Shavelson, 1968]

Zerkalo [Mirror] [Andrei Tarkovsky, 1975]

Zum Beispiel Bresson [For Example, Bresson / Au hasard Bresson] [Theodor Kotulla, 1966]

Zu neuen Ufern [To New Shores] [Douglas Sirk, 1937]


Friday, December 31, 2021

My Top 3 Films of 2021

(3) Annette [Leos Carax, 2021]

(2) Licorice Pizza [Paul Thomas Anderson, 2021]

(1) The Beatles: Get Back [Peter Jackson, 2021]


Friday, December 24, 2021

Special Guest Blog: Marianna Ellenberg

Top Ten List, Film and Live Performance: Marianna Ellenberg, 2021

In no particular order, these were the flicks and live shows that wowed me during this darkest of years. These thoughts are dedicated to the brilliant artists and thinkers we lost this year, including bell hooks, Lauren Berlant, Joan Didion, Alvin Lucier, Stephen Sondheim, Greg Tate, to name just a few.

(1) “Sun and Sea”

Direction and set design by Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, Libretto by Vaiva Grainytė , Music and musical direction by Lina Lapelytė


An opera on climate crisis and late capitalism, Beckett meets German arthouse theater, with hints of Roy Anderson. Painful and beautiful to watch. A tableau of vacationers sing morbid songs of consumer desire on a beach tableau. There is an existential dread in their plastic joy. It made me think of “Cruel Optimism, ” by the late visionary author Lauren Berlant. Global greed leads to a Sisyphean beach holiday that slowly goes sour.

(2) “The Lehman Trilogy,” written by Stefano Massini and directed by Sam Mendes.  

With Set Design by Es Devlin. Video Design by Luke Halls.

Cast: Simon Russell Beale, Adrien Lester  and Adam Godley

Nederlander Theater, NYC

The Lehman Trilogy, as staged by Mendes blew my mind with the potential that contemporary theater (developed by the National Theater in London) can still accomplish. It was both live and cinematic, dark as the colors of Wallstreet and joyful like a Chaplin skit. What does a brilliant family of Jewish German emigres do with the American Dream? In Mendes' hands, they create it, but also suffer from its false promises and all consuming alienation. Did the playwright have a socio-political perspective? Maybe not, but what Massini lacked, Mendes provided. In Mendes’s direction and Devlin’s gray, brooding set, we get another story on top of the rise to Wallstreet success, alienated men imprisoned by their own successes and endless desires. The set, a minimalist rotating office/glass box, created by Es Devlin, alongside the direction by Sam Mendes was sublime. And each actor was a show unto itself, as they performed every character in their lives, from babies to first loves. Even while I was being seduced by the incredible video design and acting I thought, wow, another piece about smart Jews making a lot of money, oof. But, to my surprise, the writer is an Italian of Jewish descent, and potentially too removed from the harsh realities of inequality and structural racism that titans of American capitalism, like the Lehman brothers, consciously or unconsciously have been a part of in building today’s USA. Anyway, Mendes and the set design far surpassed the obtuse non-message about the ultimate model minority and the American dream. This was pre-omicron, and I was lucky enough to experience the power of the live to illuminate visions of possibility.

(3) Brother to Brother, Rodney Evans, 2004  

An Independent Black film from the early oughts weaving a coming of age tale of young, black queerness via re-enactments of Langston Hughes' inner circle, intercut with interracial dating and its various complexities in the New York liberal arts and art scene of the late nineties. The flashbacks to Black Poets and artists making a name for themselves in the early days of the Harlem Renaissance was beautifully rendered, without sentimentality. I was inspired by Evan’s  synthesis of  seventies neo-realism, kitchen-sink melodrama and authentic queer coming of age vision. Hoping Evans gets more attention for his brilliant work with this Criterion Channel Release.

(4) Succession

Why do we love watching rich white men tear each other apart? I don’t know, but Jeremy Strong’s performance in the final episode blew my mind. And Brian Cox, Matthew Mcfayden and J. Smith-Cameron take my nod as top television actors of the year. Maybe it’s masochism, British wit or a continued fantasy of being in the backseat of the foils of the 1%?

(5) The Passion of Anna, Ingmar Bergman, 1969 

Getting to see Liv Ullman and Max Von Sydow mourn past relationships, the droll pain of existence on a gray, bitter isolating Swedish Island is wonderful. The stalwart pain that each actor can exercise in a gesture, look or turn of phrase is incredible to watch. The black and white and reds are like watching a 16mm Brakhage film projected for the first time: pure cinema, pure color, pure Bergman.

(6) Genealogies, Amie Siegel, 2016 

Finally I get to see a brilliant film essayist humorously deconstruct the sexism in Godard’s Contempt, with a subtle eye and brilliant editing style, connecting Pink Floyd’s concert in Pompeii with a Beastie Boys video, Sympathy for the Devil and the Malaparte Family’s indulgent mansion. 

(7) Watermelon Man, Melvin Van Peebles, 1970 

The most brutal, caustic satire of race relations made in 1969 by the brilliant iconoclast, Melvin Van Peebles. With a searing screenplay, Peebles puts the lens on one man’s journey to accept and love his new found race. Inspired by Kafka’s Metamorphosis, with a pointed performance by Godfrey Cambridge.

(8) Ace in the Hole, 1951, Billy Wilder. 

American greed, capitalism, and “Making It”, all in beautiful black and white. The horror of capitalist hubris has never so beautifully been rendered before. Wilder’s undersung film foreshadows the media circus of the 24 hour news cycle with its tale of a has-been journalist’s cruel drive for fame and fortune at any expense. 

(9) Don’t Look Up, Adam McKay, 2021

Idiocracy for the age of climate crisis. Or a dark comedy for the age of Endtimes. Either way, Leo was sexy for the first time since The Departed or maybe Titanic! Watch out for Cate Blanchett in a scene stealing role as a Laura Ingraham type. Did I feel sad at the end? Yes, but I also felt that McKay was telling us to wake up, stop whining and fight like hell, or maybe that in endtimes, all you need is a Beatles tune?  Either way, it was surprisingly brilliant, brought up both Kubrick (Dr. Strangelove) and Haynes (Safe), and contains a superb cast. 

**(Mary Rylance as the Peter Thiel villain was timeless if not Oscar worthy.

(10) The Souvenir Part II, 2021, Joanna Hogg, 

My most anticipated movie of the year, yet to see, but betting, if it’s anywhere as good as Part 1, she’s going to convince me that feminist arthouse cinema still has a few lives left.