Monthly Archives: July 2010

Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky

From the opening sequence of Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky, it is clear that the film’s focus is style. An elaborate weave of colors and textures create a kaleidoscope that slowly morphs into the action of the film. Well dressed Parisians float through beautiful spaces in a glamorous Opera Hall waiting for the 1913 presentation […]

White Material

One of the few things even resembling a consensus that you will find among film fans is that Claire Denis is the best working female director. Whether she is the greatest female filmmaker of all time or the finest working director period are both up for debate (for the record, I’d say she’s pretty high […]

After watching Bigger than Life in all of its glorious, controlled, expansive, vibrant, claustrophobic, screaming Cinemascope glory I watched it again. But this time I watched it without sound, and let Nic Ray’s framing, colors, and movement take over the storytelling.  Even without James Mason’s frightening performance as the suburban father slowly losing his grip […]

Toy Story 3

It’s hard to believe fifteen years have passed since the release of the original Toy Story. I was four when it came out, and all I remember from that first screening is being absolutely terrified by some of the damaged toys. Of course, now that film is more remembered for introducing the public to the […]

The Last Airbender

You know, I really wanted M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender to be good.  It’s been too long since the last good fantasy action movie that I was willing to try to go easy on it because it’s a kid’s film and there’s no fun in trashing Shyamalan for his decade-long losing streak anymore, and […]


There is a man lurched forward. His shirt is off, but his striped blue and white pants radiate in the background. The man’s face is emaciated but his expression is without pain or happiness. Where his skin isn’t stained red from blood or bruising, it is a bland pale white. This image is featured on […]

Wild Grass

Photography and cinema, Siegfried Kracauer observed, have a special power to portray happenstance.  Often films, trying to use this power, spoil the effect with a certain portentousness: see Crash or the execrable 13 Conversations About One Thing. People encounter one another haphazardly, but random luck sends them in directions already meticulously charted: Initial conflict! Reluctant […]

Love Ranch Review

How many times have we seen this picture of the modern American West: kitschy, raunchy cities naïvely clinging on the edge of enormous, bare landscapes?  The backdrop of Taylor Hackford’s Love Ranch is not unique in the movies; Nevada and California’s mountains and canyons, juxtaposed with a protagonist’s capitalist hubris, make for an instantly recognizable […]