Last (Baker’s) Dozen Films I Saw

  • The Glenn Miller Story : Anthony Mann (1952)
  • Strike : Sergei Eisenstein (1925)
  • Alexander Nevsky : Sergei Eisenstein (1938)
  • Breathless : Jean Luc Godard  (1959)
  • The Parallax View : Alan J. Pakula (1974)
  • The Big Sleep : Howard Hawks (1946)
  • Peggy Guggenheim, Art Addict : Lisa Vreeland (2015)
  • Joy : David O. Russell (2015)
  • Love and Death : Woody Allen (1975)
  • Tubby Hayes, Man in a Hurry : Mark Baxter & Lee Cogswell (2o15)
  • Insomnia : Christopher Nolan (2002)
  • Spotlight : Tom McCarthy (2015)
  • The Miners’ Hymns : Bill Morrison (2011)

Briefly, Strike, Eisenstein’s first full-length movie, is astonishing from beginning to end; a jaw-dropping movie. So far from the birth of the nouvelle vague, the Godard, made, as someone pointed out, when he was in love with the United States, instead of hating them (a development many of us go through) now seems not a little archaic but charming. The Big Sleep is wonderful for its dialogue, for the scenes between Bogart & Bacall, and, perhaps almost most of all, for that delightful and sexy little scene in the bookshop between Bogart and Dorothy Malone. Joy mostly works, for me anyway, the first third especially – and any film that can have me weeping when it’s heroine finally succeeds in selling her self-designed mop on the shopping channel obviously knows what it’s doing.

Spotlight is a perfectly decent film on a still important subject, but finally too one-paced, and, despite Mark Ruffalo’s puppyish enthusiasm, too lacking in energy: ultimately it is carried by the strength of its subject matter rather than whatever might have made it more interestingly cinematic.

Bill Morrison’s documentary about the mining communities of Durham is beautifully evocative of times now past, cultures and communities that are being concreted over and consigned to memory. Visually glorious, it benefits enormously from a music score by the Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson.

 

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