Feb 17, 2014

January's Screening Log

Leila Hatami in Dariush Mehrjuyi's Leila

Stolen Kisses (Truffaut, 1968, B+) (review)
Though not quite as emotionally involving as its predecessor, Stolen Kisses reveals Truffaut's exemplary gift at creating laugh out comedy without compromising his wit or in-depth character study.

The 400 Blows (Truffaut, 1959, A+)
Truffaut's first film remains one of the greatest works of the French New Wave and quite possibly the greatest film ever made about what it means to be a boy. Perceptive, richly layered, emotionally smart and continually rewarding, with a stunner of a final shot.

The Runner (Naderi, 1985, B)
An incredibly moving story of perseverance in the face of adversity, and an illuminating, heavily symbolic study of a specific time and place in Iranian history. Frustrating for the repetition of certain narrative beats and a glacially paced second act.

Leila (Mehrjui, 1996, A)
Mehrjui at his most typically observational and sympathetic form. Leila shakes the foundations of Islamic traditions in modern Iran by turning our expectations of each character on its head. Featuring a stunning debut performance by the luminous Leila Hatami.

Salaam Cinema (Makhmalbaf, 1995, B+)
An exciting experiment with the possibilities of the medium and a cheeky 'Is it real, is it not?' mind game with the audience, but the film's academic formalism and Makhmalbaf's aggressive personality remain alienating after multiple screenings.

The Green Ray (Rohmer, 1986, A)
A keenly observed, impeccably detailed character study that feels entirely accidental, as if the whole experience was captured in passing. Despite clearly demarcated progressions, there is a dream-like quality to Delphine's world that makes it at once universally relateable and paradoxically ethereal.

Out of the Past (Tourneur, 1947, A-)
The art of noir nearly perfected. Unimprovable, atmospheric cinematography, a femme fatale to die for and a brooding, tormented performance from a peak form Robert Mitchum make Out of the Past one of the most satisfyingly complex and richly realized films of the genre.

Tom at the Farm (Dolan, 2013, C+) (review)
Not quite suffocated by stylistic assault, as Dolan is, thankfully, in more restrained form than in his previous films, but all the thrills are contained within individual scenes. The whole still suffers from paper thin characterizations and truncated emotional beats.

Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941, A)
Little can be said about Welles's seminal masterpiece that hasn't been heard before. Suffice it to say that more than seventy years later, Kane remains as riveting both as a progressive feat of storytelling and an outstanding technical achievement. 

The Selfish Giant (Barnard, 2013, B/B+)
Exuding superb control and building momentum in unexpected directions, Clio Barnard's film is at once delicate and ragged, and as incisive a study of the misty, broken atmosphere of Bradford as it is of its youths' characters.

The Crances Are Flying (Kalatozov, 1957, A+)
A gut-wrenching depiction of the ravages of war on individual and societal levels, and a heated romantic affair that shows love for what it is: "a harmless mental illness." Cranes is melodramatic but graceful, and operatic but intimate.

Rashomon (Kurosawa, 1950, A-) 
Deceptively simple and intimately shot with warm, dappled lights, this masterwork of non-linear storytelling hasn't lost a modicum of its magic and feels grander with every new screening for the influence it has left on multiple generations of filmmakers.

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