Archive for the 10/10 Category

Along the Great Divide (Walsh, 1951)

Posted in 10/10, 1950s, American Classic Western on July 3, 2013 by chrisfilm

Along the Great Divide (Raoul Walsh, 1951)

“Down in the valley, the valley so low; Hang your head over, hear the wind blow; Hear the wind blow, dear, hear the wind blow; Hang your head over, hear the wind blow.”  These hypnotic lyrics soak the background, accompanied by chirping crickets, the clomping of horse feet, and the awkward tension of a traveling party wondering if or when the torture will end. The song, a trigger for past regrets by the US Marshall leading the travels, is sung by his prisoner, a man the Marshall  rescued from a mob only hours before, as a slow and sly attempt to gain his freedom. Slow and sly are good descriptions of this film – one dripping in gorgeous cinematography, each shot allowed to consume as much time as needed to create proper atmosphere. A film so methodical in peeling layers from its characters and smoothly using those to naturally connect and disconnect each, that moral assessments quickly become frivolous. Everything weaves together marvelously as the group puts land behind them on their meditative journey. This is my favorite kind of western and a fine example of the beauty of the genre.  9.5/10

along the great divide

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Best of… Series – 1930 – City Girl

Posted in 10/10, 1930s, Best of... Series on April 18, 2013 by chrisfilm

As a way to mix some of my old reviews in with my new reviews, I’m doing a Best of… Series. In this series, I will review my favorite movie of each year.

City Girl (F.W. Murnau, 1930)

In honor of my recent purchase of this film on blu ray, I’ve decided I need to review one of my favorite silent films that just missed being on the blog after initial view. This is a great movie. Really, the only thing that didn’t work for me here is the extremely fast start of the main characters’ relationship. Actually, the development worked for me, but the quick marriage was a bit too much of a plot device. (A simple intertitle stating ‘3 months later’, and a slight plot modification could have solved this.) Regardless, though, this might be the best newlywed movie I’ve seen.

city girl2

Despite the hard contrast of upbringings, Murnau does a great job avoiding stereotypes; she’s from the city but is basically a bumpkin, and he never leaves the farm but feels comfortable in a crowd. And as the new man and wife retreat to his family’s farm, the camera sweeps across a field of wheat as the two run playfully together, he clumsily grabbing her into his arms as the sight of endless stretches of land and sky reach infinitely behind them – a beautiful rural setting for a love story. And despite those polar opposite backgrounds, the personality nuances portrayed by Charles Farrell and Mary Duncan and the naturalness of their connection create the sense that these two are in the same ‘place’ in life. It isn’t long, though, before conflict ensues within his family and their acceptance of his marriage. So while love is definitely the central theme, the fear, heartache, humility, and sheltering that sometimes accompany love are honestly presented as well, and an important part of what makes this film so special. A fantastic drama with just the right level of relational complexities.  9.75/10

city girl

Best of… Series – 2003 – All the Real Girls

Posted in 10/10, 2000s, Best of... Series on February 6, 2013 by chrisfilm

As a way to mix some of my old reviews in with my new reviews, I’m doing a Best of… Series. In this series, I will review my favorite movie of each year.

This review contains slight spoilers.

All the Real Girls (David Gordon Green, 2003)

Heartbreaking. Early David Gordon Green is a perfect representation of real life. Characters stutter, stop in mid-sentence, and say very strange things at times. I found myself recognizing some of the actions in this movie as some of my own. The film begins as a flirtatious romance is budding. The cute whispers of nothingness, shy but curious glances towards one another, and the feeling that happiness is the only emotion you’ll ever experience again. I’m not sure if new love has ever been as accurately portrayed, or as beautifully photographed and acted.

all the real girls

Then, the turning point came and I felt my world shatter along side them. Confusion, anger, sadness, confusion, confusion, and more confusion. Seriously, the ‘why’ aspect of the events that turn this film upside down are a mystery to everyone, even the perpetrator. It’s such an honest, frustrating, but somehow still poetic look at teenage years. It’s easy to be swept away and get your personal emotions tangled with those of the characters, and despite the pain, isn’t that when you know a film is on another level?  10/10

Best of… Series – 1972 – A Well Spent Life

Posted in 10/10, 1970s, Best of... Series on October 9, 2012 by chrisfilm

A Well Spent Life (Les Blank, 1972)

Tidbits of wisdom on life, love, marriage, and God from Mance Lipscomb, all set to the man’s wonderful folksy blues guitar and chillingly passionate singing voice. While the camera lingers on a weathered face, a man speaks on his 70+ years of life experience in a soft, calm, and slightly garbled tone. Every word he speaks drips with conviction as the camera cuts to sunsets, open fields, children playing, adults dancing, food frying, and many other sights of rural Texas. His insights are mixed with his music, both an equal representation of who this man is and how he views the world. When he speaks of love and God, he speaks fairly and accurately, of grace and community, and you can tell throughout that he’s completely fulfilled right where he is in life. A beautiful portrait of a man both in his words and his surroundings. Once again, a film centering on rural life has swept me away.  9.75/10

Best of… Series – 1978 – Days of Heaven

Posted in 10/10, 1970s, Best of... Series on September 6, 2012 by chrisfilm

As a way to mix some of my old reviews in with my new reviews, I’m doing a Best of… Series. In this series, I will review my favorite movie of each year.

Days of Heaven (Terrence Malick, 1978)

Days of Heaven is the earliest (non-silent) exercise in truly sublime cinema I’ve seen. Malick’s creation is so beautiful, it’s like watching the sun set for 90 minutes straight – literally. Shot almost entirely during the ‘magic hour’, the yellows and oranges of the sunset-soaked land combined with the dark blues and blacks of dusk give the farmland setting (which is beautiful in and of itself) even fuller texture. Consequently, when you add the narrative voiceover and the soft, scarce, and subtle dialogue, the film’s tone is fascinatingly ethereal.

 

Another of my other favorite aspects of this film is its religious symbolism. The protagonist’s story is very similar to the Old Testament story of Abram and Sarai’s trip to Egypt. In each story, the man asks his female partner to pose as his sister which leads an innocent outsider to have eyes for this woman without knowledge of the truth. In both cases it leads to plague and destruction. While the film’s protagonist is not presented as a man of God, there’s no doubt his inability to trust is the cause of much pain, and in this way he is no different than Abram. Malick does a great job bringing this story to life in a way that feels both biblically rich and modernly relatable.  10/10

Best of… Series – 1947 – Deep Valley

Posted in 10/10, 1940s, Best of... Series on August 22, 2012 by chrisfilm

Deep Valley (Jean Negulesco, 1947)

The sun drenches a farmhouse, the woods and its wildlife, hills overlooking the Pacific, and two foolish lovers running away yet going in circles. Ida Lupino gives one of the best performances I’ve seen from the time period, playing a girl wounded by her parents’ hate for one another who finds comfort in the love of an escaped prisoner. Each one of their backdrops (outside of a scene during a nighttime storm – a beautiful scene in its own right) is warmed by the sunlight, whether it be engulfing the big open countrysides, or peeking through the leaves and branches of the tree covered areas.

The cinematography’s warmth and precision act as an interesting contrast to the young lovers and their situations. What starts as a clear and precise plan (the couple running away from cold situations) quickly veers in other directions, mostly as a result of the characters’ honest ignorance; they just don’t know how to cut loose and make things different. What results is an extremely flawed yet charming relationship and some very intriguing turns in circumstance. There’s a lot of sadness at times accompanied by hope, and Negulesco does a wonderful job presenting it.  9.5/10

Best of… Series – 1984 – Paris, Texas

Posted in 10/10, 1980s, Best of... Series on August 1, 2012 by chrisfilm

As a way to mix some of my old reviews in with my new reviews, I’m doing a Best of… Series. In this series, I will review my favorite movie of each year.

Paris, Texas (Wim Wenders, 1984)

What a fantastic movie! Paris, Texas is perfection in regards to tone and mood, and how to convey each. Everything we see is important yet peaceful – heartbreaking yet calm. It’s quietly effective, matched perfectly by its script and color schemes. Seriously, the Texas landscape contrasted with the California cities was a delightful aesthetic combination, especially with the way Wenders pulls the vibrancy out of both.

This melting pot of beauty made it feel as if I was right there with the characters, experiencing their experiences, and feeling their feelings. As we learn more and more about the mysterious protagonist’s past and flaws, despite his quiet nature, we can sense his longing for a missing piece in his life – very obviously presented to us as being his wife. And when he tracks her down, what follows is perhaps the greatest scene in cinema history. (Yes, this is a bold claim, but I stand by it.) Harry Dean Stanton’s calm and honest words combined with Nastassja Kinski’s sad and lonely exterior contain a flood of startling emotion. A downward spiral has never been so bluntly exposed with such tragic evidence so undeniable. There’s a lot of heartbreak, but enough redemption to slightly ease the pain. Even the most unemotional of viewers might find tears in their eyes.  10/10