Posts Tagged ‘Woody Allen’

In Memory of Gordon Willis (1931-2014)

Well, this is sad news. With film stock itself knocking on death’s door, a true master of the art of cinematography has now died. Gordon Willis was 82.

I can’t say anything about his astounding career that hasn’t already been said. I’m just a melancholy fan, even though he hadn’t worked on a film in 17 years. When he was working, it was almost always with directors of the highest caliber. Great directors know how to pick the best cinematographers, which is why Willis’ name is attached to so many classics. Francis Ford Coppola and Woody Allen, men whose movies helped define 1970s film, looked to Read more…


My 10 Favorite Films of 2013

February 24, 2014 3 comments
image via

12 Years a Slave image via

Well, my goal to create a list of my favorite films of 2013 BEFORE the Oscar telecast on March 5th has finally been met. Many are touting ’13 as one of the more memorable years for film in recent memory, and I’d have to agree. As soon as the fall/winter awards season arrived, it seemed as if one interesting film after another was out every weekend. That’s the way it should be — it’s not called “awards season” for nothing — but 2013 was extra impressive.

Auteurs really made their mark. Directors like Scorsese, Allen, Jonze, Greengrass and Payne showed off why they’re so highly regarded as artists. It was a great year of some career-best performances from people like Cate Blanchett, Hugh Jackman, Matthew McConaughey and Michael Read more…

My 10 Favorite Screenplays from the WGA’s List of the 101 Greatest

February 27, 2013 2 comments

Lists may be arbitrary, but they’re also a lot of fun. They’re also quite difficult to form for anyone who has a real passion (e.g. movies) and the listing process turns into an arduous affair consisting of many drafts.

For the past eight years, the Writer’s Guild of America has been collecting top 10 lists from its members in order to compile the 101 Greatest Screenplays. It’s one of the more enjoyable lists I’ve read because my favorite films are typically ones which I think are expertly written, which is why I’m generally bored by comic book films and anything that Michael Bay puts out with Shia LaWhateverHisNameIs. A well written film should not only be great to watch but great to just listen to as well. For instance, I’d love listening to Manhattan on my iPod, but Independence Day would be insufferable on my car stereo while driving cross country.

Many of the screenplays on the WGA’s list are utterly brilliant and I don’t take issue Read more…

Films to Fight Off the Post-Thanksgiving Dinner Fatigue

November 19, 2012 Leave a comment

Thanksgiving is a pretty great holiday. You don’t have to buy gifts or send cards and there are no awkward Thanksgiving office parties. The food is always good– even if you don’t like turkey there’s probably ham or pie or something– and there’s typically a hearty supply of alcohol for those who choose to imbibe.

Christmas brings the hassle of dead trees, crowded airports, mall Santas, and annoying do-gooders (there are Thanksgiving do-gooders as well, but they get far more aggressive at Christmas time). There are, however, quintessential Christmas films that are so ingrained in our popular culture that we don’t even have to think about watching them because they’re always on TV: It’s a Wonderful LifeA Christmas StoryNational Lampoon’s Christmas VacationA Miracle on 34th Street, etc. Thanksgiving-set films are bountiful (sorry), but there aren’t Read more…

Ellen DeGeneres Isn’t Even the Funniest Talk Show Host– Why is She Getting the Mark Twain Prize?

May 15, 2012 5 comments

Mark Twain

You don’t have to look too hard to find an awards ceremony or a designation that reveals itself to be insincere or undistinguished. The Oscars, more often than not, honor the wrong film (no, it’s not always subjective), the Grammys have been a joke for as long as I can remember, and even awards with supposedly more cache, like the Nobel or Pulitzer, are tainted with political ambition and bias. Recently, an announcement came out revealing that Ellen DeGeneres will be the recipient of the Kennedy Center’s 2012 Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. That’s right, a daytime talk show host who has an uncanny knack for convincing her guests to dance will receive an award that’s designated for contributions to American humor. What’s the deal, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts? Rosie didn’t shoot enough Koosh balls at her audience to make you giggle? Well, maybe that hacky loudmouth will have a shot at the Twain award next year.

Now, the first Twain Prize was awarded in 1998 to a very worthy honoree named Richard Pryor. Not all of the award recipients have been standup comics, but many of them are/were, Ellen included. Pryor is considered by many to be the standup who all other standups aspire to be. He’s king, and everyone else is just competing for second place. Not everyone agrees and some people are put off by Pryor’s vulgarity. I don’t really understand these people, but fair enough. The point is, however, that the majority of people who know about and love comedy recognize that Pryor is as important to American humor as Mark Twain. The same goes for other recipients such as Bob Newhart, George Carlin, and Bill Cosby. These are names synonymous with comedic greatness. I have listened to countless hours of comedians talking about which humorists Read more…

My (unnecessary) Disgust with the Oscars

January 26, 2012 2 comments

Well, I mentioned in previous posts (here and here) how much I loved the performances this year of Michael Fassbender in Shame and Tilda Swinton in We Need to Talk About Kevin. About the thespians, I said, “It’s a good thing these two aren’t competing with one another for awards because I would be at a loss when choosing a favorite.” Thanks to the oh-so-wise-and-cutting-edge  jackasses at the Academy, I’m in no danger of choosing my favorite actor or actress this year.

I hate to say it, but I was fuming when I read the Oscar nominees that were announced on Tuesday morning. I know it’s silly to be so incensed over something so trivial and vain, but I feel like I am the Academy Awards demographic– I love movies! I love the art Read more…

My 10 Favorite Films of 2011, Plus a Special Guest’s Top 10!

January 24, 2012 4 comments

Program from my screening of 'Shame' at LACMA

Well, the day you’ve all been waiting for has arrived. It took some time and I had to make some tough (not really) decisions, but I’ve finally settled on my ten favorite movies of 2011. Not until I actually sat down to compile the list did I realize how many movies this year impressed me…

A year is a long time, and it was fun to go back through and reminisce about all of the movies I saw. Oftentimes I didn’t even realize that a particular film had been released last year. It’s not like I empathized with Sophie and her choice (drama queen), but I really did have to leave off some excellent movies– which is good! No one wants to dig for films just to salvage a shoddy top ten list.

As an additional treat, my podcast co-host, Devin Marble, sent me his Read more…