PICKPOCKET

A while back my good friend Pablo Kjølseth — the master behind CU-Boulder’s International Film Series — asked me to guest write a post for TCM’s Movie Morlocks, now retitled Streamline in conjunction with FilmStruck. I chose to write about one of Robert Bresson’s best, Pickpocket. An excerpt: Above all things, cinema is a style. Movies are a glorious and exciting exploration of the human condition, but without style, the images simply hang to the screen, failing to be anything more than a light flickering on a blank canvas. That’s why those who crack the code are so lauded, and few have … Continue reading PICKPOCKET

LA STRADA

A while back my good friend Pablo Kjølseth — the master behind CU-Boulder’s International Film Series — asked me to guest write a post for TCM’s Movie Morlocks, now retitled Streamline in conjunction with FilmStruck. I chose to write about one of Federico Fellini’s best, La Strada. An excerpt: Fellini began his career as Roberto Rossellini’s assistant director and one-time actor (L’amore, 1948) while Rossellini was helping to develop Italian neorealism. But the kind of neorealism Fellini adopted was not the harshness of post-war existence — as depicted in Vittorio De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves and Umberto D. — but of a … Continue reading LA STRADA

THE GREAT MCGINTY

Preston Sturges worked on almost 20 screenplays before he figured out how to keep mediocre directors from mucking up his words and stories: direct the pictures himself. Lucky for him, Sturges scripts made bank and Paramount Pictures desperately wanted the next one. When Sturges offered it to them for $10 — with the caveat that he would direct — Paramount bit and The Great McGinty, a comedy about a hobo (Brian Donlevy) who becomes a successful political puppet for a corrupt boss (Akim Tamiroff) before growing a conscience, became Sturges’s debut as a filmmaker. Sturges would go on to become … Continue reading THE GREAT MCGINTY

20TH CENTURY WOMEN

A young man sees the world from a specific point of view. Though women may surround him — women who raise him, teach him, love him and confuse him — he will never be able to fully see the world through their eyes. He tries and comes closer than most, but, in the end, the young man will still be faced with the same question that plagued Sigmund Freud: What do women want? The year is 1979 and the young man in question is 15-year-old Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann). His mother, Dorothea (Annette Bening), is 55 and trying to raise … Continue reading 20TH CENTURY WOMEN

LIVE BY NIGHT

Adapted from the 2012 novel by Dennis Lehane, Live By Night is a great American epic wrapped inside a misguided movie. Written for the screen, produced and directed by Ben Affleck, who also stars, Live by Night starts overseas in the trenches of World War I, where Joe Coughlin (Affleck) makes up his mind to never again take orders from anyone. But it doesn’t take long for Coughlin, a two-bit Boston bank robber, to learn never-say-never and he finds himself working for Albert White (Robert Glenister), an Irish gangster he eventually betrays, and then Maso Pescatore (Remo Girone), the Italian … Continue reading LIVE BY NIGHT