Lost in the Movies: THE ARCHIVE: 2008


Starting the blog • new releases from 2007/2008silent cinema The Dark Knight • D.W. Griffith AUTEURS series • Holy Grail/"dirty dozen" memes • Iraq War documentariesfirst response to Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me Twin Peaks episode guide • David Lynch film reviews • Hooray for (Hating) Hollywood • Hollywood classics • The Election Series • Quick One capsule reviews • Astaire & Rogers dance collection

Chapter 1: Look Ma, I'm blogging! (July - October 2008)

I kicked off with a dual review that spanned 110 years of cinema, with “handcrafted” films as the subjects on both ends. A good place to start!

Bob Dylans abound in Todd Haynes' multiverse

Contrasting Andrew Dominick and Terence Malick under Western skies

Monster movie classic proves a fascinating disappointment

Talking Heads videotape - building cozy homes in the wasteland

Reviewing my first new release - the big film of that summer

Viewing Hayao Miyazaki's masterpiece for the first time

One of my favorite early reviews - a cartoon cult classic considered in the wake of its author's death

A pleasant surprise to be found in this quiet world

Launching my first series, meant to cover numerous directors (I only finished one)

Reviewing a collection of early silent shorts, tracking the development of Griffith's technique

Sofia Coppola expressing her vision through various filters

Yasujiro Ozu brilliantly captures kids at play with such dynamic energy that I always remember the film as a talkie

Cruelty without honesty - an acclaimed film I didn't care for on first view

Review of an iconic Robert Bresson film - but also the first (very casual, very offhand) mention of Twin Peaks on the site


Wintry, evocative mystery...plus my reflection on how cinema changed between '98 and '99

Six double features I dreamed up: this was the first post that attracted any real attention and it felt like I was officially joining the movie blogosphere

Examining Erich von Stroheim through a documentary and one of his own films

Pixar's beloved superhero comedy has a surprisingly conservative worldview

Griffith's shorts grow more ambitious as he itches to make an epic feature

I found this documentary's critique muddled in a way distinctly of this era

Unpacking the inherent aesthetic issues with turning cinema into a wing of the comic book world (and to think, this was almost entirely pre-MCU)

Marveling at Wong Kar Wai's sequel to In the Mood for Love for the first time

And then there was Twin Peaks. I wrote this brief entry the night I finished David Lynch's series for the very first time

Reviewing Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me immediately after first viewing, I was deeply shaken, with many conflicting reactions to sort through

If I was shocked by Fire Walk With Me, I may have been even more shocked when I discovered how it was received. I'd never seen a greater gap between a work of art and its reaction, and still haven't.

After a three-day Twin Peaks-writing bender, back to another familiar topic (though I'd return to Peaks again before long)

One of several Iraq War documentaries I viewed around this time, this one with a focus on the grunt's-eye-view

The narrative facility and racist ideology of The Birth of a Nation are often treated as distinct phenomena - on this screening, I felt they may be more deeply connected

After watching the Gold Box special features, I returned with a Twin Peaks announcement

Comparing The Dark Knight and The Birth of a Nation - Hollywood has long had a thing for masked vigilantes

A $1 DVD that began life as a TV pilot, bizarrely mixing Nixonian early seventies Dirty Harry with Carteresque late seventies Waltons

Revisiting Blue Velvet in the wake of discovering Twin Peaks

Robert Flaherty's portrait is perhaps as much a home movie as a documentary

A tribute to the critic Manny Farber

Kicking off my Twin Peaks episode guide with a review of the pilot

The first time I launched a "meme" (it meant something else back then): twelve hard-to-see films, cinematic holy grails

Cutting across four different historical periods for Griffith's ambitious follow-up to The Birth of a Nation

Settling into the weekly TV environment with episode 1 (first after the pilot)

Maybe my favorite Buster Keaton, a visually rich experience with amazing stunts and gags

One of the most delightful films about film launches my Hooray for (Hating) Hollywood series, which guides us from the wry bemusement of Singin’ in the Rain to the icy cynicism of Sunset Boulevard

The characters seem to be writing this meta stoner comedy themselves

Collecting all the blogs that responded to my "12 hard-to-see films that you want to see" question

Reviewing the Eclipse set from the Japanese master, who was still working without sound (along with the rest of his industry) in the early thirties

Hooray for (Hating) Hollywood continues as the industry offers its own take on the director, star, writer, and especially producer

Reviewing the iconic episode 2 - brie and butter baguettes, Tibetan rock-throwing, and of course the Red Room

Griffith's return to a smaller scale after epic works

Highlighting work from August 2008


Watching this David Lynch film for the first time, I grappled with the slippage between blurry overlapping realities

Comparing two British counterculture films from the late seventies, a couple years apart yet suggesting different if overlapping cultural moments and musical movements

German Expressionism at its most German Expressionist

Detailed review of the USSR's massive Tolstoy adaptation, shortly after finishing the book and seeing the film on the big screen

The town gathers for Laura Palmer's funeral in episode 3

Episode 4 is very underrated in my opinion (I think it's better than Tim Hunter's more high-profile follow-up)

Hooray for (Hating) Hollywood takes a tragic view of the star system with Judy Garland and James Mason

My first viewing of Lynch's final feature to date left me bewildered but intrigued

Fascinating social portrait of early America via gothic melodrama with Vincent Price and Gene Tierney

Buster Keaton gets nautical

An on-the-spot documentary captures a fire crew on September 11, 2001

The Powell and Pressburger team look back at the big war just a few years later with their study of an alcoholic bomb technician

A Brooklyn Yankee in the Romanov court

The angst of the screenwriter in my Hooray for (Hating) Hollywood series - Bogie as an iconic Nick Ray antihero

Visiting the Log Lady and exploring the woods in episode 5 (I'm much more taken with the episode now than I was at the time)

Veronica Lake sizzles as she wreaks vengeance on an old Puritan family

Abe Polonsky's social critique as gangster film

Ginger Rogers and Kate Hepburn as backstage rivals

The trouble-in-suburbia film that feels like an ancestor to both Fire Walk With Me and the Breaking Bad pilot

A minor film in their collaboration, but this was my gateway to the Astaire-Rogers kingdom

Iconic Udo and naturalistic New York meet in postwar noir

Long before Jacques Renault, there was Jefty

Jarringly simple Griffith early in the post-World War I era

Another episode I undersold at the time; now episode 6 might be my favorite non-Lynch of the whole series

List of all the movies selected by various bloggers for my "Holy Grail" meme

Mild movie with Penelope Cruz as the highlight

The Hooray for (Hating) Hollywood series grows even more tragic with the tale of a star told from several different perspectives

Tribute to Paul Newman after he passed away (and yes, the title works as a Seinfeld joke but I think that was coincidental)

The story of how seven-year-old me was fooled into believing in a Universal horror film about a motorcycle-riding monster who killed mice

My first attempt to suss out Mark Frost's perspective within Twin Peaks, reviewing the season 1 finale

Highlights from September 2008


Paul Newman, David Mamet, and Sidney Lumet craft an iconic Boston drama

Alfred Hitchcock really starts to become an American filmmaker with this cross-country journey

Clarity allows for ambiguity in sharp black and white western

I respond to a random movie quiz

Audrey and Fred (and especially Stan) remind us how modern and cutting-edge the fifties Hollywood looks in comparison to the thirties golden age

In which the New Wave spirit is applied to a literary classic

My Hooray for (Hating) Hollywood series ends where it must, at the decaying mansion on Sunset Boulevard...

Following my review of the Soviet adaptation, here's the Hollywood version of War and Peace (and how it differs)

At the time, I didn't care for the Coens' follow-up to No Country for Old Men

A B-movie for the nineties, with a Jon Voight performance that might be father's favorite (as well as Voight's own favorite)

Picking my own Best Picture year by year (a much-revised/expanded version of this exercise would go up five years later)

Stunning design and Fairbanks' acrobatics mark silent adventure

The coming-of-age basketball documentary would be my last review for a month that wasn't part of a larger series

Griffith sets his 1920 hit in backwoods Maine to focus on daring ice floe stunts and close-ups of Lillian Gish

Griffith meets the guillotine in French Revolution tale

Chapter 2: Engaging with the Election (October - November 2008)
Read about this chapter

Announcing an election series to cover both the issues and the drama of politics

Starting with the freshest film - Oliver Stone's rushed take on the sitting president, just released in theaters

Pairing two documentaries: the dawn and twilight of the Kennedy era, with the first anticipating an aesthetic revolution while the second sounds one last cry for the newsreel style

The game overtakes ideals for Robert Redford's underdog Democrat

Frank Capra's morality play was surprisingly more clear-eyed, even hard-edged, than I remembered

For my hundredth post, a lo-fi doc about a grassroots candidate

A very Aaron Sorkin-esque (for better or worse) political intrigue from an already distant 2000, frequently trying to have it both ways

The radical sixties group became weirdly relevant again in the '08 campaign, providing an opportunity to re-visit a favorite documentary

Barry Goldwater was often cited admiringly by liberal commentators in the zeroes, but even back then the reverence seemed iffy

A probably too harsh take on Michael Moore's blockbuster documentary (some criticisms might remain, but I wasn't appreciative enough at the time of the value of agitprop)

Exploring the 2004 election by focusing on Ohio

Spike Lee's sprawling Katrina documentary

I was impressed with Michael Moore's Fahrenheit follow-up, diagnosing the health-care industry

A very recent documentary on debt (credit card, national, and otherwise) felt extremely prescient in October 2008

Descriptive but not particularly prescriptive doc emphasizes doom over solutions

Environmentalism gets a chic sheen in this Gore/Guggenheim collaboration

The international section of my election series begins with a documentary about Darfur

I was rightly dismissive of this National Geographic program's sensationalism, but in retrospect I should have been much more skeptical of its overall outlook too

I was much more on point criticizing this saber-rattling doc, given its clash with more sober assessments of U.S./Iran relations that I'd seen

Frontline covers Afghanistan when it was still known as "the good war"


A series of Frontline specials on the War on Terror

America's use of torture, examined broadly and through one specific case

The disaster of the Iraq occupation, criticized by a director who supported the invasion and seems fairly sympathetic to the State Department

The strongest film about Iraq at the time, offering an impressionistic view of three distinct Iraqi experiences

As Election Day approached, I covered the Obama and McCain campaigns through a recent Frontline special

Surveying my entire election series (followed by comments written just after Obama clinched the win)

Chapter 3: Tying Up Loose Ends (November - December 2008)
Read about this chapter

With the election over, I returned to classic film reviews, starting with the eerie way that (forced) form echoes content in Orson Welles' mutilated masterpiece

Disney's unexpected aesthetic weirdness (and its more expected ideological bent) animate an early cartoon classic

Griffith attempts a Birth of a Nation approach to the American Revolution

On my first re-visit, I was surprised to discover I didn't really like the season 2 premiere anymore (since then, I've seesawed - usually ranking it below other Lynch but above other Peaks)

Jimmy Stewart and his math genius son live on a houseboat where the boy builds a mid-sixties computer and is rewarded with a trip to meet his idol, Brigitte Bardot playing herself (not making this up, I swear)

Oscars for each letter of the alphabet

The silent Ben-Hur, with some surprising differences from the '59 version I grew up with

Stanley Kubrick shines in early outing (a film I'd cover several times on the site, usually in conjunction with The Asphalt Jungle)

Avery's ultra-modern riffs on the classic fairy tales: A Bear's Tale updates Goldilocks, Red Hot Riding Hood modernizes Little Red Riding Hood, and Wolf Blitz puts Three Little Pigs on a World War II footing

Despite misgivings about the previous episode, I was totally on board again for episode 9, captured by its unique, almost understated charms (though there's still a surprising number of big moments)

My first Anthony Mann western

Roger Corman's LSD trip spurred some musings on the unique nature of the sixties zeitgeist

Scattershot thoughts on a James Bond movie

We finally meet the mysterious Harold in episode 10

Messy writer's room and ambitious young director make for uneven episode 11 with some very sharp visual moments

D.W. & W.C. team up for a silent comedy/melodrama

Griffith embraces a modern vibe with his Roaring Twenties tale

Underrated episode 12 closes with a dual climax at One Eyed Jack's and Harold's home

Lesli Linka Glatter's best episode, the best non-Lynch of season 2, episode 13 has a ton of great character moments and offers Al Strobel a juicy steak of a scene to bite into

Griffith attempts to create the anti-Birth of a Nation (or as close as he could come to that) with his first talkie

And then...the killer's reveal.

Two Harold Lloyd comedies reveal the angle he takes to distinguish himself from Chaplin and Keaton (as well as what they have in common)

Buster Keaton builds to one of his craziest climaxes

With a jarring return to form after Lynch's penultimate episode, episode 15 experiments with showing the killer's point of view more than the detective's

Mixed feelings about how the Laura Palmer mystery concludes in episode 16

Raw, virtually forgotten Griffith talkie - his last movie - took me by surprise

Highlights from November 2008


A simple YouTube clip - maybe my favorite sequence of all time

In-depth biography of a slimy political operative

Another clip - when I stumbled across this one while channel-surfing at the turn of the millennium I had absolutely no context for what I was seeing

A young Sergei Eisenstein's breakthrough feature

Skipping most of the post-mystery episodes to cover the season 2 finale

This seventies political thriller packs a dozen different movies into one

Francis Ford Coppola's spare, paranoid follow-up to The Godfather

Tony Scott's thriller tips its hat to the seventies but has a very nineties cast and a very zeroes story

My illustrated picks for a favorite actresses meme making the rounds at the time

Gus Van Sant's biopic of the gay rights trailblazer

A collection stuffed with Disney's World War II propaganda cartoons

Concluding the Griffith series

Newsweek collected many perspectives on "the ways artists responded to the Bush era" and I found most of it pretty risible. This was my response.

I wasn't crazy about this Baz Luhrman epic

Fascinating peek at life on a John Huston set

How the eighties see the sixties (a topic I returned to several times)

Hollywood - or at least a few within it - take on the Nazis as they roll across Europe

I'd heard a bit about this film (mostly for Grace Kelly's role) but was unprepared for how amazing Bing Crosby is

"Horror/musical/comedy" only begins to scratch the surface

They cast the kid from E.T. in perhaps the most terrifying alien encounter in cinema history (albeit not as the abductee himself)

Two fifties films (or, in different ways, forties/fifties/sixties films) examined side by side

Every Astaire-Rogers dance sequence, for study and enjoyment

Highlights of December 2008

Finishing off 2008 with a full round-up of highlights - and favorite pieces by other bloggers

(I covered this year on Episodes 1, 2, and 3 of my Patreon podcast)

Go to 2009

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