Lost in the Movies: THE ARCHIVE: 2016

THE ARCHIVE: 2016


The Prisoner viewing diary concludes (including conversations) • the bulk & conclusion of The Favorites series • Fandor video essays continue (including The Passion of Anna K., The Colors of Daisies, and Meshes of Lynch) • teaser/intro for The Mirrors of Kane video series • Twin Peaks interviews: John Thorne, Scott RyanYouTube video series continue: "The 3 1/2 Minute Review" - "Side by Side" - "Cinepoem" - "Montage" • Twin Peaks podcasts including The Secret History (Obnoxious & Anonymous, Twin Peaks Unwrapped) plus podcasts on Evangelion & Star Wars • election/political commentary • Top of the Lake first season viewing diary

Chapter 24: Paris, Portmeirion, and Other Planets (December 2015 - April 2016)
Read about this chapter

JANUARY

Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable ensure termitic focus within the elephantine excess of one of Hollywood's most sumptuous productions

Re-publishing responses to many postwar Euro classics I was seeing for the first time in my early twenties

Number Six's greatest virtues - his intelligence and his stubbornness - work at cross-purposes in an escape attempt

Sergei Eisenstein's take on the historical epic (designed like a live-action cartoon) is at once resolutely theatrical and cinematic

My complicated feelings toward the third Star Wars prequel, boiled down into 210 seconds

An elaborate escape plan goes in...an interesting direction

"Get out of my way, Johnny, I'm gonna spit!" I love everything about this Hawks classic, even (maybe especially) the most blatant censor's intervention ever ("He's-a disgrace to my people!")

Questions about Lynch's six-week walkout from negotiations with Showtime the previous year, led by the Obnoxious and Anonymous podcast

As part of a longer collaborative series, we played around with footage from the epic experimental Out 1, creating and escalating an aesthetic dialogue

Six plus Six equals Twelve - which one is the double?

Assembling highlights of my forum posts and online comments from the summer the Twin Peaks blu-ray came out

The iconic power of the Great White and the engaging chemistry of the human characters, straddling cinema's different qualities as early Steven Spielberg often does

Comparing/contrasting a couple heist films, whose similarities only emphasize their divergent outlooks

Taking on the tech elite who want to control education, a half-century ahead of schedule

The cinematic evocation of a medieval aesthetic and atmosphere

Concluding a couple months of Rivette-focused work with a tribute on the occasion of his death




FEBRUARY

My appearance on No Ship Network's podcast to discuss my work, my interests, and (of course) Twin Peaks with hosts Em and Steve

Spying on dreams to find out the big secret

Excavating the traditions, troubles, and eccentricities of a farm town in Indiana

Collage of spoken word, translated text, distorted cinema, and abstracted photography convey a powerful Arthur Rimbaud poem

You can't go home again - or can you? (Love this episode)

An experience to get lost inside, both dense and sparse, close-quartered and wide-open

Looking back at my 2006 questions and reactions from almost a decade later...the last chance I'd get since IMDB wiped its message board archives a few months later

The plot against Number Two is more complicated than it initially seems

Together, these films reflect not only the growth of the protagonist but also of Satyajit Ray

Non-narrated montage arranging clips from Karina's seven Godard features to follow a close structure and tell a kind of story

Joining several other commentators on a podcast to mark the anniversary of Cooper's arrival in Twin Peaks

Now this I was not expecting at all - is there any genre The Prisoner doesn't dip into? (They even go so far as to re-imagine the opening montage!)

Highlighting the recently-marginalized Honorary Academy Awards with two montages - "Spike Lee: Four Strategies" and "Gena Rowlands: Getting Closer" - cut to Miles Davis and John Coltrane in a live version of "So What"

A globetrotting adventure/romance/mystery filtered through a single room and window, anchoring itself down to express multiplicity

MARCH

A Leap Day check-in on the progress of an ambitious visual tribute

This Prisoner episode avoids a high concept - rare but solid

"The world in an hour and a half" according to Godard...Robert Bresson's spare film manages to tease a sprawling, communal narrative

Creating a narrated trailer for the clip series I arranged nearly five years earlier, explaining its purpose and highlighting its chapters

An unexpected face in the mirror

Fusing Old Hollywood's larger-than-life storytelling with postwar slice-of-life realism

Screenshots of the slow-burn buildups and dramatic reveals in Steven Spielberg's first four big creature features (best viewed by slowly scrolling through desktop mode on a computer screen)

Six and Two play mind games

Giving over-the-top visual form to what it feels like to to pull off the big show after intense preparation

One director uses different approaches/formats to bring her closer to another (recently deceased) director

Both fantasy and sci-fi, a fable with a very unique aesthetic

One of the wackier episodes, hated by some, loved by others

A guest appearance on a podcast to address the dreaded mid-season 2

Stray reflections on Twin Peaks, some quite lengthy, from the summer of 2014 - including reasons why there would never be a new series!

My biggest year of videos, with lots of diverse activity on Fandor, my own YouTube series, and some more random entries along the way

Vera Chytilova and Annabella Lwin bounce across the color spectrum in a rapid one-minute montage

As the end approaches, The Prisoner dips into a quasi-experimental theater approach


APRIL

Is Barry a Jack Torrance-like loser, does he have more self-awareness, or is he in fact a noble soul despite the narrator's insistence?

Considering both the theatrical cut and the Redux: the first may be more iconic but does the second have more depth?

Shots from Deren's Meshes of the Afternoon rhyme with shots from Lynch's films in startling, uncanny fashion

A final round-up of Twin Peaks comments from 2014, leading up to the announcement of The Return

Who's Number One? I watch The Prisoner finale for the first time...

Clone Wars yields a cave of forgotten nightmares

Despite the broad scope of this documentary series, the "personal view" is key to its success

At the time this was my thousandth post (although later I beefed up the archive with a number of pieces originally written for other sites back in 2009-2010)

My viewing diary complete, I chat with the fan who chose its viewing order

My last Favorites entry for several months packs ten mini-films into one epochal epic, a view of the ten commandments in the last years of Communist Poland

After a very busy summer, fall, and winter - and over a year of steady activity on the site - I needed a breather (and an excuse to use the Rover pic)

Chapter 25: Finishing the Favorites (May - November 2016)
Read about this chapter

MAY

Citizen Kane at 75: a new video essay series
Just in time for the film's seventy-fifth anniversary, a teaser for my Mirrors of Kane video series (one chapter would follow, but the rest were put on the backburner for the near future...)

Mirrors of Kane: Citizen Kane video series, chapter 1: "Meeting Kane" (Introductions)
Kicking off the Kane series with a look at how people approach the film - and why it matters

JUNE

Twin Peaks 25 Years Later: interview w/ John Thorne, author of The Essential Wrapped in Plastic: Pathways to Twin Peaks
The creator of Wrapped in Plastic joins me for another conversation, this time to discuss his new book

JULY

Behind Closed Curtains: discussing the Twin Peaks finale w/ Twin Peaks Unwrapped
Reaching the season 2 finale on this podcast after a yearlong journey

Melodrama & minimalism: Au Hasard Balthazar & Pyaasa (video essay for Fandor Keyframe)
Swapping two very different soundscapes in an experimental video essay

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me: my conversation w/ Twin Peaks Unwrapped
Multiple guests take turns with various aspects of Fire Walk With Me for the Unwrapped podcast

The Prisoner: conversation w/ James Cooray Smith
Why "The Girl Who Was Death" is a great episode (and many other matters) - a great conversation with a big Prisoner fan


AUGUST

Sci Fi Countdown - discussing Neon Genesis Evanglion on Bob Clark's new podcast, "CinemaVille"
Bringing our discussion from print to audio, I join Bob's podcast to take a sweeping overview of the whole Evangelion series

Sci Fi Countdown - The End of Evangelion (CinemaVille discussion w/ Bob Clark for Wonders in the Dark)
Switching places, I guest-host the podcast for an episode

Voyage to Twin Peaks: an interview w/ filmmaker Scott Ryan
Talking to the director of a documentary about the Twin Peaks Festival (and finding how how he ranks Twin Peaks episodes)

Allan Fish (1973 - 2016), the lights dim over Wonders in the Dark
Paying tribute to the great Allan Fish, whose work - and the community that sprung up around it - dominated so much of my online activity

SEPTEMBER

The Favorites - Annie Hall (#58)
Comedy as imaginative as it is funny (and the Marshall McLuhan cameo anticipates Twitter celebrity tag-ins by several decades)

The Favorites - Casablanca (#57)
Thirty, forty, even fifty years after release, the film's zeitgeist still seemed within reach - but does it still?

The Favorites - The Last of the Mohicans (#56)
Celebrating that eternally stirring climax with a 2016 review of a 1992 adaptation of a 1936 film based on an 1826 novel about a 1757 war

The Favorites - Historias Extraordinarias (#55)
This casual epic conveys a magic embedded in the every day, waiting to be discovered (in my case, on a Sunday morning at an obscure festival)

The Favorites - 2001: A Space Odyssey (#54)
A masterpiece (in its way, an anthology of loosely-linked sci-fi stories) whose very existence is as iconic and improbable as the monolith itself

The Favorites - L'Eclisse (#53)
If L'Avventura is haunted by a recent yet irretrievable past and La Notte captures the anxiety of a very present ennui, L'Eclisse - my favorite of Michelangelo Antonioni's trilogy - conveys the possibility of an open future

The Favorites - Mean Streets (#52)
Part crime genre, part art film; part Cassavetes, part Bertolucci; defined by both handheld grittiness and camera dollies, Martin Scorsese's very personal film is drawn from many cinematic traditions

The Favorites - Pinocchio (#51)
Geppeto's village, the intricate array of clocks and whirligigs in his shop (a tightly woven web of Silly Symphonies), the "Dark Disneyland" design of Pleasure Island...all depict Disney's talent for world-creation

The Favorites - A Walk Through H (#50)
Peter Greenaway's work is a dizzying tug of war between the left and right hemispheres of the brain, and this is a film that I could enjoy on mute OR with my eyes closed

The Favorites - Murder, My Sweet (#49)
Perfect evocation of noir's je ne sais quoi - thick with fog, wet streets, chiaroscuro, tightly packed deep frames, harsh lights hitting the lens, and a femme fatale embracing a detective as smoke curls in the air

The Favorites - Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (#48)
Forget the Bomb, *this* is Slim Pickens' finest moment

The Favorites - Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (#47)
The tragedy of a schoolgirl investigating her own trauma, considered in isolation from the larger mythology that spawned this film

The Favorites - The Big Lebowski (#46)
Hilarious and brilliantly constructed, what initially seemed like a minor film in the Coens' vast oeuvre has possibly become their most beloved

The Favorites - Chinatown (#45)
Reeling the viewer into its murky waters through sheer narrative grace and clear-eyed formal discipline

The Favorites - Out 1 (#44)
Is Out 1 a coded message concealing a fascinating secret? Or a puzzle that purposefully doesn't add up?

The Favorites - Rosemary's Baby (#43)
An American genre film glazed in the avant-garde

The Favorites - The Mother and the Whore (#42)
While the characters tumble around their little corner of the universe, the film mournfully suggests a larger, more transcendent reality just passed by, like a cloud drifting lazily but irrevocably toward the horizon

The Favorites - Through a Glass Darkly (#41)
Weaving the line between cold, weary apathy toward life and painful exposure to its strongest emotional eddies

The Favorites - Daisies (#40)
Not content to cut between frames, the film cuts within them, creating dazzling collages in perpetual motion

The Favorites - Hyperballad (#39)
A music video shot on a single roll of film, with each layer of imagery exposed over the same frames

The Favorites - Scarface (#38)
The blimp that proclaims "The World is Yours!" turns out to be the Hindenburg

OCTOBER

The Favorites - Snow White (#37)
Packs a hell of a punch at seven minutes and seven seconds - one for each dwarf

The Favorites - The Gold Rush (#36)
Though City Lights and Modern Times provide close competition, this may be Charlie Chaplin's most beloved film

The Favorites - The Man with the Movie Camera (#35)
"Dziga Vertov's 1929 film is the single work in the new [Sight & Sound] top ten that seems to understand that nervy mixture of interruption and unexpected association [of the online era]" - David Thomson in 2012

The Favorites - Band of Outsiders (#34)
"He wondered if the world is becoming a dream, or if the dream is becoming the world"

The Favorites - White Heat (#33)
Relocates the urban warfare of Prohibition thugs to the wilderness of the American West and shifts the sensibility from post-World War I fury to post-World War II introspection

The Favorites - Easy Rider (#32)
Snapshot of a zeitgeist seemingly at its peak but in retrospect already beginning to slide

The Favorites - Singin' in the Rain (#31)
Winking at the silliness of the whole charade while wrapping us up inside an examples of how effective that charade can be

The Favorites - Red Hot Riding Hood (#30)
Tex Avery is so in tune with the pace of cinematic perception that he knows we can understand the most ludicrous conceit in a matter of seconds if presented the right way

The Favorites - Goodfellas (#29)
Probably the earliest film on my list that I can remember being released in theaters although I was way too young to see it at the time - Home Alone was my Joe Pesci flick that year

The Favorites - Fists in the Pocket (#28)
Up in the villa overlooking the valley, as in an enchanted castle in a child's fable, an alienated young man decides to see what happens when he shakes the foundations of his frozen family's world

The Favorites - The Searchers (#27)
Embodying and subverting classical western forms, The Searchers draws on genre conventions that John Ford and John Wayne helped create while pointing toward the revisionist decades to come

The Favorites - The "Up" Series (#26)
A film project tracks a group of Brits from childhood to old age; each time I watch the series I can identify with a different chapter since I match up roughly with one of the installments every seven years

The Favorites - Mamma Roma (#25)
As in an earlier entry on this list, the standout scene involves slow death, overpowering music, and an achingly, even ominously still landscape

The Favorites - Young Mr. Lincoln (#24)
Caught between the common folk and the local elite, the family he's defending and the community opposing them, his own idealistic appeals to higher principles and his shrewd ability to employ emotional manipulation

The Favorites - My Night at Maud's (#23)
In addition to the cleverness of its overall shape and its fearlessness in articulating its concerns, this wintry classic is very much an exercise in atmosphere

The Favorites - The Virgin Spring (#22)
The film has plenty of empathy (which is not to say sympathy) to go around but its power is anchored in the subjectivity of the victim of violence, rather than identifying solely with her avenger

The Favorites - On the Waterfront (#21)
In many ways a small, focused film, whose looming presence in Hollywood history is owed to two factors - one positive, one definitely not

The Favorites - Mulholland Drive (#20)
Seemingly patterned along the lines of L.A. ensemble pieces like Short Cuts and Grand Canyon, David Lynch's most celebrated work owes its sprawling structure to another source - and goes in a very different direction

The Favorites - The Godfather (#19)
A work whose massive impact eventually shifted away from cinema (once #1, it's no longer even in the top 500 hits of all time) and toward cable drama

The Favorites - Nights of Cabiria (#18)
Naive expectations raised only to be crushed by the disillusioning indifference or hostility of those - individuals, institutions, and social forces - more powerful or deceitful than our heroine

The Favorites - Star Wars (#17)
Star Wars fuses the spirit of backyard play with careful craftsmanship and the result is unlike anything before or since, despite many imitations

The Favorites - Meshes of the Afternoon (#16)
The intriguing, unsettling sensation of getting lost in your own home

The Favorites - The Third Man (#15)
Very British in sensibility and attitude, as crisp and curt as Carol Reed and writer Graham Greene could manage, but the two most important characters are American and this may be the greatest noir (a very American form)

The Favorites - Taxi Driver (#14)
The outsider who finds his own path to confident power by deciding his role is to defend society from other outsiders

The Favorites - The Mirror (#13)
Experimental to its core, mixing documentary, found footage, home movie, fictional re-enactment, autobiographical narration, and pure painting-in-motion visual setpiece

The Favorites - Jammin' the Blues (#12)
A snapshot and a painting at the same time - and of course, the music is fantastic

The Favorites - Citizen Kane (#11)
Within moments of our grandiose introduction to this larger-than-life character, a rapid-fire newsreel exalts, mocks, glosses, and punctures Kane from all angles

The Favorites - It's a Wonderful Life (#10)
Bedford Falls is a fantastically impressive microcosm, a self-contained universe worthy of a decade-spanning soap opera, yet somehow contained within a single two-hour film - all as set-up for the famous final act

The Favorites - The Godfather Part II (#9)
Not to ignore the film's searing, if implicit, critique of capitalism, imperialism, and representative government, but the heart of this Godfather is still more psychological than sociological

The Favorites - The Passion of Joan of Arc (#8)
Something about Carl Theodor Dreyer's work connects on an electric level - however carefully the film was planned, it must have grown out of a core understanding rather than a cold-blooded blueprint

The Favorites - Gimme Shelter (#7)
This documentary about the Rolling Stones' catastrophic Altamont concert offers the distinct sensation, almost unparalleled in American film history, of capturing a particular period in the exact moment of its apex, collapse, and transition

NOVEMBER

The Favorites - Stille Nacht I-IV (#6)
There's an intense precision to these hallucinatory stop-motion nightmares, as nonsensical as they seem, creating the impression that what we see is incredibly significant...even if we can't quite determine why

The Favorites - The House is Black (#5)
Soon after its release, The House is Black became a memorial not just for the leper colony documented onscreen but for the woman whose imagination and intelligence illuminate the film - it is twenty-two minutes, her only movie, and a masterpiece

The Favorites - Day of Wrath (#4)
Perpetually unsettling us with its combination of dollies and pans, startling us with its harsh, vivid sound design, and wrapping us in a carefully-realized world of sin, dread, and suffocating custom

The Favorites - Vertigo (#3)
I distinctly remember, on first view, dreading that the film would end when its primary narrative seemed to conclude despite the lingering mystery. And then...it kept going.

The Favorites - Lawrence of Arabia (#2)
Lawrence of Arabia's greatness, cleverly constructed in the first part, is most fully realized in the uncertain, sprawling second part

The Favorites - Masculin Feminin (#1)
Not a present-day documentary, and these "children of Marx and Coca-Cola" are not millennials, but this zeitgeist felt very relevant as I wrapped my Favorites series with #1 in autumn 2016

Chapter 26: Awaiting the Good and Bad (November 2016 - January 2017)
Read about this chapter

Nat Turner & Charles Burnett: video essay on Nat Turner: A Troublesome Property
Burnett's multifaceted documentary explores various incarnations and interpretations of Turner

Election Day Status Update
On the morning of the presidential election, I reflected briefly on my political evolution even as my engagement with current events had mostly vanished from the site (or rather, migrated to Twitter)

11:30 pm to 3:30 am: The Unthinkable
Tweeting the night of Trump's election

Lost in Twin Peaks #1: discussing the Owl Cave ring w/ Twin Peaks Unwrapped
Analyzing one of the most mysterious objects of Fire Walk With Me for a new, recurring Twin Peaks podcast segment covering various topics

Lost in Twin Peaks #2: discussing the theme of incest w/ Twin Peaks Unwrapped
How Twin Peaks confronts incest in its characters' lives (and how this relates to real-life scenarios), explored in another podcast segment

Lost in Twin Peaks #3: discussing Mark Frost w/ Twin Peaks Unwrapped
The work of Frost on and off Twin Peaks, part of a special podcast episode on the show's co-creator

Sci-Fi Countdown - Star Wars (CinemaVille discussion w/ Bob Clark for Wonders in the Dark)
I join Bob for his final countdown podcast, for the film where it all began

Discussing The Secret History of Twin Peaks #1 (Obnoxious & Anonymous)
With the third season still on the horizon, I talk Mark Frost's novel along with a podcast host who didn't care for it...

Discussing The Secret History of Twin Peaks #2 (Twin Peaks Unwrapped)
...and then I join in with another podcast to dig into the question of whether the book's "mistakes" are intentional

Black/White: a video essay on Black Girl
A video study of how Ousmane Sembene used his film's design to express its political outlook

ODE TO BOSTON (video essay on Guy & Madeline on a Park Bench for Fandor Keyframe)
Clips from Damien Chazelle's low-budget musical form my tribute to a New England city

DECEMBER

Lost in Twin Peaks #4: speculating about season 3 w/ Twin Peaks Unwrapped
What might happen in season 3? I indulge in some guesswork with a podcast six months ahead of the premiere

December status update: where we've been, where we're going (+ my call to the Ben Dixon show)
Taking stock and sharing a political call-in as 2016 approaches its conclusion

Top of the Lake: a viewing diary
An introduction and directory for my first-time viewing of the Jane Campion mystery series

Top of the Lake season 1, episode 1 (Sundance version) - "Paradise Sold"
Barely a few minutes in, Top of the Lake quickly establishes the evocative landscape, whose unusual architecture, open space, and vague sense of melancholy recall The Sweet Hereafter

Top of the Lake season 1, episode 2 (Sundance version) - "Paradise Sold"/"Searchers Search"
What strikes me on my second visit to this bleak, dour town is just how funny it can be at surprising times

Top of the Lake season 1, episode 3 (Sundance version) - "Searchers Search"/"The Edge of the Universe"
Robin's fascination with the Tui videotape is one of Top of the Lake's clearest nods to Twin Peaks, placing her closer to the likes of Dale Cooper than the "True Detectives" but with an extra twist of identification

Top of the Lake season 1, episode 4 (Sundance version) - "The Edge of the Universe"/"A Rainbow Above Us"
The community is defined by the struggle between the powerful, maintaining a code of silence to preserve their power, and the victimized, keeping quiet to preserve something more valuable (and vulnerable) than power

Top of the Lake season 1, episode 5 (Sundance version) - "A Rainbow Above Us"/"The Dark Creator"
As the series moves toward its climax, here's an hour marked by death and discovery

Top of the Lake season 1, episode 6 (Sundance version) - "The Dark Creator"/"No Goodbye Thanks"
Characterized by sharp images, narrative twists and turns, and a growing sense of anxiety - something feels slightly off but the troubling storm on the horizon is moving too fast for us to escape

Top of the Lake season 1, episode 7 (Sundance version) - "No Goodbye Thanks"
The season finale provides an effective conclusion with at least one moment of brilliantly realized dread

(I covered this year on Episodes 23 and 24 of my Patreon podcast)

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