Lost in the Movies: THE ARCHIVE Chapter 25: Finishing the Favorites (May - November 2016)

THE ARCHIVE Chapter 25: Finishing the Favorites (May - November 2016)

During the slow summer of 2016, everything I published was either completed in the spring or a commitment/tribute to someone else (or both). Finally in the fall I resumed a busy pace, in this case exclusively focused on concluding my Favorites series by the fourth anniversary of its debut. Every day I published a new entry following the order I'd established a half-decade earlier; obviously preferences and perceptions shift with time, especially given my drift from intense cinephilia, but that was part of the pleasure in writing these fifty-eight reviews (almost all from memory rather than re-viewings).

Subjects, outside of the Favorites series yet in tune with its subjects and mission, include teasers for a Citizen Kane video series that would remain just a tease years later, an experimental switcheroo between Au Hasard Balthazar and Pyaasa, two podcasts each on my two favorites series/film combos, written interviews with Twin Peaks and Prisoner fans, and a sad farewell to Wonders in the Dark guru Allan Fish, the cinephile extraordinaire.

My highlight for this period is, appropriately enough, The Favorites - Masculin Feminin (#1), a longer-than-usual entry on a favorite that felt newly relevant with its portrait of a growing but frustrated youthful left against the backdrop of a national election.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

(I covered this period on Episode 24 of my Patreon podcast)

Next: Awaiting the Good and Bad (November 2016 - January 2017)
(in which I catch up with unreleased work in the wake of the election)

Previous: Paris, Portmeirion, and Other Planets (December 2015 - April 2016)

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