Category: Main Slate

August 17, 2010 / / Main Slate

Winchester ’73 – 1953 – dir. Anthony Mann

It has been said that this film has every western cliché in the repertoire: dance hall floozy who’s a good girl at heart, trusty sidekick, shooting contest with incredible demonstrations of marksmanship, heroic stand by the Calvary, noble but inevitably defeated Indians, climactic shootout for two… even Wyatt Earp. Yet, Casablanca-like, the film gets away with a bevy of stock situations and even stock characters because every performance is so strong. The subtleties of the most subsidiary characters come across in a believable and refreshing way.

August 17, 2010 / / Main Slate

There Will Be Blood – 2007 – dir. Paul Thomas Anderson

A film such as There Will Be Blood only comes around every decade or so.  It is a picture that transcends the contemporary (and often times, overemphasized) allusions to current issues, eventually revealing the true heroics of man.  Usually, films such as these relish in the battle of man with the world around him.  This time, Paul Thomas Anderson has taken a step back, graciously inviting his audience to participate in his fantastic allusion.  There Will be Blood is our modern American epic.  Already resonating with films such as Citizen Kane, the personal psychology has an intrinsic connection with today’s audience.  All corporate evil aside, this is film is about competition.  To go even farther, There Will Be Blood is an objective look at the driving force of ambition, and the right of man to climb to the top, however he may get there.  It all starts with Daniel Plainview.

August 12, 2010 / / Main Slate

The Man From Laramie – 1955 – dir. Anthony Mann

Prominent among the James Stewart films most often shown on television in the 1960s and ’70s were the five westerns that he made with director Anthony Mann. Despite this exposure, Mann, though something of a successor to John Ford in the genre of more psychologically complex westerns, is arguably not as well known today. Perhaps this is because he was considered more of a craftsman than an actor’s director, but in the western films Stewart made with him, the actor emerged as more understated, and showed audiences a whole new facet of his personality.

July 23, 2010 / / Main Slate

By Peggy Nelson

Grizzly Man – 2005 – dir. Werner Herzog

Grizzly Man (dir. Werner Herzog, 2005) is two documentaries in one: the first is video shot by Timothy Treadwell, the self-described bear-whisperer, of himself in the Alaskan wilderness; and the second is edited and narrated by director Werner Herzog, about Treadwell’s controversial life and death. Herzog weaves these two voices together, the naive enthusiast and the experienced adventurer, while the conflict between man and nature plays itself out to its tragic end.

July 9, 2010 / / Main Slate
July 9, 2010 / / Main Slate
June 7, 2010 / / Main Slate

By William Benker

Lady From Shanghai – 1947 – dir. Orson Welles

Orson Welles’ Lady From Shanghai bridges the cinematic landscape from drama to adventure and mystery.  Led by its director (and protagonist) himself, alongside heroine Rosalie Bannister (Rita Hayworth), each character reveals layer after layer of insecurities, deception and greed throughout the story.  However, the fascination lies within the depth that Welles is able to explore.  Both tough guy and damsel reveal their true colors gradually, methodically, touching upon the most intimate conundrums of life, reflecting a harrowing character piece that shows the demons within oneself.  The magic lies in Welles’ delivery, exposing the depths and revealing their own façade to be but a mere image they have create to shelter their true selves.

June 7, 2010 / / Main Slate

By William Benker

Touch of Evil – 1958 – dir. Orson Welles

A film’s ability to remain timeless nearly fifty years after its release constitutes a work of brilliance that only few films possess.  Specifically, in relation to recent political wars of immigration and borders, Touch of Evil divides a fine line between crime and innocence.  Orson Welles’ Hank Quinlan, at first sight, appears unbreakable – entirely devoid of any sort of empathy, as he strolls onto the screen, off balance from an old wound he obtained defending his friend.  But as the classic noir unwinds, the director himself reveals a moral conundrum any and all face when questioned by the notion of “authority.”  The overarching theme is never once mentioned, but left to the elaborate set design that the story encompasses within itself.  Touch of Evil is a noir that still casts a luminescent shadow on issues that are far from outdated, signifying Welles’ keen insight into the issues of both past and present America.

May 28, 2010 / / Main Slate

By Peggy Nelson

The Magnificent Ambersons – 1942 – dir. Orson Welles

The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), based on the Booth Tarkington novel of the same name, focuses on an Indianapolis family around the turn of the century. The most important family in town, with an impressive neo-gothic mansion, horses and buggies, beautiful clothes, and perfect pedigree, the Ambersons represent “old money” at a time when there wasn’t any other kind. “Old,” at least, for Indianapolis. But times they were a-changing, horses were yielding to horseless carriages, agriculture was shifting to the new industrial economy, and the old society, in which you are born to it, was being pushed aside by the new, in which you can become what you make of it.

May 28, 2010 / / Main Slate

The Goonies – 1985 – dir. Richard Donner

I’m a fairly serious film fan. Call me a cinephile, if you like, or go ahead and call me a film snob (I can take it.) I spout opinions and trivia like nobody’s business. I read heady, theory-based film criticism for fun. I get persnickety about aspect ratios. I can, on occasion, be a lot to take.

But before I was a cinephile, I was simply a movie lover, a kid who got high on the movies and gobbled them up voraciously, in whatever form I found them in. That often meant that they were formatted to fit my screen, and sometimes meant that they were unceremoniously censored; or interrupted by commercials; or jumpy and pixilated, subject to the dangers of broadcast television, the whims of the weather and the UHF signal. I was a child of the eighties and nineties, reared on videocassette tapes and the cinematic menus offered by local TV channels. (On WSBK 38 it was “The Movie Loft;” on WLVI 56 it was “Boston’s Big Screen.”) The effects of videocassettes and of TV broadcasts were similar: they lead to repetitive viewing patterns, and thus, fans who could quote their favorite films (and even some of their not-so-favorite films) at the drop of a hat. I grew up in a generation that didn’t just speak about movies; we actually spoke movie, exchanging remembered lines of dialogue in a kind of half-coded language. Movie lovers, like me, and like most everyone I remember growing up with, don’t just watch movies, or analyze movies, or judge them. They absorb them.