Monthly Archives: January 2017

National Society of Film Critics Awards (2016) & Two Comments (2017)

SPECIAL CITATION for a film awaiting American distribution: Sieranevada (Romania) Cristi Puiu


FILM HERITAGE AWARD: Kino Lorber’s 5-disc collection “Pioneers of African-American Cinema



*1. Casey Affleck (65) – Manchester by the Sea

2. Denzel Washington (21) – Fences

3. Adam Driver (20) – Paterson



*1. Isabelle Huppert (55) – Elle and Things to Come

2. Annette Bening (26) – 20th Century Women

2. Sandra Hüller (26) – Toni Erdmann [tied with Bening]



*1. Mahershala Ali (72) – Moonlight

2. Jeff Bridges (18) – Hell or High Water

3. Michael Shannon (14) – Nocturnal Animals




*1. Michelle Williams (58) – Manchester by the Sea

2. Lily Gladstone (45) – Certain Women

3. Naomie Harris (25) – Moonlight




*1. Manchester by the Sea (61) – Kenneth Lonergan

2. Moonlight (39) – Barry Jenkins

3. Hell or High Water (16) – Taylor Sheridan



*1. Moonlight (52) – James Laxton

2. La La Land (27) – Linus Sandgren

3. Silence (23) – Rodrigo Prieto



*1. Moonlight (54)

2. Manchester by the Sea (39)

3. La La Land (31)




*1. Barry Jenkins (53) – Moonlight

2.… Read more »

Two “Best” Lists for Sight and Sound, 2016/2017

Included in Sight and Sound‘s January 2017 issue and on its web site. — J.R.

1. Best Films


 The Day Before the End
Year: 2016
Director(s): Lav Diaz

Everybody Wants Some!!
Year: 2016
Director(s): Richard Linklater

Year: 2016
Director(s): Oda Kaori
Year: 2016
Director(s): Jim Jarmusch


La Mort de Louis XIV
Year: 2016
Director(s): Albert Serra


The first on my list, a short, I caught at the estimable Filmadrid; the third, a documentary by a former FilmFactory student of mine, I saw via a Vimeo link. Worthy runners-up would include João Nicolau’s John From, Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight, Whit Stillman’s Love & Friendship, and Kurosawa Kiyoshi’s Journey to the Shore – and perhaps certain other contenders I haven’t yet caught up with.

2. Best DVDs and Blu-Rays


Nico Papatakis Box Set (France, 1963-92) (Gaumont Vidéo, DVD).


I Want to Live! (U.S., 1958) (Twilight Time, Blu-Ray)


Electra, My Love (U.K., 1974) (Second Run Features, Blu-Ray).


Early Murnau (U.K., 1921-1925) (Masters of Cinema, Blu-Ray box set)


Marcel Hanoun: Les Saisons (France, 1968-1972) (Re:Voir, DVD)


Five exemplary releases condemned to obscurity by their resistance to being summarized in sound bites:

A comprehensive portrait of a singular filmmaker from Ethiopia and Greece (not simply a Greek, any more than Barack Obama is simply black), with excellent extras subtitled in English; a powerful piece of melodramatic filmmaking from Robert Wise that justifies its opening endorsement by Albert Camus; the first Miklós Jancsó Blu-Ray accorded to an exhilarating, colorful Hungarian musical pageant that unfolds in just a dozen shots; an essential package of five beautiful silent German features with many clarifying extras; and a neglected cycle of films by a major French independent.… Read more »

Divas and Dandies: Orson Welles’ THE IMMORTAL STORY

Written for Criterion‘s DVD and Blu-Ray of The Immortal Story, released in 2016. — J.R.




Where the story-teller is loyal, eternally and unswervingly loyal to the story, there, in the end, silence will speak. Where the story has been betrayed, silence is but emptiness. But we, the faithful, when we have spoken our last word, will hear the voice of silence…

— Grandmother in Isak Dinesen’s “The Blank Page” (Last Tales)


Virginie had a taste for patterns; one of the things for which she despised the English was that to her mind they had no pattern in their lives. She frowned a little, but let Elishama go on. “Only,” he went on, “sometimes the lines of a pattern will run the other way of what you expect. As in a looking-glass.”

 “As in a looking-glass,” she repeated slowly.

 “Yes,” he said. “But for all that it is still a pattern.”

— Dinesen’s “The Immortal Story” (Anecdotes of Destiny)




Aside from William Shakespeare, no writer excited Orson Welles’ imagination more than Isak Dinesen (1885-1962) — a Danish baroness who wrote mainly in English — especially when it came to the films he wanted to make. Even though she was born thirty years ahead of him, they shared a capacity to stand outside and beyond their own eras.… Read more »

JOHNNY GUITAR: The First Existential Western

Written for the Olive Films Blu-Ray, which came out in 2016. — J.R.


François Truffaut called it the Beauty and the Beast of Westerns, without saying who was the beauty and who was the beast. (One could find many candidates for either role). And Jean-Luc Godard, in his second feature, Le Petit Soldat, offered a spin on the movie’s most celebrated dialogue exchange, before offering explicit references to Johnny Guitar in several other films he made in the 60s:

Johnny (Sterling Hayden): Tell me something nice.

Vienna (Joan Crawford): Sure. What would you like to hear?

Johnny: Lie to me, tell me that all these years you’ve waited, tell me.

Vienna: All these years I’ve waited.

Johnny: Tell me you’d have died if I hadn’t come back.

Vienna: I would have died if you hadn’t come back.

Johnny: Tell me you still love me like I love you.

Vienna: I still love you like you love me.

Johnny (softly and sarcastically, about to down another shot of whisky):



Bruno (Michel Subor): Lie to me . . . Say you aren’t sad that I’m leaving.

Véronica (Anna Karina): I’m not sad that you’re leaving. I’m not in love

with you.Read more »

My “Best” Lists for DVD Beaver’s Annual Poll, 2016

Please go here for all of the listings. — J. R.







Top Blu-ray Releases of 2016

1. Early Murnau (F.W. Murnau, 1921-26), Masters of Cinema, RB, UK)

2. Muriel (Alain Resnais, 1963) (Criterion, RA, US)

3. I Want to Live!  (Robert Wise, 1958) (Twilight Time, RA, US)

4. Electra, My Love (Miklós Jancsó, 1974) (Second Run Features, RB, UK)

5. The Driller Killer (Abel Ferrara, 1979) (Arrow, RA & RB, US & UK)

6. His Girl Friday (Howard Hawks, 1940) + The Front Page (Lewis Milestone, 1931) (Criterion, RA, US)

7. Napoleon (Abel Gance, 1927) (BFI, RB, UK)

8. The Magic Box: The Films of Shirley Clarke, 1927-1986: Project Shirley, Volume 4 (Milestone Films, RA, US)

9. Son of Saul (Laszlo Nemes, 2015) (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, RA, US)

10. Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street (Samuel Fuller, 1973) (Olive Films, RA, US)





Top 10 SD-DVD Releases OF 2016

1. Coffret Nico Papatakis (1963-2004) (Gaumont Vidéo, PAL, France)

2. Les Saisons (Marcel Hanoun, 1968-72) (RE:VOIR, PAL, France)

3. Tricked (Paul Verhoeven, 2012) (Kino Lorber, US)

4. Something Different + A Bagful of Fleas (Vera Chytilová, 1963 & 1962) (Second Run Features, PAL,  UK)

5. Read more »