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Directors A thru A

So I've decided that I want to watch one film by every director in the director section of the store. I don't know how many there are. Let's just say Hundreds!!!

That means it'll take me a while. Since we have this blog and are encouraged to post things on it I thought I'd list the films I've watched already and say a little something about them.

There's no rhyme or reason why I pick what I pick. It might be I've wanted to see this director's film for a while and haven't gotten to it. Sometimes the cover and the write-up on the back sounds good, so I'll pick it based on that. I'm also trying to watch things that I haven't seen before. Which can be hard when I've see all of the films by a director, like Wes Anderson. I watched Darjeeling Limited in the theater and now it's on DVD I think it counts. I'll also rewatch something that I haven't seen in years just to see if it's still good.

I also want to say that I have some odd opinions and a faulty memory so don't take these "reviews" too seriously. Do take them seriously and watch these film if you want to, but don't blame me if you think it sucks.

1. Cinderella 2000 by Al Adamson - The first film I watched was the film by Al Adamson, Cinderella 2000. I'm a sucker for cheesy scifi and cheesy sexploitation films from the '50's throughout the '70's. So this fit in that area and I really enjoyed it. It was fun, brightly colored, and some naughtiness. It was like a space movie made by John Waters in the Pink Flamingo's/Desperate Living era.

2. La Captive by Chantal Akerman - I barely remember this film. I reread the description on the back and it sounds good. I'd watch it again. If it was really bad I'd remember that much.

3. What Ever Happened to Baby Jane by Robert Aldrich - I remember this film playing around my house as a kid and was scared of Bettie Davis. She's just so creepy and unsettling. I still feel that way about it. A really strange and unnerving film.

4. Annie Hall by Woody Allen - This is one of the "greats" that I have never seen before. I've seen a bunch of Woody's films and liked them. I feel guilty not liking this one though. It won an Oscar... I think that Diane Keaton was beautiful in it. Woody is his charming neurotic self that I can relate to. But there was just something uninteresting about it. Sorry.

5. Kika by Pedro Almodovar - This was the first Almodovar film I've ever seen and I can't say I'm diving back into his section anytime soon. I don't judge his whole filmography on this one film. But... this was the one that seemed most interesting to me and it failed to keep my interest. It took a few stops and starts for me to even get through the whole thing.

6. Quintet by Robert Altman - I was warned about watching Quintet before I even rented it, but I was like: "What?! A post-apocalyptic film by Altman? Sounds great!" I thought that the sets were cool. Very '70/'80's esque "future" and with a bunch of frozen aging added. This gave it a very cold and lonely feel, but then the story and the pace were so slow that I just wanted to get warm and do something else.

7. Open Your Eyes (Abre los ojos) by Alejandro Amenábar - I had seen Vanilla Sky previous to this and I liked it enough at the time it came out. I heard that Close Your Eyes was the original and that it was pretty much a scene for scene remake. I like the ideas and the execution of Vanilla Sky but for some reason not this one. It is pretty much the same, but... I guess I like Tom Cruise more? That's sort of crappy though. I'd rather not.

8. Border Radio by Allison Anders - I don't remember this film at all. Even after looking through the booklet in this handsome Criterion package didn't remind me of anything. Just strange that it disappeared from my brain. I don't think I'd watch it again though. I have a bad feeling about it.

9. If... by Lindsay Anderson - This was touted as the best film ever made by a co-worker. I felt it was alright. Malcolm McDowell was awesome and I'm glad that this movie was what inspired Kubrick to have him in A Clockwork Orange. I enjoyed the dream/fantasy sequences and the seemingly (to me) random black and white scenes. This could be paired well with Rushmore.

10. Boogie Nights by Paul Thomas Anderson - I saw Boogie Nights many years ago and knew that it was great. But I hadn't seen it since watching Magnolia and Punch Drunk Love. It still holds up as great film after so many years. Funnier than the latter Paul Thomas Anderson films, and that's what gives it a lot of charm to me.

11. Darjeeling Limited by Wes Anderson - I actually watched Darjeeling Limited while it was in the theater and thought that counted. I've seen all of his other films tons and I was excited about this new endeavor. Having only seen it once, I feel strange about this. I've heard some people say that it's "too much" Wes Anderson and pretty inaccessible. I however feel that it's a different direction for him. The locations really influence my opinion. If it was in an American setting it might seem too much like Anderson's style, but the cultural difference makes it feel like a foreign film to me. In that it's sort of alien and unfamiliar. Slightly exotic and curious. I was paying a lot of attention to the backgrounds and the sets. I usually do with his films, but this film was really busy for the eyes. I want to rewatch this and really solidify what I think about it, but overall I know that I liked it. It's just one I'll have to get used to.

12. Ulysses' Gaze (To vlemma tou Odyssea) by Theodoros Angelopoulos was surprisingly great. I was drawn to this movie mostly by the cover photograph and that Harvey Keitel stared in it. I felt that Angelopoulos' films were sort of intimidating so I chose one that I thought would be accessible. Well it took me a few restarts to finally get the time and interest to finish it. And it was worth it once I got there. What a fantasticly beautiful film. It's one of the most photographicly wonder film I've seen. The story is also interesting. Keitel is sent out to find and return a mythical film. It's important to the people of Greece and the journey sends him everywhere and nowhere. He suceeds and the finished restoration is really pretty. It's a slowly paced film but worth the time.

13. Quest for Fire (La guerre du feu) byJean-Jacques Annaud - What a really awesome Caveman movie!! Quest for Fire is better than any of those Discovery pseudo documentaries about walking with computer generated naked people. Anyway, the title says it all about the storyline. These three cavemen go out looking for fire. They have run-ins with other tribes, some are more advanced and some are even less evolved than the main group. That's what I found so interesting. The different tribes that would have been around during the same time, but because of distance they didn't learn or advance at the same times. This would pair well with Apocalypto.

14. L'Avventura by Michelangelo Antonioni - Having only seen Blow Up and loved it, I was anxious to see what else Antonioni had to offer. L'Avventura and L'Eclisse were released via Criterion so I thought they must be great. I chose L'Avventura randomly and found it to be quite boring. There's a segment in the beginning that was really well put together and mysterious where a group of friends are searching for a fellow friend who got lost on this small rocky island. That was quite the set up for what became sort of confusing and forgettable. I wanted more of that sort of mystery and surrealism.

15. Sonata for Viola (Altovaya sonata. Dmitriy Shostakovich) by Semyon Aranovich - Aranovich shouldn't really be in the downstairs director section because he's done more documentaries than fictional films. Anyway, I chose Sonata for Viola because it was less about Communistic Russia than the rest of his films. I'm not particularly a fan of political stuff so I thought a portrait of an artist during this time would suit me better. Which it did. What I found really fascinating was the old footage of the people and places that they intercut throughout the film. Over all pretty interesting, but don't quiz me about it. I've forgotten a bunch already.

16. Stardom by Denys Arcand - I had no idea or prior opinions about Denys Arcand and his films. So I just chose this because of the pretty girl. Which is a really shallow thing to admit, but... Anyway, it was an interesting film. Not glossy and phony like your average Hollywood movie about a girl who goes from nothing to a star, it's shows how bi-polar someone can be when forced to be in this position. There are ups and downs and over all a solid film. I'd probably recommend this over The Devil Wears Prada.

17. Stendhal Syndrome by Dario Argento - One of the less interesting Argento films. Mostly because it's not one of his early films. It's not lit with extreme primary colors. There might be someone wearing leather gloves, but it's not good enough. The idea is pretty interesting, Asia Argento plays this girl who has a strange fit of sorts when she sees paintings or other pieces of art. That seems totally Argento, but again not done well enough to satisfy my taste for his older style.

18. Charlotte Gray by Gillian Armstrong - I chose this because of Cate Blanchett. She's just beautiful and a great actress so why pass up a film with her? I liked it enough, but I couldn't help but compare it to Black Book by Verhoeven. There was just something really sort of safe and dull about it, once you compare the two. But really there's nothing wrong with Charlotte Gray. It's a solid film.


19. Black Eye by Jack Arnold - Once I got to Jack Arnold I was kind of excited because he did some of my favorite scifi and horror movies. Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Incredible Shrinking Man, This Island Earth... He's great and creative!! So instead of finally watching the classic It Came from Outer Space. I went for something very different. Off the beaten path, as it were. I like Blaxploitation enough so I thought I'd give Black Eye a shot. I guess after the Incredible Shrinking Man, Arnold went into directing for TV. Black Eye feels like a TV movie. It's nowhere near the grit I was looking for in a Blaxplo movie so I was pretty bored. There are some interesting things, but I'd rather go watch some real Blaxploitation instead.

20. Wild Party by Dorothy Arzner - I had never seen a Clara Bow movie before this Wild Party. It's really fun and I got pretty excited about her right away. She's just so cute and awesome to watch. This film was a Talkie and you can tell that she's used to really exaggerating her actions to emote instead of using dialog. It's a film I'd like to see crisp and clean on DVD. It's pre-code so there's a lot of ladies in slips and night gowns being beautiful and dancing. A great film if you want to see the styles of the late 20's.

21. Being There by Hal Ashby - I love Harold and Maude, it was the only film of Ashby's I'd see before Being There. I don't know why it took me so long to go back and watch something of his again. Seeing as Harold and Maude was an obvious influence on Wes Anderson and he's one of my favorite all time directors. Being There is great and there's nothing else like it. It's a fantasy for sure because it's so unbelievable. From the start you sort of just go along with it and it's not distractingly unlikely. I think this film really says something about how people perceive those around us who are confident and straightforward. Even if you a simpleton you can be wise to the right person. I can't recommend this movie more.

22. Buster's World (Busters verden) by Bille August - Why I picked this strange title over something simple like the Adventures of Young Indiana Jones or a classic story like Les misérables is because I want to see if I can find some hidden gems. It's not exactly that, it's a film that I would say is better than the canned and cliche Disney live action movies. This Buster kid is really into his own head and is really awkward. He seems to plan out his strange behavior without thinking how it's going to affect him. The raw feeling ads to the story, leaving you to think it's pretty realistic. I can relate to Buster so maybe that's why I liked it. He wasn't a kid that got pushed hard enough to become the best softball player and wins in the end. Stuff just happens and he does his best. Which tends to seem mostly self satisfied.

So that's it. A-A in the directors section. I'm only up to Bava in the B's right now, so you'll have to be patient when looking for the next set of reviews.

thanks, Marc "Swellzombie" Palm.

Here's B thru B.