#KickingtheCanon by Daniel Gorman Film

Days of Being Wild | Wong Kar-wai

July 16, 2015

Though Days of Being Wild is Wong Kar-Wai’s second feature, in many ways it’s a film of firsts. It’s his first collaboration with Christopher Doyle (arguably the most important director/cinematographer partnership in modern cinema), his first brush with building a stock company of performers, and perhaps most importantly, his first film to deal with a personal obsession: the mercurial, abstract quality of time itself. Critic Jonathan Rosenbaum has referred to…

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#KickingtheCanon by Tom Elrod Film

The Age of Innocence | Martin Scorsese

July 16, 2015

There is a remarkable shot late in The Age of Innocence when the narrator (Joanne Woodward) describes a room in Newland Archer’s (Daniel Day-Lewis) New York City home as “the room in which most of the real things in his life had happened.” As the camera moves around the space, it quickly becomes clear why this sentence switches suddenly to the past tense…

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#KickingtheCanon by Tom Elrod Film

Miller’s Crossing | Joel & Ethan Coen

July 13, 2015

The Coen Brothers have a habit of using an innocuous object as a catalyst for many of their convoluted plots. This is slightly different from Hitchcock’s favored “MacGuffin,” the thing everybody in the story wants though nobody really cares what it is. Think of the stolen car in Fargo, the Dude’s rug in The Big Lebowski, or the cat from Inside Llewyn Davis. …

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#KickingtheCanon by Tom Elrod Film

The Cable Guy | Ben Stiller

June 15, 2015

Though it’s not typically thought of as part of the Judd Apatow canon, The Cable Guy (which was co-written by an uncredited Apatow, who also produced, and directed by his friend Ben Stiller) nevertheless contains many of the same concerns of Apatow’s later comedies: grown men shaped (and warped) by pop culture, a great deal of anxiety about “growing up” and the role women play in that dynamic, and the ways in which male friendship offer a potentially destructive obstacle…

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#KickingtheCanon by John Oursler Film

Fallen Angels | Wong Kar-wai

June 3, 2015

Rarely has a film’s meaning been so contingent on purposefully disconcerting stylistic contrivances. In Fallen Angels, Wong Kar-wai and his longtime cinematographer Christopher Doyle use their collaborative efforts to create an urban environment that feels at once hermetically sealed and overwhelmingly expansive. Not just a mere portrayal of the Hong Kong cityscape, however, the film follows the tangentially connected stories of two sets of “partners,” both pairs weaving in…

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#KickingtheCanon by Kenji Fujishima Film

The Battle of Algiers | Gillo Pontecorvo

May 14, 2015

Proof of the lasting influence of Gillo Pontecorvo’s 1966 docudrama The Battle of Algiers can be glimpsed in two relatively recent films making a sizable dent in last year’s new-release landscape: Ana DuVernay’s Selma and Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper. In Selma — as was the case with the film that is arguably its spiritual forerunner, Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln — there is an emphasis on political maneuvering, one that likens it to Pontecorvo’s film, with its independence-seeking…

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#KickingtheCanon by Budd Wilkins Film

Santa Sangre | Alejandro Jodorowsky

May 4, 2015

A three-ring circus exhibiting acts of murder, mutilation, sexual frenzy, and religious fanaticism, Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Santa Sangre has a little something to perturb everyone. The story centers on serial murderer Fenix (Axel Jodorowsky), a young man burdened with a mother fixation unlikely enough to make even Norman Bates slap his brow in incredulity. Fenix’s odd obsession — triggered by one of the more traumatic celluloid childhoods this side of Bambi, and told in an…

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#KickingtheCanon by Jake Cole Film

7 Women | John Ford

April 27, 2015

John Ford’s late career was dotted with heavily revisionist takes on the western cinematic mythology he helped to define, whether attacks on the genre’s racism or even its legacy as a romanticized outpost of uncivilized abandon. Ford’s final film, 7 Women, gave these critiques their purest expression by radically altering the director’s context: instead of shooting on location in Monument Valley, he used soundstages to stand in for China, and instead of an assortment of rugged, seriocomic men, the cast…

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#KickingtheCanon by Zach Lewis Film

Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles | Chantal Akerman

April 6, 2015

The title, Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, gives away this film’s clinical fascination with the everyday by defining the central character only by where she lives. With about as much narrative as Michael Snow’s Wavelength, director Chantal Akerman creates a static portrait of two days in the life of a widowed Belgian housewife, but “ordinary” would be a tricky descriptor here  —  most of her activities (and most of the film’s nearly-four hour runtime)…

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#KickingtheCanon by Carson Lund Film

The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover | Peter Greenaway

March 30, 2015

From the start we’re reminded of Kubrick. Atop a lovely bed of Michael Nyman’s strings, the camera ascends gracefully from a basement of snarling canines to a foggy parking lot high above, landing in a symmetrical widescreen framing of the first of many amoral spectacles: Albert (Michael Gambon), the monstrous mobster owner of upscale restaurant Le Hollandaise, and Mitchel (Tim Roth), his pathetic henchman, finishing up the last bit of some criminal business.…

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#KickingtheCanon by 
Drew Hunt Film

Se7en | David Fincher

March 23, 2015

With a title sequence that references both Stan Brakhage and To Kill a Mockingbird, David Fincher’s Se7en announces itself as a decidedly progressive genre text. Throughout his career, but particularly in this early masterwork, Fincher’s consumed the fleeting styles of Hollywood and mainstream film — in this case, film noir — and redirected them, turning them into something altogether different yet somehow recognizable, even classical, if only because they share the immaculate…

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#KickingtheCanon by Veronika Ferdman Film

Night Tide | Curtis Harrington

March 16, 2015

Curtis Harrington’s Night Tide screened in 1963 as the second half of an Edgar Allan Poe inspired double bill alongside Roger Corman’s The Raven. It is almost unfathomable that a film as guileless and pure and innocent (but not naive) as this could ever be made today. Harrington’s landlady warned him that starting production on the film when Mercury was rising would only spell trouble, but he forged ahead and created a work of gray shadows, twinkling lights of the rides…

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