#KickingtheCanon

#KickingtheCanon by Lawrence Garcia Film

Casualties of War | Brian De Palma

February 2, 2019
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In taking on the horrors of Vietnam, Brian De Palma’s Casualties of War may be said to mark a departure for the American director of such baroque Hitchcockian exercises as Body Double and Obsession. With a script by David Rabe (best known for three plays based on his experience in Vietnam), Casualties of War is based on a book of the same name by Daniel Lang, and concerns what is now referred to as the incident on Hill 92: The 1966 kidnap, gang rape, and…

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#KickingtheCanon by Sam Thomas-Redfern Film

Cockfighter | Monte Hellman

January 26, 2019
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Any talk of this film would be remiss without mention of its legendary tagline: “He came into town with his cock in his hand, and what he did with it was illegal in 49 states.” Notwithstanding this audacious piece of marketing, Cockfighter was a failure, and the only Roger Corman production of the ’70s that lost the producer money. Monte Hellman had been one of many hired by Corman’s Filmgroup company who was offered the chance to break into cinema; he…

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#KickingtheCanon by Lawrence Garcia Film

All That Jazz | Bob Fosse

January 19, 2019
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“This is the feverish, painful expression of a man who lives in mortal fear of his own mediocrity,” concludes Dave Kehr’s negative Chicago Reader review of All That Jazz, Bob Fosse’s penultimate directorial feature. And it certainly is — that’s what makes it so glorious. Indeed, the film (which would go on to win the Palme d’Or in 1980, after opening theatrically in December of 1979) is easily identified as Fosse’s reworking of his experience editing 1974’s Lenny while simultaneously staging a Broadway…

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#KickingtheCanon by Sam Thomas-Redfern Film

Comanche Station | Budd Boetticher

January 12, 2019
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The decade of the Great Depression saw a slump in high-end Western productions. This indigenous genre had been immensely popular with audiences of the two previous decades yet became relegated to a genus of the ‘B’ movie with the advent of sound. Randolph Scott started his vocation in Westerns during this period, starring mostly in low-budget adaptations of Zane Grey novels; finally, in ’36, he moved up to ‘A’ productions, with the genre itself in close pursuit. Scott would go on…

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#KickingtheCanon by Daniel Gorman Film

Days of Being Wild | Wong Kar-wai

July 16, 2015
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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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