#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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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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#KickingtheCanon by 
Drew Hunt Film

Drugstore Cowboy | Gus Van Sant

March 9, 2015

What Woody Allen is to New York — or, more accurately, what John Waters is to Baltimore — Gus Van Sant is to Portland. His films, particularly Mala Noche, Drugstore Cowboy, and My Own Private Idaho (known collectively as the “Portland Trilogy”) played a seismic role in cementing the city’s counterculture identity, though it’s important to note that the Portland seen in these films no longer exists. Indeed, the Portland Trilogy is a time capsule from an era that bears zero resemblance…

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#KickingtheCanon by Chris Mello Film

Scream | Wes Craven

March 2, 2015

Scream’s reputation as the harbinger of self-aware horror is not entirely fair to its predecessors. The horror genre, and slasher subgenre in particular, had been aware of and commenting on its tropes since they began to solidify in the early 80s. Director Wes Craven himself first went reflexive in 1994, with New Nightmare, a much more metaphysical metatext than Scream. But the effects of the latter film’s particular reflexivity were ultimately more immediate, unleashing a wave…

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#KickingtheCanon by Zach Lewis Film

Sátántangó | Bela Tarr

February 23, 2015

Sátántangó’s very first shot set the stage for everything director Béla Tarr would make, what international festival directors would seek to imitate, and a developmental period for what would come to be colloquially known as “slow cinema.” Before this colossal seven-and-a-half-hour long trudge through the political manifestation of evil in rural Hungary, Tarr directed Cassavetes-like chamber dramas. He reached a formalist experimental phase with 1988’s Damnation, and its gradual…

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#KickingtheCanon by Kathie Smith Film

The Sun’s Burial | Nagisa Ôshima

February 17, 2015
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Nagisa Ôshima’s audacity as a filmmaker was unmistakable by the time his third feature hit screens in 1960. The full scope of the filmmaker’s rabid appetite for formal and social rebellion would develop over more than two decades, but the seeds of subversion were firmly planted in this highly charged social critique masquerading as an action film. Set in the shantytowns of industrial Osaka, The Sun’s Burial finds a dramatic antithesis to the concurrent Tokyo student protests in…

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#KickingtheCanon by Matthew Lucas Film

The Thin Red Line | Terrence Malick

February 9, 2015

Whenever anyone mentions the 1998 Oscars, the conversation inevitably turns to the great “injustice” of Shakespeare in Love beating Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan for Best Picture. But the real injustice of the 1998 Oscars wasn’t denying Ryan the top prize, it was in not rewarding Terrence Malick’s masterpiece, The Thin Red Line. After directing Days of Heaven in 1978, the notoriously reclusive director seemingly disappeared from filmmaking for two…

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#KickingtheCanon by Michał Oleszczyk Film

The Bridges of Madison County | Clint Eastwood

February 2, 2015

The life-changing instance of reason defeating desire has been at the center of such great melodramatic moments as the airport climax of Casablancaand the railway station farewell of Brief Encounter, but for this viewer its most powerful incarnation comes towards the end of The Bridges of Madison County, Clint Eastwood’s 1995 tear-jerking classic, which somehow transcends Robert James Waller’s purplish novel. Notable for Eastwood’s unusually relaxed performance…

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#KickingtheCanon by Carson Lund Film

A Summer’s Tale | Eric Rohmer

January 26, 2015

Some of Eric Rohmer’s sharpest skewerings of male psychology take as their focus guys defined by disjunctions between appearance and intention — take, for instance, the exceedingly suave manipulator in Claire’s Knee, or the willfully standoffish oaf from La Collectionneuse who nonetheless craves affection. In this regard, Melvil Poupaud’s Gaspard, from A Summer’s Tale, is one of Rohmer’s most poignantly contradictory creations. “I don’t enjoy observing people,” he broods at one…

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#KickingtheCanon by Daniel Gorman Film

Heat | Michael Mann

January 19, 2015

One is tempted to think of Heat as a culmination, a kind of halfway point in the career of its director, Michael Mann. This isn’t entirely accurate, since the crime genre has been a vested interest of Mann’s both before and after Heat; one could just as easily place a demarcation point in his career later, in his transition from film to digital. But Heat still feels like a magnum opus, from its huge cast of characters to its generous length (170 minutes, the longest of Mann’s…

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