31 March 2013

WTT Top 100 Vol. II

Before looking at the new standard of film greatness, check the 2008 WTT Top 100...not utterly embarrassing but improvable (notwithstanding the deplorable laziness of leaving 26-100 in alphabetical rather than ranked order). 

I find it a nice coincidence that these updates will come on my cardinal years, with this being the leap from 25 to 30. 

While there isn't too much movement at the top, with Contempt still winning this race at a canter, the big movers are Claire Denis, Abbas Kiarostami and Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, bursting onto the scene with multiple films. Carlos Reygadas' Silent Light and Kiarostami's Close-Up are the highest ranked newcomers and, in the case of Close-Up, I suspect it might rate even higher than tenth when I am a sage 35-year-old person.

There are a robust 12 (count 'em, twelve!) films directed by non-white males. And they say we only canonize our own...  

1. Contempt
2. Vertigo
3. La jetée
4. The Rules of the Game
5. The Godfather Epic
6. The Thin Red Line
7. Persona
8. The Passion of Joan of Arc
9. The Red Shoes
10. Close-Up
11. Pierrot le fou
12. Breathless
13. Silent Light
14. La Notte
15. Out of the Past
16. Battle of Algiers
17. Kings and Queen
18. 2046
19. In the Mood for Love
20. Raging Bull
21. Mulholland Dr.
22. Certified Copy
23. Badlands
24. The Philadelphia Story
25. L'Avventura
26. The Earrings of Madame de…
27. Citizen Kane
28. His Girl Friday
29. Black Narcissus
30. Carlos
31. Melancholia
32. Beauty and the Beast (1947)
33. The Bicycle Thieves
34. The New World
35. A Special Day
36. Grey Gardens
37. The Last Picture Show
38. Hoop Dreams
39. No Country for Old Men
40. Notorious
41. Casablanca
42. Lost in Translation
43. Elevator to the Gallows
44. Moonrise Kingdom
45. The Night of the Hunter
46. Out of Sight
47. Fanny and Alexander
48. A Christmas Tale
49. Lola Montès 
50. Cache
51. Yi Yi
52. Alien
53. F for Fake
54. 35 Shots of Rum
55. The Piano Teacher
56. L.A. Confidential
57. Fargo
58. Chinatown
59. The Conversation
60. Hiroshima Mon Amour
61. Funny Games (1997)
62. The Intruder
63. Wild Bunch
64. Irreversible
65. The Wages of Fear
66. Five Easy Pieces
67. Talk to Her
68. 3 Women
69. Brief Encounter
70. Our Beloved Month of August
71. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
72. To Have and Have Not
73. Metropolis
74. Rear Window
75. Lola
76. Fitzcarraldo
77. Leaving Las Vegas
78. Rushmore
79. Celine and Julie Go Boating
80. Hannah and Her Sisters
81. A Place in the Sun
82. Summer Hours
83. The Werckmeister Harmonies
84. Casino
85. Heat
86. Taste of Cherry
87. L'Eclisse
88. Dinner at Eight
89. City Lights
90. Do the Right Thing
91. Boogie Nights
92. Chungking Express
93. 8 1/2
94. A Talking Picture
95. All that Heaven Allows
96. Meet Me in St. Louis
97. La Commare Secca
98. Days of Heaven
99. The Kid Stays in the Picture
100. Miami Vice 

Because you deserve it, here's 100 more you should also watch today:

A Man and a Woman, A Separation, A Single Man, Ace in the Hole, All the Pretty Horses, All the Real Girls, Annie Hall, Appaloosa, Autumn Sonata, Bay of Angels, Best in Show, Big Night, Blade Runner, Blood Simple, Bob le Flambeur, Breaking Away, Brick, Bringing Up Baby, California Split, Cat People, Cries and Whispers, Cyclo, Dancer in the Dark, Day for Night, Dogville, Double Indemnity, Drive, Fish Tank, From Here to Eternity, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Gertrud, George Washington, Grizzly Man, Groundhog Day, Half-Nelson, Harlan County, U.S.A., I Know Where I'm Going!, In Another Country, In the Bedroom, Kiss Me, Stupid, L'america, Last Year at Marienbad, Lawrence of Arabia, Leon: The Professional, Let the Right One In, M, Malcolm X, Manhattan, Matewan, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Mildred Pierce, Mr. Arkadin, My Man Godfrey, Nashville, Night and the City, North by Northwest, Oldboy, Paths of Glory, Picnic at Hanging Rock, Primer, Rebecca, Red Desert, Red River, Revanche, Scenes from a Marriage, Sexy Beast, Shane, Shanghai Express, Sorry, Wrong Number, Stagecoach, Sunset Blvd., Syndromes and a Century, Take Shelter, The Big Sleep, The Last Days of Disco, The Leopard, The Limey, The Long Goodbye, The Passenger, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Searchers, The Shining, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, The Thin Man, The Third Man, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, The Usual Suspects, Time Out, To Be and to Have, Tropical Malady, Umberto D., Walkabout, Wedding Crashers, White Material, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? , Winter's Bone, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Y Tu Mamá También, Yankee Doodle Dandy.

03 March 2013

Rooney Mara's Hair

When it comes to Rooney Mara's hair in Side Effects...


The problem with these images is that they're merely stills--they are not compelling on their own. One must be in the humid grey cloudscape of Steven Soderbergh's film to see what I mean, the way the hair is coiffed and disheveled, brown and less brown, sharp and soft.

I'm the same as any ignorant bourgeoisie--I know Rooney Mara from only two other films: The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Some would argue that one or both of those Fincher joints are better than Side Effects but some day I might forget the eyebrowless, lurid significance of the earlier films in a way I will not forget Rooney Mara's hair under the influence of the wonder drug Ablixa.

Let's put those locks in motion for just a moment. Four second mark:

The bangs Audreyesque, the nod to Kim Novak's Vertigo spiral

This early clip informs the rest of the film: the curious score, the high-class-but-under-glass feel of the images. The cinematography is thick with what Rooney's character calls the "poisonous fog" around her (an elegant, writerly phrase that becomes very important later on). The backgrounds in Side Effects are Rothko abstractions, as if the protagonists are sleepwalking through the cartoon rainclouds of those charmless commercials for SSRIs.

Without deep focus distraction, the eye tries to unpack that hair--I have not seen strands so articulated, so attention-demanding, since Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox, in which the stop-motion fox fur has an artificial luminosity, dancing atop George Clooney's handsome fox face. 

As is often the case, Soderbergh's depressed supporting cast is full of fun faces: there's Scott Shepherd, the star of GATZ, Gale Boetticher from Breaking Bad, Vinessa Shaw, as blonde as GOOP in Two Lovers and subtly recessional as Jude Law's out-of-work wife. Of course there's also Catherine Zeta-Jones as the claw-licking Shere Khan shrink in the pocket of big pharma. It's hard for me to talk about Channing Tatum's fate in this film but the whiteout flashbacks to his white collar criminal in pre-recession splendor would bring a tear to the eye of even the hard-hearted.

The poisonous fog of Side Effects' NYC is just another in a line of Soderbergh's great looking and, more impressively, highly variable films--think of the famous borderland tricolor of Traffic, the inky documentary sequences of Che, the classic noir shadows in The Good German, the sun shot Tampa of Magic Mike...

All of this to say, Soderbergh is getting more creative as he works quickly towards his self-selected exile. I'm rigid with anticipation for his Liberace picture (called Behind the Candelabra, naturally) and refuse to believe he'll really walk away. And Steven doesn't even need to be Soderbergh to be of service to cineplexes--he can direct photography as Peter Andrews, he can edit projects better than The Canyons as Mary Ann Bernard. 

May he be as retired as your average professional boxer.