The Godfather. Not much I can add to the well-deserved praise this one has gotten over the past 40 years. Incredible storytelling. I paid a lot more attention to Gordon Willis’ work here after learning more in Visions of Light.
Scarface (1932). Ambition, bloodlust, cowardice. Good flick, especially after you get used to the 1930s-y acting. (My wholly uninformed but standing assumption is that the 1983 remake is far inferior.) I was pleasantly surprised with some of the tracking shots and felt proud when I figured out the X motif (spoilers!). The only other Howard Hawks works I’ve seen are The Big Sleep and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
Force of Evil. Very, very good. Everyone tries to justify their minor (and major) wrongdoings, but living in the gray areas rarely turns out well. Touches on ideas of business, family, loyalty, with some biblical overtones. “What do you mean ‘gangsters’? It’s business.”
Blast of Silence. A Criterion essay cleverly calls it “the best movie ever made about a common, important, and unjustly neglected American experience: the really bad business trip”. It’s a great film noir that will only take 77 minutes of your time. It came out near the tail end of the genre’s peak, but in some ways it feels prototypical. Distilled. Lovely shots of New York City as he wanders in a sort of malaise. The hard-boiled voiceover really drives the misery home. Gangsters, dames, old friends-who-aren’t. Loneliness and disaffection. You know the clock is ticking on this guy from the very first moments. Nice appreciation at Bright Lights.
A notable selection from American Movie Critics: From the Silents Until Now, which I’m working my way through this week.