Posted in: by David Coursen, by Richard T. Jameson, by Robert Horton, by Sean Axmaker, lists

Parallax View’s Best of 2023

We welcome 2024 with one last look back at the best releases of 2023.

As most of us are no longer full-time critics, we haven’t had the same access to films as most film critics. Thus these are snapshots of what we have been able to see, and what impressed us over the last year. We’ve also invited a few old friends to join the group this year.

Also, among those we lost in 2023 was Bruce Reid, former film critic at The Stranger and longtime Parallax View partner, contributor, and friend.

Contributors listed in reverse alphabetical orders. Films listed in preferential orders (unless otherwise noted).

Jeffrey Overstreet

Looking Closer

Ten Favorite Films of 2023 (listed alphabetically)

Asteroid City
Barbie
The Boy and the Heron
Four Daughters
Fremont
May December
No Bears (released in Seattle in February 2023)
Showing Up
Society of the Snow
The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar

Moira Macdonald

As listed at Seattle Times

Favorite Movies of 2023

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret
Barbie
The Holdovers
Killers of the Flower Moon
Maestro
Oppenheimer
Past Lives
Sam Now
Stop Making Sense
You Hurt My Feelings

And Moira’s movie highlights of 2022 (in rhyme) can be found here.

Lily Gladstone, Robert De Niro, and Leonardo DiCaprio in ‘Killers of the Flower Moon.’ Photo credit: Apple Studios

Richard T. Jameson

Top ten in alphabetical order:

All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt
All of Us Strangers
Anatomy of a Fall
Fallen Leaves
The Holdovers
Killers of the Flower Moon
Oppenheimer
Past Lives
Showing Up
The Zone of Interest

Not to scorn Ferrari, Saltburn, You Hurt My Feelings, Barbie, May December, American Fiction, Poor Things, John Wick: Chapter 4, Knock at the Cabin, Maestro, The Killer, Fingernails, Nyad

Robert Horton

As featured on The Crop Duster

Top Tier:
Fallen Leaves (Aki Kaurismäki)
Showing Up (Kelly Reichardt)
Pacifiction (Albert Serra)
All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson)
All of Us Strangers (Andrew Haigh)

Second Tier:
Anatomy of a Fall (Justine Trier)
Killers of the Flower Moon (Martin Scorsese)
A Thousand and One (A.V. Rockwell)
Tori and Lokita (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne)
The Zone of Interest (Jonathan Glazer)

Out of the 10, but Extremely Close Tier:
Walk Up (Hong Sang-soo), Maestro (Bradley Cooper), Asteroid City (Wes Anderson), The Holdovers (Alexander Payne), R.M.N. (Cristian Mungiu), Reality (Tina Satter)

Alma Pöysti and Jussi Vatanen in ‘Fallen Leaves.’ Photo credit: MUBI

Kathy Fennessy

As featured on Andmoreagain

Top 10 
1. Showing Up (Kelly Reichardt) 
2. Fallen Leaves (Aki Kaurismäki) 
3. Afire (Christian Petzold) 
4. A Thousand and One (A.V. Rockwell) 
5. The Holdovers (Alexander Payne) 
6. May December (Todd Haynes) 
7. Enys Men (Mark Jenkin) 
8. Rye Lane (Raine Allen-Miller) 
9. The Five Devils (Léa Mysius) 
10. Fremont (Babak Jalali) 

Runners-up 
11. Killers of the Flower Moon (Martin Scorsese) 
12. Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan) 
13. Priscilla (Sofia Coppola) 
14. Barbie (Greta Gerwig) 
15. Asteroid City (Wes Anderson) 
16. Past Lives (Celine Song)
17. The Killer (David Fincher) 
18. All of Us Strangers (Andrew Haigh) 
19. Anatomy of a Fall (Justine Triet) 
20. Return to Seoul (Davy Chou) 

David Coursen

Films listed roughly in tiers

All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson)
Anselm (Wim Wenders)
Killers of the Flower Moon (Martin Scorsese)

The Master Gardener (Paul Schrader)
Saint Omer (Alice Diop)
No Bears (Jafar Panahi)
May December (Todd Haynes)

The Holdovers (Alexander Payne)
Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan)
Barbie (Greta Gerwig)

Honorable Mention: American Fiction (Cord Jefferson), Showing Up (Kelly Reichardt), Asteroid City (Wes Anderson), Turn Every Page (Lizzie Gottlieb), Fallen Leaves (Aki Kaurismaki), Strange Way of Life (Pedro Almodovar)

Dominic Sessa and Paul Giamatti in ‘The Holdovers.’ Photo credit: Focus Features

Dennis Cozzalio

Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule

Best: (But It Goes to 11…):
1. Past Lives (Celine Song)
2. Revoir Paris (Alice Winocour)
3. You Hurt My Feelings (Nicole Holofcener)
4. John Wick Chapter 4 (Chad Stahelski)
5. Carmen (Benjamin Millepied)
6. Godzilla Minus One (Takashi Yamazaki)
7. Anselm (Wim Wenders)
8. Fallen Leaves (Aki Kaurismaki)
9. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret (Kelly Fremon Craig)
10. Infinity Pool (Brandon Cronenberg)
11. Showing Up (Kelly Reichardt)

Next Ten: Ferrari (Michael Mann), The Night Of The 12th (Dominik Moll), It Ain’t Over (Sean Mullin), Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan), No Hard Feelings (Gene Stupnitsky), Talk To Me (Danny Philippou, Michael Philippou), May December (Todd Haynes), Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (James Gunn), Barbie (Greta Gerwig), M3gan (Gerard Johnstone)

Best Revival: Stop Making Sense (In IMAX) (1984) (Jonathan Demme)

The Worst (In Descending Order): Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania (Peyton Reed), 80 For Brady (Kyle Marvin), Holy Spider (Ali Abbasi), The Exorcist: Believer (David Gordon Green), Asteroid City (Wes Anderson)

Still to See: Poor Things, American Fiction, Maestro, Napoleon, Monster, 1946: The Mistranslation That Shifted Culture

Sean Axmaker

Stream on Demand

1. All of Us Strangers (Andrew Haigh)
2. Perfect Days (Wim Wenders)
3. Killers of the Flower Moon (Martin Scorsese)
4. R.M.N. (Cristian Mungiu)
5. Poor Things (Yorgos Lanthimos)
6. Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan)
7. Showing Up (Kelly Reichardt)
8. The Holdovers (Alexander Payne)
9. American Fiction (Cord Jefferson)
 10. Barbie (Greta Gerwig)

Ten honorable mentions (in alphabetical order): Afire (Christian Petzold), Anatomy of a Fall (Justine Triet), The Eight Mountains (Felix van Groeningen and Charlotte Vandermeersch), Fallen Leaves (Aki Kaurismaki), Fair Play (Chloe Domont), Maestro (Bradley Cooper), Origin (Ava DuVernay), Past Lives (Celine Song), A Thousand and One (V.A. Rockwell), You Hurt My Feelings (Nicole Holofcener)

Ten films that made filmgoing fun in 2023: Asteroid City (Wes Anderson), Bottoms (Emma Seligman), The Boy and the Heron (Hayao Miyazaki), Godzilla Minus One (Takashi Yamazaki), John Wick: Chapter 4 (Chad Stahelski), Lola (Andrew Legge), Polite Society (Nida Manzoor), Saltburn (Emerald Fennell), Spider-Man: Across the Spiderverse (Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, and Justin K. Thompson)

Andrew Haigh in ‘All of Us Strangers.’ Photo credit: Photo credit: Searchlight Pictures

Polls / Lists

Sight and Sound / BFI

Slant Magazine

Roger Ebert.com

Indiewire Critic’s Poll

Seattle Film Critics Society lists

The National Society of Film Critics awards

The Seattle Film Critics Society awards

The Online Film Critics Society awards

Other lists

2023 additions to the Library of Congress National Film Registry

Kristin Thompson’s Ten Best Films of … 1933

Rotten Tomatoes Top-rated movies of 2023

Here’s the Parallax View list for 2022

Remembering those we lost in 2023

Posted in: Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, Contributors, DVD, Film Reviews

Meet the Americans: John Doe and George Clooney – DVDs of the Week

[originally published December 28, 2010]

Meet John Doe: 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition (VCI)

Frank Capra’s last feature before leaving Hollywood to contribute his filmmaking talents to the war effort is his most populist piece of social commentary, a cynical satire of a publicity stunt that turns into a popular political movement.

Barbara Stanwyck is equal parts street-smart spunk and ferocious ambition as Ann Mitchell, a newspaper columnist swept out with the rest of the staff when a new owner takes over and leaves a kiss-off piece that starts a ruckus, drives sales and puts her in a prime position to negotiate a new contract, providing she keeps delivering her voice-of-the-people. Gary Cooper is at his laconic, everyman best as former minor league pitcher Long John Willoughby, now a homeless, unemployed drifter hired to play the role of Ann’s fictional John Doe, the voice of the people whose “letters” she writes for the paper. He becomes the public voice, his lazy delivery, lanky body language and homespun spirit giving her words an authenticity that raises the depressed spirits of struggling Americans and sparks a spontaneous grass roots movement.

Read More “Meet the Americans: John Doe and George Clooney – DVDs of the Week”
Posted in: by Sean Axmaker, Contributors, Essays, Film Noir, Film Reviews

Stranger on the Third Floor: Notes on the First Film Noir

Film noir historians trace the roots back to the silent era and the full flowering to the war years, but most tend to agree that the first true American film noir came in the otherwise modest package of an ambitious B-movie crime thriller from 1940. Before the hard-boiled world of suspicious private eyes, double-crossing dames and a nocturnal urban jungle where deals and double-crosses are hatched with often fatal payoffs of The Maltese Falcon, and the slippery narrative and visual expressionism of Citizen Kane (an influence on the genre and a close relative if not actually a member of the immediate noir family), there was Stranger on the Third Floor, a paranoid murder thriller that, for all of its budgetary constraints, took viewers on a spiral of justified paranoia. This odyssey into the dark side of American life begins with the hopeless and helpless cries of innocence from a kid convicted of murder on circumstantial evidence and the apathy of a judge and jury (Elisha Cook Jr., soon to become a minor noir icon, delivers the appeals with a haunting plea and eyes watery with abject terror) and builds to a literal nightmare with images right out of the height of 1920 German Expressionist classics.

Plenty has been written about the nightmare sequence, which explodes out of the increasingly oppressive atmosphere created by director Boris Ingster and cinematographer Nicholas Musuraca (who became RKO’s house specialist for shadowy crime cinema and went on to shoot one of the greatest masterpieces of the genre, the sublime Out of the Past) and the guilty conscience of suddenly self-doubting newspaper reporter Mike Ward (John McGuire) as much as the paranoid twists of the Frank Partos’ screenplay. As many historians have written, the stylized sequence of stark settings created largely by massive shadows thrown across a blank canvas of a screen dressed with exaggerated props was the first American expression of this distinctly German style (which, coincidentally, had since fallen out of favor under the Third Reich’s control of the German film industry). 70 years and scores of stylized noir offers later, it is still impressive and effective and not just for its evocation of paranoid nightmare or psychological terror. This sequence effectively replays the ordeal that hapless Joe Briggs (Elisha Cook) endures in the opening act, but this time around with Mike—the star witness for the prosecution—in his position, grilled by the cops and marched off to execution in a resigned, lifeless lockstep shuffle that echoes the worker slaves of Metropolis.

Read More “Stranger on the Third Floor: Notes on the First Film Noir”
Posted in: by Sean Axmaker, Film Festivals, Silent Cinema

San Francisco Silent Film Festival 2023: One Last Silent Movie Party at the Castro Theatre?

The 26th San Francisco Silent Film Festival was another joyous gathering of silent cinema fans, historians, scholars, and all stripes of movie buffs. Launched in 1995, the festival has grown from a single-day event to—excluding two years of Covid shutdowns—an annual, five-day celebration. It’s about the movies, of course, and this year SFSFF presented 20 features and seven shorts. But it’s also about the silent movie experience. All shows were accompanied by live music, from solo piano to small combos to a 10-piece mini-orchestra for the closing-night event, playing both archival music and original scores, many composed for the screenings.

Allan Dwan’s The Iron Mask, from 1929, opened the festival with a bittersweet farewell to the silents. The film, the swashbuckling final silent feature to star Douglas Fairbanks, has added resonance for SFSFF audiences because of the legacy of the Castro Theatre, the festival’s home for its entire 26 years. The new owners of the movie palace in the heart of the Castro district have controversially chosen to remove the seats and level the floor to turn it into a concert venue, which would effectively end its suitability as a screening space.

In many ways, The Iron Mask’s selection was a fitting farewell, as Fairbanks’s older kind of hero is shaped by loss and disappointment but still driven by duty and honor and, of course, friendship, to fight the good fight one last time. The final images are at once joyous and melancholic, a celebration of what has been accomplished as the end comes.

Continue reading at Slant Magazine

You can also read the essays written for the festival program book at the SFSFF website here.

Posted in: by David Coursen, by Richard T. Jameson, by Robert C. Cumbow, by Robert Horton, by Sean Axmaker, lists

Parallax View’s Best of 2022

A belated welcome to 2023 with one last look back at the best releases of 2022.

As most of us are no longer full-time critics, and many other are understandably wary about seeing movies in theaters at the moment, we haven’t had the same access to films as most film critics. Thus these are snapshots of what we have been able to see, and what impressed us over the last year.

Also, among those we lost in 2022 were friends and fellow film critics John Hartl, whose love of cinema defined the Seattle Times film coverage for his 38 year-tenure as the paper’s head film critic, and Sheila Benson, who was (among other achievements) the chief film critic for the Los Angeles Times from 1981 to 1991 before moving north and making Seattle her home.

Contributors listed in reverse alphabetical orders. Films listed in preferential orders (unless otherwise noted).

Sean Axmaker

  1. EO (Poland, Jerzy Skolimowski)
  2. Women Talking (Sarah Polley)
  3. No Bears (Iran, Jafar Panahi)
  4. Everything Everywhere All at Once (Daniels, aka Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert)
  5. Tár (Todd Field)
  6. The Quiet Girl (Ireland, Colm Bairéad)
  7. Broker (South Korea, Hirokazu Koreeda)
  8. The Fabelmans (Steven Spielberg)
  9. Crimes of the Future (David Cronenberg)
  10. Athena (France, Romain Gavras)

Honorable mentions: All the Beauty and the Bloodshed (Laura Poitras), The Banshees of Inisherin (Martin McDonagh), Decision to Leave (South Korea, Park Chan-wook), Kimi (Steven Soderbergh), Marcel the Shell With Shoes On (Dean Fleischer-Camp), The Menu (Mark Mylod), The Outfit (Graham Moore), RRR (India, S.S. Rajamouli), She Said (Maria Schrader), Saint Omer (France, Alice Diop)

And these films made my year in viewing more fun: Barbarian (Zach Cregger), Catherine Called Birdy (Lena Dunham), Dead for a Dollar (Walter Hill), Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (Rian Johnson), The Northman (Robert Eggers), Vengeance (B.J. Novak), X (Ti West)

David Coursen (Washington, D.C.)

Adjusted for inflation and in alphabetical order:

Top Tier:
Both Sides of the Blade (Claire Denis)
Holy Spider (Ali Abbasi)

Rest of the Best:
Ahed’s Knee (Nadav Lapid)
Ballad of a White Cow (Behtash Sanaeeha and Maryam Moqadam)
Benediction (Terrence Davies)
Boy from Heaven (Tarik Saleh)
Hero (Asghar Farhadi)
Hive (Blerta Basholli)
Hit the Road (Panah Panahi)
In Front of Your Face (Hong Sang-soo)
Master (Mariama Diallo)
Memoria (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
R.M.N. (Cristian Mungiu)

Honorable Mention:
Armageddon Time (James Gray)
Happening (Audrey Diwan)
Nope (Jordan Peele)
Till (Chinone Chukwu)

‘Tár’ Photo credit: Florian Hoffmeister / Focus Features

Robert Cumbow

No “Top Ten” or “Best” lists for me again this year. As always I prefer to just note my favorites (and acknowledge my limitations):

FAVORITE FILMS OF 2022
Vengeance
Tár
The Outfit
Crimes of the Future
Dead for a Dollar

PROPS TO:
The Banshees of Inisherin
Everything Everywhere All At Once
X
Barbarian
The Menu

APOLOGIES TO THESE THAT MIGHT MAKE THE LIST BUT I HAVEN’T SEEN THEM YET:
Blonde
The Fabelmans
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On
Elvis
Decision to Leave
Something in the Dirt

Kathy Fennessy

  1. EO (Jerzy Skolimowski) 
  2. Decision to Leave (Park Chan-wook) 
  3. Benediction (Terence Davies) 
  4. Crimes of the Future (David Cronenberg) 
  5. Lost Illusions (Xavier Giannoli) 
  6. Happening (Audrey Diwal) 
  7. Aftersun (Charlotte Wells) 
  8. X (Ti West) 
  9. Great Freedom (Sebastian Meise) 
  10. Compartment Number 6 (Juho Kuosmanen)
‘Crimes of the Future.’ Photo credit: Nikos Nikolopoulos / Serendipity Point Films

Robert Horton

Top tier:
Crimes of the Future (David Cronenberg).
Happening (Audrey Diwan).
The Eternal Daughter (Joanna Hogg).
Tár (Todd Field).

Second tier:
The Quiet Girl (Colm Bairéad).
The Banshees of Inisherin (Martin McDonagh).
Hit the Road (Panah Panahi).
In Front of Your Face (Hong Sang-soo).
EO (Jerzy Skolimowski).
Watcher (Chloe Okuno).

Third tier:
Utama (Alejandro Loayza Grisi).
The Fabelmans (Steven Spielberg).
Aftersun (Charlotte Wells).
Close (Lukas Dhont).
Three Minutes: A Lengthening (Bianca Stigter).
Murina (Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic).
Benediction (Terence Davies).

(originally published at The Seasoned Ticket)

Richard T. Jameson

The 2022 movie I regarded as the best for most of the year was Watcher, the debut feature of Chloe Okuno — a film of Hitchcockian intelligence with no need to strew Hitchcock hommages.

The movie that now claims top line of my list is Jerzy Skolimowski’s EO, the kind of film with the power to adjust the world.

The 2022 movies I love most are The Banshees of Inisherin, by Martin McDonagh, and Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans.

In alphabetical order, the remainder of my Ten Best are:
Broker (Hirokazu Kore-eda)
Dead for a Dollar (Walter Hill)
Decision to Leave (Park Chan-wook)
Happening (Audrey Diwan)
No Bears (Jafar Panahi)
Tár (Todd Field).

I also want to highlight the extraordinary beauty and power of Taylor Sheridan’s ten-part streaming series 1883.

Moira Macdonald (Seattle Times)

(in alphabetical order)
The Banshees of Inisherin
Everything Everywhere All at Once
Tár
Turning Red

(originally published at Seattle Times)

And Moira’s movie highlights of 2022 (in rhyme) can be found here.

‘The Fabelmans.’ Photo credit: Merie Weismiller Wallace / Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment

Polls / Lists

Sight and Sound / BFI

Slant Magazine

Roger Ebert.com

Indiewire Critic’s Poll

The National Society of Film Critics awards

The Seattle Film Critics Society awards

The Online Film Critics Society awards

Other lists

2022 additions to the Library of Congress National Film Registry

Kristin Thompson’s Ten Best Films of … 1932

Rotten Tomatoes Top-rated movies of 2022

Here’s the Parallax View list for 2021

Remembering those we lost in 2022

Posted in: by Sean Axmaker, Film Reviews, Jean-Luc Godard

Pierrot le Fou – Love, hate, action, violence, death

[Originally published on TCM.com on November 19, 2007]

Jean-Luc Godard, arguably the most important film director of the 1960s, began the decade with his feature debut Breathless, a scrappy, free-spirited, cinematically audacious take on the B-movie crime genre. By the end of the sixties, he had all but rejected commercial cinema for politically pointed commentaries and film essays like Sympathy For the Devil and Le Gai Savoir.

Smack in the middle of the genre goofing and cinematic game-playing of Godard’s earlier sixties film and the consumer satire and cultural deconstructions of his late sixties films lies Pierrot le Fou (1965). Not that there was some sudden turn in direction; Godard embraced both sides throughout and they blur in so many films of this era. But Pierrot feels like a perfect midpoint (whether or not you could even objectively measure such a thing) in the way that it bounces between the flippant play of moviemaking fun and the social commentary on the modern world.

Pierrot le Fou is a road movie, a crime fantasy, a cultural satire, a tale of consumerist alienation and bourgeois apathy, and a femme fatale noir in Technicolor and CinemaScope, shot in the bright sunlit canvas of broad daylight. Jean-Paul Belmondo, star of Breathless, plays Ferdinand, a former teacher pushed into an advertising career by a wealthy wife with high-society values: “You’ll do as your told,” she demands as they get ready for a party where she hopes he will be offered a job, and he bristles at the empty life he inhabits, escaping only through his books. Anna Karina, Godard’s one-time muse and wife (their divorce became final before the shoot was over), is Marianne Renoir, niece of Ferdinand’s brother-in-law and the family babysitter.

Read More “Pierrot le Fou – Love, hate, action, violence, death”
Posted in: by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Film Reviews, Jean-Luc Godard

Jean-Luc Godard’s ‘Histoire(s) du Cinema’

Early in the career of Jean-Luc Godard career, when he still the firebrand film critic aspiring to make features, Godard contemplated the “Mystery and fascination of this American cinema” and found himself bedeviled by an unshakable realization: “How can I hate John Wayne upholding Goldwater and yet love him tenderly when abruptly he takes Natalie Wood into his arms in the last reel of The Searchers?”

Forty years later, he’s still pondering the question in Histoire(s) du cinema (1989), his epic rumination on cinema as industry and art. In eight episodes and four-and-a-half hours, Godard struggles between his conflicting perspectives on cinema: on the one hand an industrialized business that cranks out products designed to sell images, consumer goods and an entire ideology, and on the other, a history of images, stories and experiences that haunt the soul and stand with the great works of art.

Histoire(s) du cinema is not, strictly speaking, a history of cinema, at least not in a traditional documentary sense. The title provides the first hint. In French, “histoire” means both “history” and “story” and the (s) suggests the multiple histories and stories involved in any understanding of cinema, not the least of which is Godard’s complicated personal connection to film history. From passionate young critic staking out his position in the fifties to maverick director who shook up the staid French industry with provocative films to political commentator and social critic exploring the frontiers of expression and representation, he has been nothing if not provocative. The personal and political are constantly in flux in this collection of eight video essays, begun in 1988 and concluded in 1998, where the Nouvelle Vague legend considers the history of the movies with a typically idiosyncratic style and non-linear train of thought.

Continue reading on Turner Classic Movies

Released by Olive Video. Available on DVD from Amazon.

Posted in: Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, Contributors, Film Reviews, Jean-Luc Godard

Blu-ray: Jean-Luc Godard’s ‘A Married Woman’

marriedwomanBD

A Married Woman (Cohen, Blu-ray, DVD), subtitled “Fragments of a film shot in 1964,” is Jean-Luc Godard’s modern portrait of love and sex in the media-saturated sixties with Macha Méril in a role that was clearly meant for Godard’s wife and longtime muse Anna Karina (they were separated at the time) and it channels Godard’s feelings at the time. Like Karina, Méril’s Charlotte is beautiful young woman who is married to an older man and having an affair with an actor. The film opens on a montage where Charlotte is reduced to parts—legs, arms, back, lips, midrift, isolated glimpses of the naked female suggesting those erogenous zones that could not be photographed in a mainstream feature film—caressed by her unidentified lover. It’s shot in creamy cool black-and-white by longtime cinematographer Raoul Coutard and the strikingly handsome formality is both erotic and removed, suggesting a physical intimacy and an emotional disconnection even in even the most intimate scenes of lovemaking and pillow talk.

Charlotte has no close friends (at least that we see), lives in a sleek modern apartment devoid of lived-in warmth, and shrinks from the touch of her pilot husband Pierre (Philippe Leroy). He’s an intellectual with a condescending attitude and she’s more comfortable living in the moment than grappling with history and memory, which becomes all too apparent in their uncomfortable post-dinner dialogue. In between the lovemaking and the conversations, Charlotte discovers she is pregnant. She doesn’t know which man is the father

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Posted in: by Sean Axmaker, Contributors, Industry, Interviews, Science Fiction, Technology

“Breaking new ground has always been in the medium itself” – An Interview With Douglas Trumbull

On Saturday, February 11, Douglas Trumbull received the Gordon E. Sawyer Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for his contributions to the technology of the industry. Trumbull has over a dozen patents in his name, and developed or improved upon many of the filmmaking techniques that are standard in today’s industry, among them miniature compositing, high frame rate photography and motion control photography. This is his second special Oscar—though nominated for his special effects work on Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Blade Runner, his only previous Oscar a Scientific and Engineering Award from 1993, for his work developing the 65mm Showscan Camera System.

Revived and expanded from an interview I conducted with Douglas Trumbull in 2005, originally published in shorter form on Greencine in January, 2006.

Douglas Trumbull is unique among American filmmakers. At age 23, he was part of the team that pioneered the next generation of cinema special effects in Stanley Kubrick’s visionary 2001: A Space Odyssey. It was education you couldn’t get in film school and he continued to expand his skills and techniques in such films as The Andromeda Strain, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Star Trek: The Motion Picture. He made his debut as a director on the ecologically minded Silent Running, where his special effects crew included John Dyksra (who went on to become the Oscar-winning special effects supervisor of Star Wars and many other films) and Richard Yuricich (who partnered with Trumbull on many subsequent projects).

Trumbull’s second feature as a director, Brainstorm, was all but orphaned by MGM and his directorial efforts since have been outside the Hollywood system, including short films in his own high-definition Showscan process (a large-frame film format that runs at 60 frames a second) and Back to the Future… The Ride,” a multi-media mix of film, sound, and simulator ride. More recently, Trumbull worked with Terrence Malick (another maverick director who commands complete control over this films) to create the birth of life sequences for The Tree of Life. Yet to this day, Trumbull’s name is still most closely linked with 2001 and his special effects work on the cult science fiction classic Blade Runner.

Trumbull continues to explore the boundaries of what he calls “immersive media”–3-D, interactive media, virtual reality–and has been partnering with Professor Tom Furness of University of Washington’s HITLab (the Human Interface Technology Lab) with some of his projects.

In November 2005, while in Seattle to meet with Furness, he made an appearance at the Science Fiction Museum for a special showing of Silent Running. In the midst of his multi-media presentation – using still and video footage launched from his lap-top to accompany his talk – he brought some of the working props form the film and donated a drone arm: his gift to the Science Fiction Museum.

At the end of the very long day (after his exhaustive presentation, Trumbull gamely spent over an hour answering questions from the audience), he agreed to sit down for an interview over a late dinner, where we talked about his work with Stanley Kubrick, his own films as a director, and why he hasn’t directed a Hollywood film in over 20 years.

Douglas Trumbull at the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle, 2005

Sean Axmaker: You had trained as an illustrator. How did you wind up in filmmaking and special effects?

Douglas Trumbull: The story goes something like this. I was going to school at this community college in L.A., kind of learning illustration. I started out studying architecture and this was the pre-architecture curriculum, which was drawing, painting, water colors, graphic design. In that very first year I realized that I’m not specifically interested in architecture, I’m interested in this other thing. I started painting and illustrating and I had an air brush and I was trying to learn the skills of illustration, but I was a science fiction guy so I had my little portfolio that was full of sci-fi, Analog magazine cover kind of stuff, and I went into Hollywood looking for a job because I had no money, I couldn’t afford to stay in school. I took my portfolio around to animation studios, because that was my first inclination, animation and somehow making illustrations move,. I would talk to these really nice guys and they would look at my portfolio and say “You’re not in the right place. It’s great to have you here but you should try out this place across town called Graphic Films because they’re doing space films.” So I went over there and met Con Patterson, who worked on 2001, and Ben Jackson, and they were both mentors to me. They said “Yeah, we might could use somebody like you. We’ll give you a task. Paint this satellite and come back tomorrow morning,” which I did, and I got a job immediately and worked at Graphic Films for a couple years. I did some obscure films for the Air Force about the space program and then there was this one film about the Apollo program that was kind of interesting. I was painting lunar modules and lunar surfaces and the vertical assembly building on Saturn 5 rockets and animated this space stuff. And then Graphic Films got a couple of contracts to do films for the New York World’s Fair in ’64, it was a two year fair in 1964 and 65, and one of them was this dome thing called To The Moon And Beyond, which was kind of a Powers of Ten movie. It went from the big bang to inside an atom in ten minutes.

Read More ““Breaking new ground has always been in the medium itself” – An Interview With Douglas Trumbull”
Posted in: by David Coursen, by Richard T. Jameson, by Robert Horton, by Sean Axmaker, lists, remembrance

Parallax View’s Best of 2021

A belated welcome to 2022 with one last look back at the best releases of 2021.

As most of us are no longer full-time critics, and many other are understandably wary about seeing movies in theaters at the moment, we haven’t had the same access to films as most film critics. For that reason, many of our regular contributors respectfully dropped out this year. For those of us who did participate, these are snapshots of what we have been able to see, and what impressed us over the last year.

Also, among those we lost in 2021 was one of our own, fellow film critic and good friend Tom Keogh, who passed away from long-term health issues.

Contributors listed in reverse alphabetical orders. Films listed in preferential orders (unless otherwise noted).

Moira Macdonald (Seattle Times)

Favorite movies of 2021

My Favorite Movie of the Year: The Power of the Dog
The Movie That Gave Me the Most Joy: In the Heights
The Movie I Most Wished I Could Have Seen on the Big Screen: Passing
The Movie I’m Most Grateful to Have Seen on the Big Screen: Spider-Man: No Way Home
The Movie That Was Exactly What I Thought It Would Be, and I Loved It: The French Dispatch
The Movie That Wasn’t At All What I Thought It Would Be, and I Loved It: West Side Story
The Movie With the Most Glorious Fashion: Cruella

(originally published at Seattle Times)

Kodi Smit-McPhee and Benedict Cumberbatch in “The Power of the Dog.” Photo credit: Kirsty Griffin/Netflix

Richard T. Jameson

Back in 2017, the most riveting screen experience I had was season one of Mindhunter (David Fincher et al.) on Netflix. In 2021 it was another Netflix limited series, Mike Flanagan’s Midnight Mass, each of the seven episodes casting a spell all its own, mounting toward the extraordinary finale with its utterly unexpected swarm of conflicting emotions. Midnight Mass premiered in September. Most of the films on the Ten Best list and addenda came along later. And no, I haven’t seen Drive My Car.

1. The Lost Daughter
2. The Card Counter
3. The Power of the Dog
4. The Worst Person in the World
5. Licorice Pizza
6. Bergman Island
7. Titane
8. Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn
9. Annette

I’ll forgo a tenth slot if I may salute Passing, The Last Duel, Don’t Look Up, Last Night in Soho, Dune (Part One), Red Rocket, and The Night House.

Robert Horton

1. What Do We See When We Look at the Sky? (Aleksander Koberidze, George/Germany)
2. Licorice Pizza (Paul Thomas Anderson, USA)
3. Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy (Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, Japan)
4. Drive My Car (Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, Japan)
5. The Power of the Dog (Jane Campion, USA/Australia/New Zealand etc.)
6. Herr Bachmann and His Class (Maria Speth, Germany)
7. Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn (Radu Jude, Romania)
8. The Velvet Underground (Todd Haynes)
9. The Worst Person in the World (Joachim Trier, Norway)

(originally published at The Seasoned Ticket)

Kathy Fennessy

1. Drive My Car (Ryūsuke Hamaguchi)
2. Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn (Radu Jude)
3. No Sudden Move (Steven Soderbergh)
4. The Velvet Underground (Todd Haynes)
5. The Power of the Dog (Jane Campion)
6. Licorice Pizza (Paul Thomas Anderson)
7. Pig (Michael Sarnoski)
8. The Worst Person in the World (Joachim Trier)
9. Shiva Baby (Emma Seligman)
10. The Card Counter (Paul Schrader) 

(originally published at AndMoreAgain)

Oscar Isaac in ‘The Card Counter.’ Photo credit: Focus Features

David Coursen (Washington, D.C.)

10 Best
Procession (Robert Greene, US)
Swimming out Til the Sea Turns Blue (Jia Zhangke, China)
The Velvet Underground (Todd Haynes, U.S.)
The Woman Who Ran (Hong Sang-soo, S. Korea)
Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn/Uppercase Print (Radu Jade, Rumania)
Days (Tsai Ming-liang, Taiwan)
There is No Evil (Mohammad Rasoulof, Germany, Iran)
Power of the Dog (Jane Campion, NZ)
Preparations to be Together for an Unknown Period of Time (Lili Horvat, Hungary)
Drive My Car (Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Japan)

Honorable Mention:
Passing (Rebecca Hall, US)
You Will Die at Twenty (Amjad Abu Alala, Sudan)
Licorice Pizza (Paul Thomas Anderson, US)

Sean Axmaker

1. The Lost Daughter (Maggie Gyllenhall, US)
2. The Green Knight (David Lowery, US)
3. The Card Counter (Paul Schrader, US)
4. Spencer (Pablo Larrain, US/UK)
5. Drive My Car (Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, Japan)
6. The Worst Person in the World (Joachim Trier, Norway)
7. The Power of the Dog (Jane Campion, New Zealand)
8. Petite Maman (Céline Sciamma, France)
9. Quo Vadis, Aida (Jasmila Zbanic, Bosnia & Herzegovina)
10. Licorice Pizza (Paul Thomas Anderson, US)

Runners-up and honorable mentions: Bergman Island (Mia Hansen-Løve, France/Sweden), C’mon, C’mon (Mike Mills, US), A Hero (Asghar Farhadi, Iran/France), The Last Duel (Ridley Scott, US), Last Night in Soho (Edgar Wright, UK), Passing (Rebecca Hall, US), Pig (Michael Sarnoski, US), Shiva Baby (Emma Seligman, US), The Souvenir Part II (Joanna Hogg, UK), Titane (Julia Ducournau, France)

Surprises and joys:
Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar (Josh Greenbaum) – a whimsical comedy played for utter absurdity that came along just when I needed a belly laugh.
Get Back (Peter Jackson) – an utterly immersive experience and an unexpectedly joyous exploration of creation and collaboration.

Dakota Johnson and Olivia Colman in “The Lost Daughter.” Photo credit: Yannis Drakoulidis/Netflix

The Seattle Film Critics Society will announce their 2021 awards on January 17.

Polls / Lists

Sight and Sound / BFI

Slant

Roger Ebert.com

Indiewire Critic’s Poll

Other lists

2021 additions to the Library of Congress National Film Registry

Kristin Thompson and David Bordwell’s Ten Best Films of … 1931

Rotten Tomatoes Top-rated movies of 2021

Here’s the Parallax View list for 2020

Remembering those we lost in 2021