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Category Archives: film

Los Angeles, the City in Cinema: Kiss Me Deadly (Robert Aldrich, 1955)

Los Angeles noirs don’t come much noirer than Kiss Me Deadly, Robert Aldrich’s adaptation of a Mickey Spillane bestseller that transplants the story from New York and boils it even harder by turning its private detective protagonist Mike Hammer into a sociopath as thuggish as the criminals around him. An ill-considered pickup of a hitchhiker […]

Los Angeles, the City in Cinema: The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (John Cassavetes, 1978)

The 1970s grotesque of John Cassavetes Los Angeles gangster action movie takes place not in the margins of the city, but in a city made up of nothing but margins: mediocre eateries, empty gas stations, parking garages, and the strip club owned by its businessman-turned-hitman protagonist. Tasked with finding and killing the titular “Chinese bookie” […]

Los Angeles, the City in Cinema: “Strange Days” (Kathryn Bigelow, 1995)

Strange Days counts as a Los Angeles movie, a hard-boiled detective movie, a cyberpunk movie, and a “social issues” movie, all of which came out in the shadow of the city’s 1992 riots. In an ideal setting for the subgenre’s mixture of “high tech and low life,” gentleman-loser protagonist Lenny Nero deals in pure neural […]

Los Angeles, the City in Cinema: Time Code (Mike Figgis, 2000)

I still remember sitting in the theater when I first saw Timecode, watching the screen divide into four, knowing I was about to see something truly knew. The film’s Hollywood industry satire — replete with glamor, seediness, earthquakes, art, commerce, drugs, adultery, girls, jealousy, aspiration, desperation, a limousine, and a gun — plays out in those […]

Los Angeles, the City in Cinema: Repo Man (Alex Cox, 1984)

Los Angeles, the City in Cinema, my new series of video essays, examines the variety of Los Angeleses revealed in the films set there, both those new and old, mainstream and obscure, respectable and schlocky, appealing and unappealing — just like the city itself. Its debut pays a visit to the punks, drunks, thugs, loners, feds, […]

The Films of Sangsoo Hong

Say you watch Korean movies. Often, outside the peninsula itself, this means you’ve gotten into the murderous grotesquerie of Chan-wook Park’s “Vengeance Trilogy,” or Joon-ho Bong’s simultaneously goofy and solemn political allegory of a monster mashThe Host, or any amount of Ki-duk Kim’s vast, high-profile (and as some fans admit, uneven) output. But mention the […]

Our Curious Man in Japan: Chris Marker, Sans Soleil, and the Films that Stand for Us

Name your favorite film. Now define favorite. Is it the one you admire the most? The one you watch most often? The one that keeps surfacing in your thoughts with the least prompting? Or simply the one you name when asked, hoping to project an affiliated identity in so doing? Your definition of the term, […]

One year in Los Angeles; three showings of Los Angeles Plays Itself

  Being someone for whom aloneness feels like living burial, I suppose I could have chosen a more suitable life than one involving so much reading, writing, and filmgoing. True, you do sit among dozens to hundreds of others when you see a movie, but that strikes me as isolation by other means. I suppose […]

My Chris Marker tribute post for Open Culture

  The filmmaker Chris Marker, who passed away Sunday on his 91st birthday, rose to cinematic respectability amid the storm of press surrounding the French New Wave and Left Bank Film Movement in the fifties and sixties. Publicity-averse and deliberately enigmatic, he always seemed to stand, untroubled, within the storm’s eye, and there found just […]

I take on A Clockwork Orange on The Auteurcast

Rudie Obias and West Anthony invited me on their podcast The Auteurcast, a show which picks out fascinating directors and discusses all their films one-by-one. I joined them during a Stanley Kubrick cycle. They would have had no way of knowing this — except due to sheer film-geek likelihood — but Kubrick counts among the […]