A Century of Film



A long time ago, I had an idea.  The idea was that I would try to see every single film in a year.  This is, actually, quite an insane concept that you don’t know how insane it is unless you actually try it. (more…)


A Century of Film


The Studio

In 1978, the United Artists heads were tired of being told what to do by parent company Transamerica and the head of Transamerica, Jack Beckett, said “if the people at United Artists don’t like it, they can quit and go off on their own.”  Which is what they did, leaving the next day and forming Orion Pictures, with a financing and distributing affiliation with Warner Brothers. (more…)

Straight Man

  • Author:  Richard Russo
  • Published:  1997
  • Publisher:  Random House
  • Pages:  391
  • First Line:  “Truth be told, I’m not an easy man.”
  • Last Lines:  see below
  • First Read:  Summer 2001

The campus novel has a long and strong tradition.  Its origins date back to the 30’s although the comedic campus novel really dates to 1954 with the publication of Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis.  While there have been a number of really good serious novels that can be considered campus novels (both Human Stain and Disgrace are among my Top 100 and Possession could definitely be considered one), I prefer the ones that find the humor at the core of the university experience, books like Wonder Boys or Dear Committee Members or even White Noise. (more…)

One of the most disturbing scenes in film history and it’s not in the book at all.

My Top 10

  1. Schindler’s List
  2. The Age of Innocence
  3. The Remains of the Day
  4. In the Name of the Father
  5. Shadowlands
  6. The Snapper
  7. Much Ado About Nothing
  8. Short Cuts
  9. Like Water for Chocolate
  10. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape

note:  A very strong Top 5 and Top 10.  There are several more movies on my list at the bottom though The Fugitive (#13) and Strictly Ballroom (#17) aren’t included because they’re reviewed below as award nominees. (more…)

“The air was white, and when they alighted it tasted like cold pennies.  At times they passed through a clot of grey.  Mrs. Wilcox’s vitality was low that morning, and it was Margaret who decided on a horse for this little girl, a golliwog for that, for the rector’s wife a copper warming-tray.”  (p 60, Norton Critical Edition)

My Top 10

  1. Howards End
  2. The Player
  3. The Last of the Mohicans
  4. A Few Good Men
  5. Flirting
  6. Glengarry Glen Ross
  7. Raise the Red Lantern
  8. Enchanted April
  9. Aladdin
  10. A River Runs Through It

note:  The list goes well past 10 as listed below though none of the other films on my list earned nominations (so they’re all in the top list at the bottom) and the rest of the list is all fairly weak.


A Century of Film

Visual Effects

Visual Effects might seem like a new thing, stemming first from 2001 and then from Star Wars with increasingly developed technology leading to amazing new things on-screen.  But they have actually been there from the start.  A Trip to the Moon, the first great film ever made, back in 1902, used brilliant Visual Effects to show its incredible trip. (more…)

A Century of Film


The Genre

Science Fiction on film goes back to the dawn of narrative feature film storytelling.  The first great film, A Trip to the Moon, was a Sci-Fi film complete with state of the art special effects.  But not everyone could be George Méliès and not very many people tried.  I’ve only seen three Sci-Fi films made before the advent of sound (and there’s not much out there at feature length that I haven’t seen) and all of them were foreign (A Trip to Mars, Aelita: Queen of Mars, Metropolis).

The genre mostly lay dormant in the 1930’s and 1940’s.  If you click on those links, the vast majority of what is listed there (and even what is listed there isn’t very long) is either a serial (which I don’t count) or something I list as another genre (often Horror).  I’ve seen just 11 films from those two decades which I count (and none after 1941).  Then came the 50’s. (more…)