Monday, January 29, 2007

Favorite Actor Monday

Katrin Cartlidge died too young, at 41, from complications of pneumonia and septicaemia, but she left behind some incredible performances. She was free of fluff and "love me, please, love me." Onscreen, she was fearless, intense, scary, lovely, and funny. I miss seeing her act.

Naked (Mike Leigh, 1993)
Breaking the Waves (Lars Von Trier, 1996)
Career Girls (Mike Leigh, 1997)
Claire Dolan (Lodge Kerrigan, 1998)
Topsy-Turvy (Mike Leigh, 1999)

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Inland Empire (David Lynch)

"Writing about Wild at Heart in 1990, I suggested that Lynch's career seemed to dispute William Butler Yeats's memorable formulation 'In dreams begin responsibilities.' He seemed to be in determined denial about the implications of the violence he trafficked in, with a child's view of good and evil, a formalist attitude toward images and sounds, a solipsistic desire to remain politically disengaged, and a lack of interest in understanding or addressing how the grown-up world works....In Inland Empire, after 30 years of struggling with studios, he goes further, recording some of his own visceral recoil from Hollywood in general and its meat market in particular -- which makes me wonder if his art has been permanently changed for the better....Lynch also seems to have realized that in Hollywood remaining disengaged and innocent ultimately compromises his freedom as an artist, and like it or not, he's had to take a political stance...." -- Jonathan Rosenbaum

"Cheap DV technology has opened Lynch's mental floodgates. Inland Empire is suffused with dread of . . . what? Sex, in Lynch, is a priori nightmarish. But there's a sense here that film itself is evil. Movies are all about editing and acting—which is to say, visual lies and verbal ones—and Inland Empire makes sure you think about both." -- J. Hoberman

"A work of art has no importance whatever to society. It is only important to the individual, and only the individual reader is important to me." -- Vladimir Nabokov

"Suh-weet." -- final word spoken in Inland Empire

I see a lot of films I like, both in theaters and at home, and even some I love, but very rarely do I have the kind of intense, submerged, transcendent, and visceral experience I felt while watching (and hearing and feeling and floating in) David Lynch's new film. I've realized that I don't know or care what words like "masterpiece," "best," or even "good" or "bad" mean, what relevance these words have, even if I still use them too much. I am more interested in my own experiences as an individual, and others' experiences as individuals, than I am in any conventional wisdom, consensus, or consumer guide. I want to know what other people think, not because I'm looking for instruction or direction or advice on how to spend my money, but because I'm interested in their thoughts and ideas as separate entities from my own. I want to enlarge my own experiences by considering theirs. I'm baffled by mainstream criticism's function as a sort of Consumer Reports of art, a test-driving of entertainments as a way to winnow the vastness of human expression down to a narrow list of palatable, suggested consensus favorites rather than an expansion of ideas and experiences. So, I include these four quotes above as possible, valid entry points into the film or four possible avenues of thought after seeing it.

I've long felt a strong, personal connection to Lynch's work, probably because many of his dreamily subconscious dream and nightmare obsessions are also mine: vivid dark-reds and blues, woods and highways at night, match flames, unexplainable feelings of dread, curtains, long hallways, staircases, lightbulbs, lamps, light and shadow, time loops, the shock of self-recognition, voyeurism, beautiful women, menacing dangerous men, time, the strangeness of ordinary objects, aw-shucks folksiness, brutality, humorous non-sequitur. As Jim Emerson suggested in his review, Lynch has been making one long film his entire career, and Inland Empire strikes me as both a mindfuck summation of everything he's ever done and the beginning of an entirely new way of working. Shot on outdated, cheap digital video, Inland Empire's look takes some getting used to, especially considering the richly beautiful colors of Lynch's previous shot-on-film work. There are some incredibly ugly visual textures in this film, but also moments of vibrant beauty. Lynch uses the camera like a paintbrush, and the variety and impact of image is astonishing.

Lynch's latest resonated with me in much the same way as two other films I experienced much more intensely than I'm wont to do: John Cassavetes' Love Streams and Jacques Rivette's Celine and Julie Go Boating. I'll refrain from slobbering and ejaculating all over my descriptions of these emotionally intense experiences (to see how embarrassing that can be, read Austin Chronicle editor Louis Black's unfortunate gushing pantswetting for Pan's Labyrinth). What these very different films have in common, and why I think I feel so strongly about them, is their uncompromising and single-minded devotion to a sustained, dreamlike trip into their authors' subconsious minds and obsessions (that Cassavetes' film is based on a play by Ted Allan does not contradict my statement--Cassavetes rewrote almost every line in the play, keeping only the characters' names, jobs, and relations to each other and kept his friend Allan's name on the film so the playwright could benefit financially). These three films were also written as they were shot, in collaboration with, and functioning as love letters to, the actors appearing in them. The three films also almost completely eschew plot in favor of character, mood, ellipses, and emotion while never sacrificing narrative drive or motivation, and contain many visual references to the directors' other works.

Lynch's film is in many ways his darkest. I don't remember ever being so frightened by a movie as I was by two of the images here. A friend of mine said she was close to having panic attacks a few times during her viewing of the film (she meant this as a compliment, by the way). But as Dennis Lim astutely points out in his review, "Mulholland Drive may be a more palatable film, but its reality is harsher: a dream overlaid on a nightmare. Inland Empire is almost all nightmare, and yet, through considerable exertions, it eventually blinks itself awake, or into a state of grace." The closing credits sequence is one of the most joyful scenes I've encountered, and pushed me out of the theater with a real sense of wonder and happiness toward the "wild at heart, and weird on top" world we're temporarily inhabiting.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the film is Lynch's sound design. The soundtrack (by which I mean every sound in the movie) could be listened to sans visuals and the experience would be just as intense. Lynch deftly layers low hums, whooshings, breaths, screams, extreme volume fluctuations, echos, chatter, finger snaps, and dissonance with music by Penderecki, Little Eva, Etta James, Beck, Nina Simone, and Lynch himself.

There are a million other things to say about this film, but I'll save them for the next time I watch it.

J. Hoberman
Jim Emerson
Jonathan Rosenbaum
Dennis Lim

Monday, January 22, 2007

Favorite Actor Monday

Joseph Cotten could play menacing, charming, kind, foolish, evil, powerful, or despondent with almost-minute changes in facial expression. He wasn't obvious or flashy, but his best performances have such a powerful immediacy that they seem to be happening right now, at this moment. He was one of the very best.

Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941)
The Magnificent Ambersons (Orson Welles, 1942)
Shadow of a Doubt (Alfred Hitchcock, 1943)
The Third Man (Carol Reed, 1949)
Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 1958)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

2006 in Review Part 2: Havana Nights

To follow up my list of favorite films of the year, here is more pointless drivel.

Runners-Up, or Movies I Liked a Lot but Did Not Love and the Reasons Why I Did Not Love Them
The New World (Terrence Malick) Malick's fourth feature in 35 years was beautiful, intelligent, and full of enough mystery to withstand repeat viewings, but I really, really hate Colin Farrell. Even looking at him causes me great pain. I can give even my least favorite actors the benefit of the doubt, but I am honestly repulsed by Farrell. This is not fair to Malick's film, and I know that, but he was the only reason I don't rate "The New World" higher.
Lonesome Jim (Steve Buscemi) I love Buscemi's direction and I love the cast, but I'm tired of generic indie scripts about vibrant, interesting women who feel the need to save childish, self-pitying sadsacks (though I was one of these guys in college, and sometimes still am). This one is better than most, however, and Buscemi finds likable actors who play these parts just right, and thank god for the film's sense of humor.
The Puffy Chair (Jay Duplass) Another goddamn twentysomething apathetic infantile hipster relationship movie with an invasive "indie-rock hits" score (Spoon, etc.) combined with a flat and uninteresting visual presentation. On the plus side, it's very funny and Kathryn Aselton is my new favorite actress.
The Proposition (John Hillcoat) If I was picking my favorites today, I would probably swap this one for "A Prairie Home Companion." I'm not really sure why I didn't rate it higher, except that the theater had projection trouble when I saw it, causing the image to shake wildly about once every five minutes for the first 30 minutes of the movie. That, and I'm not sure how much a film about excessively violent revenge helps anybody, even though I tend to respond favorably to that kind of thing.
The Bridesmaid (Claude Chabrol) To be honest, Chabrol's confidence as a filmmaker, his mastery of tone and structure, and his direction of actors probably beat the pants off any movie on my best list, but this is a minor work for him compared to the truly great movies he's made over the past 50 years. If you'll forgive the lapse into Harry "I've met no buffet I haven't conquered" Knowles-isms for a second, Chabrol's a badass.

My favorite film society, revival, and re-release screenings of the year
Love Streams (John Cassavetes)

and the rest
Wheel of Time (Werner Herzog)
Richard Pryor: Live in Concert (Jeff Margolis)
In a Lonely Place (Nicholas Ray)
Sans Soleil (Chris Marker)
Park Row (Samuel Fuller)
The Trouble with Harry, Shadow of a Doubt, and North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock)
Songs from the Second Floor (Roy Andersson)
Baby Doll and A Streetcar Named Desire (Elia Kazan)
Guys and Dolls (Joseph L. Mankiewicz)
Hail the Conquering Hero and The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (Preston Sturges)
The Shop Around the Corner and Heaven Can Wait (Ernst Lubitsch)
The Party (Blake Edwards)
Adam's Rib (George Cukor)
The Mirror (Andrei Tarkovsky)
Quai des Orfevres (Henri-Georges Clouzot)
These Are the Damned and The Romantic Englishwoman (Joseph Losey)
Army of Shadows (Jean-Pierre Melville)

A much richer list than my 2006 choices, but that doesn't worry me too much.

Unfettered vision of the year
Terry Gilliam's "The Brothers Grimm" was loud, oppressive, and dull, and it made me happy to read that Gilliam walked off the set mid-film in protestation of the Weinstein brothers' meddling in the production. He left to make his own film, exactly the way he wanted to make it. Tideland is the result, and I have no idea what to make of it. The film is dark, depressing, funny, disgusting, stupid, ugly, beautiful, annoying, tiresome, and thrilling, depending on which scene you're watching, and is not easy to sit through. Jeff Bridges spends most of the running time as a decomposing corpse, overacting is in abundance, a retarded character would make Forrest Gump blush, and the last few minutes are pure visual poetry. After leaving the theater, I had no idea whether I loved or hated the movie, and I still don't know. But I'm glad I saw it, and I'm glad Gilliam got to make it.

The most underrated movie of the year
Terry Zwigoff and Daniel Clowes'
Art School Confidential was pretty much universally hated, especially by fans of Zwigoff and Clowes. While I agree that it is the worst thing either of these men have done, and is a complete mess besides, I have a strong affection for this three-legged toothless dog. Until it devolves into complete misanthropy, obvious jokes, and plot-heavy murder mystery in its final third, the first two-thirds, though riddled with structural and tonal blunders and an unsure approach, are a daring combination of broad '80s-style teen comedy, slasher film, and pointed, intelligent satire. The points this movie makes about the teaching, presentation, sale, and consumption of art are important ones. John Malkovich, Jack Ong, Anjelica Huston, and Jim Broadbent are very strong in it. And I like how a movie about what's wrong with art is so goddamn artless in its approach. There's something almost perfect about that.

The most overrated movie of the year
A lot of people seem to have their Martin Scorsese rubber stamps out, hailing The Departed as a return to form, a modern classic. At last, Scorsese has made another gangster film. All hail King Marty, our finest filmmaker. I'm baffled by the overwhelmingly positive response to this movie. Obviously, I have no special insight into the mind of Scorsese, so what I'm about to say could be complete bullshit, but this seems to me like Scorsese's least personal film, an unintentional Three Stooges-style gangster parody. "Ahh, wiseguy, eh?" Nicholson says as some knucklehead gets blood all over him. "Why, I oughta." Zoink! Broken hand! Bonk! Eat a cockroach! Zango! Throw a pile of coke all over a hooker! Wave a dildo in a movie theater! "Fuck you, you chowderhead," Mark Walhberg says to Matt Damon, or Dicaprio, or somebody else. Boom! Shot in the head! Bang! Another shot in the head! The only thing missing is a pie fight. This movie is mildly entertaining, Alec Baldwin is fantastic in it, and Scorsese still has a knack for using classic-rock chestnuts in surprisingly fresh ways, but I couldn't help feeling a big So What. This movie would look great the last night of finals week 1997 on a small screen in an easy chair with a bowl of weed and a plate of chips and queso on your lap, but this is the least successful movie he's ever made.
On a related note, why is Scorsese being praised for returning to the gangster film, as if this genre made up the bulk of his career? Excluding "The Departed," Scorsese's only made two overt gangster films, "Goodfellas" and "Casino," and a third that is only peripherally a gangster film, "Mean Streets." A handful of his other movies have crime as a part of the plot, but he's not given enough credit for his richly varied career, one that encompasses black comedy ("The King of Comedy," "After Hours") documentaries, period films, "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore," "Kundun," etc.

Worst Film of the Year
Neil Labute made "In the Company of Men," a film I rate very highly. He also made The Wicker Man, one of the worst films not just of 2006, but of the entire history of moving images. Still, it is worth seeing. Skip through the drearily dull first half, and you will discover a rich tapestry of unintentional hilarity. See Nicolas Cage in a bear costume, punching women in the face while yelling "You bitches!" and "Ow! My leg!" See him karate kick Leelee Sobieski into a wall. Hear this memorable quote: "Killing me won't bring back your goddamn honey!" God bless this wretched piece of shit.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The worst movie ever made?

I finally caught up with last year's Best Picture Oscar winner, Paul Haggis's "Crash," which I'd been avoiding for some time. I generally skip these terribly insincere prestige "message" movies, but "Crash" became such an omnipresent conversation piece and cultural reference, I decided to get all zeitgeisty and rent it. Of course, I'm about a year too late to get in on the zeitgiestiness of it all, so consider this post pointless and dated. I hated this movie, and I need to complain about it, hence this post. Feel free to skip, or take this post with you the next time you travel back to 2005/early 2006:

Right away, I knew I was in for it. Writer/director Paul Haggis explicitly lays out his metaphor in the clunkily awkward opening lines delivered with achingly dumb gravitas by Don Cheadle (why is Don Cheadle, a performer who is either competent or completely out of his league, considered one of our finest actors again?): "It's the sense of touch. In any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past people, people bump into you. In L.A., nobody touches you. We're always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something." I don't know if Haggis expects us to marvel at his profundity or if he actually thinks people talk this way, but these opening lines of dialogue are simply one example in maybe 250 of Screenplay Run Amok Syndrome. This is a film that has no visual reason to exist. Every line is so exceedingly overwritten, so loaded with thematic jism, every scene is so stuffed with patronizing condescension and preposterous coincidence, and every character merely a Teleprompter for Haggis's pompous and idiotic conclusions about racism in L.A. and possibly the world, that a poetry of images has no space to exist. Haggis doesn't trust his audience members enough to let them make connections on their own. The film has been praised for its interweaving of multiple characters and the intersections of plot that connect them to each other. This is bullshit. Haggis could have covered the same subject and themes with a smaller cast, but that would have required him to flesh out his characters, maybe give them more than one characteristic. Instead, he uses the Altmanesque approach to throw a shiny coat of paint over astoundingly lazy writing and remarkably uninspiring conclusions. What do we find out about racism, or life in Los Angeles? Not one fucking thing.
Haggis's background is in television writing ("The Love Boat," "Walker, Texas Ranger") and it shows. The film plays like an anthology of season finales from any number of overwrought television melodramas, right down to its use of an aggressively overbearing musical score, musical montages, and slow motion in place of real tension. This is a film in which we're supposed to share Sandra Bullock's screechy racist character's revelation that Latinas are people, too, after Bullock falls down the stairs (in slow motion, no less) (creaky plot device #496) and sprains her ankle and her Mexican maid (Yomi Perry) is the only one around to help her. Haggis seems completely unaware that his camera ignores Perry in favor of Bullock, and that Bullock's "revelation" is not a revelation at all, but another example of her character's selfishness (i.e., I will learn to respect you as a human being only if you can do something to help me). Other lessons learned: Matt Dillon's cop is a racist prone to sexual assault, but he will save people from flaming cars and he's worried about his Dad not being able to take a piss (what complexity this man possesses), if you run a chop-shop, you will also know exactly what to do with a van full of Asian refugees (a black market's a black market, am I right? huh? huh?), a family man with no prior criminal behavior will attempt premeditated murder even though, with the exception of a hot temper, he has been given no character traits that explain why he would do such a stupid thing except that he needs to do it to further the machinations of the most retarded plot in cinema history, and a little girl survives a shooting because she has been provided a magic invisible cloak. No shit. Deus ex machina, indeed.

Not only did this film win Best Picture, not only did it steal the title of a much better David Cronenberg film from 1996, it is also currently ranked the 108th best film of all time by Internet Movie Database users. Bring on the bird flu.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Favorite Actor Monday

Did you know that Emily Watson's performance in "Breaking the Waves" was her first-ever film role? Holy shit!

Breaking the Waves (Lars von Trier, 1996)
Gosford Park (Robert Altman, 2001)
Punch-Drunk Love (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2002)
The Proposition (John Hillcoat, 2005)

Monday, January 08, 2007

Film-Watching Robot's 2006 Year in Review: Salty Ham Edition

For the preceding three years, I've contributed to online magazine Senses of Cinema's year-end best-of hootenanny. I thought it would goad me into writing and submitting longer pieces, but I'm way too lazy. This year, I've decided to forgo sending them anything and put my comments and lists on my own movie blog. So, here it is:

The First Annual Film-Watching Robot Year in Review
by Dr. Mystery
Grade: A+

My favorite movies of the year (which means movies that screened theatrically in Austin for the first time in 2006):

The World (Jia Zhang Ke)
This Chinese film seemed to offer a new film language, one that had everything to do with life right now and nothing to do with other movies, contrasting nicely with most of modern filmmaking, which seems to consist of nothing but other movies with purpose and genitalia removed. Of course, this is not exactly true, but it's almost true.

Bubble (Steven Soderbergh)
I'm not a huge Soderbergh fan. I thought "Traffic" was a massively overrated preachy screed, and worse. Its expensive cast and budget and huge canvas ultimately boiled down to this (hopefully unintentional) message: Spend more time with your daughter or she'll get addicted to meth and let a black man fuck her. I don't know why the world needs, or more importantly, wants, an "Ocean's 13." "Out of Sight" was fun, but empty. Yet, I'm always interested in what Soderbergh's up to. He's prolific and adventurous, and the further he gets from big money, the more he has to offer. Of the handful of his films I like a lot, this might be my favorite. The beautifully creepy doll factory shots are stunning, the non-professional cast (the leading role is played by a KFC general manager) is far more interesting than any Hollywood ensemble, the story is simple, tight, and compelling, and Robert Pollard composed the score.

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (Tommy Lee Jones)
Tommy Lee Jones starred in a cheerleading comedy that filmed a few scenes near my hellish office job a few years before I was unfortunate enough to be hired there. A woman I work with asked him for his autograph on her lunch break and he was apparently an "asshole." He is also a surprisingly excellent filmmaker.

Neil Young: Heart of Gold (Jonathan Demme)
Demme finally decides to remind people that he is a great director, even though he's been bogged down in remakes and prestige pictures for the past fifteen years. This concert film, in technique and approach, is almost a sequel to another Demme concert film, "Stop Making Sense," and revealed Young's "Prairie Wind" songs to me in a way the album hadn't.

L'Enfant (Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne)
The Dardennes are unrelenting filmmakers, and thank God for that. Their films are about action, but not in the Schwarzenegger sense. They are concerned with work, reaction, and redemption, not dead ends. One foot follows the other, and you're always getting somewhere.

I Am a Sex Addict (Caveh Zahedi)
A great comedy about a debilitating addiction that ruined several relationships and a couple of marriages. Self-indulgent? Of course. Look at the title. Also, painful and surprisingly affecting.

Idiocracy (Mike Judge)
Mike Judge gets fucked by the studios again. "Office Space" was given poor distribution and little promotion, even though it is the most accurate film about what office work does to people and is goddamn funny besides. "Idiocracy" was treated even worse. This time, Judge attacks the corporatization of America and our own stupid, apathetic complicity by name and gives us a big, dumb, funny comedy on top. Apparently, Costco, Pepsi, Taco Bell, etc. put pressure on 20th Century Fox and the movie went unreleased for three years before being dumped in only a handful of theaters in a handful of cities without any trailer, poster, or promotion of any kind. Luckily, Austin was one of the cities. Because of this, and because "Office Space" is an inspirational film for me, I'm overrating "Idiocracy" a bit. It runs out of ideas and momentum halfway through and devolves into a wacky action movie, but the first half is fantastic and it deserved a much wider release.

Factotum (Bent Hamer)
My favorite Bukowski adaptation because this one puts the humor and optimism that are an integral but often overlooked part of his work at the forefront, the visual look of the film is an intriguing combination of American and European sensibility (the director is Norwegian), and Lili Taylor and Marisa Tomei are fucking amazing in it.

Half Nelson (Ryan Fleck)
I already wrote about this one, but it is surprisingly excellent and well worth seeing.

Mutual Appreciation (Andrew Bujalski)
I really hope he branches out from the inarticulate and apathetic twentysomething sort-of-hipsters that populate his first two movies, but that's almost beside the point. Structurally, Bujalski is one of the most interesting directors to come along in a while, and he draws incredible performances out of non-actors.

Borat (Larry Charles)
I don't really need to say anything about this one. You all saw it. It's the most talked-about movie of the year. Some of it is problematic and makes me uncomfortable. Some of it is brilliant. I am glad I saw a bear in an ice cream truck frighten some youngsters and a couple of naked men fight each other in a hotel. I am sorry a lot of us are ignorant, prejudiced, and stupid, but I'm glad we're so polite. I laughed pretty much continuously.

A Prairie Home Companion (Robert Altman)
I didn't include this because Altman died. I really did admire this movie. I think it's one of his best late-period films. It all works for me, even the Virginia Madsen scenes that most people don't like. Most people I talked to about this movie focused on the radio show instead of Altman. I wish the radio program the best, but I would rather have lava poured in my ears than listen to five minutes of it. However, I found Garrison Keillor a good match for Altman's style and a surprisingly interesting actor. The movie to me is about an old man saying goodbye to his life, not an advertisement for NPR.

Dave Chappelle's Block Party and The Science of Sleep (Michel Gondry)
I wrote about both of these already. It was a good year for Gondry.

A Scanner Darkly and Fast Food Nation (Richard Linklater)
Another twofer. I like Linklater a lot. I know some people who think he's boring, but I don't find his movies boring at all. He's primarily interested in digressions, detours, and conversations, and he finds a lot of different ways to explore these interests visually. I always look forward to what he's doing. I don't think he's ever made a masterpiece, but I don't think he's ever made a bad film, either. And he consistently gets good performances from actors I don't like. In 2006, this included Winona Ryder and Wilmer Valderrama.

My favorite moving image of 2006 was actually a TV skit from 1989. Bruce McCulloch in a fake gray mustache from a "Kids in the Hall" episode, to Scott Thompson, playing his wife: "A man works all day, he expects a normal ham meal. Not goddamn bastard brine!"

Coming soon: Part II: Runners-up, disappointments, interesting failures, older movies on the big screen, and the worst movie I saw in a theater all year.

Favorite Actor Monday

Despite "K-Pax," this GQ cover, and the fact that he is a privileged child of a Hollywood actor, Jeff Bridges always classes up the joint. He picks not just good roles, but good films. He's an understated actor who doesn't need to go apeshit to prove he's doing a good job. He doesn't try to sell you his character. I always like watching him.

The Last Picture Show (Peter Bogdanovich, 1971)
Fat City (John Huston, 1972)
The Iceman Cometh (John Frankenheimer, 1973)
Rancho Deluxe (Frank Perry, 1975)
Stay Hungry (Bob Rafelson, 1976)
Cutter's Way (Ivan Passer, 1981)
Cold Feet (Robert Dornhelm, 1989)
The Fabulous Baker Boys (Steve Kloves, 1989)
The Fisher King (Terry Gilliam, 1991)
American Heart (Martin Bell, 1992)
The Big Lebowski (Joel & Ethan Coen, 1998)
Masked and Anonymous (Larry Charles, 2003)
Tideland (Terry Gilliam, 2005)

Monday, January 01, 2007

Favorite Actor Monday: New Year's Edition

I spent the last two days driving through snow, ice, and rain, and I've said more than enough about the films of John Cassavetes, so I will forgo my spiel this week and simply say that Gena Rowlands is one of the best actors who ever existed. Happy New Year, jerks.

A Child Is Waiting (John Cassavetes, 1963)
Faces (John Cassavetes, 1968)
Minnie and Moskowitz (John Cassavetes, 1971)
A Woman Under the Influence (John Cassavetes, 1974)
Opening Night (John Cassavetes, 1977)
Gloria (John Cassavetes, 1980)
Love Streams (John Cassavetes, 1984)
Once Around (Lasse Hallstrom, 1991)
Night on Earth (Jim Jarmusch, 1991) (still great even though she's interacting with Winona Ryder in one of Ryder's worst-ever performances)
She's So Lovely (Nick Cassavetes, 1997)

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