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Waterloo Bridge (1940) and The Farewell Waltz

4 Star Films Posted by 4 Star Film Fan on May 4, 2021

If you’re like me, Waterloo conjures up a limited array of mental images. Napoleon and The Battle of Waterloo. The Kinks and Waterloo Sunset. That’s about the extent of it. Now I can add Vivien Leigh, Robert Taylor, and Waterloo Bridge to the list. Fittingly, our opening prologue begins read more

Unfinished Business (1941) for Irene Dunne

4 Star Films Posted by 4 Star Film Fan on Apr 29, 2021

Unfinished Business commences with a wedding ceremony we’re trying to place. Because it is not Irene Dunne getting married, although she stretches her famed vocal cords in lieu of a wedding march. It is her baby sister — the girl she’s mothered her entire life up to this point. No read more

Theodora Goes Wild (1936): Irene Dunne The Comedienne

4 Star Films Posted by 4 Star Film Fan on Apr 27, 2021

The Lynfield Bugle, led by their fearless leader Jed Waterbury (Thomas Mitchell), keeps their nose to the proverbial grindstone printing the news as it happens in “The Biggest Little Town in Connecticut.” Their latest act of rebellion constitutes printing a spread from the latest lurid read more

The Silver Cord (1933): Loving Joel McCrea is a Battlefield

4 Star Films Posted by 4 Star Film Fan on Apr 22, 2021

“Surely I can be a good son and a good husband.” Whether it means to or not, the opening interlude of The Silver Cord plays like a comic inversion of typical Hollywood. It opens in Heidelberg, and they make us blink; they’re actually speaking German and Irene Dunne is one of them! read more

Back Street (1932): Irene Dunne and Director John Stahl

4 Star Films Posted by 4 Star Film Fan on Apr 20, 2021

“There’s not one woman in a million who has ever found happiness in the back streets of any man’s life.” John M. Stahl is a bit of a neglected craftsman, even by me. Like others, I became aware of him solely for Leave Her to Heaven, a noirish technicolor melodrama positively read more

Three Comrades (1938) in Body and Soul

4 Star Films Posted by 4 Star Film Fan on Apr 15, 2021

“Germany’s a pretty rough sea if you’re drifting.” – Breuer “But I’m not alone anymore. There are so many drifters!” – Patricia Hollmann Erich Maria Remarque is of course most famous for his work All Quiet on The Western Front, which was adapted read more

The Shopworn Angel (1938): Remembering Margaret Sullavan

4 Star Films Posted by 4 Star Film Fan on Apr 13, 2021

“Dreaming’s alright if it’s all you got but if you find the real thing you’re just not satisfied with it anymore.” – Jimmy Stewart as Bill It’s 1917: the eve of the U.S. entry in WWI. The nation is yet to feel the jadedness of everyone else in mainland Euro read more

Little Man, What Now? (1934): Borzage Vs. The Depression

4 Star Films Posted by 4 Star Film Fan on Apr 8, 2021

Little Man, What Now? is a curious title although Carl Laemmle seems to believe in the tale even giving it a public service announcement to make the point very clearly. This is a story for every man even as it seeks to document the daily problems of the world. From the opening vignette, the movie p read more

Only Yesterday (1933): Margaret Sullavan Shines

4 Star Films Posted by 4 Star Film Fan on Apr 6, 2021

In the opening designs of Only Yesterday, the New York Stock Exchange is encapsulated by its usual hubbub only to hit the skids of pandemonium when the market crashes. We’re talking about the Big Crash of 1929. It plays as the backdrop to our story, very much functioning as current events. Th read more

Nelly and Monsieur Arnaud (1995): The Opposite of Loneliness

4 Star Films Posted by 4 Star Film Fan on Apr 1, 2021

Claude Sautet’s Nelly and Monsieur Arnaud positions itself as a certain type of film. There are no thrills about it. We come to notice the normal rhythms of shot-reverse-shot along the 180-degree line. This comes because the movie is so invested in conversation. Unlike his earlier Max and The read more

Max and the Junkmen (1971): Un Flic With a French Connection

4 Star Films Posted by 4 Star Film Fan on Mar 30, 2021

I couldn’t help being reminded of Melville’s Un Flic catching the opening of Claude Sautet’s movie. There’s a policeman, 80 grand missing, and two dead after a heist. It’s not the events that are the same, but the initial sensibilities, the palette, even the world they read more

La Visita (1963): Commedia all’italiana and The Human Heart

4 Star Films Posted by 4 Star Film Fan on Mar 25, 2021

The premise of The Visitor is born in a rapid succession of images and shots. It’s a meet-cute correspondence so-to-speak as an attractive young woman venturing into her 30s looks to find an eligible man to invite into her home on some kind of ill-defined get-to-know-you basis. It would not b read more

Adua and Her Friends (1960): Starring Simone Signoret

4 Star Films Posted by 4 Star Film Fan on Mar 23, 2021

It’s movies like Adua and Her Friends from director Antonio Pietrangeli that remind me of the elemental joys of watching movies you’ve never heard of before. It’s a humbling experience to acknowledge how much of cinema there still is to explore and how names like his sometimes arb read more

Les Cousins (1959): Chabrol Takes on Paris

4 Star Films Posted by 4 Star Film Fan on Mar 18, 2021

“A girl and an exam aren’t the end of the world.” Most anyone can probably tell you Les Cousins is a fine companion piece to follow-up Le Beau Serge, and it’s true. It features much the same cast — specifically Jean-Claude Brially and Gerard Blane, in a kind of role re read more

Le Beau Serge (1959): The New Wave Goes Provincial

4 Star Films Posted by 4 Star Film Fan on Mar 16, 2021

Claude Chabrol was looking to shoot his first film in Paris but for budgetary reasons, he decided to set his first picture in the village of Sardent where his mother grew up. Le Beau Serge could not occur in any other place. True, the opening shots are universal. Francois (Jean-Claude Brialy) ridin read more

Go West (1925): Keaton & His Cow

4 Star Films Posted by 4 Star Film Fan on Mar 11, 2021

“Go West Young Man. Go West.” – Horace Greeley I had to refresh my memory on Horace Greeley because he’s as much a mythic figure — supreme champion of manifest destiny — as he is a mere historical figure. During the mid-19th century, he was a sometime political st read more

Steamboat Bill Jr. (1928): Buster Keaton The Human Tumbleweed

4 Star Films Posted by 4 Star Film Fan on Mar 9, 2021

Whatever your thoughts on silent movies, be it based on misinformation, overt loathing, or verging on utter veneration, one has to admit there’s something to the simplicity of these films. And by simplicity, I’m referring to the construction of their stories. They rarely seem to get bog read more

The Tale of Princess Kaguya (2013): Takahata’s Swan Song

4 Star Films Posted by 4 Star Film Fan on Mar 4, 2021

During the period of time I lived in Japan, I became acquainted with the works of Isao Takahata, and by that I mean I watched both Grave of The Fireflies (1988) and Only Yesterday (1991). This was all that was required because these two films on their own left a profound impact on me. While Hayao Mi read more

When a Women Ascends The Stairs (1960): A Prescient Portrait of Japan

4 Star Films Posted by 4 Star Film Fan on Mar 2, 2021

A version of this review was first published in Film Inquiry.  If Floating Clouds is a film about making peace with the war years, then When a Woman Who Ascends The Stairs is a far more forward-thinking endeavor. In fact, I would say it’s a near-prescient portrait of where Japan has ventured read more

Hell to Eternity (1960): The Story of Guy Gabaldon

4 Star Films Posted by 4 Star Film Fan on Feb 25, 2021

As someone of Japanese-American heritage, it’s become a personal preoccupation of mine to search out films that in some way represent the lives of my grandparents and their generation. This means the rich Issei and Nisei communities of Los Angeles, the subsequent internment camps, and even the read more
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