Heaven’s Gate becomes its own kind of hell

Saturday night, I finally saw the film that destroyed United Artists: Michael Cimino's Heaven's Gate. It wasn't anywhere near as bad as legend proclaimed. Nor was it as good as recent revisionists insist. The Heaven's Gate disaster changed Hollywood. In 1979, Cimino was riding high as the writer and director of the Oscar-winning Deer Hunter. … Continue reading Heaven’s Gate becomes its own kind of hell

High Noon Blu-ray Review

Small, compact, and brimming with suspense, High Noon feels nothing like the other A westerns of the post-war period--epic movies like Red River, My Darling Clementine, and The Searchers. With its 85-minute runtime and looks-like-every-other-western sets, it feels more like the forgettable B oaters Hollywood was cranking out weekly in those days. But unlike those … Continue reading High Noon Blu-ray Review

Strauss, Powell, Leone, and Eastwood: Sunday evening at the Pacific Film Archive

I really wish the Pacific Film Archive allowed eating. When you go to two movies, the first starting at 5:00, hunger can become a problem. And yet I managed it Sunday afternoon/evening. I saw two very different movies, both by filmmakers I respect. Both were in scope, and presented in 35mm prints. Other than that, … Continue reading Strauss, Powell, Leone, and Eastwood: Sunday evening at the Pacific Film Archive

Johnny Guitar Blu-ray review

This is my second Olive Films Women's History Month Blu-ray review. The first was Baby It's You. Nicolas Ray's Johnny Guitar, released in 1954, has to be the weirdest western made before Blazing Saddles. Stagy and talkie, it's filled with outrageous dialog and fanciful names (Johnny Guitar, the Dancin' Kid). The women behave like men … Continue reading Johnny Guitar Blu-ray review

A+ list: McCabe and Mrs. Miller (and Lawrence of Arabia)

I visited the Castro Sunday afternoon to see my all-time favorite Robert Altman film, McCabe and Mrs. Miller. (It was on a double bill with the Woody Guthrie biopic, Bound for Glory, which I saw long ago and didn't care for. I skipped it this time.) For its daring rethinking of the western genre, it's … Continue reading A+ list: McCabe and Mrs. Miller (and Lawrence of Arabia)

The Revenant and Dolby Atmos

I attended a special screening at Dolby Labs Thursday night of The Revenant, where the movie's Oscar-nominated audio mix could be played back in the full glory of Dolby Atmos. I'll tell you about The Revenant, and also about Atmos. In that difficult-to-find point where cinema technology merges into cinema art, The Revenant feels like … Continue reading The Revenant and Dolby Atmos

Catching The Hateful Eight in 70mm

I'm not one of those cinephiles who sees the digital transition as the end of cinema. Far from it. I respect the practical and even the aesthetic advantages of shooting digitally. And as a general rule (there are exceptions), I rather see a movie projected off a DCP than a 35mm print--and that includes classics … Continue reading Catching The Hateful Eight in 70mm