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Hannah And Her Sisters (#110 of 5)

The 10 Best Woody Allen Movies

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The 10 Best Woody Allen Movies
The 10 Best Woody Allen Movies

Forty-four features over 48 years. That’s a lot of cinema to emerge from the mind of one man, however tireless and prolific. Woody Allen’s approach to filmmaking shares more in common with the routine, unfussy diligence of the classical studio era than modern auteurism, which is to say that Allen treats his vocation less like a tortuous calling than, well, a job, something to sit down and do every day. His latest feature, Magic in the Moonlight, arrives in theaters this week, maintaining a release streak that has brought us nearly a film a year for going on five decades. Allen has a reputation for discarding each film as it passes him by, not bothering to reflect on their importance or worry about their legacies; his attentions are drawn to what’s next so quickly that he hardly has time to bother with his own history. It’s safe to say that Allen wouldn’t have much time for a list such as this. Still, the canon cries out for rejuvenation, and so we size up another annual Allen tradition: the commemoration of his greatest hits.

Review: Michael Witt’s Jean-Luc Godard: Cinema Historian

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Review: Michael Witt’s Jean-Luc Godard: Cinema Historian
Review: Michael Witt’s Jean-Luc Godard: Cinema Historian

While Daniel Morgan’s fantastic 2012 book Late Godard and the Possibilities of Cinema devotes a significant portion of its pages to Histoire(s) du Cinéma, Michael Witt’s Jean-Luc Godard: Cinema Historian offers a book-length study of this singular work, filled with color still frames and images, in what’s unquestionably the most comprehensive English-language examination of Godard’s endlessly complex work of video historiography.

Such comprehension doesn’t solely result from close readings, however, as Witt goes to extensive lengths to tease out the theoretical, historical, and even autobiographical details which enveloped Godard during the film’s construction. In taking his study to these lengths, Witt probes the ontology of Godard’s work, suggesting the film as a work of film history, above all else. That is, Witt seeks to legitimate Godard’s role as a cinema historian, even at the expense of elevating him as a “cinema poet,” as has often been the claim. Godard, himself, rejects the notion that Histoire(s) du Cinéma is an “audiovisual poem,” and has remained insistent that his work is more concerned with the intersection of poetry and history, rather than being exclusively a work of either. Witt carefully examines Godard’s claims in this regard, the film’s use of montage, and even Godard’s vehement hatred for television (he once referred to it as “absolute evil”) as a means to move past simply an identification of references within the film and toward a polyvalent illumination of Godard’s multifaceted intentions.

15 Famous Movie Sisters

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15 Famous Movie Sisters
15 Famous Movie Sisters

In Your Sister’s Sister, Lynn Shelton directs Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt as complicated siblings, whose relationship is further tested by Mark Duplass’s grief-stricken houseguest. Both Blunt and DeWitt have played the sister role before, Blunt as recently as 2008, when she starred as Amy Adams’s sis in Sunshine Cleaning. From The Parent Trap to Crimes of the Heart, divine secrets to divine intervention, cinema has given us all manner of sisterhood, with no shortage of tears, laughs, and catfights. Herein are 15 films that stand out most in memory, their ladies leaving a mark as strong as a thicker-than-water bond.

Oscar Prospects: Midnight in Paris

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Oscar Prospects: Midnight in Paris
Oscar Prospects: Midnight in Paris

It’s getting on that time when it’s nearly impossible to keep up with an Oscar hopeful’s precursor tally, as trophies and nominations steadily roll in from a dizzying slew of acronymic awards bodies. Hastily kicked off by the New York Film Critics Circle (NYFCC), precursor season is most certainly in full swing, with the BFCA, AFI, SAG, LAFCA (Los Angeles), BSFC (Boston), VFCS (Vegas), TFCA (Toronto), SLFC (St. Louis), SFFCC (San Francisco), and many more having released their picks for the best in 2011 cinema. Amid the frenzy, Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris has been resting in a rather safe zone, failing to come close to the top spots so dominated by The Artist, The Descendants, and Hugo, but sitting pretty when it comes to Top 10s and grouped citations. The culture-vulture comedy just snagged a Best Picture nod from the Phoenix Film Critics Society, but, much more importantly, it’s landed on AFI’s Top 10, been named a Critic’s Choice nominee for Best Picture, and, just this morning, counted among the five SAG nominees for Best Ensemble (it competes against The Artist, The Descendants, The Help, and Bridesmaids). The steady inclusion assures that no one has forgotten about this swoony May release, and it affirms what so many already knew: Midnight in Paris is one of your Best Picture locks.