All the President’s Men

Manhattan Movie

“I’m a minimalist. I see things in simple ways…It’s human nature to define complexity as better. Well, it’s not.” – Gordon Willis Cinematographer Gordon Willis, who passed away on May 18th, leaves behind an incredible legacy of deceptively “simple” lighting schemes and compositions that will forever be stuck in the minds of cinephiles. Willis was perhaps best known for his high-contrast use of shadows and high-key lighting, which filled his frames with a tremendous aura of depth and mystery. While he was referred to as the “Prince of Darkness” by colleagues, Willis himself stressed that it was visual contrast between light and darkness – not darkness itself  – that can produce such memorable imagery. The look of movies in the 1970s, from The Godfather to Annie Hall, is inseparable from the eyes of this master of the craft. Here is an overview of some of his best work.

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Culture Warrior

As much as I admire the incomparable films made during the era, New Hollywood (the term referring to innovative, risk-taking films made funded by studios from the mid-60s to the mid-70s) is a title that I find a bit problematic. The words “New Hollywood” better characterize the era that came after what the moniker traditionally refers to. Think about it: if “Old” or “Classical” Hollywood refers to the time period that stretches roughly from 1930 to 1960 when the studios as an industry maintained such an organized and regimented domination over and erasure of any other potential conception over what a film playing in any normal movie theater could be, then if we refer to the time period from roughly 1977 to now “New Hollywood,” the term then appropriately signifies a new manifestation of the old: regimentation, predictability, and limitation of expression. Where Old Hollywood studios would produce dozens of films of the same genre, New Hollywood (as I’m appropriating the term) could acutely describe the studios’ comparably stratified output of sequels, remakes, etc. What we traditionally understand to be New Hollywood was not so much its own monolithic era in Hollywood’s legacy, but a brief, strange, and wonderful lapse between two modes of Hollywood filmmaking that have dominated the industry’s history.

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The Library of Congress opens up its big mystical vault once a year to toss in 25 films that it deems worthy (by stirring old clapboards into a vat of rat blood and reading the star alignment). This year was a big year that honors some of the fallen members of the community – notably Leslie Nielsen, Blake Edwards and Irvin Kershner. Safely stowed away as important cultural documents, The Empire Strikes Back, Airplane!, and The Pink Panther join 23 other films that will be forever kept in the hearts of those who care to apply for a Library of Congress library card (a three-step process that includes a photo being taken). Check the entire list (which is littered with incredible movies) below:

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John McCain and Barack Obama

We know that the Election Night coverage can be a bit monotonous, but while you’re waiting for the results to trickle down, you might as well watch a couple movies.

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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