The Battle of Algiers

Singin in the Rain

What’s the best movie ever made? Would the person sitting next to you agree? Does the title really matter, or is the search a happy distraction meant to let the cream of the crop rise to the top? What happens when you watch a bunch of that cream? And why has “cream” become a metaphor for quality? The Sight & Sound Top 50 is a great place to start with all of those questions. For almost two years, Landon Palmer and Scott Beggs have been watching the best movies of all time and discussing them with the aim of discovering and re-discovering important cinematic experiences. Now that their quest is over, here are their thoughts and conclusions on what it’s like to see that many treasured movies, followed with links to all 50 conversations for your perusal. Take a deep breath, grab a bowl of cream and dive in.

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The Battle of Algiers Movie

Looking for any excuse, Landon Palmer and Scott Beggs are using the 2012 Sight & Sound poll results as a reason to take different angles on the best movies of all time. Every week, they’ll discuss another entry in the list, dissecting old favorites from odd angles, discovering movies they haven’t seen before and asking you to join in on the conversation. Of course it helps if you’ve seen the movie because there will be plenty of spoilers. This week, they bow to the ethical and empathetic complexity of a movie violently opposed to the inhumane destruction of conflict: Gillo Pontecorgo’s The Battle of Algiers.  In the #48 (tied) movie on the list, resistance fighters hoping for Algerian freedom from France square off against French soldiers — each employing their own methods of madness — with regular citizens in the crossfire.  But why is it one of the best movies of all time?

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This Week in Blu-ray

This Week in Blu-ray we take trips around the world, from the car-loving world of the UK to the war-torn lands of 1950s Algeria to the sci-fi wasteland of the American southwest with a stop in the middle ages and perhaps even a little jaunt over to Mars, which apparently needs a little bit more than moms. In a balanced week of releases, we’ve got plenty to buy, a few to rent and yes, even a few real stinkbots to avoid. So lets get to it. Top Gear: The Complete Season 16 Being not a car guy, I have only recently discovered the consistently brilliant world of Top Gear, courtesy of the folks at the BBC. It’s hard to imagine myself enjoying such a show, as I’m not into the nitty gritty, nuts and bolts of what makes a car I will never be able to afford tick. That said, I do love watching crazy people. And more than being a show about cars, this is a show about crazy people who are allowed to drive very expensive cars in very dangerous ways. Enter Jeremy, Richard and James, the three amigos of motor enthusiasm. In series 16, they begin with a trip up the coast of the United States, where they find themselves in situations that allow them to be every bit the snobby, ridiculous Brit stereotypes that would drive Aston Martins. Their subtle prejudices are hilarious, making fun of every Joe Bob and Jim Bob Nascar country has to offer. […]

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Criterion Files

I’ve watched Gillo Pontecorvo’s landmark film The Battle of Algiers (1966) many times. I remember the circumstances of viewing each and every time, because each time I see it, it affects me more profoundly than the last. The film alone is astounding, distressing, exhausting, shocking, beautiful, and it still feels urgent forty-five years after its release and more than fifty-five years after the events depicted in it took place. I’m both surprised and thankful time and again that such a film was ever even able to get made. I rarely write about my personal relationship to a film as I believe it risks obscuring the critical lens that I wish to take to it, but the fact that each time I watch The Battle of Algiers is different than the last speaks rather appropriately to the film’s historical role. As famous screenings and topical revisitations conversantly continue to take place around the film, it acquires new historical profundity and greater relevance as time moves forward, hardly speaking exclusively to the 1957 battle of the film’s title.

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Culture Warrior

Today is the day of the midterm elections, a day which will mark the stark transition from functionaries on the center who can’t accomplish anything holding office to functionaries on the right who are too busy yelling in every direction to accomplish anything holding office. Under that grand political tradition whose unwavering slogan is “Losing = Tyranny,” much has been made from candidates on the far right (who will become mainstream right if elected or exponentially grating windbags if not) about staging an armed revolution if, y’know, that whole democracy thing doesn’t work out for them. Well, before the pasty and overweight turn off the Fox News echo chamber and actually embody the daunting degree at which human action can precede human thought by taking arms against an administration that has done nothing to challenge their 2nd Amendment rights, I’d like to use the history of cinema to illustrate what true revolt against actual political oppression looks like.

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Criterion Files

One of the unwritten wish-fulfillment articles I’ve had in mind for Culture Warrior that nobody will ever read is an overview of cinematic adaptations of the work of the Marquis de Sade, including anything ranging from an early cinematic adaptation of his work in the landmark Surrealist film L’Âge d’Or to his comparatively more mainstream embodiment by none other than Geoffrey Rush in Quills to osbsure examples from all over the globe like Czech filmmaker Jan Svankmejer’s part-live-action/part stop-motion animation film Lunacy. At the center of this hypothetical list, of course, would be arguably the most famous and easily one of the most divisive adaptations of de Sade’s work, and one of Cole Abaius’s all-time favorite films, Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975).

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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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published: 12.18.2014
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