Anatomy of a Murder (dir. Otto Preminger): Lengthy, but only when you look at the clock after it’s over. Jimmy’s in good form here in 1959, a year before Psycho and foreshadowing cinema’s more audacious acknowledgment of the harshness of the world. Preminger’s insistence on having no auteur style gives a priority to the film rather than the director. Therefore, there’s a deliberateness, a carefulness here that comes only with great films. Let the narrative and characters do their thing, he must have said, and I’ll put it on celluloid.
Dr. T and the Women (dir. Robert Altman): Cameras flowing and swooning throughout, Altman-style. It’s some kind of tribute to the female sex, not to be confused with a misogynistic opera of hysterical woman. Despite a presence of uncontrollable estrogen, Richard Gere’s Dr. T is the most pathetic figure, damned as he is to servicing women even when he thinks he’s been freed from it. Of course, he doesn’t want to be. Also, a beautiful, fitting, Altman-esque ending, right up there with other late-career gems like Gosford Park and Prairie Home Companion.
Touch of Evil (dir. Orson Welles): Ridiculous for its brilliance. Welles’ own self-effacement along with Marlene Dietrich’s aged presence mark this as not merely a late noir but the end of an era and beginning of something else. You have to chuckle at Heston’s lack of Mexican-ness. But it’s covered in the fingerprints of a cinematic genius, so we’re left only to watch and gawk.