On My Screen No. 5 | Scorsese Top 10

Top 10 List: Everyone who is familiar with the Criterion Collection’s website have been following their celebrity Top 10 lists. In the past they’ve included people as varied as Warpaint drummer Stella Mozgawa to director Paul Schrader to Andrew Weil’s top choices of CC-made discs. This week Criterion have posted a list by one of the great American directors, Martin Scorsese. Not a lot of surprises here, to be honest. However, it’s still worth noting that he picks some excellent films (all of which I’ve seen), including a few of my own personal favorites. His Top 3 are all fantastic films, beginning with the heartbreaking “Paisan”, directed by Roberto Rossellini. His No. 2 pick is “The Red Shoes”, a tragic Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger fairy-tale through the world of ballet, telling a story about transformation, competition, and dedication to art and perfection. Scorcese’s obvious connection to the film, beyond holding it in high regard, is that Powell was once married to longtime and current Scorsese film-editor Thelma Schoonmaker. I’m also a huge fan of his No. 3 selection, Jean Renoir’s “The River”, a story about India, told as elegantly and beautifully as the movement of the Bengal itself. Its pace is set by grace.

Actor Warren Oates, as Bennie, in Sam Peckinpah’s “Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia”.

Releases on the Radar: The film distributor Twilight Time, which releases movies in limited edition, announced a number of worthwhile upcoming releases: The bizarre “Equus” (1977), Broderick Crawford giving a monster performance as politician Willie Stark in the 1949 film “All The King’s Men”, and the most appealing release, “Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia” (1974), one of the most nihilistic of director Sam Peckinpah’s films. Warner Archives is releasing a couple more Joan Crawford pictures, “The Bride Wore Red” and “Montana Moon”. But it’s 1936’s “Show Boat” (starring Irene Dunne) that really catches my eye, just one of a number of films based on the Edna Ferber’s story of life amid a theatrical troupe on a Mississippi riverboat.

Method to the Madness?: The New Yorker has a wonderfully insightful piece about Method Acting. Writer Richard Brody writes, “There’s something about modern-day acting—the style that is famously associated with Lee Strasberg’s Method and that gained currency from his Actors Studio and its offshoots—that inclines toward deformations of character.”

An Appreciation: A website called “World Cinema Paradise” posted an interesting and lengthy article, written by Peter Winkler, about deceased actor Christopher Jones, who was the heir apparent to James Dean and who starred in the spy film “The Looking Glass War”, based on a novel by John le Carre, and the David Lean directed “Ryan’s Daughter” before quitting show business at the height of his career. He died in January of this year. Click here to read Part 1 and Part 2.

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