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The Essentials: 8 Walter Hill Films You Should Know

  • By The Playlist Staff
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  • July 9, 2014 3:44 PM
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  • 15 Comments
Walter Hill Essentials
No one would love to believe more than film critics that criticism is the repository of the immutable, monolithic truth about a movie's quality. But as much as we may enjoy the dream of our grades and rankings and pithy pullquotes being Carved In Stone, experience has taught us otherwise, and nowhere is the shifting, flux-like nature of the beast more in evidence than in the mysterious processes of reevaluation and reassessment. This process, this ongoing cycle of neglect and discovery, vision and revision as reputation waxes and wanes can be tracked for both films (our feature on critically reassessed movies covers some of those) and for certain directors, who fall out of and come into favor with almost rhythmic regularity.

Retrospective: The Films Of Richard Linklater

  • By The Playlist Staff
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  • July 7, 2014 1:22 PM
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  • 8 Comments
Boyhood
It was just a couple of years ago, around the time of “Bernie," that we first ran our retrospective of the films of Richard Linklater. But in the brief period since, he’s made not one, but two films that feel like they, in fact, mark exactly the kind of caesura that should by rights have us looking back in assessment: Linklater’s last two titles deal in time passed and time passing and have slightly transformed the shape of his filmography, certainly bringing us to a newfound appreciation for his insight and intelligence, even though we were fans before.

Retrospective: The Films Of Michael Bay

  • By The Playlist Staff
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  • June 23, 2014 1:08 PM
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  • 7 Comments
Fuck Michael Bay. Michael Bay rules. That seems to be about as simple and accurate a summary you're likely to get on the blockbuster director whose work, depending on who you ask, is either completely bereft of integrity and humanity or proves that Bay is something of a modern-day auteur. Which well, fine if we're using the term strictly according to its broadest definition--we certainly could recognize a Bay film without having seen his screen credit, as his style is so instantly recognizable that it might as well have a "Michael Bay is Badass!!!" watermark over every shot.

The Films Of Nicolas Cage: A Retrospective

  • By The Playlist Staff
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  • April 10, 2014 2:00 PM
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  • 27 Comments
Joe, Nicolas Cage
Yes, the career of Nicolas Cage has taken what one can argue is a serious nosedive in recent years. His frightening hairline has become the butt of endless jokes, his personal life is always a mess (he named his son Kal-El after Superman and he's on his third wife), and his take-a-paycheck career choices of late (seemingly endless riffs on "Taken" that barely get theatrical releases, things like "Seeking Justice," "Stolen," "Trespass," and on the way, a reboot of the bonkers Biblical apocalypse flick "Left Behind") have made him an even bigger laughing stock (maybe the tax problems and reported ridiculous spending habits explain these terrible tendencies).

Retrospective: The Films Of Michael Mann

  • By The Playlist Staff
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  • January 14, 2014 1:12 PM
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  • 21 Comments
The Films of Michael Mann
In 33 years of filmmaking, director Michael Mann has only made 10 theatrically-released feature-length films. Averaging one every three years (with two long gaps of about six years—we're reaching the end of the second now), his un-prolific nature is perhaps due to meticulous and exhausting research processes and character explorations which often lead to completed screenplays ... only for him to abandon them when he finds something amiss. “I only do films I truly believe in,” Michael Mann said in a 1990s interview expressing frustration with his somewhat unproductive pace and yet simultaneously articulating the vital quality that makes him the filmmaker we know today. It's the sort of thing many directors might say, but Mann, more than many others, has the courage of his convictions and the resulting short but blazing filmography to back up his sincerity.

Retrospective: The Films Of Martin Scorsese

  • By The Playlist Staff
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  • December 17, 2013 2:05 PM
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  • 33 Comments
Retrospective: Martin Scorsese
As a director Martin Scorsese ranks at the forefront of the all-time top tier of American filmmakers, but even as a presence in the film world in general he is pre-eminent. It is merely the just desserts of a life which, more than any we can think of, has been entirely dedicated, saturated and invigorated by cinema. For any of us who spend any portion of our days thinking about movies, Scorsese is, as much as we have one, a patron saint, perhaps the figure to whom the less Godly among us might whisper our evening prayers. Yet Scorsese also belies the directorial cliché of egotism, a Welles or a De Mille striding around with a bullhorn booming out orders to scuttling minions, because he has always been dinstictively softly if rapidly spoken, and thoughtful, especially when talking about cinema. Just to hear him talk about cinema is one of the great joys of the man. He is erudite, passionate and opinionated, with a film knowledge so vast that it’s hard to imagine where he ever found the time to make a single movie himself.

Retrospective: The Films of Brian De Palma

  • By The Playlist Staff
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  • August 28, 2013 1:52 PM
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  • 11 Comments
retrospective: Brian De Palma
Few film directors are as polarizing as Brian De Palma, whose new film, the already argued-over "Passion," opens this week (read our review from Venice here). Hailed by some as an American visionary and a modern master of suspense, capable of gorgeously realized visual feats, De Palma is derided by others as a overtly referential hack who has based almost his entire career on a single trick: ripping off Alfred Hitchcock. But as "Un-American Psycho: Brian De Palma and the Political Invisible," the new scholarly text on the director by Chris Dumas, points out, this divisiveness is at least partially his own doing. De Palma is a director who once claimed that he wanted to be "the American Godard" and talked openly about "the revolution" on national television (fun fact: he was once shot by a cop), yet went on to create fizzy popcorn entertainments that were occasionally boycotted for their perceived misogyny (at least two of his movies spawned honest-to-god, organized revolts).

Retrospective: The Directorial Career Of Paul Schrader

  • By The Playlist Staff
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  • August 5, 2013 12:06 PM
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  • 11 Comments
With the screenplays for Sydney Pollack’s “The Yakuza” (1975), Brian De Palma’s “Obsession” (1976), John Flynn’s “Rolling Thunder,” Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver” (1976) and “Raging Bull” (1980) under his belt, Paul Schrader's legacy as a seminal figure in 1970s American screenwriting was unassailably assured. Yet not only did he go on to write "The Mosquito Coast" and Scorsese's "The Last Temptation Of Christ," he has also enjoyed a long, diverse career as a director, with his most recent foray being released last week: the controversial, chatter-worthy "The Canyons" (you can read our review here).

The Films Of Roland Emmerich: From Worst To Best

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • June 26, 2013 12:02 PM
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  • 19 Comments
The Films Of Roland Emmerich
When it comes to bringing popcorn ready, big screen spectacle to the multiplex, there are few filmmakers (except for maybe Michael Bay) who do it with as much flair as Roland Emmerich. The German-born director has been making theater speakers rumble ever since "Universal Soldier," but he really made his mark in the '90s thanks to the White House exploding "Independence Day" (which has a sequel coming in 2015) and the monster movie "Godzilla." And since then, films like "The Day After Tomorrow" and "2012" have come to define the trademarks most audiences know him for -- high concept FX vehicles in which the world is at peril, but rescued by an everyman who saves the day.

The Films Of Powell & Pressburger: A Retrospective

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • March 19, 2013 4:49 PM
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  • 12 Comments
For much of their lifetimes, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger never got the due they deserved. Powell was as English as you could get, who'd worked his way up through the film industry, before coming to the attention of British film magnate Alexander Korda. Pressburger, meanwhile, was Hungarian Jewish by birth, who'd come to Germany in the 1920s to work as a screenwriter, moving to Paris, and then England when the Nazis came to power, and again was working for Korda. When the two met in 1939, there was an instant kinship. They shared a similarly uncompormising and original take on filmmaking, and were soon working hand in hand, sharing credit as writers, directors and producers under the banner of their The Archers production company.

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