Episode 43: “Asa Nisi Masa”: 8 1/2 at Sixty (March 2023)

A Fantastic, Enchanted Ballet”: Federico Fellini's 8 ½ (1963) – Senses of  Cinema

It is an intriguing coincidence that perhaps the two greatest films ever made about the creative breakthroughs and heartbreaks involved in making a film are both celebrating major anniversaries in 2023. First, Federico Fellini’s raucous, post-modern celebration of his own creative process, 8 ½ turns sixty. It’s important to note, though, that while we see no filmmaking in that film, the actual portrayal of the logistical and emotional vicissitudes of film creation are very much at the heart of François Truffaut’s beloved Day for Night, which itself turns fifty this year. We will focus most of our time in this episode on Fellini’s film, taking our intrepid listeners on a tour that begins with an opening that stands as the most brilliant metaphor for creative blockage ever put on film, all the way through the end with the circus band playing Nino Rota’s indelible march as every character we’ve seen from the director’s past and present joins hands and dances in perhaps the most life-affirming moment in all of film. We will then use Fellini’s work as a springboard to discuss the other films about filmmaking that we love, starting with Day for Night, and bringing in works ranging in tone from Assayas’ Irma Vep to Jonze’s Adaptation to Burton’s loving tribute to Ed Wood. Finally, we’ll take a quick peek at this year’s two great portraits of the filmmaker as a young artist, Gray’s Armageddon Time and Spielberg’s The Fabelmans (though honestly, I’d take J.J. Abrams’ Super 8 over either of them). But it’s important to keep in mind that all of these wonderful films probably never even come close to happening without Fellini blazing the trail. To paraphrase the master himself, he may have really had nothing to say, but fortunately for all of us, he found the most brilliant way to say it all the same. Grazie mille, maestro!

John’s Monthly Quote Quiz

Q: “I had a long talk with that lady in Musical Therapy, Johnny, and she says that Mozart is the boy for you. The broom that sweeps the cobwebs away.”

A1: Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)

Vintage Sand Episode 44 on SoundCloud


Episode 43: “The Best Damned Film List of Them All”: Thoughts on the 2022 Sight & Sound Poll (December 2022)


It is indeed the episode a decade in the making! Here, in Episode 43, Team Vintage Sand puts in its collective two cents on the newly released Sight and Sound decennial poll of the greatest films of all time. It is a list referred to by no less an authority than Roger Ebert as “the best damned film list of them all.” But this time, was it a “woke” poll, reflecting more our need for political correctness than a genuine and deep understanding of film history, as old-timers like Paul Schrader proclaimed? Or was it about damn time that the old white men gave up at least some of the strangle hold they’ve had on the poll since its inception in 1952, as many younger critics proclaimed? Does this new list signify that the battle lines have been drawn irrevocably between older and younger film people?

As always, the truth is never that simple. Team Vintage Sand tries to approach the poll by avoiding either extreme, oversimplified position, reaching, as ever, for the complex and embracing the gray. Does Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman deserve its new place atop the rankings? Probably not, but it surely is a much better film than its position in the mid-30’s for the 2012 edition of the poll suggested. And if the poll is so politically correct, why are there no films by the Mexican New Wavers here? Along these same lines, 16 of the 22 directors who have multiple entries on the list are white men; four of the remaining six are Asian men. Yes, there are no films by Howard Hawks or Roman Polanski. No Buñuel. No Lean. No Altman. No Demy, or Melville, or Resnais. No Sternberg or Stroheim. No Huston. No Malick. No Tarantino. No Anderson, be it Wes or P.T. No Coen Brothers. No Linklater. No Spielberg, for goodness’ sake! No silent films in the Top 10, and all the silent films that are still there from 2012, with the exception of City Lights, plummeted to the nether reaches of the list. (If anyone tells me that there are 20 films greater than The Passion of Joan of Arc, it’s ON!) And yet…

…there’s Do The Right Thing entering the list at #24. FINALLY. And there’s Burnett’s brilliant Killer of Sheep. And Dash’s Daughters of the Dust. Maybe now someone will give her some money to make a second film, three full decades after she released a Top 100 masterpiece. And there, brand spanking new, are Jordan Peele and Barry Jenkins. And there’s Agnes Varda’s extraordinary Cleo from 5 to 7 entering the list in the top 15. And my historical experimental film crush Maya Deren is finally here as well for her utterly unique and endlessly influential Meshes of the Afternoon. And Claire Denis in the Top 10. And Jane Campion, Barbara Loden(!), Celine Sciamma and the aforementioned Julie Dash. If it took some “woke” (whatever that means) younger critics to put these artists in their rightful places in the pantheon, we’ll take it.

Ultimately, we recognize the silly waste of energy in trying to compare, say, Jeanne Dielman with Tokyo Story with In the Mood for Love with Man with a Movie Camera. For us, this poll has one purpose only, and it’s the same purpose that guides what we do at Vintage Sand: it opens doors. It takes us out of our comfort zone as viewers, and reminds us that there are vast aspects of film history about which we know little or nothing. So look carefully at Sight and Sound 2022 through this lens, check off the films you haven’t seen yet or not in a long time anyway, and track them down. We’ll bring the popcorn!

One Positive and One Negative Takeaway from the 2022 Poll from Each of Us:


Positive: Three words: Maya frickin’ Deren!

Negative: I know I’m going to catch a lot of sh*t for this, but I object to the presence of My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away on the list. Miyazaki is one of the greatest artists the world has seen in any medium in the last fifty years. Period. Full stop. But to me, animation is a completely coequal but totally different art form from live-action film. After all, I wouldn’t vote for Michelangelo’s “David” for a list of the hundred greatest paintings of all time… 


Positive:  I was very happy to see David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive make the 10 ten list.  I think this is one of Lynch’s most complex and fascinating works.
Negative:  Very sorry to see 3 of my top 10 films eliminated from the list – Robert Altman’s Nashville, Ingmar Bergman’s Wild Strawberries, and Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch.
Positive: This time around, 1600 critics voted. This has made for a much more diverse and eclectic group of films. Hopefully this will encourage more people to seek out movies that might challenge their thinking of what makes a movie great and perhaps encourage them to experience films they otherwise would not have seen.
Negative: I’m disappointed to see that two of my favorite great movies are not on the list – The Godfather Part II and Chinatown. And, I would have liked to have seen Ugetsu ranked much higher. It is truly one of the greatest films ever made. A haunting narrative with great emotional depth.

John’s Monthly Quote Quiz

Q1: “Why kill myself worrying when I’ll end up just as dead anyway?”

A1: Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio De Sica, 1948, IT.)

Q2: “You don’t yell at a sleepwalker. He may fall and break his neck.”

A2: Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, 1950)

Vintage Sand Episode 43 on SoundCloud


Episode 42: Alternate Oscars – 1990’s Edition (November 2022)

Frances McDormand in Fargo

In Episode 42, Team Vintage Sand returns yet again to the source of some of our most popular episodes: Danny Peary’s hard-to-find 1993 classic Alternative Oscars. In the past, we have used Peary’s model to approach the Best Picture Academy Awards from the 1930’s, the 1950’s, the 1970’s, the 1980’s and the 2000’s. For this episode, we hop in the Way-Back Machine and travel to one of the most interesting periods in film history: the 1990’s. As best described in Peter Biskind’s must-read book Down and Dirty Pictures, that decade began with the promise of an honest-to-goodness revival of independent films emerging from smaller companies, most notably Miramax. It was also marked by the rise of the Sundance Festival, a time long before that event became the completely corporatized show it is now. That period, from roughly 1989-1995, witnessed the arrival of such new voices as Steven Soderbergh, Richard Linklater, Todd Haynes, Kevin Smith, Carl Franklin, John Dall and most notably Quentin Tarantino. But that fertile era came to a crashing halt with the sale of Miramax to Disney, and the subsequent absorption of most of the smaller production companies into the studio conglomerates. As a result, things turned a bit flabby in the middle of the decade, only to return with a boom in 1999, considered by many film historians to be one of the great years in the history of the medium.

Another interesting aspect of the 90’s with regards to the Oscars is that unlike in the other decades which we have examined, the Academy made an unusual number of solid choices for Best Picture, such as The Silence of the Lambs, Unforgiven and Schindler’s List. Who could argue with that? (Hint: us.) But there were plenty of head scratchers as well, such as Dances with Wolves over Goodfellas, The English patient over fargo and perhaps most egregiously, Forrest Gump over Pulp Fiction. So kick back, relax and join us as we return to a uniquely fascinating decade, and remember: you’re entering a world of pain, Smokey. A world of pain…

1990: Dances with Wolves (Costner)

What Should Have Won:

Michael and John – Goodfellas (Scorsese)

Josh – Edward Scissorhands (Burton)

Sleeper Picks: Dick Tracy (Beatty), The Grifters (Frears), Reversal of Fortune (Schroeder), Postcards from the Edge (Nichols), Wild at Heart (Lynch), Miller’s Crossing (Coens), Slacker (Linklater) 

1991: The Silence of the Lambs (Demme)

What Should Have Won:

Josh – Daughters of the Dust (Dash)

John – A Bright Summer Day (Yang, Tai.)

Michael – Life Is Sweet (Leigh, UK)

Sleeper Picks: JFK (Stone), Thelma and Louise (R. Scott), My Own Private Idaho (Van Sant), Defending Your Life (A. Brooks), Raise the Red Lantern (Zhang, Chi.), New Jack City (Van Peebles), The Fisher King (Gilliam) 

1992: Unforgiven (Eastwood)

What Should Have Won: 

Josh and Michael – The Player (Altman) 

John – Howard’s End (Ivory) 

Sleeper Picks: Reservoir Dogs (Tarantino), Bob Roberts (Robbins), Glengarry Glen Ross (Foley), Malcolm X (S. Lee), Enchanted April (Newell), One False Move (Franklin), Last of the Mohicans (Mann)

1993: Schindler’s List (Spielberg)

What Should Have Won: 

Josh – A Perfect World  (Eastwood)

Michael – The Age of Innocence (Scorsese)

John – Schindler’s List (Spielberg) 

Sleeper Picks: The Wedding Banquet (A. Lee), Groundhog Day (Ramis), Short Cuts (Altman), Much Ado About Nothing (Branagh), The Ref  (T. Demme), The Summer House (Hussein), Falling Down (Schumacher), Natural Born Killers (Stone)

1994: Forrest Gump (Zemeckis)

What Should Have Won: 

Josh, Michael, and John – Pulp Fiction (Tarantino) 

Sleeper Picks: The Shawshank Redemption (Darabont), Quiz Show (Redford), Four Weddings and a Funeral (Newell), Red (Kieszlowski, Fr.), Eat Drink Man Woman (A. Lee), The Last Seduction (Dall), Nobody’s Fool (Benton), Bullets Over Broadway (Allen), The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (Elliott), Clerks (Smith)

1995: Braveheart (Gibson)

What Should Have Won: 

Josh – Safe (Haynes) 

Michael and John – Nixon (Stone)

Sleeper Picks: To Die For (Van Sant), Clueless (Heckerling), Sense and Sensibility (A. Lee), Home for the Holidays (Foster)

1996: The English Patient (Minghella)

What Should Have Won:

Michael and John – Fargo (Coens)

Josh – Irma Vep (Assayas, Fr.)

Sleeper Picks: Secrets and Lies (Leigh,UK),  Trainspotting (Boyle),  Lone Star (Sayles), Crash (Cronenberg), Flirting with Disaster (Russell), Mother (A. Brooks) 

1997: Titanic (Cameron)

What Should Have Won: 

Josh – Jackie Brown (Tarantino) 

Michael – Deconstructing Harry (Allen)

John – The Sweet Hereafter (Egoyan) 

Sleeper Picks: Good Will Hunting (Van Sant), L.A. Confidential (Hanson), Boogie Nights (P.T. Anderson), Afterglow (Rudolph), The Wings of the Dove (Softley), The Ice Storm (A. Lee) 

1998: Shakespeare in Love (Madden)

What Should Have Won: 

Josh – The Big Lebowski (Coens)

Michael and John – Bulworth (Beatty)

Sleeper Picks: Rushmore (W. Anderson), Affliction (Schrader), Primary Colors (Nichols), The Truman Show (Weir), Central Station (Salles, Braz.) 

1999: American Beauty (Mendes)

What Should Have Won: 

Michael and John – Topsy-Turvy (Leigh, UK) 

Josh – Magnolia (P.T. Anderson)

Sleeper Picks: The Matrix (Wachowskis), Being John Malkovich (Jonze), Election (Payne), Three Kings (Russell), Boys Don’t Cry (Pierce), Fight Club (Fincher), The End of the Affair (Jordan), All About My Mother (Almodovar, Sp.), Office Space (Judge), The Limey (Soderbergh), The Talented Mr. Ripley (Minghella), Go! (Liman) 

John’s Monthly Quote Quiz

Q: –“He was some kind of a man. What does it matter what you say about people?” 

A:  Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 1958)

Vintage Sand Episode 42 on SoundCloud


Episode 41: Gala Premieres–Our Favorite First Films by Great Directors (October 2022)

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?: Problem With the Movie | Time

Team Vintage Sand returns to the airwaves with our October episode, a neat bookend to Episode 31 wherein we explored our favorite final films by great directors. Here we present Episode 41–Gala Premieres: Our Favorite First Films by Great Directors. To begin, we decided to establish some parameters to spare you, our tenacious audience, any pointless discussion. The first is that we tried to avoid directors about whom we have already discoursed at great length in these pages. The second, what we termed the Julie Dash Rule, is that we would only focus on first films by directors who went on to long and predominantly successful careers in feature films. That’s why you won’t find movies like Boys Don’t Cry (Kim Pierce), One False Move (Carl Franklin), Beasts of the Southern Wild (Benh Zeitlin) or one-hit-wonders like Laughton’s Night of the Hunter or Loden’s Wanda here. Plus, we already did a full episode on one-hit wonders—that would be Episode 10. (The fact that the brilliant Dash has only been able to make one film in three decades is a mystery to be explored in another episode or two—utterly inexplicable). Our last rule is the Rosebud Rule; we tried to exclude any first films that were too obvious to spend time on. That would include Citizen Kane, The Maltese Falcon, The 400 Blows, Breathless, Badlands, Boyz ‘n’ the Hood, Reservoir Dogs and similar fare all the way through Get Out. So join us as we bring back those wonderful moments where you wandered into a film by a new director and left the theater realizing that you had just witnessed the birth of a new voice to be reckoned with.

Our FAVorites, in chronological order:

The Great McGinty– Preston Sturges, 1940

12 Angry Men – Sidney Lumet, 1957

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? – Mike Nichols, 1966 

The Landlord – Hal Ashby, 1970 

Eraserhead – David Lynch, 1977

Pi – Darren Aronofsky, 1998

American Beauty – Sam Mendes, 1999 

Being John Malkovich – Spike Jonze, 1999

Away from Her (Sarah Polley, 2006)

honorable mentions:

Un Chien Andalou (Buñuel/Dali, 1929, Fr./Sp.); The Blood of a Poet (Jean Cocteau, 1930, Fr.); A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Elia Kazan, 1945); The Boy with Green Hair (Joseph Losey, 1949); The Killing* (Stanley Kubrick, 1956); Room at the Top (Jack Clayton, 1959); Whistle Down the Wind (Bryan Forbes, 1961, GB); Period of Adjustment (George Roy Hill, 1962); Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (Karel Reisz, 1963, GB); Knife in the Water (Roman Polanski, 1963, Pol.); This Sporting Life (Lindsay Anderson, 1963, GB); The Producers (Mel Brooks, 1967); Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice (Paul Mazursky, 1969); A New Leaf (Elaine May, 1971); Hester Street (Joan Micklin Silver, 1976); Diner (Barry Levinson, 1982); Spinal Tap (Rob Reiner, 1984); Stranger than Paradise (Jim Jarmusch, 1984); Blood Simple (Coen Brothers, 1984); She’s Gotta Have It (Spike Lee, 1986); sex, lies and videotape (Steven Soderbergh, 1989); Say Anything (Cameron Crowe, 1989); Hard Eight (P.T. Anderson, 1996); The Virgin Suicides (Sofia Coppola, 1999); Y Tú Mama También (Alfonso Cuarón, 2001, Mex.); Capote (Bennett Miller, 2005); Brick (Rian Johnson, 2005); Whiplash (Damien Chazelle, 2014); Ex Machina (Alex Garland, 2015); Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)

*Yes, attentive listeners, we know that The Killing is technically not Kubrick’s first film; it was his first with kind of a major release. But be honest with us: when’s the last time you watched Fear and Desire or Killer’s Kiss?

john’s monthly quote quiz

Q: “I’m the guy who does his job. You must be the other guy.”

A: The Departed – Martin Scorsese, 2006

Vintage Sand Episode 41 on SoundCloud


Episode 40: Hidden Gems, Volume III (September 2022)


Don’t call it a comeback! After a long (for us)summer break estivating in all the world’s glamour spots, Team Vintage Sand returns with Episode 40, the third in our Hidden Gems series. Those of you playing along at home will recall that in Episodes 11 and 30, we each chose one film to discuss that we thought had been unjustly overlooked by time and the madding crowd. We promised/threatened to go down this path yet again and take you, loyal listeners, into some more dark and obscure corners of film history. So enjoy Episode 40, Hidden Gems Volume III, where John, Michael and Josh take a closer look at three very different films: a broad screwball heist film from the early 70’s that should have been a huge hit; a quietly powerful and engrossing tale of a year in the life of a group of middle-aged friends, created by the man who is perhaps the greatest living director of actors; and a one-of-a kind, zero-budget film created by blacklisted creatives at the height of McCarthyism that is not only the greatest film ever made about the labor movement, but is also decades ahead of its time in its approach to both feminist issues and immigrant rights. And remember, the code phrase is Afghanistan Banana Stand…


John: The Hot Rock (Peter Yates, 1972)

Josh: Salt of the Earth (Herbert Biberman, 1954)

Michael: Another Year (Mike Leigh, 2010)

Episode 40 on SoundCloud


Episode 39: Director’s Cut: Chloe Zhao

Vudu - Songs My Brothers Taught Me Chloé Zhao, John Reddy, Jashaun St.  John, Irene Bedard, Watch Movies & TV Online

Episode 39 finds your intrepid Team Vintage Sand doing a deep dive into the work of one of our most promising young filmmakers, 2020 Best Director Oscar-winner Chloe Zhao. Although she has only done four feature films to this point, she has already established a distinctive painterly and brilliant visual style, and, as no less an authority than Frances McDormand put it, has shown herself able to successfully walk the line between sentiment and sentimentality.

We take an auteurist approach to Zhao’s work by dividing her young career into two distinct parts. She began with two very low-budget films, Songs My Brothers Taught Me and The Rider, both used non-actors essentially playing themselves. Notably, both were set in the unique and somehow primordial landscape of the Pine Ridge Reservation in the Black Hills of South Dakota, a location that is becoming to Zhao what Monument Valley was to John Ford. Her Oscar winner, Nomadland, was a transitional work, featuring old pros McDormand and David Strathairn mixed in with non-actors. This unexpected success then led to her chance to be part of the MCU with Eternals, a huge-budget film that many connoisseurs of the genre consider to be the worst of the Marvel films.

So our fundamental question is simple: how do the visual and thematic elements that made her first two films so uniquely personal and intimate carry over into the second pair of films, done on a much different scale? As frequently happens, there is some dissent within Team Vintage Sand. Michael, and to a lesser extent John, argue, as do many, that Zhao’s films suffer from her insistence on non-actors, and that Songs and The Rider would have been better had Zhao populated her film with professional actors. I’m not bothered as much by it, but I see where they’re coming from, especially since they are both trained actors. That being said, there is no doubt that Zhao has a phenomenal eye and that she is an artist to be closely watched; for us, she is one of the few young directors who has earned a lifetime ticket, which simply means that if she’s directing a film, we’ll be there opening weekend. So sit back, enjoy, and we’ll see you all down the road.

John’s Monthly Quote Quiz

Q: –“In the world of advertising, there’s no such thing as a lie. There’s only expedient exaggeration.”  

A: North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959)

Episode 39 on SoundCloud


Episode 38: 2021 and the “End of the Movies” (April 2022)

Passing uses 4:3 for sublimely good cinematography

In a New York Times article published last month, Ross Douthat expounded on the provocative idea that the movies, as in studio films produced in Hollywood, were “over.” He was not arguing that Hollywood would ever stop producing movies for the big screen, nor that the notion of seeing a movie in a dark theater with strangers all around would ever completely disappear. Instead, he was saying that Movies, the heart of American popular culture for over a century, haVE now become marginalized to just another source of content in a world of seemingly endless content. He attributes this to the rise of streaming and the quality of what we can see on our screens at home, to a globalized market that rewards the exploitation of familiar properties over anything that might be truly innovative, and, to be fair, the expense and sheer unpleasantness of taking one’s family to see a movie in an actual theater. And since most of what was on offer in the big theaters was Marvel/DC multiverse epics, other tentpole/franchise films or anything with a Roman numeral on the end of the title, is this such a big loss?

Viewed through this lens, Team Vintage Sand was kind of split on the legacy of 2021 in film. Michael thought the year was one of the best in recent memory, whereas John and I were a bit more ambivalent. Of course, it my not be coincidental that Mike, as a card-carrying member of the union, got to see nearly everything this year in a real theater at SAG screenings. John and I saw a handful of films on the big screen, but most via streaming. (If this is not a coincidence, it argues strongly in favor of the primacy of the theater experience). And as you’ll hear in the episode, we could not even agree on whether any 2021 films meet our highest standard: that they will still be watched 25 or 50 years from now. The most likely possibility is Drive My Car, although John expressed some sensible reservations. What else? Perhaps Spielberg’s shockingly good West Side Story update? Maybe Power of the Dog, although Michael pointed out what I’m sure many felt: that the film was beautiful and technically perfect, but was so cold that very few would feel compelled to watch it again. Trier’s The Worst Person in the World has an outside shot, but I objected that in the end, to paraphrase Mike’s oft-quoted phrase, I could not in the end love a film where I did not care about the central character (brilliant performance though it was). And CODA? A film that no one could dislike, with some tremendous performances, but an Afterschool Special script that, like Green Book or Crash,allowed Hollywood to pat itself on the back for being sensitive to the voices of an outsider group without really saying anything.

in the episode, we frame the year in film in terms of the Oscar ceremony, which was well on its way to being one of the worst ever before you-know-what happened. We discuss the glaring omissions (Denis Villeneuve not being nominated for Dune; Passing, which in some ways was the best film of the year, not getting nominated for anything; Hans Zimmer over Jonny Greenwood, etc.) and the occasions where they actually got it right (hello, Ariana De Bose!). Not the greatest year, but to return to Douthat’s article, he concludes with an important plea: that it is more necessary than ever to teach the history and technique of classic film, as the chance that younger generations will be exposed to this art grows smaller and smaller. I felt a sense of validation personally, as I have been doing just that with high school students for a quarter of a century. But I also felt that this highlighted why we put together Vintage Sand in the first place: our mission to open some doors and some new perspectives for our listeners. So kick back, enjoy, and hope along with us that film in 2022 will be less of the proverbial slap in the face than in the year just passed.

some un-nominated (or under-nominated) films of 2021 that we loved:

  • Passing (Rebecca Hall) – A perfect adaptation of a brilliant novel. That this didn’t even get nominated for Adapted Screenplay, let alone the two amazing central performances, was the worst oversight of the Oscars.
  • Bergman Island (Mia Hansen-Love) – Film-within-a film fun on Bergman’s home turf, the Faröe Islands, featuring fantastic performances by Tim Roth and Vicky Krieps
  • The Green Knight (David Lowrey) – A surprisingly faithful and fascinating adaptation of perhaps the weirdest of all the Arthurian legend poems
  • In the Heights (Jon Chu) – A movie musical made by people who actually understand both movies and musicals. And Olga Meredíz should have been nominated for reprising her Broadway turn as Abuela
  • The Card Counter (Paul Schrader) – Schrader continues his most welcome comeback that began with First Reformed, this time featuring yet another great performance by Oscar Isaac
  • The French Dispatch (Wes Anderson) – Demonstrating, as he did with Budapest, that his sensibility seems to work very well when dealing with unique times and places that are about to fade into history, Wes creates 2/3 of a great anthology film. And how about a nom for Jeffrey Wright, essentially playing James Baldwin?
  • The Matrix: Resurrections (Lana Wachowski) – Just the opening 45 minutes or so, as brilliantly self-referential and meta as film gets

John’s Monthly Quote Quiz

Q: –“Of course I’m respectable. I’m old. Politicians, ugly buildings and whores all get respectable if they last long enough.”  

A: Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974)

Vintage Sand Episode 38 on SoundCloud


Episode 37: A Pocket History of the Hollywood Musical (March 2022)

SONG & DANCE: GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933 | This Week in New York

In a first for the ever-intrepid Team Vintage Sand, we devote an entire episode to the exploration of the history of a single genre. Thus we present Episode 37: A Pocket History of the Hollywood Musical. From its clunky beginnings at the dawn of sound through the unexpected brilliance of Spielberg’s West Side Story remake last year, we take a deep dive into this most deliberately artificial (and therefore most polarizing) of all film genres. Rather than going decade by decade, we divided this history into six “movements” that provide a lens to view the rise, steep decline and startling rebirth of the musical over the last century. After a brief mention of such important early works as the Best Picture-winning Broadway Melody of 1929 and King Vidor’s first foray into sound, the daring and dazzling (if problematic for contemporary audiences) Hallelujah! (1929), the movements we lay out are as follows:

I. The Warner Brothers musicals of the pre-Code 1930’s, which confronted head-on the difficulties of life during the Great Depression and gave the world its first glimpse of the lunatic genius of Busby Berkeley

II. The RKO musicals of the mid and late 1930’s, featuring Astaire and Rogers, silly escapist story lines and music by some of the greatest composers of American popular song

III. The Golden Age, a quarter century dominated though not exclusively limited to MGM, which is bookended by The Wizard of Oz in 1939 and The Sound of Music in 1965. This is the age of Vincente Minnelli and the Kelly/Donen team, of Singin’ in the Rain and The Band Wagon, of larger budgets and production values and, at its height, a rapidly increasing artistic ambition

IV. The decline, which starts in the late 1960’s with horrors like Doctor Doolittle and Paint your wagon. With the notable exception of Grease and the uniquely odd success of Rocky Horror, the live action musical is essentially moribund from the 70’s through the end of the century. However…

V.…we argue that the traditional Hollywood musical is kept alive by whoever it was at Disney that had the vision, after having seen Little Shop of Horrors, to hire Menken and Ashman to revive their animated musical division. The run of successes that Disney had from The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, through Ashman’s untimely death halfway through Aladdin, and up through 1997’s Mulan showed that the Musical hadn’t died; it had just morphed into cartoon form for a while

VI. The unlikely revival of Musicals in this century, sparked out of nowhere by a most unlikely film: Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 Moulin Rouge!. The genre’s return was cemented by the choice of Chicago for Best Picture the next year, and it has been going strong ever since

As a final note, we also posit our Grand Unification Theory of the Hollywood Musical—that the greatest among these films were ones originally created for the screen rather than adaptations of Broadway shows. Yes, there are exceptions, but for every West Side Story (particularly the 2021), there are a few dozen films like South Pacific, Camelot, A Little Night Music, Rent, Cats and Dear Evan Hansen. So come and meet those dancing feet as we take you on a whirlwind tour of a century of supreme artistry and epic fails, with stops at just about every point in between.

John’s Monthly Quote Quiz

Q: –“Well, I used to be bad when I was a kid,  but ever since then I’ve gone straight, as has been proved by my record: 33 arrests and no convictions.”  

A: Guys and Dolls (Joseph Mankiewicz, 1955)

The American Film Institute’s List of the 25 Greatest Hollywood Musicals

Vintage Sand Episode 37 on SoundCloud


Episode 36: We Shall Not Look Upon Their Like Again (January 2022)

Sidney Poitier, 1st Black man to win best actor Oscar, dead at 94 | CBC News

Remembering Peter Bogdanovich, Who Kept Old Hollywood's Memory Alive -  Variety

As we are preparing for our first attempt at a genre episode (that would be Episode 37, our brief guide to the Hollywood musical coming in February) we could not let go the passing of some major and minor figures of film history since our last recording session in early December.

Therefore, our shorter-than-usual Episode 36 will function as an extended necrology, a (hopefully) cathartic exploration and celebration of both towering figures like Sidney Poitier and Peter Bogdanovich and lesser figures as well. (After all, we did lose Truly Scrumptious this month) As the title of the episode suggests, in a straight steal from Hamlet, we shall not look upon their like again.

Sally Ann Howes, who played Truly Scrumptious in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,  dies aged 91 - ABC News

John’s Monthly Quote Quiz

Q: –“Just remember, beautiful–everything gets old if you do it often enough. So if you want to find out about monotony real quick, marry Dwayne.”  

A: The Last Picture Show (Peter Bogdanovich, 1971)

Vintage Sand Episode 36 on SoundCloud


Episode 35: Alternate Oscars – 1930’s Edition (December 2021)

Film Freak Central - The Rules of the Game (1939) [The Criterion  Collection] - Blu-ray Disc

In Episode 35, Team Vintage Sand returns to the source of some of our most popular episodes: Danny Peary’s hard-to-find 1993 classic Alternate Oscars. In the past, we have approached the Academy Awards from the 1950’s, 1970’s, 1980’s and the 2000’s. For this episode, we use the Way-Back Machine to explore the first full decade in which the awards were given: the 1930’s. In exploring a period that featured some truly abysmal Best Picture choices (Cimarron, anyone? Not to mention what is possibly the worst film ever chosen, 1933’s Cavalcade?), we learned a couple of things. The least surprising of these is that Jean Renoir completely owned the decade; his films might have won Best Picture nearly every year. Another is that there really are two 1930’s for film: the period before the imposition of the Production Code in 1934 and the years that followed. What made this episode fun for us is that, perhaps more so that any of our other Alternate Oscar shows, this one features a ton of movies that our listeners may have not seen or even heard of. And why are we doing this? Well, like the fella said, everybody has their reasons…

1930: All Quiet on the Western Front (Milestone)

What Should Have Won:

Josh, Michael and John – All Quiet on the Western Front (Milestone)

Sleeper Picks: The Blue Angel (Von Sternberg, Ger.), Earth (Dovzhenko, Rus.), The Big House (Hill), The Big Trail (Walsh), Little Caesar (LeRoy)

1931: Cimmaron (Ruggles)

What Should Have Won:

Josh and John – M (Fritz Lang, Ger.)

Michael – City Lights (Chaplin)

Sleeper Picks: Le Million (Clair, Fra.), La Chienne (Renoir, Fra.), The Public Enemy (Wellman)

1932: Grand Hotel (Goulding)

What Should Have Won: 

Josh and John – Scarface (Hawks)

Michael – Boudu Saved from Drowning (Renoir, Fra.)

Sleeper Picks: Trouble in Paradise (Lubitsch), Freaks (Browning), I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (LeRoy), Frankenstein (Whale), Island of Lost Souls (Kenton), Vampyr (Dreyer, Den.), I Was Born, But… (Ozu, Jap.)

1933: Cavalcade (Lloyd)

What Should Have Won: 

Josh – 42nd Street (Bacon & Berkeley)

Michael – Duck Soup (McCarey)

John – The Testament of Doctor Mabuse (Lang, Ger.)

Sleeper Picks: King Kong (Cooper & Schoesdack), The Bitter Tea of General Yen (Capra), Baby Face (Green), Wild Boys of the Road (Wellman)

1934: It Happened One Night (Capra)

What Should Have Won: 

Josh – The Scarlet Empress (Von Sternberg)

Michael and John – The Thin Man (Van Dyke)

Sleeper Picks: Imitation of Life (Stahl)

1935: Mutiny on the Bounty (Lloyd)

What Should Have Won: 

Josh – The Bride of Frankenstein (Whale)

Michael and John – The 39 Steps (Hitchcock, Eng.)

Sleeper Picks: The Informer (Ford), Captain Blood (Curtiz), A Night at the Opera (Wood), Top Hat (Sandrich)

1936: The Great Ziegfeld (Leonard)

What Should Have Won:

Josh and John – Modern Times (Chaplin)

Michael – Dodsworth (Wyler)

Sleeper Picks: Swing Time (Stevens), Fury (Lang), Theodora Goes Wild (Boleslawski), Sabotage (Hitchcock, Eng.), Osaka Elegy (Mizoguchi, Jap.)

1937: The Life of Emile Zola (Dieterle)

What Should Have Won: 

Josh – Make Way for Tomorrow (McCarey)

Michael and John – The Awful Truth (McCarey)

Sleeper Picks: The Grand Illusion (Renoir, Fra.), A Star Is Born (Wellman), Nothing Sacred (Wellman)

1938: You Can’t Take It with You (Capra)

What Should Have Won: 

Josh – The Adventures of Robin Hood (Curtiz & Keighley)

Michael and John – Bringing Up Baby (Hawks)

Sleeper Picks: The Lady Vanishes (Hitchcock, Eng.), The Human Beast (Renoir, Fra.), Pygmalion (Asquith & Howard), Angels with Dirty Faces (Curtiz), Holiday (Cukor), Alexander Nevsky (Eisenstein, Rus.)

1939: Gone with the Wind (Fleming)

What Should Have Won: 

Josh, Michael and John – The Rules of the Game (Renoir, Fra.)

Sleeper Picks: The Wizard of Oz (Fleming), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (Capra), Ninotchka (Lubitsch), Stagecoach (Ford), Only Angels Have Wings (Hawks), The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums (Mizoguchi, Jap.), Daybreak (Carne, Fra.)

John’s Monthly Quote Quiz

Q: –“You still think it’s beautiful to die for your country? The first bombardment taught us better. When it comes to dying for country, it’s better not to die at all.”  

A: All Quiet on the Western Front (Lewis Milestone, 1930)

Vintage Sand Episode 35 on SoundCloud


Episodes 34 A and B: No Small Parts II: Our Guide to Our Favorite Overlooked and Underloved Performances by Supporting Actresses (November 2021)

A scene from 1993's Addams Family Values.

As promised, we finish this round of our study of great screen performances with this two-part episode that highlights what are, in our opinion, the best overlooked and underloved performances by supporting actresses over the years. Recall that in our last episode, we put down our usual auteurist lens in favor of a focus on actors, perhaps a filmmaker’s most crucial collaborators. This is a natural move for us, considering that both Michael and John are trained actors and bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to our enterprise. So join us, Vintage Sand fans, as we follow a slightly different path and focus on our favorite underloved and overlooked performances in film by supporting actresses. And as we learned last time out, when you get John and Mike talking about acting, there’s no stopping them; thus another two-parter (Episode 34 B will be appearing in a couple of weeks). As for me, the non-actor in the group, I would say that I learned more from these episode than any one we’ve ever done; our hope is that this will open the same kind of doors for you as well.

Michael’s Complete List

1. Angela Lansbury in The Manchurian Candidate (John Frankenheimer, 1962)

2. Harriet Andersson in Cries and Whispers (Ingmar Bergman, 1972) and Bibi Andersson in Scenes from a Marriage (Bergman, 1973)

3. Lesley Manville in Phantom Thread (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2018)

4. Dame Edith Evans in The Importance of Being Earnest (Anthony Asquith, 1952)

5. Valentina Cortese in Day for Night (Francois Truffaut, 1973)

John’s Complete List

1. Thelma Ritter in Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock, 1954) and Pickup on South Street (Sam Fuller, 1953)

2. Agnes Moorehead in The Magnificent Ambersons (Orson Welles, 1942) and Dark Passage (Delmer Daves, 1947)

3. Ruby Dee in A Raisin in the Sun (Daniel Petrie, 1961)

4. Jane Alexander in All the President’s Men (Alan J. Pakula, 1976)

5. Ann Sheridan in The Man Who Came to Dinner (William Keighley, 1942) and Edge of Darkness (Lewis Milestone, 1947)

Josh’s Complete List

1.  Barbara Bel Geddes in Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)

2. Lillian Gish in The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1954)

3. Sandra Oh in Sideways (Alexander Payne, 2004)

4. Christina Ricci in Addams Family Values (Barry Sonnenfeld, 1993)

5. Julianne Moore in Magnolia (Paul Thomas Anderson, 1999)

honorable mention

Margaret Dumont in Duck Soup (Mc Carey, 1933)

Joan Blondell in Gold Diggers of 1933 (Berkeley and LeRoy, 1933)

Gladys George in The Roaring Twenties (Walsh, 1939)

Mary Astor in The Palm Beach Story (Sturges, 1942)

Josephine Hull and Jean Adair in Arsenic and Old Lace (Capra, 1944)

Margaret Rutherford in Blithe Spirit (Lean, 1945)

Leopoldine Konstantin in Notorious (Hitchcock, 1946)

Thelma Ritter in All About Eve (Mankiewicz, 1950)

Jean Hagen in Singin’ in the Rain (Donen and Kelly, 1952)

Setsuko Hara in Tokyo Story (Ozu, 1953)

Vera Miles in The Searchers (Ford, 1956)

Hope Lange in Peyton Place (Robson, 1957)

Juanita Moore in Imitation of Life (Sirk, 1959)

Jessica Tandy in The Birds (Hitchcock, 1963)

Sylvia Sidney in Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams (Cates, 1973)

Madeleine Kahn in Blazing Saddles (Brooks, 1974)

Vanessa Redgrave in Prick Up Your Ears (Frears, 1987)

Sigourney Weaver in Working Girl (Nichols, 1988)

Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada (Frankel, 2006)

Ann Dowd in Hereditary (Aster, 2018)

John’s Monthly Quote Quiz

Q: –“When you’re young, you believe there are many people you’ll connect with. Later in life, you realize it only happens a few times.

A: Before Sunset (Richard Linklater, 2004)

Vintage Sand Episode 34A on SoundCloud

Vintage Sand Episode 34B on SoundCloud


Episodes 33 A and B: No Small Parts: Our Guide to Our Favorite Overlooked and Underloved Performances by Supporting Actors (October 2021)

The Irishman & Pulp Fiction Actor Harvey Keitel Once Played A Dog

In the past, Team Vintage Sand has focused primarily on specific directors and movements in the history of film. Of course, we understand the fundamental paradox of the auteur theory (in that film is by its nature the most collaborative medium). But if we are making the case for film as art, then there needs to be an artist, and organizing the podcast around the auteurist ideas of critics like Truffaut and Andrew Sarris makes a great deal of sense. In Episode 33, however, we finally put that idea on the shelf for a moment and use another lens to focus on some of the movies we love: the importance of acting. This is a natural move for us, considering that both Michael and John are trained actors and bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to our enterprise. So join us, Vintage Sand fans, as we follow a slightly different path and focus on our favorite underloved and overlooked performances in film by supporting actors. And when you get John and Mike talking about acting, there’s no stopping them, so we have divided the episode in half; Episode 33 B will be appearing in a couple of weeks. For me, the non-actor in the group, I would say that I learned more from this episode than any one we’ve ever done; our hope is that this will open the same kind of doors for you as well.

Michael’s complete List

1. Ralph Richardson in The Heiress (Wyler, 1949)

2. Robert Ryan in The Wild Bunch (Sam Peckinpah, 1969)

3. Lee Tracy in The Best Man (Franklin Schaffner, 1964)

4. Robert Preston in S.O.B. (Blake Edwards, 1981)

5. Jack Carson in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Richard Brooks, 1958)

John’s COMPLETE List

1. Claude Rains in Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1943)

2. John Cazale in The Godfather, Part II (Francis Coppola, 1974)

3. Harvey Keitel in Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, 1994)

4. Alan Rickman in Sense and Sensibility (Ang Lee, 1994)

5. Sessue Hayakawa in The Bridge Over the River Kwai (David Lean, 1957)

Josh’s COMplete List

1, Edward G. Robinson in Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944)

2. John Goodman in The Big Lebowski (Coen Brothers, 1997)

3. John Hawkes in Winter’s Bone (Debra Granik, 2010)

4. Burt Lancaster in Field of Dreams (Phil Alden Robinson, 1989)

5. TIE: Ralph Fiennes in Schindler’s List (Steven Spielberg, 1993) and Don Cheadle in Devil in a Blue Dress (Carl Franklin, 1995)

honorable mention

Sidney Greenstreet in Christmas in Connecticul (Godfrey, 1945)

Dana Andrews in The Best Years of Our Lives (Wyler, 1946)

Joe E. Brown in Some Like It Hot (Wilder, 1959)

Ossie Davis in The Hill (Lumet, 1964)

Tom Courtenay in Doctor Zhivago (Lean, 1965)

Robert Shaw in A Man for All Seasons (Zinneman, 1966)

Paul Ford in A Big Hand for the Little Lady (Cook, 1966)

Charles Boyer in Barefoot in the Park (Saks, 1967)

Richard Castellano and John Marley in The Godfather (Coppola, 1972)

Melvyn Douglas in The Candidate (Ritchie, 1972)

Robert Duvall in Apocalypse Now (Coppola, 1979)

Charles Durning in To Be or Not to Be (Brooks, 1983)

Vincent Gardenia in Moonstruck (Jewison, 1987)

Mandy Patinkin in The Princess Bride (Reiner, 1987)

Ed Harris and Gary Sinise in Apollo 13 (Howard, 1995)

Christopher Walken in Catch Me if You Can (Spielberg, 2003)

John’s Monthly Quote Quiz

Q: –“You bastard. 

–Yes sir. In my case, an accident of birth. But you–you’re a self-made man.”

A: The Professionals (Richard Brooks, 1966)

Vintage Sand Episode 33A on SoundCloud

Vintage Sand Episode 33B on SoundCloud


Episode 32: The Vintage Sand Guide to Our Favorite Books on Film (August 2021)


We know what you’re thinking. How can those Vintage Sand guys be so durned knowledgeable about film and yet still maintain their humility? Well, of course the three of us have seen way too many films over the years, but the truth is that so much of what has shaped our lives as filmgoers has come from reading some of the great books written about film by filmmakers, great critics and film historians.  At Vintage Sand, we’ve never claimed any expertise in film as such. We have tried simply to share our enthusiasm in the hope of opening doors for our listeners regarding our favorite films and perhaps some different and useful ways to watch them.

So, instead of trying to take you to school this time, we’re taking you to the library. The books listed below, as mentioned above, do what film studies does best – open new doors. You’ll find that the books on our list are pretty much free of jargon (the use of the word “liminality” is expressly forbidden), as is tell-all gossip. For time’s sake, the only books we’ve left out are fictional works about Hollywood and the process of making movies: West’s The Day of the Locust, Fitzgerald’s The Last Tycoon, Southern’s Blue Movie, are some examples that are worth your time. So dig up your library cards, clean your glasses and come along with us to see why names like David Thomson and Donald Spoto are as important to our lives as film fanatics as are those of Kubrick or Hitchcock.

The List

General Film History and Theory/Reference

Thomson, David – A Biographical Dictionary of Film, 6th ed. (2014)

Thomson, David – Have You Seen…? (2010)

Braudy, Leo and Cohen, Marshall, eds. – Film Theory and Criticism. 8th ed. (2016)

Bazin, Andre – What is Cinema? Vols. 1 and 2 (1967-1971)

Cook, David – A History of Narrative Film, 5th ed. (2016)

Giannetti, Louis – Understanding Movies, 14th ed. (2018)

Monaco James – How to Read a Film, 4th ed. (2009)

Peary, Danny – Guide for the Film Fanatic (1986)

Peary, Danny – Alternate Oscars (1993)


The Great Critics

Agee, James – Agee on Film (1958)

Kael, Pauline – I Lost It at the Movies (1965)

Kauffman, Stanley – A World on Film (1966)

Sarris, Andrew – The American Cinema (1968)

Farber, Manny – Negative Space: Manny Farber on the Movies (1971)

Hillier, Jim, ed. – Cahiers du Cinema: The 1950’s (1989)

Rosenbaum, Jonathan – Essential Cinema (2004)

Lopate, Philip, ed. American Movie Critics (2006)


Filmmakers on Filmmaking

Eisenstein, Sergei – Film Sense (1925)

Bresson, Robert – Notes on Cinematography (1975)

Rosenblum, Ralph – When the Shooting Starts, the Cutting Begins (1979)

Murch, Walter – In the Blink of an Eye (1992)

Lumet, Sidney – Making Movies (1995)


 Studies of Individual Directors

Rohmer, Eric and Claude Chabrol – Hitchcock (1957)

Truffaut, Francois – Hitchcock (1964)

Wood, Robin – Hitchcock’s Films (1965)

Spoto, Donald – The Art of Alfred Hitchcock (1976)

Spoto, Donald – The Dark Side of Genius (1980)

White, Edward – The 12 Lives of Alfred Hitchcock (2021)

Bogdanovich, Peter – John Ford (1971)

Bogdanovich, Peter – This is Orson Welles (1992)

Crowe, Cameron – Conversations with Wilder (1999)

Eisner, Lotte – Murnau (1964)

Eisner, Lotte – Fritz Lang (1976)

Salles-Gomes, P.E. – Vigo (1972)

Durgnat, Raymond – Jean Renoir (1974)

Roud, Richard – Godard (1968)

Richie, Donald – The Films of Akira Kurosawa (1965)

Schrader, Paul – Transcendental Style in Film: Ozu, Bresson and Dreyer (1972)

Harris, Mark – Five Came Back (2014)



Anything by Donald Bogle

Haskell, Molly – From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women in the Movies (1974)

Russo, Vito – The Celluloid Closet (1981)

Diawara, Manthia, ed. – Black American Cinema (1993)

Feng, Peter – Identities in Motion (2002)

Rodriguez, Clara – Heroes, Lovers and Others (2004)


Genre Studies

Eisner, Lotte – The Haunted Screen (1969)

Kracauer, Siegfried – From Caligari to Hitler (1947)

Mast, Gerald – The Comic Mind (1973)

Hirsch, Foster – The Dark Side of the Screen (1981)

Hoberman, J. – Midnight Movies (1983)

Peary, Danny – Cult Movies 1-3 (1981/1983/1988)


Film of a Particular Era or Year

Ramsaye, Terry – A Million and One Nights (1926)

Brownlow, Kevin – The Parade’s Gone By (1968)

Everson, William K. – American Silent Film (1978)

Doherty, Thomas – Pre-Code Hollywood (1999)

Harris, Mark – Pictures at a Revolution (2008)

Biskind, Peter – Easy Riders, Raging Bulls (1998)

Biskind, Peter – Down and Dirty Pictures (2004)

Raftery, Brian. 1999. Best. Movie. Year. Ever. (2019)


Books Focusing on One Particular Film

O’Donnell, Pierce – Fatal Subtraction (1992 – about Coming to America)

Salomon, Julie – The Devil’s Candy (1992 – about Bonfire of the Vanities)

Bach, Steven – Final Cut (1999 – about Heaven’s Gate)

Wasson, Sam – The Big Goodbye (2020 – about Chinatown)



Sternberg, Josef – Fun in a Chinese Laundry (1965)

Signoret, Simone – Nostalgia Isn’t What It Used to Be (1978)

Winters, Shelley – Shelley: Also Known as Shirley (1980)

Bunuel, Luis with Jean-Claude Carriere – My Last Sigh (1983)

Goldman, William – Adventures in the Screen Trade (1983)

Phillips, Julia – You’ll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again (1991)

Evans, Robert – The Kid Stays in the Picture (1994)

NEW feature! this month’s quote quiz

Q: “I looked for you in the closet tonight.”

A: Blue Velvet – David Lynch, 1986 

Vintage Sand Episode 32 on SoundCloud


Episode 31: The Final Countdown: Our Favorite Last Films by Great Directors (July 2021)

L'Atalante 1934

7 Women. Rio Lobo. The Other Side of the Wind. Family Plot. Buddy Buddy. Pocketful of Miracles. A Countess from Hong Kong. Have you even heard of these films, let alone seen them? Yet they stand as the final works, respectively, of John Ford, Howard Hawks, Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Wilder, Frank Capra and Charlie Chaplin. In Episode 31 of the podcast, Team Vintage Sand explores the question of why so many, if not most, of our greatest directors conclude their careers with middling, occasionally atrocious, and almost universally forgettable films.

But do not despair, dear listener; we also travel to France, Sweden, Japan and back home, and across the years from the early 1930’s to the first years of this century, to give our favorite examples of great directors who ended their careers on a high note. These latter fall into two distinct categories: the majority, where directors were unaware that their latest effort would serve as their final statement, and those rare cases where the artists involved knew that it would be their last word as an artist and acted accordingly. It’s a great mix of films, so come along for the ride and hope with us that Inland Empire will not be David Lynch’s final feature, that An Officer and a Spy will not be Roman Polanski’s last word, and that if Tarantino stops at ten, as he has promised, that the next one will be better than the last few.

Our FAVorites, in chronological order:

L’Atalante – Jean Vigo, 1934 (Fr.)

Lola Montes – Max Ophuls, 1956 (Fr.)

Street of Shame – Kenji Mizoguchi, 1956 (Jap.)

That Obscure Object of Desire – Luis Bunuel, 1977 (Fr./Spa.)

Once Upon a Time in America – Sergio Leone, 1984

A Passage to India – David Lean, 1984

Red – Kristof Kieslowski, 1994 (Fr.)

Sarabande – Ingmar Bergman, 2003 (Swe.)

honorable mentions:

Tabu – F.W. Murnau, 1931

Imitation of Life – Douglas Sirk, 1959

The Sacrifice – Andrei Tarkovsky, 1986

The Dead – John Huston, 1987

A Prairie Home Companion – Robert Altman, 2006

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead – Sidney Lumet, 2007

NEW feature! this month’s quote quiz

Q: “I’d hate to take a bite out of you. You’re a cookie laced with arsenic.”

A: The Sweet Smell of Success – Alexander Mackendrick, 1957 

Vintage Sand Episode 31 on SoundCloud


Episode 30: Hidden Gems, Volume II (June 2021)

Wonder Boys movie review & film summary (2000) | Roger Ebert

Back in the before time, we did a long-ago episode (#11, if you’re playing along at home) where we each chose one film to discuss that we thought had been unjustly overlooked by time and the madding crowd. At the time, we promised/threatened to go down this path again and take you, loyal listeners, into some more dark and obscure corners of film history. So enjoy episode 30, Hidden Gems, Volume II, where john, Michael and JOSH take a closer look at three very different films: a broad satire from the early 70’s by a first-time director about to become a small-screen legend; a sweet, lowkey, oddball comedy by a brilliant director who never could find his place in hollywood; and a comedy-drama by a skilled craftsman of a director based on a book by one of our greatest modern novelists. and by the way, how do You get ice cream out of velour upholstery?


John: Wonder Boys (Curtis Hanson, 2000)

Josh: Comfort and Joy (Bill Forsyth, 1984)

Michael: Cold Turkey  (Norman Lear, 1971)

Vintage Sand Episode 30 on SoundCloud


Episode 29: Home Movies: The Best of 2020 (May 2021)

On Location: Chloé Zhao's 'Nomadland' Is a Love Letter to America's Wide  Open Spaces | Condé Nast Traveler

It was a year, and an Oscars ceremony, unlike any other in memory. That being said, there were many films, both big and small, that we think will stand the test of time and which folks may still be watching 50 years from now. So join us for the ride as we explore some of 2020’s most memorable films, from Nomadland to Palm Springs and from Minari to Da 5 Bloods; it’s our Journal of the Plague Year.  Whatever our feelings about the films of 2020, though, Episode 29 is a cause for celebration for us. It is the first time in 14 months that John, Michael and I were able to record the episode live and together in the same room. All due respect and love to the makers of Zoom, which allowed us to continue the podcast through this miserable year, but this was a reminder of why we started Vintage Sand in the first place and why we so enjoy creating it. We hope that the joy we felt in really working together again will be contagious for our fans, and that you will all stay safe and take care. As Fern says, we’ll see you down the road.

First Things First: Oscar Snubs

  • All respect to Chadwick Boseman and Anthony Hopkins, but two of the most powerful performances of the year were overlooked: first, the criminally underrated Delroy Lindo inhabiting a character the likes of which we’ve never seen before, in Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods.
  • And as awesome as it was seeing Jodie Foster accepting the Golden Globe for The Mauritanian in her jammies, how does Tahar Rahim, who gives a brilliant turn as the title character in that film, not even get nominated?
  • While we’re at it, how does Radha Blank get shut out for one of the most original screenplays of the year, The 40 Year Old Version? Certainly more original than any of the nominees, including the winner.
  • And the man who put “Original” in the term “Original Screenplay”, Charlie Kaufman, gets nothing for his usual mind-bending meta jazz in I’m Thinking of Ending Things?
  • How in the name of Gregg Toland did Mank beat Nomadland for cinematography? Seriously? And while we’re on Mank, it’s a shame that Amanda Seyfried’s wondrous embodiment of Marion Davies was the same year as Youn Yuh-jung’s unforgettable Grandma in Minari. Seyfried’s performance was, for us, the only thing that made Mank worthwhile.
  • We love the octopus, of course, but he really beat Crip Camp for Best Doc Feature? And Boys State wasn’t even nominated?
  • And to begin where we started, no recognition AGAIN for Spike Lee, this time for showing us for the Black experience in Vietnam in Da 5 Bloods? What does this man have to do to get a Best Director nom, let alone a statue?

Oscar Highlights

  • H.E.R. Enough said.
  • Logistics and Soderbergh aside, L.A.’s Union Station is the most beautiful train station in the country
  • Oh, and the fact that after the horror show that was Green Book, they’ve gotten it right two years in a row with Parasite and Nomadland
  • And if you loved Judas and the Black Messiah, PLEASE do anything in your power to track down the 1971 doc The Murder of Fred Hampton (I think it’s free on YouTube). As wonderful as Daniel Kaluuya was (and he was), nothing compares to watching Chairman Fred himself

TEN BEST Unsung Films of the Year

  • The Vast of Night (Andrew Patterson) – Sweet, atmospheric, Twilight Zone-style science fiction
  • The Old Guard (Gina Prince-Blythewood) – Fun action film with Charlize Theron
  • I’m Thinking of Ending Things (Charlie Kaufman) – Time has shown that Kaufman is more effective when Spike Jonze or Michel Gondry is behind the camera, but this is a must for fans of Kaufman’s unique vision
  • The 40 Year Old Version (Radha Blank) – Announcing the arrival of a completely new voice!
  • On the Rocks – (Sophia Coppola) – Even if it doesn’t recapture the Bill Murray magic of Lost in Translation, still very much worth your time
  • Palm Springs (Max Barbakow) – This smart, spiky Groundhog Day variation features lovely performances in the leads by Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti and great cameos by JK Simmons and many others
  • The King of Staten Island (Judd Apatow) – Pete Davidson gets the Amy Schumer/Trainwreck treatment in a film that I, as a native Staten Islander, can say with some authority captures the uniqueness of my homeland with painful and perfect accuracy
  • Bill and Ted Face the Music (Dean Parisot) – a sweet, smart, enjoyable and unexpectedly necessary conclusion to the trilogy after much too long a wait
  • Better Days (Kwok Cheung Tsang) – A unique take on teenage bullying, to say the least
  • The Truth (Hirokatsu Kore-eda) – A stellar cast is featured in Kore-eda’s follow up to one of John’s recent favorites, Shoplifters

Film lovers unite in celebration: David Thomson has a new book out on the history of directors!

Vintage Sand Episode 29 on SoundCloud


Episode 28: Everybody Knows the Score (March 2021)

Ennio Morricone - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly (Expanded) - Amazon.com Music

Welcome to Episode 28 of Vintage Sand, your Film History podcast. In this episode, Everybody Knows the Score, we explore some of the best soundtracks in the history of film. For our purposes this time out, we are focusing strictly on non-diagetic (“background”) music written for instruments and/or voice for a particular film. We are not focusing on…

  • …songs written for a soundtrack. This rules out both musicals and collections ranging from Isaac Hayes’ music for Shaft to Aimee Mann’s original songs for Magnolia.

  • …curated collections of songs by various artists. We call this the T-Bone Burnett Rule. Choosing songs for a film is an art in itself, and such directors as Scorsese, Tarantino, both our favorite Andersons and the Coen Brothers are among the masters. A worthy endeavor if done well, but another art form entirely.

  • …collections of classical pieces by one composer (Manhattan, for example) or multiple composers (think 2001 and The Tree of Life)

So we range from Golden Age Hollywood masters like Max Steiner, Dmitri Tiomkin and Franz Waxman, all the way through the best work being done today, from Alexandre Desplat and Carter Burwell to Reznor/ Ross and Jonny Greenwood. We also try to establish that the collaboration between director and composer can be among the most crucial in making bad films good and good ones classics. So don’t be surprised if a lot of work that these partnerships produced appears among our faves: Bernard Herrmann and Alfred Hitchcock, John Williams and Steven Spielberg/George Lucas, Nino Rota and Francis Coppola, Ennio Morricone and Sergio Leone and Danny Elfman and Tim Burton, to name but a few. Fair warning—between our atrocious humming skills and copyright issues, you may not hear much actual music. But by episode’s end, you will surely know the score.


NOTE: These lists come with the understanding that Bernard Herrmann’s score for Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958) is simply in a category all its own.

Josh’s Complete List

1. Ennio Morricone – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Sergio Leone, 1968)

2. Richard Einhorn “Voices of Light”, 1993 – The Passion of Joan of Arc (Carl Th. Dreyer, 1928)

3. John Williams – Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975)

4. Erich Wolfgang Korngold – The Adventures of Robin Hood (Keighley & Curtiz, 1938)

5. Danny ElfmanEdward Scissorhands (Tim Burton, 1990)

6. Jonny Greenwood – There Will Be Blood (P.T. Anderson, 2007)

7. Vangelis – Chariots of Fire (Hugh Hudson, 1981) & Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982)

8. Clint Mansell & the Kronos Quartet – Requiem for a Dream (Darren Aronofsky, 2000)

9. Peter Gabriel – The Last Temptation of Christ (Martin Scorsese, 1988)

10. Rachel Portman – Beloved (Jonathan Demme, 1998)

John’s Complete List

1. Bernard Herrmann – Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)

2. Nino Rota – The Godfather, Parts I and II (Francis Coppola, 1972/1974)

3. Elmer Bernstein – To Kill a Mockingbird (Robert Mulligan, 1962)

4. John Williams – Star Wars (George Lucas, 1977)

5. Jerry Goldsmith – Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974)

6. Maurice Jarre – Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean, 1962)

7. Miklos Rosza – Ben-Hur (William Wyler, 1959)

8. Peter Gabriel – The Last Temptation of Christ (Scorsese, 1988)

9. Randy Newman – The Natural (Barry Levinson, 1984)

10. Carter Burwell – Carol (Todd Haynes, 2014)

Michael’s Complete List

1. Jonny Greenwood – Phantom Thread (P.T. Anderson, 2018)

2. Nino Rota – Amarcord (Federico Fellini, 1973)

3. Elmer Bernstein – The Age of Innocence (Martin Scorsese, 1993)

4. John Barry – The Chase (Arthur Penn, 1967) & The Lion in Winter (Anthony Harvey, 1968)

5. Bernard Herrmann – North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959)

6. David Raksin – Laura (Otto Preminger & Reuben Mamoulian, 1944)

7. Miles Davis – Elevator to the Gallows (Louis Malle, 1958)

8. Jerry Goldsmith – Chinatown (Polanski, 1974)

9. Aaron Copland – The Heiress (William Wyler, 1949)

10. Miklos Rosza – The V.I.P.’s (Anthony Asquith, 1963)

NOTE: We also strongly recommend hunting down the last score Bernard Herrmann ever wrote for Alfred Hitchcock, 1966’s Torn Curtain. Hitchcock gave in to studio pressure to replace the score with something more contemporary, which he did without even telling Herrmann. The two never spoke to each other again.

Vintage Sand Episode 28 on SoundCloud


Episode 27: Director’s Cut: Bong Jun-ho (February 2021)

Parasite film review: Bleak, hilarious and as unrelenting as Dunkirk |  Dunkirk, Movies, Film

Team Vintage Sand returns with Director’s Cut: Bong Jun-ho, our study of the artist who, following last year’s Oscars, may now properly be called one of the world’s most important filmmakers. While Parasite brought him Oscars, a Palme d’Or and international fame, Bong has been making his brilliant, iconoclastic films for nearly two decades. As we examine all seven of Bong’s feature films, several things become clear. The first is that he is a true poet of dislocation. South Korea has transformed from a relatively sleepy backwater to late-capitalist tech powerhouse in only a couple of decades. While the nation appears prosperous from the outside, Bong’s films directly and implicitly tell the story of what the sudden change has meant in terms of economic insecurity, fracturing family relationships and a general mistrust and lack of respect for those in authority. But what makes Bong truly unique is that he may be the most adept director in history at making sudden and frequent tonal shifts that feel organic to his stories. Working in a multitude of genres, from social and ecological allegory to police procedurals to late Hitchcock to monster films, he is somehow able to skip from intensity to lightness and back again without missing a beat. In his first feature, 2002’s Barking Dogs NEVER Bite, the apartment super says, “Who would ever imagine that someone would live under a building?” After watching Parasite’s incredible twist featuring another man living under a building, we salute Bong with the same word that that half-crazed, creditor-dodging, knife-wielding soul repeats constantly: Respect!


  1. The almost literal descent into Hell as the Kim family flees the Parks’ home in the worst rainstorm Seoul has ever seen in Parasite (2019). Here, Bong creates the perfect visual metaphor for the issues of social class that are so much the heart of his work.
  2. The non-stop pan in The Host (2006) that takes us from the lab, where an endless series of formaldehyde bottles is being “harmlessly” emptied into the drain, dissolves into a shot of the River Han flowing along, and dissolves again into a couple of fishermen discovering an infant mutant creature and tossing it back into the river. Horror, humor and social commentary all in one, as Bong tends to do.
  3. The introduction of Mother (2009), where the title character wanders, almost Monty Python-like, through a field towards us, stops in front of the camera and spontaneously breaks into a bizarre dance worthy of a character in Lynch’s Twin Peaks. A lovely match with the dance on the tour bus that closes the film.
  4. “Jessica”, from the University of Illinois, convinces Mrs. Park that her son Da-song is in desperate need of an art therapist in Parasite. Mr. Kim is quite correct is stating that if Oxford gave a degree in the art of the con, his daughter would easily get a PhD.
  5. Bong is unparalleled at scenes involving motion, especially chase scenes, and nowhere is this done better than the amazing chase of Suspect #3 through the quarry at night in Memories of Murder (2004)
  6. The tragic, emblematic tale of “Boiler Kim” from Barking Dogs Never Bite (2002). One of Bong’s first references to the rampant corruption in South Korean society, told through a lens borrowed straight from Edgar Allan Poe. “It’s spinning!”
  7. The nonchalant way in which Chung-sook, the new housekeeper for the Park family, casually kicks her predecessor down a flight of stairs to the sub-basement in Parasite. Terrifying and utterly hilarious, and completely representative of the lengths people will go to avoid falling on the wrong side of the widening economic divide in South Korea.
  8. The genuinely moving sacrifice by our young heroine Ah-sung at the end of The Host
  9. Okja, the genetically enhanced mega-pig, risks his own life to save his beloved Mija, who is hanging off a cliff, in Okja (2017)
  10. Any of the snowscapes we glimpse out of the window of the train in Snowpiercer (2013), especially Yekaterina Bridge and the concluding polar bear.

Vintage Sand Episode 27 on SoundCloud


Episode 26: Alternate Oscars – 1970’s Edition (December 2020)

Film Noir | Chinatown (1974) | NoirWHALE

Once again, Team Vintage Sand returns to pay tribute to Danny Peary’s wonderful 1993 book Alternate Oscars; this time, our focus is the 1970’s, which many call the greatest decade in the history of American film. If this is so, it’s because for a brief shining moment, from Easy Rider to the birth of the tyranny of opening weekend grosses engendered by films like Jaws and Star Wars, the most powerful figure in Hollywood was the director. The studios had collapsed under their own weight at the end of the ’60’s, and the Film School Generation of directors, inspired by American mavericks and the French New Wave alike, were handed the keys. This was the generation of Scorsese, Coppola, De Palma, Spielberg, Lucas, Bogdanovich, Friedkin, Rafelson and some kindred spirit Hollywood vets like Altman and Ashby. Can you imagine a system that was able to produce Godfather, Part II and Chinatown in the same year? As Peter Biskind relates in his essential Easy Riders, Raging Bulls. it was all over by the middle of the decade, as the money people regained control with the rise of the likes of Eisner and Ovitz, CAA and package deals. There was never anything like the “Hollywood New Wave” before, and chances are we will never see anything like it again. So come celebrate along with us as we battle it out amongst ourselves to select the very best of a brilliant bunch–Yeah, we’re talkin’ to you!

1970: Patton (Schaffner)

What Should Have Won:

Josh – Five Easy Pieces (Rafelson)

Michael – M*A*S*H (Altman)

John – Little Big Man (Penn)

Sleeper Picks: The Landlord (Ashby), My Night at Maud’s (Rohmer, Fr.)

1971: The French Connection (Friedkin)

What Should Have Won:

Josh – The Last Picture Show (Bogdanovich)

Michael – Sunday, Bloody Sunday (Schlesinger, UK)

John – The Conformist (Bertolucci, It.)

*Sleeper Picks: See Michael’s list below.

1972: The Godfather (Coppola)

What Should Have Won: 

Josh, Michael and John – The Godfather

Sleeper Picks: The King of Marvin Gardens (Rafelson), Aguirre: The Wrath of God (Herzog, Ger.), The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (Buñuel, Fr./Spa.), The Candidate (Ritchie)

1973: The Sting (Hill)

What Should Have Won: 

Josh – Badlands (Malick)

Michael – Cries and Whispers (Bergman, Swe.)

John – Mean Streets (Scorsese) 

Sleeper Picks: Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams (Cates), Paper Moon (Bogdanovich), The Long Goodbye (Altman), The Last Detail (Ashby), American Graffiti (Lucas), Don’t Look Now (Roeg, UK), Spirit of the Beehive (Erice, Spa.), The Wicker Man (Hardy, UK)

1974: The Godfather, Part II (Coppola)

What Should Have Won: 

Josh and Michael – Chinatown (Polanski)

John – The Godfather, Part II

Sleeper Picks: Day for Night (Truffaut, Fr.), Fear Eats the Soul (Fassbinder, Ger.), The Parallax View (Pakula), The Conversation (Coppola), Scenes from a Marriage (Bergman, Swe.), Lacombe, Lucien (Malle, Fr.)

1975: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Forman)

What Should Have Won: 

Josh – Jaws (Spielberg)

Michael – Nashville (Altman)

John – Barry Lyndon (Kubrick)

Sleeper Picks: The Man Who Would Be King (Huston), Amarcord (Fellini, It.), Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Jones and Gilliam, UK), The Romantic Englishwoman (Losey, UK)

1976: Rocky (Avildsen)

What Should Have Won:

Josh – Taxi Driver (Scorsese)

Michael – Network (Lumet)

John – All the President’s Men (Pakula)

Sleeper Picks: Face to Face (Bergman, Swe.), The Shootist (Siegel), Next Stop Greenwich Village (Mazursky), Carrie (De Palma)

1977: Annie Hall (Allen)

What Should Have Won: 

Josh – Star Wars (Lucas)

Michael and John – Annie Hall

Sleeper Picks: Eraserhead (Lynch), That Obscure Object of Desire (Buñuel, Fr./Spa.), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Spielberg), 3 Women (Altman), Providence (Resnais)

1978: The Deer Hunter (Cimino)

What Should Have Won: 

Josh – No Pick

Michael – Stevie (Enders, UK)

John – The Deer Hunter

Sleeper Picks: Fingers (Toback), An Unmarried Woman (Mazursky)

1979: Kramer vs. Kramer (Benton)

What Should Have Won: 

Josh and John – Apocalypse Now (Coppola)

Michael – Manhattan (Allen)

Sleeper Picks: Alien (Scott), Breaking Away (Yates), Being There (Ashby), The Last Wave (Weir, Austra.), Norma Rae (Ritt)

*Mike’s List of 25 Great Films from 1971

  1. Allen – Bananas  
  2. Altman – McCabe and Mrs. Miller 
  3. Arkin – Little Murders  
  4. Ashby – Harold and Maude  
  5. Bergman (Swe.) – The Touch  
  6. Brook (UK) – King Lear
  7. Cacoyannis – The Trojan Women  
  8. Cassavetes – Minnie and Moskowitz
  9. De Sica (It.) – The Garden of the Finzi-Continis  
  10. Eastwood – Play Misty for Me
  11. Hiller – The Hospital
  12. Lear – Cold Turkey   
  13. Losey (UK) – The Go-Between
  14. Lumet – The Anderson Tapes  
  15. May – A New Leaf 
  16. Newman – Sometimes a Great Notion
  17. Nichols – Carnal Knowledge  
  18. Ophuls (Fr. – Doc) – The Sorrow and the Pity 
  19. Pakula – Klute 
  20. Parks – Shaft 
  21. Polanski – Macbeth 
  22. Preminger – Such Good Friends
  23. Rohmer (Fr.) – Claire’s Knee
  24. Russell – The Boyfriend 
  25. Siegel – The Beguiled  

Dr. No: Why The First James Bond Movie Works | Den of Geek

Vintage Sand Episode 26 on SoundCloud


Episode 25: Election Day Special: Our Favorite American Political Films (November 2020)

Dorothy Comingore | shadowplay

With the most important election of our lifetimes upon us, Team Vintage Sand celebrates its Silver Episode by exploring our favorite political films Made in USA, AS JLG SAID. “Political film” is a very difficult term to define, and we try to examine the idea through a number of different lenses. After all, one might argue that in a sense, all films are political. There are films that deal with specific historical figures, from Lincoln to Huey Long to W. There are films that focus on the political process, from Mr. Smith to Advise and Consent to The Candidate. You have more conventional comedies and dramas that use politics as a background, from State of the Union and Born Yesterday to The American President and Eastwood’s Absolute Power or Murder at 1600. Occasionally, the political film takes the form of satire, in works ranging from Duck Soup to Dr. Strangelove to Idiocracy. Politics also frequently appears under the umbrella of genre, particularly horror and science fiction, as exemplified by films like Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Get Out. And finally, there’s what we refer to as the Gatsby Films, which don’t focus explicitly on politics but more on who we are as Americans and the nature of the American character. Don’t forget–the working title for Citizen Kane was, simply, American.

Any way you look at it, politics has made a great topic for American filmmakers (we exclude foreign filmmakers simply in the interest of brevity; after all, we could, and probably should, do an entire episode on the sociopolitical allegories of Bong Jun-Ho). We hope it makes great listening for you as well, as we brace ourselves for the Election of 2020 and its aftermath. And whatever happens, we’ll all probably end up saying the same thing that the surprise electoral victor Bill Mc Kay (Robert Redford) says at the end of The Candidate: What do we do now?

FEatured Films:

(Note–we know that these categories are arbitrary and that many of the films listed could fit into several of them. Like our current president, we accept no blame).

films featuring actual or fictionalized depictions of historical figures

All the King’s Men (Rossen, 1949)

Nixon (Stone, 1995)

Primary Colors (Nichols, 1998)

Thirteen Days (Donaldson, 2000)

Hyde Park on Hudson (Mitchell, 2012)

Lincoln (Spielberg, 2013)

And check out some of the obscure ones, like Tennessee Johnson (Dieterle, 1942) or Wilson (King, 1944). Still patiently waiting for the James A. Garfield biopic…

Best Appearance by an Ex-President: Anthony Hopkins as John Quincy Adams in Amistad (Spielberg, 1996)

Procedural Politics

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (Capra, 1939)

Advise and Consent (Preminger,1962)

Seven Days in May (Frankenheimer, 1964)

The Candidate (Ritchie, 1972)

The Contender (Lurie, 2000)

The Paranoid style in american politics (thanks to richard hofstadter) 

The Manchurian Candidate (Frankenheimer, 1962)

Three Days of the Condor (Pollack, 1973)

The Parallax View (Pakula, 1974)

The Conversation (Coppola, 1974)

All the President’s Men (Pakula, 1976)

Blow-Out (De Palma, 1981)

conventional comedies/dramas with a political setting

State of the Union (Capra, 1948)

The Last Hurrah (Ford, 1958)

The Best Man (Schaffner, 1964)

The Front (Ritt, 1976)

Dave (Ross, 1993)

The American President (Reiner, 1995)

Murder at 1600 (Little, 1997)

genre film as political allegory

The Thing (Nyby/Hawks, 1951)

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Siegel, 1956)

Dawn of the Dead (Romero, 1975)

The Dead Zone (Cronenberg, 1982)

White Dog (Fuller, 1982)

The Purge (DeMonaco, 2013) and its sequels

White House Down (Emmerich, 2013)

Get Out (Peele, 2017)

The Hunt (Zobel, 2020)

And most dystopian films, from Fahrenheit 451 and 1984 to Hunger Games and Divergent

Political Satire

Duck Soup (Mc Carey, 1933)

The Great McGinty (Sturges, 1940)

Dr. Strangelove (Kubrick, 1964)

Bob Roberts (Robbins, 1992)

Wag the Dog (Levinson, 1997)

Bulworth (Beatty, 1998)

Idiocracy (Judge, 2006)

In the Loop (Iannucci, 2009)

The “Gatsby” Lens: Films that focus on the American Character

Make Way for Tomorrow (McCarey, 1937)

The Grapes of Wrath (Ford, 1940)

Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941)

Ace in the Hole (Wilder, 1951)

A Face in the Crowd (Kazan, 1957)

Chinatown (Polanski, 1974)

Nashville (Altman, 1975)

Election (Payne, 1999)

Bamboozled (Lee, 2000)

Opinion: ‘I’m Just a Bill’ is Comically Unrecognizable in Today’s Washington

Vintage Sand Episode 25 on SoundCloud


Episode 24: Doing the Right Thing, Volume II (October 2020)

Daughters of the Dust (1991) in 2020 | Film aesthetic, Historical film,  Film inspiration

In this episode, the second part of our exploration of African- Americans in film, Team Vintage Sand shifts its focus to the people behind the camera. Remember that it was not until Gordon Parks directed his autobiographical The Learning Tree in 1969 that Hollywood released a major film by a black director. What followed in its wake was the mixed blessing of “Blaxploitation” in the early 1970’s, which in turn inspired the first major wave of Black directors, led by Spike Lee and John Singleton in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Now, at the turn of a new decade, we are witnessing a golden era for Black filmmakers, led by the commercial and artistic successes of artists like Ryan Coogler, Ava Duvernay, Barry Jenkins, Jordan Peele and many others. And we are also beginning to see, especially through the efforts of Tyler Perry the first major studios created and owned by African-American artists and financiers.

Our goal in this episode is twofold. On one hand, we talk about some of the lesser-known and forgotten work by some of these major directors. At the same time, we try to call attention to more obscure films, such as Charles Burnett’s Killer of Sheep (1977), Ivan Dixon’s one-of-a-kind The Spook Who Sat by the Door (1973) and Julie Dash’s incomparable Daughters of the Dust (1992, obscure no longer, thanks to Beyonce’s Lemonade film). Our hope is simply to open and perhaps reopen some doors for our audience. As with our previous episode, we are hoping that our listeners will share our experience in having the opportunity to re-examine their own assumptions and to look for different lenses through which to view this rich and complex history.

Recommended Films:

Oscar Micheaux: Within Our Gates (1920); Body and Soul (1925)

Spencer Williams: The Blood of Jesus (1941)

Gordon Parks – The Learning Tree (1969)

Melvin van Peebles – Sweet Sweetback’s Baadassss Song (1971)

Ivan Dixon – The Spook Who Sat by the Door (1973)                                                                        One reviewer called this once-lost film the bridge between Blaxploitation and Spike Lee

Charles Burnett – Killer of Sheep (1977); To Sleep with Anger (1990)

Spike Lee: Jungle Fever (1991); Crooklyn (1994); He Got Game (1998); Bamboozled (2000); The 25th Hour (2003) Chiraq (2015); Da 5 Bloods (2020)

John Singleton: Poetic Justice (1993); Higher Learning (1995); Rosewood (1997)

Marlon Riggs: Tongues Untied (1989)

Leslie Harris: Just Another Girl on the IRT (1991)

Julie Dash: Daughters of the Dust (1992)

Mario van Peebles: New Jack City (1992)

Carl Franklin: One False Move (1992); Devil in a Blue Dress (1995)

The Hughes Brothers: Dead Presidents (1995)

Dee Rees: Pariah (2011)

Ryan Coogler: Fruitvale Station (2013)

Ava Duvernay: 13th (2016 – Doc); When They See Us (2019 – TV)

Justin Simien: Dear White People (2015)

Boots Riley: Sorry to Bother You (2018)

Melina Matsoukas: Queen & Slim (2019)

Gina Prince-Blythewood: The Old Guard (2020 – Netflix)

Radha Blank: The 40-Year-Old Version (2020)

Vintage Sand Episode 24 on SoundCloud


Episode 23: Doing the Right Thing, Volume I (August 2020)

Body and Soul (1925) - IMDb

Team Vintage Sand is composed of three middle-aged cisgender White males who happen to be old friends and happen to have a passion for Film. In spite of these boundaries of perspective, however, we could not let this moment of social activism and (hopefully)progress go unnoted. Because perhaps more than any other cultural institution, Hollywood’s treatment of Black people both in front of and behind the camera has shaped the nation’s perception of race relations over the past century.

We have no claim of expertise on this history based on lived experience. Our goal in creating this episode (the first of two parts; in Episode 24, we will examine the work of Black filmmakers over the last 100 years)was to simply and briefly trace the changing history of the Black experience in American film. Our aim is to open some doors to artists, trends and films that even film fans may not know well. In doing so, we are hoping that our listeners will have the same experience we had in creating this episode; to re-examine our own assumptions and look for different lenses through which to view this rich and complex history.

A Very Brief History of the Black Experience in American Film

I. Separate but Unequal (Early 1910’s through Mid-1940’s)

Recommended Films:

Within Our Gates (Oscar Micheaux, 1920)

Body and Soul (Oscar Micheaux, 1925)

The Blood of Jesus (Spencer Williams, 1941)

II. Crumbs from the Table (1929 through 1945)

Recommended Films:

Hallelujah (King Vidor, 1929)

Cabin in the Sky (Vincente Minnelli, 1943)

Stormy Weather (Andrew L. Stone, 1943)

III.  The Age of Stereotype (1930 through Mid-1940’s)

Recommended Films:

Judge Priest (John Ford, 1934)

Steamboat ‘Round the Bend (John Ford, 1935)

Gone with the Wind (Victor Fleming, 1939)

IV. Passing (1930’s through 1940’s)

Recommended Films:

Imitation of Life (John Stahl, 1934 and Douglas Sirk, 1959)

Pinky (Elia Kazan, 1949)

V. The Barrier Starts to Crumble (1955 through 1968)

Recommended Films:

The Defiant Ones (Stanley Kramer, 1958)

Carmen Jones (Otto Preminger, 1954)

On the Beach (Stanley Kramer, 1959)

In the Heat of the Night (Norman Jewison, 1967)

VI. The Blaxploitation Era (1969 through 1977)

Recommended Films:

The Learning Tree (Gordon Parks, 1969)

Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (Melvin Van Peebles, 1971)

Shaft (Gordon Parks, 1971)

Superfly (Gordon Parks, Jr.)

Foxy Brown (Jack Hill, 1974)

Killer of Sheep (Charles Burnett, 1977)

VII. Tellers of Other Stories (1985 through 2000)

Recommended Films:

Everything by Spike Lee and John Singleton

Daughters of the Dust (Julie Dash)

New Jack City (Mario Van Peebles, 1991)

Just Another Girl on the IRT (Leslie Harris, 1992)

One False Move (Carl Franklin, 1992)

Devil in a Blue Dress (Carl Franklin, 1995)

Dead Presidents (The Hughes Brothers, 1995)

Eve’s Bayou (Kasi Lemmons, 1997)

VIII. A New Golden Age (2010 through the present)

Recommended Films by Director:

Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station, Creed, Black Panther)

Ava Duvernay (Selma, 13th, When They See Us [TV])

Barry Jenkins (Moonlight, If Beale Street Could Talk)

Jordan Peele (Get Out, Us)

Justin Simien (Dear White People)

Boots Riley (Sorry to Bother You)

Image: CHadwick Boseman, The 2018 ESPYS - Arrivals1976-2020

Vintage Sand Episode 23 on SoundCloud


Episode 22: Notes on Hitchcock’s Villains (July 2020)


For Episode 22, Team Vintage Sand returns to the work of Alfred Hitchcock, for the first time since Episode 5. In that one, we promised (or threatened) to devote a whole episode just to Hitchcock’s villains, characters who often end up stealing the films they’re in and are often more compelling than his heroes. Reaching all the way back to “The 39 Steps” (1935) and continuing through his penultimate film, 1972’s “Frenzy”, our intrepid team discusses what makes a great Hitchcock villain, which actors best fit the mold and which succeed by breaking it entirely. So listen in on Spotify, Apple Podcasts/iTunes and SoundCloud, check us out at www.vintagesand.com, and we know you’ll say about us, “Why, they wouldn’t even harm a fly.”

Some Bad Guys to Look Out For

The Villains Who Steal Their Respective Movies:

Alex Sebastian (Claude Rains in Notorious, 1946)

Tony Wendice (Ray Milland in Dial M for Murder, 1954)

Bruno Antony (Robert Walker in Strangers on a Train, 1951)

The Suave Charmers with the Evil Master Plan

Phillip Vandamm (James Mason in North by Northwest, 1959)

Professor Jordan (Godfrey Tearle in The 39 Steps, 1935)

Doctor Hartz (Paul Lukas in The Lady Vanishes, 1938)

Stephen Fisher (Herbert Marshall in Foreign Correspondent, 1940)

Charles Tobin (Otto Kruger in Saboteur, 1942)

and though he has has almost no screen time…

Gavin Elster (Tom Helmore in Vertigo, 1958)

The Gloriously Unhinged

Uncle Charlie (Joseph Cotten in Shadow of a Doubt, 1943)

Mrs. Danvers (Dame Judith Anderson in Rebecca, 1940)

Bob Rusk (Barry Foster in Frenzy, 1972)

The Not-So-Quietly Desperate

Lars Thorwald (Raymond Burr in Rear Window, 1954)

Otto Keller (O.E. Hasse in I Confess, 1953)

Karl Verloc (Oscar Homolka in Sabotage, 1936)

For Discussion: Who’s The Villain In…

Psycho (1960)?

The Birds (1963)?

Marnie (!964)?

Vintage Sand Episode 22 on SoundCloud


Episode 21: Alternate Oscars – 1950’s Edition (June 2020)

Rick's Cafe Texan: John Wayne in The Searchers: Some Personal ...

Third time’s the charm, as we turn once again to Danny Peary’s amazing 1993 book Alternate Oscars, This go-round, Team Vintage Sand focuses on the 1950’s, a decade with some questionable Best Picture choices (to put it politely). Still can’t believe that The Greatest Show on Earth beat the unnominated Singin’ in the Rain, or that Around the World in 80 Days beat The Searchers, also not nominated? Join us on our alternate history as we set things right, start laughin’ at clouds, and mete out justice in our usual cruel-but-fair Vintage Sand style. Our only ground rule? No foreign language films, because otherwise it would have been a four-hour episode. And if you disagree with our choices, well, as Osgood Fielding III memorably put it, nobody’s perfect. Zowie!

1950: All About Eve (Mankiewicz)

What Should Have Won:

Josh and John – Sunset Blvd.  (Wilder)

Michael – All About Eve 

Sleeper Picks: The Asphalt Jungle (Huston), In a Lonely Place (Ray), The Third Man (Reed) and Adam’s Rib (Cukor)

1951: An American in Paris (Minnelli)

What Should Have Won:

Josh – Strangers on a Train (Hitchcock)

Michael and John – A Streetcar Named Desire (Kazan)

Sleeper Picks: Ace in the Hole (Wilder), The African Queen (Huston), The Day the Earth Stood Still (Wise)

1952: The Greatest Show on Earth (DeMille)

What Should Have Won: 

Josh – Singin’ in the Rain (Donen/Kelly)

Michael and John – The Quiet Man (Ford)

Sleeper Picks: High Noon (Zinnemann), Pat and Mike (Cukor)

1953: From Here to Eternity (Zinnemann)

What Should Have Won: 

Josh – The Big Heat (Lang)

John and Michael – The Band Wagon (Minnelli)

Sleeper Picks: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Hawks), Pickup on South Street (Fuller), The Little Fugitive (Engel)

1954: On the Waterfront (Kazan)

What Should Have Won: 

Michael, John and Josh – Rear Window (Hitchcock)

Sleeper Picks: Johnny Guitar (Ray), Sabrina (Wilder), Salt of the Earth (Biberman)

1955: Marty (D. Mann)

What Should Have Won: 

Josh – Rebel Without a Cause (Ray)

Michael and John No Pick

Sleeper Picks: Night of the Hunter (Laughton), Kiss Me Deadly (Aldrich)

1956: Around the World in 80 Days (Anderson)

What Should Have Won:

Josh, Michael and John – The Searchers (Ford)

Sleeper Picks: Bigger Than Life (Ray), Attack! (Aldrich), The Killing (Kubrick), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Siegel)

1957: The Bridge Over the River Kwai (Lean)

What Should Have Won: 

Josh – Paths of Glory (Kubrick)

Michael and John – The Bridge Over the River Kwai

Sleeper Picks: The Sweet Smell of Success (Mackendrick), Twelve Angry Men (Lumet), A Face in the Crowd (Kazan), Funny Face (Donen)

1958: Gigi (Minnelli)

What Should Have Won: 

Josh, Michael and John – Vertigo (Hitchcock)

Sleeper Picks: Touch of Evil (Welles), The Defiant Ones (Kramer)

1959: Ben-Hur (Wyler)

What Should Have Won: 

Josh and Michael – Some Like It Hot (Wilder)

John – North by Northwest (Hitchcock)

Sleeper Picks: Anatomy of a Murder (Preminger), Rio Bravo (Hawks), Shadows (Cassavettes)

Vintage Sand Episode 21 on SoundCloud


Episode 20: The Next Auteurs (May 2020)

Florence Pugh Says LITTLE WOMEN Was "Therapy" After MIDSOMMAR ...

In the midst of the pandemic, many have turned to the art of the past, finding understandable comfort in nostalgia. Team Vintage Sand, in its usual charming and curmudgeonly way, has decided instead to look to the decade to come. In this episode, we discuss the directors that we think will become the next great voices in Film. Some obvious candidates are here, including Ryan Coogler, Damien Chazelle, Greta Gerwig, Barry Jenkins and genre folks like Ari Aster and Denis Villeneuve. But there are some surprises as well. So we hope you’ll join Josh, Michael and John as, via Zoom, they buck the general trend by seeking comfort in the future. Plus, any opportunity to post a picture of Florence Pugh (who plays major roles in the films of two of our directors) is always welcome…

Top 20 Directors to Watch, with Recommended Films (in Alphabetical Order):

  1. Ari Aster (Hereditary, Midsommar)
  2. Damien Chazelle (Whiplash, La La Land)
  3. Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station, Creed, Black Panther)
  4. Ava Duvernay (Selma, 13th [doc], When They See Us [TV])
  5. Asghar Farhadi (A Separation, The Salesman)
  6. Alex Garland (Ex Machina, Annihilation, Devs [TV])
  7. Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird, Little Women)
  8. Debra Granik (Winter’s Bone, Leave No Trace)
  9. Andrew Haigh (Weekend, 45 Years, Lean on Pete)
  10. Barry Jenkins (Moonlight, If Beale Street Could Talk)
  11. Kent Jones (Hitchcock/Truffaut [doc], Diane)
  12. Jennifer Kent (The Babadook, The Nightingale)
  13. Hirokazu Kore-eda (Like Father Like Son, Our Little Sister, Shoplifters)
  14. Steve Mc Queen (Hunger, Shame, 12 Years a Slave, Widows)
  15. Jordan Peele (Get Out, Us)
  16. Jesse Peretz (Our Idiot Brother, Juliet Naked)
  17. Celine Sciamma (Girlhood, Portrait of a Lady on Fire)
  18. Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Sicario, Arrival, Blade Runner 2049)
  19. Olivia Wilde (Booksmart)
  20. Chloe Zhao (Songs My Brother Taught Me, The Rider)

Vintage Sand Episode 20 on SoundCloud


Episode 19: The Best of the 2010’s Part II: #’s 5-1 (March 2020)

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Well, Vintage Sand listeners, we’ve reached the top. Join us at the summit, where the air is thin and the trees are stubby, as John, Michael and Josh take you through their five favorite films of the decade recently ended. Some real surprises, some total non-surprises, and an overall sense that the early reports of the death of Film-with-a-capital-“F” were a bit premature. Seize the moments, or let the moments seize you!

Josh’s Complete List

1. Boyhood (Richard Linklater, 2014)

2. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)

3. Winter’s Bone (Debra Granik, 2010)

4. Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2017)

5. La La Land (Damien Chazelle, 2017)

6. Inside Llewyn Davis (Coen Brothers, 2013)

7. The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014)

8. Her (Spike Jonze, 2013)

9. Carol (Todd Haynes, 2015)

10. Blade Runner 2049 (Denis Villeneuve, 2017)

John’s Complete List

1. Roma (Alfonso Cuaron, 2018)

2. The Tree of Life

3. Parasite (Bong Jun-Ho, 2019)

4. Shoplifters (Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2018)

5. Phantom Thread (P.T. Anderson, 2017) and Lincoln (Steven Spielberg, 2012): TIE

6. First Reformed (Paul Schrader, 2018)

7. Carol

8. The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019) – TIE

9. The Grand Budapest Hotel – TIE

10. BlacKkKlansman (Spike Lee, 2018) – TIE

Michael’s Complete List

1. Phantom Thread

2. Pain and Glory (Pedro Almodovar, 2019)

3. Another Year (Mike Leigh, 2010)

4. Lincoln

5. Roma 

6. Amour (Michael Haneke, 2012)

7. Parasite (Bong Jun-Ho, 2019)

8. Inside Llewyn Davis

9. The Kids Are Alright (Lisa Cholodenko, 2010)

10. Ida (Pawel Pawilkowski, 2014)

Vintage Sound Episode 19 on SoundCloud


Episode 18: The Best of the 2010’s Part I: #’s 10-6 (February 2020)

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Yes, fans, it’s the episode ten years in the making as Michael, John and Josh present the first half of their countdown of their ten favorite films of the newly-ended decade. For a period in film history that has already been mercilessly dismissed as a greed-driven, witless descent into endless sequels, remakes, CGI and superheroes, the 2010’s gave us some of the greatest films in our history, ones that will surely stand the test of time as “classics”. Ah, but which films are those, you ask with baited breath? As always, there is both lots of agreement and disagreement, and that’s where it gets interesting. Come join us for the ride, like Llewyn Davis taking that cat along on the subway…

Josh’s List

6. Inside Llewyn Davis (Coen Brothers, 2013)

7. The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014)

8. Her (Spike Jonze, 2013)

9. Carol (Todd Haynes, 2015)

10. Blade Runner 2049 (Denis Villeneuve, 2017)

John’s List

6. First Reformed (Paul Schrader, 2018)

7. Carol

8. The Irishman (Martin Scorsese, 2019) – TIE

9. The Grand Budapest Hotel – TIE

10. BlacKkKlansman (Spike Lee, 2018) – TIE

Michael’s List

6. Amour (Michael Haneke, 2012)

7. Parasite (Bong Jun-Ho, 2019)

8. Inside Llewyn Davis

9. The Kids Are Alright (Lisa Cholodenko, 2010)

10. Ida (Pawel Pawilkowski, 2014)

Vintage Sand Episode 18 on SoundCloud


Episode 17: The Irishman: It’s What It Is (December 2019)

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When our Greatest Living Director puts out a new film that feels like a capstone to the major themes of his incomparable career, you know that Team Vintage Sand is on the case. Thus, Episode 17–The Irishman: It’s What It Is. Martin Scorsese’s 3 1/2 hour epic reunites all of the director’s major players (and adds in Al Pacino for good measure) to tell a sprawling organized crime story whose scope and range have not been seen in 35 years, since Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America (which Josh thinks is a better film than The Irishman, over Mike and John’s strenuous objections). The Irishman will probably not be Scorsese’s last film, but it seems to be a final statement regarding both his ideas on the human impact of the male-centered world of organized violence (from Mean Streets through The Departed) and, in its brilliant final half hour, the spiritual searching prominent in some of his most underrated films (Last Temptation, Kundun, Silence). While we disagree slightly on The Irishman‘s place in the Scorsese canon, it’s a must-see for even the casual film lover. And in the end, the only hitman who can never be stopped is Time…

Our Top Five Underrated Scorsese Films

5. After Hours (1985) – Ever have one of those bad dreams where nothing makes sense and yet the “narrative” is held together by a kind of circular, nightmare logic? That’s After Hours, a film that sees Griffin Dunne’s Paul leave the relative safety of his midtown office and, in pursuit of a woman he just met (Patricia Arquette), takes an unforgettable journey to a very Abstract Expressionist mid-80’s NYC Downtown. Every little thing that might possibly go wrong does. The $20 bill Paul was going to use to pay the driver flies out of the taxi window, and the fun begins. He scrapes together enough to take the subway home, but that very night, the fare goes up and he’s short. He is mistaken for a neighborhood burglar and pursued by an angry mob led by a vengeful ice cream truck driver. And so on. Dunne’s Paul is not a riveting presence at the heart of the film, but the characters who wander in and out of the nightmare are wonderful and unique, in particular the astonishing first major film appearance of Linda Fiorentino, here playing a sculptor. A dark and twisted comedy but a real treat, particularly for those who never got to experience the romantic and dangerous Downtown NYC of four decades ago, as well as for those of us who experienced it and miss it.

4. Hugo (2013) – One of the most inexplicable flops of the past decade, this is Scorsese’s adaptation of the already-classic children’s novel by Brian Selznick, The Invention of Hugo Cabret. It is a film that has some major things going for it: fantastic performances, including those by Asa Butterfield as the title character, Sasha Baron Cohen as the chief of security at the train station in which Hugo has carved out a place to live, Jude Law as Hugo’s genius of a father and the ever-reliable Ben Kingsley as the long-forgotten film pioneer Georges Melies, who by the end of the film receives a long-overdue rediscovery thanks in large part to Hugo. Some of the individual moments in the film are nothing short of breathtaking, especially the moment where Hugo, through an unusual and moving set of circumstances, finally gets his father’s greatest invention, an automaton, to work. The use of 3-D in creating a recognizable yet fantastical post-WWI Paris is immersive and gorgeous. But the best part of Hugo is that every frame of this film tells us that it is crafted by a most gifted artist who is hopelessly, utterly and completely in love with the movies and their power over our imagination.

3. Kundun (1997) – It’s not surprising that the man who once felt he was destined for the priesthood has made a series of interesting and unique films centered on spiritual concerns. 1988’s The Last Temptation of Christ, Scorsese’s adaptation of the controversial Kazantzakis novel, is a film I happen to love, but is too (in)famous for this list. 2017’s Silence was mostly ignored, but if you check back in a decade, I would not be surprised if it’s reputation has grown substantially. That leaves this gorgeous, moving film, a biography of the current Dalai Lama from childhood to his nail-biting escape into India in 1959 with Chinese forces in hot pursuit. Shot by the legendary Roger Deakins and featuring a score by Phillip Glass, Kundun is not for everyone, especially considering how slow and episodic the story feels at times. The other issue is that perhaps more than any Scorsese film, it demands to be seen on a theater screen, which is an extremely rare occurrence. Sadly, the film is more relevant than at any time since its release, with  reports that China is perpetuating the same kind of “re-education”-style oppression against the Muslim Uighur population of the formerly autonomous Xinjiang province that forced the Dalai Lama to flee his native Tibet six decades ago.

2. The Age of Innocence (1994) – I have always maintained that only two great American films have been made from great American novels: The Grapes of Wrath and To Kill a Mockingbird. Many, myself included, might add Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of Little Women to the list, and I have tried to make the case, with little success, for Jonathan Demme’s much-scorned 1998 adaptation of Beloved. But if there were any other film that deserves to join this exclusive group, it would be Scorsese’s ever-surprising take on Edith Wharton’s classic novel. In response to doubters who suggested that this was a very “un-Scorsese-like” topic to do, the director pointed out that this was actually one of his most violent films; it’s just that the violence isn’t physical. Featuring the usual masterful work from Daniel Day-Lewis, Age of Innocence also offers us not one but two of the great female performances in all of Scorsese’s work: Michelle Pfeiffer as the Countess Olenska and Winona Ryder as May Welland.

1. The King of Comedy (1983) – Barely qualifies as underrated anymore, especially after Todd Phillips and company appropriated so much of the flow and feel of this film for Joker. The film was a complete disaster when it was released, and it initiated the decade-long commercial ebb that dogged Scorsese between Raging Bull and Goodfellas. We maintain that the only reason it failed was that it was about a quarter century ahead of its time, and we’re just starting to catch up with it now. One of DeNiro’s finest performances, a brilliant, obnoxious turn out of left field from a perfectly cast Jerry Lewis, and featuring one of the most memorable female characters in all of Scorsese’s work in Sandra Bernhard’s Masha. The story of Rupert Pupkin, the viciously untalented stand-up comedian who will stop at nothing to appear on the talk show of his idol, Jerry Langford (Lewis), King of Comedy saw our current obsession with fame for the dangerous pathology it is. A truly uncomfortable film in the best possible way and…Hey! Shut up, Ma! We’re doing a podcast down here…

Vintage Sand Episode 17 on SoundCloud


Episode 16: Reopening the Book on Eyes Wide Shut (October 2019)

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Join Team Vintage Sand as we commemorate the 20th anniversary of one of the most polarizing films ever created by a major filmmaker: Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, his final work. Released to mixed reviews in 1999, the film has undergone a critical reappraisal in recent years, as such film luminaries as Christopher Nolan and Steven Soderbergh have recently expressed how their views on the film have evolved over the years. Hear the sparks fly as Michael (generally) likes the film, John’s willing to consider both sides and Josh hates it even more than he did two decades ago. Cool, cerebral, erotic thriller? Pathetic softcore (non-) porn by an erstwhile genius who by then was hopelessly out of touch? Your call, dear listener. And the password is Fidelio…get it?

Vintage Sand Episode 16 on SoundCloud


Episode 15: End of Film, End of Cinema (September 2019)

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In a perfectly symmetrical bookend to Episode 6, this episode finds our intrepid heroes of Team Vintage Sand exploring our favorite movie endings of all time. Creating a perfect conclusion to a movie is an extremely challenging task; even our greatest filmmakers have occasionally found it to be problematic (rat crossing a balcony railing, anyone?). We go around the world, and all the way back to silent film, to tip our collective hats to those we feel have gotten it just right. Plus, you get Michael and John presenting East Village Dinner Theatre, Josh trying to sing, and the first annual There Will Be Blood Imitation Contest. Forget it, Jake–it’s Vintage Sand.

Our Favorite Endings (All films from the US unless otherwise indicated).


  1. Days of Wine and Roses (Blake Edwards, 1962)
  2. Duck Soup (Leo McCarey, 1933)
  3. Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Sidney Lumet, 1962)
  4. Nashville (Robert Altman,1975)
  5. Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)


  1. Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959)
  2. Ugetsu (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1953 – Japan)
  3. The Godfather, Part II (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)
  4. Rome: Open City (Roberto Rossellini, 1945 – Italy)
  5. The Searchers (John Ford, 1956)


  1. Ikiru (Akira Kurosawa, 1953 – Japan)
  2. Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974)
  3. The Birds (Alfred Hitchcock, 1963)
  4. TIE: Brazil (Terry Gilliam, 1985), The 25th Hour (Spike Lee, 2002) and La La Land (Damien Chazelle, 2017)
  5. TIE: City Lights (Charlie Chaplin, 1931), Manhattan (Woody Allen, 1979) and Monsters, Inc. (Pixar Studio, 2001)

Honorable Mentions, in No Particular Order

  1. Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1943)
  2. J’Accuse (Abel Gance, 1919 – France)
  3. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)
  4. Inception (Christopher Nolan, 2010)
  5. Se7en (David Fincher, 1995)
  6. Aguirre: The Wrath of God (Werner Herzog, 1972 – Germany)
  7. Sunset Blvd. (Billy Wilder, 1950)
  8. The 400 Blows (Francois Truffaut, 1959 – France)
  9. Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 1958)
  10. The Third Man (Carol Reed, 1949 – UK)

Vintage Sand Episode 15 on SoundCloud


Episode 14: The Episode 14 Fists of McCluskey (August 2019)

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Love him, hate him or both, the arrival of a new movie by Quentin Tarantino is an important event for anyone even remotely interested in film. In this episode, Team Vintage Sand takes a deep dive into Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, QT’s love letter to the LA of his childhood. Can the brilliant performances by Brad Pitt and Leonardo Di Caprio overcome a meandering script and yet another controversial ending that rewrites history in a way that some have found trivializing and offensive? Where does the film fit in the Tarantino canon? The answer to these and other burning questions are contained in our latest episode, which is brought to you by the good people at Red Apple Cigarettes. Red Apple–we smoke ’em…

Ten Top Moments in Tarantino

  1. Inglourious Basterds (2009): Opening Sequence. Although this is an uneven film, the extended sequence at the dairy farm is quite possibly the best set-piece he ever shot. It’s a textbook example of how to build tension quietly and inexorably, and our introduction to the invaluable genius of Christoph Waltz. The scene in the café and the extended sequence in the bar are fun, but M. La Padite’s farm is the reason to come back to this one over and over. Au revoir, Shoshanna!
  2. Pulp Fiction (1994): Ezekiel 25:17. Everything brilliant about Tarantino as a writer and director encapsulated in one scene. The glowing briefcase tribute to Aldrich’s Kiss Me Deadly. Check out the big brain on Brett. Big Kahuna burgers, and some of your tasty beverage to wash them down. Flock of Seagulls. Do they speak English in What? And, of course, the eponymous, pseudo-Biblical quote that ultimately appears on Nick Fury’s tombstone…
  3. Reservoir Dogs (1992): “Like a Virgin”/”I don’t tip.” Has an American director ever announced his or her arrival in such a distinctive, hilarious and powerful way? From the somewhat misogynist set-piece analysis of Madonna’s song to Mr. Pink’s refusal on moral grounds to leave a gratuity, it was immediately clear in the first minutes of his first film that this was a voice unlike anything we’d ever heard before.
  4. Jackie Brown (1997): “Are You Afraid of Me?” Jackie Brown is unique in QT’s work in that it is an adaptation of a book (Elmore Leonard’s Rum Punch). More importantly, it is the only film of his that features fleshed-out, whole human beings involved in complex and interesting relationships. More than the friendship between Rick and Cliff that holds Once Upon a Time in Hollywood together, the relationship in Jackie Brown between the title character and Robert Forster’s bail bondsman Max Cherry is most honest and believable human-scale interaction in all of his work. When Jackie invites Max to escape with her to Spain, he declines, possibly because he is (with good reason) more than a bit afraid of her. Follow this with the final shot of Jackie headed to the airport in her car, singing along with Bobby Womack’s “Across 110th Street” and you have the perfect ending to QT’s most underrated work.
  5. Kill Bill II (2004): The Cruel Tutelage of Pai Mei. Beatrix Kiddo’s quest for revenge often feels like a cartoon or a video game, but this flashback gives the films their first moment of unexpected depth. Gordon Liu’s multilayered performance as the ageless rotten bastard Pai Mei puts this sequence over the top, as we see Beatrix learn, among many, many other skills, what to do if her enemy is only a couple of inches away from her. This will ultimately enable her to escape from the lonely grave of Paula Schultz. Later, Beatrix’ discovery that Elle has killed her master gives a huge jolt of power to their battle in Budd’s trailer. And that will be the story of her.
  6. DeathProof (2007): Ship’s Mast and “I’m OK”: The first half of DeathProof is almost unwatchable and culminates in a scene of gratuitous and graphic violence. But the second half, featuring Tracie Thoms, Rosario Dawson, the incomparable Zoe Bell and the insane “Ship’s Mast” stunt on an honest-to- goodness 1970 “Kowalski” Challenger (from Vanishing Point, a clear inspiration along with Two Lane Blacktop and other road films of the early 70’s) on the backroads of Tennessee, is QT at this best. With the arrival of the murderous Stuntman Mike, the scene evolves into one of the greatest car chases ever recorded on film, especially when, as in Bullitt, the prey becomes the hunter. The high point arrives when the Challenger crashes but Zoe is somehow, of course, very much alive and well.
  7. Django Unchained (2012): Blood on the Cotton. There are many memorable moments (another brilliant opening sequence, for example) and performances (Samuel Jackson playing a character the likes of which we’ve never seen before in a Hollywood film, for one). But of all of these, one stands out in particular. During one of the many gun battles in the film, Tarantino gives us a slow-motion shot of bright red blood spraying over snowy white cotton plants. And there is the entire history of slavery in America encapsulated in one perfect image. It’s what great directors do.
  8. Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction: How About a Little Fire, Scarecrow?/You Give Her the F****n’ Shot. Essentially, two variations on the same idea. We remember the cutting off of the cop’s ear and the adrenaline injection into Mia Wallace’s heart as being unwatchably brutal. Yet we never actually see these two things happen on screen. The point is, it really feels like we do. Add the very Scorsese-like mix of comic elements in with the violence, and you get two examples of brilliant storytelling through editing that are worthy of Eisenstein. And when you contrast these two moments with the endless, almost childish brutality that puts a damper on the endings of Django, Hateful 8 and Once Upon a Time, one sees how much Tarantino has lost his way as a storyteller.
  9. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019): The Wrecking Crew. By a whisker over Brad Pitt’s shirtless antenna repair and DiCaprio’s encounter with an 8 year old wunderkind, this may be the most memorable and human scene in Tarantino’s latest. Margot Robbie, as Sharon Tate, goes into a movie theater playing The Wrecking Crew, which turned out to be one of Tate’s last films. Much to her delight, the audience completely adores what Tate is doing on screen and appreciates her comedic gifts. The look of pure joy on Robbie’s face is simply unforgettable. As someone who has only ever been recognized for her physical beauty, her sense that she has real talent that other people acknowledge is simply the best movie theater reaction shot since Anna Karina cried at Falconetti’s performance in Dreyer’s Passion of Joan of Arc in Godard’s Vivre sa vie. The fact that the clip of Wrecking Crew is the original one featuring the real Sharon Tate took some people out of the film, but for many, it was a poignant reminder of how much potential we lost when she died.
  10. The Hateful 8 (2015): “Jim Jones at Botany Bay”. Along with the beautiful, tension-building opening in the snow and the score that finally won Ennio Morricone his Oscar, this is one of the few things in the film that make it more than a waste of good 70mm stock. Jennifer Jason Leigh, as the criminal Daisy Domergue, is given precious little to do in the film. But the moment where she takes over the screen and sings this plaintive folk ballad about an Australian convict somehow ratchets up the tension in an most unexpected and interesting way. Listen as JJL menacingly shifts the last line of the song to predict her own future and that of Kurt Russell’s sheriff. Soon enough, many people will be shot in the testicles in slow-motion close-up…

Vintage Sand Episode 14 on SoundCloud


Episode 13: Alternate Oscars – 2000’s Edition (July 2019)

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Turning once again to Danny Peary’s amazing 1993 book Alternate Oscars, Team Vintage Sand focuses on the 00’s, a decade with some questionable Best Picture choices (to put it politely). Still can’t believe that Crash and A Beautiful Mind won? Join us on our alternate history as we set things right, drink other people’s milkshakes and mete out justice in our usual cruel-but-fair Vintage Sand style. And while you may not be able to figure it out,you will be responsible for it on the mid-term.

2000: Gladiator (Scott)

What Should Have Won:

Josh – Almost Famous (Crowe)

Michael – Traffic (Soderbergh)

John – Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (A. Lee)

Sleeper Pick: Wonder Boys (Hanson)

2001: A Beautiful Mind (Howard)

What Should Have Won:

Josh – Memento (Nolan)

Michael – Gosford Park (Altman)

John – Mulholland Dr. (Lynch)

Sleeper Pick: Moulin Rouge (Luhrman)

2002: Chicago (Marshall)

What Should Have Won: 

Josh and John – The Pianist (Polanski)

Michael – The Hours (Daldry)

Sleeper Pick: Far from Heaven (Haynes)

2003: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Jackson)

What Should Have Won: 

Josh – Big Fish (Burton)

John and Michael – School of Rock (Linklater)

Sleeper Pick: Lost in Translation (S. Coppola)

2004: Million Dollar Baby (Eastwood)

What Should Have Won: 

Michael, John and Josh – Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Gondry)

Sleeper Pick: Before Sunset (Linklater)

2005: Crash (Haggis)

What Should Have Won: 

Josh – Good Night and Good Luck (Clooney)

Michael – Brokeback Mountain (A. Lee)

John – Wallace and Gromit and the Curse of the Were-Rabbit (Aardman Studios)

Sleeper Pick: A History of Violence (Cronenberg)

2006: The Departed (Scorsese)

What Should Have Won:

Josh – Pan’s Labyrinth (Del Toro)

Michael and John – The Queen (Frears)

Sleeper Pick: Letters from Iwo Jima (Eastwood)

2007: No Country for Old Men (Coens)

What Should Have Won: 

Josh and John – There Will Be Blood (P. Anderson)

Michael – Sweeney Todd (Burton)

Sleeper Pick: Eastern Promises (Cronenberg)

2008: Slumdog Millionaire (Boyle)

What Should Have Won: 

Josh – The Dark Knight (Nolan)

John and Michael – Milk (Van Sant)

Sleeper Pick: Rachel Getting Married (Demme)

2009: The Hurt Locker (Bigelow)

What Should Have Won: 

Josh, Michael and John – A Serious Man (Coens)

Sleeper Pick: White Ribbon (Haneke)

Vintage Sand Episode 13 on SoundCloud


Episode 12: Trainwreck, or What Happened to Film Comedy in the Teens? (June 2019)

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Whatever happened to Hollywood film comedies? Setting aside action comedies like the Deadpool films and Thor: Ragnarok, as well as animated comedy, why have there been so few great film comedies in the 2010’s? We’re talking films where the humor arises organically from dialogue, setups and punchlines, and situational as well as physical humor; you know, like all those good ones from Duck Soup through The Hangover. With few exceptions, like Spy, Bridesmaids and Trainwreck (some controversy on that last one), the kind of comedy that Hollywood became famous for seems all but gone. In this episode, our intrepid heroes from Team Vintage Sand try to figure out if and why this is so.

Ten Film Comedies of the 2010’s that May Stand the Test of Time

Spy (Paul Feig, 2015) 

Bridesmaids (Paul Feig, 2011)

Trainwreck (Judd Apatow, 2015)

What We Do in the Shadows (Waititi and Clement, 2015)

Booksmart (Wilde 2019)

Easy A (Will Gluck, 2010)

Horrible Bosses (Seth Gordon, 2011)

The Dictator (Larry Charles, 2012)

Paul (Greg Mottola, 2011)

Vintage Sand Episode 12 on SoundCloud


Episode 11: Hidden Gems, Volume I (May 2019)

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70s Cinema Flashback: 'The Last Movie', Dennis Hopper & Hal Ashby [AYT  Podcast]

What makes a film a classic? As with any art, the best answer is simply time. So many of the films we revere today were both critical and popular failures when they were released, and many successful films have likewise faded into obscurity. In this episode, each member of Team Vintage Sand champions a lost film that they feel merits a reappraisal. And where else would you get Bertrand Tavernier, Alan Rudolph and Dennis Hopper hanging out in the same room? Plus, we say goodbye to John Singleton, and use the names Agnes Varda and Doris Day in the same sentence.

John: Safe Conduct (Bertrand Tavernier, 2002)

Michael: Afterglow (Alan Rudolph, 1997)

Josh: The Last Movie (Dennis Hopper, 1971)

Vintage Sand Episode 11 on SoundCloud


Episode 10: Film’s Greatest One-Hit Wonders (March 2019)

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This year marks the 50th anniversary of some of the greatest albums of the rock era: Abbey Road, Let It Bleed and Tommy are but a very small sample. Yet in that year of Woodstock, what was the most popular song of the year? That’s right, trivia fans: “Sugar Sugar” by The Archies. That got us to thinking about one-hit wonders, who have a place of pride in the history of film as well as music. Some of these films were made by directors who made many films but had only one hit, while some were made by artists who only had the chance to make one film. Some were completely ignored upon release, but their reputations have grown steadily in the years that followed; others were commercial and even critical successes upon release, but have faded somewhat over time. One-hit wonders in all endeavors are often dismissed out of hand, but let’s remember that 99.9999999% of all artists never even have the one hit. So join us this month as Team Vintage Sand gives some sugar to the “Sugar Sugars” of the film world as we celebrate the cinema’s greatest one-hit wonders.

Everybody’s #1:

The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)


2. Billy Budd (Peter Ustinov, 1962)

3. Boys Don’t Cry (Kim Pierce, 1999)

4. Boyz ‘n’ the Hood (John Singleton, 1991)


2. The Stunt Man (Richard Rush, 1980)

3. The Fabulous Baker Boys (Steve Kloves, 1989)

4. The Wings of the Dove (Iain Softley, 1997)


2. The Rapture (Michael Tolkin, 1991)

3. Wanda (Barbara Loden, 1970)

4. Risky Business (Paul Brickman. 1983)

Vintage Sand Episode 10 on SoundCloud


Episode 09: The Best of 2018 (January 2019)

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For a while there, it looked as though 2018 might go down in history as one of the great years in film in recent memory. In the end, it was something of a split decision. The big, highly anticipated studio entries were mostly enjoyable but forgettable (think Ocean’s 8 or A Star Is Born). But it was a truly outstanding year for the small film, for the movies that told intimate stories in fine detail. The year will also be remembered as the year that black directors finally achieved a prominence in filmmaking of all sizes that was long overdue. Led by the likes of Ryan Coogler and Ava Duvernay, their success hinted that some day soon, “black directors” may simply be thought of as “directors”. (Now, as Wesley Morris pointed out in his brilliant Times article, let’s just hope that the Academy chooses not to repeat the fiasco of rewarding so-called “white savior” movies about racism by giving Green Book any major prizes). All in all, 2018 proved that the reports of television taking over as the predominant form of visual storytelling in our time may have been a bit premature…

Our Top Ten Lists


  1. Leave No Trace (Granik)
  2. Black Panther (Coogler)
  3. Roma (Cuaron)
  4. Blackkklansman (Lee)
  5. First Reformed (Schrader)
  6. Eighth Grade (Burnham)
  7. Isle of Dogs (Anderson)
  8. Sorry to Bother You (Riley)
  9. Annihilation (Garland)
  10. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Coens)


  1. Roma
  2. Cold War (Pawlikowski)
  3. (tie) First Reformed/Juliet Naked (Peretz)
  4. Blindspotting (Lopez-Estrada)
  5. Capernaum (Labecki)
  6. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Heller)
  7. The Death of Stalin (Iannucci)
  8. Eighth Grade
  9. Blackkklansman
  10. The Favourite (Lanthimos)


  1. Roma
  2. Blackkklansman
  3. First Reformed
  4. Isle of Dogs
  5. (tie) Blindspottng/Leave No Trace
  6. Private Life (Jenkins)
  7. Can You Ever Forgive Me?
  8. Eighth Grade
  9. The Death of Stalin
  10. Black Panther

Vintage Sand Episode 09 on SoundCloud


Episode 08: Alternate Oscars – 1980’s Edition (December 2018)

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In 1993, the great film writer Danny Peary published a book called Alternate Oscars. In it, Peary realized the silent (or quite vocal) wish of every film fan by going through the Oscars year by year, listing who won and then arguing who should have won and why. To celebrate the silver anniversary of Peary’s book, the Vintage Sand team takes Peary’s approach and applies it to that most underrated of decades in American film, the 1980’s. Look out, Miss Daisy; no one’s taking you to the Piggly Wiggly today…

1980: Ordinary People (Redford)

What Should Have Won: Raging Bull (Scorsese), The Shining (Kubrick) or The Stunt Man (Rush)

Sleeper Picks: Just Tell Me What You Want (Lumet) and Resurrection (Carlino)

1981: Chariots of Fire (Hudson)

What Should Have Won: Reds (Beatty), Atlantic City (Malle), Raiders of the Lost Ark (Spielberg) or Body Heat (Kasdan)

Sleeper PickCutter’s Way (Passer)

1982: Gandhi (Attenborough)

What Should Have WonET (Spielberg), Blade Runner (Scott), Tootsie (Pollack), My Favorite Year (Benjamin) or Sophie’s Choice (Pakula)

Sleeper Pick: Shoot the Moon (Parker)

1983: Terms of Endearment (Brooks)

What Should Have WonThe Right Stuff (Kaufman), Tender Mercies (Beresford), Zelig (Allen) or Fanny and Alexander (Bergman)

Sleeper PickLocal Hero (Forsyth)

1984: Amadeus (Forman)

What Should Have WonA Passage to India (Lean) or Places in the Heart (Benton)

Sleeper PickThe Bostonians (Merchant/Ivory)

1985: Out of Africa (Pollack)

What Should Have WonBack to the Future (Zemeckis) or Prizzi’s Honor (Huston)

Sleeper PickBrazil (Gilliam)

1986: Platoon (Stone)

What Should Have WonPlatoon. It’s the one year they got it right. But we also would have been happy with Hannah and Her Sisters (Allen), Blue Velvet (Lynch) or Something Wild (Demme)

Sleeper PickSid and Nancy (Cox)

1987: The Last Emperor (Bertolucci)

What Should Have WonEmpire of the Sun (Spielberg), Babette’s Feast (Axel), Radio Days (Allen), Raising Arizona (Coen Brothers), Moonstruck (Jewison), Au Revoir les Enfants (Malle) or Jean de Florette/Manon of the Spring (Berri)

Sleeper Picks: Prick Up Your Ears (Frears),  Barfly (Schroeder)

1988: Rain Man (Levinson)

What Should Have WonWho Framed Roger Rabbit? (Zemeckis), Bull Durham (Shelton) or Dangerous Liaisons (Frears)

Sleeper PickWoman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Almodovar)

1989: Driving Miss Daisy (Beresford)

What Should Have Won: Where do we begin? Do the Right Thing (Lee), Dead Poets Society (Weir), sex, lies and videotape (Soderbergh), Henry V (Branagh), Crimes and Misdemeanors (Allen), Field of Dreams (Robinson), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Spielberg), My Left Foot (Sheridan) or Say Anything (Crowe)

Sleeper PickDrugstore Cowboy (Van Sant)

Vintage Sand Episode 08 on SoundCloud


Episode 07: The Other Side of the Windbags (November 2018)

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After four decades of anticipation, Orson Welles’ final film, The Other Side of the Wind, was finally released in a handful of theaters and for streaming on Netflix earlier this month. Was it worth such an epic wait? Team Vintage Sand discusses the film both as a work in and of itself and in the context of the rest of Welles’ unique, brilliant and ultimately heartbreaking career. Was Welles a victim, the embodiment of what happens when art comes into conflict with commerce in Hollywood? Or was his troubled career due, at least in part, to his own immeasurable streak of self-destructiveness? You decide.

Ten Must-See Films by Orson Welles

10. The Third Man (1949) – Though directed by Carol Reed, Welles’ unforgettable turn as the evil profiteer Harry Lime fits perfectly into his pantheon of men of dark mystery who reside at the center of so much of his work

9. F for Fake (1975) – A unique, at turns brilliant and infuriating “film essay” where Welles uses multiple formats to explore the idea of illusion

8. The Trial (1962) – Welles’ film of Kafka’s unfilmable book has two things going for it: the animated opening “Before the Law” sequence and Anthony Perkins’ performance as Josef K

7. The Stranger (1945) – Welles’ most conventional (and profitable) film, a for-hire job. He plays an ex-Nazi posing as a professor in a small New England town, where he is tracked by Edward G. Robinson’s Nazi hunter

6. Othello (1953) – Under stressful filming conditions that are the stuff of legend, Welles took four years to complete this version of the Shakespeare tragedy that, as is typical with him,  seems to provide more insight into Welles himself than Othello

5. The Lady from Shanghai (1948) – Allowed to direct it only through the intercession of his then-wife Rita Hayworth, who stars in the film, this is a complete and glorious mess that was eventually taken away from him by the studio. Worth seeing for the concluding hall-of-mirrors sequence, one of the most phenomenal set-pieces ever captured on film

4. The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) – Welles’ second film, and the beginning of his epic decline in Hollywood. Butchered by RKO and released hurriedly while Welles was out of the country, the miracle of Ambersons is that it’s still startling and beautiful despite the meddling. And if you stumble across the missing hour of footage from the film, the Holy Grail of film preservationists, please give us a call

3. Chimes at Midnight (1966) – Welles first played Falstaff, Shakespeare’s portrait of humanity in all its messy glory, on stage when he was only 24 years old. This conflation of several Shakespeare plays puts Falstaff at the center of the story, and it’s clear that this lovable embodiment of decay was the role Welles was born to play. It is Welles’ favorite among his own films

2. Touch of Evil (1958) – The happiest of happy accidents. Hired at first just as an actor, Welles took over the film when co-star Charlton Heston essentially called the producer an idiot for not letting Welles direct as well. Welles rewrote the script and created this gothic, twisted baroque masterpiece about the goings-on in a Mexican border town. And oh, that often-imitated but never-duplicated opening sequence…

1. Citizen Kane (1941) – The one and only. If you’ve never seen it, try to approach it without the burden of expectations that necessarily accompany a work often called the Greatest Film Ever Made, and enjoy it for its own wonderful sake. If you’ve seen it many times, watch it again for all the many new things this miraculous work seems to reveal with each new viewing. My personal favorite: Bernstein talking about the girl with a parasol on the Jersey City ferry back in 1896…

Vintage Sand Episode 07 on SoundCloud


Episode 06: Another Show, Another Opening (October 2018)

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In making movies, perhaps the only thing as difficult to create as the ending of a film is an unforgettable opening. A great opening is not just a hook; a truly amazing one (think underwater camera and two notes on a double bass in Jaws) can set the tone for an entire picture. Here, our nerdy-yet-lovable trio of film geeks looks at some of their favorite movie openings of all time, ranging in time from the silent era to this decade. Settle in, and don’t be late!


Josh: The Crowd (King Vidor, 1928); The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Jacques Demy, 1964); La La Land (Damien Chazelle, 2016); 8 1/2 (Federico Fellini, 1963); Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 1958); The Player (Robert Altman, 1992); and Hiroshima Mon Amour (Alain Resnais, 1959)

John: Goodfellas (Martin Scorsese, 1990); Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958); All the President’s Men (Alan Pakula, 1976); The Godfather (Francis Coppola, 1972); and Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941)

Michael: Sunset Blvd. (Billy Wilder, 1950); Seance on a Wet Afternoon (Brian Forbes, 1963); The Wild Bunch (Sam Peckinpah, 1969); Nashville (Robert Altman, 1976); and Manhattan (Woody Allen, 1979)

Vintage Sand Episode 06 on SoundCloud


Episode 05: Our Favorite Year (September 2018)

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Conventional wisdom tells us that the greatest year in the history of film was 1939. And if you add Renoir’s The Rules of the Game on to the long list of Hollywood classics that year (Gone with the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Stagecoach, Mr.  Smith Goes to Washington, Young Abe Lincoln, Wuthering Heights, etc.) one could certainly make the case for that year. The Vintage Sand team begs to differ, however. In this episode, we make the case for our own favorite years in film history. Josh lands on 1960; Michael opts for 1972 and John goes with 1974. Let the arguments begin!


1960: L’Avventura (Antonioni); Breathless (Godard); Peeping Tom (Powell); La Dolce Vita (Fellini); Last Year at Marienbad (Resnais); Psycho (Hitchcock); The Apartment (Wilder); The Bad Sleep Well (Kurosawa); The Virgin Spring (Bergman); Shoot the Piano Player (Truffaut); Spartacus (Kubrick); Black Orpheus (Ophuls)

1972: The Godfather (Coppola); Cries and Whispers (Bergman); The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (Bunuel); Fat City (Huston); Cabaret (Fosse); Frenzy (Hitchcock); Sleuth (Mankiewicz); Aguirre, the Wrath of God (Herzog); Solaris (Tarkovsky)

1974: The Godfather, Part II (Coppola); The Conversation (Coppola); Chinatown (Polanski);  Lenny (Fosse); Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (Scorsese); Blazing Saddles (Brooks); Young Frankenstein (Brooks); Murder on the Orient Express (Lumet); The Parallax View (Pakula)

Vintage Sand Episode 05 on SoundCloud


Episode 04: Top 5 Moments in Hitchcock (August 2018)


It’s August, when a middle aged-film lover’s dreams turn to Hitchcock. For Episode 4 of Vintage Sand, Josh, John and Michael discuss their favorite moments in all of Hitchcock’s work. Some will be exactly what our listeners might expect, but we promise a few surprises in there as well.

FEATURED FILMS: All films below directed by Alfred Hitchcock

The Lady Vanishes (1938); Shadow of a Doubt (1943); Notorious (1946), Rear Window (1954); To Catch a Thief (1955); The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956); Vertigo (1958); North by Northwest (1959); The Birds (1963); Frenzy (1972)

Vintage Sand Episode 04 on SoundCloud


Episode 03: Whatever Happened to the Generation of ’99? (July 2018)

Vintage Sand Episode 03 on SoundCloud


Episode 02: The Glorious Black-and White ’60’s: American Edition (June 2018)


When you think of film of the early 1960’s, the first things that come into your mind are European and Asian films. In Episode 2 of Vintage Sand, our intrepid trio make the case for the beauty and importance of black and white American films of the period by focusing on the work of three very different directors: Billy Wilder, John Frankenheimer and Stanley Kubrick.


John Frankenheimer: The Manchurian Candidate (1962), Seven Days in May (1964) and Seconds (1966)

Stanley Kubrick: The Killing (1956), Paths of Glory (1957) and Dr. Strangelove (1964)

Billy Wilder: The Apartment (1960), One, Two, Three (1961), Kiss Me, Stupid (1964) and The Fortune Cookie (1966)

Vintage Sand Episode 02 on SoundCloud


Episode 01: Hitchcock Obscura


While “obscure Hitchcock” may be a contradiction in terms, there are some films by the master that the Vintage Sand crew feel do not get their just desserts from critics and fans. In our inaugural episode, we make the case for three of Hitchcock’s lesser-known works of the 1950’s.


Alfred Hitchcock: Stage Fright (1950), I Confess (1953) and The Wrong Man (1957)

Vintage Sand Episode 01 on SoundCloud