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Goodbye to Language

Jean-Luc Godard's latest free-form essay film may be, more than anything else, a documentary of a restless mind.

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The Great Invisible

Winner of the SXSW Grand Jury Prize for Documentary, the film is strongest when it focuses on the micro rather than the macro. How the…

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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

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Opening Shots: 'A Hard Day's Night'

View image: Channnnnnggggggg...

From Sam Goldsmith:

If there is any opening shot that truly shows the power of cinema, it comes from my favorite film, Richard Lester's "A Hard Day's Night." After crediting Miramax and Walter Shenson, the film makes a hard edit to John, George, and Ringo cheerfully running from hordes (not a group, hordes) of overzealous fans at Marylebone Station in London. Accompanied by one of the greatest opening chords in rock and roll history, you know that something fun is about to begin.

View image: Down goes George.

Also, notice the fact that George falls down, Ringo tumbles after him, and John turns and laughs. If it were any other film, the makers would probably have them do the shot again, but the spontaneity of that moment and how they react to it is real and joyous. When they finally approach the screen by the end of the shot, the magic of the film starts to weave a spell of euphoria, and we can do nothing else but enjoy the ride.

View image: John cracks up.

From Jerry Matthews, The Salt Shaker, Salt Lake City, UT:

The picture cuts in from black as, on the soundtrack, George Harrison's jangling 12-string strikes a kinetic opening chord. The four members of The Beatles run towards the camera on the left side of the frame, while the stampede of fans who want to touch them fills all of the narrow street. The cars parked on the street obstruct much of the crowd, suggesting the film's energetic, impromptu feel.

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