June 2018 Viewing Diary

This viewing diary is amusing to me,. This month has been so full, with mostly bad things (the world/national situation as well as some family awfulness) … and I got a gig early in the month which then took up most of my time. Broken up by going to protests and dealing with my family. So I look at this as a whole and there’s an obvious moment where the project stopped, and you can see what I turned to for relief and relaxation once my schedule cleared up. This is a perfect snapshot of my life. This is what obsession looks like.

En el Séptimo Día (2018; d. Jim McKay)
I loved this movie SO much. It’s having a limited theatrical release. So keep your eyes peeled for it. I reviewed for Ebert.

November 13: Attack on Paris (2018; d. Gédéon Naudet, Jules Naudet)
This documentary min-series, on Netflix, is fantastic. The Naudet brothers were the ones who did the 2002 documentary 9/11. Seeing it in 2002, when we all were still suffering from PTSD – an entire city with PTSD – was such a powerful upsetting experience. I don’t think people who didn’t live here quite GET how long it took for us to move on. (This was partly because the cleanup took forever AND it was 15 years before a building went up in the hole downtown.) Anyway, it’s many years later now and the Naudet brothers’ style and technique have matured. Attack on Paris is first-rate. Interviews with victims and bystanders. Interviews with first responders, dispatchers. It is very upsetting. And ENRAGING. This comment, from a firefighter, just killed me:

Hearts Beat Loud (2018; d. Brett Haley)
There’s a lot to love here. I reviewed for Ebert.

My Next Guest Needs No Introduction: David Letterman and Howard Stern (2018; d. Michael Bonfiglio)
I love Howard. I’ve always loved Howard. And I love their relationship. If you’ve been following along over the years, you know there’s an intensity of identification that almost makes the men uncomfortable. They’re always THIS CLOSE to falling in each other’s arms and saying “I LOVE YOU, MAN” and actually at times they HAVE blurted that out. When Howard went to bat for Letterman during the whole Jay Leno/Conan debacle – it was thrilling. Howard was on a MISSION. He hated Jay Leno so much he literally talked of nothing else for a year and a half. So to see them together – in this format – was so satisfying. Letterman’s interview with Barack Obama was the best of the series so far, but the Stern one is close behind.

The Magician (1959; d. Ingmar Bergman)
It will probably be obvious from this point forward that I was, how you say, working on something.

Sawdust and Tinsel (1953; d. Ingmar Bergman)
We’re early here, but you can see his repertory forming: Harriet Andersson (who made such a huge splash in Summer with Monika) and Gunnar Björnstrand … both of whom worked with Bergman time and time again.

Summer with Monika (1953; d. Ingmar Bergman)
This made Harriet Andersson a star. And you can see why. She is a total phenom. And she kept getting better and better and better …

A Lesson in Love (1954; d. Ingmar Bergman)
Eva Dahlbeck is INCREDIBLE. She can do high farce, she can do tragedy, she’s phenomenal. And Gunnar Björnstrand again.

Dreams (1955; d. Ingmar Bergman)
Another great performance from Eva Dahlbeck, and she’s paired up with an equally great Harriet Andersson.

Smiles of a Summer Night (1955; d. Ingmar Bergman)
This was the one that brought Bergman international fame.

Wild Strawberries (1957; d. Ingmar Bergman)
Haunting. I’ve seen this film so many times and still … the scene where the three teenage hitchhiker-Beat-generation kids serenade him at his window, I well up with tears. Also: David Lynch and Ingmar Bergman are the only two directors who can film a dream sequence and have it actually feel like a dream.

The Seventh Seal (1957; d. Ingmar Bergman)
Another one I’ve seen a million times, and I always forget how funny it is.

The Devil’s Eye (1960; d. Ingmar Bergman)
Don Juan emerges from Hell to wreak havoc. And he does. I love Bibi.

Through a Glass Darkly (1961; d. Ingmar Bergman)
The first in Bergman’s “The Silence of God” trilogy, each one a masterpiece in their own specific way. Harriet Andersson gives one of the greatest performances of all time here.

Winter Light (1963; d. Ingmar Bergman)
2nd in the trilogy. Absolutely ruthless. If you’ve seen Paul Schrader’s latest – First Reformed, you would pick up on the parallels. Schrader just puts it all out there: it’s an homage. The pastor can’t hear God’s voice. He doesn’t even believe anymore. Gunnar Björnstrand plays the pastor and the great Ingrid Thulin plays the schoolteacher in love with him. Hard to watch. But essential.

The Silence (1963; d. Ingmar Bergman)
The final film in the trilogy. Ingrid Thulin is on another fucking plane. Most actresses don’t go NEAR the areas she dives into willingly. To do Winter Light and Silence in the same year? Get the fuck outta here.

All These Women (1964; d. Ingmar Bergman)
Bergman’s first film in color. It’s so ridiculous you can’t believe it exists. I know it’s generally considered to be Bergman’s worst, but it makes me laugh out loud. It’s really dumb!

Persona (1966; d. Ingmar Bergman)
Iconic. Two of the great all-time performances here. I saw it first in college when I was studying acting and remember thinking, panicked, “Okay, I can never see THIS again because how can I have the courage to even THINK I could be an actress when there are people out there who are THIS good?”

High Society (1956; d. Charles Walters)
Watching this in the middle of the Bergman marathon was disorienting to say the least. The film was made at the time Bergman was making his first films and they are from totally different universes. I wrote about this one for Film Comment.

Shame (1968; d. Ingmar Bergman)
Very frightening, filmed with hand-held documentary urgency. A movie about the terror of war. Liv Ullmann and Max von Sydow are amazing.

The Passion of Anna (1969; d. Ingmar Bergman)
Intense. Liv Ullmann, Bibi Andersson, Max von Sydow … a movie about suffering, honesty, love, torment. You know, typical Bergman.

The Rite (1969; d. Ingmar Bergman)
A television movie. With Ingrid Thulin, again. This mysterious film has some Godardian elements in it – there’s a meta quality to a lot of it, plus the sense that it all takes place in a Kafka-esque world. A terrifying bureaucracy is in charge and nobody knows what it’s about, or what it wants.

The King (2018; d. Eugene Jarecki)
Elvis fans are really mad about this. I understand. I do. And I think many of the critiques of Elvis are wrong. Jarecki was struggling to put it all together. You can FEEL it’s not entirely put together. He’s reaching. But, from my perspective, this is why it’s a powerful piece of work that basically underlines the feeling that Elvis is bigger than anybody else – his posthumous “fame” goes way WAY beyond “fame” – it is its own unique phenomenon. It’s hard to picture another entertainment figure big enough to even warrant a documentary like this. Elvis is all-encompassing. He is a metaphor, a symbol. The film definitely has its issues, and I far prefer HBO’s The Searcher (my review here) – but I found The King very interesting, even with its flaws. My review at Ebert here. Also: to the gearheads out there? This is one you won’t want to miss.

Paterno (2018; d. Barry Levinson)
I’ve heard some people say this HBO film is letting Paterno off the hook by showing his thoughts and feelings (as opposed to … painting him as a total villain? Which, okay, if you’re writing an op-ed column, sure, but art isn’t an op-ed column.) Besides, the film doesn’t at ALL let him off the hook. As portrayed by Al Pacino, this is a man so focused on football he can’t see anything else, he dismissed stuff in front of him, he refused to even read the “dossier” about what went on … he showed an amazing lack of curiosity about ANY of it. It takes place during the week the news broke – the week that ended with Paterno being fired. What makes this worth seeing is Pacino’s performance. Playing Paterno doesn’t allow Pacino to do the things Pacino loves to do: throw tantrums, make a spectacle of his emotions, shout and carry on. He can’t do ANY of that here. His character work and emotional work here is really REALLY good.

Cries and Whispers (1972; d. Ingmar Bergman)
I saw this one in college and was completely traumatized by it. Ingrid Thulin, Liv Ullmann and Harriet Andersson. In that house with the red walls.

The Long Riders (1980; d. Walter Hill)
Charlie and I went to go see this gorgeous film at the Metrograph on Father’s Day. Charlie’s father died last year. We both miss our fathers so much. Charlie’s dad loved The Long Riders. It’s a movie filled with brothers: Dennis and Randy Quaid, Keith, David and Robert Carradine, James and Stacy Keach, Christopher and Nicholas Guest. It could have been a gimmick. It’s not at all. With fantastic three-dimensional female characters who play very crucial roles, played by, among others, Pamela Reed (I LOVE HER) and Fran Ryan.

Autumn Sonata (1978; d. Ingmar Bergman)
My friend Farran wrote the booklet essay for Criterion’s release of this claustrophobic emotional mother-daughter film. Ingrid Bergman and Liv Ullmann face off, unforgettably. It’s excruciating.

Hereditary (2018; d. Ari Aster)
I was so looking forward to this. It took me about half an hour to realize the movie was bad. Even Ann Dowd couldn’t save it. I adore Toni Colette but she is not good here. Her mania and frenzy as the movie went on felt pushed, and empty. It was flailing and general. And the final scene was laughable. Every year there’s a movie everyone seems to love and I go, “Are you kidding me?” I don’t want to discourage anyone from seeing it, but I had to force myself to stay til the end and was rewarded by that ridiculous final scene.

Supernatural, Season 3, episode 5 “Bedtime Stories” (2007; d. Mike Rohl)
Glorious fun. I just re-capped it. Another way I let my hair down after the Bergman marathon (which, honestly, I am going to miss terribly.)

Supernatural, Season 3, episode 6 “Red Sky at Morning” (2007; d. Cliff Bole)
The moment that started it all. I wrote my first lengthy post about the show because of this moment.

Supernatural, Season 3, episode 7 “Fresh Blood” (2007; d. Kim Manners)
Oh Kim Manners. How I miss you. You knew how to film their faces. Because you LOVED their faces.

Supernatural, Season 3, episode 8 “A Very Supernatural Christmas” (2007; d. J. Miller Tobin)
Too much. No matter how many times I see it, it is always TOO MUCH.

Supernatural, Season 3, episode 9 “Malleus Maleficarum” (2008; d. Robert Singer)
Okay, so I was looking for a gif and I discovered this one and now I need to take a nap.

Supernatural, Season 3, episode 10 “Dream a Little Dream of Me” (2008; d. Steve Boyum)
One of my favorite episodes in the whole series. This scene never ceases to amaze: because there are two of him, and you can always tell which is which, because his work is so specific.

Supernatural, Season 3, episode 11 “Mystery Spot” (2008; d. Kim Manners)
Season 3, right? It’s one great episode after another.

Supernatural, Season 3, episode 12 “Jus in Bello” (2008; d. Philip Sgriccia)
Agent Hendrickson! Lilith! Virgins! Demons on the loose. And this moment. Which is so so funny to me, especially the moment when he HEARS the punchline before he says it, and then can’t stop himself from saying it, even though it is SO inappropriate.

Supernatural, Season 3, episode 13 “Ghostfacers” (2008; d. Philip Sgriccia)
Finally we get confirmation that these guys swear like sailors. I am always sad about Corbett every time. And this …

Supernatural, Season 3, episode 14 “Long Distance Call” (2008; d. Robert Singer)
Epic. Purely epic episode. The emotions coming up in Dean – via Jensen Ackles’ great sensitivity and intuition – the entire persona change when he’s on the phone with Dad … he literally swaps out his SOUL to the beaten-down little kid … it gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.

Supernatural, Season 3, episode 15 “Time Is on My Side” (2008; d. Charles Beeson)
I’m very sad there won’t be any angry sex after all. Because … this moment could go either way.

Supernatural, Season 3, episode 16 “No Rest for the Wicked” (2008; d. Kim Manners)
I will never ever EVER forget my first time watching this episode and seeing this moment …

Supernatural, Season 4, episode 1 “Lazarus Rising” (2008; d. Kim Manners)
Switchover to the Red camera. I am not technical enough to explain WHY the camera is so good, although the proof is in the pudding, which is the images. Season 4 is the most glamorous season in the series. The images are so stark and painterly and clear and romantic it almost hurts to look at them. You can see every freckle, it’s almost like you can touch his skin. Very very tactile camera. This is what the Red can do. Like …

Supernatural, Season 4, episode 2 “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Dean Winchester” (2008; d. Philip Sgriccia)
God, this is a good season. Castiel. He’s so “other.” He’s frightening. I love in this scene how he says “we”. Never “I.” His identity is not individualized. He is part of a group. And part of his arc will be the slow separation from that “we” into an “I.”

Supernatural, Season 4, episode 3 “In the Beginning” (2008; d. Steve Boyum)
Watching this makes me really really mad at Andrew Dabb. I wish I wasn’t mad. I have to forget what he’s done to Mary in order to enjoy this. Look, Andrew: a woman can be a “badass” and also girlish and loving and SO into her man. She doesn’t have to suddenly become a chick with a fuck buddy wearing camo and having zero emotions in order to qualify as “badass.” Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Supernatural, Season 4, episode 4 “Metamorphosis” (2008; d. Kim Manners)
What an intense and accurate portrayal of what we now call “toxic masculinity.” THAT’S the monster in this one.

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28 Responses to June 2018 Viewing Diary

  1. mutecypher says:

    I hope July is a better month for you.

    I’m looking forward to reading what you wrote about Mr. B’s films.

    • sheila says:

      Yes, it was such a good project – very grateful for it! and clearly I didn’t have a lot of time to do it. Like I said, I’ve seen most of these – but in some cases it had been years! It was totally surreal, watching 20 Bergmans in a condensed time period.

      What Bergmans do you like, or gravitate to?

      Currently I’m all about Through a Glass Darkly and The Silence. Cheery films.

      and in re: life: sadly, nothing will be truly better as long as families are being separated at the border. and 100 other urgent issues.

      • mutecypher says:

        //What Bergmans do you like, or gravitate to?//

        I’d have to say Autumn Sonata, Persona, and The Virgin Spring. With the last one, there’s just shock after shock, and the mounting moral terror of the vengeance, then the guilt and the puzzling final. I think that one has stayed with me the most of his films. Did you get a chance to re-watch it for your project? It’s been a long while since I watched it. And a long time since I’ve seen The Silence of God trilogy.

        I watched Persona and Autumn Sonata within the last 3 years, I think. He’s overwhelming.

        I haven’t seen The Magician. Did you like it?

        • sheila says:

          Yes – Virgin Spring!! I did not re-watch that one since it wasn’t applicable to the project I was assigned to do and there was too much else to see.

          He really is overwhelming.

          His early stuff – like The Magician – is really different from his later stuff – They’re almost slapstick in some ways – and all about showbiz (Sawdust and Tinsel is the same thing). I love The Magician – it’s about a traveling act, with mesmerists and hypnotists and seances – and the trouble they get into.

          I love his funny sex farces – like A Lesson in Love. Eva Dahlbeck doesn’t have the brand-name recognition that Liv Ullmann has – but she is an equally great actress, albeit in a very different way.

          I recommend The Magician and Sawdust and Tinsel!

          I agree – overwhelming. It’s hard to re-adjust to other material after submerging myself in his stuff. I rarely miss working on something – this one, though … empty nest syndrome for sure.

          • mutecypher says:

            Not really related to Autumn Sonata but still… In David Lynch’s new bio he says that when he met Isabella Rossellini the first thing out of his mouth was “You could be Ingrid Bergman’s daughter!” At which point, one of his companions called him stupid and told him she was. He must have made a good second impression.

            I’d read Frank Gado’s book The Passion of Ingmar Bergman back when it came out in the mid ’80’s. I have to confess I remember little of it, other than that he was a serious workaholic and single-minded with his visions. And that he did a lot of directing in the theater. And was a challenging person.

          • mutecypher says:

            And I’ll seek out The Magician and Sawdust and Tinsel. I hadn’t heard of Filmstruck before, but that sounds like a great resource.

          • sheila says:

            Yes, throughout his career he continued to direct theatre – and I think he was head of a gigantic theatre too as artistic director. He never really left theatre – so it’s a huge part of his work – even The Seventh Seal has it! and Persona! She’s a famous stage actress!

            Filmstruck is amazing.

            They have so much of Bergman up there now – almost all of it – mainly because it’s his centenary this year – so that’s exciting but they do a wonderful job of rotating movies in and out, highlighting their vast library.

            Very easy to use too!

          • sheila says:

            Yes, just looked it up – he was artistic director of the Malmo theatre through the 50s, and director of the Royal Dramatic Theatre in the 60s – but he continued his relationship to them, managing the theatre after that – during his true international heydey in the world of cinema no less. Burned candle at both ends.

            So many of his actors came out of the Royal Dramatic Theatre – they worked together in cinema and in theatrical productions – right up to the very end.

          • mutecypher says:

            //Burned candle at both ends.//

            Yes, I remember reading the bio and picturing him with a wakeup routine like Bob Fosse’s in All That Jazz.

          • sheila says:

            a little bit gloomier, but yes.

            People do talk about how much fun they all had working together, which doesn’t surprise me at all.

          • mutecypher says:

            Signed up for Filmstruck – wow! In addition to the Bergman riches, they have Peter Greenaway’s Prospero’s Books, which I’ve been looking for a long time.

  2. Wow! That is a ton of Bergman for one month.

    I usually watch only one in the bleakest dead of winter to make me feel better in comparison.

    • sheila says:

      Sorry it took me so long to respond – this week has been really busy!

      Well, like I said, I was working on something. For money. There was a rhyme to my reason.

      But I know what you mean about // in the bleakest dead of winter to make me feel better in comparison. //

      HA! Bergman really is so good for that.

  3. Guy says:

    I’m in the middle of a Bergman festival on Filmstruck, and I had a similar disconcerting experience when I mixed it up with Cagney in Jimmy the Gent. I think Cagney says more lines in five minutes than Bergman has in the entire script of Crisis.

    • sheila says:

      Bergman really does have a way of sucking you into his world, his view. It’s a difficult adjustment, watching anything else.

      I love how much Filmstruck has on there right now – it’s a goldmine!

      The one film I have only seen once is Face to Face – and it is sadly almost totally unavailable – I did manage to see a butchered copy on Youtube with Japanese subtitles – although it doesn’t appear to be there anymore. There’s a “breakdown” from Liv Ullmann in it that I still can hardly believe exists – in my memory it’s all one take and it goes on for 20 minutes.

      I would love it if that one would get screened somewhere – in the New York area – so I could actually see it again!

      Which Bergmans are your faves?

      • Guy says:

        I have never seen that. Now I must.
        I’m actually a sucker for his early ones, especially those with a theatrical setting, like the Magician or Sawdust and Tinsel. (He seems to be drawing from the same well as Fellini in some of these). I think my favorite line of all time in Bergman is “The clown’s wife is swimming with the regiment.” It’s hilarious and dark.
        I’m rewatching the later ones now, and I think my favorite of all time is Persona. It’s hard to match for intensity.

        • sheila says:

          Guy – yes, I love his “showbiz” ones too. His theatre career was as important as his film career- although more on a local level. and then there’s After the Rehearsal – a TV movie late in the game – which I think is fascinating too – although, yet again, it’s kind of hard to find.

          // “The clown’s wife is swimming with the regiment.” //


          That poor clown.

  4. regina Bartkoff says:


    Sorry to sound stupid, but, what is Filmstruck and how do I get it?!

    • sheila says:

      It’s not stupid! It’s Criterion’s streaming channel – with the majority of their library on there – !!! – and they are also in partnership with TCM – so there’s an amazing selection. It’s a great option for streaming old movies – since other platforms like Netflix or Hulu have such a poor selection.

      For me, it’s worth the 10 bucks a month.


  5. regina Bartkoff says:


    Thank you! This is amazing! It’s definitely worth the $10.! Getting it!!

    • sheila says:

      It’s a gold mine. I almost burst into tears when I first scrolled through the library!

      • sheila says:

        By the way – how familiar are you with Ingrid Thulin?

        I did a deep dive into her stuff with Bergman – there’s something about her – her willingness to be on that edge – that reminds me of you and your acting.

  6. regina Bartkoff says:


    Oh my goodness, thank you! I’ll live off that compliment for a few years! Yes, of course I do know her and love her, off the top of my head, from The Magician and Wild Strawberries, I’m sure I’ve seen her in more of Bergman’s. I used to think when I was young I would have loved Thulin’s role in The Magician! Though I probably know more about Liv Ullman, Bibi Anderson and a favorite of mine, Harriet Andersson (Summer with Monika knocks me out, but Thulin is definitely more my type) I can’t wait to get Filmstruck! P.S. this is really slightly unrelated but, I was watching The Piano Teacher last night, (again) with Isabelle Huppert. Talking about willing to be on the edge (and go over)!

    • sheila says:

      Summer with Monika is just incredible – what an absolute phenom she is!

      The one-two punch of Winter Light and The Silence … Ingrid Thulin shows a range almost unprecedented – and she’s 100% RIGHT in each role – just amazing. The Silence is really the one that made me think of you – when you re-watch don’t think this is a commentary on who you are as a person! hahahaha Because the character is nuts! But it’s the kind of work that I think interests you – and def in your wheelhouse.

      and oh my God the Piano Teacher. whaaaaaat the fuuuuuuuck Isabelle.

  7. regina Bartkoff says:


    Oh yes, Winter Light and The Silence! Now I want to watch all of Bergman for the millionth time over again!
    The best roles are the unlikeable, way out ones!
    Isabelle Fucking Huppert! What she does with a face that looks like she’s doing absolutely nothing. Definitely one of the greats.

    • sheila says:

      Oh yeah, Isabelle is on another level.

      One of my treasured memories of Ebertfest 2 years ago was hanging out at the after-fest party, with a crazy live band, and people jumping around dancing at 2 in the morning and turning and seeing Isabelle, in a white dress, standing right behind me. Staring at the dance floor. Totally a part of the party but separate too. Apparently she went into the office of the guy holding the party and took a nap. In the middle of the party.

  8. regina Bartkoff says:

    Sheila! Oh my God! Great Isabelle Huppert story. She doesn’t give a shit at all what people think! Part of what makes her a great actress! Someone I knew got introduced to her and she couldn’t get over how tiny Huppert is, (and a very regular, down to earth type too) this powerhouse of an actress!

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