Craig Hammill '95 MFA '06
Craig Hammill is the founder.programmer of Secret Movie Club. Secret Movie Club is a Los Angeles based community of movie makers and movie lovers. Everyone's invited!
1. Die Nibelungen (1924, Fritz Lang, Germany) – Fritz Lang's career is fascinating, almost as if it occurred in reverse time order. His biggest productions-Dr Mabuse the Gambler, DIe Nibelungen, Metropolis, Spies were made during the silent era. His masterpiece M (1931) was one of the first sound movies. And then he made a whole host of fascinating lower budgeted noir and crime pictures in the United States. I love watching Lang's silent movies because of his clear grasp of framing and dynamic composition. Die Nibelungen, a filmic adaptation of a famous German legend cycle about power dynamics amongst a royal family and betrayal, is full of stunning compositions. These shots often create visual conflict through the clash of strong horizontal and vertical lines in the set design. Lang often places his actors in the center of frame and small as if to reinforce how impermanent humans ultimately are in time and space.
2. Twin Peaks: The Return (2017, co-written and directed by David Lynch, USA) – It simply can't be overstated what an accomplishment Twin Peaks is in its totality. Its two ABC network seasons from 1989-1991, the feature film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me in 1992, and 2017's Twin Peaks season 3 on Showtime, together form a 45 hour masterwork. Much as William Faulkner revisited his fictitious Yoknapatawpha County for so many of his novels and short stories and Stephen King ultimately has had so much of his literary universe revolve around the Dark Tower series, David Lynch has created a kind of Rosetta Stone for his filmmaking career with Twin Peaks. He made The Return more as a feature film in 18 parts rather than a TV show. And Parts 8 and 18 stand, for me, as possibly two of the greatest hours of television ever produced. Ultimately Twin Peaks represents a kind of cinematic ambition we need more of.
3. Live Flesh (1997, adapted & directed by Pedro Almodovar) – Even in a career of great movies, Live Flesh stands out as one of Almodovar's most powerful movies. Though not as talked about as some of the more well known Almodovar movies, Live Flesh distills Almodovar's genius to elemental status: the mish mashing of genres (here a great noir with intense sexuality), the ability to connect the deeply personal with the troubled history of Spain, the humanism and the humor. The movie tells the story of a fateful night when a young man gets imprisoned for shooting a police officer (something he did not really do) and the aftermath that plays out across years. Live Flesh also accomplishes something too seldom seen in American movies: it makes sexuality cinematic and crucial to the storytelling.