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The Kennel Murder Case (1933)
William Powell returns as Philo Vance
Director: Michael Curtiz
Crime
Mystery

Philo Vance, accompanied by his prize-losing Scottish terrier, investigates the locked-room murder of a prominent and much-hated collector whose broken Chinese vase provides an important clue.

Surprised I’m trying to find where film audiences started to accept the mystery as merely a surprise ending. You know that the successful mysteries for many decades were “detective stories” that had very clear rules about how the viewer could outwit the writer and guess, actually...


Published December 1, 2022
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42nd Street (1933)
The Greatest Musical hit the Screen Has Ever Known!
Director: Lloyd Bacon
Comedy
Drama
Romance

A producer puts on what may be his last Broadway show, and at the last moment a chorus girl has to replace the star.

In and Out I am convinced that you cannot really understand yourself unless you understand (among other influences) the movies out of which you make the movie of your life. And you cannot understand the stuff of movies unless you’ve experienced those that invented the form,...


Published December 1, 2022
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Jud Suss (1940)
Director: Veit Harlan
Drama

Nazi historical drama about Duke Karl Alexander of Württemberg and his treasurer Süß Oppenheimer.

Slippery Everyone should view a few of the Nazi propaganda films before they die. Nazis were not the ones who committed the atrocities, rather it was the mass of Germans. Whether they were manipulated or what we see as manipulative devices (like this film) is a...


Published December 1, 2022
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Jubilee (1978)
Sex, drugs and punk rock. Add violence and time travel and you have Jubilee.
Director: Derek Jarman
Comedy
Drama
Fantasy
Music

Queen Elizabeth I visits late 1970s England to find a depressing landscape where life has changed since her time.

The Deep, Vacuous Meditations of Angels Feeding Dogs I’m amazed that anyone would think this is similar to “Clockwork Orange.” Kubrick’s world was one of too much sense: strong minds of people and institutions creating realities that compete, even clash with each other. His worlds are...


Published December 1, 2022
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Joe Dirt (2001)
He Came. He Cleaned. He Conquered.
Director: Dennie Gordon
Mystery
Adventure
Comedy
Romance
Drama

Joe Dirt is a janitor with a mullet hairdo, acid-washed jeans and a dream to find the parents that he lost at the Grand Canyon when he was a belligerent, trailer park-raised eight-year-old. Now, blasting Van Halen in his jacked-up economy car, the irrepressibly optimistic Joe hits the road alone in search of his folks.

Breathless Poopball These experiments are very tricky, working with irony to the extreme: making a character so helplessly clueless as to be endearing. Works easier with blond girls, but with things so exaggerated in the general area, most projects go too far. That was the case...


Published December 1, 2022
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Iron Man 2 (2010)
It's not the armor that makes the hero, but the man inside.
Director: Jon Favreau
Adventure
Action
Science Fiction

With the world now aware of his dual life as the armored superhero Iron Man, billionaire inventor Tony Stark faces pressure from the government, the press and the public to share his technology with the military. Unwilling to let go of his invention, Stark, with Pepper Potts and James 'Rhodey' Rhodes at his side, must forge new alliances – and confront powerful enemies.

Dimension Common sense hits the front office at Marvel’s adventure in moviemaking. Until now, they’ve just made bad films. Bad. The basic problem, I believe, is that the rest of the world is out exploiting the third dimension and Marvel insists on making flat movies. Even Spidermen,...


Published December 1, 2022
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Innocents in Paris (1953)
Director: Gordon Parry
Comedy

Romantic comedy about a group of Britons flying to Paris for the weekend.

deGaulled After the war, France was a mess — an agricultural economy with a bad reputation world-wide because of near universal collaboration with the Nazis. America resolved to rebuild Europe and part of the plan was to cast Paris as a romantic place. The instruction went...


Published December 1, 2022
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Ink (2009)
dreams
Director: Jamin Winans
Action
Fantasy

Invisible forces exert power over us in our sleep. A mercenary named Ink, on a literal nightmare mission, captures the spirit of 8-year-old Emma in the dream world. To save her, the dream-givers marshal all their resources, focusing on saving the soul of Emma's tragically broken father.

Paper on Ink Gosh, is this good cinema. It has energy and imagination. It has internal self-reference: the storyteller in the thing has her audience as one of the characters, someone who appears in three persona unknown to each other. The way things are revealed and...


Published December 1, 2022
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Storm Boy (1976)
Wild things should be free.
Director: Henri Safran
Drama
Family

Mike is a lonely Australian boy living in a coastal wilderness with his reclusive father. In search of friendship he encounters an Aboriginal native loner and the two form a bond in the care of orphaned pelicans.

Internal Weather I’ve had the advantage of being old, and living in both the US and Australia and raising kids in each. That gives me a perspective on the book before seeing the film. Every so often, a young adult book hits a sweet spot in...


Published December 1, 2022
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I’ll Cry Tomorrow (1955)
The frank, revealing story of Lillian Roth's life! Best-seller now a film sensation.
Director: Daniel Mann
Drama

Deprived of a normal childhood by her ambitious mother, Lillian Roth becomes a star of Broadway and Hollywood before she is twenty. Shortly before her marriage to her childhood sweetheart, David Tredman, he dies and Lillian takes her first drink of many down the road of becoming an alcoholic.

Drunk on Acting I love movies. I love getting caught up in the all the cinematic flows that filmmakers know how to weave. But the things I value and study in film are the things that are cinematic. Some movies aren’t movies. They’re distributed and displayed as...


Published December 1, 2022
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