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Fawlty Towers (1975-1979)
Don’t mention the war!
Director: Richard Donner
Comedy

Owner Basil Fawlty, his wife Sybil, a chambermaid Polly, and Spanish waiter Manuel attempt to run their hotel amidst farcical situations and an array of demanding guests.

Silly Walk Recently I have been trying to better understand humour. So because I am old enough to be able to, I have been thinking about Monty Python and in particular which of the Pythonistas mattered more to me. I was lucky enough to find a...


Published February 24, 2024
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Beautiful Kate (2009)
The past is always present.
Director: Rachel Ward
Drama

Ned Kendall is asked to return to the remote and isolated family home by his sister, to say goodbye to his father who is dying. Ned also brings his young aspiring actress fiancee who struggles with the isolation. When home he starts having memories of his childhood many involving his beautiful twin sister and his older brother. These memories awaken long-buried secrets from the family's past.

Writer's Blocks In the last year, I saw a film (‘In My Father‘s Den‘) with much the same themes. In that New Zealand film, a man, a celebrated war correspondent returns to his rural home on the death of his father. There are significant unresolved frictions...


Published February 23, 2024
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The Valet (2006)
Director: Francis Veber
Comedy

Caught by tabloid paparazzi with his mistress Elena, a famous and beautiful fashion model, billionaire Pierre Levasseur tries to avoid a divorce by inventing a preposterous lie. He uses the presence of a passerby in the photo to claim to his wife that it's not him Elena is seeing but the other man, one François Pignon. Pignon is a modest little man who works as a parking valet. To make the story convincing, Elena has to move in with Pignon.

Seductive Word Surprises Needing something lightly comic, Veber was my man. His ‘The Closet‘ was trivial, but few trivial things are amusing and fondly recalled. Here, with a different actor, is the same character with much the same quality. I won‘t bother you with the story. It...


Published February 23, 2024
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Layer Cake (2004)
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Drama
Thriller
Crime

When a seemingly straight-forward drug deal goes awry, XXXX has to break his die-hard rules and turn up the heat, not only to outwit the old regime and come out on top, but to save his own skin...

Taking the Drugs One narrative form is the con story. All of these folding tricks are there to engage the viewer, to trick him or her into investing in the story. The idea is that some important things you understand about the story, your platform for...


Published February 23, 2024
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Time of the Gypsies (1988)
Drama

In this luminous tale set in the former Yugoslavia, Perhan, an engaging young Romany with telekinetic powers, is seduced by the quick-cash world of petty crime that threatens to destroy him and those he loves. Long version screened by the Sarajevo television in 5 one-hour episodes.

Telekinetic Turkeys Often, you see a film, write a comment and impressions get frozen. I revisit my comments from time to time and am often sad to see them. I remember films as a dynamic experience. The best ones are not a simple thing but an...


Published February 23, 2024
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Dym (2007)
Director: Grzegorz Cisiecki
Drama
Mystery
Thriller

The story of the person who became the captive of surrealistic madness.

Full Young filmmakers send me films or point me to them, and it is always a matter of trepidation. Young talent needs to be both encouraged and challenged, but the internet is a poor medium for making the prerequisite human connections. The only way to communicate...


Published February 23, 2024
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Unstoppable (2010)
1,000,000 Tons. 100,000 Lives. 100 Minutes.
Director: Tony Scott
Action
Thriller

A runaway train, transporting deadly, toxic chemicals, is barreling down on Stanton, Pennsylvania, and proves to be unstoppable until a veteran engineer and young conductor risk their lives to try and stop it with a switch engine.

Unmovable Tracks If we cannot get movies that matter, at least we can get movies that engage, and this one does. This one does, and I think there are three devices consciously used. One is plainly obvious, the cinematic energy that Scott knows how to deliver. There...


Published February 23, 2024
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The Switch (2010)
The most unexpected comedy ever conceived.
Director: Josh Gordon, Will Speck
Comedy
Romance
Drama

Kassie is a smart, fun-loving single woman who, despite her neurotic best friend Wally’s objections, decides it’s time to have a baby – even if it means doing it herself…with a little help from a charming sperm donor. But, unbeknownst to her, Kassie’s plans go awry because of a last-minute switch that isn’t discovered until seven years later… when Wally gets acquainted with Kassie’s cute – though slightly neurotic – son.

Unseminal Pity the poor studio executive. The mainstay of the entire movie business is the romantic comedy. That is to say: the romance that does not challenge. Without this, the bottom falls out of the financial infrastructure because they are cheap and reliable. But more: the...


Published February 23, 2024
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The Secret in Their Eyes (2009)
An unsolved crime. A love story. An unwritten ending.
Director: Juan José Campanella
Mystery
Thriller
Drama

Hoping to put to rest years of unease concerning a past case, retired criminal investigator Benjamín begins writing a novel based on the unsolved mystery of a newlywed’s rape and murder. With the help of a former colleague, judge Irene, he attempts to make sense of the past.

You Eyes, Your Love, Your Passion This is a truly lovely film that has potential to change lives. I will consider it for my ‘list of fours,‘ when I report it. You may simply fall into the rather soft world it builds, one in which love can...


Published February 23, 2024
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The White Diamond (2004)
Director: Werner Herzog
Documentary

This 2004 documentary by Werner Herzog diaries the struggle of a passionate English inventor to design and test a unique airship during its maiden flight above the jungle canopy.

Flows, Roosters Watching a Herzog documentary is first a mystery about why it was made. About halfway through you understand why: an obsessed man made a flying balloon, mostly by making stuff up and killed his cinematographer. Now he wants to do it again, in a...


Published February 23, 2024
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