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Lady Maiko (2014)
What does it take to be a lady?
Filmmaker(s): Masayuki Suō

Country bumpkin Haruko only ever wanted to become a maiko, an apprentice geisha. Initially rebuffed for lack of references, Haruko's strong accent intrigues a linguistics professor, who undertakes to coach her.

Adaptation The story itself is about adapting from a not ideal Japanese state to the purest state, a Geisha. In Japan, the rural north is considered to consist of country bumpkins, something like in the US we associate with the South. A Geisha’s training includes many...


Published February 24, 2023
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Nightcrawler (2014)
The city shines brightest at night
Filmmaker(s): Dan Gilroy

When Lou Bloom, desperate for work, muscles into the world of L.A. crime journalism, he blurs the line between observer and participant to become the star of his own story. Aiding him in his effort is Nina, a TV-news veteran.

Wet Spots There are some fine things about this that you can read elsewhere, There seems to be no lack of appreciation for the obvious things. What struck me was the role that Russo has. I am interested in films where the filmmaker — usually a man...


Published February 24, 2023
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Murder by the Book (1967)
Filmmaker(s): Mel Damski

Mild-mannered mystery writer D. H. Mercer has become so immersed in his material that his creation, hard-boiled private eye Biff Deegan, constantly appears to him as a hallucination. Intent on getting rid of Biff, and replacing him with a more civilized detective, Mercer soon finds himself in a genuine mystery involving art fraud, murder, and a beautiful lady in peril.

Double Folds This isn’t worth watching for what it is, but I count it as a notable example, more so because it is a cheap TeeVee production with low aspirations. The overall story is about art forgery. The structure is adventuresome. The story we see is written...


Published February 24, 2023
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Monuments Men (2014)
It was the greatest art heist in history
Filmmaker(s): George Clooney

Based on the true story of the greatest treasure hunt in history, The Monuments Men is an action drama focusing on seven over-the-hill, out-of-shape museum directors, artists, architects, curators, and art historians who went to the front lines of WWII to rescue the world’s artistic masterpieces from Nazi thieves and return them to their rightful owners. With the art hidden behind enemy lines, how could these guys hope to succeed?

The Diary I am thankful that Clooney is working. I’ve heard him speak as himself; he is a good man, interested in good things. I forgive him his lack of range as an actor, because the characters he plays are so engaging. And he made “Good...


Published February 24, 2023
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Murder Ahoy (1964)
New mischief amidst the mizzen-masts!
Filmmaker(s): George Pollock

During an annual board of trustees meeting, one of the trustees dies. Miss Marple thinks he’s been poisoned after finding a chemical on him. She sets off to investigate at the ship where he had just come from. The fourth and final film from the Miss Marple series starring Margaret Rutherford as the quirky amateur detective.

Jerry Lewis’ Mutiny The good: well it has a jaunty theme song. At least it honors the original form in that the order we see things in is roughly the order of discovery by the detective. By this entry in the series, they had seriously lost their...


Published February 22, 2023
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Under the Skin (2013)
Filmmaker(s): Jonathan Glazer

A seductive stranger prowls the streets of Glasgow in search of prey: unsuspecting men who fall under her spell.

Seduction A fair enough way to divide filmviewers is between those that come for a coherent sequence of facts (to call a story) and those that come for an experience induced by any means. Most films address both communities, but grand experiments in contrasting the two...


Published February 22, 2023
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Noah (2014)
The end of the world is just the beginning.
Filmmaker(s): Darren Aronofsky

A man who suffers visions of an apocalyptic deluge takes measures to protect his family from the coming flood.

Extended Myth, Extensible Missus The last 40 minutes of this is a shift from epic to soap opera. Future viewers would be best advised to stop watching once the flood hits and the villains (but one) have been destroyed. Until that point, we have the sort...


Published February 22, 2023
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The Old Dark House (1932)
Beware the night!
Filmmaker(s): James Whale

In a remote region of Wales, five travelers beset by a relentless storm find shelter in an old mansion.

Extremes without Connection This is James Whale in his prime, for better or worse. The film was lost for generations before being reclaimed and restored, and for that reason is celebrated beyond its merits. What we have is a collection of stereotypical scenarios and characters. A stormy...


Published February 22, 2023
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Oscar and Lucinda (1995)
They dared to play the game of love, faith, and chance.
Filmmaker(s): Gillian Armstrong

After a childhood of abuse by his evangelistic father, misfit Oscar Hopkins becomes an Anglican minister and develops a divine obsession with gambling. Lucinda Leplastrier is a rich Australian heiress shopping in London for materials for her newly acquired glass factory back home. Deciding to travel to Australia as a missionary, Oscar meets Lucinda aboard ship, and a mutual obsession blossoms. They make a wager that will alter each of their destinies.

Obsession, Compulsion This is one of my favourite movies. Regular readers of my comments will wonder why I elevate it to my "must see" category Part of the reason I want you to see it is because of how well it pairs with Cate's masterpiece, "Heaven." Now,...


Published February 19, 2023
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Oblivion (2013)

Appropriated Appropriateness One measure of a science fiction movie is whether the science and fiction are coherent. I’ve been following the Hunger Games saga and this is driving me crazy. Some technology is advanced, some adopted from the sixties. In good hands, like with Nolan’s Interstellar,...


Published February 19, 2023
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