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A Scanner Darkly (2006)
Everything is not going to be OK.
Director: Richard Linklater
Animation
Science Fiction
Thriller

An undercover cop in a not-too-distant future becomes involved with a dangerous new drug and begins to lose his own identity as a result.

Hazed and Dumfused “Waking Life” was simply dumb, a collection of clever ideas or various forms ill handled. Though it was adventurous in a couple ways, it lacked the edge it could have had. So instead of changing the lives of a few people, it entertainingly...


Published December 25, 2022
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Poirot: Murder on the Orient Express (2010)

Loco Motives Lawrence Olivier was an actor who delivered rewards, but acting is not storytelling and sometimes the opposite is the case. He made a well regarded Hamlet and approached it as expected; he inhabited the character and let that being drive what was presented. If...


Published December 25, 2022
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Reasonable Doubt (2014)
Proof is the Burden
Director: Peter Howitt
Crime
Thriller

When up-and-coming District Attorney Mitch Brockden commits a fatal hit-and-run, he feels compelled to throw the case against the accused criminal who was found with the body and blamed for the crime. Following the trial, Mitch's worst fears come true when he realizes that he acquitted a guilty man, and he soon finds himself on the hunt for the killer before more victims pile up.

Fixing, after the Fact Here is a project for film students: take this film, a loser, and make a great movie from it. I think I would add new footage about the hidden story here (the hooker), present the thing nonlinearly, shift the narrator and the...


Published December 24, 2022
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A Real Young Girl (1976)
A surreal voyage into adolescent sexuality.
Director: Catherine Breillat
Drama

Bored and restless, Alice spends much of her time lusting after Jim, a local sawmill worker. When not lusting after him, Alice fills the hours with such pursuits as writing her name on a mirror with vaginal secretions and wandering the fields with her underwear around her ankles. And, in true teenaged tradition, she spends a lot of time writing in her diary.

Another Alice Although blunt and clumsy, this film transports one — especially a male — to a place never visited. That's in part because of the unflinching honesty of the narrative stance; never wavering from the girl’s perspective. It it were more familiar territory, like Jane...


Published December 24, 2022
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Poirot: The Adventure of the Clapham Cook (1989)

Fully Realized Over the years, I have written one tirade after another about Clive Exton, the adapter of Christie for many of these Poirot mysteries. He just doesn’t get the form, what makes the form of the detective story so captivating. What he does is substitute...


Published December 24, 2022
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Perfect Day (1929)
Goodbye...
Director: James Parrott
Comedy

Two families embark on a pleasant Sunday picnic but manage to run into a variety of issues with their temperamental automobile. Each incident requires repeated exits and reboardings by Laurel, Hardy, their wives and grouchy, gout-ridden Uncle Edgar.

Not Perfect I am in the midst of watching a lot of Laurel and Hardy shorts. I’m amazed at a few things. There are over a hundred. They all use the same gag philosophy, often the same gags. And they range from pretty darn funny to...


Published December 24, 2022
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A Movie With Me in It (2008)
A black comedy about screenwriting and slightly fatal accidents
Director: Ian Fitzgibbon
Comedy
Thriller
Mystery

A dissolute scriptwriter and a dejected actor become unwittingly drawn into a labyrinthine mess when several people experience bizarre accidental deaths in their flat. Though the men didn't deliberately cause any of the incidents, they fear that they will be unfairly pegged as murderers if they relay information to the cops, and promptly set about disposing of the corpses in gruesome ways.

Interesting and Uninteresting Muddles Once again, we have a script concept that is promising enough to matter. Once again, we have an inept film built on that idea, inept because the writer wanted to be in it. The overall shape is an ordinary, explicit fold: one buddy...


Published December 24, 2022
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A Jolly Good Furlough (1943)
Director: Dan Gordon
Animation

Popeye is doing a great job of sinking Japanese ships (complete with toilet-flush sound effect). A carrier pigeon brings him notice that he's been granted a month furlough, which he plans to spend with Olive and his nephews. But on arrival, he's run over by Olive, who immediately leaves him alone with his nephews, who are practicing home defense.

Home not Attractive I’ve been watching propaganda movies recently. I don’t think we appreciate the government influence on the industry. It is easiest to see here. In this case, the message seems to be that GIs can be relatively happy away compared to home. The story is that...


Published December 24, 2022
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A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)
Yippee Ki-Yay Mother Russia
Director: John Moore
Action
Thriller

Iconoclastic, take-no-prisoners cop John McClane, finds himself for the first time on foreign soil after traveling to Moscow to help his wayward son Jack - unaware that Jack is really a highly-trained CIA operative out to stop a nuclear weapons heist. With the Russian underworld in pursuit, and battling a countdown to war, the two McClanes discover that their opposing methods make them unstoppable heroes.

Vehicle Porn I'm pretty sure I understand how this got funded. The franchise is pretty worn out; since the first one, we have hundreds a year of tough boys and girls who manage to flamboyantly kill a lot of bad guys. (Set aside for a moment...


Published December 24, 2022
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A Girl’s Own Story (1984)
Director: Jane Campion
Drama

This early short from director Jane Campion concerns a group of teenage girls in the 1960s.

Her Very Own I recently watched “In the Cut,” and found its connectives strange and exciting. So I went to this to see them when young and raw. Supposedly, this is Campion’s first long form film. It didn’t quite work as a film the first time because...


Published December 24, 2022
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