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Limitless (2011)
Everything is possible when you open your mind.
Filmmaker(s): Neil Burger

A paranoia-fueled action thriller about an unsuccessful writer whose life is transformed by a top-secret "smart drug" that allows him to use 100% of his brain and become a perfect version of himself. His enhanced abilities soon attract shadowy forces that threaten his new life in this darkly comic and provocative film.

Constraints There are two things here to recommend. The first is that the screenplay is based on a fresh idea that springs from the kind of gangster genre typified by Snatch. I’ll characterise this as an anti-genre film because it uses that genre as a shortcut to...


Published December 24, 2022
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Life in a Day (2011)
The story of one day on Earth.

A documentary shot by filmmakers all over the world that serves as a time capsule to show future generations what it was like to be alive on the 24th of July, 2010.

Snail Eats Label Life in a day: The Scott brothers sponsor a film with YouTube. I suppose the idea from YouTube’s side is that ordinary people make films that are real, and that allow us to deeply share humanity...


Published December 24, 2022
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A Dash Through the Clouds (1912)
Filmmaker(s): Mack Sennett

Aviation enthusiast Josephine rescues her suitor, Chubby, from an angry mob with the help of Slim and his airplane.

Dimensional It wasn’t until Tarkovsky that we got a truly dimensional awareness in our camera, and not until “Finding Nemo” that it hit the mainstream. There was a hiccup there with the first “Star Wars” and “Soy Cuba”, but it faded fast. Not that we didn’t always...


Published December 24, 2022
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A Cinderella Story (2004)
Once upon a time... can happen any time.
Filmmaker(s): Mark Rosman

Routinely exploited by her wicked stepmother, the downtrodden Samantha Montgomery is excited about the prospect of meeting her Internet beau at the school's Halloween dance.

Variations Yes, this is a simple syrupy tale, childish and cliched with actors of ordinary skill and charm. But I liked it. The oddest thing is that though Disney cannot make decent cartoons any more, they sure have the old fashioned sentimental tale down, stuff from the...


Published December 24, 2022
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20,000 Years in Sing Sing (1932)
MEN without WOMEN...MEN without HOPE! smash their lives to pieces against their STEEL CHAINS!
Filmmaker(s): Michael Curtiz

Brash hoodlum Tom Connors enters Sing Sing cocksure of himself and disrespectful toward authority, but his tough but compassionate warden changes him.

Graphic As I write this, “Shawshank Redemption” is IMDB’s number two top movie of all time. I find that absolutely fascinating. The prison movie isn’t quite a genre to itself because the story possibilities vary so. But there is a definite collection of cinematic devices that are...


Published December 24, 2022
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Her (2013)
A Spike Jonze love story.
Filmmaker(s): Spike Jonze

In the not so distant future, Theodore, a lonely writer, purchases a newly developed operating system designed to meet the user's every need. To Theodore's surprise, a romantic relationship develops between him and his operating system. This unconventional love story blends science fiction and romance in a sweet tale that explores the nature of love and the ways that technology isolates and connects us all.

<strong>Wild Things One recipe for a whole narrative is to create a world, a character and a situation, each affecting the others while containing them. It is a hard, hard thing to do cinematically, but look at what has been done here. The world is conveyed...


Published December 24, 2022
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From Here to Eternity (1953)
The boldest book of our time… honestly, fearlessly on the screen!
Filmmaker(s): Fred Zinnemann

In 1941 Hawaii, a private is cruelly punished for not boxing on his unit's team, while his captain's wife and second in command are falling in love.

The Rule of Threes My own estimation is that this is a pretty poor movie cinematically, with the exeption of the then-shocking juicy exuberance of the beach scene. But it is crackling good storytelling and that overcomes the wooden direction and uninspired acting. I’m a believer in the...


Published December 24, 2022
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Baby Geniuses (1999)
Think innocent. Think helpless. Think again. Naps are history.
Filmmaker(s): Bob Clark

Scientist hold talking, super-intelligent babies captive, but things take a turn for the worse when a mix-up occurs between a baby genius and its twin.

99 Dalmatians People hate this movie. I’m not sure I know why. Oh, it is bad, but other movies that are just as bad are not seen as so: — with the plot being the some sort of thin adventure. This is actually a bit more interesting than...


Published December 16, 2022
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1984 (1984)
George Orwell's terrifying vision comes to the screen.
Filmmaker(s): Michael Radford

George Orwell's novel of a totalitarian future society in which a man whose daily work is rewriting history tries to rebel by falling in love.

Is What It Shows It is a pet peeve of mine to discover films whose point is undermined by its container. Most of these are the trivial case of movies about taking chances and being unique, but the form of the movie is the complete opposite. What...


Published December 15, 2022
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1408 (2007)
The Dolphin Hotel invites you to stay in any of its stunning rooms. Except one.
Filmmaker(s): Mikael Håfström

A man who specializes in debunking paranormal occurrences checks into the fabled room 1408 in the Dolphin Hotel. Soon after settling in, he confronts genuine terror.

Shined Up I decided to watch this after Polanski’s “The Tenant” and that was probably a bad choice, because that film is precious. This one consists of three elements, typical of the King formula. The first is the expression of terror, shaped safely so that you can watch...


Published December 15, 2022
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