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Extraordinary Measures (2010)
Don't hope for a miracle. Make one.
Filmmaker(s): Tom Vaughan

Working-class father John Crowley is finally on the fast track to corporate success when his two young children are diagnosed with Pompe disease—a condition that prevents the body from breaking down sugar. With the support of his wife, John ditches his career and teams with unconventional specialist, Dr. Robert Stonehill to found a bio-tech company and develop a cure in time to save the lives of his children. As Dr. Stonehill works tirelessly to prove the theories that made him the black sheep of the medical community, a powerful bond is forged between the two unlikely allies.

Dying You can see the pitch: real life, dying children, desperate father, two bankable actors who have made money in action movies but who sputter otherwise. In other words, there is no intent to put anything of value into this: it intends to milk us based on...


Published May 13, 2022
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Christopher Robin (2018)
Don't underestimate the value of doing nothing.
Filmmaker(s): Marc Forster

Christopher Robin, the boy who had countless adventures in the Hundred Acre Wood, has grown up and lost his way. Now it’s up to his spirited and loveable stuffed animals, Winnie The Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, and the rest of the gang, to rekindle their friendship and remind him of endless days of childlike wonder and make-believe, when doing nothing was the very best something.

Stuck in the Box The story is conventional Disney, and in the trend of expanding the reach of established properties, with as little actual drama as possible. Three things are notable to me. This was shot on video, with a deliberate nod to cheap TeeVee productions from...


Published May 13, 2022
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Blown Away (2019)
Filmmaker(s): Giovanni Fago

Ten master artists turn up the heat in glassblowing sculpture challenges for the chance to win $60,000 in prizes and the title of champion.

Someone Else’s Bubble I don’t know who originated the formula. I’ve seen it on “Legomasters”. You start with 8 teams, here 8 glass artists. You give them an assignment, material and some time. Then their creation is judged, someone eliminated until there is a winner. With Lego...


Published May 13, 2022
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Haywire (2011)
They left her no choice
Filmmaker(s): Steven Soderbergh

A black ops soldier seeks payback after she is betrayed and left for dead.

Needles I saw this years ago and could not find anything useful to say about it. I saw it again because I am trying to understand what Soderbergh is doing with his life. He worries me because I have invested part of my life to films...


Published May 13, 2022
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Ice Age 5: Collision Course (2016)
One small step. One giant mess.
Filmmaker(s): Mike Thurmeier

Set after the events of Continental Drift, Scrat's epic pursuit of his elusive acorn catapults him outside of Earth, where he accidentally sets off a series of cosmic events that transform and threaten the planet. To save themselves from peril, Manny, Sid, Diego, and the rest of the herd leave their home and embark on a quest full of thrills and spills, highs and lows, laughter and adventure while traveling to exotic new lands and locations.

Acorny I cannot recall which of the previous I liked and why. It may have been the story that included the telling of a story. But that depends on coherence, and what have here are several sties or skits smeared into each other. There are the...


Published May 13, 2022
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Aunt Peg’s Fulfilment (1981)
Shocking...Daring...Erotic
Filmmaker(s): Anthony Spinelli

The continuing lustful sexual adventures of Hollywood producer Aunt Peg as she tries to continue with financing her latest movie project.

Unfulfilling Classic porn, the kind celebrated in “Boogie Nights”, cannot be avoided if you are serious about studying film. An amazing number of these, mostly from the 70s, have pretty cleverly engineered contexts. It is completely different than the porn of today, where there is no attempt...


Published May 13, 2022
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War Games (1983)
Is it a game, or is it real?
Filmmaker(s): John Badham

High School student David Lightman has a talent for hacking. But while trying to hack into a computer system to play unreleased video games, he unwittingly taps into the Defense Department's war computer and initiates a confrontation of global proportions. Together with his girlfriend and a wizardly computer genius, David must race against time to outwit his opponent and prevent a nuclear Armageddon.

Winken and Blinken There is less reason to see this now than when it was made, except for the lesson that is more clear here than in current filmdom: how do you cinematically convey concepts that don’t fit our fairly limited vocabulary? The lesson here is stark,...


Published May 13, 2022
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The Sinister Monk (1965)
Filmmaker(s): Harald Reinl

A hooded serial killer finds a novel way to murder his victims--he lashes them to death with a whip. The police try to track him down before any more murders occur.

4 Conspiracies In the heyday of mystery writing, we had Sayers, Christie, Chesterton and a dozen others who were artists of narrative curves. The game was to create a world, but us in it and only later let us know how wrong we were. And then we...


Published May 13, 2022
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Exodus (1960)
The drama and the passion of one of the epic events of the twentieth century !
Filmmaker(s): Otto Preminger

Ari Ben Canaan, a passionate member of the Jewish paramilitary group Haganah, attempts to transport 600 Jewish refugees on a dangerous voyage from Cyprus to Palestine on a ship named the Exodus. He faces obstruction from British forces, who will not grant the ship passage to its destination.

Stalled Ship I wonder what damage we are doing to ourselves by writing false history. All history is fictional. It must be because it abstracts single narratives from the hubbub of life. We hope that the narrative models something that can be traced back to facts, can...


Published May 13, 2022
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Jim Hanvey Detective (1937)
Filmmaker(s): Phil Rosen

Jim Hanvey is a genial but top-notch detective who has retired to his country home. An insurance company hires him to find a missing emerald so they won't have to pay out the $100,000 for which the jewel is insured. It doesn't take him long to find the emerald, but he discovers that finding it was the easy part; the difficult part is getting it back to its rightful owner, and he winds up involved in a murder in which an innocent man is framed.

Straw Dogs You can do better than watching most current movies by noodling around with old detective movies from the 30’s. They are generally not very good, but collectively they defined the base for our most common idiom. This one, thankfully, has no racist comedy player....


Published May 13, 2022
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