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Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007)
No one was supposed to get hurt.
Director: Sidney Lumet
Crime
Drama
Thriller

When two brothers organize the robbery of their parents' jewelry store, the job goes horribly wrong, triggering a series of events that send them and their family hurtling towards a shattering climax.

Space There are from time to time successful presentations in the sense that the characters work. You understand them well enough to have some genuine acceptance of their reality as humans, but that means you realise that there are things going on that do not have...


Published June 29, 2023
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Before Sunset (2004)
What if you had a second chance with the one that got away?
Director: Richard Linklater
Drama
Romance

Nine years later, Jesse travels across Europe giving readings from a book he wrote about the night he spent in Vienna with Celine. After his reading in Paris, Celine finds him, and they spend part of the day together before Jesse has to again leave for a flight. They are both in relationships now, and Jesse has a son, but as their strong feelings for each other start to return, both confess a longing for more.

Reluctance Finally, Linklater does something with his talent. His strength in the past has been to shape the form of his films to match the subject. At least that’s been true when the subject is the tentativeness of existence. He’s done well enough in the past, but...


Published June 29, 2023
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Betty Blue (1986)
Director: Jean-Jacques Beineix
Drama
Romance

A lackadaisical handyman and aspiring novelist tries to support his younger girlfriend as she slowly succumbs to madness.

The Piano Sometimes a film makes a long, long journey. For me this happened in several ways. The first is in real time. I saw this a couple decades ago in the short version. I was unimpressed. The word on it then was all about the first...


Published June 16, 2023
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Æon Flux (2005)
The Perfect World Meets The Perfect Assassin
Director: Karyn Kusama
Science Fiction
Action
Thriller

400 years into the future, disease has wiped out the majority of the world's population, except one walled city, Bregna, ruled by a congress of scientists. When Æon Flux, the top operative in the underground 'Monican' rebellion, is sent on a mission to kill a government leader, she uncovers a world of secrets.

Credible World Science fiction movies are an odd thing. They and “detective” movies depend more heavily on literary conventions than other types of films. But you know, where detective movies have swallowed the form and adapted in rich ways, science fiction hasn’t settled gently into film. Its...


Published May 22, 2023
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Bedhead (1991)
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Comedy
Fantasy

David defaces his sister's doll. In the fight that follows Rebecca falls and hits her head. When she comes to, she discovers that she has telekinetic powers, and uses them to take revenge on her brother David.

Good kids You know what is really fun? Choose a director you like, then trace the ideas you like about him back through two paths: the films by others that surely influenced him, and also back through his own earlier work. I like Rodriguez. I do. I...


Published May 21, 2023
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Miss Marple: At Bertram’s Hotel (1987)
Director: Michael Tuchner
Crime
Mystery

There's a murder at the elegant hotel where Miss Marple is staying and international adventurer Bess Sedgwick is the prime suspect.

The Space as a Character This is the sixth or seventh in the series that I have seen. BBC has a policy of putting different creative crew in charge of each one, so they vary significantly. I found the “Alien” and “Batman” franchises to be a...


Published May 21, 2023
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Aladdin (1992)
Wish granted!
Director: Ron Clements, John Musker
Animation
Family
Adventure
Fantasy
Romance

Princess Jasmine grows tired of being forced to remain in the palace, so she sneaks out into the marketplace, in disguise, where she meets street urchin Aladdin. The couple falls in love, although Jasmine may only marry a prince. After being thrown in jail, Aladdin becomes embroiled in a plot to find a mysterious lamp, with which the evil Jafar hopes to rule the land.

Sweet Arabian Skins This, to my mind, is a terrific concoction. It has no story to speak of. Oh, there's some motion and noise but they are only there to give us something to look at while the three main notions unfurl, all of which are...


Published May 21, 2023
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The Barbershop (1894)
Director: William K.L. Dickson, William Heise
Drama

“Interior of Barber Shop. Man comes in, takes off his coat; sits down, smokes; is handed a paper by attendant, who points out a joke; both laugh. Meantime the man in the chair is shaved and has his hair cut. Very funny.” (Edison's Latest Wonders, 1894)

The Choreography of Layers The history of anything involves trying to discover the accidents of convention that stuck. Movies could have taken off from any of a number of the already mature arts: especially painting. It turned out — much the worse I fear — to...


Published May 17, 2023
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The Band Wagon (1953)
Get Aboard!
Director: Vincente Minnelli
Comedy
Music
Romance

A Broadway artiste turns a faded film star's comeback vehicle into an artsy flop.

42nd Street in the Rain The colour musical film is a strange beast. Hollywood explored many of its possibilities. And people did buy lots of tickets. But until very recently, musicals were all but dead. That’s because they were never able to create a self sustaining...


Published May 17, 2023
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The Aviator (2004)
The way of the future
Director: Martin Scorsese
Drama

A biopic depicting the life of filmmaker and aviation pioneer Howard Hughes from 1927 to 1947, during which time he became a successful film producer and an aviation magnate, while simultaneously growing more unstable due to severe obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Three Characters We all live in our own movies, and particularly like movies of people who do so more literally. Here are three in one film: Martin Scorsese: My regular readers know that I have been very critical of his films. Sure, they are crafted well enough,...


Published May 17, 2023
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