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Death on the Nile (1978)
A murderer strikes on board the luxury Nile steamer Karnak – and Hercule Poirot faces his most baffling case.
Filmmaker(s): John Guillermin

As Hercule Poirot enjoys a luxurious cruise down the Nile, a newlywed heiress is found murdered on board and every elegant passenger becomes a prime suspect.

Faces and Places I recently rewatched this because of the Branagh version. We now have three: this Ustinov version, a later Suchet, and the recent Branagh. I see that my original comment — likely 20 years ago — was one of those deleted from IMDB by...


Published December 31, 2022
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Visual Acoustics (2008)
The modernism of Julius Shulman.
Filmmaker(s): Eric Bricker

Visual Acoustics celebrates the life and career of Julius Shulman, the world's greatest architectural photographer, whose images brought modern architecture to the American mainstream. Shulman, who passed away this year, captured the work of nearly every modern and progressive architect since the 1930s including Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Neutra, John Lautner and Frank Gehry. His images epitomized the singular beauty of Southern California's modernist movement and brought its iconic structures to the attention of the general public. This unique film is both a testament to the evolution of modern architecture and a joyful portrait of the magnetic, whip-smart gentleman who chronicled it with his unforgettable images.

Speaking Space Here’s more about the challenge of architecture and cinema. It is not trivial, the problem of what spaces mean in films? What narrative role does it play? What vocabulary is relevant? This film is rather mundane in most ways. It is a biography of a...


Published December 26, 2022
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A Very Long Engagement (2004)
Never let go.
Filmmaker(s): Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Young Frenchwoman Mathilde searches for the truth about her missing fiancé, lost during World War I, and learns many unexpected things along the way. The love of her life is gone. But she refuses to believe he's gone forever — and she needs to know for sure.

Gluttony One of the hardest things in the world is to stop when you know you should, but the attraction, the romance of your obsession pulls you deeper and deeper into the thing. It happens with big things like love and little things like this film. It...


Published December 25, 2022
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A Scanner Darkly (2006)
Everything is not going to be OK.
Filmmaker(s): Richard Linklater

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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A Real Young Girl (1976)
A surreal voyage into adolescent sexuality.
Filmmaker(s): Catherine Breillat

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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A Girl’s Own Story (1984)
Filmmaker(s): Jane Campion

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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Antichrist (2009)
When nature turns evil, true terror awaits.
Filmmaker(s): Lars von Trier

A grieving couple retreats to their cabin 'Eden' in the woods, hoping to repair their broken hearts and troubled marriage. But nature takes its course and things go from bad to worse.

Contagious Brokenness Down the road from me is a coven of Christian filmmakers. It is a school and the purpose is to make films that evangelise. This fascinates me; generally their stories are about fighting the devil, a narrative that encompasses both what is in the...


Published December 24, 2022
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August Rush (2007)
An incredible journey moving at the speed of sound.
Filmmaker(s): Kirsten Sheridan

Lyla and Louis, a singer and a musician, fall in love, but are soon compelled to separate. Lyla is forced to give up her newborn but unknown to her, he grows up to become a musical genius.

Yellow Bricks Heard There are three kinds of film that I value and treat differently: those who truly leverage dance, space or sound. I have not yet found one that exploits mathematical space, and would add that when it appears, probably from Ruiz and Greenaway who...


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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