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Beautiful Kate (2009)
The past is always present.
Filmmaker(s): Rachel Ward

Ned Kendall is asked to return to the remote and isolated family home by his sister, to say goodbye to his father who is dying. Ned also brings his young aspiring actress fiancee who struggles with the isolation. When home he starts having memories of his childhood many involving his beautiful twin sister and his older brother. These memories awaken long-buried secrets from the family's past.

Writer’s Blocks In the last year, I saw a film (“In My Father’s Den“) with much the same themes. In that New Zealand film, a man, a celebrated war correspondent returns to his rural home on the death of his father. There are significant unresolved frictions...


Published May 16, 2023
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Beautiful Girls (1996)
Good times never seemed so good.
Filmmaker(s): Ted Demme

During a snowy winter in the small fictional town of Knight's Ridge, Massachusetts, a group of lifelong buddies hang out, drink and struggle to connect with the women who affect their decisions, dreams and desires.

Dorothy This is some pretty good writing. You know it is pretty good when it deals with ordinary silliness and is directed by a non-entity and yet still engages. This is a fellow that is not afraid to write junk films, but who has also written the...


Published May 16, 2023
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Beat (2000)
Sex and Drugs before Rock and Roll
Filmmaker(s): Gary Walkow

The true story of two murders that shaped the lives of several college students who went on to become some of the most influential writers of the "Beat Generation."

Off Beat Off I will travel to see a film that is “folded“ in the simple sense this one is: writing about writing, especially when the story is historically based and most especially when the literary tradition in question is all about just this manner of...


Published May 16, 2023
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Barbie as the Island Princess (2007)
Filmmaker(s): Greg Richardson

Shipwrecked as a child, Rosella (Barbie) grows up on the island under the watchful eyes of her loving animal friends. The arrival of Prince Antonio leads Rosella and her furry pals to explore civilization and ultimately save the kingdom by uncovering a secret plot.

Singable I came to this because I had a bad experience watching the Disney “Cinderella,” and wondered at what passed for acceptable these days. I chose what I thought would be the gene with the lowest standards. I picked wrong. I should have gone with preteen...


Published May 16, 2023
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Barbershop 2: Back in Business (2004)

Nap Time I’m pretty sensitive to the social implications of black films. Some of us worked pretty hard to provide means for black voices to speak to their own (and other) issues and audiences. Gone are the days where a white establishment could exploit bug-eyed, stupid,...


Published May 16, 2023
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Ballerina (2006)
An intimate portrait of five ballerinas from the Kirov.
Filmmaker(s): Bertrand Normand

Ballerina is a 2006 documentary film that follows the training sessions, rehearsals, and everyday lives of five Russian ballerinas at different stages in their career.

Control There are no films like dance films. Dance is one of the few things that is inherently cinematic, especially when the camera moves, perhaps with energy. Ballet on the other hand is not friendly to film, at least the classical Russian model. The choreography is designed...


Published May 16, 2023
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Bad Taste (1987)
Watch out Aliens... here comes Derek!
Filmmaker(s): Peter Jackson

A team from the intergalactic fast food chain Crumb's Crunchy Delights descends on Earth, planning to make human flesh the newest taste sensation. After they wipe out the New Zealand town Kaihoro, the country’s Astro-Investigation and Defense Service (AIaDS) is called in to deal with the problem. Things are complicated due to Giles, an aid worker who comes to Kaihoro the same day to collect change from the residents. He is captured by the aliens, and AIaDS stages a rescue mission that quickly becomes an all-out assault on the aliens’ headquarters.

The World as Hamburger Sometimes, if we are lucky, a film plants itself deep in our souls and thrives there. Other times, a film is something different: an invitation to a party in the world of the filmmaker. In that case, it cannot touch you and...


Published May 16, 2023
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Bad Santa (2003)
He doesn't care if you're naughty or nice.
Filmmaker(s): Terry Zwigoff

A miserable conman and his partner pose as Santa and his Little Helper to rob department stores on Christmas Eve. But they run into problems when the conman befriends a troubled kid.

Inversion It is a simple idea: exploit the sweetness of Christmas by being mean to kids. Superimpose this on the old genre of bad man turns good through an unwanted role as parent. This works only because of extensive script doctoring, thanks to the Coen brothers. If...


Published May 16, 2023
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Bad Influence (1990)
When fantasy becomes a fatal distraction.
Filmmaker(s): Curtis Hanson

Wimpy young executive Michael is about to get pulverized by a jealous boyfriend in a bar when a handsome, mysterious stranger steps in—and then disappears. Later that night, Michael runs into a stranger on a pier, who wheedles his way into Michael's life and turns it upside down.

A Failed Experiment When you encounter a bad movie, the tendency is to just blow it off. After all, most folks are largely incompetent at what they do. But if you check the credentials of the people involved, you have to think again. The writer has written...


Published May 16, 2023
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