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The Crime of the Century (1933)
AD 2031, the passengers in the train are the only survivors on Earth.
Filmmaker(s): Bong Joon-ho

In a future where a failed global-warming experiment kills off most life on the planet, a class system evolves aboard the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe via a perpetual-motion engine.

In Front of your Face A mystery the way they used to make them, full of clues, an onscreen detective and the expectation that the audience is working hard to make sense of everything. Near then end, they stop the film and an announcer appears...
Published December 6, 2022
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Snowpiercer (2013)
AD 2031, the passengers in the train are the only survivors on Earth.
Filmmaker(s): Bong Joon-ho

In a future where a failed global-warming experiment kills off most life on the planet, a class system evolves aboard the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe via a perpetual-motion engine.

Loco Motives I am trying to put my finger on what I see from a few of the best Korean filmmakers. It has something to do with simultaneously seeing things more sharply than usual, with more emotional impact and at the same time having an...
Published December 6, 2022
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Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)
Beyond the darkness, lies greatness.
Filmmaker(s): J.J. Abrams

When the crew of the Enterprise is called back home, they find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization has detonated the fleet and everything it stands for, leaving our world in a state of crisis. With a personal score to settle, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction. As our heroes are propelled into an epic chess game of life and death, love will be challenged, friendships will be torn apart, and sacrifices must be made for the only family Kirk has left: his crew.

Lens Flare I’ve put Abrams in the same category as Soderbergh and Kubrick but only as a junior member. These are directors that do all the production stuff excellently, but whose creative life is in what the camera brings. They see the film not as...
Published December 5, 2022
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Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022)
Forever.
Filmmaker(s): Ryan Coogler

Queen Ramonda, Shuri, M’Baku, Okoye and the Dora Milaje fight to protect their nation from intervening world powers in the wake of King T’Challa’s death. As the Wakandans strive to embrace their next chapter, the heroes must band together with the help of War Dog Nakia and Everett Ross and forge a new path for the kingdom of Wakanda.

A Hidden Nation There seems no way to remark on this without anchoring it in what I believe is a new cinematic vocabulary. We all cheered when Gal Godot, in the first of that series, established a woman hero. But that character was spooky strange,...
Published December 4, 2022
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Bloodsport (1988)
The true story of an American ninja.
Filmmaker(s): Newt Arnold

U.S. soldier Frank Dux has come to Hong Kong to be accepted into the Kumite, a highly secret and extremely violent martial arts competition. While trying to gain access into the underground world of clandestine fighters, he also has to avoid military officers who consider him to be AWOL. After enduring a difficult training and beginning a romance with journalist Janice Kent, Frank is given the opportunity to fight. But can he survive?

No Bruce Lee Bruce Lee invented a genre; Jackie Chan invented a genre; Sly Stallone invented a minigenre, all with various approaches to personal combat. But these guys deeply understood how film works so they could tap the relevant pressure points. Van Damme did not...
Published December 1, 2022
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Iron Man 2 (2010)
It's not the armor that makes the hero, but the man inside.
Filmmaker(s): Jon Favreau

With the world now aware of his dual life as the armored superhero Iron Man, billionaire inventor Tony Stark faces pressure from the government, the press and the public to share his technology with the military. Unwilling to let go of his invention, Stark, with Pepper Potts and James 'Rhodey' Rhodes at his side, must forge new alliances – and confront powerful enemies.

Dimension Common sense hits the front office at Marvel’s adventure in moviemaking. Until now, they’ve just made bad films. Bad. The basic problem, I believe, is that the rest of the world is out exploiting the third dimension and Marvel insists on making flat movies....
Published December 1, 2022
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Ink (2009)
dreams
Filmmaker(s): Jamin Winans

Invisible forces exert power over us in our sleep. A mercenary named Ink, on a literal nightmare mission, captures the spirit of 8-year-old Emma in the dream world. To save her, the dream-givers marshal all their resources, focusing on saving the soul of Emma's tragically broken father.

Paper on Ink Gosh, is this good cinema. It has energy and imagination. It has internal self-reference: the storyteller in the thing has her audience as one of the characters, someone who appears in three persona unknown to each other. The way things are revealed...
Published December 1, 2022
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I Robot (2004)
One man saw it coming
Filmmaker(s): Alex Proyas

In 2035, where robots are commonplace and abide by the three laws of robotics, a technophobic cop investigates an apparent suicide. Suspecting that a robot may be responsible for the death, his investigation leads him to believe that humanity may be in danger.

Bladewalker Some day, probably soon, we’ll become overtly offended — evolved — when special effects are used to paper over multidimensional weaknesses. Some day, probably far off, we’ll refuse to watch mugging celebrities in the place of actors. Some day, there will be more to...
Published November 30, 2022
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Alexander (2004)
The greatest legend of all was real
Filmmaker(s): Oliver Stone

Alexander, the King of Macedonia, leads his legions against the giant Persian Empire. After defeating the Persians, he leads his army across the then known world, venturing farther than any westerner had ever gone, all the way to India.

The Borrowed Cyrus and Darius knitted together the largest empire known before or since. Their method was innovative, to allow local control preserving the culture and gods. What they added was infrastructure: roads, a universal set of laws (the first case law) weights and monetary...
Published November 30, 2022
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Flight of the Phoenix (2004)
Out of the ashes, hope will rise.
Filmmaker(s): John Moore

When an oil rig in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia proves unproductive, an aircraft crew are sent to shut the operation down and fly them out. On the flight out over the desert on the way to Beijing, Capt. Frank Towns and co-pilot A.J. are unable to keep their cargo plane, a C-119 Flying Boxcar, in the air when a violent sandstorm strikes. Crash-landing in a remote uncharted part of the desert, the two pilots and their passengers -- a crew of oil workers and a drifter -- must work together to survive by rebuilding the aircraft. Soon, low supplies and a band of merciless smugglers add even greater urgency to their task.

Flying Eye This movie was great fun and all the fun was in the eye. If you know the original, it justified itself as a character development project: people thrust into an isolated, life and death situation — various challenges to overcome, various group dynamics...
Published November 28, 2022
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