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Dark Command (1940)
A drama of undying love.
Filmmaker(s): Raoul Walsh

When transplanted Texan Bob Seton arrives in Lawrence, Kansas he finds much to like about the place, especially Mary McCloud, daughter of the local banker. Politics is in the air however. It's just prior to the civil war and there is already a sharp division in the Territory as to whether it will remain slave-free. When he gets the opportunity to run for marshal, Seton finds himself running against the respected local schoolteacher, William Cantrell. Not is what it seems however. While acting as the upstanding citizen in public, Cantrell is dangerously ambitious and is prepared to do anything to make his mark, and his fortune, on the Territory. When he loses the race for marshal, he forms a group of raiders who run guns into the territory and rob and terrorize settlers throughout the territory. Eventually donning Confederate uniforms, it is left to Seton and the good citizens of Lawrence to face Cantrell and his raiders in one final clash.

Before the Pattern John Wayne ruined the western for me. The whole idea of the western until Leone was in constant repetition, walking the same route every time so that subtleties could be emphasised. Since everything else was given, we could focus on the smallest things. Real...


Published March 7, 2023
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Danish Pastries (1973)
Filmmaker(s): Finn Karlsson

The impending approach of Venus - known to cause "disturbing erotic behavior" - sends two men with very different missions to the town of Petit-Bois. One to save the schoolgirls from lust, the other to test a new aphrodisiac. Chaos ensues.

Timothy Leery I was happy to be able to find this old gem. In the early 70s, there was brief window when porn was where many cinematic experiments were happening. Some of them actually had some promise for being important. Perhaps the oddest is the porn...


Published March 7, 2023
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Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008)
Same Planet. Different World.
Filmmaker(s): Eric Brevig

On a quest to find out what happened to his missing brother, a scientist, his nephew and their mountain guide discover a fantastic and dangerous lost world in the center of the earth.

Dibs on the Guide It is all about intent, isn’t it? If you have a film intended to reach some depth, the intent can be simply what the artists trust and if they are deep themselves AND good artists we get something valuable. I would never discount...


Published March 7, 2023
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Jezebel (1938)
Half angel, half siren, all woman.
Filmmaker(s): William Wyler

In 1850s Louisiana, the willfulness of a tempestuous Southern belle threatens to destroy all who care for her.

Suffrage, Suffering I’m fickle, I admit, about context and films. Sometimes I watch them as they come to me today, and sometimes the other way around, as they (I imagine) appeared in their original context. This one is the rare project that prompts both. I’m seeing it...


Published March 7, 2023
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King Arthur (2004)
Rule Your Fate.
Filmmaker(s): Antoine Fuqua

The story of the Arthurian legend, based on the 'Sarmatian hypothesis' which contends that the legend has a historical nucleus in the Sarmatian heavy cavalry troops stationed in Britain, and that the Roman-British military commander, Lucius Artorius Castus is the historical person behind the legend.

Blue Woman With these simple constructions, its easy to see where they decided the hook would be. I imagine the pitch was that this would be “Braveheart” meets “Gladiator” but with a fighten’ gal. I’m sure they took a model and put her in blue tattoos...


Published March 7, 2023
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Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004)
The bride is back for the final cut.
Filmmaker(s): Quentin Tarantino

The Bride unwaveringly continues on her roaring rampage of revenge against the band of assassins who had tried to kill her and her unborn child. She visits each of her former associates one-by-one, checking off the victims on her Death List Five until there's nothing left to do … but kill Bill.

Used Record Store There are movies that are well done; there are movies that satisfy; there are those that work, those that stick, those that transcend time to become classics and those that change lives. None of these measures necessarily has anything to do with each...


Published March 7, 2023
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Jupiter Ascending (2015)
Expand your universe.

In a universe where human genetic material is the most precious commodity, an impoverished young Earth woman becomes the key to strategic maneuvers and internal strife within a powerful dynasty…

<strong>A Vast Profitmaking Enterprise. The big division in films for me is whether it nourishes me or not. We build our lives from stories, lucidly if we are lucky. Films are the bath in which we rejuvenate — some films. All other film...


Published March 7, 2023
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Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)
He chopped down the family tree...
Filmmaker(s): Robert Hamer

When his mother eloped with an Italian opera singer, Louis Mazzini was cut off from her aristocratic family. After the family refuses to let her be buried in the family mausoleum, Louis avenges his mother's death by attempting to murder every family member who stands between himself and the family fortune. But when he finds himself torn between his longtime love and the widow of one of his victims, his plans go awry.

Three Gimmicks These little projects are worth watching just to see what gimmicks are pulled to breathe life into what otherwise would be fairly minor charms. In this case we have one actor (not a great one) playing all the murdered people. We have a double...


Published March 7, 2023
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Vanya on 42nd Street (1994)
Filmmaker(s): Louis Malle

An uninterrupted rehearsal of Chekhov's 1899 play "Uncle Vanya" played out by a company of actors. The setting is their run down theater with an unusable stage and crumbling ceiling. The play is shown act by act with the briefest of breaks to move props or for refreshments. The lack of costumes, real props and scenery is soon forgotten.

Four Layers There's no shortage of intelligent work in film. But here we have one of the most complexly referential things I've ever seen. Simple self-reference points to itself. Common self-reference points to the viewer defining the experience. But Mingus used to say why have three threads...


Published March 5, 2023
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Kagbeni (2008)
Filmmaker(s): Bhusan Dahal

"Kagbeni" transplants the famous horror story, "The Monkey's Paw", to the mountains of Nepal. Krishna has returned to his village (Kagbeni) from Malaysia, and is reminiscing with his old friend Ramesh. They come upon an old hermit, who presents them with a cursed monkey's paw that has the power both to grant wishes, and twist their meaning to cause tragedies.

Open Fist This is a Nepali movie, loosely based on the 1902 horror short story The Monkey's Paw. The name is a district in Nepal; the film is the director’s first. The reason for a Nepalese film to be made is the same in Nepal as...


Published March 5, 2023
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