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A Caribbean Mystery (1983)
Filmmaker(s): Robert Michael Lewis

Aging Major Palgrave, an idiosyncratic but charming mystery writer, reveals to Miss Jane Marple that one of the guests at a luxurious Caribbean resort they're staying at is a Bluebeard-type wife murderer. Unfortunately, the Major succumbs to an apparently accidental overdose of alcohol and blood pressure medication before revealing the killer's identity. When it's discovered that the medicine belonged to another guest and the revealing photograph the Major was carrying is missing, Miss Marple realizes that the serial killer has struck again and more murders will follow.

Glass Eye To my mind, Christie’s novels are inherently cinematic. Most of them have key events: a murder or clue, that are spatially constrained, which is an attractive hook for a filmmaker. Here there are three such setups. A man tells a story about a known murderer,...

Published April 22, 2024
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Ten Little Indians (1987)
Filmmaker(s): Stanislav Govorukhin

A disturbing psychological thriller based on the classic novel by Agatha Christie. Ten strangers are forced to come face to face with their dark pasts after receiving an anonymous invitation to an isolated island off the coast of England.

Invasive You are not likely to find this easily. It is ‘Desyat negrityat’ in its original Russian (Десять негритят), being a comparatively faithful adaptation of an Agatha Christie mystery. Some context why this is interesting. The book is allegedly the largest selling fiction book in the...

Published March 3, 2024
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Time of the Gypsies (1988)

In this luminous tale set in the former Yugoslavia, Perhan, an engaging young Romany with telekinetic powers, is seduced by the quick-cash world of petty crime that threatens to destroy him and those he loves. Long version screened by the Sarajevo television in 5 one-hour episodes.

Telekinetic Turkeys Often, you see a film, write a comment and impressions get frozen. I revisit my comments from time to time and am often sad to see them. I remember films as a dynamic experience. The best ones are not a simple thing but an...

Published February 23, 2024
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To Live and Die in L.A. (1985)
A federal agent is dead. A killer is loose. And the City of Angels is about to explode.
Filmmaker(s): William Friedkin

A fearless Secret Service agent will stop at nothing to bring down the counterfeiter who killed his partner.

Two Women Making a story that connects is a balancing act that rarely succeeds. You have to use the machinery of storytelling to engage, taking advantage of the power of the devices you select. But at the same time, you have to conceal that machinery. This...

Published February 22, 2024
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Edge of Darkness (1985)

Yorkshire detective Ronald Craven is haunted by the murder of his daughter and begins his own investigation into her death.

Dickens I‘m on record here as someone who believes that TeeVee fiction is a net negative in our lives. The ugliness of the marketplace in general, the specific requirement to sell, sell, sell. The fickle commitment the home appliance brings are probably all more restricting than...

Published February 21, 2024
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Runaway Train (1985)
Desperate, And Determined To Survive.
Filmmaker(s): Andrei Konchalovsky

A hardened convict and a younger prisoner escape from a brutal prison in the middle of winter only to find themselves on an out-of-control train with a female railway worker while being pursued by the vengeful head of security.

Movement Having seen ‘Unstoppable,‘ I had to see this. It is hard to know what influence Kurosawa had on this, but one can guess. He had been through his rejection in Japan, suicide attempt and film made and financed by the Soviets. He subsequently arranged scant funding...

Published February 19, 2024
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The Woman in Red (1984)
He's head over heels and headed straight for trouble!
Filmmaker(s): Gene Wilder

When a happily married family man, who would never consider an affair, meets a beautiful woman in red, he is totally infatuated and desperate to make her acquaintance. However, as he tries out various schemes to sneak out to meet her, he realizes that adultery is not quite as easy as it looks.

Different Favorite Color Some movies are good, most not. Of the ones that are not, they still can be fun. This project made money when it was new, but is now not only unengaging but repulsive. Why is actually engaging, because it just cannot be explained...

Published February 16, 2024
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Do You Remember Dolly Bell? (1981)
Filmmaker(s): Emir Kusturica

A young man grows up in Sarajevo in the 1960s, under the shadow of his good, but ailing father, and gets attracted by the world of small-time criminals.

The Lost First Time Kusturica is something of a challenge for me to parse. The experience is a bit troubling because it seems so genuine that we should be ashamed for intruding. He does not seem to accomplish this by ordinary means. Yes, the acting is...

Published February 10, 2024
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Shadows in Paradise (1986)
Filmmaker(s): Aki Kaurismäki

Nikander, a rubbish collector and would-be entrepreneur, finds his plans for success dashed when his business associate dies. One evening, he meets Ilona, a down-on-her-luck cashier, in a local supermarket. Falteringly, a bond begins to develop between them.

Foreground, Hinted Background I am attracted to ambitious films, ones that challenge and that have a lot of powerful layered machinery. It is how I build my life. They are work. Art is work if you intend to collect and use it as fuel. So when you...

Published February 9, 2024
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The House of the Yellow Carpet (1983)
Filmmaker(s): Carlo Lizzani

Franca and her husband Antonio decide to sell a yellow rug which was a gift of Franca's stepfather. One day, while Antonio is out, a strange man rings saying he wishes to buy the rug. But the man's visit begins a twisted a nightmare.

Encounters with Others in One Body For the first 4/5s, this is a cheaply done version of a few similar films, where a husband concocts a drama to fool his wife. In this case, it is validate a perceived infatuation with another (albeit deceased) man. But as...

Published February 5, 2024
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