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American Movie (1999)
Director: Chris Smith
Documentary
Comedy

American Movie is the story of filmmaker Mark Borchardt, his mission, and his dream. Spanning over two years of intense struggle with his film, his family, financial decline, and spiritual crisis, American Movie is a portrayal of ambition, obsession, excess, and one man's quest for the American Dream.

Inarticulate Speech of the Trailer Park I am the perfect candidate audience for this. I watch a couple theatrical projects a day. I love film and am hungry for new and/or intelligent experiences. Plus, I have a passion for “folded” films, films that about themselves in...


Published March 12, 2023
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American Pie (1999)
There's nothing like your first piece.
Director: Paul Weitz
Comedy
Romance

At a high-school party, four friends find that losing their collective virginity isn't as easy as they had thought. But they still believe that they need to do so before college. To motivate themselves, they enter a pact to all "score" by their senior prom.

Slow Times at Ridgemont Sex jokes are never about sex, instead about class. It is possible to make a comedy that is sincerely about high schoolers, and because they are obsessed with sex, be about sex. ‘Ridgemont High.' This has no sincerity or charm. It is aimed at...


Published March 12, 2023
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Vanya on 42nd Street (1994)
Director: Louis Malle
Drama

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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Jupiter’s Wife (1995)
A Haunting Real Life Mystery
Director: Michel Negroponte
Documentary
Mystery

Michel Negroponte, a documentary filmmaker, meets Maggie one day in Central Park. Maggie claims to be married to the god Jupiter and the daughter of actor Robert Ryan. Michel gets to know Maggie over the next couple of years, and attempts to use her often outlandish stories as clues to reconstruct her past.

Neptune’s Movie There is a story in this documentary, one about a very appealing woman. She’s so open we immediately give our heart before we realise how sick she is. She’s a mess, usually homeless, always hallucinating, fanatically fixated on her many dogs. That story is...


Published March 5, 2023
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Mr. Holland’s Opus (1995)
Of All the Lives He Changed, the One That Changed the Most Was His Own.
Director: Stephen Herek
Drama
Music
Family

In 1965, passionate musician Glenn Holland takes a day job as a high school music teacher, convinced it's just a small obstacle on the road to his true calling: writing a historic opus. As the decades roll by with the composition unwritten but generations of students inspired through his teaching, Holland must redefine his life's purpose.

The Character Lab Ostensibly, this film is an emotional account of a place where strong characters are created. But what I find interesting is the story behind the characters in the film. Disney has the most advanced character lab in the world, a place which scientifically explores...


Published March 5, 2023
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Iron Monkey (1993)
Unmask the legend
Director: Yuen Woo-Ping
Action
Crime
Drama

Iron Monkey is a Hong Kong variation of Robin Hood. Corrupt officials of a Chinese village are robbed by a masked bandit known as "Iron Monkey", named after a benevolent deity. When all else fails, the Governor forces a traveling physician into finding the bandit.

Flight Assembly I am not a student of Hong Kong martial arts movies, just someone who dips into the accessible ones. My interest is in the cinematic experience, and that depends to a large extent on how the camera is choreographed. It doesn’t matter to me how...


Published March 5, 2023
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Last Man Standing (1996)
In a town with no justice, there is only one law... Every man for himself.
Director: Walter Hill
Crime
Action
Western
Drama

John Smith is a mysterious stranger who is drawn into a vicious war between two Prohibition-era gangs. In a dangerous game, he switches allegiances from one to another, offering his services to the highest bidder. As the death toll mounts, Smith takes the law into his own hands in a deadly race to stay alive.

Kurosawa on Kurosawa Students of film have great fun with situations like this. Here we have three films (‘Yojimbo,' 'Fistful,' and ‘Last Man') with the same script but entirely different cinematic philosophies. All do well at what they attempt. Kurosawa is one of the great innovators of...


Published February 27, 2023
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Killing Zoe (1993)
We go in. We get what we want. We come out.
Director: Roger Avary
Action
Crime
Drama
Thriller

Zed is an American vault-cracker who travels to Paris to meet up with his old friend Eric. Eric and his gang have planned to raid the only bank in the city which is open on Bastille day. After offering his services, Zed soon finds himself trapped in a situation beyond his control when heroin abuse, poor planning and a call-girl named Zoe all conspire to turn the robbery into a very bloody siege.

Soulless For a film to matter to me, it has to exist. It has to have been born and to the extent and in the way that you believe things have purpose and effect, it has to have that. I don’t care if the beingness is accidental...


Published February 27, 2023
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Oscar and Lucinda (1995)
They dared to play the game of love, faith, and chance.
Director: Gillian Armstrong
Drama
Romance

After a childhood of abuse by his evangelistic father, misfit Oscar Hopkins becomes an Anglican minister and develops a divine obsession with gambling. Lucinda Leplastrier is a rich Australian heiress shopping in London for materials for her newly acquired glass factory back home. Deciding to travel to Australia as a missionary, Oscar meets Lucinda aboard ship, and a mutual obsession blossoms. They make a wager that will alter each of their destinies.

Obsession, Compulsion This is one of my favourite movies. Regular readers of my comments will wonder why I elevate it to my "must see" category Part of the reason I want you to see it is because of how well it pairs with Cate's masterpiece, "Heaven." Now,...


Published February 19, 2023
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Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century (1999-2001)
Director: Edward Zwick
Animation
Mystery
Crime
Sci-Fi & Fantasy

Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century is an animated television series, in which Sherlock Holmes is brought back to life in the 22nd century. The series is a co–production by DiC and Scottish Television and was nominated for a Daytime Emmy for Special Class Animated Program.

Plot Mines For the sake of completeness of my Holmes project, I watched a couple episodes of this. The fancy is that Holmes is placed 200 years in his future. The future setting allows the animators to use all sorts of visual shorthand for sets...


Published February 12, 2023
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