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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
| Categorised as IMDB Comments, Threes |
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Murder in Three Acts (1986)
Filmmaker(s): Gary Nelson

In Acapulco, Hercule Poirot attends a dinner party in which one of the guests clutches his throat and suddenly dies. The causes seem to be natural until another party with most of the same guests produces another corpse.

Bicycle, not spacecraft The strangest thing: when films are made of Christie structures, the first thing they worry about is the characterisation of the detective: Poirot or Marple. Clearly, the filmmakers obsess over the potential for engagement within the constraints of the original text, but they...

Published February 3, 2024
| Categorised as IMDB Comments, Ones |
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Betty Blue (1986)
Filmmaker(s): Jean-Jacques Beineix

A lackadaisical handyman and aspiring novelist tries to support his younger girlfriend as she slowly succumbs to madness.

The Piano Sometimes a film makes a long, long journey. For me this happened in several ways. The first is in real time. I saw this a couple decades ago in the short version. I was unimpressed. The word on it then was all about the first...

Published June 16, 2023
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April Fools Day (1986)
Guess who's going to be the life of the party?
Filmmaker(s): Fred Walton

As soon as Muffy St. John and her college friends arrive on her parents' secluded island, someone starts trimming the guest list... one murder at a time.

The Opening By now you probably know that the meat of this is quite ordinary. It has an “it is all a joke“ sort of Scooby-doo ending. And this casts the whole thing retrospectively as a spoof of the genre. Not particularly interesting on that basis...

Published May 1, 2023
| Categorised as IMDB Comments, Twos |
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To Sleep So As to Dream (1986)
Filmmaker(s): Kaizo Hayashi

An aging silent film actress hires a private eye and his wacky but helpful assistant to track down her missing daughter, Bellflower. The two follow a succession of bizarre, obscure clues, until they track down the location of the kidnappers and the daughter.

Mysterious Silences As my readers know, I study folding in film; when films have parallel positions for the viewer as supported by the construction of the thing. Usually, this is a fluid contract between filmmaker and viewer that requires deeper engagement. I like these in part because...

Published May 13, 2022
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