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Blue Collar Comedy Tour: The Movie (2003)
Filmmaker(s): C. B. Harding

The comedic stylings of four sort-of famous funnymen are brought to the big screen courtesy of this 2002 documentary.

Embrace Ignorance It used to be that a standup comic would make an LP. Cosby, Prior...

Published February 1, 2024
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Three Colors: Blue (1993)
Filmmaker(s): Krzysztof Kieślowski

The wife of a famous composer survives a car accident that kills her husband and daughter. Now alone, she shakes off her old identity and explores her newfound freedom but finds that she is unbreakably bound to other humans, including her husband’s mistress, whose existence she never suspected.

Coloured Noir No people are more culturally distinct from their neighbors than the Polish. They know something of pain, and they have a stronger vision of beauty than anyone — one which extends to even pain having beauty. And not just any notion of beauty, but...

Published January 30, 2024
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Intersection (1994)
Make every move as if it were your last.
Filmmaker(s): Mark Rydell

During a car accident, Vincent Eastman watches his whole life flash before his eyes, and he doesn't like what he sees. While maintaining the semblance of a marriage with his wife, Sally, Vincent has been carrying on with a mistress, Olivia. She's everything Sally isn't -- warm, passionate, carefree. So why can't he choose between the two, especially when his indecision is taking its toll on his daughter?

West Coast Architecture I admit to a weakness for any film that attempts to be architectural in some fundamental way. Even the failures — and they are mostly failures — are usually interesting. And this one features a redhead as well, a cinematic device that is...

Published January 24, 2024
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Mademoiselle (1966)
Filmmaker(s): Tony Richardson

A sexually repressed school teacher releases her pent up passions in a series of shocking crimes.

Dark Dread of the Marienbad Snake French films, even artificially French ones like this, compress all their depth and simplicity of reading together. So that after the first few it becomes so boring you need to invent your own depth. In this case, we are helped...

Published January 24, 2024
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Nosferatu (1922)
A symphony of horror.
Filmmaker(s): F. W. Murnau

In this highly influential silent horror film, the mysterious Count Orlok (Max Schreck) summons Thomas Hutter (Gustav von Wangenheim) to his remote Transylvanian castle in the mountains. The eerie Orlok seeks to buy a house near Hutter and his wife, Ellen (Greta Schroeder). After Orlok reveals his vampire nature, Hutter struggles to escape the castle, knowing that Ellen is in grave danger. Meanwhile Orlok's servant, Knock (Alexander Granach), prepares for his master to arrive at his new home.

Bloodless, Sexless I consider “Shadow of the Vampire” one of the most intelligent films ever made. Herzog’s remake of this is even interesting if terminally flawed (as Herzog himself gets bitten). And this has some intensity to it. One can readily imagine it set in its time...

Published January 22, 2024
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Bleed (2004)
Kill to get in. Die to get out.

A naïve young girl desperate to fit in with her new boyfriend's tightly knit crew learns that membership may be deadly. Upon arriving at a party with her new boyfriend, Shawn, desperate-to-fit-in newcomer Debbie learns that the friends have formed a mysterious brotherhood nicknamed "The Murder Club." As Debbie accepts her invitation to join the mysterious club, a murderer who seems to take the group's name to heart begins killing off members one by one.

Braided Slash Another cheap slasher. Usually, what fans look for is excess or cleverness in the killings. Here, there is something else of interest: at least until the final two scenes, the story is put together with some craft. What we often get is a mystery killer...

Published January 20, 2024
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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
Something wicked this way comes.
Filmmaker(s): Alfonso Cuarón

Year three at Hogwarts means new fun and challenges as Harry learns the delicate art of approaching a Hippogriff, transforming shape-shifting Boggarts into hilarity and even turning back time. But the term also brings danger: soul-sucking Dementors hover over the school, an ally of the accursed He-Who-Cannot-Be-Named lurks within the castle walls, and fearsome wizard Sirius Black escapes Azkaban. And Harry will confront them all.

Spaniard in the Works This franchise is being managed extremely well, better than any other. The “Lord of the Rings” films were all of a single whole, while these Harry Potter movies are each cognisant of what went before, changing and maturing just as would an...

Published January 19, 2024
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Hardgore (1975)
Filmmaker(s): Michael Hugo

A nymphomaniac goes to a sanitarium in hopes of being cured; it turns out the sanitarium is a front for a Satanic cult luring young women into a web of madness, torture, and sex... But mostly just sex.

Robot Monster There’s a movie by the name of “Robot Monster,” one of IMDBs worst-rated films ever. It is juvenile, with incredibly bad production values. However, the whole thing is framed as a the “dream” of a juvenile. In this context, everything makes a kind of...

Published January 18, 2024
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Black Magic (1944)
Chan stalks a fiendish murderer!
Filmmaker(s): Phil Rosen

Chinese detective Charlie Chan solves a murder linked to the occult. This movie had an alternative title: Meeting at Midnight.

Spooked The original intent of the Chan series, I suppose, was to introduce the “oriental” mind to the mystery genre. As with the equally strange notion of Belgian logic with Poirot, we would be charmed by novel synaptic paths. By the time of this film, indeed...

Published January 17, 2024
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Bingo (1991)
More hip than humanly possible.
Filmmaker(s): Matthew Robbins

Bingo, the runaway circus dog, is off the leash and saving Chuckie's life! Bingo and the boy become the best of friends in this canine comedy featuring doggy disguises and skateboarding, pinball and prison. Chuckie and his parents are moving house, a thousand miles away, but Bingo won't be allowed to join them.

The American Spirit One of the strongest influences in how a society imagines itself is film, and of films the strongest are where the characters are most abstract. Abstraction can be through cartoons or cartoonizing, stereotyping or extreme dramatizing. But the most elegant to my mind...

Published August 28, 2023
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