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Harriet the Spy (1996)
On your case!
Filmmaker(s): Bronwen Hughes

When the secret notebook of a young girl who fancies herself a spy is found by her friends, her speculations make her very unpopular! Can she win her friends back?

Is About Itself This little film has been roundly criticised for being disjointed and amateurish. Well, it is disjointed: part of it is surreal allegory, part realistic morality play. Part of it moves with a natural rhythm while other parts seem to have been transplanted from...


Published January 19, 2024
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Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004)
Fast food. High times.
Filmmaker(s): Danny Leiner

Nerdy accountant Harold and his irrepressible friend, Kumar, get stoned watching television and find themselves utterly bewitched by a commercial for White Castle. Convinced there must be one nearby, the two set out on a late-night odyssey that takes them deep into New Jersey. Somehow, the boys manage to run afoul of rednecks, cops and even a car-stealing Neil Patrick Harris before getting anywhere near their beloved sliders.

Fast Times at Ellis Island Once a genre takes hold it “comes alive” and does what it needs to do to adapt and selfishly survive. It happens in horror, especially in zombie and vampire films. And it is happening in the high school film. High school movies...


Published January 18, 2024
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Birth (2004)
Careful what you wish for.
Filmmaker(s): Jonathan Glazer

It took Anna 10 years to recover from the death of her husband, Sean, but now she's on the verge of marrying her boyfriend, Joseph, and finally moving on. However, on the night of her engagement party, a young boy named Sean turns up, saying he is her dead husband reincarnated. At first she ignores the child, but his knowledge of her former husband's life is uncanny, leading her to believe that he might be telling the truth.

Operatic There’s a scene in this that will be a feature of film school classes for a long time to come. Nicole is an uneven actress, only sometimes rising to the world class of Kate and Cate and the young Julianne. The smallest part of this...


Published September 11, 2023
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Billy’s Balloon (1998)
Filmmaker(s): Don Hertzfeldt

A balloon wraps itself around a young child's hand, bringing him higher and higher, much to the child's delight, but a sinister truth begins to unravel.

Inflated This is a replacement comment. The original bothered a diligent reader, so I have made some expansion. Animation is like any film type: artists ally to certain philosophies, perhaps without realising it. In the case of animation, it bumps up against that great American invention, noir....


Published August 27, 2023
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The Big Clock (1948)
The Strangest and Most Savage Manhunt in History!
Filmmaker(s): John Farrow

Stroud, a crime magazine's crusading editor has to post-pone a vacation with his wife, again, when a glamorous blonde is murdered and he is assigned by his publishing boss Janoth to find the killer. As the investigation proceeds to its conclusion, Stroud must try to disrupt his ordinarily brilliant investigative team as they increasingly build evidence (albeit wrong) that he is the killer.

Gears This has a crackerjack beginning: you zoom into a city through a window (common today but rare then) tracking a man going into the inner workings of a giant clock, then we zoom from the inside of the clock top the outside, then focusing on...


Published July 27, 2023
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Bewitched (2005)
Be warned. Be ready.
Filmmaker(s): Nora Ephron

Thinking he can overshadow an unknown actress in the part, an egocentric actor unknowingly gets a witch cast in an upcoming television remake of the classic show "Bewitched".

Tricky Folded narrative is all the rage among Hollywood writers now. And the Ephrons are hip, so they go along and here we have a simply folded story. Simple folding, the kind anyone can do, is based on the simple device of a show within the show,...


Published July 27, 2023
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Betty Boop’s Hallowe’en Party (1933)
Filmmaker(s): Dave Fleischer

Betty Boop hosts a Hallowe'en party with a few uninvited guests.

Underaware I really like some of these Betty Boop cartoons. Many of the early ones deal with the overlap of evil, sex and hallucinogens, often mixed with jazz and Black men. This is one of the tamer ones in terms of the evil tone: she’s in...


Published July 27, 2023
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Behind the Green Door (1972)
The Mitchell Brothers Present the all American Girl

Gloria is kidnapped and taken to a theater where she is told that she will have "the most exquisite moment of her life." She shares many sexual and intimate experiences on a stage in front of a small masked audience that grows increasingly aroused as the performance progresses.

Taxi Driver’s Eyes Wide No history of film can evade porn. Some of it contains some clever ideas and every once in a while it actually influenced something. That’s the case with this. Schrader has explicitly said that this influenced his “Taxi Driver” in the notion of...


Published July 14, 2023
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Being Julia (2004)
Passion. Obsession. Revenge. Prepare for the performance of a lifetime.
Filmmaker(s): István Szabó

Julia Lambert is a true diva: beautiful, talented, weathly and famous. She has it all - including a devoted husband who has mastermined her brilliant career - but after years of shining in the spotlight she begins to suffer from a severe case of boredom and longs for something new and exciting to put the twinkle back in her eye. Julia finds exactly what she's looking for in a handsome young American fan, but it isn't long before the novelty fling adds a few more sparks than she was hoping for. Fortuately for her, this surprise twist in the plot will thrust her back into the greatest role of her life.

Unaware This is a well made movie. Such things are rare, and when they come around, we celebrate them. Many extend this celebration to Bening, who is similarly competent. But something is ajar. The project is based on a familiar device: we see a film (really a...


Published July 6, 2023
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National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
Yule crack up!
Filmmaker(s): Jeremiah S. Chechik

It's Christmastime, and the Griswolds are preparing for a family seasonal celebration. But things never run smoothly for Clark, his wife Ellen, and their two kids. Clark's continual bad luck is worsened by his obnoxious family guests, but he manages to keep going, knowing that his Christmas bonus is due soon.

Shoot Me When I’m Dead John Hughes. What a sad case: is it drugs? He started his career with huge promise: he made films that showed he knew how to dramatise the teenage world without using teenage bluntness. These were sensitive little things that impressed not by...


Published June 29, 2023
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