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Bottles (1936)
Filmmaker(s): Hugh Harman

A dark and stormy night in a drugstore. The druggist mixes a potion and falls asleep. The skull-and-crossbones on the bottle comes to life and drips the potion on the druggist.

A Mind Ajar It seems that one major theology of animation concerns the animating (meaning coming to life) of normally inanimate objects. It is one strain worth tracing, because with today’s film technologies, animals can easily be seen to talk and even wear clothes and such....


Published April 2, 2024
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Intacto (2001)
Some are born with luck. Others gamble for it.

An enigmatic tale of four people whose lives are intertwined by destiny are subject to the laws of fate. They discover that luck is something they cannot afford to be without as they gamble with the highest stakes possible in a deadly game from which only one of them will emerge intact.

Shoot the Picture There are a few good filmmakers alive now, ones I credit. Mostly they are distributed in accidental pools of the industry, a couple in Hong Kong, a master in Amsterdam, a few passing through Hollywood it seems. Singles here and there. But there...


Published January 30, 2024
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Bloodrayne (2005)
Revenge never tasted so sweet.
Filmmaker(s): Uwe Boll

In 18th-century Romania, after spending much of her life in a traveling circus, human-vampire hybrid Rayne escapes and plots to take down her father, Kagan, the evil vampire king. When she's discovered by three vampire hunters, she manages to convince them to spare her life and join her cause. But slaying a vampire as powerful as Kagan will be no easy task.

The Vamp Within Yes, I know this stinks like a Belgian elevator. Bad movies are sometimes worth it. I came to this for three reasons. One was that I am on a circus kick and I heard this story begins at a circus. Its often the case...


Published January 22, 2024
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Superman Returns (2006)
You’ll Believe A Man Can Fly Again!
Filmmaker(s): Bryan Singer

Superman returns to discover his 5-year absence has allowed Lex Luthor to walk free, and that those he was closest to felt abandoned and have moved on. Luthor plots his ultimate revenge that could see millions killed and change the face of the planet forever, as well as ridding himself of the Man of Steel.

Weakened Gosh. Whether one likes this movie will be a matter of religion, I suppose. And within that choice will be the question of how cheaply your religious notions can be bought. For me, a summer movie needs to first provide sweep, spectacle, thrill. It needs...


Published January 21, 2024
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Blood Tea and String (2006)
Filmmaker(s): Christiane Cegavske

The aristocratic White Mice and the rustic Creatures Who Dwell Under the Oak battle over the doll of their heart's desire.

Alice’s Rosencrantz I saw this on Christmas Day and was rather thankful. 2006 has been a bad year for movies and at the end of each year I start to put together my additions to my short list of films everyone should watch before they die...


Published January 21, 2024
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Blondie Johnson (1933)
LOVE made her beautiful... WANT made her daring... MEN made her ruthless!
Filmmaker(s): Ray Enright

A Depression-downtrodden waif uses her brains instead of her body to rise from tyro con artist to crime boss.

Suckers While most of the movies in this period tried to find some new way of telling the detective story, many worked on the gangster side as well. Today, we don’t quite appreciate the cleverness in the variety. I think in part because the things that...


Published January 20, 2024
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Blond Venus (1932)
What could she do but flee from love? She loved two men at once!
Filmmaker(s): Josef von Sternberg

In an effort to get enough money to afford expensive treatment for her gravely ill American husband, a retired German entertainer returns to the cabaret, gaining fame as Blonde Venus and unknowingly catching the eye of a wealthy politician.

Furry There are better von Sternberg Dietrich projects. The only charm of this one is the America situation. I never got the charm of Dietrich, and if you didn’t, you’ll find this empty. It has three stage performances by our blond Venus. The first of these is...


Published January 20, 2024
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Bleak House (2005)

The generous John Jarndyce, struggling with his own past, and his two young wards Richard and Ada, are all caught up, like Lady Dedlock, in the infamous case of Jarndyce vs. Jarndyce, which will make one of them rich beyond imagination if it can ever be brought to a conclusion. As Tulkinghorn digs deeper into Lady Dedlock's past, he unearths a secret that will change their lives forever, and which is almost as astounding as the final outcome of the Jarndyce case.

Television as the Grinder Dickens is a marvel. You have to understand what he did to understand why this adaptation doesn't work. His writing was quite different than anything before. Others built worlds within which things happened. Characters were part of that machine. With Dickens, he...


Published January 20, 2024
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The Black Pirate (1926)
The Love Story of a Bold Buccaneer
Filmmaker(s): Albert Parker

A nobleman vows to avenge the death of his father by the hands of pirates. To this end, he infiltrates the pirate band; Acting in character, he single-handedly captures a merchant vessel, but things are complicated when he finds that there is a beautiful young woman of royal blood aboard.

Archetypical? Many folks believe in the archetype, the notion that deep in the structure of the universe — deeper than we can reach — are certain pure models. There are few of them; they are crisp if not fully definable. And we spend our lives moving...


Published January 18, 2024
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Black Cadillac (2003)
Revenge in the driver's seat
Filmmaker(s): John Murlowski

Three young men become terrorized in a high-speed car chase with a mysterious pursuant.

Fins beyond the Law There are some things that naturally are cinematic. Among these are car chases, smoke and snow. Similarly on the story side, people cast together in a small space with an outside threat and unrevealed past relationships. It terms of flow, the most reliable...


Published January 17, 2024
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