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A Free Soul (1931)
She wasn't a divorcee but she believed that strangers could kiss!
Filmmaker(s): Clarence Brown

An alcoholic lawyer who successfully defended a notorious gambler on a murder charge objects when his free-spirited daughter becomes romantically involved with him.

The Big Speech Some movies are theatrical in the sense that all their values and methods are derived from stage values. This is one. Some movies are in that sweet spot after talkies got going and before the code was enforced, so they have a vitality that...


Published December 24, 2022
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20,000 Years in Sing Sing (1932)
MEN without WOMEN...MEN without HOPE! smash their lives to pieces against their STEEL CHAINS!
Filmmaker(s): Michael Curtiz

Brash hoodlum Tom Connors enters Sing Sing cocksure of himself and disrespectful toward authority, but his tough but compassionate warden changes him.

Graphic As I write this, “Shawshank Redemption” is IMDB’s number two top movie of all time. I find that absolutely fascinating. The prison movie isn’t quite a genre to itself because the story possibilities vary so. But there is a definite collection of cinematic devices that are...


Published December 24, 2022
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Hi’-Neighbor! (1934)
Filmmaker(s): Gus Meins

The gang decides to build their own fire engine.

Suburban Between the wars, and in spite of the depression, America remained in two halves. Today, those are red and blue states, but in the 30s it was rural America and the cities. During this time, the cities got bigger and the farm areas somewhat thinner...


Published December 13, 2022
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Home Alone 3 (1997)
There's a new kid on the block.
Filmmaker(s): Raja Gosnell

9-year-old Alex Pruitt is home alone with the chicken pox. Turns out, due to a mix-up among nefarious spies, Alex was given a toy car concealing a top-secret microchip. Now Alex must fend off the spies as they try to break into his house to get it back.

The Fighting Child Is there a more interesting case study than John Hughes? He invented a new genre and incidentally opened a new strain of cinematic techniques. But writing is like other major enterprises in life. Each hit on the pool ball does three things; it attempts to...


Published December 13, 2022
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Seven-Up! (1964)
Filmmaker(s): Paul Almond

A group of British children aged 7 from widely ranging backgrounds are interviewed about a range of subjects. The filmmakers plan to re-interview them at 7 year intervals to track how their lives and attitudes change as they age.

This did not start as a folded adventure. It is a quite ordinary TV documentary. But it became so in later installments by Apted, where the interviews are largely about how the films affected their lives....


Published December 8, 2022
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16 Blocks (2006)
1 witness… 118 minutes…
Filmmaker(s): Richard Donner

An aging cop is assigned the ordinary task of escorting a fast-talking witness from police custody to a courthouse, but they find themselves running the gauntlet as other forces try to prevent them from getting there.

Blockage Sometimes it is just the man. It is not a new thing that movies promote personality and that certain personalities find their time. One type is the everyman. James Stewart was of this variety. Not a great man or suave. Not a lover or hero. Bruce Willis mines...


Published December 7, 2022
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Replay (2003)
Filmmaker(s): Lee Bonner

The viewer becomes the eyes of two detectives who never appear on camera as they unravel a mystery on a video screen, watching tapes from twenty-one hidden cameras which have captured a crime in progress. Three gunmen break into the home of gem dealer Seth Collison to steal the Sophia Diamond, a thirty-three carat stone valued at ten million dollars. Five minutes later the gunmen are dead. The case is closed before police find out about the hidden cameras. At eleven o'clock that night, the task of watching the tapes falls to secondary detectives Blu and Scotty. Through their eyes we discover what really went down.

21 Comments I saw this under the title of ’21 Eyes’. I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes a movie good, or better, what makes it likeable. It seems there are all sorts of paths into likability. The emotional engagement, the world that surrounds it, the...


Published December 4, 2022
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7 Plus Seven (1970)
Filmmaker(s): Michael Apted

After a 7 year wait, director Michael Apted revisits the same group of British-born children from Seven Up! The subjects are interviewed as to the changes that have occurred in their lives during the last seven years.

We Discover The way I think of films is that every film is first about other films and incidentally about life. In referencing or extending our film experience — and at the same time providing tools for folding that experience into life — movies give us...


Published November 30, 2022
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Flirting (1991)
Here's to risks.
Filmmaker(s): John Duigan

Two freethinking teenagers - a boy and a girl - confront with authoritarian teachers in their boarding schools. The other students treat this differently.

A Caning for Love Heavens be thanked for how Australians and New Zealanders have revived the acting element of film. Everything in the country seems set up to produce performing artists, even talent writers that understand acting, where Brazil produces soccer players and the US lawyers. Here...


Published November 29, 2022
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I Cover the War! (1937)
DRAMA FOR HIS NEWSREEL CAMERA!
Filmmaker(s): Arthur Lubin

Bob Adams, ace newsreel cameraman, is told by his boss, "Get the picture---we can't screen alibis." He heads for Samari, a desert hot-bed of tribal unrest in Africa, to do just that, which includes getting footage of El Kadar, bandit and rebel leader. He gets his pictures but only after a romance with the Colonel's daughter Pamela, saving his wimpy, hacked-off brother Don from being a dupe of the gun-runners, and run-ins with spies and throat-cutting tribesman. For a finale, he saves the British Army.

Picture Snatcher Before ‘Stagecoach’ turned John Wayne into a celebrated wooden actor, he was a an ordinary uncelebrated one in a series of odd projects. Probably the most interesting of these odd deals is this movie. It doesn’t seem to be rentable. In terms of the actual...


Published November 28, 2022
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