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The Vague Sketch of an Education The Vague Sketch of an Education

Why do revolutions so rarely stay simple, why do complications always seem to arise around a perfectly pure vision? 2004's The Edukators (Die fetten Jahre sind vorbei) tries very hard to whittle things down to a cast of characters with pure lives and goals so it can tell a story about how they’re suddenly challenged…

Dancing to Save the World Dancing to Save the World

Oh, to be young and right about everything. 1987's Dirty Dancing is supposedly based heavily on screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein’s childhood, though one suspects some facts were altered in the interest of fantasy, to say nothing of distinctly 80s pop music turning up in 1963. But as a sweet indulgence it certainly works…

Children in the Ruins Children in the Ruins

Among the many difficult jobs Allied forces faced after World War II was reuniting families separated by the Nazis. 1948's The Search is about the small children found in concentration camps and the efforts to find their parents, who were often dead. Shot on location in the ruins of post war Germany, there’s an…

Hiding Brigitte Hiding Brigitte

Keeping a gangster’s beautiful daughter hidden while her father is on the lam can be trickier and involve more slapstick and songs than you might imagine. In 1956's Naughty Girl (Cette sacrée gamine) a suave nightclub singer has just such a task which makes for a delightful screwball comedy that is overshadowed…

The Armour Becomes the Prince The Armour Becomes the Prince

Seventeen years after he played the definitive merry rebel, Errol Flynn found himself in the opposite role in 1955's The Dark Avenger. A high adventure take on Edward the Black Prince, son of England’s Edward III, the film finds Flynn in charge of England’s occupation of Aquitaine. Lacking the energy and fun of…

The Stones of a Lost Home The Stones of a Lost Home

Logically, a safer and more efficient way of life is preferable to a dangerous and difficult one. Yet few viewers would be unaffected by the evacuation of the remote, forbidding island in Michael Powell’s 1937 film The Edge of the World. Based loosely on the evacuation of St. Kilda in the Scottish archipelago a few…

The Car and Motorcycle Shuffle The Car and Motorcycle Shuffle

I wish I could speed through Paris on a motorcycle at a hundred miles an hour and not worry about hitting a kid or a dog or something. Walking around at a shopping centre after seeing 2018's Mission: Impossible—Fallout, I felt irrationally frustrated by all the obstacles preventing me from moving faster. People…

The Guardians of the Comic Con The Guardians of the Comic Con

Oh, what happy Nazgul. How often can you say that? That photo’s from yesterday at the Weta booth at Comic Con. I was at Comic Con all day yesterday and didn’t hear the news about James Gunn getting fired by Disney until I got home. He’s been fired after a pro-Trump web site drudged up ten year old tweets in which Gunn…

Predator of Comic Con Predator of Comic Con

The first panel I saw in Hall H yesterday was for Shane Black’s upcoming Predator movie, which distinguishes itself with the word “the” at the beginning. I had zero interest in the movie before yesterday but after the panel I kind of want to see it. Looks like the panel as a promotional tactic paid off this time.…

Sea, Feet, and Boards Between Sea, Feet, and Boards Between

It’s summertime, folks, so it’s time once again to ponder the unfathomable mystery of teenagers on the beach. 1963's Beach Party introduced movie goers to the patron deities of the beach in the guises of Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello. At first foregrounded as though intended to be the main characters, they…

Many Windows with Many Women Many Windows with Many Women

I recently watched 1944's The Woman in the Window again and then I was surprised to see another movie by that name is currently in development starring Amy Adams and directed by Joe Wright. I assume it has some connexion to the 1944 film—the Wright film features a woman who stays in a lot and watches classic movies, I…

Elusive and Weird Repentance Elusive and Weird Repentance

The foundation of morality in 1954's Magnificent Obsession is kind of terrifying if you think about it for more than two seconds. A man whose guilt over inadvertently causing another man’s death transforms that into a sexual obsession with the widow, an intensely dull woman otherwise. Weird plot devices are marshalled…

Another Ominous Colour for Water Another Ominous Colour for Water

Is conquest necessary for civilisation? Is it an essential human need? 1948's Red River mythologises the expansion of the U.S. but it doesn’t sanitise it. In the conflict between pioneering cattle rancher, Thomas Dunson, and his adopted son, Matt Garth, is great character drama that at the same time illustrates…

Little Depth for Dark Waters Little Depth for Dark Waters

Of the many gothic melodramas from the mid-20th century that portray a woman being made to think she’s crazy by people trying to cover up a crime, 1944's Dark Waters is not one of the best. But it’s not bad and if you have a particular love for the gaslighting genre you’ll find it a decent indulgence.

Virginie, the Inquiring Voyeur Virginie, the Inquiring Voyeur

Nothing complicates a relationship quite like a murder. When Brigitte Bardot spots her husband with a gun standing over the body of a deceased Dawn Addams in 1959's Come Dance with Me (Voulez-vous danser avec moi?) she draws the natural conclusion. But she’s willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and plays…

Sidelined Steel Sidelined Steel

I’ve always thought Maureen O’Hara could have been a great action heroine. You can see it in 1952's At Sword’s Point, a swashbuckler with terrible dialogue and tone deaf direction. But it has some marvellous production design and some really great sword fights.

Lupin the Trip Lupin the Trip

A feverish gangster who dropped acid might have dreams resembling 1985's Legend of the Gold of Babylon (ルパン三世 バビロンの黄金伝説). The third feature length film in the Lupin III franchise, it differs significantly—some say notoriously—in tone from its much more famous predecessor, the Hayao Miyazaki directed Castle of…

At the Pleasure of the Distortion At the Pleasure of the Distortion

Is it possible to like a film whose whole mission is to frustrate and unbalance the viewer? The Birthday Party, the 1968 film based on Harold Pinter’s 1957 play, isn’t exactly a relaxing experience. It certainly has a nice cast. I admire the ingenuity that went into it though I think it’s no surprise we don’t see its…

The American Barony The American Barony

There are many strange and sinister tales of European settlers in America, perhaps none stranger than that of James Reavis. His scheme in the 19th century to establish a claim on Arizona based on ties to 18th century Spanish nobility formed the basis of Samuel Fuller’s very strange 1950 film The Baron of Arizona. An…

The Elusively Common Art The Elusively Common Art

How much volition is involved in the ways people become important to one another? Presumably it varies on a case by case basis, which is one of the things that makes Seijun Seisuki’s 1991 film Yumeji a bit dizzying. A post-modernist nightmare version of a biography of painter and poet Yumeji Takehisa, Suzuki portrays…

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