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Wednesday, Mar 25, 2015
With film fans around the world still reeling from the auteur's recent announcement, here are ten reasons to mourn the retirement of one of England's most interesting directors.

During a Master Class at the Bari International Film Festival this past week, Sir Alan Parker, one of the most interesting directors of the ‘80s and ‘90s, dropped a bombshell on fans worldwide. “I won’t direct another film,” the 71-year-old Oscar nominee stated, adding, “Directors do not improve with age: they repeat themselves, and while there are exceptions, their work generally does not get any better. This is the reason why I have decided not to make any more films.”


And with that, one of the most intriguing creative canons of the late 20th century comes to an end. Parker came out of commercials, counting fellow ad men Ridley Scott, his brother Tony, and Adrian Lynne as up and coming visionaries who brought the Madison Avenue mindset to the big screen. Instead of attending university, he went right to work, climbing from the mailroom to marketing, finally finding a place behind the lens.


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Wednesday, Mar 25, 2015
Just as some sports fans enjoy the mental face-off that is every at-bat in baseball more than the constant scoring and dunking on a basketball court, many will find the slow pace of this spaghetti western inviting.

For a spaghetti western, Twice a Judas (1969) develops slowly; its plot is as meandering as a monk walking in the moonlight. The film begins by showing what looks like two bodies laying dead atop a desolate desert mountain, but when a frenzied flock of vultures begin pecking away at them, one of the the bodies jumps up and unloads several rounds from a shotgun into the flying scavengers. This shotgun-wielding body is Luke Barrett (Antonio Sabato). Although he is alive, he has an extreme case of amnesia. “It’s inside my head,” he says at one point. “This blackness. I can’t remember anything. I don’t even know who I am.”


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Tuesday, Mar 24, 2015
Roger Vadim's 1963 film is an almost abstract, self-parodic vision of decadence.

Vice and Virtue is a perfect example of how Roger Vadim applied the concept of “seduction” to aesthetics as well as story, providing an operatic exercise in the transgressive and kinky with a veneer of literary cachet. He’d already done this with his modernised Les Liaisons Dangereuses (1960), which is possibly the best of several films from that novel (Milos Forman’s Valmont is also excellent). In the resoundingly artificial and allegorical Vice and Virtue, the high concept is to update the Marquis de Sade’s Justine to Nazi-occupied France at the end of WWII.


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Tuesday, Mar 24, 2015
The famously gap-toothed comedian Terry-Thomas features in two new so-so Warner Archive restorations.

Two British comedies with gap-toothed comedian Terry-Thomas are now available on demand from Warner Archive. There’s not much to say about Kill or Cure, a whimsical whodunit with large doses of slapstick, except that it’s amusing. Our hero plays a detective who goes undercover at a health spa and subjects himself to various indignities before bumbling to the solution of his client’s murder. It’s not a masterpiece of hilarity, but it gets the job done, with help from Eric Sykes, Dennis Price, Moira Redmond, Lionel Jeffries and Ronnie Barker.


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Monday, Mar 23, 2015
by Steve Leftridge and Steve Pick
Double Take would like to pitch The Player in 25 words or less, but it took us a little longer to break this one down. So hear us out -- and don't give us water in a red wine glass.

The Hollywood satire in The Player was most sharply observed by those who worked for and with the big studio system, so in some ways it seems like a movie, with all its insider talk and meta-narratives, that was made not just about the industry but for the industry.


Steve Leftridge: I’ll lead off by suggesting that The Player might not be the ideal Robert Altman film by which to discuss the director, but that’s the nature of the Big Randomizer that picks these titles for us. I saw this film when it was first released in 1992, but not until it had already been established as marking Robert Altman’s big career resurgence and was lined up for awards on both sides of the Atlantic. I can’t quite remember how I made sense of The Player at the time as a film on its own terms or how I considered it within the context and style of the classic films that Altman had already made. But re-watching the film this week, with the benefit of knowing where Altman went from here, I can place it in a more complete context. Plus, I had forgotten so much of it, I was evaluating it anew as a free-standing piece of work. I have a lot of questions for you, Steve, but let me start by asking you those I just introduced: Revisiting The Player for this project, how do you feel it works as a film, regardless of who directed it, and how does knowing that it’s an Altman film inform your understanding or appreciation of it?


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