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Thursday, Sep 4, 2014
Room 237 is one of the only films that respects and even admires cinephilia and its various forms.

Is cinephilia useful?


Rodney Ascher‘s Room 237 (2012) is an important film because it forces the viewer to confront this question. By exploring various interpretations of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980), Room 237 situates itself within film history as a film about cinephilia.


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Wednesday, Sep 3, 2014
Watching The Grand Duel, it's easy to see why Quentin Tarantino picked it as one of his Top 15 spaghetti westerns.

Ask most Spaghetti Western watchers about The Grand Duel (1972) and they’ll say the following: It’s the last good Lee Van Cleef film, and Quentin Tarantino stole its featured track for Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003). But ask me about it and I’ll say it’s one of Van Cleef’s very best films, and Tarantino rescued its track from an eternity of neglect by delivering it to the masses.


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Tuesday, Sep 2, 2014
Time to put a fork in the 2014 Summer Movie Season. Here are the 10 Best and 10 Worst films that filled our hot, sticky days with cinematic joy, sorrow and boredom.

As the final days of August recede in the rearview mirror, as Hollywood prepares for its second massive movie dump of 2014 (January through April being the first of such cinematic exiles), it’s time to reflect on the best and worst of what turned out to be a surprisingly uneventful Summer season. Indeed, with only one movie making significant inroads worldwide (yep,  Michael Bay’s tepid Transformers: Age of Extinction managed to break the billion dollar bank around the planet) and no domestic release reaching $300 million, Tinseltown is hanging its head in shame.


Sure, there were significantly less flops this time around than last year (Sin City: A Dame to Kill For and Hercules being the ‘lone’ exceptions), but there were also more mediocrities. Indeed, bad movies have been replaced by “meh” movies in 2014, films you can neither love nor loathe.


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Thursday, Aug 28, 2014
Perhaps a tad too overcomplicated, this still satisfies as a slightly less than b-picture level actioner.

There was a time, not so long ago, when Pierce Brosnan was an international superstar. Riding high on his preordained crowning as the James Bond (replacing Roger Moore several years after first being offered—and denied—the gig) and living with a string of successful 007 efforts, it looked as if the years of laboring in relative obscurity (outside the Remington Steele TV show, which got him the license to kill consideration in the first place) had finally paid off.


Then, four films in, Brosnan was out, Daniel Craig was hired, and suddenly, Bond was bigger than ever. Indeed, it must smart for the 60-something to see Skyfall become a billion dollar baby, complete with critical acclaim and creative Oscars.


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Thursday, Aug 28, 2014
Perhaps Fear in the Night will never look or sound better, always like a nagging, half-forgotten celluloid memory.

The world of film noir is full of passive patsies and benighted saps, and one of the most passive and benighted is Vincent Grayson, played by skinny young DeForest Kelley in his debut film. The low-budget wonder Fear in the Night is one of the most oneiric and dreamlike of noirs.


The first reel is surreal in several ways. It opens with wavering montages of superimposed images to indicate the hero’s dream state. These images showcase a room with multiple mirrors and doors. This must naturally remind noir fans of Orson WellesThe Lady from Shanghai, which came out the following year. Of course, the Welles version is even more flashy and disorienting, although it wasn’t a dream sequence. But then, maybe this one isn’t either. One of this uncanny movie’s mysteries is whether or how much of what we see is a dream. Crime films discovered the power of surreal dreams following Stranger on the Third Floor (1940) and this trend was hitting stride in “psychiatric” items like Spellbound (1945) and Shock (1946). Fear in the Night is a high point.


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