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Friday, Apr 18, 2014
Look at her looking.

L’Immortelle begins as it means to continue: a series of fragmentary, disorienting scenes of a man gazing helplessly upon a fetishized, smiling, mysterious woman in a variety of locations around Istanbul. The opening montage of shots create an imaginary time and space through editing of glances and gestures across obviously disparate moments. The result is dreamlike and obsessive in very sharp, arid black and white. If these first moments don’t warn you away, you are helplessly under the movie’s spell. The rest of the film expands these scenes without explaining them: a man has a series of frustrating encounters, and evidently a sexual affair, with an elusive woman who might possibly be a spirit. At the very least, she’s a Symbol.


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Friday, Apr 18, 2014
Get a horse.

Sparke (Lon McCallister) is a troubled teen orphan who’s not big on school and had brushes with the law. After the death of an aunt who’d been raising him (his mother having died in childbirth), he’s packed off to the languishing horse ranch of another aunt (Charlotte Greenwood, who vanishes halfway through the picture) and her dour husband, “Thunder” Bolt (Walter Brennan), nursing his wounded memories of past glory as a breeder and racer. They have one blind mare called Lady. Sparke loves horses and decides to stay.


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Friday, Apr 18, 2014

Back in the late ‘40s, as America was emerging from World War II, the Walt Disney company decided to do something daring. In deference to their fans who loved the fluffy fun animated efforts, the House of Mouse experimented, sending filmmakers out into the wild to capture nature as it was (or at the very least, how it was before it was cinematically shifted and manipulated). The films, beginning with Seal Island, were a massive success, and soon Buena Vista International’s True-Life Adventures brand became synonymous with high quality documentaries. The studio would even go on to win several Oscars for such subjects as The Living Desert, The Vanishing Prairie, and The White Wilderness and create dozens of educational shorts to use in classroom and other instructional settings (like NBC’s Sunday Night tradition, The Wonderful World of Disney).


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Thursday, Apr 17, 2014
Whatever the case, the stinger trend, once seemingly novel, has now run its course.

So there I was, on Monday night, sitting in the audience for Warner Bros. screening of the highly anticipated film Transcendence. The Johnny Depp sci-fi effort, the first feature to be directed by Christopher Nolan’s longtime cinematographer, Wally Pfister, has been getting a lot of buzz, and while I’ll save the critique for others on the site, I will have to say that another aspect of the movie experience bothered me to no end. After the final scene, after the final conflict was resolved and the open-ended conclusion clunked by, there was a smattering of applause followed by…nothing. No real movement, except for a few old codgers who had clearly seen enough. No, the vast majority of the audience simply remained in their seats, clearly anticipating the questions left by the film would be wrapped up in one of those by now annoying pre/post/during credits “stingers.”


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Wednesday, Apr 16, 2014
Serious science fiction often takes a backseat to the more pulpy, crowdpleasing genre entries. Here are 10 titles far better than any "dogfight in space" adventure.

At it’s very best, science fiction makes us think. It asks us to ponder the tough questions and consider the complicated consequences of messing with science, space, technology, and our own fragile grasp of same. It often contemplates ideas bigger than us, using a shape of things to come creativity that’s part warning, part welcome. Of course, Star Wars came and wrecked havoc on the genre, using its space operatics to turn quality science fiction into action adventure in the galaxy, but even within its movie serial designs are ideas that expand our concept of who we are, and who we might be. It’s an approach that’s often yielded uneven results, especially when the desire for eye candy and brain busting special effects take precedent over the one thing great speculative fiction cannot live without, ideas.


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