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Tuesday, Oct 7, 2014
This film may have picked up some sentimental value over the past 70 years, but it hasn't picked up much else during that time.

This film is a pleasant piece of wartime Americana that, like some of its characters, literally goes overboard. When it came out in 1946, after the war was over, it was past its sentimental sell-by date, which is why the opening announces that it takes place “a long, long time ago, way back in 1943”. It was already being nostalgic, but audiences who’d lived through the war were flocking to see The Best Years of Our Lives, which had something sensible to say. Now available on demand from Fox Cinema Archives, Wake Up and Dream comes across as a warm Technicolor slice of marmalade spread on thick.


John Payne plays Jeff, a gosh-gee farmer who’s tongue-tied around the spectacular Jenny (June Haver), a blonde and busty waitress at the local diner. He enlists in the navy and sends his somber little sister Nella (Connie Marshall, working in Margaret O’Brien mode) and her dog Tipsy (looking like Toto) to relatives, then promptly gets declared missing in action. With far-fetched reasons and an unclear sense of geography (exact locations were hush-hush in wartime anyway), Jenny and Nella go off with an old simpleton called Henry Peckett (Clem Bevans), who built a sailboat in the backyard and spends much time puffing philosophically about children and the power of belief.


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Monday, Oct 6, 2014
This tale of two love stories intertwining in an English row house is excellent in all aspects.

Enchantment was a rare achievement in 1948, and today this type of delicate, intelligent, yet utterly pie-eyed romance is as dead as Betamax. So are you if this picture doesn’t prime your heartbeat. An excellent print is now available on demand from Warner Archive with no extras except the trailer.


Two love stories, which might in a mystical sense be the same love story, are intertwined within the same English row house as the film slips backwards and forwards in time. One is the Victorian story of a callow yet likeable military officer, Sir Roland Dane (David Niven), and the orphan girl called Lark (Teresa Wright) raised as a semi-adopted sister. We know from the beginning, as we see the retired General Dane living with his sad memories during WWII, that their romance broke apart, and it had something to do with the Roland’s proper, insinuating, hostile sister Selina (Jayne Meadows), who, among other motives, is jealous of her brother.


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Saturday, Oct 4, 2014
Annabelle could have been great. Unfortunately, it barely lives up to its horror heritage.

Sometimes, it only takes a single sequence to showcase how uninteresting the rest of your movie is. In Annabelle, the pre-sequel to James Wan’s box office behemoth The Conjuring, the scene takes place in a murky apartment building basement. Our heroine, new mother Mia Gordon, has been having hallucinations, visions triggered from a traumatic event that occurred a few months before (more on this in a moment). While in the gloomy space, she hears a noise. An evil looking baby carriage slowly rolls in at the end of the hall. Investigating, she finds nothing. Returning to her work, she looks back and, just for a moment, she swears she sees something… a figure. A demon.


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Saturday, Oct 4, 2014
Even with its bestseller pedigree, Gone Girl would be a significant cinematic achievement, mostly for all the things it avoids while getting so much of the mystery thriller genre right.

It goes way beyond a simple “he said/she said”. It’s the 24-hour news cycle broken down and deconstructed. It’s a Lifetime movie with megalodon teeth, a tour de force for a director that’s known for his dark, foreboding film work. Even with its bestseller pedigree, Gone Girl would be a significant cinematic achievement, mostly for all the things it avoids while getting so much of the mystery thriller genre 100 percent right.


Sure, there are the usual twists and turns, but they don’t dominate the narrative. Yes, we are stuck with a pair of unreliable narrators, but both deceive in (dis)service of the end result. With David Fincher at the controls and a series of subtexts strewn about, what could have been a basic missing persons drama becomes something far more meaningful, something far more daring. It’s terrific, and terrifying.


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Friday, Oct 3, 2014
Left Behind is laughably bad, indescribably stupid, and fails in its most basic motion picture function: to turn people back to God.

May God have mercy on us all.


There are very few films as flimsy and false as Left Behind. The only thing Biblical about this clunky End of the World epic is that both the Word of the Lord, and the 16 book series created by evangelicals Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins are printed on paper. Other than that, you have to search long and hard to find anything remotely religious about this first chapter in the ongoing judgment of mankind.


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