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  • The Red Spectre

    The Red Spectre

    ★★½

    Graf has been trying to breathe life into dead formats for years now, and successfully so in many cases, but I'm more than ready to let it go at this point. Roughly half of this is just dire TV krimi fare spruced up with the usual stylistic flourishes, and while I really dug the "history lesson as 8mm fever dream" parts and the slow surge in narrative complexity, why saddle yourself with all those afternoon special frame plots and garden gnome characters for the remainder? The overt Pakula-isms only throw into sharp relief how provincial it all feels.

  • The Good Fairy

    The Good Fairy

    ★★★★

    A man talks to a friend about rekindling an old flame while his current girlfriend's within hearing range; after the friend leaves, the man sits down in his easy chair, the girlfriend wordlessly puts on her coat, empties the ashtray, brews a cup of coffee, brings it to the man, and leaves the apartment forever: Every film should have at least one scene, one idea this unfathomably great (otherwise why even make it). Curiously, almost none have.

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  • Tough Guys Don't Dance

    Tough Guys Don't Dance

    ★★★

    Two things:

    1. My grandfather had a huge pulp novel library (mostly spy, war & police stuff), and the one title that always stood out to me as a kid was Tough Guys Don't Dance (a perfect trochee in German: Harte Männer tanzen nicht). It sounded simultaneously ridiculous and cool, like a whole macho philosophy of life condensed into a punchline to a dumb joke. After reading The Naked and the Dead in high school and being duly impressed by it,…

  • Fear of Fear

    Fear of Fear

    ★★★½

    Irm Hermann: So, Rainer, what's my role this time?
    RWF: Take a wild guess.
    IH: Umh... the horrible cow everyone just wants to slap in the face non-stop?
    RWF: Why'd you even ask.