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  • In the Heat of the Night

    In the Heat of the Night

    ★★★½

    My big takeaway, despite watching three Rod Steiger films in the past month that have raised my respect for him as an actor, is that Sidney Poitier deserves the Oscar that Steiger won for this. What a legend.

  • Creed II

    Creed II

    ★★★½

    Sylvester Stallone’s co-writing credit is the first sign that we aren’t getting a straight sequel to the stellar Creed, but more of another installment in the Rocky franchise. While we theoretically focus on Adonis and Bianca, Rocky finds his way in to the foreground again and again here. I don’t begrudge Stallone because the franchise is him as he has been writing and starring in these films for more than forty years, but Creed felt like a fresh start with…

  • House of Strangers

    House of Strangers

    ★★★★

    In an opening with biblical overtones, favored son Richard Conte returns after 7 years away in prison to confront the brothers who betrayed him and took over their father’s bank. We spend most of the film in flashback learning how the family’s fortune came crumbling down. Edward G. Robinson, sporting a ridiculous accent, is the patriarch who runs his bank without much of a paper trail, shown in a great scene not unlike the opening of The Godfather with a…

  • Dead Ringer

    Dead Ringer

    ★½

    Bette Davis in a double role as estranged twins and Karl Malden as the police sergeant boyfriend of one of the twins. On paper I should have enjoyed this, but the script drags out every detail and I couldn’t get on the right wavelength to enjoy the performance from Davis. Malden was committed though.

  • The Harder They Fall

    The Harder They Fall

    ★★★½

    Rod Steiger’s fight promoter wants to set up an inexperienced South American boxer as a heavyweight title contender and hires Humphrey Bogart’s washed up sportswriter to be the publicist to make it happen. With a little help from Steiger’s payoffs to have the other boxers throw their fights of course. Our naive contender, Toro, has no idea that the fights are rigged and his friendship with Bogart puts the publicist in a messy moral situation. 
    This was Bogart’s final film…

  • Men in Black: International

    Men in Black: International

    ★★½

    Men In Black: International finds a couple of new recruits along with some tenuous connections to the past films that stretch the memory (Emma Thompson was in a MIB movie before? Why, yes she was and I watched it during the Letterboxd era.) anchor this sci-fi comedy. It’s mostly forgettable with noticeably artificial CGI, but it has Tessa Thompson proving that she is the movie star of the moment. Not only is she a great actress that always brings something…

  • Five Star Final

    Five Star Final

    ★★★

    Edward G. Robinson is a newspaper editor pushed by his publisher in to focusing on tabloid stories that call out the moral failings of those they are writing about. It’s not far off of the tabloid editor he later played in Unholy Partners, also directed by Mervyn LeRoy, except this guy wants to do legit journalism at the beginning. Naturally, Robinson spends half of the film drinking in a speakeasy and washing his hands every time he makes a questionable…

  • Ocean's Twelve

    Ocean's Twelve

    ★★★½

    Playful and stylish with plenty of zooms & freeze frames invoking French New Wave.  A reflection on the cinema of film’s location, right? My only complaint is that Bernie Mac is sidelined for most of the film.

  • Armed and Dangerous

    Armed and Dangerous

    ★★

    Not to suggest that this has dated, but the big ticket item that the bad guys are stealing in the opening are relatively modest TVs.

  • The Rainmaker

    The Rainmaker

    ★★★

    Based on the John Grisham novel, The Rainmaker follows a young lawyer, played by Matt Damon, as he starts his law career. While a bit clunky, it’s a pleasant enough film where you recognize all the actors and where the story is headed from the opening moments. Claire Danes shows up as an abused wife looking too young for the part (she was likely under 18 when this was filmed). There is a moment when Damon walks in to the…

  • Rocky Balboa

    Rocky Balboa

    ★★★½

    Sylvester Stallone returns to the Rocky franchise after a 16 year break to write, direct and star in Rocky Balboa. We start the with a broken Rocky revisiting locations from the first film with Paulie as he mourns <spoiler> Adrian’s death. He is a man firmly stuck in the past, spending his days at cemeteries and retelling past glories at his restaurant in the evening. His son has grown distant from him for reasons he doesn’t understand.  
    A meditation…

  • Fun & Fancy Free

    Fun & Fancy Free

    ★★

    Jiminy Cricket starts off this 1947 package film of a couple animated shorts with a song that was cut from Pinocchio about how we shouldn’t let bad news get us down while dancing over a newspaper headline saying that “OCEANS WILL GOBBLE EARTH, SCIENTISTS FORECAST”. Then its off to Bongo, the circus bear that almost looses out on love because he doesn’t know that he is supposed to slap his mate. As the song about how bears say love with…