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  • Letter from an Unknown Woman

    Letter from an Unknown Woman

    ★★★★

    In my impression, this beautiful doomed romance is the movie other people see when they look at Brief Encounter that I always felt embarrassed for not locating in that film's staid dignity. Without fully giving in to any more than a suggestion of the raw sexuality that drives it, it puts the viewer's heart completely in sync with that of Joan Fontaine's Lisa, who's longed since adolescence for the promiscuous musician next door, a star-crossed passion that alters the course…

  • The Lady from Shanghai

    The Lady from Shanghai

    ★★★★½

    Slight upgrade; new fleshing out of my old (2006) review here, but the funny thing is that I'm kind of artificially tempering my enthusiasm in that piece; actually I was almost totally enchanted by my second viewing of the film, after being left both dazzled and befuddled when I first saw it. I do think that my original criticisms still make perfect sense, but that there's so much packed into this movie that I can hardly even be bothered to…

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  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

    ★★★★

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    Random thoughts for the day I watched this for the first time in many years and afterward realized it's been almost exactly a decade since I saw it in the theater, which is a weird feeling:

    When this was released and my then-girlfriend and I saw it and were enchanted by it, I had never been through a breakup. Funny how getting older changes how you see a film like this so much. The scenes establishing Joel and Clementine's relationship…

  • The Black Pirate

    The Black Pirate

    ★★★

    It's hard for us as modern audience members to have a full grasp on what made a star a Star in silent-era Hollywood... then you see a performance like Douglas Fairbanks' in this, and it all becomes clear. His sheer charisma is completely ageless, his agility and comic sensibility -- mugging as he does for the invisible crowd watching -- couldn't be more engaging. The film's hackneyed action-adventure story (of a vengeful hero saving a princess from ruthless pirates who've…