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  • Do the Right Thing

    Do the Right Thing

    ★★★★★

    I’ve now seen Spike Lee’s 1989 masterpiece Do the Right Thing three times; to say that it retains its impact across multiple viewings is an understatement of almost obscene proportions. In fact, it improves. Watching it on the big screen helps immensely in that respect: nuances you might easily miss on the small screen (and which I certainly don’t remember catching the first and second times round) are magnified, and you get a more immersive picture of Lee’s artistry -…

  • My Fair Lady

    My Fair Lady

    ★★★★★

    Hollywood, notorious for turning deaf ears to social change for as long as possible, did just that in the 1960s, churning out megabudget prestige pictures until Bonnie and Clyde snapped it out of its cultural stupor. I find it ironic that, of all the elephantine musical superproductions that came out of this era, only three - West Side Story, My Fair Lady and The Sound of Music - have retained widespread popularity. Truth be told, My Fair Lady isn't as…

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  • The Bad and the Beautiful

    The Bad and the Beautiful

    ★★★★

    In the early 1950s, three films that have gone down as classic Hollywood-on-Hollywood tales were released in alternating years. Each film was directed by one of the greatest Golden Age auteurs, and each provides its own unique perspective on Tinseltown. In between Sunset Blvd and A Star Is Born there was The Bad and the Beautiful, a sweeping saga that looks at the role of the producer in the grand scheme of the industry.

    The film begins with studio head…

  • Killer of Sheep

    Killer of Sheep

    ★★★★½

    The term "slice of life" is applied a great deal, with seemingly little attention to what it actually means. For instance, Ken Loach's films get called slices of life while they're actually polemics; John Cassavetes's films get called slices of life while they're actually character studies. I'd even hesitate to describe Yasujiro Ozu's films as slices of life; they've always seemed too formally rigorous to earn that term.

    Outside Italian neorealism, Charles Burnett's Killer of Sheep is the only film…

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  • Singin' in the Rain

    Singin' in the Rain

    ★★★★★

    I've been feeling pretty crappy lately, and I've decided that, from now on, I'll watch a favourite of mine whenever I'm like this to remind me that all is not lost. I'm going to have a hard time topping tonight's selection, Singin' in the Rain - a film I more or less grew up with, which is something I'll be eternally grateful for. I can't imagine my life without this film, one of the happiest there is. Nor do I…

  • The African Queen

    The African Queen

    ★★★½

    It baffles me that I once considered The African Queen one of my favourite films. Well, the law of diminishing return strikes again. It's not that it's a bad film - far from it - but it's hardly as great as its reputation would suggest.

    Based on the novel by C. S. Forester, John Huston's film takes place at the start of the First World War. Samuel (Robert Morley) and Rose Sayer (Katharine Hepburn) are English sibling missionaries in German…