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  • Detour

    Detour

    ★★★½

    The standard film noir tropes of bad luck / cruel fate taken to absurdist levels, it's surprising the hapless main character didn't get a splinter or two for good measure. Instead he gets a paper cut in human form, Ann Savage's (that name!) Vera, one of the angriest people ever caught on celluloid. She even takes her shoes off in a way that lets you know she's pissed off. Plus she never blinks. Their scenes together are a distillation and…

  • Mad Dog and Glory

    Mad Dog and Glory

    ★★★

    It seems to predict so much of what came later - Bill Murray's aloof "serious' acting style, a mobster who wants to use his life of crime as a pathway to the entertainment industry, not to mention a mobster who is in analysis a la Sopranos, a script by Richard Price. The tone is too serious, too naturalistic for some of the sillier moments but De Niro and Murray have good chemistry. You want them to be friends more than you care about Uma Thurman's welfare. As usual, Thurman is good without necessarily being believable.

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  • Shampoo

    Shampoo

    ★★★★

    Over the course of two days, everything changes for a shallow hairdresser in Beverly Hills, both on a large scale (Nixon has just won the election) and small (three of his lovers leave him).

    Shampoo's structured like a farce, ultimately bringing George and his lovers, both known and secret, not only to the same party but to the same table. It's a Rules of the Game for the sexual revolution, shot in a naturalistic style. But the mood is more…

  • Hell or High Water

    Hell or High Water

    ★★★★

    Two brothers, one as shrewd and controlled as the other is impulsive, try to rob the branches of a local bank without resorting to violence in a scheme to prevent foreclosure on the family ranch. They attract the attention of a Texas Ranger who seems almost intuitively able to figure out their next move.

    Hell or High Water's crime story / character study moves through a Texas (read: America) that's less mythic than rundown, out of opportunities and luck. The…