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  • Romance

    Romance

    ★★★★

    Until you see sexuality from a female perspective, you never realize how little the woman is the focus of the relationship in movies. In most romances, the woman is just the prize for the man to win. Love can be captured if the man is worthy. Romance is simply a sporting event. Here's a movie where the woman seeks the prize, and although getting a man to sleep with her isn't a problem, finding a winning balance of sex and…

  • Rich and Strange

    Rich and Strange

    ★★★

    Strange is the key word. A bizzarre story of a married couple boarding a ship for adventure, getting romantically entangled with other people, and then... well... it's just strange. Half silent/half sound with some creative visuals, quirky humor, and pre-code spicyness. Script by Hitchcock, major Hitchcock collaborator Alma Reville, and Val Valentine (what a name!) who made a long career out of British romantic comedies.

  • The Red Violin

    The Red Violin

    ★★★★

    Perhaps the best movie ABOUT classical music ever made. It very cleverly tells several short stories each in the style of the musical period all related to a certain violin. The music throughout is great, and the performances are short and sweet - mainly Sam Jackson and Jason Flemyng. Written by Canadians Don McKellar and Francois Girard (32 Short Films About Glenn Gould), who have spent most of their life making music documentaries for TV. Strictly for the cultured NPR set.

  • Ravenous

    Ravenous

    ★★★

    After watching Descent, here's a horror film done right. There's more color and character in 10 minutes of this movie than in all of Descent, and probably Descent 2 and 3. The period details are rich, there's humor, drama, and horror rolled into one fun movie. There's even a cave, although Descent does caving better. Unfortunately, Ravenous is a more ambitious production than its story allows, leaving little more than a riff on vampires without much to say about it. Cast is fantastic. Guy Pierce is the man to watch. Script by Ted Griffin (Matchstick Men, Oceans 11, The Prophecy, Rumor Has It)

  • Quills

    Quills

    ★★★

    Surprisingly tame movie about the Marquis de Sade, but a good story that tries hard to break from its stage origins but never really succeeds. I'm not a big fan of Geoffrey Rush (his acting always seems transparent), but he's pretty good here. Kate Winslet isn't given enough to do, and that's a real shame. Script by playwright Doug Wright.

  • The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia

    The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia

    ★★★

    The Whites are a lawless, violent, drug-addicted family of trailer trash that this documentary turns into real people - although maybe not people you'd ever want to know. What's surprising how well the director gets the family to reveal themselves, or how little they care about being revealed. It's the real-life version of Winter's Bone.

  • Heat

    Heat

    ★★★★

    This is only the second time I've seen this film. It's the ultimate cops and robbers movie, and it sort of follows all the cliches of all the cops and robber movies that came before it (and westerns before that) but laminates it in a macho sheen of pretension that somehow makes it all seem important. The real LA locations helps, and the characters shine. De Niro is cool and sharp as the robber and Pacino is just a little…

  • Zero Dark Thirty

    Zero Dark Thirty

    ★★★★

    Another procedural that's all about uncovering clues and not about the people involved, and there are no really colorful characters to make it interesting. It wouldn't be compelling if it weren't for the subject matter, and it's nice having a film that shows us what's going on in Afghanistan without trying to make a big statement.

  • Despicable Me 2

    Despicable Me 2

    ★★

    An uninteresting premise featuring the blandest of suburban humor. I think it wants to be a super hero version of the Addams Family, but it enjoys the shopping mall too much to make any real insightful commentary about American life. The Incredibles did it far better. I haven't seen the original film so I had to infer the prior story, and I'm sure there were plenty of jokes that I missed.

  • Monsters University

    Monsters University

    ★★★

    This is an amiable but ultimately fluffy comedy that demonstrates Pixar's continued decline under Disney's ownership. Monsters Inc was one of the most unique and inventive of Pixar's creations, but Monsters University is just mundane nostalgia for the original film and college life - which for many adult viewers probably coincided. There is a moment near the end where it suddenly gets really good and the magic returns, but it doesn't last long enough to save the film. What were…

  • Psycho

    Psycho

    ★★★★★

    I can't even imagine how much this film changed movies. I don't know of anything like it prior to 1960 except maybe back in the silent era. Anthony Perkins makes it all work. There's some incredible dialog when Perkins talks to Leigh in the parlor, and of course some amazing script structure. They need to delete the stupid psychiatrist scene though. Nobody will miss it. Script by Joseph Stefano (Outer Limits).

  • Primer

    Primer

    ★★★

    It starts promising, like a pseudo-documentary about engineers building something(?) in their garage that accidentally ends up as a time machine (that only goes backward in time from what I can tell). They decide to use it for their own profit, being careful not to meet their alter egos on the way. The time machine stuff is so swamped in techno-babble that it’s actually believable. Unfortunately after the first couple of journeys, the story gets so murky there’s no following…