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  • Victim

    Victim

    ★★★★★

    Dirk Bogarde risks his political career to find out who is blackmailing homosexuals in London. It's not just the subject matter that makes this film notable, but the way it's so brazenly open about homosexuality and the powerful condemnation of the British legal system while not condemning homosexuality itself. You won't find anything like this in 1960 Hollywood.

  • Sapphire

    Sapphire

    ★★★★

    A murder mystery that exposes the ugly heart of England's racism eight years before the Yanks did it with In the Heat of the Night. Nigel Patrick as Detective Hazard is entertaining enough to carry a whole series of films, and he does it all with knowing glances and a non-committal air. He's above it all. Like In the Heat of the Night, the racism is way overblown, dominating every scene, which actually makes this feel much more dated than Dearden's other films (compare this to the way homosexuality is so deftly handled in Victim).

  • The Smallest Show on Earth

    The Smallest Show on Earth

    ★★★★★

    Ealing Studios' famed run of great comedies may have ended when it was sold in 1955, but the talent behind those films went on, and here's as good and quirky a comedy as anything produced in their heyday. The story is simple. A chipper young couple inherits a movie theatre and makes a go of the business. 35-year-old Peter Sellers convincingly plays an elderly projectionist, and the movie oozes with charm and good humor. Also known as Big Time Operators.

  • Pool of London

    Pool of London

    ★★★★★

    A complex story with dual protagonists that's part heist film and part sailors on leave finding love with an interracial romance thrown in for some pointed social commentary, and yet it zips along at a brisk pace and clocks in at just 85 minutes. The romance was so effective and heartbreaking that I didn't want the heist story to interfere, but then it all builds to a surprisingly well done car chase/action climax. A superior tragicomic noir film.

  • Ray

    Ray

    ★★★

    A standard Hollywood biopic that rushes through Ray Charles' life events, is unevenly directed, ignores characters that spend years touring with him, and has a completely out-of-place schmaltzy ending. The positives are lots of great music, a showy performance from Jamie Foxx, and Booger.

  • I, Tonya

    I, Tonya

    ★★★★

    Here's a biopic done right. The movie takes a tawdry, headline-grabbing incident and gives the characters depth and nuance and crafts a tragic story that also funny and lively. The comparison to Scorsese is apt.

  • The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension

    The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension

    ★★★

    They say you can't intentionally make a cult movie, but Buckaroo Banzai might be the exception. The movie is so loaded with clever ideas, funny sight gags, and hilarious performances from a gaggle of geeky actors playing 80s dress-up, that it's a shame the movie is so sloppily put together and the script lacks any sort of forward momentum (heck, the story is barely coherent). This movie needed a Spielberg or Zemeckis kind of treatment, not a first-time director, despite his writing credentials. But it's fun anyway!

  • Story of Women

    Story of Women

    ★★★★

    Isabelle Huppert's a lonely mother in occupied France who turns to giving abortions and letting prostitutes rent her spare room to make ends meet. Chabrol keeps a distance from the protagonist, just as she seems to keep a distance from others. The movie isn't out to judge her even when the government decides to make an example of her. It's not a tirade against injustice, just a matter of fact look at life during wartime, very much in the spirit of Malle's "Lacombe Lucien." I think the word is unsentimental.

  • Raiders of the Lost Ark

    Raiders of the Lost Ark

    ★★★★★

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

    One thing that's always bugged me about Raiders of the Lost Ark was how did Indy know to close his eyes and not look at the ark? I'm not really questioning his archeological knowledge, but the reason is never explained to the audience. I know the ending is literally deus ex machina, but all you have to do is close your eyes and you're good?

    Well a couple of years ago Spock gave me the answer.

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=DyiWkWcR86I

    In this interview,…

  • Strangers on a Train

    Strangers on a Train

    ★★★★

    Strangers on a Train has one of my favorite movie posters, because it's just so simple and brilliant. Check it out: straightchillingpodcast.com/media/1345/soat1.jpg.

    I love everything about this movie except Farley Granger. He's convincing as a tennis pro, I guess, but he offers nothing that makes him interesting or watchable. Robert Walker steals the show (it's a shame he died right after this) and the supporting players upstage Granger in every scene. The script and direction and photography easily makes this one of Hitchcock's top films. It drags a bit near the end but the big action climax makes up for it.

  • Good Times - Ben Safdie, Josh Safdie

    Good Times - Ben Safdie, Josh Safdie

    ★★★★

    Desperate people doing desperate things to achieve their desperate goals. Most filmmakers would approach this story as a comedy, and the movie falls just short of becoming a parody of itself. It's like "After Hours" without the humor. The Safdie brothers really wish this was a 70s movie, and they film everything in tight close-ups Cassavettes style. It annoyed me when Cassavettes did it, and it annoys me here, but not so much that it hurts the film. Robert Pattinson…

  • Seven Days in May

    Seven Days in May

    ★★★★

    An incredibly smart political thriller that struggles through some (much needed) exposition dumps and begs for a little more action. Still, the ideas it toys with are shocking and still relevant today, it's a great depiction of the lives of Pentagon brass, and the final verbal showdown between Burt Lancaster and Frederic March is fantastic.