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  • Convoy

    Convoy

    ★★★★

    I was surprised at how good this was considering all I was expecting was some 1970s nostalgia and corny trucker comedy, but it's a Peckinpah movie, and it does a great job of weaving in blue collar political themes, anti-authoritarianism, and showing police brutality as real and menacing all while having a laugh at the same time. It's more Sugarland Express than Smokey and the Bandit, and more genuine than both. Kris Kristofferson is perfectly cast as a hunky truck…

  • Quick Change

    Quick Change

    ★★★

    Bill Murray pulls a bank heist dressed as a clown. While the movie doesn't really work, you can tell it's trying, and it definitely has good moments. Many of those moments are in the bank itself, but the film loses lots of steam once it shifts from Clown Day Afternoon into a light-hearted and implausible variation of After Hours, and the chemistry between Murray and Geena Davis never really materializes, but it pulls everything together by the end and is entertaining.

  • Top Secret Affair

    Top Secret Affair

    ★★★★

    Susan Hayward's a big magazine publisher out to write a hit piece on flawless army general Kirk Douglas. A surprisingly enjoyable romantic comedy that only slightly digs at the 1950s fetish for all things military, with Douglas doing a great job at being funny without overplaying it. He even shows off his skill with a bongo board. Hayward makes a suitable sparring partner. It was originally a project for Bogart and Bacall, but Bogart was too sick to do it.

  • Un Flic

    Un Flic

    ★★★

    Melville's final film is a divisive affair, and I'm not really a fan. The story is so routine and the emotions so spare that it feels more like a scrapbook of French noir memoirs. That's not to say there aren't beautiful images (Delon and Deneuve are more models than actors here) but while I've been impressed with Melville's cinematography in the past, here it just looks like they stuck a blue filter on the camera and called it a day.…

  • The Man Who Could Work Miracles

    The Man Who Could Work Miracles

    ★★★

    H.G. Wells might have great, visionary ideas, but he's no dramatist, which is obvious from his stilted script for Things to Come. The Man Who Could Work Miracles is the only other screenplay he wrote and is lesser known, but it works better as the scale is more modest and it adds a little comedy. Unfortunately, Wells would rather his characters talk big ideas than put them into action. The points he wants to make were handled much better in…

  • Fear of a Black Hat

    Fear of a Black Hat

    ★★★★

    It doesn't try to hide the fact that it's just Spinal Tap with rap music (Spinal Rap?) but that's a good enough idea for a very funny and entertaining film (that seems largely forgotten, if it was ever known). Mockumentaries are a great way to go if you don't have a budget. I'm surprised director Rusty Cundieff (who also stars) hasn't gone on to better things - it's mostly TV directing.

  • The Bad Sleep Well

    The Bad Sleep Well

    ★★★★

    A complicated revenge movie with Toshiro Mifune all cleaned up and looking nerdy with glasses. It's a scathing dive into nepotism and big business corruption in post-war Japan that felt very modern. Trump would relish the Japanese loyalty to their bureaucratic overlords. It's loosely based on Hamlet, but not enough to call it an adaptation.

  • Men Are Not Gods

    Men Are Not Gods

    ★★

    Miriam Hopkins falls in love with an actor playing Othello, and Desdemona is the actor's wife. Implausible, weak, and misogynistic love triangle story that was done better with Ronald Coleman in A Double Life. Hopkins is out of place in a British film and tries too hard to make everything funny. Rex Harrison is also there being loud and obnoxious. The only good part is the opening scene with the theatre critic.

  • These Three

    These Three

    ★★★★

    The first film version of Lillian Hellman's The Children's Hour, all scrubbed clean of lesbianism thanks to the production code. Hints of forbidden love still remain though if you look hard for it. It's a solid drama with some chemistry between Merle Oberon and Miriam Hopkins, although Oberon's arch mid-Atlantic dialect is thoroughly irritating. The third of "These Three" (a terrible title!) is an easy-going Joel McCrae as the country doctor - a love triangle that closely resembles DH Lawrence's…

  • Münchhausen

    Münchhausen

    ★★★★

    A lavish, gorgeous spectacle of a film, but it's so highly episodic that the plot feels like it's going nowhere. There's enough clever fantasy to the story and the storytelling to keep you entertained though. It really just made me more impressed with what Terry Gilliam did with the same material. Even though Gilliam's version also had an episodic feel, it at least has a much stronger arc and a really great performance from John Neville.

  • Ready Player One

    Ready Player One

    ★★★★

    "Ready Player One" is "Willy Wonka" meets "Roger Rabbit," and I suspect both of them appear in this movie somewhere. While I could find a dozen points to complain about - the bland main character, the standard plot, the too easy romance, the unabashed commercialism - it's so thoroughly entertaining from start to finish that I didn't much care. The film is full of incredible images inspired by the video game artwork used to entice you into playing a game…

  • The Death of Stalin

    The Death of Stalin

    ★★★★

    Who would have thought you could wring a hilarious comedy out of the death of Joseph Stalin? Historical fudging aside, it perfectly captures the Soviet empire and all the fear-induced scrambling, scheming, and backstabbing of Russia's top leaders. I suspect Trump's White House is very similar - minus all the executions. My only real criticism is that I've also seen Iannucci's "In the Loop," and while it is also brilliantly funny, you can see it leaning on the exact same…