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  • Genghis Blues

    Genghis Blues

    ★★★★½

    I’ve had Genghis Blues in my film queue/watchlist for over two decades. At the time of its release, I remember reading good things about it, realizing as well its local San Francisco connection, but it eluded me until just now. (H/T to Xebeche for prodding me to finally watch it.)

    Paul Pena, a talented blues guitarist, blind since birth, discovered Tuvan throat singing via shortwave radio. Genghis Blues documents this wonderful pre-internet story, comprised of the purest content, wonderful people,…

  • Macao

    Macao

    ★★★★

    Late career Josef von Sternberg isn’t peak Josef von Sternberg, and yet Macao bears signature qualities of his better films.

    “Besides her obvious talents, she also sings.”

    Jane Russell, whose “obvious talents” overshadowed other actual talents. She’s quite good as the bitten-however-many-times-and-now-piquant Julie Benton, sailing from Hong Kong to Macao on a tease and a prayer. Oh yeah, and “she also sings” and surprisingly well.

    The 2nd unit or stock footage of Hong Kong and Macao offer glimpses into a…

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  • Chopping Mall

    Chopping Mall

    ★★★

    From schlockmeister Jim Wynorski and produced by Julie Corman, Chopping Mall is some seriously Eighties biz. I mean, it’s set in a mall. It takes place almost entirely inside a mall (the Sherman Oaks Galleria). But Eightiesness is just one aspect of charm to this fun thriller about killer robots gone amok. In fact, it’s packed with charms.

    Chopping Mall stars Kelli Maroney, a stand-out from Night of the Comet (1984) and one-time Ryan’s Hope star (my mom loved that…

  • The Devils

    The Devils

    ★★★★★

    For its reputation of outrageousness and controversy (no doubt the unexpurgated version may indeed live up to that), The Devils truly surprised me in its humanity and humanism. A good deal of this carries on the performances and framing of Oliver Reed and Vanessa Redgrave, but it also overcame some personal prejudices I have held about Reed and director Ken Russell.

    Tremendous.