Favorite films

  • The Godfather
  • The Music Room
  • Chinatown
  • The Elephant Man

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  • The Barefoot Contessa

    ★★★

  • A Hero

    ★★★½

  • One Way Passage

    ★★★½

  • Heat Lightning

    ★★★½

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  • The Barefoot Contessa

    The Barefoot Contessa

    66/100


    Joseph Mankiewicz's Cinderella inflected fictional 'inside hollywood' biography of an actress' rise and fall has some interesting themes and a superb opening 20 min and final 10 min. The remainder, however, is rather pedestrian despite Jack Cardiff's princely cinematography, which renders Ava Gardner as luminously as anyone that has ever appeared on screen.

    As is typical for Mankiewicz, there is a lot of talk and while the film's structure is clever as is its central allegory of shoes standing…

  • A Hero

    A Hero

    72/100


    A partially successful variation on Farhadi's usual morality plays, this time the focus being on the optics of morality rather than the nature of morality.

    There is a lot here about others' perception of your truth and how that perception can be used to publicly signal communal virtues that everyone should aspire to, or be ashamed of, to earn fame and respect, or to avoid notoriety and humiliation, as long as there is a story with a hook. Or…

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  • Heat Lightning

    Heat Lightning

    74/100


    2nd pre-code I have seen this year that features a knock-out performance from an actress I had never come across before (Dorothy Mackail in Safe in Hell being the other). Aline MacMahon gives a really lived in, intelligent performance that feels incredibly modern, and yet still dovetails nicely with the more usual and theatrical 30s acting style of her co-stars.

    It's also quite astonishing how much is successfully packed into a measly 63 min by Mervyn Le Roy who…

  • Dogfight

    Dogfight

    76/100


    Sweet, sincere, sentimental but understated and honest romance set largely pre JFK's assassination and the Vietnam war. Shades of Before Sunrise (although this predates the Linklater) but the characters are perhaps even more idealistic here, despite their competing worldviews.

    Nancy Savoca doesn't aim for a fetishistic recreation of the period and instead aims more for a recreation of a moment in time in American history just before it was about to enter a period of significant cultural and existential…