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  • Across the Pacific

    Across the Pacific

    ★★★★

    Highly entertaining though extravagantly racist nonsense reuniting the director of The Maltese Falcon with three of its stars. Mary Astor should have played Ruth as she plays it here: warm, offhand and sexy, rather than throbbingly neurotic. The film doesn’t get near the Pacific, but it’s full of wit and intrigue, as Bogie goes undercover to trap a cabal of Japanese spies led by Sydney Greenstreet. The daft action climax (directed by Vincent Sherman) is all part of the fun. Just about every oriental actor in Hollywood appears in some capacity, including Charlie Chan’s Number One and Two Sons.

  • Action in the North Atlantic

    Action in the North Atlantic

    ★★½

    Merchant seamen on land and on water. Starts quite well, gets bogged down in propaganda, dull logistics and badly-matched shots, then bursts into life again just when you think it’s over. Bogart’s effortless charisma helps, though Ruth Gordon completely steals the film in her two scenes as Massey’s wife (the actors reunited after the superb origins story, Abe Lincoln in Illinois). Directed by lazy Warner hack Lloyd Bacon, whose name is a byword for missed opportunities.

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  • Ghost World

    Ghost World

    ★★★★★

    You can take your Juno, your Scott Pilgrim, even your Heathers, and chuck them in a skip, because Ghost World just does it all so much better. Well, all of it that's worth doing. I'm beginning to think this melancholy, bitingly hilarious crystallisation of teen ennui might be the only film I'll ever really need.

  • Sideways

    Sideways

    ★★★★★

    Wine is probably the most boring subject on Earth, so how come Payne’s film about a lonely, bitter best man (Paul Giamatti) taking the soon-to-be-groom (Thomas Haden Church) on a week-long tour of vineyards is so bloody good? Perhaps because of Giamatti’s astonishing characterisation, which imbues an arrogant, self-destructive, self-hating pseud with a completely disarming humanity. Or perhaps because it’s not really about wine at all, but love and friendship and the choices that people make that end up deciding…