If you want the gravy…

…You've got to get the biscuits!


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FIRST REFORMED Review – ****

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The special brilliance of First Reformed is that, for as much as it confronts us with the ugliness of life, both in an eternal sense and in a sense of the issues we face at this very moment, it repeatedly counters its own arguments by reminding us of the persistence of life, of its simple joys and pleasures. It’s a film which brings us to the brink of despair time and again, and each time, in its own way, pulls us back. It’s a measure of its greatness as a film that its doing so never feels like a cop-out, but like the essential truth.

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My Top 20 Films of the Decade: v. 0.0

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Talking to a friend of mine the other day, we found ourselves musing over what the best films of the decade were. He had his own ideas, and I had at least three which immediately came to mind, which led me to say, off-handedly, that I should compile a list of the decade’s best at some future point. But the idea stuck with me, as ideas do, and I soon began drawing up a longlist from which a more definitive list could be derived.

Of course, I say “more definitive” and not “definitive.” There are still films I haven’t seen, films I need to see again, films I may have ranked too low – or too high – for reasons that had nothing to do with them and everything to do with me, or films which I dropped from the longlist, itself an imperfect document, for questionable reasons.

Hence I call this list the “Version 0.0” of this list – there may well be, in a year’s time, an “0.1” or “0.5” before, sometime in 2020, I make a serious attempt at a definitive list. But I hope that this embryonic effort is not wholly off-base; I hope that, even if you don’t consider these the very best films of the decade, you can understand why I am putting them forth as some combination of the decade’s best and most definitive films.

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Old Jamaica Ginger Beer Review

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I’m finishing off my recent string of World Market purchases with this Jamaican ginger beer (produced in the UK, but the ginger itself is Jamaican, so…), a beer which, unlike any soda I can recall reviewing, offers me the chance to win prizes! More on the prizes in a bit, but first, courtesy of Cott Beverages Ltd., it’s Old Jamaica!

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May flowers

One of my more fervent pastimes—which I’ve rarely featured on here—is making memes. Or, if you want to get technical, I make macros. Only by sharing does a macro become a meme.

Only by spreading does manure become fertilizer.

I want to apologize for the lack of updates; owing to constraints of time and energy I’ve found myself tabling some of my intended posts, namely the second installment of my Most Wanted Films Found series and a second list of Most Wanted Films. I’m aiming to get those out by the end of June at the latest, although I can’t promise anything.

I also hope to get another soda review or two up within the next week, and just maybe I’ll throw together some thoughts on the films of 2018 that I’ve seen but haven’t reviewed as yet. (There haven’t been all that many, so it wouldn’t be a huge undertaking.)

I mean to do a post in response to the winners at this year’s Cannes Film Festival as well; I wanted to do a rundown of the Palme d’Or and Un Certain Regard contenders, but never got around to it.

And, if absolutely nothing else, the Six-Month Film Awards will go up at the start of July. I may not have seen that many films this year, but I have done my diligence on ranking them and their illustrious components.

Till then.


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MWFF: HARVEY MIDDLEMAN, FIREMAN – ***

Harvey Middleman Fireman

Taking off from my recently published list of my 50 most wanted films, this is the start of a new series which I’m calling Most Wanted Films Found (MWFF). As some of the films on that list are easier to track down than others, I decided that, once the list was up, I would try to start crossing films off of it. And I decided to start with a film which I had already missed one window of opportunity to see and wasn’t going to waste another: Ernest Pintoff’s 1965 comedy, Harvey Middleman, Fireman.

First, a quick rundown of the story:

Harvey Middleman (Eugene Troobnick) is a New York City fireman, living a cheerfully average life in the New Jersey suburbs with his wife Harriet (Arlene Golonka) and two young children. One day, responding to an apartment fire, he rescues pretty young Lois (Patricia Harty), and they impulsively kiss. Harvey grows infatuated with her, and the feeling seems to be mutual; meanwhile, he begins to lose his temper at Harriet and his co-workers more frequently.

While trying to decide just what to do about his feelings for Lois, Harvey decides he needs professional help, and consults Mrs. Koogleman (Hermione Gingold), a psychiatrist working for the city health department, who seems more than a bit preoccupied with her own affairs.

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My 50 Most Wanted Films

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There’s something about obscurity that has long appealed to me. Maybe it’s the fear that my own creative works will be overlooked that drives me to seek out and appreciate the overlooked works of others. Maybe I just like the feeling of having discovered something no one else knows about – hell, at one time I thought Logan’s Run was pretty damn obscure, and for a short time it was one of my favorite movies!

This article is the result of roughly two years’ work, so naturally most of what you’re actually about to read was put together in the last few days. (It worked for college.) My original plan was to cover 100 films. Then my plan was to cover 50 films in detail and list 50 additional films with only brief explanations of my interest. Then I decided to save the additional 50 for another post so I could get this one out on time (and it is, as I type this, inching toward 4 in the morning, so I’d better wrap it up).

My thoughts on the films to follow are a combination of original research, notes I made for previous incarnations of this article, and material drawn from a series of 50 posts I made on social media two years ago detailing films I wanted to see but could not, at least not as readily as I would like. So some films will be dealt with rather briskly, and others will be dealt with at length. I did not mean to give any film short shrift, but that’s the way things shook out.

And now, let us take a trip through 50 films, spanning almost 70 years of cinema history, which have especially caught my interest. Please feel free to suggest additional titles or offer leads on seeking out the films below.

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Afri-Cola Review

Normally I wouldn’t be consuming caffeine so late on a weekday. But I had a rough day today and felt like treating myself. Besides, I wanted to get around to this before it went flat, so why not kill two birds with one stone?

This is another one of my World Market acquisitions; the wholly unique shape of the bottle, the striking graphic design, and the general reliability of colas made it seem like a safe bet. So all the way from Germany, from the municipality of Bad Überkingen, it’s Afri-Cola!

Oh, and apparently this brand of cola is famous for being especially high in caffeine. So tonight should be fun. (This is what I do instead of drinking booze.)

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