If you want the gravy…

…You've got to get the biscuits!


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The Films of 2017 in 150 Words or Less: Part I

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“$7.50 an hour!” “But he has a million dollar heart!”

I’ve seen far fewer films this year than in previous years; tight finances are partially to blame, and a comparative lack of “must-see” films hasn’t helped. But for the most part, I’ve been pretty lucky with the films I have seen, and so I offer my thoughts on the 22 films I haven’t already reviewed…

I have already made my feelings about The Book of Henry very clear indeed.

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HAMLET (1948) Review – ***½

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“This is the tragedy of a man who could not make up his mind.” (Source)

The quintessential Shakespearean actor of his time, playing the quintessential Shakespearean character in the quintessential Shakespearean play—directing it as well, and adapting/heavily cutting the text? It’s hard to imagine a classier enterprise, and the Academy agreed, giving the film Best Picture and Olivier Best Actor, the only Shakespearean film and performance to be so honored.

But how does it hold up 70 years after the fact?

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THE BOOK OF HENRY Review – **

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If this isn’t the most misleading poster I’ve ever seen, it’s because the film itself is just as misleading.

The Book of Henry is certainly not a good film, but calling it a bad one doesn’t seem to fit; it falls short of the mark, but not in the way a truly bad film does. Rather, it fails to answer two vital questions—who is it for, and what is it about?—and it’s hard to imagine anyone being satisfied with the end result.

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POIL DE CAROTTE Review – ****

I’d known about Poil de Carotte for many years, my father having spoken very highly of it, but despite his regard (and the general regard of the critics), the film has drifted into moderate obscurity in recent years, possibly in part due to the decline in writer-director Julien Duvivier’s reputation.

However, it’s now available through Criterion’s Eclipse series (in a set with other Duvivier films of the era), and I was finally able to see it…and I’m damned glad I did.

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The Big Screen and I, Part I

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The movie that changed everything for me. (Source)

In case you didn’t know, I like movies.

And more than that, I like going to the movies. Watching a movie at home, there are all too many distractions. In the theater, your attention is compelled. Distractions are discouraged, even penalized. In the theater, the film rules all. So I go to theater quite a bit.

But it wasn’t always that way. Growing up, going to the movies was a comparatively rare treat. It wasn’t like we couldn’t afford it – once my dad got a DVD player we began amassing a collection which now numbers in the thousands. But we didn’t go to the cinema as a matter of course.

The first film I can definitively remember seeing in the theater was The Pagemaster. I’m sure there were others before it, but I no longer have even a shadow of a memory of them. I saw Titanic at age 8 and said “Eww!” at the sex scene; I saw The Phantom Menace and hated it intensely; we went to the next town over to see Fantasia 2000 because it didn’t play everywhere in its non-IMAX release.

And of course, we saw The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Spider-Man, and so forth – we also saw both the 1998 Godzilla and Godzilla 2000. (I can also claim to have seen Alexander in the theater, for what that’s worth.) But for the most part, we watched movies at home. In 2006 – not, admittedly, a banner year for cinema – I think we only went once, to see The DaVinci Code.

It was the next year – March 9, 2007, at 9:30 p.m., to be exact – that things began to change. I didn’t become a ravenous film-goer overnight, but visit by visit my cinephilia grew, and the end result is this article; a trip down memory lane, and a long lane it is. So join me, if you will, and remember.

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THE COSMIC EYE Review – ***

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One of the most obscure American animated features I can think of.

I’d known about this 1986 feature for some years, first reading about it in VideoHound’s Movie Retriever, but it had eluded me for years; VHS copies are seemingly scarce, at least in the wild, and the DVD – part of a set compiling the works of Faith and John Hubley – is so out-of-print its very existence seems more rumor than fact. However, it is available to view online, and I finally sat down and watched The Cosmic Eye.

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The Films of 2016, in 100 Words or Less: Part VIII

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Scorsese’s passion project of 25 years…and his lowest-grossing film in 20. (Source)

Here it is, the final batch of 2016 reviews. Savor them, because I’m not sure when I’ll be putting up more.

The first 9 films are ***½. The final three are ****.

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