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Saturday , May 27 2017

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She Said: Top 11 Films of 2016

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I’m turning it up to eleven** this year. 11. Hello, My Name is Doris. Just after the death of her mother, sixty-ish Doris (Sally Field, who’s managed to maintain all the quirky energy of Gidget) falls for a co-worker thirty years her junior, but of a similar emotional maturity as she’s spent her life caring for her mother in lieu of having ... Read More »

He Said: Top 10 Films of 2016

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10. 10 Cloverfield Lane.  In the U.S., most of the hard-earned cash being dropped at the cineplexes is devoted to franchise films (that is, 16 of the 2016 top 25 were prequels or sequels to, or remakes or adaptations of, established franchises).  Call it a Pavlovian response to a marketing-induced supply.  Call it the reality of modern demand.  But in a year ... Read More »

She Said: Top 10 Films of 2015

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10. Trainwreck.  I can’t resist a good raunchy comedy, and this is the best of the year.  Amy Schumer strikes the perfect balance of emotionally troubled yet vulnerable, and Bill Hader is a surprisingly sexy leading man.  Schumer’s entire career is built on the shtick that she’s a train wreck, but I’m pretty sure she knows what she’s doing.  (I ... Read More »

He Said: Top 10 Films of 2015

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10. Slow West.  “Once upon a time, 1870 to be exact, a 16 year-old kid traveled from the cold shoulder of Scotland to the baking heart of America to find his love …”  In his feature film debut, writer/director John Maclean offers us a post-deconstruction reconstruction of the Western as haunted folk ballad.  To be sure, we’ve seen and heard all ... Read More »

The Lonely Hearts Killers

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Spoiler Scale (How spoilery is this article on a scale of 1 to 10?):  5 In 1947, a single mother from northern Florida, Martha Beck, placed a “lonely hearts” ad with nationwide circulation, through which she met Raymond Hernandez from New York City, an ex-con/con man who preyed upon war widows and single women of means, relying upon the fact that they ... Read More »

He Said: Top 10 Films of 2014

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10. Blue Ruin.  This deftly-constructed deconstruction of the Hatfields and McCoys narrative seemingly came out of nowhere.  Jeremy Saulnier had previously written and directed one feature film – the obscure horror/comedy Murder Party (2007) – in which former classmate and stay-at-home dad, Macon Blair, had a supporting role.  And yet, with Blue Ruin, Saulnier’s eye is as subtle and evocative ... Read More »

She Said: Top 10 Films of 2014

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10. Bad Words.  Here’s a cheesy, distasteful, and seemingly thin premise: a 40 year old high school drop-out identifies a loophole that allows him to compete in a children’s spelling bee. But Jason Bateman, as Guy Trilby, pulls it off with unapologetic, politically incorrect snark even before the plot deepens to explain how (and why) in the world this is happening. ... Read More »

The Battle of the Invasions of the Body Snatchers!

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Spoiler Scale (How spoilery is this article on a scale of 1 to 10?):  6 In the 60 years since Collier’s magazine first published Jack Finney’s serial, The Body Snatchers, there have been four film adaptations, as the pod people narrative seems to have a “Shakespearean mobility from one period to the next” (Mike Davis, author of The Monster at ... Read More »

The Wages of Fear (1953) v. Sorcerer (1977)

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Spoiler scale (How spoilery is this article on a scale of 1 to 10?):  5   Although a veteran filmmaker, director Henri-Georges Clouzot (Les diabolique (1955), La vérité (1960)) realized his first commercial breakthrough by capitalizing upon the popularity of the novel by Charles Arnaud, Le Salaire de la peur (The Wages of Fear) (1950).  In notable contrast to modern adaptations (read: ... Read More »

He Said: Top 10 Films of 2013

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10. To the Wonder.   In a year that included the likes of Ain’t Them Bodies Saints and The Grandmaster, perhaps no popular film justifies use of the cliché “visual storytelling” more than writer/director Terence Malick’s To the Wonder.  The underlying narrative (such that it is) covers the life cycle of a love affair (said lovers played by Ben Affleck and Olga Kurylenko).  Alternating between the idyllic and the realistic, the dialogue (such that ... Read More »

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