IMDb #211: Notorious (1946)

At last, film noir starring the femme fatale. The stone-hearted private dick (this time a G-man snoop) takes a backseat, mostly to create romantic tension for our lovely drunken floozy. The Americanized daughter of a Nazi officer, she receives a special job. Take a Brazilian vacation on Uncle Sam’s dime. Hook up with some Nazi expatriates (ahem: … Read more

IMDb #212: The King’s Speech (2010)

As the British English royal family loses the power to command beheadings and Parliament gains the power to impede legislation, newfangled radio technology connects tea-sipping subjects worldwide. (Coincidence? Evidence says–yes, definitely.) Even in the early twentieth century, the Windsors exist to make public appearances and live in staggering luxury. And sometimes to give speeches, to speak for the people. Bertie, Duke of York and … Read more

IMDb #213: The Terminator (1984)

This blockbuster changed America, and not just by reducing it to skull-littered rubble. It made James Cameron rich. It brought the general public to fear AI and computer scientists to blissfully ignore those fears. Most amazingly, however, it taught Americans to spell Schwarzenegger. Our implacable Austrian cyborg hails from the grimdark future — yet another robot-ravaged wasteland, this time with … Read more

IMDb #214: Fanny and Alexander (1982)

In snow-clogged Sweden, a motley conglomeration of genetically related lunatics endeavor to become the most functional dysfunctional family in Europe. The title refers to two young children, a girl and boy who retain the same age through several time-skips. They hardly appear for the first hour, then for the other two they mope and mouth off. Meanwhile, relatives (who … Read more

IMDb #215: Before Sunrise (1995)

Two strangers futz around in nineties Vienna. Cue sunrise, roll credits. It’s art, dammit. Wait, where are you going? Just because it’s art doesn’t mean it’s bizarre and unapproachable! Here: an American tourist and a French college student meet on a European train and chat. For hours. About whatever. In English, mostly, amid Austria’s linguistic cornucopia. Then they … Read more

IMDb #216: Groundhog Day (1993)

What if you had all the time in the world to do whatever you want? No, don’t tell me, I don’t want to know. Of course there’s a catch. You’re Bill Murray (hooray!), playing himself except as a prima donna weatherman and not an acclaimed actor/writer/party-crasher. Also, it’s still the 1990s, and you’re inexplicably trapped … Read more

IMDb #217: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)

After the first half’s piddling around, the final film concludes the Harry Potter mega-franchise with a splendiferous whiz-bang. It’s guaranteed to baffle new viewers. Wizard Hitler has risen again like Evil Snake Jesus. He speaks softly but carries a big magical stick. The Wizard Nazis overrun England, and presumably nowhere else. The bright and flamboyant magical subculture has decayed … Read more

IMDb #218: The Battle of Algiers (1966)

Contrary to ever World War II movie ever made, evil didn’t evaporate forever with the demise of Hitler and/or Hirohito. People still suck. For example: in the 1950s, the French occupy Algeria in North Africa. The Arabs want the French to leave, the French want to stay. It gets bad. So bad you almost want to root for … Read more

IMDb #219: Ip Man (2008)

China, 1930s: kung-fu masters practice their art despite twentieth-century industrialization and increasing prevalence of firearms. Packs of ruffians still rove the countryside, challenging masters for their schools. Only Ip Man — a small, humble, egregiously overpowered Wing Chun grandmaster — can defend his defeated friends. But we like egregiously overpowered. The world sparkles with color and humor and bright energy. Typical kung-fu antics … Read more

IMDb #220: Rocky (1976)

Sly Stallone slugs and slurs through the ultimate underdog story. A pet project that Stallone nearly sold his dog to finance, Rocky charts the inspirational metamorphosis of a total loser into a triumphant loser (with a girlfriend). Before he became a bloated caricature of his early opponents, the Italian Stallion beat the snot out of fellow losers for petty cash. Loan shark debt collector by … Read more