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WNM Movie Night Liner Notes

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2012

Title: Director [Year]
"Lord Jim" Richard Brooks [1965]
"Blithe Spirit" David Lean [1945]
"Nueve reinas (Nine Queens)" Fabian Bielinsky [2000]
"Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World" Peter Weir [2003]
"Immortals" Tarsem Singh [2011]
"Veronica Guerin" Joel Schumacher [2003]
"Garden of Evil" Henry Hathaway [1954]
"The Hunter" Daniel Nettheim [2011]
"Cold Creek Manor" Mike Figgis [2003]
"The Maste" Paul Thomas Anderson [2012]
"The Game" David Fincher [1997]
"Hodejegerne (Headhunters) " Morten Tyldum [2011]
"Fiend Without a Face" Walter Crabtree [1958]
"Farewell My Lovely" Dick Richards [1975]
"The Lady from Shanghai" Orson Welles [1947]
"The Big Clock" John Farrow [1948]
"The Player" Robert Altman [1992]
"Shallow Grave" Danny Boyle [1994]
"Yojimbo" Akira Kurosawa [1961]
"Rampart" Oren Moverman [2011]
"The Eiger Sanction" Clint Eastwood [1975]
"Page Eight" David Hare [2011]
"Atlas Shrugged: Part 1" Paul Johansson [2011]
"Groundhog Day " Harold Ramis [1993]
"Lover Come Back"* Delbert Mann [1961]
"Midnight Cowboy"* John Schlesinger [1969]
"Ides Of March"* George Clooney [2011]
"Drive"* Nicholas Winding Refn [2011]
"Separate Lies"* Julian Fellowes (TV) [2005]
"Margin Call"* J. C. Chandor [2011]
"L'homme du train (Man on a Train)"* Patrice Leconte [2002]
"Changeling"* Clint Eastwood [2008]
"El secreto de sus ojos (The Secret in Their Eyes)"* Juan Jose Campanella [2009]
"A Good Nightnd Good Luck"* George Clooney [2005]
"Eiger Sanction"* Clint Eastwood [1975]
"The Master"* Paul Thomas Anderson [2012]
"Lady From Shanghai"* Orson Welles [1947]

* Indicates that our staff is still researching the information for the review, Stay Tuned!™

Liner Notes.

© 2012 WNM and the respective authors. "All Rights Reserved."


"Lord Jim" [Richard Brooks] 1965

"Lord Jim is one of Joseph Conrad‘s best known novels. It concerns Jim, a well-trained seaman who suffers a moment of cowardice as a first officer on a ship. In disgust he runs from himself for years, before reaching a situation where he might be redeemed.

"This film suffered from over expectation on the part of critics. The writer/director of this film, Richard Brooks, was justifiably considered great in 1965. His recent films included Blackboard Jungle [1955], Cat on a Hot Tin Roof [1958], Elmer Gantry [1960], for which he won the Best Screenplay Oscar, and Sweet Bird of Youth [1962]. Here he was presented with great source material and fine stars in Peter O‘Toole, who played Jim, along with Eli Wallach and James Mason as the two evil men that Jim must face.

"Critics expected Brooks to make another ‘Lawrence of Arabia‘, but they did not get that. What they got was a reasonably faithful adaptation without the excitement and battle scenes in Lawrence, but with Peter O‘Toole looking tortured and intense. This just did not sit well with critics. Many considered the film to be over-long and dull.

"Some thought the material was just too much for Brooks. But Lord Jim the novel is not a sweeping epic of war with a cast of thousands. It is a novel of mood and introspection, an intense character study. Perhaps the error was trying to turn it into an epic in the first place, making it neither fish nor fowl. Admittedly slow in spots, the film is beautifully shot and worth taking the time to see.

"Although Lord Jim was not considered a success, Brooks returned by directing In Cold Blood [1967], which along with Cat on the Hot Tin Roof, are considered by many as his best works as director."

--ggf

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"Blithe Spirit" [David Lean] 1945

"Blithe Spirit [1945] is more or less the play by Noel Coward of the same name. This film version was directed by David Lean, who also helped adapt the play.

"Charles Condomine and his current wife Constance are a very well to do British country couple and are somewhat bored. They engage the services of a medium who conjures up the spirit of his first wife Elvira, which raises plenty of marital problems.

"Rex Harrison plays role of Charles. The character of the medium, Madame Arcati, is played by Margaret Rutherford, who gives a fine performance as a tough single woman who is also more than a little round the twist.

"One could put Blithe Spirit in the category of a screwball comedy. The dialog is fast, witty, the situation is absurd and the plot centers on a couple. It is a humorous period piece and one worth watching, but it is not up to the level of Bringing Up Baby [1938]."

--ggf

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"Nueve reinas (Nine Queens)" [Fabian Bielinsky] 2000

"Fabian Bielinsky is the writer/director of this Argentinian film about con men and a complex con job. The script is very good and the viewer is very unlikely to guess the outcome.

"The basic premise of the film is: Can con men trust one another? Very little in this film is as it seems. Expect to be led down the garden path a couple of times. The acting is all very good, as it has to be to put over the cons convincingly.

"This film is to be compared with David Mamet‘s "House of Games" [1987] and Stephen Frear‘s "The Grifters" [1990]. In substance Nine Queens is closest to House of Games, whereas The Grifters deals more with personal relationships. All three are well worth watching."

--ggf

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"Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World" [Peter Weir] 2003

"Rarely does an action film rise to the level of Master and Commander [2003]. Based upon the novels by Patrick O‘Brien, this film was directed and the screenplay co-written by Peter Weir. The script is intelligent. Combine a fine script that with extremely well-shot scenes that use believable special effects and the result is an action film of extraordinary quality.

"The film takes place in the south Atlantic and Pacific oceans around the year 1805 as a British frigate is chased by and later chases a larger French warship.

"The principal characters are the British captain, played by Russell Crowe, and the ship surgeon, played by Paul Bettany. It is enough to say that virtually all the characters here are well drawn and performed.

"Peter Weir does not direct that often, but since Picnic at Hanging Rock [1975], when he does, what results is usually of high quality. Weir has been nominated for best director four times, along with one each for best screenplay and best picture. Master and Commander"

--ggf

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"Immortals" [Tarsem Singh] 2011

"Immortals [2011] was directed by Tarsem Singh. Immortals concerns a war between the gods of Olympus and the Titans, who are released by the evil king Hyperion, played by Mickey Rourke, while the mortal hero is Theseus, played by Henry Cavill.

"There is one outstanding reason to watch films by Tarsem and that is for his visuals, his artistic sense of scene and color is head and shoulders above any currently active director and possibly the best of any director to date. However, note artistic sense. Tarsem‘s visuals are usually not realistic, but they are either arresting or beautiful.

"Tarsem‘s visual sense is best illustrated by his previous film, The Fall [2006]. Immortals by way of contrast is a film with a very dark palette. The visuals in Immortals are often arresting, if not attractive, and are primarily CGI.

"Setting aside the visual aspect of this film, Mickey Rourke as Hyperion chews up the screen while he is present, overshadowing the main character Theseus. The story is loosely adapted from Greek mythology, grim and violent. Unfortunately, it is also silly and episodic. Immortals should be watched only for its visuals. Otherwise, this is a rather poor film."

--ggf

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"Veronica Guerin" [Joel Schumacher] 2003

"Veronica Guerin [2003] was directed by Joel Schumacher and stars Cate Blanchett as an Irish newspaper reporter in mid-1990s Dublin. This film is an homage to the real Veronica who was killed for reporting on the kingpins of the drug trade in Ireland and how their profits and property were obtained.

"As portrayed by Blanchett, Veronica is very headstrong, to the point of knowingly taking immense risks. The story she is reporting is a once-in-a-liftime opportunity. The fame she is getting appears to lead her to ignore threats made to her. She continues reporting aggressively.

"There is some question as whether or not her portrayal is accurate. What cannot be denied is that Blanchett does a very good job with the script she was handed. Blanchett as Veronica is very convincing, to the point that the viewer is disturbed by the risks she is taking with her life and those of her immediate family. What is missing is a convincing motivation for her behavior. Veronica Guerin is a reasonably good film, but does not rise to where it could have gone."

--ggf

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"Garden of Evil" [Henry Hathaway] 1954

"Garden of Evil [1954] was directed by Henry Hathaway and stars Gary Cooper, Richard Widmark and Susan Hayward. The story revolves around four men who accompany a woman into the wilderness to rescue her husband, who is trapped in a gold mine deep in Mexican Apache teritorry.

"This film has two undeniable strengths, its cinematography and location scenery, which are striking, and its film score by Bernard Herrmann. It is one of the best scores of any motion picture.

"Dialog is probably the film‘s greatest weakness. The characters are sterotypical. It also suffers somewhat from falling outside its genre. The action takes place late in the film and none of the characters in it particular like one another, travelling together due to greed or necessity. The film as a whole though works well. It deserves to be seen and appreciated.

"Garden of Evil was created to compete with television when it was becoming clear that fewer people were going to see movies. As such it was a large budget picture, filmed in very wide screen color and on location in Michoacan state in southwestern Mexico. Much of the filming took place near the Paricutin volcano that had only ceased erupting two years before.

"An error often mentioned is that the Apache in the films had Mohawk haircuts. Why such a glaring error was made is a mystery.

"Hathaway was a prolific, reliable director with a long career. He is best known for Lives of a Bengal Lancer [1935], for which he received an Oscar nomination, Call Northside 777 [1948] and True Grit [1969]."

--ggf

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"The Hunter" [Daniel Nettheim] 2011

"The Hunter [2011] is an independent film directed by Daniel Nettheim. The screenplay written by Alice Addison is based upon the novel by Julia Leigh. It stars Willem Dafoe with Sam Neill and Frances O‘Connor in supporting roles.

"The film takes place in Tasmania, primarily in the rugged undeveloped forest regions. The plot centers around a mercenary, Martin David, played by Willem Dafoe, who is hired by a shady biotech firm to find samples of Tasmanian tiger tissue and blood for a military project. Although believed extinct, it is possible that a few tigers have survived in the wild. Martin‘s predecessor, a naturalist who reported he saw one, disappeared into the forest.

"The story has two distinct plotlines. One the hunt for the animal. The other is a missing person mystery that evolves into a murder. Other sub-plots are too compressed in the time alloted, leaving one feeling that at least one of them should have been left out.

"It is the character of Martin that makes this film stand out. He is intelligent and in his way quite moral. His interactions with his predecessor‘s widow and children stand in contrast to his job. When the consequences of that job reveal themselves, he solves his moral dilemma is a surprising but sad way.

"One good reason to watch this film is to see how well Willem Dafoe plays this character."

--ggf

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"Cold Creek Manor" [Mike Figgis] 2003

"Cold Creek Manor [2003] was directed by Mike Figgis and stars Dennis Quaid and Sharon Stone. It is formulaic thriller about an urban couple who move into a country house that has a troubled past.

"The reason to watch this film without already knowing about it is that it was directed by Mike Figgis, who is sometimes brilliant and often experimental. His better films include The Browning Version [1994], Leaving Las Vegas [1995] and Stormy Monday [1988]. Unfortunately, he misfired here badly.

"The plot leaves one angry with the main characters, who are foolish, the villain who is obvious and situations that are not believable. Taken together, this film is mediocre and disappointing."

--ggf

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"The Maste" [Paul Thomas Anderson] 2012

"The Master [2012] was written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. It stars Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix. This film is a drama that somewhat parallels the founding of Scientology. Hoffman plays Lancaster Dodd, who is a self-help guru/author crossed with an evangelist. Joaquin Phoenix plays Freddie Quell, a mentally disturbed sailor back from WWII after a short institutional stay who stumbles into Dodd‘s circle.

"Paul Thomas Anderson decided to create an acting epic, but one without the typical scenics of an epic or the fireworks associated with actors films such as A Streetcar Named Desire. He shot it on 65mm and presents it in 70mm, which gives it a very high resolution, rich look associated with road-show epics. Given that The Master has few scenics, what 70mm highlights are the facial details and close-up acting realism.

"Does this film work? Given Anderson‘s track record of increasingly good films, Hard Eight [1996], Boogie Nights [1997], Magnolia [1999] and There Will Be Blood [2007], one hoped so. Unfortunately, the yin/yang relationship between Dodd and Quell, which forms the core of the film, is never explained, and consequently, one doesn‘t know what the film is really about. That is all Anderson‘s fault, since he both wrote and directed.

"This is a critics and actors film and it can be appreciated for that. The acting is always convincing. Summed up, The Master could have been a fine film, but its screenplay held it back."

--ggf

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"The Game" [David Fincher] 1997

"The Game [1997] was written by John D. Brancato and Michael Ferris. It was directed by David Fincher. Michael Douglas plays a high-power and unpleasant tycoon, Nicolas Van Orten. Deborah Kara Unger plays the female lead.

"The plot concerns a birthday gift that Van Orten‘s younger brother gives him to loosen up Van Orten. The gift is a pre-paid fantasy game that Van Orten participates in, but he does not know when it starts nor what it involves. That he must take a personality test and have a physical suggests the game may be an exciting one.

"The plot is frankly unbelievable. If this were a fantasy or science fiction film, suspension of disbelief could easily apply. However, The Game occurs in a contemporary setting with Van Orten put through several life-threatening dangers, any of which could have killed him or a bystander and indeed some should have. The acting by Douglas and Unger cannot undo this basic flaw.

"Some critics do not mind this and ignore the implausibility, preferring to think the film is a bad dream that Van Orten is having. That is bending over backwards. However, if you can suspend disbelief, The Game is fun to watch."

--ggf

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"Hodejegerne (Headhunters) " [Morten Tyldum] 2011

"Hodejegerne (Headhunters) [2011] was directed by Morten Tyldum and is based upon the crime thriller written by Jo Nesbo.

"The central character, Roger Brown, is a short man who recruits for an executive headhunter firm. He has married a tall blond beauty who runs an art gallery. They live in a fine 60s-modern home. However, even with his good salary, Brown lives far beyond his means. He feels short, inferior to his goddess wife and fears that she will leave him. Simultaneously, he keeps a mistress to minimize his self-doubt. To fund this excess, he steals mid-level art, replacing the originals with good copies and selling them.

"Since Brown is a very smart and organized crook who operates at a rather ethereal level, he does not expect to become the subject of a con. It is the unexpected and violent turns of events and the way that Brown reacts to them that form the basis for the plot.

"Headhunters is a Norwegian picture that relatively few people have seen. That is too bad, since it is a very good thriller. It has a good cast, is well acted and directed."

--ggf

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"Fiend Without a Face" [Walter Crabtree] 1958

"Fiend Without a Face [1958] was directed by Walter Crabtree and stars Marshall Thompson. Crabtree is primarily remembered now for directing two well-known cult films, the other being Horrors of the Black Museum [1959]. Thompson was a leading actor who never quite reached major star status. He is best recognized as the lead in the very successful 1960s TV series Daktari.

"Fiend Without a Face is one of many 50‘s atomic monster films, but it is also one of the few horror films Criterion has selected to restore for its collection. At first glance one asks why? Criterion is associated with very high tone films by directors such as Fellini, Kurosawa and Ingmar Bergman. On its surface today Fiend seems a mild B-grade horror effort. Looking at the horror films Criterion has chosen puts it in the same company as Diabolique, Island of Lost Souls, Repulsion and Night of the Hunter, which are indeed recognized as fine films. So why?

"Fiend Without a Face broke ground. It pushed the limits at the time. Looking at it now, this seems hard to believe, but in 1958 this film was censored for release in the US. The stop-motion monster was too frightening for many and it received poor critical reviews. However, Fiend generated a cult following over the years and is now considered one of the best genre films made in Britain. One presumes that is why it was selected."

--ggf

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"Farewell My Lovely" [Dick Richards] 1975

"Farewell My Lovely [1975] is the best screen adaptation of the classic Raymond Chandler crime novel of the same name. It was directed by Dick Richards with screenplay by David Zelag Goodman.

"Those who worked on this film carefully tried to recreate the time, place and feel of the novel. The sets, props, characterizations, locations and lighting make you almost believe you are there. To complement this, Robert Mitchum was cast as Philip Marlowe. Mitchum was the right age with the weary face and demeanor to match Marlowe‘s character. He gives a superb performance.

"This is a fine film and a worthy companion to Chinatown [1974]."

--ggf

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"The Lady from Shanghai" [Orson Welles] 1947

"The Lady from Shanghai [1947] was directed by Orson Welles and stars himself, Everett Sloane and Rita Hayworth. The plot involves the main character, Michael O‘Hara played by Welles, getting involved in an adulterous affair with Elsa Bannister, played by Hayworth. O‘Hara become snared in a supposedly perfect murder. This comes apart and O‘Hara has to unravel the mystery and defend himself.

"Welles‘ association with Hollywood studios was famously troubled. His early films were clearly masterworks, but they were not commercial successes. Welles still had enough reputation in 1946 to arrange a deal with Harry Cohn of Columbia over a phone call. This broke him out of the black listing caused by William Randolph Hearst‘s hatred of Welles for Citizen Kane [1941]. Welles promised Cohn a picture which he would write, direct and play a lead.

"What Welles turned in for Cohn was an expensive two hour noir thriller that cost six times its original budget. It was deemed too long to market successfully and ruined Welles‘ association with Cohn. The film was grossly cut and when shown in late 1948 was both a financial and critical failure. As a result, Welles was exiled to Europe, where he was recognized as a genius director.

"The master for this film was not preserved and the cut version was not preserved either. What is left today is a damaged film that still shows Welles‘ visual genius with black and white. Opinion of Welles‘ films has changed over the years as critics here eventually agreed with the opinions of those in Europe. It is instructive to see Shanghai and follow it with Welles‘ more perfect and preserved noir Touch of Evil [1958]."

--ggf

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"The Big Clock" [John Farrow] 1948

"The Big Clock [1948] was directed by John Farrow. The screenplay was written by Jonathan Latimer, based upon the novel by Kenneth Fearing.

"This is considered one of the better early film-noirs. The plot concerns an executive George Stroud, played by Ray Milland. Stroud works for the unpleasant, unscrupulous tycoon Earl Jonath, played by Charles Laughton.

"Like several well-known noirs, the story is told in flashback. Stroud spends too much of his time working for Jonath. He postpones his vacation one time too many and his wife leaves town without him. This places Stroud in a bar where he meets Jonath‘s mistress. Shortly afterwards Jonath murders that mistress in a fit of rage and Stroud is effectively framed by circumstantial evidence, which Stroud has to remove or alter before the police or Jonath‘s henchman close in on him.

"This is a Hitchcock-style plot and the suspense builds as Stroud tries to extricate himself from his predicament, while also trying to implicate Jonath. This film is not quite good enough to rank with the best noirs, but it has a fine cast with good directing and cinematography. The Big Clock was remade as No Way Out [1987].

"As an aside, the mistress was played by Rita Johnson, whose career was cut short by a brain injury supposedly caused by a hair dryer that fell on her head in 1948. The hair dryer, which was mounted on a pole, was found to be resting on a chair as it might have been when used. Surgery was required to save Johnson, but it damaged her ability to speak and act. The presence of other bruises on her body at the time of the accident led to speculation that she had been beaten sometime previously."

--ggf

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"The Player" [Robert Altman] 1992

"The Player [1992] was directed by Robert Altman and is based upon the novel and screenplay written by Michael Tolkin.

"This is a film about the Hollywood movie industry of the 1990s. It is told from an insider‘s perspective. The primary characters are high-level studio executives who read scripts and listen to ideas for movies. They report to their immediate superiors who make the decisions to green light or kill a film idea. Due to the nature of the business, its fickleness -- feast/famine, popular/unpopular, the upper layers of executives have unstable jobs while being paid huge salaries. The result is sycophancy, instability and political in-fighting.

"The primary character is Griffin Bell, played by Tim Robbins. He spends his days listening to pitches for movies and scheming to keep or elevate his position by undercutting others. It becomes clear eventually that Bell is not someone who you could ever consider a friend. On the surface he seems nice, but beneath that he is cruel, both professionally and personally.

"This film has a huge cast of stars playing themselves in cameo roles. It is amusing to see how many you can recognize and count. The film itself though can be unpleasant to watch. There is virtually nobody in the film to like. The one assistant executive who does have a heart Bell discards like a piece of trash when she can no longer help him rise. The killing and suspense that creates takes place rather late in the film and is not really central to the film.

"The primary strength of this film is that it was made. One cannot imagine any of the studio executives in the film green lighting it. Movie critics tend to praise The Player highly, happy to see Altman back in form. The writing and acting are are fine. The pacing may irritate some viewers though. If you are not interested in the movie business, it may seem slow at times.

"Altman is historically in the set of best directors. However, commercially his movies were rarely major successes. He was nominated for Best Director five times and Best Picture twice. The Academy finally gave him an honorary Oscar for his lifetime body of work in 2006 shortly before he died. The Player is usually considered one of his five best films."

--ggf

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"Shallow Grave" [Danny Boyle] 1994

"Shallow Grave [1994] is the first film directed by Danny Boyle. It was written by John Hodge. It stars Kerry Fox, Christopher Eccleston and Ewan McGregor as three young friends who share a particularly nice flat in Edinburgh.

"None of the three have good characters. They are egotistical yuppies. They delight in put-downs of people they have never met before. They have a spare bedroom to let. Eventually, they decide to let it to an intriguing man. What they don‘t know is that he is involved in a big drug deal. He OD‘s while in the flat and dies, leaving behind cash for a deal that he will now never make.

"What the three friends have in the way of moral fiber gets tested when they find that money. They must decide what to do with it, and if they keep it, what to do with the body. This sets the plot in motion. Their moral fibers part without much resistance. Dismemberment and murder are the result.

"This movie is primarily notable because the creative team that made it next did Trainspotting [1996], which was one of the best films that year. Shallow Grave suffers by comparison, but is still well above average as a crime thriller. It makes a good stab at Hitchcock. You will not be bored.

"Danny Boyle went on to make several good films in multiple genre, proving that he is one of the best current directors."

--ggf

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"Yojimbo" [Akira Kurosawa] 1961

"Yojimbo [1961] was written and directed by Akira Kurosawa and stars Toshiro Mifune. Kurosawa is Japan‘s best-known director and Mifune the best-known actor. Mifune played the lead in several of Kurosawa‘s films and their careers advanced together. Yojimbo remains Kurosawa‘s most popular film. Kurosawa won a career Oscar in 1990 and was nominated as Best Director for Ran [1985].

"By the end of the 1950s Kurosawa decided he wanted to make a Japanese western. Set roughly in the same time frame as a western, the plot is loosely based upon the more contemporary noir novel by Dashiell Hammett: Red Harvest. What Kurosawa did was to translate a western into the late Samurai era. He lightened it by adding comedic elements.

"The plot has a nameless and unemployed, but very skilled samurai played by Mifune, enter a town in which two businessmen are trying to kill one another off to control the town. Both hire groups of criminals as bodyguards and killers. The nameless samurai decides to use his intelligence and skills to play one off against the other, to destroy them both.

"Kurosawa was very successful at creating films that played like westerns, with the result that some were remade as westerns. Yojimbo was used by Sergio Leone as the basis for A FistFul of Dollars [1964], which launched Clint Eastwood‘s movie career, while the Seven Samurai [1954] was remade as The Magnificant Seven [1960]."

--ggf

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"Rampart" [Oren Moverman] 2011

"Rampart [2011] was directed by Oren Moverman and stars Woody Harrelson. This is a police drama co-written by James Ellroy, who is both an expert on Los Angeles police behavior and one of the best of today‘s crime novel writers. The film takes place in the Rampart division of the LAPD, which was the subject of a large-scale corruption investigation in 1999. This film is situated then.

"Rampart is a character study of a veteran police officer, Dave Brown, played by Harrelson. Brown is a smart and effective police officer, but he does not like people. He has a racist outlook and is partially corrupt. A failure as a husband and father, as a rule he does not care for people on a personal or professional level and uses them as he sees fit. Those around him recognize him as a dinosaur in the department, better suited to Los Angeles of 1950.

"Harrelson does a superb job playing this thoroughly disagreeable character. Rampart is not a film that you will enjoy watching. It is one that can be appreciated for the unblinking approach it takes to the subject matter."

--ggf

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"The Eiger Sanction" [Clint Eastwood] 1975

"The Eiger Sanction [1975] was directed and stars Clint Eastwood. George Kennedy co-stars

"Eastwood plays Jonathan Hemlock, a classical art professor, expert alpine climber and art collector. To collect the expensive art he wants, he moonlights as a professional assassin hired indirectly by a US intelligence agency. Having recently retired, he is coerced back into action to kill a mole. The only way to unmask the mole is to join a team climbing the Eiger via a very dangerous route.

"If that sounds implausible, it is. With the exception of George Kennedy, various characters that show up during the film are also implausible. One saving grace this film has is the mountain scenery and well-shot climbing sequences.

"Eastwood first starred and directed Play Misty for Me [1971], which is a much better film."

--ggf

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"Page Eight" [David Hare] 2011

"Page Eight [2011] is a movie-length British TV drama. It was directed by David Hare and stars Bill Nighy and Rachel Weisz, with an excellent supporting cast. Nighy plays John Worricker, a senior assistant to the MI5 director. The director dies suddenly and leaves Worricker with a dangerous puzzle to solve that leads to a discovery that the prime minister and some of those around him are corrupt.

"As is common with high-end British productions, the writing and acting are very good. This is not your typical spy/action film. It is much closer to John la Carre than to Ian Fleming. It is a film for those who like spy plots that demand both patience and intelligence from the viewer."

--ggf

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"Atlas Shrugged: Part 1" [Paul Johansson] 2011

"Atlas Shrugged: Part 1 [2011] was directed by Paul Johansson. The screenplay was written by John Aglialoro and Brian Patrick O‘Toole, based upon the book by Ayn Rand. It stars Taylor Schilling and Grant Bowler as the lead characters Dagny Taggart and Henry Reardon.

"This movie did poorly, both critically and at the box office. Did it deserve that fate? Probably not. The script and the acting are reasonable and the lead characters are believable. This was the first film Johansson directed and the result is watchable.

"Why do most critics dislike it so much? For libertarians Ayn Rand is a key figure while Atlas Shrugged is nearly a scared text. Most people are not libertarians, which means most approach the film as a piece of propaganda. Identified with Tea Party politics, there was apparently little chance that liberal critics would give the film an impartial viewing and as a rule they did not.

"Many critics claimed it is a very bad film. That was silly. There are indeed bad propaganda movies that have been made. This is not one of them. If does seem fair to criticize the feel of the film though, which is more a TV serial than a movie. Mediocre, yes. Bad, no."

--ggf

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"Groundhog Day " [Harold Ramis] 1993

"Groundhog Day [1993] was directed and co-written by Harold Ramis. It stars Bill Murray as Phil, a somewhat nasty local TV weatherman, and Andie MacDowell as Rita, his eventual love interest.

"This is a standard story of a nasty boss who redeems himself. What is different is the way that it happens. Ebeneezer Scrooge is shown past and possible futures by a ghost and that changes Scrooge‘s outlook on life and money. A similar method is used in It‘s A Wonderful Life [1946]. The mechanism in this film is that Phil repeats a single day many times from waking to falling asleep. He remembers the decisions he made during each day, sees their outcomes and adjusts.

"This film is a good light comedy. The new twist on an old story works. Bill Murray is convincing, humorous and the film flows quite well. It is certainly one of the best comedies that Bill Murray has done."

--ggf

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