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  • Flying Down to Rio

    Flying Down to Rio

    ★★★

    Known as the film that first paired Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers as dance partners, Flying Down to Rio displays the basic formula for all their subsequent movies more or less in full form right from the start. It’s all there: the singing, the dancing, the upper crust society trappings, and of course the star-crossed lovers held apart by inconvenient circumstances and/or comic misunderstandings. It just has the wrong actors in the lead roles. 

    Instead Gene Raymond and Delores del…

  • The Wild Bunch

    The Wild Bunch

    ★★★★★

    If the Men on a Mission movies of the 1960’s (The Magnificent Seven, The Guns of Navarone, The Professionals, et al.) often represented masculinity at its best and most functional—men of particular skillsets coming together for a job worth doing, a cause worth fighting for—The Wild Bunch details what happens when those Men are left without any Mission. When all that testosterone can no longer be channeled into anything constructive and it’s left to sit and spoil, turn self-destructive. 

    As…

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  • The Thing

    The Thing

    ★★★★★

    Screened in memory of Ennio Morricone. I dare say this isn’t one of the titles that springs immediately to mind when listing the late maestro’s greatest scores, but it does highlight that he was capable of great versatility. Here he creates a John Carpenter score for a John Carpenter movie. It is “music that disappears” as the director likes to put it; it becomes a part of the environment. I doubt it would play well on its own away from…

  • The Exorcist

    The Exorcist

    ★★★★★

    It's a common complaint about The Exorcist that you have to actually believe in God, the Devil, or some form of demonic possession to find it frightening or intense. Well, I don't believe in any of those things, but I do believe in Max von Sydow. And I believe that the film's main set piece--the actual exorcism--works largely because of his involvement. I don't need to believe in Pazuzu, Demon of the Southwest Wind, to be moved when Father Merrin…