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  • The Old Maid

    The Old Maid

    ★★★

    Period soaper about an intense emotional rivalry between two cousins, Charlotte and Delia Lovell (Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins), over a man and a “foundling child”. The melodrama works if you can get into the mindset of an era (US civil war and antebellum period) where the revelation of pre-marital congress would be the death knell to any woman’s life in respectable society. Davis, in one of her four 1939 roles, gives a strong performance as Charlotte a sympathetic martyr…

  • Bleak Moments

    Bleak Moments

    ★★★

    Watching Mike Leigh’s spare, drab, low key and low budgeted directorial debut Bleak Moments so soon after witnessing the feverish big budgeted garish excesses of Ken Russell’s The Music Lovers, reinforced to me that there are many methods of stylization in film, and style need not solely be the product of a film’s editing and look it is often a simple matter of tone and performance. While Russell’s visually stunning Tchaikovsky biopic with a dubious narrative eschews any sense of…

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  • Almost a Man

    Almost a Man

    ★★★★

    This bastard child of Alain Resnais full of meticulously composed hallucinatory images suggestive of an impressionistic jumble of time, memory and madness. Navel gazing dime store Jung aside - it’s all rather beautiful and compelling, but then again I’m a sucker for artsy heavy handed symbol laden stuff like Tony Richardson’s less than admired gorgeous looking Mademoiselle. In 1966 the year of Blow-Up and Persona it’s easy to see how this one would get lost in the post-modern cinema art…

  • Lisztomania

    Lisztomania

    ★★½

    …. From a mess to the masses

    Should have have gone with Keith Moon as the Pope instead of Ringo Starr; but I suspect that Ken Russell thought that would be too on the nose given that he was filming this documentary of Keith’s 21st birthday party at a Flint, Michigan Holiday Inn.

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  • Mank

    Mank

    ★★★

    Was lead to believe this was all about the film buff authorship bun fight (this element is really only specifically and awkwardly shoehorned in at the end) but it felt more like both a partisan election year film (with a too late release date) and a belated apology by proxy to the talented Marion Davies (put me on team Amanda Seyfried for MVP). Uneven (the first portion expository dialogue is like bad Sorkin) but pretty impressive once it settles in.…

  • The Last Wagon

    The Last Wagon

    ★★★★

    If you watch enough CinemaScope films that were released by 20th Century-Fox during the mid-fifties you start to realize that the camera typically seemed imprisoned. While the pretty vistas became more awe inspiring as the result of the wide frame the filmmaking became more staid, with little but static shots and minimal cuts (an occasional pan, but few tracking shots). As the filmmakers technical tools became more cumbersome montage took a back seat, and even exotic location shot scenes could…