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Film of the week 131.

The film of the week this time is 12 CONVERSATIONS ABOUT ONE THING.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0268690/

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13 Conversations about one thing is like a Robert Altman film. A whole bunch of characters thrown together who all relate in some way. This is a film about Happiness. Some have lost it and others have just done something that makes them feel it. This isn't as dark as the other film about Happiness which happens to be called Happiness. In the case of Matthew McConaughey's character Troy, he is a lawyer who just one a big case and wants to brag about it. He meets Alan Arkin's character Gene who is manager at an insurance company who has been assigned the tough job of firing somebody. Arkin is downbeat and cynical about the idea of finding happiness in any form. Troy buys Gene a drink and they establish a wonderful connection through happiness and the eternal pursuit of it. Unfortunately after getting drunk, Troy hits a pedestrian while driving home.

He thinks he has killed the person so he leaves the scene while sustaining a wound. He feels so guilty about killing this person that he keeps the cut open with a razor to punish himself.Then you have Clea Duvall who is a very talented cleaning lady who gets nothing but criticism from her boss. You also have John Turturro's character Walker who is a college professor who leaves his wife and starts an affair with another woman. Everyone in this film has something to do with happiness. it's the universal idea. We all want some form of happiness. Some find it while others spend their lives hoping for it. This is a brilliant film that manages to show you a large cast of character all looking for something similar. I highly recommend to fans of character drama films like Short Cuts or The Royal Tenenbaums.

Film of the week 130

The film of the week this time is THE MOTHER.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0323298/

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The Mother is essentially Harold and Maude without the dark comedy and suicide. It came out way before Daniel Craig was a bit name in America. It's interesting watching the films he was in before he was Bond. I realize watching them that he is a terrific actor. Probably better than most of the other Bond actors actually. He's certainly a better actor than Pierce Brosnan. He even seems to go out of his way not to be typecast as the charming suave spy character. Here he does a great job. The film is about May, a grandmother living with her husband of 3 decades. One day on a visit to see her daughter in London, her husband passes away. This leaves her alone and vulnerable.

She is worried that her husband's passing will turn her into the old lady that everyone forgets about. The kind who is content to sit in front of the TV and not do much else She is not ready for that though. One day she meets a man who is working on bulding an addition to her daughter's house. He is played by Daniel Craig and his hard drinking rugged looks are appealing to May. So she starts a romantic relationship with him to try and rekindle something that she lost. The sex scenes are pretty graphic, but the story is more about May discovering some kind of passion in her life. It's the kind of film you definitely wouldn't get in Hollywood. I can understand why of course because of the off putting subject matter, but it's a fantastic film with great performances by Daniel Craig and Anne Reid as May. It's more of a character piece than a plot driven film but if you don't mind that it's worth seeing.

Film of the week 129.

The film of the week this time is THE SINGING DETECTIVE.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0090521/

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Okay this is technically a tv mini series, but it also happens to be an amazing one so I still want to mention it. The Singing Detective is pretty much the best mini series I have ever seen. Heck it is better than most regular TV series. It stars the great Michael Gambon as a mystery writer who can barely move from his hospital bed because of a crippling condition. He spends large parts of his day retreating into his imagination where he relives his stories in his mind. He also flashes back to his tormented childhood during World War 2. It is very involving and surreal story with one of the greatest acting performances from Gambon that you will ever see. They did a remake with Robert Downey Jr that was nowhere near as good as this.

If you want a story with a lot of depth and great characters then I highly recommend this. The series is about 5 hours long but every minute is brilliant. It's the kind of show that they don't make much anymore. Especially in the UK where TV drama is mostly pretty predictable. Oh did I mention it is also a bit of a musical? Those parts are actually some of the most entertaining in the series. Especially when a group of doctors break into song at one point. It's a truly amazing series. Have I praised it enough yet? I just want to make sure.

Film of the week 128.

The film of the week this time is KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0089424/

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First of all I want to say that the reason I haven't posted much recently is that I moved into my first apartment recently. Lots to organize and figuring out the internet has been a real hassle. Anyway, lets not dwell on the unpleasant. Kiss of the Spiderwoman is a fantastic film with the late great Raul Julia who many will know as Gomez from the Adams Family. The film is about two men in prison. Luis, played by William Hurt is a homosexual arrested for immoral behavior and Valentin is a political prisoner. Some of the best parts of the film is the banter between Hurt and Julia. They play off each other brilliantly. Even Hurt who has been known to be a tad wooden in some films does a great job here. Raul Julia is always fantastic and here he is just as great.

Luis invents romantic stories that he tells to Valentin to distract him from reality, while Valentin is trying to focus on his current situation. As the film goes on they come to understand and respect each other despite their differences. That has the potential to be a tad cheesy but it is pulled off very well. Valentin is pulled out of prison to be tortured for information because he worked for an anti government group. One aspect of the film that is really interesting is that the romantic story that Luis tells is from a Nazi propaganda film. Luis only cares about the romance aspect of it, but Valentin is repulsed by the concept of listening to a nazi story. After a while though he gets caught up in the story and stops caring about the origins. This a great film that I highly recommend watching. It is currently a theater musical which sounds awful to me but it might be good for all I know.

Film of the week 127.

The film of the week this time is BREAKER MORANT.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080310/

http://images.marketworks.com/hi/81/80874/mg-185153.jpg

Breaker Morant is one of the best war films ever. That is quite a bold claim, but I stand by it. The story is of 3 soldiers fighting in the Boer War in South Africa who are accused of murdering their prisoners. A lot of the film takes place in a courtroom with various characters arguing the case. It sounds a tad dull but trust me it is amazingly well done. All the actors are brilliant especially the great Edward Woodward as Harry Morant. What makes the film so great is how it never judges the soldiers on trial. All it does is show what they did and lets you make up your mind. They commited brutal actions but they were also ordered to, which makes their conviction tragic despite their actions.

One of the most interesting parts of the film is the political aspect. These men were used by the British government to avoid war with Germany who were siding with the Boers. If these men werent arrested for their actions then Germany would have joined the war and fought against Britain. Think about the worldwide consequences that would have. I highly recommend this film if you want to see a great anti war film. Heck it's just an amazing film in general. Very few war films approach it's emotional power.

Film of the week 126.

The film of the week this time is THE STUNT MAN.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0081568/

Sorry for the delay with this one. I am moving into a new apartment so things have been a bit hectic. The Stunt Man is a very interesting film in many ways. It has become a bit of a cult hit over the years. It was nominated for best director, actor, and adapted screenplay but it had such a limited release that nobody had a chance to see it. There have been many films made about hollywood, but this one is special. Sometimes it is too hectic for it's own good and Steve Railsback isn't the most compelling actor to watch as a lead. However it is saved by Peter O'Toole being amazing as usual and a twisting narrative that creates a bizarre movie within a movie.

At times it can be tough to follow the plot but once you get into the story it is really fun. Railsback plays a Vietnam veteran who is on the run from the cops. We don't know why at first, but it is explained later. He runs into a film set and hides out as a stunt man who works for a megalomaniac director Eli played by Peter O'Toole. We find out out Eli will do anything to get his film made, including risking the lives of his crew. it is enormous fun to watch, especially when the plot takes several left turns along the way. It sets up a story that seems predictable but it always adds something different to pull the rug out from under your feet. Despite it's flaws I highly recommend it.

Film of the week 125.

The film of the week this time is THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO.

The Purple Rose of Cairo is one of Woody Allen's best films. He is one of those directors who has made so many films that there are a few I sometimes forget he made. I have gotten to the point with his films where I prefer him to not be in them. Nothing against him, but there's only a certain amount of neurotic behavoir I can take before that persona starts to become grating. I don't mind if he narrates his films like Radio Days which he wasn't in but he did the narration. Purple rose was apparently one of the only films of his that he felt satisfied by the end result. It is about a young woman who lives during the great depression. She is played brilliantly by Mia Farrow. Her character is naive and lives with a oafish husband played by Danny Aiello. Her only sollace in life is the local cineme where she goes to forget about her crappy life.

One day she see's a film called the Purple Rose of Cairo that she falls in love with. She goes to see it so often that one of the characters in the film, Tom Baxter, looks at her and comments on how many times he see's her. Baxter then leaves the big screen and runs out of the theater with her while the other characters on screen look on in bewilderment. This is a very clever and sweet film with a fantastic performance by Jeff Daniels as Baxter. I won't spoil how the plot ends up because it has a couple of surprises, especially later on. It is a tad aimless at times but other than that I loved it.

Film of the week 124.

The film of the week this time is Something Wicked This Way Comes.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086336/

Something Wicked this way comes is one of the darkest films Disney ever made next to Watcher in the woods. It's is about a Circus that comes to a small town that grants anyone's greatest desires. It is run by Mr. Dark played brilliantly by Jonathan Price. Stephen King's novel Needful things has a very similar plot to this that borders on rip off. All the townsfolk have a wish they want granted. The main character Will wants his dad to be healthier so he can play with him more. His dad wants a stronger heart so he can live a fuller life. The rest of the film is about the consequences of their wishes. It is a very dark film with some pretty adult themes. I don't think it would be considered a kid's film now because of how mature it is.

I think it is fantastic though. It was based on a book by Ray Bradbury who also wrote the screenplay. His screenplay is rich with detail and terrific dialogue. The idea of a whole town that gets seduced by greed and how Will tries to save them all before something awful happens is very compelling. It's a shame that this film doesn't get the recognition that other Disney clasics get. I think its one of the best films they ever made. I wish they would take more risks with stories like this.

Film of the week 123.

The film of the week this time is ROLLING THUNDER.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0076637/

Rolling Thunder is one of the best revenge films ever. It is a gritty film that was written by Paul Schrader who also wrote Taxi Driver. He is a pretty inconsistant writer, but every now and then he hit strikes gold. This is probably his best film next to Taxi Driver. It stars William Devane as Charles Rane. He and his friend Johnny Vohden played by Tommy Lee Jones are returning to a small town in Texas. They recieve a hero's welcome by the locals, a car, and a suitcase full of silver dollars and Charles is taken home by his wife Janet, his son Mark, and a policeman Cliff. He later finds out that Linda is now engaged to Cliff and Mark no longer rememebers him. He accepts his wife's new relationship but later on we find out he goes back to the routines he established while he was a POW.

Later on he gets confronted by a group of thugs who want to steal the silver dollars. They beat him up and try to force him to tell them. Linda and Mark come home and try to find the suitcase. I won't spoil what happens next, but I will say it is a pretty brutal film. You don't get many films like this anymore. Sure there are revenge films, but they don't have the same level of grit and grime. Unlike some revenge films like the Death Wish sequels where it's just Charles Bronson killing everything. Here the violence is never glorified or over the top. The main characters are cold and emotionally distant, but they have more depth than most action film stars. If you like a good 70's thriller then I highly recommend this.

Film of the week 122.

The film of the week this time is THE FRONT.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0074554/

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I have been fascinated by the Blacklisting era in Hollywood. I can't imagine what it was like at that time for all those writers, directors and other artists to not be able to work because of the possible political affiliations. The Front is a very interesting film that was actually directed by Martin Ritt, who was blacklisted in the 50's. It was also written by Walter Bernstein, who was blacklisted around the same time as Ritt. So as you can see this film comes from the personal experiences of these people. It stars Woody Allen as a cashier who poses as a writer so blacklisted writers can submit their work through him and his name. This came out around the time Allen was fairly busy writing and directing, so it's surprising to see him in a film he didn't write or direct himself. He does a fairly good job too.

You will notice some of his usual mannerisms, but they don't detract from the film, unless you really don't like him on screen in general.Zero Mostel has a very good supporting role as a blacklisted actor. Sadly he a died a couple of years after this came out. This was a pretty big flop when it came out in the 70's unfortunately. I can understand why though since many people were sensitive about the blacklisting considering it wasn't that long ago when this film came out. If you find that time in hollywood interesting where politics get in the way of art, then I highly recommend this. It's written in fairly broad strokes to make you feel bad for the blacklisted people, but considering it was written by a man who was blacklisted I can understand why he didn't paint those who condemned him in a positive light.