Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Stagecoach

(1939)

Here is one of the best westerns ever made, possibly the best of all time. The only one that comes to mind that might beat it out is The Searchers, also a John Wayne/John Ford collaboration. In fact, Wayne (who I didn’t like much as a man) is in most of the top ten on my own list. When he had a good script, a part he could sink his teeth into, and a good horse to ride, the man was ... Read more »

Stalag 17

(1953)

I know I’m going to be in the distinct minority here. At the IMDb 95 out of 100 reviewers praise this to the skies. What’s even stranger to me is that I distinctly recall enjoying it when I first saw it, many years ago, and possibly even on a second viewing. But I am very sorry to say that this is a bad, bad movie. It is even offensive. And the sad part is that, buried deep in here is a ... Read more »

The Girl in the Park

(2007)

Sometimes a movie comes along that keeps me on the edge of my seat because I think it’s going along pretty well, engaging me with good characters, an interesting situation, good writing and acting … and I can see a pitfall ahead, a route that, if taken, will spoil the whole thing. This is one like that. And I have to issue a SPOILER WARNING, because whether or not the movie succeeds or ... Read more »

Vegas Vacation

(1997)

Oh, how that lovable Griswold family has fallen. The first two movies were terrific, I thought. The third one, National Lampoon’s European Vacation, was not nearly as good. This is the first one to drop the National Lampoon brand. There is only one good thing I can say about it: I heard it was terrible, so my expectations were so low ... Read more »

Deepwater Horizon

(2016)

Since it is literally impossible these days to tell what is real in a movie and what is a special effect, I assumed that most if not all of the huge floating oil rig I was seeing was computer generated. Not so! Well, some parts of it certainly were, and I’m sure that most of the gigantic, fiery explosions were CGI, but they actually built a rig. I couldn’t find out whether or not it ... Read more »

The White Helmets

(UK, 2016)

I have not seen any of the other four nominees for Best Documentary Short Subject for this year, but I would be amazed if any of them were better than this, the winner. Producer Joanna Natasegara and director Orlando von Einsiedel went to Syria, to Aleppo, to the very heart of darkness, to film the work of the Syria Civil Defence, a group of about 3000 volunteers known for wearing white ... Read more »

Poltergeist

(1982)

Oddly enough, the first startling thing in this pretty startling movie was remembering that TV stations used to sign off early in the morning! No kidding, for you youngsters out there. They would play the national anthem and we would see images of the flag waving, the Lincoln Memorial, stuff like that, and then … nothing! What they ... Read more »

Manchester by the Sea

(2016)

Casey Affleck is a janitor in Boston when he learns that his brother has died of heart failure. It’s not a surprise because they knew he had a bad heart, and he takes it reasonably well. In Manchester he learns that his brother has left him in charge of his modest estate, and the guardianship of his 15-year-old son. This is all news to him, and he wants no part of it. It’s clear that he ... Read more »

Hacksaw Ridge

(USA, Australia, 2016)

Most films about the “true” exploits of war heroes tend to exaggerate the feats of heroism, and make up a lot of stuff along the way. Here is maybe the rarest thing of all: A war movie that actually shows less of the astonishing deeds of the hero. It is the story of Desmond Doss, a Seventh-Day Adventist from Virginia who declined to call himself a conscientious ... Read more »

The Night Manager

(UK, 2016)

There have been quite a few good movies made from John le Carré’s novels but they have, of necessity, been trimmed down so they fit in a two-hour time frame. Because they are even denser than your normal novel, much detail has to be cut. But I think the natural format for his books is the mini-series.

I can prove it, too. In 2011 an excellent movie was made from his book Read more »