Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan



The story of Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, the 1971 Melvin Van Peebles film that was the first real “black” movie. I saw it when it was new, in San Francisco, and I’d like to see it again. I remember that it was hard to watch, as a white person, that it opened my eyes a little to how black people experienced the world. I suspect it wouldn’t look so good ... Read more »

The Babadook

(Australia, 2014)

Here’s a rare thing: a scary movie that is not drenched in blood. It’s labeled as a psychological horror film, and that sounds about right. It’s a throwback to the sort of thriller like The Haunting, or some of Hitchcock’s best work, where the tension builds, and there are no scenes of dismemberment or other grossness. Partly that might be because the budget was ... Read more »



As I write this, Babel is nominated for Best Picture of the Year, and is considered a favorite. (It won the “Golden Globe,” right? And that’s a really, really good indicator, right? Not!!!) As I write this, we have seen four of the nominees, all of them except Letters From Iwo Jima, and I ... Read more »

Babes in Toyland

(AKA: March of the Wooden Soldiers, 1934)

I have such a fondness for this film. My family was a little late in getting a TV set. It wasn’t until I was in the third grade, which would make me, what? Eight? What I recall about those first glorious days sitting around the boob tube with my friends was that almost all the after-school programming was old cowboy shoot-em-ups and comedies that were in the public domain. There was Hoot ... Read more »

Babette’s Feast

(Babettes gæstebud, Denmark, 1987)

First, this goes on my list of all-time great food movies. It’s a small genre, but a delicious one. I have seen movies that glorify Italian cooking (Big Night), Chinese (Eat Drink Man Woman (Yin shi nan nu)), and Mexican (Like Water for Chocolate (Como agua para ... Read more »

Back From Eternity


If a story really appeals to you, why not make it again for a new generation, right? Hitchcock did it, and so did Frank Capra. That must be how John Farrow was feeling, too, as he made this exact same story in 1939 as Five Came Back. But that one had a screenplay by Dalton Trumbo and Nathaniel West. This one was scripted by someone I’ve never heard of, John ... Read more »


(UK/Germany, 1994)

I liked this a lot more than I expected to. It’s about the very early days of the Beatles, when they were touring various toilets in Hamburg and working their asses off, learning to play all night long, getting better and better, abandoning skiffle for hard (for that time) rock ‘n’ roll. I hadn’t realized it was mostly about Stu Sutcliffe and his girlfriend Astrid, and his relationship ... Read more »

The Bad and the Beautiful


Certainly a star-studded cast here. Lana Turner gets top billing because she was the bigger star in 1952, but it’s really Kirk Douglas’s picture. He is a movie mogul who is the son of a producer who bankrupted his own studio, so Kirk had to work his way up from the bottom. Along the way he stabs his best friend, a director (Barry Sullivan) in the back, humiliates the woman who loves him ... Read more »

Bad Education

(La Mala Educación, Spain, 2004)

Pedro Almodóvar is one of the best directors working today, and there’s quite a few of his films I haven’t seen yet. Have to do something about that.
This is a very good one. From the opening credits and music I thought “Hitchcock!” It’s not a thriller but a psychological drama. And, in fact, the story is so complex that it would take half a page just to summarize it and it might ... Read more »

The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans


A bit of checkered history here. Abel Ferrara made a movie Bad Lieutenant in 1992. I’ve never seen it, and so also claims the director of this one, the always baffling but usually intriguing Werner Herzog. He claims it is a re-imagining, but Ferrara says he felt he had been raped. Both are clearly the same story, of a cop (Harvey Keitel in the original, Nicholas ... Read more »