Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

3 Women

(1977)

It got off on the wrong foot with me from the very opening frames. There was a long, long, slow, slow panning shot over a therapy pool full of old people and their attendants, and the music just instantly got on my nerves. It featured oboe, contra-bassoon, and flute. It was harsh, dissonant, random sounds like so much modern music. It was composed by Gerald Busby. Interesting side stuff: ... Read more »

Blood Father

(2016)

I understand why Mel Gibson was attracted to this script. Mel has a Jesus complex, and likes any movie where he can be shown to suffer, and he suffers plenty here. Why anyone else would like it is a puzzle to me. In the opening scenes Mel’s junkie, drunken daughter, who has gotten herself involved with some serious drug dealers, is there when a mass murder happens, and in fact shoots one ... Read more »

Father Goose

(1964)

For some reason Cary Grant thought it would be a fun change of pace to play a sloppy, disreputable alcoholic in his next-to-last picture. Not one of his better ideas. There’s just no way you can make Cary Grant look disreputable. This is set in the early days of the war in the Pacific, and he is dragooned into being a lookout on a remote little island, calling in Jap sightings to Trevor ... Read more »

The Getaway

(1972)

Once more Sam Peckinpah pushed the boundaries of violence in the movies. This is a pretty standard chase, but with some things that surprised me. The violence is all done well, particularly a tense scene of killers stalking each other in a sleazy hotel. Steve McQueen is given early release from prison by Ben Johnson, who has a lot of political clout. The price is he has to plan and pull ... Read more »

Dunkirk

(UK, USA, France, Netherlands, 2017)

We recently enjoyed Their Finest, a film about the making of a blatantly false propaganda piece about Dunkirk. Since Lee has sworn off war films, I went to see this one by myself, and it’s a very good one. One of the best things about it is that it doesn’t concentrate on phony heroics. It acknowledges that most soldiers, most of the time, are frightened to death ... Read more »

Their Finest

(UK, 2016)

By coincidence I saw two films about Dunkirk in the last month: the huge and fairly accurate (according to the survivors) Dunkirk, and this much more obscure one. This is about the making of a film about Dunkirk in 1940, shortly after the real event. It’s a comedy-drama, and we enjoyed it.
The plot … two screenwriters hear of a set of twins who ... Read more »

Nashville

(1975)

Robert Altman is one of my top ten directors. M*A*S*H is on my list of favorite films of all time. He made many great films (and a small number of stinkers), and this is one of those revolutionary ones that changed the shape of movies forever. His career had its ups and downs. He was in favor, then unpopular, then made a comeback. But Read more »

Witnesses

(Les Témoins, France, 2014)

Quite a strange TV series, which went for two seasons. It is set in Le Tréport, a small town 40 miles southwest of Calais on the English Channel. There is a weird, tiny funicular which climbs the cliffs that divide the town between upper and lower sections. The plots are far-fetched, maybe a little too unlikely. For instance, the first episodes of the first ... Read more »

HealtH

(1980)

Not a typo. Also known as H.E.A.L.T.H, and just plain Health. It is an acronym: Happiness, Energy, And Longevity Through Health. I can’t resist pointing out that the title in Germany was Der Gesundheitskongress.

When a male lion is defeated by a younger male, the first thing the new king does is kill ... Read more »

The Lost City of Z

(2016)

An Amazon production. Remember, when you pronounce this, to say zed, as the British do, not zee.

For the whole of the nineteenth century and well into the twentieth, adventurers and explorers (it was often hard to decide which was which) were obsessed with filling in all those blank spots on the map. The biggest ones were in Africa, or in South America, ... Read more »