Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Blitz Wolf

(1942)

Warner Brothers saw fit to run a disclaimer before this little cartoon, explaining that the racial stereotypes contained herein “… were wrong then, and they are wrong now.” No argument from me, but I was expecting yellow, buck-toothed, narrow-headed, grinning, myopic “Japs,” and this is just about the Nazis. Frankly, I didn’t see any racial stereotyping of Germans. Were the Nazis ... Read more »

For the Common Defense!

(1942)

MGM had a series of shorts called “Crime Does Not Pay.” During wartime they were mostly about spying by the Nazis and the Japs. This one is about some arms smuggling operation from Chile to Columbia, and it’s pretty dull with low production values. It is notable today mainly because a very young Van Johnson appears in only his third screen role. He was only a year away from superstardom in ... Read more »

Mr. Blabbermouth!

(1942)

The DVD of Mrs. Miniver (one of the best movies about World War II) contains three contemporary shorts from MGM. They cover different aspects of the morale-building efforts at home while our boys in uniform fought the Japs and Krauts. I use those terms deliberately, as they (and worse) were routinely used to describe our enemies.

In this one a portly ... Read more »

Russian Doll

(2019)

The story idea explored so wonderfully in Groundhog Day, of someone who dies repeatedly and wakes up on the same day the “next” morning has been used in several other films, some of them good, some not so good. It has even been used in a slasher movie which, I’m told, is actually a very black comedy, something called Happy Death Day, ... Read more »

The Girl in the Spider’s Web

(Canada, Sweden, Germany, USA, UK, 2018)

Stieg Larssen’s Lisbeth Salander is right up there with Lee Child’s Jack Reacher as one of the best genre literary creations of the last few decades. The Swedish film trilogy of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest are among the best movies I’ve ever seen. The American ... Read more »

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch

(UK, 2018)

When I heard about this I reacted the same way I did when, quite a few years ago now, there was a spate of “interactive” books, where you made choices and turned to page X or Y to proceed. My reaction was simple. Why? Why would anyone want to read such a book? When I pick up a book I want to be told a story, not have to thread my way ... Read more »

The A.B.C. Murders

(UK, 2019)

If I were casting Agatha Christie’s book The A.B.C Murders one of the last people on my list of possibilities to play the famous Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, would be John Malkovich. Poirot has been played by a fairly wide range of people, but Malkovich is almost totally against the short, obsessive-compulsive dandy described in the books.

But it ... Read more »

Tully

(2018)

This turned out to be less a movie review than a rant. Sorry about that.

I like to think that there really isn’t any particular “type” of movie that I either totally love or totally hate. I’m kidding myself, of course, though there are very few genres of cinema where there hasn’t been at least a few examples that I thought were above the rest. There have been a (very) few superhero ... Read more »

The Good Place

(2016)

Continuing with the “embarrassment of riches” theme I started in my review of The Marvelous Mrs. Maizel, this show is forking brilliant. No bullshirt! It opens with Kristin Bell sitting on a couch looking at a wall where she sees the words

WELCOME! EVERYTHING IS FINE

While she is taking that in, Ted Danson opens a door ... Read more »

The Marvelous Mrs. Maizel

If it weren’t for The Good Place this would probably be the only good comedy in the last few years. But now we have an embarrassment of riches. Rachel Brosnahan is the perfect little Jewish American Princess, living with her dreamy hubby in a fabulous Upper East Side apartment with her two young children. She puts out more energy than ... Read more »