One of the century's smarter films about politics, Preston Sturges' The Great McGinty takes a blowsy, no-nonsense approach to the subject at its core -- corruption -- and by treading that line between sanctimonious outrage and full-blown farce achieves a welcome attitude of realistic (and fatalistic) morality. Sturges' fable starts in one of those wonderfully atmospheric, fly-buzzed and smoky bars that inhabit Third World cities in all great films, where the man, Dan McGinty (Brian Donlevy), is working as a bartender, and telling the story of his fairy tale rise and fall. In its own meritocratic way, the story is actually quite inspiring: man comes out of nowhere, rockets upward through a major city's political organization, marries well, lives better, eventually becomes governor. Sure, he rose to power on a raging tide of graft, but that's the Chicago way, right?
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Criterion has unearthed this saga for an exhaustive DVD box set, which features two versions of the film (including one called Confidential Report), plus its own cut of the movie, which combines elements of all the seven versions into a "comprehensive" version of the film. Welles' novel is included in whole, too, along with umpteen essays about the curious backstory of Arkadin and its long road to DVD.
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On top of that, Touch of Evil makes him a Mexican! I love it! Charlton Heston plays a Mexican detective!
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Continue reading: Marquis De Sade: Justine Review
Jean-Luc Godard's oddball sci-fi spends a lot of time ostensibly bemoaning the dehumanizing effects of technology but doesn't make much of a case for it here. Sure, if we were dumb enough to literally allow a computer to rule our lives, we might get what we deserved. But modern life (and even reasonably forseeable life) has no signs of Godard's "outlawing of emotion" and oppression of individuality. In fact, these ideas are more prevalent than ever, which tends to horribly date Alphaville against its more thought-out successors like A Clockwork Orange and Blade Runner.
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So why watch Sinatra and his 10 (not 11) ex-military buddies romp through their kinda town? Ocean's Eleven is the kind of movie you turn on and just hang out to, just like the Rat Pack would have done, as you enjoy a scotch and soda on a Saturday afternoon while Dean Martin croons "Ain't that a kick in the head..." in the background. Then you'd go bowling in an orange sweater to talk about the job. When it's over, you won't feel like you've bettered yourself in any way, but you might feel just an inch of kinship with a bygone era when Vegas was black tie-only and when a woman's place was in a distant, supporting role. (Just kidding, dames.)
Continue reading: Ocean's Eleven (1960) Review
There would have been plenty of opportunity for some My Fair Lady-type hijinks in the early part of this remarkably-controlled film, with Brynner playing the stern taskmaster and Bergman the not-so-ugly duckling about to transform into a swan. But director Anatole Litvak keeps everything measured and reasonably serious, focusing more on Bergman's dementia than the perfunctory romance that supposedly blossoms between her and Brynner. Bergman's performance (which won her an Oscar) has its hammy "look at me!" moments, but they're shrewdly undercut by the surrounding characters' suspicion that she is inventing not just her past as Anastasia but her entire dementia as well.
Continue reading: Anastasia (1956) Review
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With the recent release of her third, very well received album 'Hunter' just behind her, Anna had plenty of relatively new songs to showcase.
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