REVIEW: Touch of Evil [1958]

“Your future’s all used up” Back in Hollywood a decade after his The Lady from Shanghai debacle, Orson Welles‘ Touch of Evil almost met the same fate. He presented his rough cut on time yet Universal brought in Harry Keller to reshoot scenes—replacements and brand new—and truncated it to 93-minutes nonetheless. While the studio destroyed any unused footage, they did let Welles take a gander before its bow. Their cut was ultimately released, but seeing it early allowed Welles the opportunity to write a 58-page memo outlying its problems. He…

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REVIEW: The Lady from Shanghai [1948]

“Killing you is killing myself. But, you know, I’m pretty tired of both of us.” Director Why would Orson Welles work on a studio film again after the debacle of The Lady from Shanghai? The auteur submitted his first film noir on budget only to watch producers chop sixty minutes out and demanded reshoots to add distracting close-ups. I guess that’s the price of casting Rita Hayworth whether she’s your wife or not. The money is in play to see her and if you’ve already bleached and cut her iconic…

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REVIEW: Super 8 [2011]

“Cut! … That was mint.” When the silhouette of a boy and his bike floats across a moon as a blue Amblin wavers its way over, you know you’re in for something special. A flood of nostalgia overwhelms and you feel like a kid again, anticipating the heartfelt tale of mystery and adventure that waits. Credit producer Steven Spielberg for refusing to update his shingle’s iconic look, retaining the fuzzy quality devoid of the computers we had become accustomed to in the 80s. Couple it with J.J. Abrams’s Bad Robot…

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REVIEW: The Young Victoria [2009]

“You are confusing stubbornness for strength” When I had heard that the closing night film for the 2009 Toronto Film Festival was to be The Young Victoria, I admittedly scratched my head. Why would they choose some run-of-the-mill historical period drama when they could tap a new, exciting experiment instead, closing it in style? Well, I apologize for selling this film short because it is a beautiful piece of art, educating its audience about Queen Victoria at the same time as telling a story of youth, romance, power, and control.…

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REVIEW: A Man for All Seasons [1966]

“I trust I make myself obscure” Considering my only entry point into the history of England during the reign of King Henry VIII comes from the first season of Showtime’s “The Tudors,” (a quality program, perhaps a tad too salacious than absolutely necessary), I was more than obliged to take a friend up on his offer to watch the Oscar-winning A Man for All Seasons. The world is full of coincidence and having this film come up now seemed perfect. I have been awaiting the conclusion of season two before…

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REVIEW: The Stranger [1946]

“I watched them, here like God, looking at little ants” With a plot that contains a Nazi war criminal hiding out in New England with his past erased, playing the role of school teacher and marrying the judge’s daughter, all while being on the hunt by an Allied Commission man, you’d think some good things could happen. Then you see that it stars and is directed by Orson Welles … you can’t lose. Unfortunately, absolutes are too misleading because Welles proves here that he is not infallible. In a heavy-handed…

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REVIEW: The Trial [1962]

“To be in chains is sometimes safer than to be free” What do you get when you combine two masters at their craft like Franz Kafka and Orson Welles? Why, The Trial, of course—a heady, surrealistic commentary on society and justice. Much like the novel Atlas Shrugged, laws here are made not to be followed, but to be broken. Society is constructed on the spine of guilt. One doesn’t need to be aware of what they have or haven’t done; to just be accused is all that is needed to…

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REVIEW: Funny Games [1997]

“You’re on their side, so who will you bet with?” I’ve been meaning to write a review for Michael Haneke’s Funny Games since rewatching it Halloween night. I had seen it for the first time around 3-4 years ago on IFC and was blown away by its inventiveness. It definitely holds up today as a sharp thriller and satire for our culture of wanting to see pain and torture on screen. With movies like Saw coming to theatres now, it may be even more relevant than it was in 1997.…

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