Finite Focus: Ustinov & Laughton (Spartacus)

  As much as I enjoyed each and every one of the 196 minutes of my first viewing of Spartacus (in wonderful 70mm no less!), I wasn’t even halfway through it when I was able to pick out my favourite scene. Oh sure, the long shots of 10000 extras are magnificent, the massive battle scene both stunning and exciting (real rolling logs of fire!) and the...

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Finite Focus: Billy’s classroom story (Kes)

  Suppose a man has a hundred sheep. lf one of them strays, does he not leave the other 99 on the hillside and go in search of the one that strayed? And if he should find it, I tell you this, he is more delighted over that sheep than over the 99 that never strayed.   The bible passage above, as spoken by a young girl at a school assembly in Ken...

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Finite Focus: Literary Interlude (The Big Sleep)

There’s pretty much nothing I don’t love about Howard Hawks’ The Big Sleep – Bogart’s world-weary but somehow still idealistic private eye Philip Marlowe, the chemistry between him and Lauren Bacall (now an off-screen couple starring in their second film together), the cast of colorful supporting characters like Martha Vickers as...

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Finite Focus: The Client is Always Wrong (Desperado)

Having just caught The Losers, a sort of the 80s action and ‘splotions throwback in earnest stupidity with the stylistic nudge-nudge-wink-wink most definitely not in that era, my first point of entry into the films blend of super-cool-posturing and bantering snark was Robert Rodriguez’s big(ger) El Mariachi sequel/reboot Desperado. And it was not...

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Finite Focus: The End of an Era (The Last Picture Show)

Spoilers for The Last Picture Show Of all the New Hollywood directors, Peter Bogdanovich may be the one who carried his love of and nostalgia for Old Hollywood the most visibly on his sleeve. Before making his way out to Hollywood to be a director, he was a unquenchable cinephile, devouring the works of Ford, Hawks, Welles, and other Old Hollywood filmmakers,...

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Finite Focus: Inconceivable! (My Dinner With Andre)

My Dinner With Andre has been (more or less) integrated into public awareness as much through parodies as from various critical support upon its release in the early 1980s. But sitting down with the film, all the jokes and the hype (if that is the appropriate word) disappear as you drop into the trance of compelling storytelling. The title being a literal...

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Finite Focus: “Someone get me a fucking wiener before I die!” (One Flew Over The Cukoo’s Nest)

In this age of 3D glasses, product placement, and an abundance of needless special effects, I sometimes forget what it is that has always made me love movies so much. For me, I’m reminded during those rare moments when the actors completely take over a scene, where everyone and everything just clicks, and I become so engrossed in the moment that I am no...

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Finite Focus: Epilepsy! (Enter The Void)

As 2009 films go, there is a lot of love around these parts for Gaspar Noé‘s sensational masterpiece Enter The Void: Three of the dozen or so contributors to Row Three chose it as their ‘best film of 2009′ and it should bear mentioning that they were the only three that saw it! Hyperbole aside, I am well aware that this tour-de-force opening...

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Finite Focus: Did You See That Coming? (May)

There is a scene, buried in the middle of Lucky McKee‘s romantic riff on dolls and Frankenstein, that achieves a graceful and majestic form of horror. Do not take this the wrong way, there are dozens of memorable scenes May, from the titular lead’s (Angela Bettis) creepy schizophrenic relationship to her doll Suzie, to her cute courting of...

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Finite Focus: Clear Eyes in the Desert (The Hit)

Terence Stamp has the ability to play a hard-edge mo-fo like any of the best of cockney slanged gangsters, but he also brings a goofiness, a loose charm, and sly wit to his performances that make for a unique performances. Bringing exactly this to the table in Stephen Frears’ 1984 gangster picture, The Hit, Stamp plays a mid level operator, Willie Parker,...

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