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ROPE OF SAND (1949) blu-ray review

January 27, 2015



written by: Walter Doniger
produced by: Hal B. Wallis
directed by: William Dieterle
rating: unrated
runtime: 114 min.
U.S. release date: August 3, 1949
DVD/Blu-ray release: December 23, 2014


The 1949 release of “Rope of Sand” was a return to form of sort for producer Hal B. Wallis, who had struck gold seven years earlier with a little film called “Casablanca”. To that end he brought back three of the supporting actors from that film for “Rope of Sand” and while it would be easy to dismiss this as a kind of poor-man’s “Casablanca”, it does hold up on its own as a solid action-noir exercise.

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AMERICAN SNIPER (2014) review

January 27, 2015



written by: Jason Hall
produced by: Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Andrew Lazar, Bradley Cooper & Peter Morgan
directed by: Clint Eastwood
rating: R (for strong and disturbing images of war violence, and language throughout including some sexual references)
runtime: 132 min.
U.S. release date: December 25, 2014 (limited) & January 16, 2015 (wide)


Last June, Clint Eastwood’s “Jersey Boys” was released and could not find its audience, inevitably deeming it a flop. I have yet to catch up with it, but I will seeing as how I feel some nostalgic obligation to check out whatever film the veteran actor/director directs. Of course, I knew that “American Sniper” was around the corner, an adaptation of United States Navy SEAL Chris Kyle’s 2012 memoir, detailing aspects of his life and four tours in the Iraq War. Appreciating the way Eastwood has handled war in the past, I was curious yet apprehensive about this new film, mainly because Eastwood hasn’t delivered a great film in years.

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THE IMITATION GAME (2014) review

January 27, 2015



written by: Graham Moore
produced by: Nora Grossman, Ido Ostrowsky and Teddy Schwarzman
directed by: Morten Tyldum
rating: PG-13 (for sexual references, mature thematic material and historical smoking)
runtime: 114 min.
U.S. release date: November 28, 2014 (limited) & December 25, 2014 (wide)


Ever heard of Alan Turing? I hadn’t, although I unknowingly was quite aware of his ridiculously important historical contributions. How about something called Enigma? Yes? No? No matter how you answered, here’s an easy recommendation with the movie awards season jumps in full swing. History, World War II or just a film fan, check out “The Imitation Game”.

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FOXCATCHER (2014) review

January 27, 2015



written by: E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman
produced by: Bennet Miller and Megan Ellison
directed by: Bennett Miller
rating: R (for some drug use and a scene of violence)
runtime: 134 min.
U.S. release date: November 14, 2014 (limited) & January 16, 2015 (wide)


Well, it’s that time of the year again. AWARDS SEASON!!! Last week, the nominations for the upcoming Academy Awards were released and appropriately set the Internet on fire with one opinion after another spewing its thoughts. This and that deserved a nomination. This and that didn’t deserve a nomination! One that picked up two acting nominations and one directing, here’s “Foxcatcher”.

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The Top Ten Films of 2014

January 17, 2015



The top five of my top ten were either true discoveries or had some of the most memorable moments or characters in 2014. As I compile such a list, those are the ones that stand out. Those are the ones I’ve been championing the most, the ones I’ve turned others on to and the ones, years from now, will still be discussed and studied. Like previous years, choosing my 1 thru 5 wasn’t hard, unlike my 6-10. That’s always a struggle, since each of those films could be rearranged in any order and I’d feel just fine about it. I could also easily come up with a 11-20 list – but, this is a top ten list and an order must be determined. Also, like in previous years, I feel I could’ve easily extended this list to 20, knowing there were certainly more than 10 films that I’d recommend.

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ANNOUNCEMENT: The 2015 Oscar Nominations!

January 15, 2015



The news is out! “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “Birdman” both received 9 nominations, including Best Picture. That was expected. What REALLY happened this morning during the announcement of the 2015 Oscar nominees? Well, the same thing that always happens: surprises and snubs.

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SELMA (2014) review

January 10, 2015



written by: Paul Webb
produced by: Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Christian Colson & Oprah Winfrey
directed by: Ava DuVernay
rating: PG-13 (for disturbing thematic material including violence, a suggestive moment, and brief strong language)
runtime: 127 min.
U.S. release date: December 25, 2014 (limited) & January 9, 2015 (limited)


It doesn’t take any post-viewing contemplations to realize just how important “Selma” is. That happens while watching the powerful film from director Ava DuVernay, who has crafted a powerful and relevant feature that follows the protest voting rights marches from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965. It’s both frustrating and sadly unsurprising how relevant this film is. Thankfully, it delivers an inspiring message in an earnest and non-manipulative manner. But most surprising and welcome is how “Selma” offers a look at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. the man – not just the preacher, exquisite orator and civil rights leader. It’s an approach that allows viewers who only know “I have a dream” to relate and understand King as well as the support and opposition he received.

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