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Sunday Matinee: T-Men

Anthony Mann directed this film noir about two undercover treasury agents trying bust up a counterfeiting ring.

Dennis O’Keefe and Alfred Ryder star as two treasury agents who are assigned to go undercover and try and infiltrate a counterfeiting gang. They start in Detroit where they join local crime boss Carlo Vantucci’s gang. From there they get wind of big player named The Schemer who works out of Los Angeles. O’Keefe goes to L.A. while Ryder stays in Detroit.
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REVIEW: The Third Wife

There is a small but critical difference between well-thought-through films and movies too precious for their own good. The Third Wife, Ash Mayfair’s feature debut, is among the latter.

Inspired by country life in Vietnam during the 19thcentury, The Third Wife of the title is May (Nguyen Phuong Tra My), a 14-year old child who’s essentially sold to a landowner she doesn’t know. At the bottom of the household totem pole, May’s only option is to get pregnant and have a son. Hung, the husband —and most of Vietnamese society at the time— values boys over girls and polygamy is seen as a way to improve the odds.

Unbeknownst to Hung, serious drama is unfolding under his nose. His first wife is bent on presenting him with a son, never mind her health. Hung’s second wife, Xuan, is carrying an affair with her husband’s first-born son, a teenager whose coddled existence has kept him from coping with adversity. May herself provides the cherry on top by developing a crush on the coveted Xuan. The characters’ gender gives you a clue who pays for the indiscretions and who gets away scot-free. Continue reading “REVIEW: The Third Wife”

Sunday Matinee: The Hitch-Hiker

Ida Lupino started her career in 1930s as an actress but by the 1950s she changed gears and became a director. She became the first woman to direct a film noir with 1953 The Hitch-Hiker.

Loosely based on the true story of convicted serial killer Billy Cook, this tense thriller follows two men on a fishing trip who make the mistake of picking up a hitchhiker.
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Sunday Matinee: On Dangerous Ground

Robert Ryan is brutal cop who beats his suspects and finds himself in trouble with his superiors.

After ignoring a warning from his boss Ryan beats another suspect for information. The suspect threatens to sue the department and Ryan’s boss has had enough. He sends Ryan up North to help in the investigation of a murdered girl.
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Sunday Matinee: The Mysterious Island

There have been many adaptations of Jules Verne’s classic novel L’Île mystérieuse aka The Mysterious Island. The novel was originally a kind of sequel to Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and In Search of the Castaways.

The original story had to do with five Americans fleeing the American Civil War and crashing on a mysterious island. They survive thanks to a mysterious benefactor and along the why meet one of the characters from In Search of the Castaways and fight off pirates before meeting their benefactor who turns out to be Captain Nemo who survived the end of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and has spent his old age on the island.
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REVIEW: Halston Remains Inscrutable

The thing that separates good documentaries from great ones is that the latter discover something about their subjects that wasn’t of public domain (Three Identical Strangers comes to mind). Halston is standard stuff, framed by one of the most ill-conceived gimmicks in the history of the genre, so much so it nearly derails a compelling story about the pitfalls of greed.

The rare couturier who kept an eye on the general public when crafting his designs, Roy Halston put America on the fashion map in the early 70’s. His skill was in the cut: Halston could make a dress out of a single, continuous piece of fabric, and favored simple, straight lines. But for all his skill with the scissors, he was quick to sell his name to bigger businesses, a practice that would end up costing him dearly. Continue reading “REVIEW: Halston Remains Inscrutable”

REVIEW: The Tomorrow Man Is a Bit Stale

About three years ago, a mediocre action flick made it to Canadian cinemas for no discernible reason. It was called Precious Cargo and featured noted muscle-head Mark-Paul Gosselaar. The former Saved by the Bell star had to go head-to-head against a villainous Bruce Willis, noticeably bored out of his mind. The movie was perfunctory and ended with a collection of bloopers (none of them funny), weird for a thriller. At least Willis got his paycheck.

What has Precious Cargo got to do with The Tomorrow Man? Both are labors of love by people too attached to material that’s not nearly as good as they believe it to be. If nothing else, there is a modicum of humanism in The Tomorrow Man thoroughly absent from the Gosselaar-Willis “romp”.

Written, directed and shot by Noble Jones —who has done videos for Taylor Swift and OneRepublic— The Tomorrow Man is the kind of movie you would take your parents to. At the center of the film is Ed (John Lithgow), a lonely retiree that spends his time in chatrooms and his money on a bomb shelter. Ed is not deranged but he is rigid and prone to rants (so, close). Continue reading “REVIEW: The Tomorrow Man Is a Bit Stale”

Sunday Matinee: The Burglar

Nat Harbin (Dan Duryea) sees a newsreel that tells how a spiritualist named Sister Sarah (Phoebe Mackay) has inherited a priceless necklace. Nat sends Gladden (Jayne Mansfield) to case the joint and pose as an admirer.

Gladden tells the gang where the necklace is and Sister Sarah’s evening habits. They plan a heist to steal the necklace.
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Sunday Matinee: Drive A Crooked Road

Richard Quine was an actor who starred in variety of movies from the 1930s and 40s. He moved into directing movies in the 1950s. His first films were musicals and he collaborated with screenwriter Blake Edwards with a couple of them.

In 1954 the two shifted gears and made a gritty film noir film Drive A Crooked Road.
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REVIEW: The Biggest Little Farm Is Hipster Heaven

It’s an all too common pipedream: Trading the rat race for the simpler life, one in which you cultivate your own food, grow your own eggs and work your patch of land from sunrise to sundown. Nobody follows through because, as delightful as it sounds, we know farming is a lot harder than this hipster visualization of heaven. Heck, I can’t even grow basil on my balcony.

The Biggest Little Farm chronicles seven years in the life of a couple who actually did it. Inspired by their rescue dog —too loud for apartment living— John and Molly Chester traded their L.A. apartment for 200 all-but-abandoned acres not far from the city. It wasn’t a blind bet: John turned this move into a project open to investors and people who want to learn how to farm. Continue reading “REVIEW: The Biggest Little Farm Is Hipster Heaven”