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F.W. Murnau – Die Finanzen des Großherzogs AKA The Finances of the Grand Duke (1924)

The likeable and carefree Grand Duke of Abacco is in dire straits. There is no money left to service the State’s debt; the main creditor is looking forward to expropriating the entire Duchy. The marriage with Olga, Grand Duchess of Russia, would solve everything, but a crucial letter of hers about the engagement has been stolen. Besides, a bunch of revolutionaries and a dubious businessman have other plans regarding the Grand Duke. With the intrusion of adventurer Philipp Collins into the Grand Duke’s affairs, a series of frantic chases, plots and counter-plots begins… Read More »

Edward Buzzell – Easy to Wed [+Extras] (1946)

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This is one of the few times at MGM Lucy was given a chance to exploit her full comedic range, and she goes at it with gusto. From the moment she makes her whirlwind entrance looking absolutely gorgeous in a white wedding gown, she commands the screen whenever the camera is on her. In fact, though the movie ostensibly “stars” Van Johnson and Esther Williams, the bland leads take a back seat to the lively pairing of Lucy and Keenan Wynn, as her somewhat morally corrupt boyfriend. Forget comparisons to “Libeled Lady”; “Easy to Wed” is of a different era, and much more slapsticky, and, as noted, Lucy is a gem whether getting drunk and playing the piano or evincing true pathos as a wronged woman. She has rarely been photographed more appealingly, either. Read More »

Roy Rowland & Buster Keaton & Edward Sedgwick – Excuse My Dust (1951)

SYNOPSIS: In 1895, amateur inventor Joe Belden, a resident of Willow Falls, Indiana, is scorned by almost everyone in town, except his mother, his best friend, Ben Parrot, and his sweetheart, Liz Bullitt. Joe’s latest, and most ambitious, invention is a gasoline-burning horseless carriage he is building in his mother’s barn. He is overjoyed when his “gasomobile” finally starts up, but his jubilation is short-lived as the barn soon catches fire. After the volunteer fire department, which is headed by Joe, finally puts out the fire, the worried pharmacist, Horace Antler, refuses to sell Joe more gasoline, and Harvey Bullitt, Liz’s gruff father, angrily tells him to stay away from her. Read More »

Naser Taghvai – Daii jan Napelon AKA My Uncle Napoleon (1976)

An uproarious adoption of a popular novel by Iraj Pezeshkzad set in and around the family compound in early 1940s Tehran, marvelously rich in personality and incident. The title character, so-called because of his constant invocation of the general, rules over a wonderfully complex extended family. A hilarious series which makes fun of just about everything. Read More »

Robert Downey Sr. – Babo 73 (1964)

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Taylor Mead plays the president of the United Status, who, when he isn’t at the White House—a dilapidated Victorian—conducts his top-secret affairs on a deserted beach. Robert Downey Sr.’s first feature is a rollicking, slapstick, ultra-low-budget 16 mm comedy experiment that introduced a twisted new voice to the New York underground. Read More »

Luis Buñuel – Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie AKA The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)

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The guests arrive at the Senechal home for a dinner party, only to discover that the invitation had been given for the following evening. This miscommunication proves to be the first in a series of unusual events that invariably prevent the Thevenots (Paul Frankeur and Delphine Seyrig), the Senechals (Jean-Pierre Cassel and Stephane Audran), Don Rafael (Fernando Rey), and Florence (Bulle Ogier) from enjoying a meal together. An alternate plan to dine at a local bistro is foiled when a funeral wake for the restaurant owner is held in an adjacent back room. Read More »

Yue Lu – Zhao xiansheng AKA Mr. Zhao (1998)

From the Chicago Reader
A watershed in the history of Chinese cinema, this first feature (1998) directed by Lu Yue–the remarkable cinematographer of Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl and several recent features of Zhang Yimou, including Shanghai Triad–is an eye-opening comedy about adultery in contemporary Shanghai. Much of the dialogue is improvised by the talented actors–Shi Jingming as the husband, a professor of traditional Chinese medicine; Zhang Zhihua as his factory-worker wife; and Chen Yinan as his mistress and former student–and both the shooting style and the emotional directness of the performances suggest the filmmaking of John Cassavetes. Read More »