Hal Ashby – Being There (1979)

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Roger Ebert / May 25, 1997

On the day that Kasparov was defeated by Deep Blue, I found myself thinking of the film “Being There” (1979). The chess champion said there was something about the computer he did not understand, and it frightened him. There were moments when the computer seemed to be . . . thinking. Of course, chess is not a game of thought but of mathematical strategy; Deep Blue has demonstrated it is possible to be very good at it without possessing consciousness. Continue reading

Henry Koster – Harvey (1950)

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synopsis
This whimsical fantasy about a local drunk’s 6′ 3 1/2″ imaginary rabbit pal was a smash hit (and a Pulitzer Prize winner) on Broadway and was then adapted into this likeable farce that’s also an allegory about tolerance. James Stewart stars as Elwood P. Dowd, a wealthy tippler whose sunny philosophy and inebriated antics are tolerated by most of the citizenry. That is, until Elwood begins claiming that he sees a “pooka” (a mischievous Irish spirit), which has taken the form of a man-sized bunny named Harvey. Although everyone is certain that Elwood has finally lost his mind, Harvey’s presence begins to have magically positive effects on the townsfolk, with the exception of Elwood’s own sister Veta (Josephine Hull), who, ironically, can also occasionally see Harvey. A snooty socialite, Veta is determined to marry off her daughter, Myrtle (Victoria Horne), to somebody equally respectable, and Elwood’s lunacy is interfering. When Veta attempts to have Elwood committed to an insane asylum, however, the result is that she is accidentally admitted instead of her brother. Then the institution’s director, Dr. Chumley (Cecil Kellaway), begins seeing Harvey, too. Hull, who reprised her part from the stage production, won an Oscar and a Golden Globe.by Karl Williams Continue reading

Robert F. McGowan – Mary, Queen of Tots (1925)

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A couple makes dolls modeled on neighborhood kids. A gardener at a mansion buys four of them for Mary, the girl of the house. He’s her only friend: her parents neglect her for work and card games and her governess is humorless. Mary loves the dolls and dreams of them during her nap. While Mary sleeps, the governess throws the dolls in the dust bin. Mary wakes and goes searching – outside she runs into the very same four kids who were the dolls’ models, and she thinks she’s still dreaming. She invites them back to the mansion where she’ll either make fast friends or the gang will need to make a fast getaway when the governess finds them. Continue reading

Luigi Zampa – Bello, onesto, emigrato Australia sposerebbe compaesana illibata AKA A Girl in Australia (1971)

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Early 1970s. Amedeo is a poor Italian immigrant living in Australia for twenty years. Seeking to marry an Italian wife, he corresponds with Carmela, a pretty girl from Rome. They do not reveal their true identities and do not mention their hardships in their letters. Carmela is actually a prostitute seeking an opportunity to change her life style. Amedeo, embarrassed about his looks, sends a photograph to Carmela of his handsome friend Giuseppe. Finally, Carmela lands in Melbourne. Amedeo meets Carmela at the airport and he is struck by her beauty. Thinking he will be rejected because of his looks, he decides to tell Carmela that he is Giuseppe, and he reserves to tell her the truth at a later moment. This starts a three day eventful journey across Eastern Australia. Carmela will soon become better acquainted with Amedeo and she learns of his hardships as an immigrant. She eventually meets the real Giuseppe, however, she believes that he is her betrothed groom, Amedeo. She quickly learns Giuseppe’s true shady intentions. In fact, she finds herself living in a red light district and then escapes. Amedeo and Carmela finally find true happiness together. Continue reading

Sogo Ishii – Gyakufunsha kazoku AKA The Crazy Family (1984)

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The Kobayashi family finally get the chance to move out of their tiny, cramped Tokyo apartment in favour of the suburban house of their dreams. But all is not well: the house is infested by termites and the family starts cracking up: Son Masaki is studying so obsessively for his exams that he’s losing his mind; daughter Erika is oblivious of all but her forthcoming record company audition, grandfather Yasukuni starts getting World War II flashbacks and father Katsuhiko is so worried about his family’s “sickness” that he thinks can only be cured by group suicide… Continue reading

Joseph McGrath – 30 Is a Dangerous Age, Cynthia (1968)

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Plot: Rupert Street, a piano player and composer, decides to write a musical and marry before he reaches his thirtieth birthday. One minor problem: he’ll be 30 in six weeks… Written by Homme A. Piest

British musician/composer Rupert Street is turning thirty on September 13th, six weeks away. He sees turning thirty as a milestone which will define the success or failure of his life. As such, he plans to write a stage musical by then, even signing a contract with his agent Oscar to hire the necessary crew to stage it by his birthday. The other goal for his thirtieth birthday is to get married, despite having no potential “Mrs. Street” in his life. He is hoping that it will be Louise Hammond, a young woman who has just moved into the same rooming house in which he lives. His hope is despite Louise already having a boyfriend named Paul and she stating early in their meeting that she has no intention of getting married. As Rupert pursues both his six week goals, they seem incompatible as he needs to spend quality time on both to get both. But things change closer to September 13th when reaching one goal seem predicated on achieving the other. Written by Huggo Continue reading