USA

Alfred Hitchcock – Shadow of a Doubt (1943)

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Alfred Hitchcock cited Shadow of a Doubt as his favorite film experience, indicating on numerous occasions that from day one of shooting up until the final scene concluded, he was invigorated by a spirit of joint cooperation. He was so impressed by the spirit of the people of Santa Rosa, California that he ultimately bought a home in nearby Santa Cruz that he used as his Northern California retreat away from bustling Los Angeles. Read More »

Abel Ferrara – Mulberry St. (2010)

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Synopsis

In this film, Bronx-born director Abel Ferrara energetically documents Manhattan’s Little Italy during the famed San Gennaro feast. As Ferrara explains, the feast “brings all the characters out.” He introduces viewers to Butchie the Hat, Cha Cha, Baby John, and others, who reminisce about the pre-Giuliani feast as prepare for the annual “invasion” of tourists. Actors and musicians including Danny Aiello and Matthew Modine make appearances. Read More »

Hal Hartley – The Book of Life (1998)

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from movie martyr:

Set on the eve of the millennium (December, 31, 1999), Hal Hartley’s The Book of Life manages to send up the notion of the apocalypse in Hartley’s typically offbeat way. The film, which is shot on digital video, follow Jesus (Martin Donovan) as he wanders around Manhattan, pondering whether or not he should unleash his judgment upon the world. He is accompanied by Magdalena (P.J. Harvey) who is his personal assistant and confidante. In a little over an hour, with only about a half dozen main characters and only the barest special effects, Hartley weaves a fugue of hope, resignation, and a generalized sense of millennial tension. Few writers are better than Hartley at spinning memorable dialogue, and his stuff here is as good as anything that he’s turned out. For example, when Jesus calls Lucifer (Thomas Jay Ryan) on his cell phone, he greets him with a simple, “It’s me…” Hartley always underplays things, even when the world’s about to end. Read More »

Alfred Hitchcock – Lifeboat (1944)

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Several survivors of a torpedoed ship find themselves in the same boat with one of the men who sunk it.

In the Atlantic during WWII, a ship and a German U-boat are involved in a battle and both are sunk. The survivors from the ship gather in one of the boats. They are from a variety of backgrounds: an international journalist, a rich businessman, the radio operator, a nurse, a steward, a sailor and an engineer with communist tendencies. Trouble starts when they pull a man out of the water who turns out to be from the U-boat. Read More »

Steve Collins – Gretchen (2006)

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Quote:
The feature debut from writer-director Steve Collins is a hilarious, compassionate look at youthful trauma, misguided affections and the discovery of self worth. Gawky and disregarded, Gretchen Finkle (Courtney Davis) is a high school senior with zero social prospects, save for her sleazy, would-be rebel boyfriend Ricky (John Merriman). The discovery of his infidelity leads Gretchen to a devastated reassessment of her priorities and aims in life. Winner of the L.A. Film Festival’s ‘Best Narrative Feature’ award and featuring remarkable performances by Davis, Merriman, Becky Ann Baker (Freaks & Geeks) and Stephen Root (Office Space, DodgeBall), ‘Gretchen’ balances soul-searching melancholy with a sprightly wit and deadpan comic invention to become a standout among recent independent features. Read More »

Jean Negulesco – Three Strangers (1946)

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Plot Synopsis from allmovie.com by Hal Erickson

On the eve of the Chinese New Year, three strangers make a pact before a small statue of the Chinese goddess of Destiny. The strangers are Crystal Shackleford (Geraldine Fitzgerald), married to a wealthy philanderer; Jerome Artbutny (Sidney Greenstreet), an outwardly respectable judge; and Johnny West (Peter Lorre), a seedy sneak thief. The threesome agree to purchase a sweepstakes ticket and share whatever winnings might accrue. Alas, the pact brings little more than misfortune for all concerned. Jerome steals funds from a client, then kills Crystal (with the goddess statue!) when she refuses to hand over her sweepstakes winnings. Johnny and his girlfriend Icy (Joan Lorring) decide to abandon their life of crime, but when it is revealed that the ticket is a winner, he sets fire to it to avoid having his name tied to the crime. If it seems strange that Peter Lorre ends up the romantic lead in Three Strangers, remember that the film’s director, Jean Negulesco, thought Lorre was the finest actor who ever lived–and as a result, he fought tooth and nail with Warner Bros. to cast Lorre in this film. Read More »

George Cukor – A Bill of Divorcement (1932)

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Plot:
After spending fifteen years in an asylum, Hilary Fairfield escapes from the institution after regaining his sanity. He finds that things at home are different than when he left them. His wife has divorced him and is already planning her next marriage, and his daughter has grown up throughout the years and is planning to marry as well. Read More »