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The Blair Witch Project

After I got home from seeing _The Blair Witch Project_, I turned on all the lights in the apartment, and tuned the radio to a soothing classical music station. When I finally decided to go to sleep, I turned on my white noise generator. I don't think that, after seeing that movie, I could have dealt with the normal batch of random outside noise that is typical of my building.

The curious thing is, this is all on account of the last third of the film. The first third, the setup, is entertaining and amusing. The second third is creepy, disturbing, and suspenseful, but not nearly as scary as the hype might have led you to believe. But it's the last third, which goes beyond creepy and disturbing and into absolutely bloody terrifying in the last ten minutes, that makes this movie as memorable and brilliant as it is.

La cité des enfants perdus

Beautiful film
Most of the comments here have focused on the visuals, which I agree are stunning, but the thing that I loved most about this movie was the relationship between One and Miette. It's exquisitely tender and even romantic, but without so much as a hint of prurience -- amazing how they pulled that off. And the young girl who plays Miette is a revelation.

Other than that, everyone else has said. I should also add, though, that it's nice to see that there are other adults out there who understand how scary Santa Claus can be to a small child.

The Quiller Memorandum

Not terribly audience-friendly, but smart and very, very cool.
This isn't your average James Bond knockoff spy thriller; the fact that the screenplay is by playwright Harold Pinter is the first clue. It's a bit strange to see such exquisitely Pinter-esque dialogue (the laconic, seemingly innocuous sentences; the profound silences; the syntax that isn't quite how real people actually talk) in a spy movie, but it really works.

Quiller isn't your average spy. He's played by George Segal with a cool superficiality that works very nicely; he doesn't go charging in with guns blazing -- he doesn't even carry a gun -- and the one time he does try to fight his way out of a sticky spot, he gets pounded. The other standouts in the cast are Alec Guinness as Quiller's controller, and Max von Sydow as the leader of the neo-Nazi cell that Quiller is attempting to crack.

At first glance, the movie is deeply frustrating, and the script appears full of holes, but in fact, it's so smart that it assumes the audience is bright enough to pick up on the breadcrumb trail of clues that it's actually leaving. All in all, I recommend it, but with reservations. If you like tidy conclusions and have limited patience with extreme subtlety, this may not be to your taste.

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