winstonfg

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Reviews

The Fabulous Baker Boys
(1989)

6.8? Are you kidding me?
This is one of my favourite movies of the 80's: A sophisticated, adult story in the 'Funny Girl' mould, about relationships and suffocation, growth, change, and moving on, leisurely and wittily told with barely a false note or step, except perhaps a slight tendency to tug at the heartstrings; and one of the best endings I can remember.

And boy, is there a lot of smoking; literal and figurative.

The Bridges make a great ensemble, and Michelle Pfeiffer has never been more radiant (as well as proving she has a great set of pipes), and the score and cinematography are sumptuous. And along the way it introduced me to the work of Dave Grusin and Lee Ritenour and, by proxy, artists like David Benoit and Diane Schuur.

Good as they are, you can keep your Shinings and Platoons and Raiders. For me they are a class behind this film, which rightly belongs in the running with Blade Runner, Raging Bull and The Color Purple for movie of the decade.

The Saint: Little Girl Lost
(1966)
Episode 10, Season 5

Put the critical faculties aside and enjoy
Possibly the best episode of series 5, this is an improbable tale of ruffians, duplicitous females, and plenty of swash and buckle, with the feel of some of the more light-hearted programs of the earlier black-and-white series, and set in a mythical Ireland of tinkers, poitín, and blarney that probably never existed in the 1860's, let alone the 1960's.

Nevertheless, if you can suspend your disbelief for long enough, it's an enjoyable romp, with its tongue firmly planted in its cheek and enough twists and turns to satisfy the most Machiavellian of plot-hounds.

The Good Girl
(2002)

Candide Americain?
Perhaps not; but the message I took away from this movie was much the same as I got from Voltaire's book: - Life may not be great, but it's what we've got; so get on with it.

Of course it comes at it from a completely different perspective; and for a 21st century American audience, Holden Caulfield is probably more accessible than Leibnitz; but the theme is similar: Passion is overpublicised and has a "sell by" date; friendship and children are timeless.

Structurally, I thought the drabness was a bit overplayed and the action could have moved faster but, all in all, I enjoyed it; and I particularly enjoyed seeing Jennifer Aniston in a movie that allowed her to exercise some acting chops.

And the rest of the cast were uniformly good too, with particular kudos to John C. Reilly as JA's husband and John Carroll Lynch as the "store manager".

I suspect it was a flop because (a) its message was one nobody really wants to hear, and (b) JA wasn't her usual perky self.

But you know what? We all have to grow up sometime. Which is kind of what the movie's about...

Burlesque
(2010)

Could have been 10 minutes shorter ... but other than that, OK.
And I say that as an old fart who has never particularly liked Christine Aguilera, or her image or brand of pop (am I getting old?).

It's not 'Funny Girl' or 'Cabaret', but it's a bit of a mixture of both, with some nice moments for the supporting cast - especially Stanley Tucci, who once again gets to play "the gay" in that interesting, undemonstrative style of his - and not much needed from the leads, who do their jobs as required.

And if that sounds like a put-down, it's not meant to be. I enjoyed watching the film - it's just not up there with the ones I mentioned. And the business of it being too "Bob Fosse"-esque? Pah. If you're going to mimic, at least pick the best.

My preference would have been for a few more classic lip-synced blues tracks; but at the end of the day, it's a nice story, well told. And it reminded me that, even with all that prodigious female talent on display: It ain't what you got; it's how you use it.

Castle: Clear & Present Danger
(2014)
Episode 3, Season 7

Perlease
C'mon Castle; you can do better than this.

Invisible suits? Really? Is this what it's come to? I thought it was bad enough to start out the season with the old soap-opera "lost his memory" twist (wonder what will happen to that?) ... but sci-fi?

This is NOT why I watch this show. I've given it a 5 because the banter is still quite entertaining, and I still think the cast is great; but the episode as a whole sucked. If this is the best that season 7 can come up with, maybe it's better that there isn't a #8.

It happens to the best of 'em ... and Castle has been at the top for quite a while.

Put up or shut up ABC (and writers), but please don't give us dross.

The Truth About Charlie
(2002)

Tries to do the impossible, and fails ... and it's a pity.
There are some films that just shouldn't be re-made. Ben-Hur springs to mind, along with Metropolis, and probably the best of Bogie (with or without Bacall). This was another.

I *think* Demme was trying to give Charade a new "voice", but he fails almost immediately by showing us Charles Lampert's demise; when in the original it was the fact that we DON'T know what happened to him that adds to the whole bewilderment for Regina - not to mention the loony (though menacing) baddies, and the bizarre ways they were bumped off.

It's also arguable that the original wasn't worth repeating anyway since, at best, it was beautifully done piece of fluff with 3 stars - Hepburn, Grant and Paris - doing what they were known for and did best. This version is much darker, and so misses out on the stylish, chocolate-box feel of the original. Even Paris manages to look dismal.

All of which is a great pity because Thandie Newton is a good actress, and was probably at her most gorgeous at this time. And with a lighter touch, Mark Wahlberg might have been given the chance to be the proper leading man he shows glimpses of.

Lastly: No kid - who was *pivotal* (if somewhat annoying) in the original. The whole market scene was completely wasted. And boy, did I miss Henry Mancini.

So, all in all: A disappointment - even though I'd read a few of the comments before I watched it, so I wasn't expecting much.

Unfortunately, they were right.

Malice
(1993)

Just plain GOOD
I keep coming back to this film, not only because it's very well made; but because it's *satisfying* - a straight-down-the-line Hitchcockian thriller with lots of twists and turns and tons of atmosphere. And excellent performances by all involved. Why it only has a 6.3 rating I don't know; this is definitely in my Top 50 movies, and possibly higher (it's been a while since I made a list).

I don't think I'm giving away too much by saying that part of the satisfaction of this film is in the way the "baddies" - and they ARE bad - get their come-uppance (but I've added a spoiler just in case): It's leisurely done, and they get to see it coming before it happens and have time to squirm. I wish more movies that want to tell a "moral tale" had the craft to do it as well as this one does; and the scene in the hotel bar near the end is memorable.

I've never been a huge Nicole Kidman fan, but she is REALLY good in this; and Alec Baldwin backs her up superbly. But for me, the standout is Bill Pullman, cast as the James Stewart character - the decent, bewildered victim - almost always the hardest of roles to pull off properly.

His "mouse that turns" will have you cheering in your couches.

Elementary
(2012)

I think Conan Doyle would have approved...
I like this series. It's clever; there's an - admittedly old, but well crafted - twist on an established theme; and unlike most American crime series, it doesn't talk down to its audience.

Jonny Lee Miller (or rather, his performance) reminds me a bit of Jeremy Brett, updated for the new millennium, and that's no faint praise; and Lucy Liu captures the basic humanity and intelligence of Watson, along with his (her) fascination for Holmes, without it ever lapsing into hero-worship.

I also, selfishly, like the fact that she sleeps late - or would if she could.

My main worry is that so much time is spent setting up the plot for each episode that there's little time left over for character development; and it's THAT that will keep me as a viewer. I also worry about the change in dynamic now that Watson has agreed to stay on as "trainee detective". I much preferred when she was the doctor and he the "addict", and she was going to leave at any moment. Lucy Liu wasn't meant to play stooges.

However, it's good enough, and unusual enough, to make me wonder when the first episode of "Charlotte Holmes" will be produced.

Commander in Chief
(2005)

'Brooklyn South' in Washington...and suffered the same fate
Let me say first: I really liked this show; and I thought it was canceled *way* too quickly.

At the same time, I see echoes of 'Brooklyn South': another great show (also headed by Steven Bochco) that was canceled before its time; partly - I suspect - because it started stretching for story lines.

While it was the story of a new - and uncertain - female POTUS, tackling the day-to-day machinations of the Hill, while at the same time having to prove herself as "as good as a man", I thought it was great viewing; but when it started to get into ERA and oil spills and nuclear crises, it seemed to lose its way a bit.

Its strength (at least in the first 10 episodes) was in the character development of the main protagonists - in particular the transition of SOH Templeton (Donald Sutherland) from hissing villain to principled, but implacable, opponent - and if it had held that course, I think it might have been given a second chance.

Unfortunately (I presume), ratings won out, and and a solid, intelligent show felt the pressure to provide "thrills" instead of substance - something it's main competitor (The West Wing) never compromised on.

Pity. I would have liked to have seen a few more seasons about 'Mac' and her "team", and found out a bit more about them all. And if you can find the episodes that were made, I definitely recommend you give them a look - if only to work out just how stupid ratings wars are.

JAG
(1995)

Sunny weather, with the odd welcome shower
I'd classify this show as a bit like 'the FBI' - solid, unchallenging entertainment for the most part, that falls just short of propaganda for the armed forces; but which I'm quite sure has (or had) its wholehearted support.

But to simply label it as "forces-friendly" is to do it a disservice. The cast is very good and, from time to time, the show served up an *excellent* episode - usually based around a single person - that deals with important issues. One such is "King of the Fleas" (season 3, episode 5).

The rest of the "Top Gun" stuff I can take or leave, and I suspect was more directed to it's "family" target demographic than a hoary old sceptic like me; but I guess it takes all sorts.

And for the pleasure of watching Catherine Bell in uniform, I can take a bit of propaganda.

Scandal
(2012)

Hated it at first; but it's starting to grow on me.
First few episodes: Like watching a prime-time fictional version of Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen, somehow transplanted to an ex-White-House black-female-spin-doctor-with-an-ego-the-size-of-a-planet's disused D.C. loft re-fab, with an assortment of odd colleagues who were _much_ more interesting than Miss high-and-mighty-who-doesn't-like-people-who-cry.

Next few: Starting to get interested; and also getting the feeling that I've been played.

Rest (through to season 2, episode 2): Hooked. Still have some issues, but prepared to put my hand up and say I was wrong.

I suspect the reason I continued with it was because I lurv Jeff Perry (maybe shouldn't say that, given his character) - ever since I saw him in "Nash Bridges" - and he's obviously enjoying his part; but the rest of the cast are starting to grow on me too - in particular Bellamy Young as the President's wife, Tony Goldwyn as POTUS himself, and Guillermo Diaz as 'Huck'.

But you know what? They're all pretty good; and I feel like I'm starting to get to know them all - except Harrison so far.

Miss high-and-mighty isn't quite so high-and-mighty after all (although she can turn it on for the cameras); USA Rosen isn't quite the d-weed we thought; First Lady Grant isn't (or isn't ONLY) the conniving China-Room-seeker we thought she was...

Like I say: I was played.

My only criticism is that I think a few failures need to be thrown into the mix. _Then_ you'll have a great show, ABC.

King & Maxwell
(2013)

Not quite 'Castle' yet - but still fun
It's probably unfair to be comparing a series that's 8 episodes old with one that's past the ton, but it's probably inevitable considering its niche.

So far, as a crime comedy series, it seems nice and perky. Nothing wildly challenging; but then again it doesn't take itself too seriously, so it would be churlish to be super picky - although the writers do sometimes go overboard with the "cutesy" dialogue.

The leads are good - it's nice to see Jon Tenney in a lead role, and Rebecca Romijn is a pleasant surprise as the feisty, competitive Mrs-Peel-for-the-2010s - but the real standouts are the satellite characters of Edgar (Ryan Hurst) and Benny (Dichen Lachmann). I certainly hope they're developed more.

I also like the gradually emerging subplot of the mystery behind the assassination that got Sean kicked out of the SS (interesting initials those - and actually used that way in the program); but I hope they add a bit more depth to our heroes, and maybe explore the possibilities of "enhanced friendship" between Sean and Michelle.

So: Not bad - I've certainly seen worse - but not quite in 'Castle' territory yet.

7/10 right now; and I hope it gets better, because I'll be watching.

The Saint: The Pearls of Peace
(1962)
Episode 6, Season 1

Unusual - but good
I have to disagree with kmoh-1 (although I liked his review): I rather liked this episode.

It's a bit slower than most and, unusually, the Saint is really only a bit part in the story until the last 15 minutes or so; but it has some elements of the two Humphrey Bogart "Sierra" movies: greed, avarice, double-cross, disfigurement, pity, caring, and the nature of beauty.

Perhaps a bit much for a one-hour show, but I though it was an honest try - although I have to admit, I could have done without the last 2 minutes of syrupy "summing up".

Perhaps kmoh isn't quite as old as me - I started watching 'the Saint' around 1965 - so what he sees as "sexist" I just see as 1962 (the year this episode came out). Perhaps if he could look past that, he'd see what I did: a nicely-crafted story, well played.

I doubt if he'd say the same if it was a Bogie movie he'd been watching. :-)

Veep
(2012)

Ohmigod, a _funny_ American sitcom
Just when I thought that US TV had terminally lapsed back into smug, pre-MWC, God-bless-America banality when it comes to comedy, along comes 'Veep' to prove me wrong. It's perhaps no surprise that its creator, Armando Iannucci, is a Brit; but the fact is that the subject matter is something that writers like Aaron Sorkin and the late, great George Carlin, have been handling deftly for many years now. And this show definitely has the feeling of an apex that started with things like 'Spin City'.

In truth, it's not really a sitcom. There's no laugh track and no one is mugging for laughs, and I suspect that the budget is off the charts for a 30-minute show; but it's easily the funniest thing I've seen out of the US in 20 years, and I reckon only HBO could have done it. Think R-Rated 'The American President' without the fuzzy romance and a LOT funnier.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus is spot on as the insecure, ambitious, sometimes downright nasty lead, who yet conveys the impression of being a lamb among wolves in the Machiavellian world of the Hill. And she's ably supported by a fine cast of office staff, the standouts of whom are Anna Chlumsky as her bright but thwarted chief of staff, and Sufe Bradshaw as the taciturn secretary who somehow manages to give a different spin to the answer "no" every time she's asked "did the President call?".

About the only criticism I have - and it's minor - is that the writers need to be careful not to become too enamoured with the F-word. Don't get me wrong, I'm no prude, and the bad language is necessary to convey the difference between normal banter and the 'plastic politesse' of drinkies and photo-ops. I also suspect there's many a Senator who could do with knowing he's called a "hog-f***er" behind his back; but you do need to make sure you don't anaesthetise your audience.

That said, I'd vote for this Veep every day of the week and twice on Sundays. In fact, I have: I've given her a 10.

I, Claudius: Poison Is Queen
(1976)
Episode 5, Season 1

If nothing else, watch it for "the scene"
I'm not going to try and compete with Marcin Kukuczka's excellent (and detailed) review, save to say this: "Poison is Queen" is arguably the best episode in one of the best drama series ever made; and it contains without doubt the best single scene I've ever witnessed on TV.

Brian Blessed is better known these days for his loud voice, attempts on Everest, and general good-natured bombast; so it's easy to forget that he was also a _hell_ of an actor.

The scene that Marcin mentions (the death of Augustus) takes just under four minutes, and for 2 minutes and 15 seconds of that the camera is focused completely on Blessed's face. He can't move, he can't speak, he can't blink, and yet about 40 seconds from the end, you do indeed see "the light go out of his eyes" as we hear Livia in the background justifying her actions as a Claudian and being 'for the good of Rome'.

It's an absolute tour-de-force; and anyone who thinks that acting is simple should watch it.

Haywire
(2011)

Stephanie Seagal?
Hey, I'm not going to tell you that this is Oscar-grade material; but for my first look at Gina Carano, I was quite impressed.

The action, when done, is short and crisp (as I suspect it probably is in real life) and realistic. I did wrestling and judo at school (a long time ago now), so I tend to prefer grips and throws to strikes, which is probably why I liked Seagal; and Gina's style reminds me quite a lot of his. At the same time (and no offense intended) Gina is a girl, not a 6 foot 4 inch battering ram, so she can't rely on out-and-out strength to win her fights; but the choreography is clever enough to show us how leverage and legs (and Gina does have a fair set of those on her) and a bit of nous can be used to advantage. Even more impressive is how she can climb: You'd definitely want her on your team in Gladiators.

As to the story: it's good enough for this kind of flick - I'm not going to pick it apart here, because it's not why you'd watch - and I quite enjoyed the flashback style of telling it (although the timeline does get a bit confused at times). I also liked the fact that the pace slows between the fight scenes, because it gives them more punch. And, for an action star, Gina beats Steven all ends up when it comes to acting - not that she has an enormous amount of it to do.

So: great film? No. Decent action flick? Yes. You gets what you pays for - and given that the last two Jason Statham movies I watched were crap, I'll probably be looking under C rather than S for my next one.

And maybe Gina will grow into the acting stuff ... Arnold did.

Murder One
(1995)

The precursor to '24'? (Season 1)
OK, not 24 hours, but 23 weeks? An entire season devoted to a single case? I'd certainly never seen anything like it before.

Let me say right off the bat that unless you're prepared for 23 hours of drama where nobody answers a question directly (one wonders if lawyers actually have normal conversations), almost everyone has their own agenda, everybody talks in whispers, and everything is grey, this'll be tough viewing. But if, like me, you like writing that doesn't talk down to you, and plots with more twists than a plate of spaghetti, this is your show.

It should be added that the cast is top-notch – so good that they manage to cover most of the, admittedly minor, shortcomings in the script. Daniel Benzali takes on the persona of Ted Hoffman like an old coat, despite the fact that such a single-minded and ruthless guy – not to mention, lawyer – being a paragon of morality is a bit difficult to swallow. I'd like to have known a bit more about what makes him tick, because he's clearly driven, but the writers decided to leave it out. Notwithstanding, Benzali makes the character his own, and he IS compelling. And he's ably supported by fine actors (notably Barabara Bosson and Stanley Tucci), many of whom have gone on to other good things.

The great thing about having so much time spent on a single case is that we get to see some of the details that are often missed in other lawyer-based shows: the conflicts of interest; the interaction between people on opposite sides of the fence; jury selection; and the sheer waiting around for the 19th century wheels of justice to clank around in a twentieth century world. I have no doubt that it's been sanitized and simplified for TV, but I suspect also that there are some grains of truth in there.

I watched some episodes when it originally came out, and remember being intrigued at the time. Now I've got to see it all the way through, I can heartily recommend it. Thoughtful, riveting and _intelligent_ TV.

Oh, and brilliant theme tune. :-)

A Touch of Cloth
(2012)

Once it settled down, very funny
American and British humour are very different, and it takes a very funny show or film indeed to make it across the Atlantic (in either direction, I suspect); and there was a rash of similar ones back in the eighties and early nineties - including 'Naked Gun', 'Airplane' and 'Hot Shots!' - that made it eastwards.

Episode 1 of this show seemed a bit like a Brit try at one (or all) of the above and, while a bit scatter-gun for my liking, was quite amusing; but not really "British".

Episode 2 seems to have calmed down a bit, and is none the worse off for it. Perhaps it takes a show like this a little while to find its comedy 'beat' (as it did BlackAdder), and I hope that, now that it has done, it's given the chance to prove that it works - or not.

On the evidence that I see, Episode 2 was a lot better than Episode 1, because it relied more on words and acting, and less on sight gags. And I have to say I was glad to see the last of PC Cardboard Cutout (I hope). Good sight gag; but not worth repeating. And to be honest, if it settles down even more in the next series, I don't think I'll mind at all - but please guys, keep DC Asap Qureshi and the doff of the head every time Oldman says "the boys down the station".

It probably doesn't hurt that I'm a big fan of both stars - John Hannah and sexy Suranne Jones (I'm so glad we Brits can still produce top-class crumpet who don't look like Barbie dolls) - especially as both are known for their intensity rather than their comedy skills.

So far, what I see is a funny, quirky show that seems to be getting better. Looking forward to the next series.

Faster
(2010)

The Good, the Bad, and The Rock
Perhaps it's just as well that I've never seen The Scorpion King, because this movie impressed me. It was well paced and well acted (including Johnson himself, although he doesn't have to say a lot); and it reminded me of some of the better outings of Sergio Leone or Sam Peckinpah.

There is no moralizing and no (or almost no) mercy, but there is redemption; and without wanting to sound too pretentious, there is something of the heroic tale about it. Johnson fills the boots of the unstoppable force - as filled by Eastwood and Fonda before him - with suitable menace, and he's well supported by a very good cast. Oh, and the cinematography is excellent.

OK, the chances of a six foot five inch ex-con who murders on camera hours after getting out of prison surviving long enough to drive a zebra-striped Chevelle halfway around the country are pretty remote, but go with the flow and you'll enjoy a nice ride with a sting in the tail.

Just Friends
(2005)

Just Great
Just finished watching this and had to put in my two-penn'orth: this is a FUN movie.

It's odd, being an ex-Vancouverite, that I'd never heard of Ryan Reynolds before, but he's great in the lead role. Think younger, better-looking Adam Sandler - only a lot less annoying - and you won't be far off the mark.

Ably supported by a fine cast, this movie barrels along to its inevitable conclusion with a lot of laugh-out-loud moments along the way (the stretcher scene forced me to put the player on pause), and is just the thing for a night out after Christmas shopping with the girlfriend or sitting in front of a Yuletide fire with the family.

Anna Faris proves, yet again, that she's a worthy successor to Goldie Hawn, and the by-play between Brander (Reynolds) and his younger brother (played to the hilt by Chris Marquette) is very funny indeed.

A minor nitpick is that I think they could have cut it by 5-10 minutes without losing the overall feel, but it is minor; and if you want a nice, funny, seasonal rom-com in the Sandler/Stiller style - without the usual excess sentimentality - this is it.

The Coverup
(2008)

Dreary and biased
This is the first time I've been the first person to write a review, which is surprising, considering this film has been out for 5 years ... But then again, perhaps not, because there really isn't much to enthuse about.

Perhaps it comes from having a screenplay basically written by the main protagonist, but there's absolutely no attempt to explain the reasons for the decisions that went against our "hero" - and I believe there were several - they're simply dismissed as arbitrary and possibly corrupt. And the courtroom scenes have to rank as some of the dullest and most unedifying I've ever seen in a film which is essentially about a court case.

To be honest, the most interesting sequence is the first 5 minutes (the videotape of the interrogation), but after that things start to go downhill quickly. There's no tension, and no attempt to explain anyone's motives; and the movie meanders its way slowly to the courtroom where, after more tedium, the jury return a verdict that frankly feels like it comes out of nowhere. On the basis of this outing, I'm not sure I'd trust Gabriel Mann to argue the case for the Pope being Catholic.

About the only actors who show any spark are John Savage and Lee Garlington, as the parents of Kevin Thacker. Sadly, they're not on screen long enough to give this movie any impetus, and the whole thing fizzles out like a damp squib.

Lesson for the future chaps: ponderous dialogue and trite platitudes about justice and the misuse of power do NOT a courtroom drama make.

Star Trek
(2009)

Back to basics
I don't know what the chap who wrote the "I don't know what that was. But it wasn't Trek" review was watching back in 1966 - or even if he was alive - but as someone who grew up with the original, all I can say is: Star Trek is BACK.

Cheese? Hey, it's a given. Improbable? Sure. I won't spoil it for you, but Delta Vega seems to be a magnet of unlikely coincidence. But you know what? Who cares? Star Trek (*the original*) is back in spades and I had a ball watching it. It's Errol Flynn in Space, just like the original; except without the cheap graphics (some of the ones in this movie are stunning) - and I LOVE the new-look bridge.

You want space soap opera? Watch re-runs of DS9 or Voyager (I'm also a fan of those). You want high-energy swash and buckle without the angst - complete with sword-fight - with a nice sprinkle of cap-doffing to the original series? Go watch this.

It's been nearly 4 years since this movie came out, so I'm not sure if it's ever likely to spawn a series; but NBC take note - if you ever do decide to make one, I'll be watching.

McLintock!
(1963)

Should be part of every Republican presidential campaign
All the "baddies" are bureaucrats and called Cuthbert and Douglas, and all the "good guys" cowboys, and called Jake and Curly and G.W. (OK, and Devlin); and a fine time is had by all.

I'm about as un-Republican as it gets, but this is my favourite John Wayne movie by quite a distance. A few of the jokes are overplayed, but in general it's a-sprawlin', horse-talking', action-filled, spankin' good fun (with a few spankin's thrown in for good measure). The two hours just fly by, and they can be watched more than once.

John Wayne proves he had a funny-bone, and Maureen O'Hara matches him word for word and blow for blow; and they're ably supported by a fine cast, the standout of which is Chill Wills as the bewildered sidekick and family retainer.

The only real inequality about this movie is that it isn't remembered as 'hers' just as much as 'his'.

And in the midst of all this rip-roarin', stereotyped fun, they even had time to portray the Indians as a proud people, shabbily treated by a triumphalist government. That, in my book, offsets its minor drawbacks enough to give it a 10.

*This* was the birthplace of Rooster Cogburn.

Detective Story
(1951)

Wow!
I'm 55 years old and I watched this film for the first time tonight, and ... well the title says it: Powerful, claustrophobic, intense, this is definitely 100 minutes you won't regret; and it could only ever have been done in black-and-white.

Kirk Douglas is given reign to do what he does best without ever quite going overboard (as he was apt to do later on) and he's wonderfully supported by a cast that act out of their skins; particularly Horace McMahon, who I'd never heard of before watching this, but I'll be looking out for now, and a very young Lee Grant - probably more familiar to most as catch-all guest star of many 70's TV shows - who is almost unrecognisable in her role as the shoplifter/onlooker.

Bendix, Parker, Wiseman, O'Donnell, Mohr... there are too many to list, but each plays their part to the hilt, and the result is a film-noir tale of the highest order. Yes, it has the feel of a play, and it might be difficult for younger viewers to understand the mores of the time; but it suspended my disbelief almost from the first frame and held it to the last.

This is ensemble acting at its best, and if, like me, you somehow missed it along the way: go get a copy.

Columbus Circle
(2012)

Flatters to deceive
I'm not quite with the person who described this film as a crime (although he writes a good review); but this film certainly didn't deliver what it promised in the opening act.

I'm a big fan of Selma Blair, and she does her best with the material given. Unfortunately, what starts out as an atmospheric thriller soon degenerates into an implausible hook (oddly enough, less interesting than if they'd just continued the original storyline), with a horribly pat ending, complete with cops discovering a cellphone ringing at a grave, that has "10 minutes to wrap" written all over it.

All of which is a great pity, because it had a good cast, and there was some decent acting on display before it all goes west.

So: not a crime, but certainly not all it could have been. For a much better movie with a similar theme, see 'Copycat'.

6/10

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