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Bluebeard (2017, Lee Soo-youn)

The Stop Button Posted by Andrew Wickliffe on Aug 19, 2017

Bluebeard runs just under two hours. The last forty-five minutes of it basically undo–or seem to undo–everything in the first seventy-five minutes. Writer and director Lee doesn’t want to answer the questions the film’s mysteries raise, but reveal entirely new mysteries with entirely new answers. read more

Disco Pigs (2001, Kirsten Sheridan)

The Stop Button Posted by Andrew Wickliffe on Aug 18, 2017

Disco Pigs might not be the best title for Disco Pigs, but it’s hard to imagine any other title for it so an imperfect one is better than a wrong one. Maybe disco had some appropriate cultural Irish relevancy. Or maybe playwright Enda Walsh, who adapted the screenplay himself, couldn’t think of read more

Trio (1950, Ken Annakin and Harold French)

The Stop Button Posted by Andrew Wickliffe on Aug 18, 2017

Trio is a lopsided anthology of three W. Somerset Maugham short story adaptations. The first two segments, directed by Ken Annakin, are deliberate, thoughtful, wry comedies. The last one, directed by Harold French–and taking up over half the film’s runtime–is something of a traged read more

Batman (1943, Lambert Hillyer), Chapter 14: The Executioner Strikes

The Stop Button Posted by Andrew Wickliffe on Aug 18, 2017

The impossible occurs, one chapter until the finish, with The Executioner Strikes actually having a satisfying cliffhanger resolution. A somewhat satisfying one. Better than any of the others. After that high point, unfortunately, the chapter gets pretty bad for a while. First, it’s dumb, with Lewi read more

FM (1978, John A. Alonzo)

The Stop Button Posted by Andrew Wickliffe on Aug 18, 2017

After a somewhat linear, pratical first act, FM begins to meander through a series of vingettes. Occasionally these end in a fade to black, usually when there’s supposed to be some deep meaning to the scene, but occasionally just when it’s time to move an interminate period into the fut read more

Batman (1943, Lambert Hillyer), Chapter 13: Eight Steps Down

The Stop Button Posted by Andrew Wickliffe on Aug 17, 2017

Despite the previous chapter suggesting a cliffhanger, turns out the resolution is more about Douglas Croft and William Austin’s impatience than anything else. But as Batman is now seventy-some percent complete, things start happening in Eight Steps Down. Though nothing about eight steps. There’s read more

Vesper (2017, Keyvan Sheikhalishahi)

The Stop Button Posted by Andrew Wickliffe on Aug 16, 2017

Vesper has something like six “gotcha” reveals, which is a lot for a killer. Especially since Vesper runs twenty-three minutes. And the first gotcha is in the first five minutes. The experience of watching the film quickly becomes waiting for director Sheikhalishahi to spring another one. The story read more

Batman (1943, Lambert Hillyer), Chapter 12: Embers of Evil

The Stop Button Posted by Andrew Wickliffe on Aug 16, 2017

The chapter opens with Batman leaving some guy to get killed–it was hinted at in the cliffhanger, which resolves even more stupidly than I expected, but I sort of assumed Batman wasn’t going to get some guy killed. Nope, he’s fine with it. J. Carrol Naish gets more screen time this chapter than read more

Captains Courageous (1937, Victor Fleming)

The Stop Button Posted by Andrew Wickliffe on Aug 15, 2017

As Captains Courageous enters its third act, Spencer Tracy (as a Portugese fisherman) reminds Freddie Bartholomew (a spoiled blue blood kid Tracy rescues after he falls overboard from an ocean liner) it’s almost time to go home to his regular life. It’s a shock for Bartholomew, but also read more

Batman (1943, Lambert Hillyer), Chapter 11: A Nipponese Trap

The Stop Button Posted by Andrew Wickliffe on Aug 15, 2017

So, even though the title is A Nipponese Trap, there’s no trap in the chapter. Unless it’s when the bad guys bail out Lewis Wilson–in his thug disguise–so they can run him over. Except Douglas Croft and William Austin have already bailed him out, yet they don’t go to pick him up. The bad guys read more

Batman (1943, Lambert Hillyer), Chapter 10: Flying Spies

The Stop Button Posted by Andrew Wickliffe on Aug 14, 2017

And now Batman is back to the misleading chapter titles. There aren’t spies in Flying Spies, there’s only one spy on the plane. After the laziest cliffhanger resolution in the series so far–and there have been some lazy ones–Lewis Wilson and Douglas Croft take a break from c read more

Batman (1943, Lambert Hillyer), Chapter 9: The Sign of the Sphinx

The Stop Button Posted by Andrew Wickliffe on Aug 13, 2017

Incredibly, Douglas Croft’s Robin doesn’t get beat up this chapter. Sure, Lewis Wilson still manages to get pummeled, but Croft makes it through without being incapacitated once. Well, except in the cliffhanger resolution and then only temporarily. After quickly ridding themselves of Sh read more

Batman (1943, Lambert Hillyer), Chapter 8: Lured by Radium

The Stop Button Posted by Andrew Wickliffe on Aug 12, 2017

Lured by Radium actually does refer to the content of the chapter. It’s almost getting to be a habit for Batman. Unfortunately, all the serial’s other bad habits are in play here. The recap and resolution of the previous chapter takes a fifth of the runtime. Once again, boring resolutio read more

Quartet (1948, Ralph Smart, Harold French, Arthur Crabtree, and Ken Annakin)

The Stop Button Posted by Andrew Wickliffe on Aug 11, 2017

Quartet opens with what turns out to be a questionable introduction from source story author W. Somerset Maugham. In the rather stodgy introduction to the film–featuring adaptations of four personal favorites from Maugham’s extensive bibliography–Maugham indentifies adjectives critics have given read more

Batman (1943, Lambert Hillyer), Chapter 7: The Phoney Doctor

The Stop Button Posted by Andrew Wickliffe on Aug 11, 2017

The best part of The Phoney Doctor is Charles Middleton. He’s the rough and tumble prospector, albeit one who falls for a phoney doctor, but he’s got personality and presence. He’s unexpected. Everything else in Batman, down to Batman and Robin getting beat up yet again, is predic read more

Even the Rain (2010, Icíar Bollaín)

The Stop Button Posted by Andrew Wickliffe on Aug 11, 2017

Even the Rain has a particular narrative distance as it starts, then changes to another one a little later on. Director Bollaín doesn’t transition gradually between these two vantage points; she keeps the pacing of scenes and how they flow into each other, just from the new distance. The film has read more

Batman (1943, Lambert Hillyer), Chapter 6: Poison Peril

The Stop Button Posted by Andrew Wickliffe on Aug 10, 2017

Poison Peril actually fits a lot into the chapter. Narrative too, not just racism. Lots of racism this time around, with the screenwriters rushing to fit in slurs. There’s the exceptionally weak cliffhanger resolution–it’s like they aren’t even cliffhangers as much as pauses in action–J. Carrol read more

Batman (1943, Lambert Hillyer), Chapter 5: The Living Corpse

The Stop Button Posted by Andrew Wickliffe on Aug 9, 2017

Shockingly, The Living Corpse actually doesn’t involve a living corpse. It’s far from the most dynamic living corpse in cinema history, but it’s at least present in the chapter it entitles. The Corpse has most to do with J. Carrol Naish’s half of the chapter. He’s got two schemes, with one read more

Batman (1943, Lambert Hillyer), Chapter 4: Slaves of the Rising Sun

The Stop Button Posted by Andrew Wickliffe on Aug 8, 2017

When the chapter title refers to Slaves of the Rising Sun, I guess it means J. Carol Naish’s traitorous American henchmen. They really don’t do anything; well, Robert Fiske argues with Naish about Japan’s chances in the war to ill result, but otherwise, they don’t really do anything. They don’t read more

Batman (1943, Lambert Hillyer), Chapter 3: The Mark of the Zombies

The Stop Button Posted by Andrew Wickliffe on Aug 7, 2017

Despite a tantalizing title, The Mark of the Zombies has nothing to do with zombies’ marks. If there is a zombie, it’s Gus Glassmire, who’s just been electronically brainwashed by J. Carrol Naish. Glassmire still refuses to sell out the U.S. to Japan–it’s inexplicable why Naish asks him again, read more
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