Episode 028 – Van Diemen’s Land

Episode 028 – Van Diemen’s Land

The first time I saw Jonathan auf der Heide’s Van Diemen’s Land (2009), it knocked me back in my seat. My head was already swirling that day seven years ago from everything else that Fantastic Fest had jammed into it. When you are trying to take in all that one…

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Episode 027 – Waiting for Guffman

Episode 027 – Waiting for Guffman

Ding dong! In 1996, a very special gift arrived for this theatre nerd. Waiting for Guffman (Guest, 1996) ticked many of my boxes: it was hilarious, well-acted, a musical, outrageously quotable, took place in a familiar milieu, and begged for repeated viewings. I was the loudest, most obnoxious moviegoer that…

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Episode 026 – Cloak & Dagger

Episode 026 – Cloak & Dagger

Very high stakes, an intelligent but troubled preteen, a plucky sidekick, an imaginary super spy friend, and Atari–put them all together and you’ve got Richard Franklin’s Cloak & Dagger (1984). As a nine year-old, I was thrilled by the twisting plot, effective performances and very real danger at the core…

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Episode 025 – La Ciénaga

Episode 025 – La Ciénaga

I first saw Lucrecia Martel’s debut feature, La Ciénaga (2001), in late 2008 and I have been thinking about it ever since. I was so thoroughly impressed with the clarity and completeness of her vision and her obvious self-possession that the images and, crucially, the sounds are never that far…

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Episode 024 – Psycho

Episode 024 – Psycho

You may think you know all there is to know about Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960). Watch it again. Right now. Joseph Stefano (from Robert Bloch’s novel) adapted a corker of a suspense tale centered around a deeply troubling, even Gothic, family history, and a false protagonist set to remedy a…

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Episode 023 – Inherit the Wind

Episode 023 – Inherit the Wind

Hear ye, hear ye! Court is now in session. All rise for our examination of Stanley Kramer’s sterling courtroom drama, Inherit the Wind (1960). This film, an excoriation of McCarthyism dressed up in the garb of the Scopes Monkey Trial, is a true cinematic building block of my adulthood. As…

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Episode 022 – Darker Than Amber

Episode 022 – Darker Than Amber

I first saw Robert Clouse’s Darker Than Amber (1970) two years ago, which was a full 44 years after its initial release. That year, I counted it among the very best of what I saw, and I saw a lot of wonderful films. Why did it make such an impression?…

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Episode 020 – The Vanishing

Episode 020 – The Vanishing

How far are you willing to go? In George Sluizer’s The Vanishing (1988), Rex makes the ultimate choice to follow the trail of the disappeared Saskia until the eternal uncertainty of her fate can be resolved. Few endings in modern memory can match that resolution. Skip the dumbed down (and…

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Episode 019 – Blue Collar

Episode 019 – Blue Collar

Blue Collar (1978) was Paul Schrader’s first foray into film direction after the notable success of his screenplay for Taxi Driver (1976), and it almost ended his directorial career before it even began. It was a tumultuous enterprise, with Richard Pryor providing fireworks ranging from thrown chairs to pulled pistols,…

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