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Bedside (1934)
6/10
The great pretender
30 December 2018
Warren William is one of TCM's great gifts, to me, anyway. I enjoy him and his movies.

This is a precode. William is Bob, an x-ray technician whose nurse girlfriend (Jean Muir) gives him the money to complete medical school - $1500 - you couldn't get in the door for that today. He manages to gamble it away before he can even get there, but he returns a year later, supposedly a doctor.

Fate steps in when he meets a morphine addict who is an ex-doctor. In exchange for morphine, the addict hands over his medical license. Bob changes his name and starts practicing in New York City, with his erstwhile girlfriend as his nurse. I forget how he explains the name change but she believes him. He brings on a real doctor (Donald Meeks) who actually diagnoses the patients. He's also somewhat of an inventor, having come up with a process that brings the dead back to life.

Bob isn't actually interested in anything like illness - he wants the society crowd where the women want to be charmed.

Trouble follows - the morphine addict keeps darkening his door, and he gets stuck with some real sickness he has to cure.

Short, enjoyable, with William playing the lovable cad to perfection.
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8/10
Alibi
30 December 2018
Warning: Spoilers
One thing that has impressed me in recent years is the open, nonapologetic corruption among politicians. There used to be underhandedness and putting a PR spin on things - now it's obvious that they're all a bunch of greedy guts out for what they can get at any cost, and to hell with everybody else.

So what's interesting about "Chappaquiddick" is the effort that was made back then to clean up Ted Kennedy's image after the incident, which I remember well. The film sticks very close to history, though there are things we will never know: Were Kennedy and Kopechne having an afffair; how come all those single women were at a weekend party with older married politicians to discuss strategy; how the heck did Kennedy get out of the car and Mary Jo didn't; is it true the stroke-ridden Joe Kennedy (Bruce Dern) could only say to his son - twice - "Alibi"; and finally, did Kennedy just leave Mary Jo there to die or was he really in shock , denial, and disbelief?

The movie can't answer these, except it does appear when the accident first happened that Kennedy was in shock and disbelief. Unfortunately for Mary Jo he never seemed to come out of it. When he did, his first thought was for himself. Instead of calling for help and reporting the incident, he rounded up the Kennedy sycophants, including Robert McNamara and Theo Sorenson, to make him look like a victim and prepare a story. "His doctor says he is in shock and has a concussion," Robert McNamara says. The doctor responds, "I haven't examined the patient." McNamara's response: "That won't be necessary."

However, they screw up at every turn, stating to the New York Times that he's on sedatives, contraindicated for a concussion, releasing Kennedy's statement to the press too soon. and Kennedy's insistence on wearing a neck brace to the funeral and then swiveling his neck all over the place to see who else was there. And the biggest error of all, forgetting about Mary Jo, a young woman with her whole life ahead of her.

Portrayed excellently here by Jason Clarke, Ted Kennedy comes off as a complete wimp determined to be President no matter what and a fledgling alcoholic who let his driver's license expire. More than that, he is portrayed as a man used to people getting him out of trouble.

I have to believe that in the years that followed, Kennedy tried to make up for his horrid behavior. We'll never know. Nobody seemed to care what he'd done; his base just kept electing him.

This is a very straightforward, no frills kind of film, well directed and acted. In the end, you realize that Mary Jo Kopechne (Kate Mara) didn't have much of a role. And that's the point. Acceptable losses.
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Green Book (2018)
10/10
delightful
14 December 2018
This film was inspired by the true story of Tory the Lip Villelonga, An Italian-American bouncer (Mortenson) from the Bronx who gets a job driving a black. highly educated and cultured musician (Ali) through the south in 1962.

Really a must-see film for the performances of everyone involved, for a good look at what it was like for blacks in the south, an amazing look at Bronx Italian life, and some great music.

The title refers to "The Negro Motorist Green Book," which advised African-Americans traveling where they could eat and stay.

The real Tony the Lip, by the way, played Carmine in The Sopranos. And great to see my favorite comedian, Maniscalco, in a movie role as Mrs. Villelonga's brother.

Funny, warm, poignant, delightful film with wonderful characters - perfect for the holidays. Don't miss it.The title and subject matter are a reference to "The Negro Motorist Green Book," also known as "The Negro Travelers' Green Book." Published from 1936-1966, the guide helped African-American travelers find lodging, restaurants, and other businesses that would serve them. It eventually covered most of North America, plus Bermuda and the Caribbean.

Funny, warm, and poignant film with wonderful characters - perfect for the holidays. Don't miss it.
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Made in Paris (1966)
6/10
Paris and stunning Ann-Margret make this a feast for the eyes
24 November 2018
Ann-Margret, Louis Jourdan, Chad Everett, and Edie Adams star in this light film which when seen today sets the #metoo movement back 50 years.

Ann-M, whom the boss' son (Everett) is in love with, plays a courtier buyer for a department store, in Paris on her first job. She is replacing another buyer (Edie Adams). Now in the corporate apartment, Ann-M doesn't realize that her predecessor was having a mad fling with one of the designers (Jourdan) as part of their contract.

This is just a frothy romance that is a showcase for the gorgeous, sexy Ann-Margret in glamorous Helen Rose outfits. If you're an Ann-Margret fan, you don't want to miss this.
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9/10
The entire Power family appears in this film
18 October 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I've just finished reading the reviews of this film on IMDb. I think one person realized that Helen Riaume (it was actually Reaume) was actually the real-life wife of the star of the movie, Tyrone Power Sr. Both of their children, Ann Power and the very famous Tyrone Power (1914-1958) are in it as well. Ann probably plays a newborn, and two-year-old Tyrone Power appears at the very end as a "ghost child."

This is certainly a fascinating film. It's thought of as anti-abortion but as others have pointed out, that's just part of the picture. The DA RIchard Walton (Tyrone Power Sr.) is a firm believer in eugenics, which had support in this country before the Aryan race business came out of Nazi Germany. In eugenics, the white upper class had the children and the poor weren't supposed to have them, with the belief that "wanted" children (children of white upper class) would wipe out crime.

The beginning of the story centers around a doctor accused of mailing out contraception material - this is based on the Margaret Sanger case. The DA is a man who has longed to have children, but he and his wife never have. This is because his wife (Riaume) has been having abortions so she can keep up her society engagements. Apparently she's not alone.

Walton learns of this when the abortion doctor bungles a case and is put on trial for murder. It is then that Walton sees his patient book.

During the movie, we see the "unwanted" being returned to heaven - this is 1916, and Lois Weber's use of photography and effects is amazing.

The acting is very good, with Power Sr. a formidable presence and the petite Riaume excellent in the role of a woman with a secret.

This was an extremely controversial film at the time and probably would be today. What a lot of people don't realize is that back when this movie was made, abortion was a form of birth control and, as seen here, practiced by the upper classes.

HIghly recommended - it's a piece of history.
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6/10
semi-horror film
14 October 2018
James Mason stars in this semi-horror film along with Wilfrid Lawson, Mary Clare, and Joyce Howard.

Joyce plays Marian who, with her horny friend Doris (Tucker McGuire) head for the Yorkshire moors with a mission. Their good friend Evelyn was lost on these moors a year earlier, and Joyce and Doris want to find out what happened to her.

A good-looking doctor (John Fernald) meets the women on the train and offers them a ride. For reasons known only to themselves, they decide to get out and walk at a certain point. A tremendous storm opens the skies, and one of the women is almost lost in the bogs that are like quicksand.

They are saved by an ex-serviceman Stephen (Mason) who lives with a housekeeper and a handyman on the moors. The women have no choice but to spend the night, and, when there's flooding, they have to stay the next day.

Stephen is very brusque, mysterious, and wants them gone. They soon learn why.

Pretty good, atmospheric film with some nice performances. My big problem was that the Joyce Howard character fell madly in love with Mason after knowing him for five minutes.

You'll figure this out pretty quickly, as the direction to the actors (in my opinion) made it obvious. A little underplaying would have been nice on the part of one of the actors.
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7/10
lots of fun
14 October 2018
Starving artist Charles Dumont (Dan Duryea) takes a job as a butler in a wealthy family and winds up being indispensable to the entire household. When the family leaves for Florida, Charles decides to spend his vacation in the house, looking at all the gorgeous art and drinking the expensive liquor. He asks the chauffeur (Frank Jenks) to act as his driver as, dressed to the nines, he goes around town posing as a wealthy gentleman.

At one club, Charles sees the beautiful heiress Louise Bradford (Ella Rains). He manages to be in her box at the opera, where she has been accompanied by her sister Cynthia, her father, and her very uptight fiance. Cynthia leaves the opera with a gambler who is involved with Larry Lundie (William Bendix), a casino owner.

The family is very distressed about Cynthia's choice of boyfriend; seeing an in with Louise, Charles says that he thinks he can help. Lots of trouble ensues.

Truly delightful comedy with lots happening, including art theft, bad checks, making the perfect martini, and choosing material for suits. Everyone is top notch. Bendix, who often played a buffoon. works against type as a tough guy running a glamorous casino. Duryea isn't nasty or evil but very smooth and elegant.

All in all, fun.
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5/10
love Charlie, what can I say
14 October 2018
"The Feathered Serpent" is the only Charlie Chan film featuring both Keye Luke and Victor Sen Yung together as Charlie's sons. Charlie here is portrayed by Roland Winters. He does a very good job, but I prefer Warner Oland in the role. He was also so warm and cheerful. Toler was very good, but more sardonic and sarcastic.

In this film, Charlie and two of his sons are asked to investigate a gang who has kidnapped an archaeologist to force him to search for a treasure in Mexico.

Mantan Moreland plays Charlie's chauffeur, Birmingham. I know his characterization is not politically correct today, but what a funny and talented man he was. I always enjoy him in these films.

By this time, Charlie Chan films were being made at a poverty role studio. As offensive as they are today, I take them for what they were and like them. We cannot view everything from today's viewpoints.
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Dulcy (1940)
6/10
nice performance by Ann Sothern
14 October 2018
Ann Sothern is delightful as "Dulcy," a scatterbrained young woman who makes life miserable for weekend guests. The film stars Dan Dailey, Reginald Gardner, Roland Young, Ian Hunter, and Billie Burke.

After meeting an inventor who can't get a meeting with an airline executive, Dulcy decides to help. She has him come to her house when her brother (Dailey), his fiance, and her parents (Young, a major airline executive and Burke) are coming for the weekend. Chaos prevails on every level.

Fun movie with good performances by everyone, particularly an exasperated Roland Young. A perfect vehicle for Sothern.
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7/10
ahead of its time
14 October 2018
A beautiful call girl. Bobbie (Anne Francis) seeks help from a psychiatrist (Lloyd Nolan) for her on-again-off-again relationship with her pimp (John Kerr) whom she wants to marry.

Kay Medford plays the head of the call girl agency, and Kerr, an alcoholic, keeps pushing her, saying they need money to be married.

When tragedy strikes, Bobbie wants out of the business and tries a regular job. But there's always the lure of her pimp, a man she loves in spite of herself.

This is a pretty wild topic for 1960, and it is well handled. It's a dark and absorbing film as Bobbie works with her doctor to confront her past and figure out why she is so self-destructive.

The film introduces Eileen Fulton as another call girl. She went on to become a huge soap opera star.

Well worth watching. Francis does an excellent job of portraying the vulnerability of Bobbie, as well as her tough outer shell. Kerr plays against type, and Medford is great, particularly in her drunk scene.
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7/10
a doctor investigates his lover's death.
14 October 2018
A prominent neurosurgeon (James Mason) investigates the death of his lover (Rosamund John) in "The Upturned Glass" from 1947.

Mason plays Dr. Michael Joyce, an unhappily married man. He tells his students the story of a doctor who, after helping a young girl regain her sight, falls in love with the girl's mother, Emma (Rosamund John). Her husband is away; they decide never to see one another again.

Soon after, he learns that Emma has fallen out a window to her death. Michael doesn't believe it's suicide and sets out to find the killer. One way he does this is by getting close to her sister-in-law (Pamela Kellino).

Kellino in reality was Mason's wife, Pamela Mason, who co-wrote an excellent script. It has the perfect British atmosphere - dark, foggy, and mysterious. Kellino's role (no surprise) is an especially good one, that of a mean-spirited, uncaring woman interested only in money. Mason is terrific.

Highly recommended. An absorbing film.
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Dark Waters (1944)
6/10
sort of Gaslight on the Bayou
14 October 2018
A young woman, Leslie (Merle Oberon) is one of only a few survivors in a submarine accident that claimed the lives of her parents. Deeply traumatized, she goes to a relative's plantation to heal. She soon realizes that she's not safe, and turns to the local doctor (Franchot Tone) for help.

Elisha Cook, Jr., Fay Bainter, and Thomas Mitchell are the plantation residents, with Mitchell playing against type - rather than the absent-minded Uncle Billy of "It's a Wonderful Life," or the befuddled Mr. O'Hara, he's a calm conniver.

An exotically beautiful woman of mysterious background, Merle Oberon is excellent as Leslie, a real victim of post-traumatic syndrome if there ever was one. The elegant Tone gives her good support.

Nice, atmospheric film with a tense ending.
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Charade (1954)
6/10
interesting premise
14 October 2018
Episodic British film about a couple (James and Pamela Mason) who go through three scenarios as possibilities for a film, with them taking the lead in each scenario.

The best one by far was the first, about a woman who sees her neighbor's killer but doesn't tell anyone. Later he shows up to romance her, and she falls for him.

The second one is a period piece about a soldier challenged to a duel, and the third is about a man with the Midas touch who gives it all up to look for what he really wants in life.

All in all, very good.
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Charade (1954)
6/10
episodic film
14 October 2018
Episodic British film about a couple (James and Pamela Mason) who go through three scenarios as possibilities for a film, with them taking the lead in each scenario.

The best one by far was the first, about a woman who sees her neighbor's killer but doesn't tell anyone. Later he shows up to romance her, and she falls for him.

The second one is a period piece about a soldier challenged to a duel, and the third is about a man with the Midas touch who gives it all up to look for what he really wants in life.

All in all, very good.
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7/10
very good
14 October 2018
When Henry Maurier's (Charles Boyer) wife Emily (Rachel Kempson) dies suddenly, suspicion falls on him in "A Woman's Vengeance" from 1948, with a script by Aldous Huxley.

Maurier is an unhappily married womanizer; his wife Emily is a neurotic invalid. Her good friend Janet (Jessica Tandy) visits at Maurier's urging to cheer Emily up after one of their arguments - this one concerning her errant brother (Robert Lester) who wants money.

After lunch with Janet and Emily, Henry leaves to meet his girlfriend (Ann Blyth); Emily retires to her room and dies. The maid (Mildred Natwick) suspects Henry, goes to the police, and the body is exhumed. Emily was poisoned! Henry is arrested, charged with murder, found guilty, and sentenced to death.

Making matters worse for Henry is the fact that his 18-year-old girlfriend Doris is pregnant, and Henry marries her almost immediately after Emily's death.

Very good noir with excellent performances by all involved, particularly Sir Cedric Hardwicke as Emily's doctor. It was amazing to see Jessica Tandy so young -- she's actually 39 here. This film was made probably just prior to her appearing as the original Blanche in "A Streetcar Named Desire" on Broadway. Hers is a showy role, and given her stage experience, she handles it well. Boyer is smooth and debonair, and as his fragile bride, Ann Blyth gives a good performance.

This was a real gem I hadn't heard of -- I loved it.
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Death at Love House (1976 TV Movie)
5/10
good for a laugh
14 October 2018
I'm only giving this 5 stars because of the old-timers who appeared in this cheesy TV movie: Sylvia Sidney, Joan Blondell, John Carradine, and Dorothy Lamour.

Robert Wagner and Kate Jackson play a married couple researching a book on a silent old film star, Lorna Love, and her affair with Wagner's father.

This is a little like The Shining in that the spirit of the house takes over Wagner like five minutes after their arrival.

The actress playing Lorna Love, Marianna Hill, looked like something out of Charlie's Angels, not a '20s film star. After hearing for the entire film how irresistible she was, I still didn't get it.

Campy TV movie.
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6/10
okay precode
14 October 2018
Directed by Dorothy Arzner, Honor Among Lovers concerns a smart and efficient secretary, Julia (Claudette Colbert) to mogul Jeffy Stafford (Fredric March) who is in love with her.

Knowing that she can't fit in with Stafford's wealthy friends, Julia marries Philip Craig (Monroe Owsley), who turns to be a weak loser and winds up putting both of them in a terrible situation.

Colbert is absolutely wonderful in this -- natural, charming, and relaxed. Charlie Ruggles is a riot as a stockbroker, and watch for Ginger Rogers in a small role.

Nothing special except for the performances. And, we get a chance to see Claudette Colbert's right side.
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BBC2 Playhouse: A Song at Twilight (1982)
Season 8, Episode 30
7/10
brilliant performances
8 October 2018
This is part of Noel Coward's Suite in Two Keys and appears on the Noel Coward Collection DVD set.

Paul Scofield, Deborah Kerr, and June Tobin star in this story of a famous writer, Hugo Latymer ((Scofield) who is awaiting a visit from his long-ago lover, Carlotta, played by Kerr. His wife (Tobin) is uneasy about it. However, we learn that her husband says unkind things to her and often isn't nice, and she's learned to live with it. She was once his loyal secretary.

Kerr and Scofield are terrific together. It turns out that Carlotta, an actress, wants to publish their love letters. Then she announces she has a few other letters too.

Hugo suspects she's there to blackmail him, but Carlotta has another agenda.

Now, someone described this as funny. I actually didn't find it so except in the beginning when Scofield is establishing his snobbish character. It's about what we do one another from a lack of compassion, our treatment of people due to our own agendas, repression, and how memory becomes twisted over time.

Sobering and quite good.
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BBC2 Playhouse: Come Into the Garden, Maud (1982)
Season 8, Episode 29
6/10
a little overdone by today's standards
8 October 2018
"Come Into the Garden, Maud" from a BBC production in 1982 is part of the 7-disc Noel Coward Collection. It's a mixed bag. This particular play was interesting because of the casting.

One problem Brits have is that they don't really understand American accents. Not that they can't do them beautifully - but for instance, in a stage production of Death of a Salesman in England, the wife called Willie - VILLY - in an attempt to make them sound like New Yorkers or something. They don't mean to be offensive, they just are.

Same problem here, with Toby Robins playing I guess a rich New Yorker but she comes off very stereotype because of her New York accent which is overdone. At first, Paul Scofield, as her berated husband, seems horribly cast. Later on he is fabulous. I have to blame the direction.

The minute the character of "Maud" said one word I knew it was Geraldine McEwan - unmistakable voice!

The story concerns an unhappy man and his overbearing wife who are traveling in Europe. One night Maud, an acquaintance, comes to visit, and due to a situation at a dinner the wife is throwing, the two are left alone in the hotel room. Wonderful scene. Nice ending.
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6/10
circumstantial evidence
6 October 2018
Okay indictment of circumstantial evidence, when a man (Michael O'Shea) is convicted of murder and sentenced to death for a murder no one actually saw him commit. His son and his best friend set out to prove his innocence.

Pretty fair B movie.
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7/10
oldie but goodie
6 October 2018
Elliott Gould, Christopher Plummer, and Susannah York star in "The Silent Partner."

Gould plays Miles Cullen, a bank teller, who finds a discarded deposit slip with words on the back indicating someone has a gun and is going to rob the bank. When he sees a nearby Santa Claus collecting money, he notices the printing is similar to what was on the note.

Miles figures Santa will be back, so he steals the money himself and, when the bank is robbed, Santa (Christopher Plummer) is distressed to find that he didn't get anything. He zeroes in on Miles and starts threatening and harassing him. He doesn't realize that Miles is as smart - or smarter - than he is.

Really good film, with Susannah York on hand as a bank employee whom Miles falls for. Plummer is excellent, meaner than dirt, as a ruthless crook who will stop at nothing to get his money.

HIghly recommended. Very absorbing and clever.
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6/10
Hallmark has a crowd-pleasing formula
6 October 2018
Two soap veterans, Allison Sweeney and Cameron Mathison, star in "Murder, She Baked: Just Desserts." This series follows the usual Hallmark mystery pattern: attractive people, idyllic town, murder. romance but no sex.

In this film, Hannah (Sweeney) hosts a TV baking show contest and investigates when the judges start being knocked off.

My problem with all of these Hallmark mysteries is that I usually spot the murderer five minutes in. This episode was no exception.

Pleasant enough for what it is.
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The Last Word (2017)
8/10
Enjoyable!
6 October 2018
Lovely film about a cantankerous, controlling widow Harriet (Shirley MacLaine) who reads obituaries talking about the good deeds of hateful people and decides she should have a good one herself. She approaches the writer responsible, Anne (Amanda Seyfried) and asks her to write her obituary.

Along the way, both women learn some important lessons.

Wonderful performances, especially from scene-stealer AnnJewel Lee Dixon, who is a scream.

Enjoyable, on the predictable side, but very well done.
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Darkest Hour (2017)
8/10
a dark time in history
6 October 2018
Passionate, rousing film about the dark days of May 1940, when Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman) became prime minister and resisted the idea of peace negotiations with Germany.

I suppose hindsight is 20/20 but honestly - Hitler takes Czechoslovakia, Poland, Denmark, Norway, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium , and was on his way to France, who had no defense planned (how many Frenchmen does it take to defend Paris from attack - answer, no one knows, it's never happened), and there were people in Parliament that thought Hitler would negotiate a peace treaty.

After taking over from Neville Chamberlain, Churchill finds himself alone in wanting England to defend itself. His speeches rally the people, and in the end, England fights.

Now, it's never good to get your history from the movies. Films take dramatic license, combine characters, events, and telescope time to make a compelling story. There are a few things here that are fictional, the biggest one being Churchill going into the subway. That should have been cut.

Also, history tells us that although in the film, Churchill agrees to at least listen to a proposed peace agreement - in reality, he never considered it and never agreed to it. Chamberlain is depicted saying he is dying of cancer; Chamberlain never told anyone he had cancer because he was never told that himself.

The portrait of Churchill certainly matches what has been read and said about him. As everyone knows, Gary Oldman was magnificent. The rest of the cast did well, but it was Oldman's show.

The most impressive thing to me about this film was the director (Joe Wright's) ability to capture the tension, the pressure, and the fright of what Britain was facing - alone - since the U.S. wouldn't do anything. For FDR it was all about Russia, and in the end, we see that Russia was handed eastern Europe. The forces against Churchill are depicted as overwhelming - one historian suggests that there probably weren't the loud shouting matches as depicted, but certainly a great deal of discussion.
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10/10
What a gem
6 October 2018
Box of Moonlight is a small independent film starring John Turturro as Mr. Al Fountain, aka By the Book, Mr. On Time, Mr. Uptight. He's an electrical engineer not particularly liked by his current crew. He has no sense of humor and actually is pretty thick when it comes to normal, light conversation. He calls his wife (Annie Corley) precisely at 9 o'clock each night and quizzes his son on his multiplication tables.

When his job finishes early, he goes searching for a lake he went to as a child. It had water slides, picnic tables - when he finally finds it, it's a dump and the water has been polluted. On his way back he runs into a driver with car trouble. And thus it begins - Al Fountain's awakening to life.

Sam Rockwell plays the driver, who describes himself as "off the grid". He lives in half a trailer. He's stealing someone's phone service so you can only talk for a minute. He eats Hydrox cookies and milk for breakfast. He swims nude in a lake (not polluted). He is everything Al isn't - alive.

A great story of a man in a fog who, as he hallucinates seeing things going backward and finds a gray hair, sees what life is about.

HIghly recommended - fabulous performances, beautifully directed, with a wonderful message.
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