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  • Crimes of Passion

    Crimes of Passion

    ★★★★½

    "Don't fight me, child. I'm the messenger of God and I only want to heal you."
    "Heal thyself, pimp shit!"

    Put Kathleen Turner in the Ken Russell-directed pantheon alongside Eleanor Bron (Women in Love), Vanessa Redgrave (The Devils), Dorothy Tutin (Savage Messiah) and Ann-Margret (Tommy) because boy oh boy, Turner's performance in Crimes of Passion is GREAT. As a rule, I'm not partial to films in which a woman works as a prostitute specifically because of a history of emotional/physical…

  • Buddies

    Buddies

    ★★★★★

    Buddies, which can be rented or bought to stream here from Vimeo and is available on Blu-ray/DVD via Vinegar Syndrome or Amazon, was the first narrative feature to discuss the HIV/AIDS crisis. Shot in nine days on a $27,000 budget raised by director Arthur J. Bressan Jr. (who was also the screenwriter, producer and editor), the New York-set film concentrates almost entirely on only two characters: Robert Willow (Geoff Edholm), a 32-year-old AIDS patient and political activist receiving treatment in…

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  • Man on Fire

    Man on Fire

    ★★★

    FEBRUARY 2021 STAR OF THE MONTH: DENZEL WASHINGTON (#20)

    This is the most Tony Scott movie that ever Tony Scott-ed. With the amount of slo-mo, speeding-up, shaky zooms, montage techniques and typical Scott color grading on display, it's like watching the anti-piracy warning PSA from 2004 stretched out to two and a half hours. Not that that's such a bad thing, mind you; while I would probably rank this flick somewhere near the bottom of my ranking of the director's…

  • I'll Be There

    I'll Be There

    ★★½

    Ah, another Craig Ferguson vehicle that doesn't live up to its star's endless talents. Ferg bit off more than he could chew here by also serving as the director and co-screenwriter; he mentioned in a 2020 episode of the Maltin on Movies podcast that he made many mistakes on this project, #1 being that he should not have cast himself in the lead, but I would argue that his performance is, of course, quite good and really he should have…

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  • Malcolm X

    Malcolm X

    ★★★★

    FEBRUARY 2021 STAR OF THE MONTH: DENZEL WASHINGTON (#18)

    February 21 marked the forty-sixth anniversary of Malcolm X's assassination at the Audubon Ballroom in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan, a building that has since been repurposed as the Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center. With this fact in mind, I watched Spike Lee's epic retelling of the life and times of one of the most talked-about figures of the twentieth century, as so potently portrayed…

  • Training Day

    Training Day

    ★★

    FEBRUARY 2021 STAR OF THE MONTH: DENZEL WASHINGTON (#19)

    I see a lot of positive responses to Training Day that are predicated on the notion that Denzel Washington is extremely cool. Yes, that's true... but... why should that make this film any better than the substandard thriller that it so clearly is?

    Given the massive disappointment that accompanied Washington's loss at the 1993 Oscars for Malcolm X, it's practically poetic that his performance in Antoine Fuqua's day-long drama is as…