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Donnie Darko Redux (2021)

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Recently I was inspired to tackle a passion project. Starting on May 8th—over the course of 10 days and totaling 19 hours—I created a new cut of Donnie Darko (2001) (my review here ) in DaVinci Resolve, using footage from both the theatrical and director's cuts of the film from Arrow Video 's 2017 Blu-ray release. I wish I had been able to use their recent 4K UHD as the basis of my fan edit, but I'm not quite setup in my home office to do that and output with correct color accuracy (since UHD uses HDR ) just yet. As it is, the quality is still fairly high and very watchable. For the most part,  Donnie Darko Redux  keeps the theatrical structure of the film intact, while incorporating the parts I like about the director's cut, but leaving out the parts that I don't (the pages of the book, the shots of Donnie's eye, etc). This IMDb page  provides a good comparison of the two official cuts of the film (though it's not comprehensive), to give you an idea of

Still Corners "The Last Exit" (2021) ****1/2

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If you've ever wondered what an entire album based around Chris Isaak 's " Wicked Game " would sound like,  Still Corners ' The Last Exit  is your answer. And that's not a back-handed compliment—I love that song and this LP is wonderful. But seriously, there's also a helping of Mazzy Star ,  Jesse Sykes , Neko Case , Air  and some Dire Straits  in SC's sound. Simple and catchy melodies, reverb-drenched vocals, twangy guitars, pretty without being too precious—lots to appreciate.

Donnie Darko (2001) ****

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Donnie Darko (2001)— Richard Kelly 's surrealist, existential, metaphysical, superhero Sci-Fi time travel teen angster—turned twenty earlier this year (per its Sundance debut). Kelly's feature debut is clearly the work of a young filmmaker (though one who clearly had a vision, passion, and the means to make something special).  I appreciate the film for this though, as  DD 's "immaturity" only befits the characters and the story. I think that's why the film continues to find new audiences—it speaks to a certain age bracket and it serves as a reminder of why we identified with it for those of us who saw it in when it was released. I was twenty-one when I first saw it and I think that was just about the right age to connect with the characters and the dialogue. Upon buying Arrow Video 's recent limited edition 4K UHD (which is a really marvelous package), I decided to watch the included theatrical and director's cuts on consecutive nights (hat tip to my

J.G. Ballard "High-Rise" (1975) ****

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J.G. Ballard 's  High-Rise  (1975) is a fascinating and almost entirely convincing fictional portrait of the breakdown of social structure—a microcosm of hierarchy and human behavior as portrayed through the lens of a tenement’s deterioration, and the territorialism, tribalism, and colonialism that results.

Another Thin Man (1939) ***1/2

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Another Thin Man   (1939) might sound like an exasperated question you'd ask a friend upon news of yet another sequel in a franchise. But when it comes to the  Thin Man   series, I think most would agree that wouldn't be your response in regard to the third film (or possibly any of the follow-ups).  While this second of five sequels to  W.S. Van Dyk e's  film adaptation  of  Dashiell Hammett 's novel  The Thin Man   (1934) (my review  here ) is the least best in the series so far, and while it certainly follows an established formula, it's just impossible to deny the charm of Nick and Nora Charles ( William Powell  and  Myrna Loy ).  Returning writers  Frances Goodrich  and  Albert Hackett  provide plenty of what you'd expect from a  Thin Man  movie—witty banter, zingers, colorful characters with interesting monikers, Asta the dog antics, an  Agatha Christie / Hercule Poirot  style reveal in the finale, and—this time around—Nick and Nora's offspring to add t

Each Dawn I Die (1939) ***1/2

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Each Dawn I Die (1939) is kind of a "message picture" but message pictures from this era somehow still feel less spoon-fed than they do now. Perhaps it's because the Academy Awards were still fairly new and the term " Oscar bait " hadn't been thrown around yet. 1939 remains of the greatest years in cinematic history, with Gone With The Wind being the highest grossing film and the one with the most Oscar nominations and wins (and can arguably be considered one of the earliest Oscar bait films). But EDID  is unmistakably a B movie. However, Warner Bros. B movies from the 30s hold up incredibly well—due to the casts, crews and craft on display. EDID is no exception. William Keighley  ( The Adventures Of Robin Hood (1938)) was no stranger to gangster films, having previously made 1935's 'G' Men  with James Cagney and 1936's Bullets Or Ballots  with genre heavies  Edward G. Robinson and Humphrey Bogart .  Here Keighley again directs Cagney

Quick Change (1990) ***1/2

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As I mentioned in my recent review of  Death Becomes Her   (1992) ( here ), Quick Change (1990) was another 1990s film which I clearly remember seeing the trailer and marketing materials for numerous times when it was released but didn't get around to seeing until now.  I'm glad I finally did—this is a really fun little comedy with a sardonic appeal. It's breezy and has lots of "movie logic" but it falls squarely into the category of films that aren't challenging but also aren't dumb. Bill Murray is his customarily great self and here he also co-directs (alongside Howard Franklin ). I can only speculate that Murray didn't enjoy the directorial process, as this remains his sole credit in that role.  The co-leads ( Geena Davis , Randy Quaid and Jason Robards ) are also uniformly great, and supporting roles from Tony Shalhoub , Phil Hartman , Stanley Tucci , and Kurtwood Smith  are memorable as well. Legendary cinematographer Michael Chapman keeps thi

Clockers (1995) ***1/2

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Even though Clockers  (1995) is unmistakably a Spike Lee film, it's clearly evident that Martin Scorsese (who served as a producer) was originally attached to direct. Scorsese's influence on Lee is easy to spot and it's also easy to see why the former was attracted to Richard Price 's ( The Wire (2002–2008)) 1992 novel and screenplay. Clockers  is an uneven film, but it has strong central performances and plenty of Lee's visual, editing and emotional flair. The unfiltered way that the film explores drugs, crime, race, law enforcement, community, socioeconomic status, passions, hopes/dreams, and how all these elements affect one another is mostly satisfactory. You can find my  Spike Lee Joints Ranked  list  here .

Avanti! (1972) ****

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For some reason when I sat down for this viewing of  Avanti! (1972), I thought that I hadn't seen the film before. As it began to play, it all felt very familiar and then I realized (and confirmed via my log) that I had  watched the film back in 2009. Once that was established and the familiarity set in, I recalled really enjoying it and this was confirmed by the end of "Take 2".  Billy Wilder 's infidelity comedy, while a bit outdated in some regards, is a really wonderful late era film from the director. Despite the runtime being just under 2 1/2 hours, it doesn't feel long and it's constantly pleasing throughout. Jack Lemmon plays a jerk who you really end up warming up to and Juliet Mills is just sweet, beautiful and an absolute joy. The two have a great chemistry.  Clive Revill as hotel manager Carlo Carlucci is simply perfection.  Avanti! playfully jabs at stereotypes and has some good zingers. It's not a laugh riot however, more of a charmer, bu

Amélie (Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain) (2001) ****1/2

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I remember first seeing Amélie  (aka  Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain ) (2001) at a nearby $2 movie theater (now defunct) in either late 2001 or early 2002. I was already a fan of  Jean-Pierre Jeunet  via his previous three films (two with Marc Caro ) but  Amélie  was the one that garnered real attention in the States. After a mixed reception to his first solo outing,  Alien: Resurrection (1997), Jeunet came back four years later with this gem of a movie. Amélie  is definitely a film where you have to buy into the fantasy and the hyperrealism. If you're a fan of that approach, it's an absolute delight. The cinematography, production and art design, the heavy green and red color manipulation, Yann Tiersen 's playful score, and all the characters—including the smallest of roles—all blend together to create an indelible experience. Jean-Pierre Jeunet   seems to make even misery look beautiful. Audrey Tautou  is, of course, infectiously adorable. At first glance, the t