California Literary Review

Best Movies

The Weekly Listicle: Parties For A New Year

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December 31st, 2010

In the spirit of celebration, we take a moment to remember some of our favorite movie parties. In some cases the party itself is one the audience might very much like to attend. In others it is a complete catastrophe, but still very entertaining to watch. So strap on your party hat and join me (Dan Fields) and William Bibbiani around the punch bowl.

The 10 Worst Movies of 2010

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December 31st, 2010

I’m a sucker for a silly romantic comedy, but this particular romantic comedy is for suckers. Kristen Bell stars as a workaholic who learns the value of not being a workaholic because of the power of magic coins in Rome which, when plucked from a fountain, cause their previous owners to fall madly in love with Kristen Bell.

Brighton Rock Rises Again. Graham Greene Abides.

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December 20th, 2010

Acclaimed screenwriter Rowan Joffé will try his hand at the directing game next year. For his debut, he has selected an auspiciously high-profile story. Brighton Rock, adapted from Graham Greene’s 1938 novel, is a captivating crime thriller and a chilling exploration of the human capacity for love, betrayal and violence. If all goes right, this will be one beautiful and scary film.

A Watchful Eye On… Sherlock Holmes

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December 15th, 2010

Sherlock Holmes as a strict Victorian period piece is over and done with, but the character still has potential in a new context. The only rule is not to stray from the unique faculties that make Sherlock such a distinctive and popular hero. If the story’s focus ceases to be the detective’s brilliant deductive logic, then the magic is lost and the character wasted. If, however, due attention and respect are paid to this detail, the rest is free and open to broader interpretation.

The Weekly Listicle: Misleading Movie Titles

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December 3rd, 2010

Sometimes a movie’s title appears to be a secret known only to the writer. Sometimes it is based on a very subtle detail in the story, which only becomes clear after multiple viewings. Sometimes a flaw in the film’s execution simply fails to bring out the significance of the title. And sometimes movies just have stupid titles. This week, William Bibbiani and I (Dan Fields) meditate upon the sticky subject of Movie Naming.

The Weekly Listicle: Worlds Of Fancy And Other Wondrous Places

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November 19th, 2010

A cleverly rendered fantasy world has the power to make us believe astounding things, and to transport us to places we may never have imagined ourselves. In the history of film there have been countless attempts to take real-world places and performers outside the realm of what has been seen before, and into far-off lands where the amazing, the terrifying, and the marvelous lurk around every corner.

Movie Time Nostalgia, Part 4: We Are All Children Of Paradise

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November 9th, 2010

A movie can do a lot of things to an audience. It may move them, amuse them, disgust them, terrify them, or in all too many cases bore them. One thing only a handful of films can do is inspire wonder. Every once in a while, a winning combination of writer, director, designers, composers and cast meet in perfect harmony. Such, I feel, is the case of Marcel Carné’s 1945 epic romance, Les Enfants du Paradis (Children of Paradise).

Movie Time Nostalga, Part 3: Raising the Stakes with Raising Arizona

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October 13th, 2010

My appreciation of Raising Arizona is as much sentimental as aesthetic. But don’t be fooled. It is a great, great piece of work.

The Weekly Listicle: Stepchildren Of The Horror Masters

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October 7th, 2010

Today we take a different look at the master horror directors. Each of these moviemakers has made an iconic footprint on the history of scary cinema, whether with a well-worn franchise or in a single terrifying stroke. In many cases, the great success of such a film overshadows a director’s lesser works. Some are forgotten with good reason, but others are worth reviving now and again. Join William Bibbiani, Julia Rhodes, and myself (Dan Fields) as we discuss the neglected offspring of the great names in horror.

Movie Time Nostalgia, Part 2: North By Northwest Revisited

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September 25th, 2010

I got myself a videotape of Alfred Hitchcock’s North By Northwest at a young age, and proceeded to watch the ever-living hell out of it. I can’t recall having seen what you might call a grown-up movie before that, and a lot of dramatic films that I love now might not have held my attention then. But North by Northwest really has got it all.

And the winner is…Julia Rhodes!

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March 8th, 2010

Well, folks, I type this through a haze of last night’s bubbly. The Academy Awards ceremony itself, as well as the dresses, were hit-or-miss this year. Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin were good enough hosts–though Hugh Jackman nearly charmed the pants off me last year and I’ll hold others to that standard, thank you. And […]

The Weekly Listicle: Creepy Kids Movies

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March 4th, 2010

In honor of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland (watch for the review on Saturday morning), this week’s Listicle is all about kids’ movies spooky, weird, and/or dark kids’ movies. Alice in Wonderland is rated PG-13 for “fantasy/action violence involving scary images and situations” and “a smoking caterpillar.” Really, MPAA? We all know it isn’t tobacco […]

The 10 Best Movies of the Decade (2000-2009)

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January 1st, 2010

Wong Kar-wai’s beautiful tone poem is an ode to unrequited and impossible love. Its brilliant color scheme, gorgeous costumes, unforgettable cinematography, and heart-wrenching violin score harmonize to create a film that seethes with romance, melancholy, and the allure of the impossible.

The Top 10 Movies of 2009

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December 29th, 2009

At the end, she’s back at square one leading the student life, but inside, she’s grown exponentially. Life is cruel, life is not fair but life truly is beautiful. One of the best coming of age films of all time.

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