Category Archives: Film

Film

The Ten Percent: The Great Escape (1963)

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Original poster for The Great Escape, 1963.

“Ninety percent of everything is crud.” – Theodore Sturgeon

Welcome back to “The Ten Percent,” a regular column where every other week K. Dale Koontz and I take a look at the inverse of Sturgeon’s Law; in other words, the small portion of everything which is not crud. So many films premiere each year, but only a very few are remembered and revered years later. That’s not a matter of genre – the Ten Percent is a big tent, with plenty of room for comedy, drama, horror, animation, musical, science fiction and many more. But admission into the tent is not easy to come by. Films in this category last because they are high quality productions which demand more of their viewer than simple passive reception.

Before I talk about why 1963’s The Great Escape belongs in the Ten Percent, it’s worth taking the time to point out the film’s flaws. First, neither bicycles nor motorcycles were used in the 1943 escape from Stalag Luft III. Second, the “Great Escape” of 76 Allied POWs took place in unseasonably cold weather during one of the worst winters seen in Eastern Poland in 30 years. Third, there were no Americans among the escapees who were mostly British and Canadian. Finally, there was never any regulation which stated that Allied prisoners were duty-bound to attempt to escape. In fact, many, perhaps most, American and British POWs were generally leery of escape attempts.

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‘A Man Called Ove’: Yet Another Grumpy Old Man, But Better Than Most

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They don’t come around all that often, but the movies love a charismatically gruff old man. From the goofy classic Grumpy Old Men with Jack Lemon and Walter Matthau to Clint Eastwood’s racist curmudgeon in Gran Turino, there’s a strange appeal to bitter old cranks. At least, when they discover they have a heart after all. Hannes Holm’s A Man Called Ove, from the novel by Fredrik Backman, follows in the genre’s creaky, recalcitrant footsteps. With a wonderful performance as the titular Ove from Rolf Lassgård, the film hits all the right irascible notes. Nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Foreign Film category, and another for Makeup and Hairstyling, A Man Called Ove has been an unlikely success.

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‘Dancer’: Portrait of the Artist as a Frustrating Mess

Sometimes a talent is so oversized it’s like a bomb waiting to go off. One look at ballet’s enfant terrible Sergei Polunin and you can see the talent, his mesmerizing form crackling with electricity. You don’t need to know anything about ballet as Polunin launches his wiry frame impossibly high into the air to know that this kid’s got it. Dancer, the documentary from Steven Cantor (loudQUIETloud: A Film About the Pixies) follows Polunin’s evolution, from child prodigy to hard partying success to burnt-out superstar. It’s an interesting if conventional portrait of an artist with tremendous gifts, lacking the tools to sustain a career.

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Creations of Chaos: The Wind Rises

On this addition of Creations of Chaos, it’s the Alexander Hamilton of the Studio Ghibli world. Meet the ambitious, goal achieving Jiro, in The Wind Rises.

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Maliglutit (Searchers) brings the Western to the frozen North

 

 

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The Canadian Western has to be the smallest of film genres. Philip Borsos’ The Grey Fox (1982) pretty much begins and ends the genre. It’s small because Canadians don’t really think we had a western frontier, in the same way America did. That’s not entirely true, but misses a larger point, that really almost all of Canada is frontier. Still. And most of that frontier isn’t west. It’s north. Inuk director Zacharias Kunuk corrects that oversight with an arctic reimagining of John Ford’s classic western The Searchers (1956). Spare and evocative, Kunuk’s Maliglutit brings the Western to the snowbound north with arresting results.

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Creations of Chaos: The Tale of Princess Kaguya

In this edition of Creations of Chaos, director Isao Takahata once again ends a film with crushing despair. It’s the story about a Princess who wants to be a peasant, The Tale of Princess Kaguya.

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The Ten Percent – Beasts, Beauty, and Wonder

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“Ninety percent of everything is crud.” – Theodore Sturgeon

Happy 2017 and welcome to another installment of “The Ten Percent,” a regular column – well, last year it was more of a semi-regular column, but we’re resolved to change that, now that one gigantic project is wrapping up. Ahem. Let’s start again . . .

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Creations of Chaos: The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness

On this edition of Creations of Chaos, it’s the film that shows all of the ins and outs of Studio Ghibli. It’s the documentary, The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness.

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Granny’s Review of Assassin’s Creed, the Film

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The first time I had ever heard of Assassin’s Creed was during Christmas vacation several years back. I had taken my three grandsons to the Mutter Museum in Center City Philadelphia. Granny was trying to impart some knowledge into her grandsons, but they had other ideas. While we visited the many display cases that held a multitude of medical and biological oddities, I constantly found myself alone and the boys missing. Where the heck were they?

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The other visitors in the museum that day would constantly point towards one of the hallways and smirk whenever they heard me calling out for the boys. It took several round-ups before I figured out that they were playing their own version of Assassin’s Creed. So, what exactly is Assassin’s Creed and did the game successfully transfer to film? Read the rest of this entry

Holiday Gift Guide 2016: King Kong

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With Kong: Skull Island on the horizon, and a rematch between King Kong and Godzilla in the planning stages, the world may be ready to go ape again, but King Kong has always been here, meet me after the jump for some gift ideas that may make you go ape!

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