Two Dean Martin Westerns

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Frank Sinatra cracked of Dean Martin’s drinking habits, “He’s been stoned more often than United States embassies.”

Rio Bravo — ★★★☆

4 for Texas — ★★★★

I watched two Dean Martin Westerns recently, Rio Bravo (1959) and 4 For Texas (1963). There may be a Flickchart Reel Rumble in those, so I won’t say much here, but I prefer 4 for Texas for one good reason: Frank Sinatra. And one even better reason: Ursula Andress. I’ve been on a bit of an Andress kick lately, watching the 1967 Casino Royale the other week and seeing Dr. No on the big screen at Austin’s Paramount Theater last summer. There may be a Flickchart article in her, too, so that’s all for now!

Preparing for some John le Carré rewatches

I’m halfway through the novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. I’ll have a one-sentence Goodreads review when I’m through (it’s all I can manage with two blogs to update and my real job to do besides!), but I’m already anticipating my rewatches of both the 2011 movie and the 1979 TV miniseries.

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Recently completed the Hayao Miyazaki feature-length filmography

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Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro — ★★★★

Thanks to a Drafthouse roadshow a few years back, I’ve seen most of Hayao Miyazaki’s major movies on the big screen (subtitled, no less.) While living in Japan I visited the Ghibli Museum outside Tokyo and saw one of his many short films that are currently only available at that location.* I’ve seen his music video and all the films he wrote for Ghibli that someone else directed. But it was just a few weeks ago that I finally watched his first feature film, The Castle of Cagliostro (1979), in its entirety.

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Nothing but 3-hour+ movies in 2016

The first movie I saw in this young year was the 70-mm presentation of The Hateful Eight, which ran 187 minutes. I liked the Western first half, but the grindhouse second half is silly and rapidly fritters away the emotional, intellectual, and aesthetic interest earned before intermission.

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Annual 100th birthdays post is up at Flickchart.com/blog

My second annual Flickchart blog post celebrating stars who would turn (or are turning) 100 in the new year is up now at http://www.flickchart.com/blog/10-stars-who-turn-100-in-2016/. This is probably my favorite thing I do on the Flickchart blog. Both years’ lists have been diverse and fun to research.

Last year’s post received a comment from one of Barbara Billingsley’s great-grandsons, and we’ve since become internet pals. Perhaps some descendant of a new would-be centenarian will come out of the woodwork this year, too.

You may have seen all the Bond movies, but have you really seen ALL the Bond movies?

Barry Nelson (far left) as James Bond and Peter Lorre (far right) as Le Chiffre
Barry Nelson (seated at left) as James Bond and Peter Lorre (seated at right) as Le Chiffre in 1954’s CASINO ROYALE

Casino Royale (1954)
★★☆☆

I’m a longtime Bond fan. Of course I’d seen all the official films, plus Never Say Never Again and 1967’s psychedelic Casino Royale spoof (the latter is one of my favorite movies bar none). There are some weird foreign knock-offs out there that use the James Bond name, like a circa 1965 Bollywood effort, but to my knowledge the only somewhat-official Bond production I had not seen was a 1954 made-for-TV broadcast of Casino Royale. I knew of its existence, that it had been the first on-screen portrayal of the character, and that it had presented “Jimmy” Bond as an American, but I hadn’t sought it out.

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The Best of 2015

Chloë Moretz in CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA
Chloë Moretz in CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA

A few of these may not be eligible for the real awards, but let’s ignore Oscar guidelines for now; we’ll do a separate post predicting the actual winners. These are the Best of 2015 as I see it.

Best Picture: Clouds of Sils Maria — ★★★★ — See my Flickchart review here. I neglected to compare it to Ingmar Bergman’s Persona, but the similarities are great. A quick edit may be in order before the Oscar nominations make the review relevant again. Kristen Stewart is getting the buzz, thanks in part to Cannes voters’ enthusiasm for her performance, but my own preference is seen in the picture above.

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A belated and spoilery FORCE AWAKENS review

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Note: I wrote this review on December 21, too late for publication at Flickchart.com/blog, but as a professional film critic I can’t not say my piece about the biggest film of all time.*

★★★☆

Though I waited four days to see it, further diminishing my already faded Star Wars fan cred that half a lifetime ago was beyond question, I’d heard just a few things about The Force Awakens before I saw it. I’d heard it closely mirrored the plot of the 1977 debut film, my favorite in the franchise, and I’d heard that Luke Skywalker’s whereabouts were in question. I wasn’t excited, though. These tidbits didn’t whet my appetite. I wasn’t curious about Kylo Ren’s identity or what sort of characters Ex Machina’s Oscar Isaac and Domhnall Gleeson would be playing.

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