Devil in a Blue Dress (1995)

. Director/Screenwriter: Carl Franklin By Roderick Heath Although crime films and thrillers never went away, the late 1980s and ‘90s saw a busy revival of noir film, a new mode conscious of the genre’s past but invested with a hard edge of contemporary awareness. A battery of filmmakers including Michael Mann, John Dahl, Howard Franklin, …

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Night at the Crossroads (La Nuit de Carrefour, 1932) / A Day in the Country (Partie de campagne, 1936)

Director/Screenwriter/Actor: Jean Renoir By Roderick Heath Sometimes a famous name can be a boost or a burden. Or just a name. As the son of one of the most lauded Impressionist painters, Jean Renoir’s attraction to cinema gave the young art form an aura of matured sophistication, but might well have also lifted a few …

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All the Money in the World (2017)

Director: Ridley Scott By Roderick Heath Where Ridley Scott last left off, he was sending his biologically engineered übermenschen off into deep space to operatic fanfares of crypt-black irony. All the Money in the World, although set in the recent, very earthbound past, nonetheless takes up where that movie left off as young John Paul …

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Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

Director/Actor: Kenneth Branagh By Roderick Heath Kenneth Branagh, damn his eyes. Few figures in contemporary film remain as eclectically gifted and perpetually vexing. The energetic-to-a-fault Irish-born thespian-turned-filmmaker’s directorial career has provoked acclaim and irritation since his electrifying debut in 1989 with Henry V transformed a 28-year-old best known for his stage work into a major …

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Baby Driver (2017)

Director/ Screenwriter: Edgar Wright By Roderick Heath A heist scene, both in life and in movies, is traditionally a scene of fear, ferocity, chaos, and sometimes bloodshed. Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver kicks off on the other hand with a sequence of startling formal artistry and glib humour as its hero, who remains for nearly the …

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Live and Let Die (1973) / The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) / For Your Eyes Only (1981)

Directors: Guy Hamilton, Lewis Gilbert, John Glen By Roderick Heath Roger Moore’s death at the age of 89 last week was a sad moment in spite of what was obviously a well-lived life reaching a natural end. There was a sting I didn’t expect in losing Moore and his image, his unshakeable veneer of savoir …

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Think Fast, Mr. Moto / Thank You, Mr. Moto (1937)

Director/Coscreenwriter: Norman Foster By Roderick Heath J. P. Marquand had a serious reputation as a writer in the 1930s, but he’s been remembered to posterity chiefly for his sideline in pulp fiction. He created Mr. Moto for the Saturday Evening Post in 1935 as a replacement for Charlie Chan, whose creator Earl Derr Biggers had …

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Dead Presidents (1995)

Directors/Coscreenwriters: Albert and Allen Hughes By Roderick Heath In the 1990s, following the lead of Spike Lee, a small wave of black filmmaking talents, including Carl Franklin, John Singleton, Kasi Lemmons, Bill Duke, Mario Van Peebles, and the Hughes Brothers, edged their way into Hollywood. Their careers have proven for the most part patchy and …

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