The director is not to be confused with Kevin McDonald of Kids in the Hall, unfortunately. Maybe McDonald could’ve added some humor to the whole thing.

Not a laughing matter, the movie is an untrue story about a loser doctor (young scot James McAvoy) who moves to Uganda so that he won’t have to work at his dad’s practice. After unsuccessfully trying to seduce older doctor Gillian Anderson out in the country, James meets General Idi Amin Dada, new ruler of Uganda, aka a completely badass Forest Whitaker. James is offered a position as Idi Amin’s private physician, and accepts… gets to see how quirky and odd Amin can be, sometimes very likeable, sometimes killing lots of people in horrible ways. James falls for Amin’s third wife Kay (Kerry Washington of Fantastic Four) and has some sex with her before Amin has her killed. Our man barely barely escapes with his life, escaping on a plane when he’s supposed/about to be killed as well.

Story is pretty straightforward, told from James’s eyes with some drifting short-attention-span camera work. A pretty okay movie with a single towering performance, then, just as the Oscars would have you believe.

The duel of the dueling-magician movies! Unexpectedly, The Illusionist won.

Prestige is pretty solid, though… a flashy angst-ridden story of magician one-up-manship. Huge Ackman and Christian Batman-Bale are magicians assistants when Bale ties the wrong knot and Huge’s wife drowns during the escape-from-water-tank routine. They go their own ways, but keep sabotaging each other. Huge messes with one of Bale’s trick causing Bale to lose a couple fingers. Bale messes with the guy Huge hires as his double for the teleport routine, gets Huge’s audience to go watch Bale’s own teleport routine which is even better, because Bale is using his secret identical twin brother as his double.

How’d Bale do that? Huge sees Nikola Tesla (a mustachioed David Bowie) to find out. Bowie makes him a crazy device… a Huge Ackman Duplication Machine!! Huge steps into the machine and wammo, one Huge falls through a trap door and dies in the water tank, and the other Huge gets zapped into the balcony where he takes a big bow. Christian Batman-Bale tries to get to the bottom of this and is discovered with one dead Ackman and sentenced to death. Oh and doesn’t his wife kill herself? I think maybe the surviving twin kills Huge at the end, too, but it doesn’t matter.

Stylish, cool looking movie, fun trickery and all that. Acting is all good, too. Both movies had a big trick ending, but this one seems to live for its tricks and torture its characters. Illusionist had a great happy ending, and nice slowly-developing story. That’s the one I’d want to see again, not this bizarre-world flash-fest.

Is there anybody who could watch both of the 2006 period-magician mystery movies and not compare the two? Of course not, so why pretend? I’ve rented ’em both in one weekend.

Surprisingly, this is an understated little movie… a simple trick ending (though I don’t know how Norton could’ve planned the sword-fight between the girl and the prince), simple characters and staging. What’s the deal with police inspector Paul Giamatti being talked up as the best part of the movie, though? Just some post-Sideways holdover I guess. He and Norton and the girl are good, bad guy Rufus Sewell less so.

Ed Norton is a magician who likes the prince’s crush Jessica Biel, and taunts the prince at a party. Prince gets all upset and tries to kill Biel in a drunken rage, but nobody sees the fight so she’s just found dead and the prince isn’t blamed. Norton shuts down, opens a new theater and starts summoning ghosts, eventually bringing up her ghost who, through audience questioning, casts suspicion on the prince for her murder. Prince is brought down, shoots himself in front of Giamatti, and Norton and his not-dead girl live happily after an eerie Giamatti-chase through the streets that is every bit like the ending of The Usual Suspects.

Very likeable movie, subtle (even more so when compared to The Prestige).

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Lifted – came in late and missed it, but it’s supposed to screen in front of Ratatouille so I’ll get another chance.

The Danish Poet – saw the end, didn’t look impressive, but cute maybe.

Maestro – cool, the inner workings of a cuckoo clock (that being the twist ending) with the camera moving around the room in increments like a second hand. Landmark liked it so much they played it twice in a row (or that’s because their heads are up their asses as usual).

The Little Matchgirl – too smooth looking, too disney looking, and too many credited animators. Unfairly sad little thing.

No Time For Nuts – an Ice Age short, also unfair. More importantly, not especially good/funny, not half as good as the Madagascar penguin short. Prehistoric squirrel-thing finds a time machine and it teleports him and his sole acorn all over, ending in the future with a fake oak tree. Poor guy.

A Gentleman’s Duel – 3D short with people, never a good idea but this one looked quite good. Uptight brit and uptight frenchie duel in battletech suits over pretty girl who ends up getting nekked with her butler/servant/whatever. Has its moments.

Guide Dog – only crossover with The Animation Show and my favorite of this bunch. Too bad, the Oscars could learn a lot from Judge and Hertzfeldt.

One Rat Short – brown rat follows cheetos bag into rat lab run by red-eyed robot where he falls for white rat. Cheetos bag causes chaos and the gates are all opened, brown rat escapes but white rat is left behind. SAD MOVIE.

The Passenger – kid is scared of dog, sits on bus next to fish in plastic bag that turns into hideous huge creature when he turns on his walkman. Funny, cool little piece.

Wraith of Cobble Hill – ugh, brooklyn kid with drunk mom drinks cough syrup with his friends, gets key to shop while owner is “out of town”, finally “saves” owner’s dog from rat-infested store. Claymation whatever.

Movie 2 of the Key Sunday Cinema Club. Hated it, skipped the post-movie discussion to sneak into the oscar shorts. Thanks anyway, Katy! Not your fault.

Opens right up with a big damned heavyhanded metaphor, where our boy Wilberforce (his real name, haha, and played by Mr. Fantastic!) stops some white brutes from kicking their black horse out in the rain. Some poignant shit right there. Then a whole movie about racism with only one black person in it follows.

The one black person is Youssou N’Dour in his English feature film debut. We’ve discussed Wilberforce (heh) being Mr. Fantastic (double-heh) and let’s see what else is going on. The young Prime Minister is played by Benedict Cumberbatch (pffffhahaha) who once played Stephen Hawking in a TV movie. Wilberforce eventually marries young Romola Garai (from Vanity Fair and Scoop). In the parliament we’ve got Michael Gambon as a good guy and a very familiar looking Ciaran Hinds and the dude from Infamous as bad guys, and off on his own is Wilberforce’s mentor, a cataract-ridden saintly monkly fella who used to own a slave ship, played by our Albert Finney. Oh wait, and Rufus Sewell plays a leftist with scarecrow-hair who pals around with N’Dour and tries to get Wilderforce to go abolish slavery, which he eventually does, the end.

A very bad script where everyone speaks only in cliches, from the writer of Dirty Pretty Things, which I’ll have to not see. I didn’t know much about Michael Apted before, and I’ll have to not find out more. I’d been trying to forget this, but Terrence Malick produced. There were seven producers, so it’s not a major blow.

Good performances and costume details ignored the silliness of the whole thing. It’s not the absence of black people that bugs me much, since after all, it’s a historical drama that takes place in british parliament. It’s just the extreme fakiness of it all, wilbur making himself physically sick and turning to god and admiring spiderwebs, the way-easy love affair, the bagpipe coda… but I mostly can’t get past the cornbread dialogue. It’s impossible to overstate this: every line is a cliche. IMDB shows that church groups have been getting prerelease screenings, and from the comments, they seem to be eating it up.

SUCH a fun movie, I watched it twice in one day. Seen it a bunch of times before, too. Perfect balance of comedy, horror, mystery, romance, effects, live action, serious drama and loony overacting.

Commentary has fun/useless trivia, looking forward to the very long doc on disc 2. For the first time, I was seeing the extended “director’s cut”. Extra shots and scenes didn’t improve the movie necessarily, but they didn’t hurt it either. Sometimes more of a good thing is just more of a good thing. No real need for plot description since I don’t think I’ll forget it anytime soon. So here are screen shots instead.

Katy came in during the same scene twice, and didn’t seem thrilled about the whole thing.

fun deleted scene:
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still badass even in death:
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Michael J. dies a lot in this movie:
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danny elfman’s favorite scene:
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saturn award nominated Jeffrey Combs:
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no oscars, but won lots of emmys and golden globes:
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oscar-winning director Peter Jackson:
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Le Coup du berger, or, Fool’s Mate or maybe Checkmate, with an all-star new wave crew. Rivette directed and narrated, Straub assistant-directed, Chabrol wrote, Truffaut and Godard had cameos, and Cahiers cofounder Jacques Doniol-Valcroze played the husband.

A woman’s lover (Brialy, he of the luxurious hair in Claire’s Knee) gives her a fur coat and she wants to keep it, but she’ll look suspicious to her husband. She they concoct a foolish plan: she pretends to find an airport claim check in a cab and has him pick up the case, where she’ll be pleasantly surprised to get a free fur coat! But he twists the plan by replacing the coat with something cheap and giving them good one to HIS lover. Gotcha!

A decent little flick… worth a look, but as Keith Uhlich in Slant says, it’s more Chabrol’s film than Rivette’s. He also says “the whole thing is shallow and obvious in ways that Rivette’s features never are”. I wouldn’t go that far, but I wasn’t assessing its worth in the Rivette canon, just watching for the fun of it.

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Fireworks (1947) – the one where young Ken daydreams that he is beaten by sailors and a roman candle is set off in his pants.

Didn’t blow me away as much this time, but maybe I’ve seen it too many times. Would still recommend to everyone as the definitive statement on being gay & 17, the United States Navy, American Christmas, and the Fourth of July. Just unbelievable that this was made in 1947, with practically no precedent… before even Stan Brakhage had picked up a camera. I guess Anger wasn’t old enough to know that this kind of thing was not done.

Fireworks sailors:
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Puce Moment (1949) – the one where a glamourous actress lives in her glamorous house, and a bunch of classic hollywood dresses are paraded in front of the camera.

Guess I didn’t see the point because I don’t care about dresses and glamour. Commentary was the best part. Anger’s mom or aunt or someone was a costume designer for the silent films, so he’s filming these dresses in vivid color which have only been seen on screen before in black and white. Part of a longer movie that got scrapped.

Puce woman:
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Rabbit’s Moon (1950) – the one where mimes do a dance in a forest, and one tries to reach the moon to impress a girl and I’m pretty sure he dies in the end, oh and there’s pop music playing.

Really neat, wasn’t expecting to find a mime movie on here. Anger says the film was commissioned and the actors were hired from the Marcel Marceau school. He talked about the storyline too, but I can’t remember much of that. Cool little movie – the one from this disc that I’d show off to people in my never-gonna-happen short-films fest.

Rabbit mime:
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Eaux d’artifice (1953) – the blue-tinged one where Ken just photographs water in some garden fountains and sometimes a woman (actually a very small woman) runs by in a fancy dress.

Maybe my favorite of the bunch. Just light sparkling through water, opera music playing. Peaceful.

Eaux d’artifice:
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Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (1954) – the slow one where people in fancy costumes stand around and do stuff and finally blend in weird montages (or “the one with Anaïs Nin”).

I was dozing off, should watch again with the commentary on. A long, pretty, entrancing and colorful movie. Maybe best to watch while dozing, really.

Pleasure Dome montage:
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A theater adaptation that starts out stagey and effortlessly segues into movie form. The narrator shows up, walking around a carousel, tells us what’s going on, gives direction to one of the characters, and walks off into the set for the first scene, where the “movie” takes over… very nice. Then this guy keeps showing up comically in the other segments, reminding us of the structure of the movie, of the director/author’s presence, keeping things light and stagey whenever the scene threatens to take over. Of course we’ve got Ophuls’ camera roaming smoothly everywhere in long takes, nice photography and a whole bundle of good actors. I loved it. Much more “adult” than most movies, examines different facets of romantic relationships, one small scene at a time:

Prostitute & Franz The Soldier – he’s in a hurry but she picks him up and takes him under a bridge free of charge, for no apparent reason than the narrator told her to!

Franz The Soldier & Marie The Maid – still in a hurry, Franz manages to get Marie to leave a party and go walking with him. They do something or other on a park bench, but then he wants nothing to do with her after. She ends up fired from her job for staying out late, but the narrator assures her she’ll get a better one soon.

Marie The Maid & Young Alfred – the cutest segment… Marie and Al left alone in the house, trying to approach each other, successfully in the end.

Young Alfred & Married Emma – Al is renting his own bachelor pad these days and trying to be suave around Emma, who finally calms down and lets him.

Emma & Her Husband Charles – sitting up in bed talking about how completely unacceptable extra-marital affairs would be.

Charles & 19-yr-old Anna – Charles is suddenly the lech, running up the bill at a fancy restaurant to get Anna to go home (or to a hotel, I guess) with him.

Anna & Poet Robert – Robert is dreamy… too dreamy for the likes of Anna.

Robert & Actress Charlotte – Charlotte is too famous and dreamy for the likes of Robert.

Charlotte & The Count
The Count & The Prostitute – I start to forget the specifics towards the end of the movie, but gimme some credit, there was a lot going on.

The narrator is Anton Walbrook, a star of Life & Death of Colonel Blimp… prostitute Simone Signoret, a big star from a lotta movies I haven’t seen… soldier is Serge Reggiani, the contrary Don Francisco in The Leopard… the maid is Simone Simon, who I recognized from Cat People… Alfred is Daniel Gélin, who later worked with Hitchcock, Ruiz and Cocteau… Emma is Danielle Darrieux from 8 Women and Young Girls of Rochefort… her husband is Fernand Gravey… Anna is Odette Joyeux… poet is Jean-Louis Barrault, star of Children of Paradise… actress is Isa Miranda… aaaaand Count Gérard Philipe starred in Bunuel’s Fever Mounts at El Pao, released a month after he died.

Godard called it France’s worst film. I can’t figure that guy out.