In Bloom (2013)

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Small in scope and modestly budgeted, In Bloom nevertheless earned major plaudits both at home and abroad. Critics, rather grandiloquently in my opinion, have been heralding it as the first in a New Wave of Georgian cinema. That’s certainly enough to get my attention but I confess that I was rather more attracted by its exoticism, since I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Georgian film before.

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Tango & Cash (1989)

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A couple of months ago, I met up with the cinephile friend I occasionally mention here over the Chinese New Year holidays. He asked to see the list of to-watch movies that I’d compiled and this was the entry that puzzled him the most. Is this that ’80s action movie starring Sylvester Stallone, he asked, why would you ever want to watch this? Indeed it is, and indeed it is a film that has a terrible reputation and deservedly so. But it’s also a film that exemplifies the excesses of the era like no other and that’s why this is an interesting film to watch.

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Introduction to Philosophy

Since I had some time until my next Coursera course is scheduled to start, I’ve been slowly watching the lecture videos for this one from the University of Edinburgh. It was previously offered as a normal course at least once before but has since been put into an at-your-pace mode, which means it’s always available but no professor is actively involved in it. This is the first time I’ve taken a course in this mode on Coursera.

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Vivacious Lady (1938)

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As usual out of the three films that we watch every weekend, one of them is from the upcoming Marriage and the Movies course so as to be ready when it starts next month. This one once again stars James Stewart, who we’ve seen in a couple of other movies recently, and Ginger Rogers, who is most famous for starring in a series of successful musicals with her frequent dance partner Fred Astaire. Unfortunately there is no dancing to be had in this film except for a comedy sketch. Since I didn’t appreciate the humor here at all and found its entire premise annoying, this makes Vivacious Lady the weakest of the marriage movies so far.

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The Secret of Kells (2009)

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Working through the lengthy list of animated films that my wife wants to watch, we arrive at this French-Belgian-Irish production. It was nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 2010 Oscars but lost out to Up. I’d be the first to complain that the Academy Awards are unfairly biased in favored of American productions. For example in 2007 Persepolis lost to Ratatouille and in 2010 The Illusionist lost to Toy Story 3, both questionable decisions. But in this case, I have to say that the Academy was probably right.

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True Grit (2010)

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Reviewing the filmography of the Coen brothers, I realized that we’ve actually watched quite a few of them over the years. I’ve also never disliked any of them, except for O Brother, Where Art Thou? whose humor I didn’t really get. One of the most impressive things about their body of work is that they cover such a remarkable range of genres and styles. No Country for Old Men for example is an implacably grim meditation on the nature of true evil while Raising Arizona is just plain wackiness. Apart from good craftsmanship, the one thing that they have in common is perhaps their eccentricity.

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Brief Encounter (1945)

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This is obviously a pick for the Marriage and the Movies course but we would have eventually gotten around to watching it anyway because it’s widely considered one of the greatest romances on film. It’s one of David Lean’s earliest directorial efforts, who would later go on to make such cinematic classics as Lawrence of Arabia and The Bridge on the River Kwai. It’s also the last of four films that he worked on in collaboration with playwright and scriptwriter Noël Coward.

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The unexamined life is a life not worth living