Killing Me Softly (2002)

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She loves him . . . but does she really know who he is?
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US, UK / 100 minutes / color / MGM, Montecito, Noelle Dir: Chen Kaige Pr: Lynda Myles, Joe Medjuck, Michael Chinich Scr: Kara Lindstrom Story: Killing Me Softly (1999) by Nicci French Cine: Michael Coulter Cast: Heather Graham, Joseph Fiennes, Natascha McElhone, Ulrich Thomsen, Ian Hart, Jason Hughes, Kika Markham, Amy Robbins, Yasmin Bannerman, Rebecca Palmer, Ronan Vibert, Olivia Poulet.

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A psychological thriller that, while it’s far from a masterpiece, I’d maintain is rather better than it’s usually given credit for.

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Alice (Graham) is an American who’s been in London these past two years working as a designer of CD-ROMs and websites for corporate clients. For six months now she’s lived with her boyfriend, Jake (Hughes), in a relationship that’s become affectionate and comfortable, albeit no longer fiery.

killing-me-softly-1-jake-is-a-comfortable-companion

Jake (Jason Hughes) is a comfortable companion.

One day on the way to work she accidentally touches fingers with a mysterious stranger, mountaineer Adam Tallis (Fiennes), at a pedestrian stop sign, and there’s an instant attraction. Soon they’re in a taxi to the apartment where he’s living—in fact his sister’s—and, once they get there, they promptly Continue reading

Taste of Evil, A (1971 TVM)

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Was someone trying to drive her . . . insane?
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US / 71 minutes / color / Aaron Spelling, ABC Dir: John Llewellyn Moxey Pr: Aaron Spelling Scr: Jimmy Sangster Cine: Arch Dalzell Cast: Barbara Stanwyck, Barbara Parkins, Roddy McDowall, William Windom, Arthur O’Connell, Bing Russell, Dawn Frame.

Taste of Evil - 0 opener

“Once upon a time there was a family who lived in a big house all by itself in the middle of great big woods. There was Mommy. She was very beautiful. Everyone loved her—especially Uncle Harold. He wasn’t my real uncle—just make-believe. Mommy made people laugh, because she was so happy herself. Then there was Daddy. He was very handsome and very kind. Everybody was mad about him. And last of all, because she was the youngest, there was Susan. She had no brothers or sisters, so she was on her own a lot. But she didn’t mind it, because she had her own special house in the woods that her daddy had built for her when she was a very little girl . . .”

Continue reading

Dirty Little Secret (2011)

US / 7 minutes / color / zoes3d, Somerville, Prototype, Albatross Dir & Scr: Chris St.Croix Pr: Chris Conner, David Buchert, D.J. Goller Cine: Michael Costanza Cast: Jennifer Spriggs, Kristen Linten, Jordan Stephens, Michael Scott Quinlan, Brandon Vestal, Steve Burkett.

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In some anonymous corporate office, Kelly (Spriggs) is working late on Christmas Eve. The radio talks of a downtown shooting. The last of her colleagues to go for the night, Carol (Linten), spooks Kelly out further by reminding her: “You know that girl who was attacked a few weeks ago? That could be you.”

Finally Kelly shuts off her laptop and Continue reading

Phantom Speaks, The (1945)

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What possessed him to commit murder?
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US / 69 minutes / bw / Republic Dir: John English Pr: Donald H. Brown Scr: John K. Butler Cine: William Bradford Cast: Richard Arlen, Stanley Ridges, Lynne Roberts, Tom Powers, Charlotte Wynters, Jonathan Hale, Pierre Watkin, Marian Martin (i.e., Marion Martin), Garry Owen, Ralf Harolde, Doreen McCann, Joseph Granby, Bob Alden, Charles Sullivan.

The Phantom Speaks - closer

It begins, as so many stories do, in a park. Frankie Teal (Harolde) is there, having come in response to a note from his mistress:

“Frankie:
Harvey out of town. Meet me in the park at noon. Usual place. Important.
Betty.”

But the person who meets Frankie isn’t Betty at all: it’s Harvey Bogardus (Powers), Betty’s husband and a ruthless self-made man. He Continue reading

Lizzie (1957)

US / 80 minutes / bw / Bryna, MGM Dir: Hugo Haas Pr: Jerry Bresler Scr: Mel Dinelli Story: The Bird’s Nest (1954) by Shirley Jackson Cine: Paul Ivano Cast: Eleanor Parker, Richard Boone, Joan Blondell, Hugo Haas, Ric Roman, Dorothy Arnold, John Reach, Marion Ross, Johnny Mathis, Karen Green, Carol Wells.

Lizzie - 4 Johnny Mathis sings

25-year-old Elizabeth Richmond (Parker) is a repressed, hypochondriacal, insecure museum worker who defies all the efforts of friendly colleague Ruth Seaton (Ross) to bring her out of her shell; she rebuffs almost tearfully the advances of the museum’s cut-price lothario, Johnny Valenzo (Roman). A particular source of misery is that she keeps finding poisonous letters on her desk or in her purse from someone signing themselves Lizzie.

Lizzie - 1 the first time Aunt Morgan encounters Lizzie

The first time Aunt Morgan (Joan Blondell) encounters the snarling Lizzie (Eleanor Parker).

One night, however, the timid Elizabeth startles the hard-drinking unsupportive aunt with whom she lives, Morgan James (Blondell), by suddenly snarling at her, “You drunken old Continue reading

Labyrinth der Leidenschaften (1959)

WG, Italy / 95 minutes / bw / Universum, CEI, UFA-Filmverleih Dir: Rolf Thiele Pr: Walter Tjaden Scr: Gregor von Rezzori, Rolf Thiele Story: Our Hearts are Restless (1955) by Gladys Baker Cine: Klaus von Rautenfeld Cast: Nadja Tiller, Peter van Eyck, Amedeo Nazzari, Nicole Badal, Hanne Wieder, Elisabeth Flickenschildt, Ina Duscha, Benno Hoffman, Matteo Spinola, Piera Arico, Eduard Linkers, Anna Maria Lussi, Ljuba Welitsch.

Labyrinth - 0 mood opener

A fascinating psychological drama. Until a few years ago, Georgia Gale (Tiller) was a poet of great renown, but then she stopped writing and started drinking heavily. Now, as a desperate last resort, she has traveled to Switzerland, to the Sanatorium de Lattre, where she hopes to find a cure at the hands of the famous Professor De Lattre (Nazzari).

Labyrinth - 2 the petulant Georgia

The petulant Georgia (Nadja Tiller).

Almost as soon as she has arrived she’s rebelling against the regulations, not least that Continue reading

Dark Harbor (1998)

US / 87 minutes / color / Hart Sharp, Killer, ACC Dir: Adam Coleman Howard Pr: John N. Hart Jr., Jeffrey Sharp, Justin Lazard Scr: Adam Coleman Howard, Justin Lazard Cine: Walt Lloyd Cast: Alan Rickman, Polly Walker, Norman Reedus, Janet Mecca.

Bickering as they drive through a downpour, late for the ferry to take them to their island vacation home near Dark Harbor, Maine, grumpy lawyer Dave Weinberg (Rickman) and his pretty wife Alexis “Lex” (Walker) find a bruised young drifter (Reedus) lying by the roadside. He refuses to let them call the cops or a doctor.

Dark Harbor

Seduction by mushroom.

Having missed their ferry, the Weinbergs overnight at the port and catch a boat the next morning. Although they don’t know it, so does the drifter. Later, out sailing, the Weinbergs are caught by a mist and are lucky to come to land, on the remote Seal Rock. To their astonishment, the drifter is there before them, with a tale of his own. When the mist clears, the trio sail back to the vacation house. Next day, before the Weinbergs wake up, the drifter prepares a sumptuous breakfast; Dave insists the drifter stay on until the evening so that Dave can return the compliment by cooking a gourmet dinner. In the meantime, though, Dave must go play a round of duty golf with an important client.

All through the day, Alexis and the drifter revel in each other’s company, and one can sense the sexual attraction growing between them—in Alexis’s case, Continue reading