Favorite films

  • North by Northwest
  • Vertigo
  • Lawrence of Arabia
  • The Ladykillers

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  • Sideways

    ★★★★

  • Leave Her to Heaven

    ★★★★½

  • Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

    ★★★★★

  • How to Lose Friends & Alienate People

    ★★★½

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  • Sideways

    Sideways

    ★★★★

    With Citizen Ruth, Election, and About Schmidt, Alexander Payne established himself as an insightful observer of the quiet desperation of middle American lives. With Sideways, he expands his scope to another section of the United States to create his funniest, most self-assured film.

    Miles Raymond (Paul Giamatti) is an eighth-grade San Diego teacher. He is also an unpublished novelist, anxiously awaiting word on whether his latest effort has been accepted for publication. His college roommate, Jack (Thomas Haden Church), a…

  • Leave Her to Heaven

    Leave Her to Heaven

    ★★★★½

    My wife thinks I have a thing for Gene Tierney because we have watched so many of her films multiple times. Laura is a masterpiece, while Whirlpool is one of my guiltiest guilty pleasures. Her acting chops come nowhere close to those of such contemporaries as Bette Davis and Barbara Stanwyck, but when used properly—and she did have the good luck to work with several top directors—she can be quite effective. I can’t imagine anyone else being Laura. The same…

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  • Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

    Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

    ★★★★★

    The twenty seafaring adventure novels by Australian Patrick O’Brian (1914-2000) surprised many by finding a large international readership during an age—the 80s and 90s—expected to be perceive such books as old-fashioned. With their Napoleonic War setting and loose plots, O’Brian’s tales offer an unusually detailed view of a time and place in the distant past. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, drawing upon the first and tenth novels in the series and using both titles, follows O’Brian’s…

  • Munich

    Munich

    ★★★★

    Call me a Spielberg agnostic. I love Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Minority Report, Catch Me If You Can, and Bridge of Spies but find something disappointing or disagreeable about many of his films. Spielberg can be sloppy, sentimental, and heavy-handed, even in his best films. Fortunately, such defects are kept to a minimum in Munich, one of his most admirable achievements.

    Munich is inspired by the story of how Israeli agents…