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Dolittle

A wild whirlwind of a mess, without any coherence, without even a guiding principle.

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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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My Favorite Roger: Erik Childress

Roger's review of "Dead Again"

Why did I choose this review?

Memories, for starters. As an admirer of what this new director, Kenneth Branagh, had done with "Henry V" (brought to my attention by Roger's television review), I was looking forward to this cool-looking thriller he was doing as his follow-up. So there I was on Aug. 23, 1991, freshly back at high school for a week. My dad picked me up straight from work and handed me the Friday Sun-Times he always brought home. I immediately pulled out the movie section and found Roger's 4-star review. Now, I could not have been more excited. Until I started to read on.

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"'Dead Again' is like 'Ghost' for people who grew up on movies that were not afraid of grand gestures." How can one not be hooked after an opening like that? The hooks continued with words such as "romance," "intrigue," "deception," and "bloody murder" as if Roger was channeling Peter Falk in "The Princess Bride" selling his grandson on another great story. If that was not enough, he invoked "Rebecca", "Vertigo" and "The Third Man." Are you kidding me? Who would not want to see this movie? Roger's second paragraph read:

"We see a threatening old Gothic mansion, we meet a cynical private eye, there is a beautiful woman who has lost her memory, a devious hypnotist who wants to regress her in a search for clues. And of course, the murder in the 1940s holds the clue to the woman's amnesia."

It was almost as if he was sitting down crafting a pitch meeting for this grand idea he wanted the world to see. Only the reader was the Hollywood executive and it would be the fastest greenlight in history. Roger compared Branagh to the likes of Orson Welles and Alfred Hitchcock and made no turn in his review that made it necessary to print the words "spoiler alert." There was old-fashioned joy coming off the page with adjectives that expressed love and not self-attention for ad placement. So it was rather perfect that the review would end with the words "You get the idea." Because any reader would.

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