Film review: The Dinner (2017)

The film takes place during a dinner at an extremely fancy restaurant. It is hosted by Stan (Richard Gere), a powerful member of Congress running for governor of his state, and the others present are his trophy second wife Kate (Rebecca Hall), his former history teacher brother Paul (Steve Coogan with whom he has a tense relationship and who is the voiceover narrator), and Paul’s wife Claire (Laura Linney). As the dinner progresses through the various courses, we learn from the conversation and flashbacks that the occasion for the dinner is for the four of them to determine what to do about an appalling crime that their respective sons have committed that the police have not as yet been able to trace to them, and may never will because the victim of the crime is a black homeless woman and thus of no importance.
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TV review: Shetland

This BBC series is set in the Shetland Islands off the northeast coat of Scotland. It tells the story of a small police department investigating crimes on the sparsely populated islands where everyone pretty much knows everyone else. I found the series to be quite gripping, even though the murder plots did not quite satisfy me, having some serious implausibilities. The first two seasons consist of four two-hour episodes based on books by Ann Cleeves and the third season consists of a single six-hour story that was written by others using the same characters. It is in the portrayals of the gritty life of the people that the series has its strength.
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How to make a really, really bad film

I wrote recently about how the film The Room was so bad that it has acquired cult status and there is even a film made about the making of it. Thanks to reader Jeff at Have Coffee Will Write I learned about this article by Stuart Heritage about the qualities that go into getting a zero rating on the critics site Rotten Tomatoes, a rarity that means that not a single critic liked it.

Heritage says that there are factors in addition to bad writing, acting, directing, and other cinematic skills that will help you get that rare distinction.

Why people watch The Room over and over again

The Room (2003) which has Tommy Wiseau as writer, director, producer, and star is such a terrible film that it has acquired cult status with special screenings so that true aficionados of bad films can watch it in the company of others and collectively revel in its sheer awfulness. I reviewed the film back in 2011 and described some of the things that made it, as one wag wrote, the Citizen Kane of bad films.
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The worst cockney accent in film history

Mary Poppins (1964) is quite an enjoyable film with some good songs and humor. But many people will also remember the absolutely awful English cockney accent that American Dick Van Dyke used as the chimneysweep Bert. At a recent event to publicize a remake of the film with Emily Blunt in the title role and in which he makes a cameo, the good-humored Van Dyke apologized for perpetrating on the public “the most atrocious cockney accent in the history of cinema”. Truer words were never spoken.
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Film review: Z (1969)

I am not going to write a long review of this film by Costa-Gavras because Marcus Ranum has done an excellent job of both the film and the actual events on which the film was closely based. It was reading that review that reminded me that this highly praised film of political intrigue was one that I had missed during its cinematic release in 1969 and then forgotten even after the era of videotapes and DVDs and streaming enabled one to revisit the classics.
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Film review: War Machine (2017)

The war in Afghanistan is a tragic version of the film Groundhog Day, where the same cycle of events gets played out over and over again with no discernible progress. We now have president Trump faced with the prospect of deciding whether to send in more troops and a new commander to break the stalemate, which is the same situation president Barack Obama faced in 2009 when he was newly elected.
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