Film Four & Film Four +1 23-06-08.

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(1944) Otto Preminger's sharp film stars Dana Andrews as Mark McPherson, a cynical detective who investigates the brutal murder of a beautiful woman.A detective investigating a murder falls in love with a portrait of Laura - but she's only a dream. His obsession is one bizarre aspect of this hypnotic film noir, which Preminger took over from Mamoulian on the luckiest day of his life. Nothing is as it appears, no one is normal. So sit back and enjoy the acerbic wit of Webb and Price, wonder at the necrophilic mooning of Andrews and revel in Tierney's beauty, all swooningly accompanied by Raksin's great score. It is the sleekest of murder mysteries, and ahead of its time - not least in having a gay suitor for Laura, and possibly two.

Gentleman's Agreement
(1947) Gregory Peck is Philip Schuyler Green, a magazine writer who, posing as a Jew, encounters the bitter prejudice of the times.Peck is the journalist who poses as a Jew to write a series of magazine articles on anti-Semitism, only to find more prejudice running through all parts of society than he had bargained for. The ensuing melodrama, which draws Peck's family into repercussions resulting from his charade, is often overstated and while this multi-Oscar-winning film was controversial at the time of its release, it now seems overly preachy. A sometimes crude script drives its points home, the cast is excellent and it is interesting at least in as far as it illustrates Hollywood's immediate reaction to the end of the Second World War.

The Black Tent
(1956) Anthony Steel stars as a British soldier fighting in Libya and falling in love with a Bedouin sheikh's daughter during World War II.A man travels to the North African desert post-WWII in an attempt to track down his missing brother. Romantic drama starring Anthony Steel, Donald Sinden and Anna-Maria Sandri, and directed by Brian Desmond Hurst
The Black Tent It's a sad reflection of the times when a tale as innocent as that of a Westerner being accepted into an Arab tribe and being allowed to marry the sheik's daughter seems like a far-fetched fantasy. Alas, the 1950s were a more innocent time and such romantic notions were allowed to flourish on film without seeming faintly ridiculous. 1956's The Black Tent is essentially a tale of forbidden romance set among the heady backdrop of World War II's North African campaign of the early 1940s. The film stars Anthony Steel as Captain David Holland, a loyal British soldier who finds himself in the thick of intense military action in the desert. Wounded in a brutal tank attack, David escapes with the help of some Bedouin tribesmen.
The injured soldier is nursed back to health and takes up with the nomadic desert dwellers, thanks in no small part to the fact that he has fallen for the sheik's daughter Mabrouka ben Yussef (played by beautiful Italian actress Anna-Maria Sandri). Given the blessing of the sheikh, the pair soon wed and sire a half-British, half-Libyan son.

M Night Shyamalan on 'the Happening'
Director/writer M Night Shyamalan talks about his latest eerie thriller, starring Mark Wahlberg.Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel star as a couple caught up in the chaos when a suicide-inducing toxin wreaks havoc on the East Coast of the US. From M Night Shyamalan
There's no doubt, M Night Shyamalan is a great ideas man. From the "I see dead people" hook of The Sixth Sense to the crop circle mysteries of Signs, he has an innate ability to plug into alluring concepts. While Lady In The Water sunk without trace in 2006, it's back to business with The Happening.Sadly, while this eco-thriller will have audiences drooling at the outset, its execution adds further weight to the argument that Shyamalan should pitch his great ideas to screenwriters more able to flesh them out.

Secondhand Lions
(2003) Haley Joel Osment is a quiet, studious lad who finds himself left with eccentric grand-uncles Robert Duvall and Michael Caine.
A boy, two old-timers, a lion and a pig. Not the first line of a tortuous joke, but the recipe for a yarn from writer-director Tim McCanlies. Michael Caine, Robert Duvall and Haley Joel Osment star
Secondhand Lions He saw dead people in The Sixth Sense. He played a robot in A.I.. But one suspects Haley Joel Osment's greatest challenge lies ahead of him: how to make the leap from child acting prodigy to juvenile leading man. For now, he's content to tread water as a nervous 15-year-old boy in 60s Texas, forced to spend the summer with his two crotchety grand-uncles on their rundown ranch. But as Haley grows older, and taller, his days of playing sensitive, nervous adolescents are surely numbered. On the contrary, there seems to be no end to the stream of elderly eccentrics that Robert Duvall and Michael Caine can bring to the screen. Watching these cinema veterans is the best reason to see Tim McCanlies' gentle fable, a couple of feisty geriatrics trying to recreate the glory days of their youth. Whether firing shotguns at travelling salesmen, fighting unruly teenagers in the local store or infuriating the highway patrol in their homemade biplane, this ornery duo pumps the picture with premium grade Pensioner Power.

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
(2003) Russell Crowe stars as the captain of a British warship, obsessively hunting down a superior French vessel.Russell Crowe stars as the captain of a British warship, obsessively hunting down a superior French vessel. A nautical 19th century adventure directed by Peter Weir
Master And Commander: The Far Side Of The World By chance, two of the best blockbusters of 2003 happened to concern tall ships and cannon fire. While Pirates Of The Caribbean provided a jolly diversion from the Matrix babble, Master And Commander The Far Side Of The World offers a more mature form of blockbuster entertainment. Peter Weir's first film since 1998's The Truman Show is the year's most handsome and solidly effective big film.Russell Crowe stars as "Lucky" Jack Aubrey, captain of HMS Surprise ("28 guns; 197 souls"), a Royal Navy ship patrolling off the coast of Brazil. Her orders are to "intercept French Privateer Acheron", which has been harrying British interests in the area. However, the Acheron - a "heavy frigate" of innovative design with 44 guns - surprises the Surprise, inflicting serious damage (Aubrey inquires after casualties with the brutal "What's the butcher's bill?").
The British ship manages to limp away into a mist. Despite the poor odds, Aubrey resolves to pursue the Acheron. After fixing up the ship, the chase is on - but both the French captain and Aubrey are wily, and manage to trick and elude one another.
After rounding the storm-wracked Cape Horn, the Surprise heads for Galapagos. The island's wildlife intrigues Aubrey's friend and ship's doctor, Stephen Maturin (Bettany, who also starred with Crowe in A Beautiful Mind). His hobby is naturalism and he is portrayed as a forerunner of Darwin, questioning whether particular species "change themselves" to better their chances of survival.

From Dusk Till Dawn
(1995) This cult horror movie sees Tarantino and George Clooney hijack the Rev Fuller's mobile home to get them to Mexico.Energetic low-budget vampire nonsense from Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. The latter also stars alongside Harvey Keitel and George Clooney
From Dusk Till Dawn Quentin Tarantino and George Clooney are a couple of ruthless bankrobbers who take Reverend Keitel and his children hostage and set off across the border to Mexico where all they have to do is last 'from dusk till dawn' in a seedy nightclub in order to make good their escape.
This Tarantino-scripted thriller turned vampire flick has an intrinsically low-budget feel, and seems a little uncomfortable about getting the high-budget treatment.
Yet a lot of fun can be had with the sharp-witted post-modernist dialogue, and the obligatory tributes to what seems like most films Tarantino has ever seen. Robert Rodriguez directs like a kid in a candy store, relishing his gruesome special effects, while Clooney seems like he is on holiday and Keitel is clearly looking forward to his paycheque.
Alas Tarantino is the worst actor in the world and Julie Andrews would have been able to play his part with more convincing menace.

Guilty by Suspicion
(1990) Robert De Niro plays a film director falsely accused of Communist leanings during the McCarthy investigation into 'un-American' activities.
Robert De Niro plays a 1950s film director falsely accused of Communist leanings during the McCarthy investigation into "un-American" activities
The effects of the McCarthy-led House UnAmerican Activities Committee, and subsequent blacklist of Hollywood actors, writers, producers and directors suspected of being communist once again enter the spotlight. Producer Winkler makes his directorial debut with this worthy effort. De Niro is a director falsely accused of being a filthy pinko and whose career and marriage consequently go down the chute. He refuses to name any of his communist friends but comes under pressure from his slimy lawyer (Wannamaker) and film-studio bosses.
Its heart is in the right place though the acting and direction are often mundane.