An excellent movie about the methodicalness and determination of the police in a small town in the Soviet Union in the 1980s in trying to track and catch a serial killer. Based on a true life case, this film shows the brutality of the USSR at the time and how, because of limited resources, detectives often found themselves undermanned and overworked. An excellent cast rounds out this fabulous film about hunting down a killer and how slow and frustrating a process it could be.

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This is by far my favorite Roger Moore “Bond” outing. And, even one of the best in the entire Bond series. The Spy Who Loved Me begins very similar to another one of my favorite Bond films…You Only Live Twice with Sean Connery. Both films start with the capturing of crafts…in You Only Live Twice it is a space rocket and in The Spy Who Loved Me it is a submarine. Obviously, we know that these “stolen” crafts are not to work of a sane person or entity. But, who is it? Is it Russia? Is it China? Basically once the craft is captured, it is up to 007 to save the day, as usual. Where both films differ is in the villain. You Only Live Twice has the ever-popular Blofeld, who by the time You Only Live Twice came out, was getting a little passé. But, in The Spy Who Loved Me, Curd Jürgens plays Stromberg…one of the best Bond villains. His evilness is intense and not prolonged…if he wants to kill someone, he just does it (unlike the other Bond baddies who talk and talk and talk about killing before they actually get around to it). Moore also has excellent chemistry with his Russian counterpart…played by Barbara Bach. They play well off of each other, even though Bach is a little stiff at times. Moore’s quips usually get to be too much after a while but Bach does a good job of countering his jibes with some of her own.

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A decent action movie with solid action throughout. Sure, the action and the plot are not all realistic, but this IS an action flick. And at least George Clooney is convincing as the Army officer sent in to help Nicole Kidman’s scientist track down some stolen nuclear weapons. The car scene in Vienna is really top notch and the chase in Manhattan (near the UN) is also one of the best in recent years. If you’re an action fan, you really cannot go wrong with this one. If you like fine art, you might want to find something a little more plausible.

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This film gets most of its attention because ladies around the world wouldn’t mind being in the back seat of a limo with Kevin Costner. Aside from the very famous limo romp, this is a spot-on thriller that holds the suspense right up until the end. Actually, it’s one of those films that’s best watched more than once…since after a first viewing, you’re still wondering if you can go back and find clues the would predict the ending. I have seen it more than once and trust me, there are very few clues, if any, that prepare the audience for the trick at the tail end of this one. But, before you get to that shocker of an ending, this movie will keep you guessing and writhing in your seat all the way through. Set in Washington D.C., No Way Out features Costner as a Naval officer who is assigned to lead the murder investigation of a woman who has been killed by a Russian spy. The main problem is that he knew the woman, but cannot tell anyone this since it would make him a suspect in her murder. The other problem is that he knows his boss, the Secretary of Defense (played to perfection by Gene Hackman), is the real murderer. No, I’m not ruining anything here…all of this (including the limo scene) is told pretty early on in the film. It is after the murder that the movie takes off in all directions and leaves the audiences constantly surprised. Based on the novel The Big Clock, which was also made into a 1948 movie of the same name as the novel with Ray Milland, the setting of the political climate in D.C. only enhances the look, style, and edge of this intense thriller.

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A fast-paced and engaging thriller set in Russia involving a British historian and the legacy of Joseph Stalin. Based on a fictional novel by Robert Harris, Archangel is based on SOME actual events…there were things that came out in recent years about members of Stalin’s lineage but this story takes more than a little creative license. Moody and dark, the atmosphere of this film helps the suspense along. And Daniel Craig is convincing as the historian on the hunt for the truth. This is a solid thriller that also will appeal to history buffs for the amount of past events in the former Soviet Union have to do with the suspense.

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Ninotchka is most famous and known for that fact that it’s a Greta Garbo comedy. Garbo was a well-known actress…iconic almost…so when she made her first comedy, I guess it was natural that the film’s tagline of “Garbo Laughs” revolves around only her and not around the movie, director, or other cast members. Don’t get me wrong…Garbo is great in this classic, though I feel that she is a excellent part of a excellent comedy ensemble that was put together and made to work seamlessly by famed comedy director Ernst Lubitsch, who helmed other comic classics such as The Shop Around the Corner and Trouble in Paradise. Also, the screenplay here is written by a pre-directing Billy Wilder and his early partner Charles Brackett. Garbo plays a Russian who heads to Paris to check up on three comrades who are supposed to be selling some famed Russian jewels. Garbo’s character, Ninotchka, is a stern, tough woman who despises Paris and all of its lavishness. This is, until she meets Leon, who represents everything she loathes around capitalism, but she falls for him anyway. Since Wilder, Brackett and Lubitsch’s work often goes unnoticed next to Garbo’s aura, while you’re watching his masterpiece, make sure you occasionally take your eyes off the goddess and take note of the stellar filmmaking.

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