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— Colm Meaney, Con Air

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Pic of the Week

Each week we pick a recommended "Pic" from our archives. Below are our most recent picks.

Winsor McCay

***1/22004, Winsor McCay

A new DVD offers an opportunity to see films by a master of animation

Before Mickey Mouse, Betty Boop or Felix the Cat, there was Gertie the Dinosaur. Gertie was brought to life by cartoonist Winsor McCay in 1914. McCay was an early pioneer in animation whose cartoons stand out for their artistry, visual inventiveness and the personality of their characters.


***2009, Chris Smith

Prophet and disciple conspire to present a chilling message of collapse

There is only one subject in the documentary Collapse: Michael Ruppert (more on him later). There is only one setting. There are snips of archival footage, but for most of 80 minutes, it’s a screen filled with one man talking. By all rights, Collapse should be no more than a niche film with limited appeal.

Men in Black III

***2012, Barry Sonnenfeld

The biggest surprise about Men In Black 3 is that it’s actually pretty good.

The biggest surprise about Men In Black 3 is that it’s actually pretty good.

The Fifth Horseman is Fear

***1/21964, Zbynek Brynych

Dense atmosphere and rich characters more than make up for a hook or a twist

In a tenement in Prague during the war, there are few Jews left. Only Dr. Braun remains, and he’s not allowed to practice medicine anymore. Instead, he works at a giant warehouse, cataloging the property confiscated from Jews. The nightmare images that haunt him are not a weapons or the dead, but moving vans. They are everywhere on the streets of Prague, and they all end up at his warehouse.

The Pixar Story

***2007, Leslie Iwerks

With so many what-ifs in Pixar’s development, it boggles the mind how well things fell into place

There’s a lot of great history in The Pixar Story but part of the third act feels more like a rehash of supplemental materials from Pixar’s DVDs.

Cold Fever

***1994, Fridrik Thor Fridriksson

The best feature film set in Iceland you’re likely to see.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them


The more it’s thought about, the better it settles in the mind.

The humans are more fantastic than the titular beasts in this mostly satisfying, multi-layered fantasy.

Best in Show

***2000, Christopher Guest

Enjoyable and funny, light and quick look at eccentric dog breeders

Christopher Guest has created another “mockumentary.” He did it before as an actor in Rob Reiner’s “rockumentary” This Is Spinal Tap and as a writer/director/co-star in Waiting for Guffman. This time, he takes on the world of dog breeders in Best in Show.

Best in Show follows the lives of a half-dozen dogs and their breeders and trainers. Guest’s cameras shadow their subjects as they prepare for, arrive at, and compete in the Westminster dog show. Each story is cross-cut in authentic “dogumentary” style. The end of the film even shows the obligatory “where are they now” summary from each character.

Eugene Levy (who wrote the screenplay with Guest) and Catherine O’Hara are a middle-aged couple who adore their terrier so much that they write and sing songs about their dog. O’Hara’s poverty-chic look is so convincing she’s hardly recognizable as a movie star

Michael McKean & John Michael Higgins are a flagrantly gay couple who are very proud of their little shih tzus. They seem to have the healthiest relationship of all the couples profiled. With their dogs, they make a perfect family.

Guest himself plays Harlan Pepper, the Virginia breeder of bloodhounds. He’s a country boy and he’s in no hurry, which is reflected in his Gump-like speech. His friends back at the bait shop (where they wouldn’t know a shih tzu if it bit them) wish him the best as he sets out for New England in his RV.

Fred Willard gives a show-stealing appearance as the celebrity announcer who doesn’t know the first thing about show dogs. Willard has a monopoly on clueless, talkative affability (he was brilliant as a Missouri Travel Agent in Guffman), and he brings that special talent to this latest of Guest’s films. He wanders off on tangents about the Chinese eating dogs and other inappropriate topics.

The movie is enjoyable and funny, light and quick. Contrast this to Guffman, which tended to bog down in its own forced weirdness. A few of the jokes are blunt and tasteless, like the couple who attribute their dog’s perceived depression to their own sexual hijinks. But most are more stimulating, tasteful, and wry (did you notice the wall clocks behind the clerk at the hotel?).

Best of Show is some of Guest’s best work, and it’s great light entertainment for just about everyone.

Freaky Friday

***2003, Mark S. Waters

Good comedic performances and an above-average script make this an entertaining movie

Despite a predictable plot, Freaky Friday rises above the usual teen fare. Good comedic performances by Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan and an above-average script make this an entertaining movie. The bonus features on the DVD are not very substantial, but the disc is worth viewing for the movie alone.

The Singing Detective

***2003, Keith Gordon

The Singing Detective is a movie to talk about with friends afterwards

The Objective

***1/22008, Daniel Myrick

A solid story idea that’s got an X-Files vibe

Poor Daniel Myrick, he’ll be known as “the guy that did Blair Witch” for years to come (we should all be so unlucky). But after seeing his new film The objective, I’d like to think that people will be remembering him for this as well.

The Saddest Music in the World

****2004, Guy Maddin

If you’re not sure who Guy Maddin is, you may wonder how The Saddest Music in the World ever got produced. It’s a grainy, black-and-white movie that wishes it were a 1940’s melodrama in some surreal alternate universe. But I think all but the most literal-minded will eventually warm to the wit and style of Maddin. For those who are receptive, The Saddest Music in the World is one of the funniest movies you’ll see this summer.