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Home Movies/Out on Digital 1.5.2017

Jan. 3, 2017
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If There’s a Hell Below

Debra (Carol Roscoe), claiming to be a whistleblower for a secretive government agency, has a rendezvous with Abe (Conner Marx), an idealistic if naïve young alternative weekly journalist looking for a story. Unease steps up to anxiety before ascending into terror. In the debut film by director Nathan Williams, the vast emptiness of the American heartland is as much a character as the doomed protagonists. The spare dialogue carries across windblown silence in this enigmatic, thought-inducing story.

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In Order of Disappearance

The grave markers visible through the winter whiteout foreshadow the plot: The body count of cocaine traffickers rises as this Scandinavian Death Wish grinds on. The taciturn protagonist, Nils (Stellan Skarsgård), drives a snowplow in Norway’s frigid north country. He turns killer to avenge the death of his son at the hands of the local kingpin, a psychotic vegan who loves his son (and no one else). The terse thriller casts a sardonic eye on society.

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Sudden Fear

Joan Crawford plays an heiress whose heart is stolen by a brash young man (Jack Palance)—but the idyll of their sudden marriage is shattered when she learns that he also intends to steal her fortune and her life. Gloria Grahame co-stars as Palance’s co-conspirator in this 1952 film noir. Sudden Fear boasts a literate and ironic screenplay, deliberately jarring use of sound and a menacing chase scene through the nocturnal labyrinth of San Francisco streets.

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The title song (a motif in Terry Gilliam’s 1985 film of the same name) is enough to afford this 1944 romp a footnote in cinema history. A Latin-tinged musical produced by second-tier Republic Pictures, Brazil’s storyline concerns a famous American “authoress” (Virginia Bruce) writing a book on “the real Brazil.” She has a bad attitude toward Latin men, but is pursued by a local singer-tour guide (Tito Guízar). The always-flustered Edward Everett Horton adds humor.

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