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Today's capsules

Caught in a Ham (2019, Miguel Jiron)
Not Recommended
Initially amusing, highly derivative (but in a homage-y sense) spin-off of a SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE character (Spider-Ham–an anthropomorphic “funny animal” Spider-Man variant) unfortunately serves as a prequel to that movie instead of a vehicle for Spider-Ham. DVD, Blu-ray.
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The Shadow (1994, Russell Mulcahy)
★★★ After a silly opening, this 1930s-set adaptation of the 1930s pulp vigilante gets real good, real fast. Masterful script (from David Koepp), great cast (save Jonathan Winters), and some strong direction from Mulcahy. Lovebirds Alec Baldwin and Penelope Ann Miller have plenty of chemistry, as do Baldwin and nemesis John Lone. DVD, Blu-ray, Streaming.
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Sling Blade (1996, Billy Bob Thornton), the director’s cut
★½
Sometimes lovely film about developmentally disabled Thornton (who stars, writes, directs) getting out of the mental hospital he’s been in since killing his mother and her lover as a child. He soon bonds with 12-year old Lucas Black, who’s experiencing his own traumas. Way too long, way too many montages. Embarrasing-to-the-production bad performance from Dwight Yoakam. Daniel Lanois’s music is almost as bad. Otherwise, well-acted and well-executed. DVD.
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Sneakers (1992, Phil Alden Robinson)
★★★
Delightful comedic thriller has Robert Redford leading a group of high tech security experts who run afoul of Redford’s old hippie pal/nemesis Ben Kingsley. Great performances throughout (from an awesome, varied supporting cast), wonderful direction from Robinson, and a lovely, playful James Horner score. 126 minutes of expertly executed fun. DVD, Blu-ray, Streaming.
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Speak (2004, Jessica Sharzer)
★★½
Pretty good young adult novel adaptation with a great performance from Kristen Stewart and some strong direction from Sharzer. The short running time hurts it. DVD, Streaming.
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The Spies (1957, Henri-Georges Clouzot)
★★★½
Gérard Séty runs a failing psychiatric hospital and agrees to hide mysterious Curd Jürgens (for a fee). The hospital is then overrun by spies from both East and West, complicating things. All the acting is good; Séty is excellent. Very complex script, superiorly navigated by Clouzot’s direction. DVD (R2).
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Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982, Nicholas Meyer), the director’s edition
★★★★
Layered, complex TREK outing has William Shatner and company dealing with aging in the 23rd century, but also with Ricardo Montalban returning (from the original show) and going after the good guys. Beautifully produced, with fantastic direction, and a gorgeous James Horner score. Excellent acting from pretty much everyone. DVD, Blu-ray.
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Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984, Leonard Nimoy)
★★½
Well-made but problematically scripted sequel has William Shatner and the gang galavanting across the galaxy to try to resurrect a fallen comrade. Along the way, the Klingons (led by an enthusiastic but underwhelming Christopher Lloyd) go after Shatner’s kid (Merritt Butrick, back from II) and Robin Curtis (taking over from II’s Kirstie Alley). It’s a messy narrative. Great direction from Nimoy though. And some nice work from the cast, particularly DeForest Kelley. DVD, Blu-ray, Streaming.
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Superman II (1980, Richard Lester), the restored international cut

Fan attempt to recreate foreign television version, which includes multiple scenes directed by original SUPERMAN director Richard Donner (the films were initially shot back-to-back). There are wildly different tones, including Lester–presumably–doing sequences laughing at people in disaster scenes. The version does offer some good Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) and Jimmy Olsen (Marc McClure) interaction (the only in the series) along with fleshing out of the Lois and Clark romance. But it doesn’t fix any of the narrative’s outstanding problems. The original R.I.C. was traded online until Warner Bros. shut it down–after corporate sibling “Entertainment Weekly” did an article praising the fan effort–so no home video availability.
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