Dear Zachary: a letter to a son about his father

This film will hurt you.

That’s my only warning; “Dear Zachary: a letter to a son about his father” (2008) is one of the more unusual documentaries I’ve ever seen. In 2001, Dr. Andrew Bagby was murdered; the most likely suspect was his ex-girlfriend, Dr. Shirley Turner. After some initial questioning from the police, she fled to her hometown in Newfoundland, Canada. While the initial extradition hearings were proceeding, she announced she was pregnant with Bagby’s baby. In the wake of the news of the pregnancy and Turner’s release from jail during the hearings’ delay, Andrew’s parents, Kate and David Bagby, moved to Newfoundland to fight for custody of their grandson.

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The Greatest Show on Earth

Readers, I have found the 1950s version of James Cameron’s “Titanic.” No, I don’t mean “A Night to Remember,” the 1958 chilly reenactment of the crash of the ocean liner.  I mean a bloated, over-praised epic that inexplicably won the Best Picture Oscar (yes, I’m still a bitter “L.A. Confidential” fan.).

Yep, I’m talking about “The Greatest Show on Earth,” Cecil B. DeMille’s story of the circus and the performers who love and struggle to bring us cheap but honest entertainment.

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Un Chien Andalou

What can you say about a movie that’s only 16 minutes long?

“Un Chien Andalou” means “An Andalusian Dog”. It’s silent. It’s weird. It has no plot. It’s the original gross-out film.

Directed by Luis Bunuel and conceived by him and Salvador Dali, “Un Chien Andalou” (1929) isn’t so much a film as a series of images that wash over you, more dream than reality. Which is probably for the best, because the images are a little disturbing; about a minute into the picture, a man slashes a woman’s eyeball with a razor. In close up. Don’t worry, it looks totally fake; the ear scene in “Reservoir Dogs” was more convincing.

That’s about as bad as it gets, but really, what’s the point here? I don’t mind a little shock-and-awe in my films, but that shouldn’t be the point of a film (one reason why I refuse to see torture-porn films). For a film geek like me, I think “Un Chien Andalou” is worthwhile checking out, but only as historical viewing. I really can’t imagine anyone loving this film, and I can only bring myself to appreciate it. Barely.

And that about sums it up.

“Un Chien Andalou”

Directed by Luis Bunuel

Scenario by Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali

Simone Mareuil (Young girl)

 Pierre Batcheff (Man)


I’m going to start this review with a bit of geek rant; feel free to skip ahead if you can’t stomach it. I won’t judge you.

I’ve said before in this blog and elsewhere that Laura Roslin is my favorite character on the reimagined “Battlestar Galactica.” A lot of that comes down to the fact that I’ve been a Mary McDonnell fan for years, so it wasn’t a big leap for me.

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