Starring: Udo Kier, Joe Dallesandro, Arno Juerging, Maxime McKendry, Milena Vukotic

Blood for Dracula

In Brief: It's the X-rated classic where Dracula becomes spectacularly unwell whenever he drinks the blood of anyone who's not a virgin (prompting the magnificent outburst, "The blood of these whores is killing me!") — and if that appeals to you (and it should), this movie is right up your alley. It's all about Dracula going…
Starring: Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons, Joseph Fiennes

The Merchant of Venice

In Brief: I was surprised to find that this is the first talkie ever made of The Merchant of Venice, though television — mostly the BBC — has offered it up several times. The reason for the lack of actual films of the play is not hard to fathom, since the inherent anti-Semitism of the subject matter…
Starring: Pascal Greggory, Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, Charles Berling, Jean-Louis Trintignant

Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train

In Brief: My entire familiarity with Patrice Chéreau prior to seeing Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train (1998) rested on seeing the video presentation of his famous (or infamous, depending on whom you ask) 1976 staging of Richard Wagner’s Ring cycle at Bayreuth. In terms of his talents as a filmmaker this told…
Starring: Dana Andrews, Peggy Cummins, Niall MacGinnis, Athene Seyler, Maurice Denham

Night of the Demon

In Brief: Jacques Tourneur’s Night of the Demon (1957) — originally released in the U.S. with 12 minutes cut and under the title Curse of the Demon — is this wonderful oasis in the midst of the general run of bad horror movies from the 1950s. And there’s virtually no reason it should have been.…
v.l. George Segal, Robert Morley, Jacqueline Bisset
Starring: George Segal, Jacqueline Bisset, Robert Morley, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Philippe Noiret, Jean Rochefort

Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?

In Brief: Apart from the enjoyable business of seeing actually pleasant, attractive people in a cleverly written romantic comedy (something we see far too little of these days), Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? is generally representative of the kind of star comedy that no longer seems to be made. You know the…
Starring: Laura La Plante, Creighton Hale, Forrest Stanley, Tully Marshall, Gertrude Astor, Flora Finch, Arthur Edmund Carewe

The Cat and the Canary

In Brief: The classic tale of relatives gathering at an old mansion for a late-night reading of the will — one of those documents with an alternate heir that is little short of an invitation to drive the real heir (or heiress in this case) insane in order to usurp the inheritance. Still shuddery, with…
Starring: Mathieu Amalric, Edouard Baer, Maria de Medeiros, Golshifteh Farahani, Isabella Rossellini

Chicken with PLUMS

In Brief: World Cinema is bringing back Chicken with Plums, a film that didn't get the attention it should have when it was released a few years ago. Playful, gorgeous to look at, cinematically brilliant and finally heartbreakingly sad, Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi's 2011 film is one of those movies that ought to have…
Starring: Gene Wilder, Harrison Ford, Val Bisoglio, George DiCenzo, Leo Fuchs, Beege Barkette

The Frisco Kid

In Brief:  Robert Aldrich’s penultimate film (1979) is an easygoing work of some considerable charm that relies far too much on ethnic humor — mostly Jewish, but not entirely — to sit quite as comfortably as it might like. But the main interest in the film is probably Gene Wilder’s performance, which is interesting simply…
Starring: Malcolm McDowell, David Wood, Richard Warwick, Christine Noonan


In Brief: Lindsay Anderson's landmark film If.... shook up world cinema, made a star of fairly obscure TV actor Malcolm McDowell and set Anderson on the road to creating his famous trilogy (If...., O Lucky Man!, Britannia Hospital). That's a pretty impressive accomplishment, but his tale of the resentment at an English boys school —…
Starring: Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller

The Artist

In Brief: A great deal of the appeal of The Artist is the pure novelty of the experience. It will probably be a lot of people’s first exposure to any silent film — at least as an entire feature-length movie — and in that respect, I suspect the film’s calculations are very shrewd indeed. Making it…
Starring: Jean-Pierre Léaud, Delphine Seyrig, Claude Jade, Michel Lonsdale

Stolen Kisses

In Brief: The third film in François Truffaut's Antoine Doinel series, Stolen Kisses (1968) is probably the best after the original, which none of the sequels topped or even equaled. It's lightweight (a curiously insubstantial affair considering the political and cultural turmoil surrounding its making) and somewhat rambling, but very appealing and still embracing something…
Starring: Peter Lorre, Otto Wernicke, Theodor Loos, Ellen Widmann


In Brief: Yes, Fritz Lang’s first sound film, M (1931), has a few awkward moments, in which Lang hasn’t quite mastered the new medium, but this old warhorse of art cinema works more than it doesn’t, and still registers as a compelling work by one of the undisputed masters of film. And calling it an old…
Starring: Bruce Spence, Wandjuk Marika, Roy Marika, Roy Barrett, Norman Kaye

Where the Green Ants Dream

In Brief: Minor Werner Herzog, but make no mistake, Where the Green Ants Dream (1984) is still Herzog, and any movie by cinema's most idiosyncratic — sometimes just short of lunatic — filmmaker is worth at least one look. It's a kind of shaggy tale of the crimes against the Aborigines by the Australian government…
targets peter and boris
Starring: Boris Karloff, Tim O'Kelly, Nancy Hsueh, Peter Bogdanovich, Arthur Peterson


While it lacks the style and polish of the films that come after it, Peter Bogdanovich’s debut film, Targets (1968), is a first feature of note — one that still packs a punch (maybe a punch that hits even harder in contemporary times). Its history is part of movie legend, but it’s worth remembering that…
CIAO, PROFESSORE! (aka IO SPERIAMO CHE ME LA CAVO), Paolo Villaggio (center),  (l-r): Luigi Lastorina, Carmela Pecoraro, Pier Francesco Borruto, Adriano Pantaleo, 1992, (c)Miramax
Starring: Paolo Villaggio, Isa Danieli, Gigio Morra, Sergio Solli, Ester Carloni, Paolo Bonacelli

Ciao, Professore!

For a time in the 1970s, Italian filmmaker Lina Wertmüller was the bee's knees of critical darlings — even managing to snare the admiration of that most hateful and hated critic John Simon (who makes Armond White look like a dilettante in the troll department). One wag even commented that had Wertmüller not existed, Simon…
Starring: Gregory Walcott, Mona McKinnon, Tor Johnson, Dudley Manlove, Bela Lugosi

Plan 9 From Outer Space

It's good to see Asheville getting a dose of the peculiar delights of Ed Wood-style cinema. And those delights don't come any more peculiar than Plan 9 from Outer Space. It may be the most enjoyable bad film of all time. Wood had no money, no credentials and, worst of all, no talent, but he didn't…
Starring: Keiji Sada, Yoshiko Kuga, Chishû Ryû, Kuniko Miyake, Haruko Sugimura

Good Morning

In Brief: OK, I’m not a huge fan of Yasujirô Ozu. I recognize his place in world cinema, but I’ve never warmed to his work on a personal level, I don’t care for his restrained style, and I don’t accept the idea that everything he made was of great importance. (If you’re an Ozu completist,…
Starring: Jim Caviezel, Guy Pearce, Dagmara Dominiczyk, Richard Harris, Luis Guzman

The Count of Monte Cristo

Kevin Reynolds' The Count of Monte Cristo (2002) is such a gloriously old-fashioned, swashbuckling adventure movie that it makes one wonder if we've been blaming the wrong Kevin for the cinematic atrocities that are Waterworld and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. The combination of Reynolds and the memory of the dreary attempt at putting Dumas…
Starring: Marcello Mastroianni, Claudia Cardinale, Anouk Aimee, Barbara Steele

8 1/2

One of the undisputed classics of modern international film, 8 1/2 (its title literally meaning that it was Federico Fellini's eight-and-one-halfth film — seven full features and a couple short segments of omnibus films precede it) is the movie where the greatest of all Italian filmmakers moved completely away from traditional realism toward a more personal approach…
Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Vanessa Redgrave, Timothy Dalton, Helen Morse, Celia Gregory


In Brief: Michael Apted's 1979 film — his conjecture as to what might have happened during the 11-day disappearance in 1926 of mystery novelist Agatha Christie — is one of the overlooked gems of '70s filmmaking. It may not be Apted's best film, but it is almost certainly his most visually sumptuous — thanks in no small…
Starring: Robert De Niro, Charles Grodin, Yaphet Kotto, John Ashton, Dennis Farina

Midnight Run

One of the better — yet probably least remembered — action comedies of the 1980s, Midnight Run (1988) is notable more for the chemistry of its two stars than for its actual script or Martin Brest’s so-so direction. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, mind you. Quite a few films are worthwhile for the performance of one…