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Starring: Yves Montand, Daniel Auteuil, Emmanuelle Béart, Hippolyte Girardot, Margarita Lozano

Manon of the Spring

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In Brief: Manon of the Spring (1986) is the sequel — or more properly, second part — of Jean de Florette (1986), which the Hendersonville Film Society showed last week. In essence, this film tells the rest of the story — what happens after Jean de Florette (Gérard Depardieu) dies. The film takes place 10 years later with Jean’s…
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Starring: Clara Bow, Charles "Buddy" Rogers, Richard Arlen, El Brendel, Roscoe Karns, Gary Cooper

Wings

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In Brief: William A. Wellman's Wings (1927) won the very first Oscar for best picture — and unlike many Oscar winners since then, it was a deserved honor. It's also one of those rare Oscar winners that holds up to this day. First of all, it's truly an epic, but it's an epic grounded in…
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Starring: Yves Montand, Gérard Depardieu, Daniel Auteil, Elisabeth Depardieu

Jean de Florette

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In Brief: Claude Berri’s Jean de Florette (1986) — adapted by Berri and longtime Roman Polanski collaborator Gérard Brach from Marcel Pagnol’s novel (itself drawn from Pagnol’s 1953 film Manon of the Spring) — is really only half a film, since it is meant to be followed by Berri’s Manon of the Spring. Worry not, however, because the Hendersonville Film…
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Starring: Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Cyril Cusack, Michael Hordern, Alan Webb

The Taming of the Shrew

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In Brief: Franco Zeffirelli’s The Taming of the Shrew (1967) wasn’t the first time this Shakespeare play was served up with a famous married couple in the lead roles. No, that honor goes to Sam Taylor’s 1929 version starring Hollywood royalty of that era, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford. (And whether or not the main…
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Starring: Jacques Tati, Nathalie Pascaud, Michelle Rolla, Valentine Camax, Louis Perrault

M. Hulot’s Holiday

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In Brief: As a mere boy, I bumped into Jacques Tati’s Mon Oncle on television — and didn’t like it. Many years later, I saw part of his Traffic — and didn’t like it. With that, I wrote off Tati’s work as something just not for me. And it was with that in mind that I faced seeing M. Hulot’s Holiday (from…
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Starring: Janet Gaynor, Fredric March, Adolphe Menjou, Lionel Stander, May Robson, Andy Devine

A Star is Born

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In Brief: With all due respect to George Cukor’s 1954 version — and a somewhat grim nod to Frank Pierson’s rock-star variant from 1976 — William A. Wellman’s original 1937 A Star Is Born is the essential Hollywood cautionary tale. It may owe something to Cukor’s 1932 film What Price Hollywood?, but it’s really its own animal. Changing the…
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Starring: Ivor Novello, Marie Ault, Arthur Chesney, June, Malcolm Keen

The Lodger

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In Brief: Fresh from his stint in the German film industry, Alfred Hitchcock gave the British movie world a well-needed shot in the arm with The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927) starring the immensely popular Ivor Novello. In so doing, he also gave the world its very first movie that feels like what…
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Starring: Michael Redgrave, Margaret Lockwood, Paul Lukas, Dame May Whitty, Cecil Parker

The Lady Vanishes

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In Brief: The Lady Vanishes (1938) is not only one of Hitchcock’s best and most completely entertaining films, but it’s the film that launched Hitch on his Hollywood career. Hollywood had taken notice of him with The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) and The 39 Steps (1935), but it was The Lady Vanishes that…
Starring: James McAvoy, Keira Knightley, Romola Garai, Vanessa Redgrave

Atonement

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In Brief: When Joe Wright’s sophomore effort Atonement hit Cannes, words like “masterpiece” and phrases like “an instant classic” (what does that mean? add water and stir?) came tumbling forth like oranges from a faulty sack. Being something of a skeptic — and always wary of high-toned dramas that smack of Merchant-Ivory or Masterpiece Theatre —…
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Starring: Soran Ebrahim, Avaz Latif, Saddam Hossein Feysal, Hiresh Feysal Rahman

Turtles Can Fly

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In Brief: When Turtles Can Fly (2004) first showed here, I wrote: The first thing you notice about Iranian filmmaker Bahman Ghobadi’s Turtles Can Fly is how much more technically accomplished it is than most films we see from this part of the world. The colors are bright and vivid, the images are sharp and…
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Starring: Toshiro Mifune, Tatsuya Nakadai, Kyoko Kagawa, Tatsuya Mihashi, Isao Kimura

High and Low

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In Brief: For his 1963 suspense film High and Low, Akira Kurosawa seems to have been actually trying to draw the wrath of those who find his work too “Western” by choosing the Ed McBain novel King’s Ransom for his source material. What could possibly be more Western — indeed, more downright American — than a…
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Starring: Lon Chaney Jr., Carol Ohmart, Quinn K. Redeker, Beverly Washburn, Jill Banner, Sid Haig

Spider Baby, or the Maddest Story Ever Told

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In Brief: Despite its full title, Spider Baby (1968) probably isn't the maddest story ever told, but it's in the running — at least as schlock exploitation film is concerned. Enjoyably trashy and occasionally downright amateurish, it's the fairly silly story of a house full of folks suffering from some inexplicable form of mental degeneration that turns…
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Starring: Charles Aznavour, Marie Dubois, Nicole Berger, Michèle Mercier, Serge Davri

Shoot the Piano Player

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In Brief: François Truffaut’s Shoot the Piano Player (1960) is one of those celebrated films that I had somehow just never seen till this weekend. Oh, I’d seen clips and knew a little about it — and I’d suspected that the phony gangster-movie opening of Ken Russell’s 1966 TV film on composer Georges Delerue, Don’t…
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Starring: Carole Lombard, Fredric March, Walter Connolly, Charles Winninger, Sig Ruman

Nothing Sacred

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In Brief: William A. Wellman’s very aptly titled Nothing Sacred (1937) begins with a series of titles informing us, “This is New York, skyscraper champion of world, where the slickers and know-it-alls peddle gold bricks to each other, and where truth, crushed to earth, rises again more phony than a glass eye.” That effectively captures the…
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Starring: Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Cyril Cusack, Michael Hordern, Alan Webb

The Taming of the Shrew

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In Brief: Franco Zeffirelli’s The Taming of the Shrew (1967) wasn’t the first time this Shakespeare play was served up with a famous married couple in the lead roles. No, that honor goes to Sam Taylor’s 1929 version starring Hollywood royalty of that era, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford. (And whether or not the main title really…
black-christmas-eye
Starring: Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, Margot Kidder, John Saxon, Andrea Martin

Black Christmas

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In Brief: Merry Christmas from the Thursday Horror Picture Show with Bob Clark’s Black Christmas (yes, the same Bob Clark who made A Christmas Story). What better way to celebrate the season than with the original “slasher” picture? Yes, Black Christmas pretty much started it all — predating Halloween (1978), Friday the 13th (1980) and…
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Starring: Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Seberg, Daniel Boulanger, Jean-Pierre Melville

Breathless (A Bout de Souffle)

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In Brief: Breathless marks the start of French New Wave cinema, and regardless of how one feels about Jean-Luc Godard’s later, less accessible works, it would be hard to find a more audacious debut feature. The problem today's audiences have with it is that so much of what was fresh and revolutionary in 1960 has been assimilated…
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Starring: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Charlotte Henry, Felix Knight, Henry Kleinbach

Babes in Toyland (March of the Wooden Soldiers)

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Babes in Toyland — which generations of children have grown up knowing only by its re-issue title, March of the Wooden Soldiers — is the second of Laurel and Hardy’s excursions into opera or operetta (no, they don’t sing), and it’s by far the most elaborate and most popular. It’s been a Christmas staple for…
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Starring: Solveig Dommartin, William Hurt, Sam Neil, Max von Sydow, Jeanne Moreau

Until the End of the World

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In Brief: Wim Wenders’ Until the End of the World (1991) is both like a Wenders film (check out the soundtrack) and not. The film — at least till it hits the final stretch — is as quirky as anything the filmmaker ever did, but it’s a bit more playful. It’s certainly one of the more…
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Starring: Jacqueline Bisset, Valentina Cortese, Dani, Alexandra Stewart, Jean-Pierre Aumont, François Truffaut

Day for Night

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In Brief: François Truffaut’s Day for Night (1973) is not only a great movie about movies, but it’s fascinating as an example of how international cinema truly is. By this I mean that while we think of foreign film as a separate world, Day for Night is clearly the kind of movie that could only have…
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Starring: Aleksandr Antonov, Vladimir Barsky, Grigori Aleksandrov, Ivan Bobrov

Battleship Potemkin

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In Brief: It wasn't that long ago that Sergei Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin — then known mostly as Potemkin — was in the top five of nearly all lists of the greatest films ever made. While the 1925 Soviet film seems to have been downgraded in recent years, it remains an essential of cinematic literacy, one…