shoot-the-piano-player
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 Shoot the Composer, was based on…
songcatcher
Starring: Janet McTeer, Aidan Quinn, Pat Carroll, Jane Adams

Songcatcher

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In Brief: Local interest runs high concerning writer-director Maggie Greenwald’s Songcatcher, owing to the fact that it was filmed around here. For that matter, parts of the film were made on the mountains not more than a few miles from where I’m writing this review. Thankfully, it turns out that Songcatcher is worth the fuss as…
deepredknife
Starring: David Hemmings, Daria Nicolodi, Gabriele Lavia, Macha Méril

Profondo Rosso (Deep Red)

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In Brief: Widely considered — at least by those who consider such things — to be Dario Argento's best film, Deep Red (1975) is perhaps more of a gory (except that people all seem to bleed red paint) giallo than an outright horror film. One thing is certain — it makes more sense (in strictly…
1_GABRIELOVERTHEWHITEHOUSElargest
Starring: Walter Huston, Karen Morley, Franchot Tone, C. Henry Gordon, Arthur Byron

Gabriel Over the White House

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In Brief: Gregory La Cava’s Gabriel Over the White House (1933) isn’t a particularly good movie, but as one of a handful of peculiarly pro-fascist movies floating around from that time, it takes the prize for the most alarming of the lot. Walter Huston stars as a shallow party-man politico (which party is never specified) who…
blood-for-dracula-of-love-and-other-demons-one
Starring: Udo Kier, Joe Dallesandro, Arno Juerging, Maxime McKendry, Milena Vukotic

Blood for Dracula

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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…
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Starring: Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons, Joseph Fiennes

The Merchant of Venice

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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…
e0VaiZdVFQBT6mOPDjA3v1Oslfy
Starring: Pascal Greggory, Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, Charles Berling, Jean-Louis Trintignant

Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train

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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…
night-of-the-demon-1957-002-man-with-hat-holds-paper-note-00m-qkr
Starring: Dana Andrews, Peggy Cummins, Niall MacGinnis, Athene Seyler, Maurice Denham

Night of the Demon

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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?

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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…
cat-canary1
Starring: Laura La Plante, Creighton Hale, Forrest Stanley, Tully Marshall, Gertrude Astor, Flora Finch, Arthur Edmund Carewe

The Cat and the Canary

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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…
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Starring: Mathieu Amalric, Edouard Baer, Maria de Medeiros, Golshifteh Farahani, Isabella Rossellini

Chicken with PLUMS

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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…
maxresdefault-18
Starring: Gene Wilder, Harrison Ford, Val Bisoglio, George DiCenzo, Leo Fuchs, Beege Barkette

The Frisco Kid

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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…
if_1968_2
Starring: Malcolm McDowell, David Wood, Richard Warwick, Christine Noonan

If….

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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 —…
the-artist-dujardin
Starring: Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller

The Artist

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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…
stolen-kisses
Starring: Jean-Pierre Léaud, Delphine Seyrig, Claude Jade, Michel Lonsdale

Stolen Kisses

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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…
fritz-langs-m
Starring: Peter Lorre, Otto Wernicke, Theodor Loos, Ellen Widmann

M

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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…
where-the-green-ants-dream
Starring: Bruce Spence, Wandjuk Marika, Roy Marika, Roy Barrett, Norman Kaye

Where the Green Ants Dream

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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

Targets

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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!

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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…
plan-9-from-outer-space
Starring: Gregory Walcott, Mona McKinnon, Tor Johnson, Dudley Manlove, Bela Lugosi

Plan 9 From Outer Space

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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…
Good-Morning
Starring: Keiji Sada, Yoshiko Kuga, Chishû Ryû, Kuniko Miyake, Haruko Sugimura

Good Morning

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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,…