Starring: Robin Weigert, Julie Fain Lawrence, Maggie Siff, Jonathan Tchaikovsky, Emily Kinney


The Story: A bored and sexually neglected wife decides to spice up her love by becoming a part-time call girl. The Lowdown: An unusual -- and unusually quiet -- marital drama in which it is almost incidental that the couple are lesbians. Intelligent, thought-provoking, and altogether realistic without being boring about it.
Starring: Mathieu Amalric, Edouard Baer, Maria de Medeiros, Golshitfeh Farahani, Isabella Rossellini

Chicken with Plums

In Brief: Playful, gorgeous to look at, cinematically brilliant and finally heartbreakingly sad, Vincent Paronaud and Marjane Satrapi's 2011 film is one of those movies that ought to have played here, but didn't. It's a kind of fairy tale that tells the story of a great violinist (Mathieu Amalric) who becomes so distraught over the…
Starring: Ángel Tavira, Gerardo Taracena, Dagoberto Gama, Mario Garibaldi

The Violin

In Brief: The Mexican film The Violin (2005) is one of those movies that comes with a raft of awards from film festivals, largely enthusiastic reviews and almost no promotion. Its much lauded director, Francisco Vargas, has yet to make another film, and it seems to be one of those dead-end projects destined to obscurity.…
Starring: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris (voice)


The Story: Two astronauts accidentally set adrift in space must find a way to survive and make it back to earth. The Lowdown: Brilliantly made, impeccably acted, visually impressive and undeniably intense in its suspense. Gravity is a fine film, but is maybe too efficient for its own good.
Starring: Edmund Lowe, Bela Lugosi, Irene Ware, Herbert Mundin, Henry B. Walthall

Chandu the Magician

In Brief: Wildly entertaining and utterly preposterous serial-like film, Chandu the Magician (1932) was adapted from a popular radio show of the same name. Beautifully designed by co-director William Cameron Menzies, the film looks spectacular, but its plot ... well, it's arrant nonsense about a madman named Roxor (Bela Lugosi) trying to get the secret…
Starring: George Peppard, Ursula Andress, James Mason, Jeremy Kemp, Karl Michael Vogler, Anton Diffring

The Blue Max

In Brief: Lumbering, overlong WWI picture that boasts some truly stunning flying scenes and solid production values (only somewhat marred by process work). German fighter pilot George Peppard (the only person in the film with an American accent) tries to play social climber by winning the coveted military decoration of the film's title. The story…
Starring: Romain Duris, Déborah François, Bérénice Bejo, Shaun Benson, Mélanie Bernier


The Story: A young woman in 1958 France is a lousy secretary but a whiz at typing, which causes her employer to train her as a champion in typing competitions. The Lowdown: An unusual subject, gorgeous period detail and a terrific cast raise this romantic comedy (with subtitles, yes) to the level of something very…
Starring: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Randolph Scott, Harriet Hilliard

Follow the Fleet

In Brief: Follow the Fleet (1936) is the fifth of the Astaire-Rogers pictures, and as a movie, it's perhaps the weakest so far (there are weaker ones to come). Its plot is no great shakes — centering not on Fred and Ginger, but on the rather colorless romance of Randolph Scott and Harriet Hilliard. It…
Starring: Roy Abramsohn, Elena Schuber, Katelynn Rodriguez, Jack Dalton, Danielle Safady, Annet Mahendru

Escape from Tomorrow

The Story: A family in disarray has a nightmarish experience at Disney World. The Lowdown: It sounds a lot more daring and subversive than it actually is. That it was made on Disney's own turf without permission is more interesting than the film itself, which is confused, unfocused and even a little silly. But it's…
Starring: Brie Larson, John Gallagher, Jr., Kaitlyn Dever, Stephanie Beatriz, Rami Malek, Keith Stanfield

Short Term 12

The Story: A look into the lives of some young social workers and their charges in a foster care center. The Lowdown: Disarming in its honesty and simplicity, Short Term 12 arrives on the local film scene with little fanfare, which is too bad because it's a little gem of a movie.
Starring: Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons, Eileen Herlie, Basil Sydney, Norman Wooland


In Brief: Time has not been especially kind to Laurence Olivier's Hamlet. When it first appeared in 1948, it was the last word in culture at the cinema. Today, a lot of it feels stilted, alarmingly middle-brow and occasionally rather silly. (Some of Olivier's expressions look more like a parody than a serious attempt at…
Starring: Daniel Brühl, Katrin Sass, Maria Simon, Chulpan Khamativa, Florian Lukas

Good Bye, Lenin!

In Brief: Wolfgang Becker's 2004 film remains a beguiling comedy-drama about a young man (Daniel Brühl) charged with the seemingly impossible task of keeping his ailing mother from discovering that communism has fallen, and that East and West Germany have been reunified. He believes the discovery of this change will bring on a fatal heart…
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Tony Danza, Glenne Headly, Brie Larson

Don Jon

The Story: A very wayward kind of romantic comedy about a guy who tries to change his ways, especially his proclivity for porn, for a woman he thinks is his dream girl. The Lowdown: Joseph Gordon-Levitt's writing-directing debut is a remarkably assured affair that is also unusually blunt in terms of dealing with sex and…
Starring: Zac Efron, Tom Welling, James Badge Dale, Marcia Gay Harden, Mark Duplass, Paul Giamatti, Colin Hanks, Jacki Weaver


The Story: Fact-based drama about the JFK assassination and its immediate aftermath. The Lowdown: Visceral, fast-paced recreation of the events that took place over the course of Nov. 22-25, 1963. Parkland opts to plunge the viewer into the chaos and confusion of the tragic events, and the results are remarkable.
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara, Pierfrancesco Favino


The Story: Fact-based drama about the 1970s rivalry between Formula One drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda. The Lowdown: Very slick, nice-looking racing story with solid lead performances. Entertaining enough, but hardly a great movie.
Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Audrey Tautou, Sergi Lopez, Sophie Okonedo

Dirty Pretty Things

In Brief: Chiwetel Ejiofor and Audrey Tautou star in Stephen Frears' 2003 thriller Dirty Pretty Things. It's a story about the seedy underside of London as experienced by illegal and barely legal immigrants who work at a posh but very unsavory hotel, one that serves as a center for criminal activities. This ranges from sketchy…
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano, Viola Davis, Terrence Howard, Maria Bello, Melissa Leo


The Story: When his daughter and her friend are kidnapped, a man takes matters into his own hands. The Lowdown: This is really a first-rate lurid thriller that harms itself by trying too hard to be more significant than it is. Still, the mystery and thriller aspects offer sufficient compensation to make it worth a…
Starring: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, James Gandolfini, Catherine Keener, Toni Collette, Tracey Fairaway, Tavi Gevinson

Enough Said

The Story: A woman finds her romance with a seemingly compatible man undermined when it turns out that he's the ex-husband of a new friend of hers. The Lowdown: Unfailingly pleasant but awkwardly plotted film that ultimately wins out on the strength of James Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
Starring: Mathieu Carrière, Marian Seidowsky, Bern Tischer, Fred Dietz, Barbara Steele

Young Törless

In Brief: Volker Schlöndorff's first film, Young Törless (1966), wears the director's training with French New Wave filmmakers on its sleeve, though not in a bad way, and with a decidedly German slant. It also marks the significant change in tone in German cinema wherein filmmakers shifted from ignoring the country's past to addressing it.…