Starring: A bunch of people you never heard of before and never will hear of again.

Blood Freak

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In Brief: There is absolutely no excuse why Blood Freak was ever made, and there is somewhat less of an excuse as to why Orbit DVD is running it. That there is no excuse is, of course, exactly why this carbuncle on the posterior of cinema is being run — as a kind of Thanksgiving…
Starring: Georges Poujouly, Brigitte Fossey, Amédée, Laurence Badie, Madeleine Babulée

Forbidden Games

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In Brief: René Clément's Forbidden Games (1952) is one of those art-house staples where you can see what all the fuss was about, but may have a harder time actually feeling it. This simple tale — a young girl's parents (and dog) are killed in an air strike while fleeing the Nazis in WWII France…
Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn, William Holden, Walter Hampden, John Williams

Sabrina

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In Brief: One of the most delightful and sparkling romantic comedies ever made, Billy Wilder's Sabrina -- the tale of a chauffeur's daughter who's besotted with the son of the rich family her father works for -- finds the usually cynical director in fine humor and high style. The impeccable stars -- Humphrey Bogart, Audrey…
Starring: Ryan O'Neal, Tatum O'Neal, Madeline Kahn, John Hillerman, P.J. Johnson

Paper Moon

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In Brief: Peter Bogdanovich's Paper Moon (1973) — the beguiling tale of a Bible-selling con man and the little girl who may or may not be his daughter traveling through the Depression-era midwest — found the filmmaker at the peak of his career and his popularity. Whether he ever made another film this good is…
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Jennifer Garner, Denis O'Hare, Dallas Roberts, Steve Zahn, Griffin Dunne

Dallas Buyers Club

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The Story: Fact-based story of a Texas homophobe who contracts AIDS and almost inadvertently becomes a major force in the gay community in battling the disease — if not in exactly orthodox methods. The Lowdown: Brilliant performances from Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto propel this finely-crafted film into the realm of the must-see. It's a…
Starring: June Allyson, Cyd Charisse, Lena Horne, Howard Keel, Gene Kelly, Ann Miller

That’s Entertainment! III

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In Brief: Twenty years after they first milked the old MGM cow with That's Entertainment! (1974) and 18 years after they drained ol' Bossy dry with That's Entertainment, Part II, somebody got the idea that the old gal might have another quart in her. The result was That's Entertainment! III. Like its predecessors, it's worthless…
Starring: Bela Lugosi, Clayton Moore, Joan Barclay, George Zucco, Joyce Compton

Black Dragons / Scared to Death

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In Brief: A double dose of 1940s trash horror at its most virulent, William Nigh's Black Dragons (1942) and Christy Cabanne's Scared to Death (1947) both star the great Bela Lugosi. They also occupy a special niche in the hearts of Lugosiphiles, who understand that to love Bela is to love bad Bela. And in…

Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler November 20-26: Dallas Buyers Delivery Games

While Hollywood sits around trying to figure out how a film nobody thought would make a nickel almost stole Thor’s thunder last weekend, the rest of us are poised to try to withstand the arrival of The Next Big Thing this week — and it’s an almost surefire juggernaut. It will easily rake in a few trillion bucks before the weekend is out and restore the status quo that was briefly disturbed by last weekend’s fluke. And there’s more than that heading our way.

Starring: Bing Crosby, Shirley Ross, Martha Raye, Bob Burns, Lief Erickson, George Barbier

Waikiki Wedding

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In Brief: Bing Crosby stars as the idea man for an Hawaiian pineapple company who finds himself forced to romance the winner of his "Pineapple Queen" contest in order to save his job. This delightfully silly, often very funny Crosby vehicle makes the most of its star's effortless charm and affords him several new Ralph…
Starring: Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, Bill Nighy, Lydia Wilson, Lindsay Duncan, Tom Hollander, Joshua McGuire

About Time

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The Story: A romantic comedy fantasy more or less grounded in the idea that our main character can travel back in time. The Lowdown: Utterly charming, funny and touching, the film finds writer-director Richard Curtis at the peak of his game — and with just the cast to bring it to life. Unless you're a…
Starring: Julia Jentsch, Alexander Held, Fabian Hinrichs, Johanna Gastdorf, André Hennicke

Sophie Scholl: The Final Days

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In Brief: The film charts the last days of 21-year-old Sophie Scholl's life, when she and her brother (Fabian Hinrichs)—members of the anti-Nazi student organization, the White Rose—were arrested, interrogated, “tried” and executed by the Nazi government for high treason. An uneven and imperfect film that rises above its shortcomings on the power of its…
Starring: Peter Cushing, André Morell, Richard Vernon, Norman Bird, Kevin Stoney

Cash on Demand

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In Brief: Though it often feels like a high-end TV movie -- and its message "twist" is pretty obvious early on -- Quentin Lawrence's Cash on Demand is one of the most successful of all Hammer Films' forays into something other than horror. First rate performances from Peter Cushing and, especially, Andre Morell help. Thoroughly…
Starring: Léa Seydoux, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Salim Kechiouche, Aurélien Recoing, Catherine Salée

Blue Is the Warmest Color

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The Story: Story of a romance between two young French women. The Lowdown: Yes, the sex and nudity is unflinchingly, uncoyly presented, but bear in mind this is a long, slowly paced, seriously-intended film. It's well-crafted and large chunks of it work. Worthwhile, but not the masterpiece some are claiming.
Starring: Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, John Boles, Boris Karloff, Edward Van Sloan, Dwight Frye

Frankenstein

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In Brief: Frakenstein is a title that needs no introduction. Everyone knows it's "the story of a man who made a monster," and most of us have seen it at one time or another (and if you haven't, there's really no excuse). It's the movie that made Boris Karloff a star and James Whale a…
Starring: Jeremy Irvine, Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes, Holliday Grainger, Robbie Coltrane, Ewen Bremner

Great Expectations

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The Story: Charles Dickens' classic tale of a poor orphan who comes into "great expectations" through an unknown benefactor. The Lowdown: Solid, imaginative — yet reasonably traditional — film of the novel. It's atmospheric, beautifully designed and wonderfully well-cast, especially in the supporting players. Helena Bonham Carter is a brilliant Miss Havisham — with Ralph…

Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler November 13-19: Blue Is the Warmest Great Expectatio­n

The studios seem to be taking the week off. We get exactly one movie that could be called mainstream — and it’s a borderline case that no one is expecting anything out of, and not everyone is bothering to book at all. On the other hand, we do get two new art titles of a certain interest — one of them bordering on the notorious.

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, George MacKay, Tom Holland, Harley Bird, Anna Chancellor

How I Live Now

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The Story: In the midst of an unidentified and unexplained war, four children struggle for survival in the English countryside. The Lowdown: An odd, but generally effective movie that benefits from strong performances and gets extra points for not explaining too much.
Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Brad Pitt, Paul Giamatti, Lupita Nyong'o

12 Years a Slave

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The Story: The story of Solomon Northup, a free black man kidnapped and sold into slavery. The Lowdown: Powerful, brilliantly — and beautifully — made. It boasts a gallery of fine performances and should finally propel Chiwetel Ejiofor to the stardom he's deserved for 10 years. It's a fine film, but maybe not quite a…
Starring: Eduardo Noriega, Marisa Paredes, Federico Luppi, Fernando Tielve, Iñigo Garcés

The Devil’s Backbone

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In Brief: Guillermo del Toro's frequently brilliant ghost story The Devil's Backbone (2001) — set at an orphanage during the Spanish Civil War — is one of the filmmaker's best works. It blends supernatural and human horror in such a way that the dividing line is not entirely clear. Even though del Toro has gone…
Starring: Kelly Curtis, Herbert Lom, Mariangela Giordano, Michael Adatte

The Sect

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In Brief: This is a makeup screening of The Sect (1991) that was originally scheduled a while back. It's a visually stunning, narratively unhinged (to the point of incoherence) Italian horror from Michele Soavi, who went on to make the splendid Cemetry Man (1994). While this bizarre Rosemary's Baby reimagining is nowhere near that horror…
Starring: Vanessa Redgrave, Glenda Jackson, Patrick McGoohan, Timothy Dalton

Mary, Queen of Scots

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In Brief: Well, it does boast two of the greatest — possibly the greatest — actresses of 1960s and 70s British film in Vanessa Redgrave and Glenda Jackson, but let's be honest, this is a thoroughly respectable British prestige picture from the folks who brought you the even more respectable Anne of a Thousand Days…