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: Dylan O'Brien, Aml Ameen, Ki Hong Lee, Blake Cooper, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Will Poulter, Kaya Scodelario, Patricia Clarkson

The Maze Runner

The Story: YA sci-fi about a group of boys trapped at the center of a maze. The Lowdown: Better than average for its type, but not without problems of its own, The Maze Runner still manages to create a world of disturbing menace with better than expected characters.
Starring: Rod Steiger, Christopher Plummer, Orson Welles, Jack Hawkins, Virginia McKenna


In Brief: Riding on the artistic success of his 400-plus minute War and Peace (1966), Soviet director Sergey Bondarchuk was handed this English-language multinational production of more tractable length but equal spectacle. It was a huge flop when it appeared in 1970 — perhaps because spectacle was its only real selling point. And on that…
Starring: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Leo McKern, Eleanor Bron, Victor Spinetti, Roy Kinnear


In Brief: Though largely denigrated at the time of its release in 1965 as inferior to A Hard Day’s Night (1964), Richard Lester’s second film built around The Beatles, Help! has been pretty completely vindicated by time. It has also been championed by no less a figure on the film scene than Martin Scorsese, who has compared the…
Starring: Bent Mejding, Asbjorn Andersen, Poul Wildaker, Ann Smyrner


In Brief: Reptilicus (1961) is probably the best film Sidney Pink ever made. And if you've seen it, you will realize the enormity of that statement. It's also the best giant monster movie ever to come out of Denmark. It's also the only one, so that doesn't keep it from being easily the most laughably…
Starring: Michael Parks, Justin Long, Genesis Rodriguez, Haley Joel Osment, "Guy Lapointe"


The Story: A podcast host falls into the clutches of a surgically-inclined madman who proceeds to transform him into a walrus. The Lowdown: Every bit as screwy as it sounds, Tusk gets high marks for novelty and chutzpah, but wears out its welcome with excessive footage. However, it's certainly worth a look for genre fans…
Starring: Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, William Hurt, Isabelle Huppert, Ciarán Hinds, Viola Davis, Bill Hader

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them

The Story: A look at a young couple's marriage as they struggle to find themselves in the wake of a tragedy. The Lowdown: A beautifully cast, literate, perceptive film that recognizes the power of suggestion and ambiguity. Definitely a must-see drama for discerning viewers.
Starring: Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Ralph Bellamy, Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney Jr., Lionel Atwill, Evelyn Ankers

The Ghost of Frankenstein

In Brief: The fourth — and last really good — entry in Universal's long-running Frankenstein series is also the first one without Boris Karloff as The Monster. In his stead we have Universal's new all-purpose horror star Lon Chaney, Jr. (who would eventually have a go at nearly all of the studio's monsters). While he's…
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…
Starring: John Lithgow, Alfred Molina, Darren E. Burrows, Marisa Tomei, Charlie Tahan, Cheyenne Jackson, Christian Coulson

Love Is Strange

The Story: An aging gay couple lose their apartment and are forced to live apart. The Lowdown: An absolutely beautiful, quietly intense, moving love story about love and marriage that is nothing short of a small masterpiece. John Lithgow and Alfred Molina are sublime, and so is this poignant, tender film. A pure must-see.
Starring: Elliott Gould, Cybill Shepherd, Angela Lansbury, Herbert Lom, Arthur Lowe, Ian Carmichael

The Lady Vanishes

In Brief: Reasonably efficient — but pretty unnecessary — remake of Alfred Hitchcock's 1938 classic, the 1979 The Lady Vanishes boasts a good performance from Cybill Shepherd, some nice supporting turns and extremely good process work to give the illusion of being on a moving train. On the other hand, Elliott Gould has no business…
Starring: Patricia Clarkson, Zachary Booth, Devon Graye, Joseph Cross, Alexia Rasmussen, Chris Mulkey, Jayma Mays

Last Weekend

The Story: An over-privileged family has a bad Labor Day weekend when the whole gang gets together. The Lowdown: Tone-deaf, tin-eared drama about largely unlikable people with lots of money and a lot of self-indulgent problems.
Starring: Maurice Chevalier, Jeanette MacDonald, Myrna Loy, Charles Ruggles, Charles Butterworth, C. Aubrey Smith

Love Me Tonight

In Brief: With apologies to Ernst Lubitsch, Rouben Mamoulian's Love Me Tonight (1932) is far and away the best of all Maurice Chevalier-Jeanette MacDonald musical comedies — and one of my top three films of all time. The combination of Mamoulian's nonstop inventiveness, a barrage of terrific Rodgers and Hart songs (four of which became…
Starring: Robert Donat, Madeleine Carroll, Lucie Mannheim, Godfrey Tearle, Peggy Ashcroft, Wylie Watson

The 39 Steps

In Brief: It's the picture where Alfred Hitchcock introduced the concept of an innocent man on the run from both the police and the bad guys while trying to prove his innocence. It's also the movie with the very first of Hitchcock's ice-blonde leading ladies. And The 39 Steps (1935) can still hold its own…
Starring: Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon, Rosie Fellner, Claire Keelan, Marta Barrio

The Trip to Italy

The Story: Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon go on another tour of upscale restaurants — this time in Italy. The Lowdown: Similar in most respects to the original The Trip, this sequel fills all its expected requirements, but has a much more pronounced undercurrent of sadness that makes for a richer experience.
Starring: Nicol Williamson, Judy Parfitt, Anthony Hopkins, Marianne Faithfull, Mark Dignam, Michael Pennington, Gordon Jackson


In Brief: Sometimes referred to as "the red brick Hamlet," Tony Richardson's Hamlet (1969) is unusual in that it manages to turn Shakespeare's play into a quirky personal work. It's not only radical in that Richardson cuts the play to a brisk 117 minutes, but because it's a Hamlet very much of its time, with…
Starring: Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, James Gandolfini, Matthias Schoenaerts, John Ortiz

The Drop

The Story:  Complex crime yarn about a Chechen-owned bar used as a money drop slated to be robbed on Super Bowl night. The Lowdown: Wonderfully well-cast with a pleasingly involved story, The Drop is certainly a good film, but not the great one its writing, directing and acting pedigree suggests it could have been.
Starring: Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray, Melvyn Douglas, Dwight Frye / George Zucco, Mary Carlisle, Dwight Frye

The Vampire Bat / Dead Men Walk

In Brief: It's a double dose of vampires (well, sort of) at the Thursday Horror Picture Show with Frank R. Strayer's The Vampire Bat (1933) and Sam Newfield's Dead Men Walk (1943). The Vampire Bat is an atmospheric cheapie that takes full advantage of its better-than-average cast and its rented Universal Pictures sets. It creaks…
Starring: Paolo Villaggio, Isa Danieli, Gigio Morra, Sergio Solli, Ester Carloni, Paolo Bonacelli

Ciao, Professore!

In Brief: If you can overlook the feeling that the Lina Wertmüller of the 1970s would likely have sneered in contempt at her own 1992 film Ciao, Professore! it's possible to enjoy the film on its own slight terms. It's really nothing more than an Italian-flavored To Sir, with Love (1967) with third-graders rather than…