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Starring: Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler, Olivia Cooke, Nick Offerman, Connie Britton, Molly Shannon, Jon Bernthal, Katherine C. Hughes

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

The Story: A social misfit high-schooler is forced by his mother to befriend a girl in his class who's been diagnosed with leukemia. The Lowdown: It may sound like dreary, doomed romance teenage goo, but this smart, stylish film is anything but that. Rather, it's one of the delights of 2015. A must-see for discerning…
Starring: Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwill, Leif Erickson, Irene Hervey, Ralph Morgan, Don Porter, Nils Asther, Fay Helm, Doris Lloyd

Night Monster

In Brief: Ford Beebe’s economically-minded Night Monster (1942) not only uses the sets from The Wolf Man (1941), but also pilfers the Wolf Man’s feet for its nocturnal monster. It is, in any case, quite the best movie Beebe ever made. In fact, it’s hard to understand why Beebe — a specialist in serials and cowboy movies —…
Starring: Benicio Del Toro, Josh Hutcherson, Brady Corbet, Claudia Traisac, Carlos Bardem, Ana Giradot

Escobar: Paradise Lost

The Story: Fictionalized thriller about an innocent who is corrupted and betrayed by a real life character. The Lowdown: Note well that this is not a biopic on Pablo Escobar; it's a thriller crafted around Escobar. On that basis, it mostly works — at least once it gets going — and Benicio Del Toro is…
Starring: Kate Winslet, Matthias Schoenaerts, Alan Rickman, Stanley Tucci, Helen McCrory, Jennifer Ehle

A Little Chaos

The Story: A female landscape designer lands a position at Versailles constructing an outdoor ballroom for Louis XIV. The Lowdown: Stylish direction, a great cast, a plum role for Kate Winslet and numerous delights overcome the somewhat fragmented construction of this (loosely) historical romance.
Starring: (Voices) Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Richard Kind, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Kaitlyn Dias

Inside Out

The Story: When a young girl's central memories are lost, it falls to two of her basic emotional components to find them. The Lowdown: A mix of the brilliant and the basic — a film that truly soars when it works, but doesn't quite work all of the time.
Starring: George Arliss, Violet Heming, Bette Davis, Andre Luguet, Louise Closser Hale, Ivan Simpson, Oscar Apfel

The Man Who Played God

In Brief: Touted as "A modern drama from real life," The Man Who Played God (1932) is actually a remake of George Arliss' 1922 silent version (now lost) of  a 1914 play. It is, however, one of that great actor's best films. It's also the movie where Arliss brought Bette Davis to Warner Bros. — at the suggestion…
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Will Ferrell, Shirley MacLaine, Michael Caine, Jason Schwartzman, Kristin Chenoweth


In Brief: The film version of Bewitched (2005) is a bullet I had dodged until now. (This is not the sort of movie I am apt to seek out unless I have to.) The truth is — the movie is not good, but neither is it (in a strictly relative sense) bad. It has a…
Starring: Jean Simmons, Dirk Bogarde, David Tomlinson, Marcel Poncin, Cathleen Nesbitt, Honor Blackman

So Long at the Fair

In Brief: Though signed by both Antony Darnborough and Terence Fisher (best known of the Hammer horror directors), So Long at the Fair (1950) is clearly the work of Fisher. (Darnborough only directed two movies — both with Fisher.) It has much the same visual flair as Fisher's horror pictures — and one very stylish…
Starring: (Voices) Sara Takatsuki, Kasumi Arimura, Nanako Matsushima, Susumu Terajima, Toshie Negishi

When Marnie Was There

The Story: A withdrawn young girl with asthma is sent to an isolated coastal town for her health. There she makes a strange, rather ethereal friend. The Lowdown: Lovingly handmade animated fantasy about the loneliness of childhood. Masterful and beautiful with moments of pure magic, and ultimately quite moving.
Starring: Andréa Ferréol, Brian Deacon, Eric Deacon, Frances Barber, Joss Ackland, Jim Davidson

A Zed & Two Noughts

In Brief: Almost exactly four years ago the AFS ran Peter Greenaway's Prospero's Books (1991). The showing started out with nearly 80 people. By the end, it was down to about 20 brave souls. I don't know if it was the fact that it's hard to follow, the fact that it boasts what the MPAA termed "pervasive…
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D'Onofrio, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Irrfan Khan, Jake Johnson, Omar Sy, BD Wong

Jurassic World

The Story: A big, bad genetically engineered dinosaur runs wild at the Jurassic World theme park. The Lowdown: Better written, better directed and better acted than any film about rampaging dinosaurs has any right to be.
Starring: Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori, Kiersey Clemons, Blake Anderson, A$ap Rocky, Zoë Kravitz, Kimberly Elise


The Story: A trio of misfit teens ends up with a bag of drugs, a gun and a big problem. The Lowdown: An unexpected delight — a completely refreshing take on the coming-of-age comedy that succeeds by hewing closely to the subgenre's tropes while deftly turning them upside down and thwarting expectations at almost every turn.
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Starring: David Hemmings, Daria Nicolodi, Gabriele Lavia, Macha Méril

Deep Red (Profondo Rosso)

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 relative terms) than the…
Starring: James Stewart, John Dall, Farley Granger, Edith Evanson, Joan Chandler, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Constance Collier


In Brief: In the 1980s, the select films that Alfred Hitchcock had carefully retained the rights to were re-issued to theaters. The oldest of these, Rope (1948), had always been considered something of a failure — an experiment that didn't quite come off and that flopped on its original release. The surprise was that it…
Starring: Lin Shaye, Dermot Mulroney, Stefanie Scott, Angus Sampson, Leigh Whannell, Tate Berney

Insidious: Chapter 3

The Story: Solid prequel to the series that tells a story taking place before the first film. The Lowdown: Incredible though it may seem Insidious: Chapter 3 manages to overcome the triple threat of a new director, being a prequel, and being the third film in a series. This really is a pretty terrific addition to…
Starring: Joel Grey, Joey McIntyre, Jean Louisa Kelly, Jonathon Morris, Brad Sullivan, Barnard Hughes, Teller

The Fantasticks

In Brief: It took 35 years to bring this virtually unstoppable (it lasted 41 years) Off-Broadway show to the screen and another five years for it to be released (in a recut version by Francis Ford Coppola) — at which time it bombed. Well, Michael Ritchie's original cut of The Fantasticks is now available —…
Starring: Blythe Danner, Martin Starr, Sam Elliott, Mary Kay Place, June Squibb, Rhea Perlman, Malin Akerman

I’ll See You in My Dreams

The Story: A 70-year-old widow starts to re-evaluate her life and take some chances. The Lowdown: Refreshingly adult, sweet-tempered and rather special little romantic comedy-drama focusing on a generally underserved age group — and presenting that group in a new light. And you needn't be a part of that group to enjoy it.
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Rose Byrne, Jason Statham, Jude Law, Allison Janney, Miranda Hart, Bobby Cannavale


The Story: When her field-agent partner is killed, a desk-jockey becomes a field agent herself to get revenge and finish her partner's last assignment. The Lowdown: While it's an improvement over the standard Melissa McCarthy vehicle — at least she plays a character rather than a caricature — this latest is too long and too…