Starring: Ray Milland, Martin Gabel, Harry Bronson, Rita Vale, Rex O'Malley, Rita Gam

The Thief

In Brief: The Thief (1952) is your basic McCarthy-era, Red Scare stuff, with traitor-scientist (Ray Milland) selling our atomic secrets to the enemy. There is, however, a gimmick: It has no dialogue. No, it's not a silent movie, but nobody ever says anything. Yes, that's as forced, fake and finally tedious as it sounds, but…
Starring: Jean-Pierre Léaud, Marie-France Pisier, Claude Jade, Dani, Dorothee, Daniel Mesguich

Love on the Run

In Brief: François Truffaut's sixth and final film of his Antoine Doinel series — which began with Truffaut's first film, The 400 Blows (1959) — is mostly a pure delight and a fine conclusion to the series. The only problem with Love on the Run (1979) — which catches up with the 30-something Antoine for the first…
Starring: (Voices) Chiara Mastroianni, Catherine Deneuve, Danielle Darrieux, Simon Abkarian, Gabrielle Lopes Benites


In Brief: The very unusual and surprisingly powerful Oscar-nominated animated biographical film (2007) about the extraordinary — and yet perfectly relatable — life of an Iranian girl. Though playful in tone, it's a narrative that goes much deeper than one might expect. It's a film that should be seen — and one that benefits from a…
Starring: Ben Kingsley, Asa Butterfield, Chloë Grace Moretz, Sacha Baron Cohen, Helen McCrory, Christopher Lee, Jude Law


In Brief: Martin Scorsese's masterful and beautiful film about a young boy living within the walls of a Paris train station turns out to be a great deal more than a fantasy for children (though it is that, too). It's also a movie about the movies, their history and their sheer magic. There’s a tendency to…
Starring: George C. Scott, Dana Wynter, Clive Brook, Jacques Roux, Herbert Marshall

The List of Adrian Messenger

In Brief: John Huston’s The List of Adrian Messenger (1963) is a thoroughly enjoyable murder mystery in the classic style. The film features a solid performance from George C. Scott as the detective, Jacques Roux as his makeshift Watson and a touch of old Hollywood from the presence of Clive Brook and Herbert Marshall. The mystery,…
Starring: Brun Ganz, Solveig Dommartin, Otto Sander, Curt Bois, Peter Falk

Wings of Desire

In Brief: Only in the world of a Wim Wenders film would an angel express the desire to go home and read a Philip Marlowe mystery as one of the reasons he’d like to be human. But because that desire is expressed in a Wim Wenders film, it seems completely reasonable. And if that makes sense…
Starring: Fernando Rey, Delphine Seyrig, Stéphane Audran, Paul Frankeur, Bulle Ogier

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie

In Brief: If you’ve never seen a Luis Buñuel film, it’s high time you did, and this 1972 Oscar winner about six middle-class people and their interrupted efforts to have a meal together is a good place to start. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie is more accessible than some of Buñuel’s work and might just…
Starring: Janet Gaynor, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Roland Young, Billie Burke, Paulette Goddard, Minnie Dupree

The Young in Heart

In Brief: When The Young in Heart (1938) showed up on the list of January titles for the Hendersonville Film Society, I not only realized I hadn’t seen it, I’d never heard of it — something that seemed unlikely from that year and with that cast. So I was interested to see it and fill in…
Starring: Yves Montand, Daniel Auteuil, Emmanuelle Béart, Hippolyte Girardot, Margarita Lozano

Manon of the Spring

In Brief: Manon of the Spring (1986) is the sequel — or more properly, second part — of Jean de Florette (1986). In essence, this film tells the rest of the story — what happens after Jean de Florette (Gérard Depardieu) dies. The film takes place 10 years later with Jean’s daughter Manon (Emmanuelle Béart) fully grown, living more…
Starring: Vanessa Redgrave, Glenda Jackson, Patrick McGoohan, Timothy Dalton

Mary, Queen of Scots

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…
Starring: Jacques Tati, Nathalie Pascaud, Michelle Rolla, Valentine Camax, Louis Perrault

M. Hulot’s Holiday

In Brief: As a mere boy, I bumped into Jacques Tati’s Mon Oncle on television — and didn’t like it. Many years later, I saw part of his Traffic — and didn’t like it. With that, I wrote off Tati’s work as something just not for me. And it was with that in mind that…
Starring: Jean-Pierre Léaud, Claire Maurier, Albert Rémy, Guy Decomble

The 400 Blows

In Brief: François Truffaut's first feature, The 400 Blows (1959), struck a blow of its own as the first of the New Wave films — movies that came as a reaction to what was perceived as the stodginess of classical French filmmaking (and filmmaking around the world for that matter). It was a movement that would change…
Starring: Yves Montand, Irene Pappas, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Jacques Perrin, Charles Denner


In Brief: Costa-Gavras’ Z (1969) was undoubtedly the first overtly political film I ever saw, and I’m sure that at the age of 15, I actually understood very little of it. What I did understand and respond to was the film’s in-your-face attitude — daring to announce its leftist political agenda with a special credit, “Any similarity…
Starring: Lubna Azabal, Mélissa Désormeaux, Maxim Gaudette, Rémy Girard, Abdelghafour Elaaziz


In Brief: Denis Villeneuve’s Incendies is the most intense film I’ve seen all year. It’s also one of the most compelling — and, in its own way, one of the most entertaining. The brilliance of Incendies lies in its fragmented presentation of the story as a mystery. This provides the film with that rarest of qualities —…
Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre


In Brief: Possibly the most beloved of all movies, Michael Curtiz's Casablanca (1942) is a combination of happy accidents, studio professionalism and plain dumb luck that came together to create the most perfect of all Hollywood studio movies, a perfect blend of studio system efficiency that still allowed for personal creativity. It has more quotable…
Starring: Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar, Henrik Dahl, Karin Bergquist

Let the Right One In

In Brief: What a relief — and what a delight — it is to be able to praise a horror film without a string of qualifiers and excuses! Sure, there’ve been a handful of horror pictures in the past few years that deserved a look, but all required caveats about how this or that or the…
Starring: Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray, Glenda Farrell, Frank McHugh, Allen Vincent, Arthur Edmund Carewe

Mystery of the Wax Museum

In Brief: Michael Curtiz returned to the horror genre with Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933), which was only natural since the previous year's Doctor X  had been the film that had put the horror genre on the map at Warner Bros. Again, Curtiz was working in two-strip Technicolor, with the same stars — Lionel…
Starring: Léa Seydoux, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Salim Kechiouche, Aurélien Recoing, Catherine Salée

Blue is the Warmest Color

In Brief: Make no mistake, the four-star rating given to Blue Is the Warmest Color is both guarded and calculated. I can see that this is a film of some merit and that it’s seriously intended. Technically, it is well-made and Léa Seydoux (the girl Owen Wilson ended up with in Midnight in Paris) is very…
Starring: Peter Lorre, Otto Wernicke, Theodor Loos, Ellen Widmann


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…
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Jason Flemyng, Greta Scacchi, Colm Feore, Jean-Luc Bideau

The Red Violin

In Brief: The so-called portmanteau film — a collection of stories in a single vessel — is by its very nature a tricky proposition. Even the best of them — Julien Duvivier’s Tales of Manhattan (1942), the multidirector Dead of Night (1945) — rise and fall on the quality of the individual episodes. Duvivier’s film, for…
Starring: Gabriele Ferzetti, Monica Vitti, Lea Massari, Dominique Blanchar


In Brief: When this ran in 2007, I wrote: “The four-star rating I’ve afforded Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’Avventura (1960) is born of a desire to approach the film as objectively as possible. Objectively, this is an important film — maybe even close to a great film. The rich, detailed, deep-focus black-and-white images that make up the…