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Starring: Jacqueline Bisset, Valentina Cortese, Dani, Alexandra Stewart, Jean-Pierre Aumont, François Truffaut

Day for Night

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In Brief: In Brief: François Truffaut’s Day for Night (1973) is not only a great movie about movies, but it’s fascinating as an example of how international cinema truly is. By this I mean that while we think of foreign film as a separate world, Day for Night is clearly the kind of movie that could…
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Starring: Judy Davis, Sam Neill, Wendy Hughes, Robert Grubb, Max Cullen

My Brilliant Career

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In Brief: The 1970s — especially the latter half — seemed to be the time when the world at large was shocked to discover that Australia made movies, too. This was in large part due to two very different filmmakers, Peter Weir and George Miller, but the interest they generated also led to films like this…
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Starring: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Gael Garcia Bernal, Kôji Yakusho, Adriana Barraza

Babel

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In Brief: Alejandro González Iñárritu and his writing partner Guillermo Arriaga made their bid to move into the mainstream with Babel (2006), a film that was nothing if not ambitious. Taking their standard approach of multiple stories that ultimately connect to create a larger picture, they moved a step further by making the stories global…
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Starring: Victor Sjöström, Ingrid Thulin, Bibi Anderson, Gunnar Björnstrand, Jullan Kindahl

Wild Strawberries

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In Brief: Ingmar Bergman was just 40 when he made Wild Strawberries, but he shows much of himself in the character of 78-year-old Isak Borg (Victor Sjöström). The very fact that he cast filmmaker Sjöström — a pioneer in Swedish film who had an impressive career in Hollywood silent film as Victor Seastrom — is telling,…
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Starring: Edward G. Robinson, Loretta Young, Orson Welles, Philip Merivale, Richard Long

The Stranger

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In Brief: Orson Welles' most financially successful (and therefore least admired) film, The Stranger is a fairly straightforward suspense thriller — but it's a suspense thriller that only Welles could make. Its hero is a Nazi hunter (Edward G. Robinson) who's obsessed to the point of being a little unbalanced. Its villain is an unregenerate…
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Starring: Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy, Gene Lockhart, Ernest Truex, John Qualen

His Girl Friday

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In Brief: If you’ve never seen His Girl Friday (1940), this is definitely one of the greats from the “golden age” of movies — and it’s a film that still holds the record for the fastest dialogue in the history of movies. That crackling, witty banter is delivered by people who know exactly how to do…
MOULIN ROUGE (1952)
Starring: José Ferrer, Colette Marchand, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Suzanne Flon, Claude Nollier

Moulin Rouge

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In Brief: No, this isn’t the Baz Luhrmann musical (you’ll note the title lacks the exclamation point — and rightly so). This is John Huston’s colorful, but largely stock 1952 biopic on Toulouse-Lautrec (José Ferrer — performing a good deal of the film on his knees). Huston’s big interest seems to have been in creating a…
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Starring: Adolphe Menjou, Pat O'Brien, Mary Brian, Edward Everett Horton, Walter Catlett, Mae Clarke

The Front Page

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In Brief: Fresh from All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), Lewis Milestone tackled the job of bringing Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur's 1928 Broadway hit newspaper comedy The Front Page to the screen. Nothing could be more different. All Quiet had been naturally cinematic, but The Front Page was set mostly — in the…
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Starring: Juliette Binoche, Lena Olin, Johnny Depp, Judi Dench, Alfred Molina, Leslie Caron

Chocolat

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In Brief: In Chocolat (2001), Lasse Hallström walks a fine line with material that could easily have slipped into the realm of the too precious, but it never falters as it tells a predictable story of a woman (Juliette Binoche) and her daughter (Victoire Thivisol) who come to a small French town in 1959 and…
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Starring: David Carradine, Liv Ullman, Gert Frobe, Heinz Bennett, James Whitmore

The Serpent’s Egg

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In Brief: The most critically damned of all Ingmar Bergman films, the legendary director’s only English-language work is by now ripe for rediscovery and reappraisal as an intensely personal work unlike anything else in his filmography. The Serpent’s Egg is nothing if not peculiar. For his vision of Germany, Bergman seems more reliant on Sternberg’s The Blue…
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Starring: Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz, Rufus, Lorella Cravotta, Serge Merlin

Amélie

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In Brief: Returning to France after the mixed blessing of helming a big-budget Hollywood film, Alien Resurrection, Jean-Pierre Jeunet disproves Thomas Wolfe’s adage that you can’t go home again. Not only did he go home, but once there he made his best film yet: the utterly captivating Amélie (Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain), an instant classic…
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Starring: Mae West, Cary Grant

She Done Him Wrong

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In Brief: She Done Him Wrong is the stuff of legend. It’s the film where Mae West scandalized the world by singing “I Wonder Where My Easy Rider’s Gone” and put her stamp on “Frankie and Johnny” (even if she doesn’t get to sing the whole thing). It’s the film where she brought Paramount contract player Cary…
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Starring: Sergi Lopez, Ivana Baquero, Ariadna Gil, Maribel Verdu, Doug Jones

Pan’s Labyrinth

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In Brief: Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) is one of the most remarkable films of the 21st century — something I was not prepared for when I first saw it. Even while recognizing del Toro’s talent in his previous films (sometimes more obvious than other times), there was little in his work to prepare…
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Starring: José van Dam, Anne Roussel, Philippe Volter, Sylvie Fennec, Patrick Bauchau

The Music Teacher

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In Brief: As impossible as it is not to get the feeling that this nice looking Belgian film was written in an effort to showcase the music it contains, it’s equally impossible not to become at least a little swept up in its decidedly “feel good” story about old musical rivals squaring off through their protégés…
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Starring: Joan Blondell, Warren William, Aline MacMahon, Dick Powell, Ruby Keeler, Guy Kibbee

Gold Diggers of 1933

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In Brief: For the follow-up to the wildly successful 42nd Street, Warner Bros. dusted off the basics of one of their first musical successes, the now mostly lost Gold Diggers of Broadway (1929), and gave it a new Depression-era story—along with new songs by Harry Warren and Al Dubin and, of course, four Busby Berkeley production…
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Starring: Alec Guinness, Kay Walsh, Beatrice Campbell, Coco Aslan, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Ernest Thesiger

Last Holiday

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In Brief: Alec Guinness' first star vehicle finds him playing an unassuming salesman of agricultural equipment who is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Emptying his bank account — and decked out in exquisitely tailored secondhand clothes — he heads off to a posh resort hotel to enjoy the "high life" before he dies. To his…
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Starring: Catherine Deneuve, Jean Sorel, Michel Piccoli, Genevieve Page, Pierre Clementi

Belle de Jour

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In Brief: That most playful of surrealists Luis Buñuel had one of his greatest successes with his 1967 essay in erotica Belle de Jour — in part, I suspect, because it is one of his least overtly surreal works (which may make it all the more surreal). But more, it was — and is — promoted…
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Starring: Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson, Laura Dern, Trevor Morgan, Ellary Potterfield

The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio

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In Brief: One of the more perplexing mysteries of modern studio practices is just why Dreamworks Pictures abandoned The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio, a 2005 release that played on a mere handful of screens to mixed (though often glowing) reviews. It boasted a box-office draw in both star Julianne Moore and its popular literary source…
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Starring: Joseph Cotten, Valli, Orson Welles, Trevor Howard, Bernard Lee, Wilfrid Hyde White

The Third Man

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In Brief: Carol Reed's The Third Man (1949) is  that rarest of movies in that it’s a filmmaker favorite (I’ve yet to meet the director who didn’t treasure it), a film buff’s delight and immediately accessible to the more casual moviegoer all at once. Why? Because it works on so many levels simultaneously and is positively breathless in…
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Starring: Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Grace Kelly, Celeste Holm, Louis Armstrong, John Lund

High Society

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In Brief: No, this musical version of The Philadelphia Story is not a great film by any means. Charles Walters' direction is at best workmanlike, at worst pedestrian. It has the air of canned theater in many scenes, along with that typical 1950s overlit look of most MGM musicals. But it does combine the talents…
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Starring: Karl Malden, James Franciscus, Catherine Spaak, Pier Paolo Capponi

The Cat o’ Nine Tails

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In Brief: An early Dario Argento film (his second), The Cat o' Nine Tails (1971) is more mystery than outright horror — and its PG (originally GP) rating should clue you in on the fact that it doesn't really qualify as a giallo. In fact, it's closer to a German krimi than anything. But that…