"At a time when movies think they have to choose between action and ideas, Steven Spielberg's "Minority Report" is a triumph--a film that works on our minds and our emotions. It is a thriller and a human story, a movie of ideas that's also a whodunit. Here is a master filmmaker at the top of his form, working with a star, Tom Cruise, who generates complex human feelings even while playing an action hero." RogerEbert.com Link: Minority Report (2002) - Buy/Rent Watch online
"Jamie Foxx suggests the complexities of Ray Charles in a great, exuberant performance. He doesn't do the singing -- that's all Ray Charles on the soundtrack -- but what would be the point? Ray Charles was deeply involved in the project for years, until his death in June, and the film had access to his recordings, so of course it should use them, because nobody else could sing like Ray Charles. What Foxx gets just right is the physical Ray Charles, and what an extrovert he was. Not for Ray the hesitant blind man of cliche feeling his way, afraid of the wrong step. In the movie and in life, he was adamantly present in body as well as spirit, filling a room, physically dominant, interlaced with other people. Yes, he was eccentric in his mannerisms, especially at the keyboard; I can imagine a performance in which Ray Charles would come across like a manic clown. But Foxx correctly interprets the musician's body language as a kind of choreography, in which he was conducting his music with himself, instead of with a baton. Foxx so accurately reflects my own images and memories of Charles that I abandoned thoughts of how much "like" Charles he was and just accepted him as Charles, and got on with the story." ~ RogerEbert.com Link: Ray (2004) - Buy/Rent Watch online
"Bill Murray's acting in Sofia Coppola's "Lost in Translation" is surely one of the most exquisitely controlled performances in recent movies. Without it, the film could be unwatchable. With it, I can't take my eyes away. Not for a second, not for a frame, does his focus relax, and yet it seems effortless. It's sometimes said of an actor that we can't see him acting. I can't even see him not acting. He seems to be existing, merely existing, in the situation created for him by Sofia Coppola." ~ RogerEbert.com Link: Lost in Translation (2003) - Buy/Rent Watch online
" Yes, Paul Newman is a blue-eyed Indian in Hombre, but this apparent ethnic error is carefully justified in the body of the story. Newman plays a white man who was raised by the Apaches, and ever since has straddled two worlds, feeling truly comfortable in neither. While riding a stagecoach, Newman is subject to the racial bias of banker Fredric March and his snooty wife Barbara Rush. In truth, March is an embezzler, and has no reason to feel superior to anyone. This fact comes out when the coach is held up by murderous bandit-chief Richard Boone. When the passengers fight back, Boone takes Rush as a hostage. Newman, who by rights should be supremely satisfied that his tormentors are themselves tormented, proves himself the bravest of the passengers, sacrificing his own life to save Rush and put an end to Boone's reign of terror. Hombre is based on a novel by suspense specialist Elmore Leonard. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi" ~ - RottenTomatoes.com Link: Hombre (1967) - Buy/Rent Watch online
"A blend of science fiction and noir detective fiction, Blade Runner (1982) was a box office and critical bust upon its initial exhibition, but its unique postmodern production design became hugely influential within the sci-fi genre, and the film gained a significant cult following that increased its stature. Harrison Ford stars as Rick Deckard, a retired cop in Los Angeles circa 2019. L.A. has become a pan-cultural dystopia of corporate advertising, pollution and flying automobiles, as well as replicants, human-like androids with short life spans built by the Tyrell Corporation for use in dangerous off-world colonization. Deckard's former job in the police department was as a talented blade runner, a euphemism for detectives that hunt down and assassinate rogue replicants." ~ RottenTomatoes.com Link: Blade Runner (1982) - Buy/Rent Watch online
"The movie's circular, self-referential structure is famous; the restaurant hold-up with Pumpkin and Honey Bunny (Tim Roth and Amanda Plummer) begins and ends the film, and other story lines weave in and out of strict chronology. But there is a chronology in the dialogue, in the sense that what is said before invariably sets up or enriches what comes after. The dialogue is proof that Tarantino had the time-juggling in mind from the very beginning, because there's never a glitch; the scenes do not follow in chronological order, but the dialogue always knows exactly where it falls in the movie." ~ RogerEbert.com Link: Pulp Fiction (1994) - Buy/Rent Watch online
"Though Rudyard Kipling's poem Gunga Din makes a swell recital piece, it cannot be said to have much of a plot. It's simply a crude cockney soldier's tribute to a native Indian water boy who remains at his job even after being mortally wounded. Hardly the sort of material upon which to build 118 minutes' worth of screen time-at least, it wasn't until RKO producer Pandro S. Berman decided to convert Gunga Din into an A-budgeted feature film. Now it became the tale of three eternally brawling British sergeants stationed in colonial India: Cutter (Cary Grant), McChesney (Victor McLaglen) and Ballantine (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.). " ~ RottenTomatoes.com Link: Gunga Din (1939) - Buy/Rent Watch online
"The Princess Bride" begins as a story that a grandfather is reading out of a book. But already the movie has a spin on it, because the grandfather is played by Peter Falk, and in the distinctive quality of his voice we detect a certain edge. His voice seems to contain a measure of cynicism about fairy stories, a certain awareness that there are a lot more things on heaven and Earth than have been dreamed of by the Brothers Grimm." ~ RogerEbert.com Link: The Princess Bride (1987) - Buy/Rent Watch online
"It wasn't a message that stirred the audiences, nor was it a great performance...they were aroused by pure film."
"So Alfred Hitchcock told Francois Truffaut about "Psycho," adding that it "belongs to filmmakers, to you and me." Hitchcock deliberately wanted "Psycho" to look like a cheap exploitation film. He shot it not with his usual expensive feature crew (which had just finished "North by Northwest") but with the crew he used for his television show. He filmed in black and white. Long passages contained no dialogue. His budget, $800,000, was cheap even by 1960 standards; the Bates Motel and mansion were built on the back lot at Universal. In its visceral feel, "Psycho" has more in common with noir quickies like "Detour" than with elegant Hitchcock thrillers like "Rear Window" or "Vertigo." ~ RogerEbert.com Link: Psycho (1960) - Buy/Rent Watch online
"This is perhaps the best of the many Zorro films as Tyrone Power gives an outstanding performance as the alternately swishing and swashbuckling son of a 19th century California aristocrat. As a champion of the oppressed, Zorro must face a wicked governor portrayed by J. Edward Bromberg, who, of course, has a beautiful niece whom our hero loves. Basil Rathbone is a delightfully evil assistant to the governor. Based on Johnston McCulley's novel The Curse of Capistrano, The Mark of Zorro was a remake of the 1920 silent film and by far superior to all the Zorro incarnations. Interspersed with humor and one-liners but still keeping up with the highest of swashbuckling traditions, it is an action-packed story of one man standing against a corrupt, oppressive government on behalf of those less able to bear their burdens. ~ Tana Hobart, Rovi" ~ Rotten Tomatoes Link: The Mark of Zorro (1940) - DVD
"John Van Druten's stage comedy Bell Book and Candle starred Rex Harrison and Lilli Palmer on Broadway. The 1958 filmed version stars James Stewart and Kim Novak, fresh from their successful teaming in Hitchcock's Vertigo. Novak plays Gillian Holroyd, a genuine, bonafide witch. Falling in love with publisher Sheperd Henderson (Stewart), Gillian casts a spell on him, obliging him to dump his fiancee and rush to her side." ~ Rotten Tomatoes review excerpt Link: Bell, Book and Candle (1958) - DVD
"Arthur Penn's "Little Big Man" is an endlessly entertaining attempt to spin an epic in the form of a yarn. It mostly works. When it doesn't -- when there's a failure of tone or an overdrawn caricature -- it regroups cheerfully and plunges ahead. We're disposed to go along; all good storytellers tell stretchers once in a while, and circle back to be sure we got the good parts. It is the very folksiness of Penn's film that makes it, finally, such a perceptive and important statement about Indians, the West, and the American dream. There's no stridency, no preaching, no deep-voiced narrators making sure we got the point of the last massacre. All the events happened long, long ago, and they're related by a 121-year-old man who just wants to pass the story along." ~ RogerEbert.com Link: Little Big Man (1970) - Buy
"Francis Ford Coppola's film "Apocalypse Now" was inspired by Heart of Darkness, a novel by Joseph Conrad about a European named Kurtz who penetrated to the farthest reaches of the Congo and established himself like a god. A boat sets out to find him, and on the journey the narrator gradually loses confidence in orderly civilization; he is oppressed by the great weight of the jungle all around him, a pitiless Darwinian testing ground in which each living thing tries every day not to be eaten.."
~ RogerEbert.com >
"I've never met anyone like Forrest Gump in a movie before, and for that matter I've never seen a movie quite like "Forrest Gump." Any attempt to describe him will risk making the movie seem more conventional than it is, but let me try. It's a comedy, I guess. Or maybe a drama. Or a dream. The screenplay by Eric Roth has the complexity of modern fiction, not the formulas of modern movies. Its hero, played by Tom Hanks, is a thoroughly decent man with an IQ of 75, who manages between the 1950s and the 1980s to become involved in every major event in American history. And he survives them all with only honesty and niceness as his shields." ~ RogerEbert.com Link: Forrest Gump (1994) - Buy/Rent Watch online
""One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" - "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (1975) is on every list of favorite films. It was the first film since "It Happened One Night" (1934) to win all five of the top Academy Awards, for best picture, actor (Nicholson), actress (Louise Fletcher), director (Milos Forman) and screenplay (Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman). It could for that matter have won, too, for cinematography (Haskell Wexler) and editing (Richard Chew). I was present at its world premiere, at the 1975 Chicago Film Festival, in the 3,000-seat Uptown Theatre, and have never heard a more tumultuous reception for a film (no, not even during "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial" at Cannes). After the screening, the young first-time co-producer, Michael Douglas, wandered the lobby in a daze." ~ RogerEbert.com Link: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1976) - Buy/Rent Watch online
"Robert Redford stars in this gritty, documentary-like tale of an idealistic, good-natured attorney whose high standards are soiled by his run for political office. Having seen all the dirt in politics as a young man -- his father (Melvyn Douglas) was once governor of California -- Redford's Bill McKay has no interest in getting into the game himself. But a political operative named Luck (Peter Boyle) taps McKay to run against the seemingly undefeatable Senator Crocker Jarmon (Don Porter), a classic gasbag. McKay reluctantly agrees, but only if his father is not involved and he is allowed to say exactly what he wants, free of political or party constraints. As his candor causes his popularity to rise, the stakes become greater for McKay and the pressure to sell out grows. Jeremy Larner's adapted screenplay won an Academy Award and Redford delivers one of his best performances in a movie that, when viewed in the age of soundbite-and-poll-driven politicians, seems more timely than ever."
~ Rotten Tomatoes Link: The Candidate (1972) - Buy online
"Kungfu movies crept into the American market almost backward, with producers named Run Run Shaw and budgets around $19.95. But now, here's the first American version of Japan's favorite genre, the yakuza movie, and it's a handsome expensive production with a great performance by Robert Mitchum and a scary one by Ken Takakura, Japan's box office champion."
Link: Yakuza (1975) - Buy online
"Dark City" by Alex Proyas resembles its great silent predecessor "Metropolis" in asking what it is that makes us human, and why it cannot be changed by decree. Both films are about false worlds created to fabricate ideal societies, and in both the machinery of the rulers is destroyed by the hearts of the ruled. Both are parables in which a dangerous weapon attacks the order of things: a free human who can see what really is, and question it. "Dark City" contains a threat more terrible than any of the horrors in "Metropolis," because the rulers of the city can control the memories of its citizens; if we are the sum of all that has happened to us, then what are we when nothing has happened to us? ~ RogerEbert.com Link: Dark City (1998) - Buy/Rent Watch online
"The spirit of love is back, and she's working in retail in this bubbly romantic musical comedy. Eddie Hatch (Robert Walker) is a window dresser at a large department store; he's become especially fond of one of his mannequins who looks like the sort of girl he'd like to meet, and one night he impulsively gives the dummy a kiss. To his tremendous surprise, the mannequin comes to life, and it turns out to be inhabited by the spirit of Venus, the Goddess of Love (Ava Gardner). Suddenly, romance is in the air as Eddie's fellow employees throw caution to the wind and finally express their infatuations with their co-workers; however, Eddie is too intimidated to follow through on his feelings for Venus, even though she'll only be in human form for 24 hours." ~ RottenTomatoes.com Link: One Touch Of Venus (1948) - Buy/Rent Watch online
Shakespeare in Love is a 1998 British romantic comedy-drama film directed by John Madden, written by Marc Norman and playwright Tom Stoppard. The film depicts a love affair involving Viola de Lesseps (Gwyneth Paltrow) and playwright William Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) while he was writing the play Romeo and Juliet. The story is fiction, though several of the characters are based on real people. In addition, many of the characters, lines, and plot devices are references to Shakespeare's plays. Link: Shakespeare In Love (1998) - Buy/Rent Watch online
"John Ford's "The Searchers" contains scenes of magnificence, and one of John Wayne's best performances. There are shots that are astonishingly beautiful. A cover story in New York magazine called it the most influential movie in American history. And yet at its center is a difficult question, because the Wayne character is racist without apology--and so, in a less outspoken way, are the other white characters. Is the film intended to endorse their attitudes, or to dramatize and regret them? Today we see it through enlightened eyes, but in 1956 many audiences accepted its harsh view of Indians." ~ RogerEbert.com Link: The Searchers (1956) - Buy/Rent Watch online
"Frankenstein quickly returns to Transylvania and the old ancestral castle, where he is awaited by the faithful houseboy Igor, the voluptuous lab assistant Inga, and the mysterious housekeeper Frau Blucher, whose very name causes horses to rear in fright. The young man had always rejected his grandfather’s medical experiments as impossible, but he changes his mind after he discovers a book entitled How I Did It by Victor Frankenstein. Now all that’s involved is a little grave-robbing and a trip to the handy local Brain Depository, and the Frankenstein family is back in business." ~ RogerEbert.com Link: Young Frankenstein (1974) - DVD
"Earth is under attack in the chilling Cold War classic "The War of the Worlds" (1953). In one of the greatest science fiction films of all time, invaders from another world target a small California town with autonomous probes and laser disintegration rays. A terrifying vision of an America under siege based on the novel by H.G. Wells starring Gene Barry, Ann Robinson and Les Tremayne and featuring Academy Award-winning special effects. " ~ RottenTomatoes.com Link: The War of the Worlds (1953) - DVD
"The film has become so linked with the Kennedy assassination that a legend has grown up around it. Frank Sinatra, the film's star, purchased the rights and kept it out of release from 1964 until 1988, and the story goes that he was inspired by remorse after Kennedy's death. In fact, the director John Frankenheimer told me, Sinatra had a dispute with United Artists about the profits, and decided it would earn no money for the studio or anyone else. The DVD includes a conversation by Sinatra, Frankenheimer and writer George Axelrod, taped when the movie was finally re-released. Sinatra says it was the high point of his acting career; nobody mentions why it was unseen for 24 years." RogerEbert.com Link: Manchurian Candidate (1962) - View online - NETFLIX
"For its time, The Sun Also Rises was a reasonably frank and faithful adaptation of the 1926 Ernest Hemingway novel. Its main concession to Hollywood formula was the casting of star players who were all too old to convincingly portray Hemingway's "Lost Generation" protagonists. Tyrone Power heads the cast as American news correspondent Jake Barnes, who, after incurring a injury in WW I that has rendered him impotent, relocates to Paris to escape his troubles. Barnes links up with several other lost souls, including the nymphomaniacal Lady Brett Ashley (Ava Gardner), irresponsible drunkard Mike Campbell (Errol Flynn) and perennial hangers-on Robert Cohn (Mel Ferrer) and Bill Gorton (Eddie Albert)." ~ RottenTomatoes.com Link: The Sun Also Rises (1957) - DVD
"In 1964, with the Cuban Missile Crisis fresh in viewers' minds, the Cold War at its frostiest, and the hydrogen bomb relatively new and frightening, Stanley Kubrick dared to make a film about what could happen if the wrong person pushed the wrong button -- and played the situation for laughs. Dr. Strangelove's jet-black satire (from a script by director Stanley Kubrick, Peter George, and Terry Southern) and a host of superb comic performances (including three from Peter Sellers) have kept the film fresh and entertaining, even as its issues have become (slightly) less timely." ~ RottenTomatoes.com Link: Dr. Stangelove (1964) - Buy/Rent Watch online
"Although one of the characters in "Interview with the Vampire" begs to be transformed into a vampire, and eagerly awaits the doom of immortality, the movie never makes vampirism look like anything but an endless sadness. That is its greatest strength. Vampires throughout movie history have often chortled as if they'd gotten away with something. But the first great vampire movie, "Nosferatu" (1922), knew better, and so does this one." RogerEbert.com Link: Interview With the Vampire (1994) - Buy/Rent Watch online
"He rides onscreen in The Shootist afraid that he is dying. Not afraid he'll be killed, but afraid he's dying, which is the last thing we anticipated a John Wayne character would do of his own accord. It is 1901: He has outlived his century. A sawbones in the next state has given him the bad news and now he wants to hear it from the lips of Doc Hostetler, who nursed him back to health after a violent afternoon twenty years ago. And so he rides, the Shootist, into a Carson City to which the Old West has become an embarrassment. The streets are still wide enough to turn a mule train in, but now an abashed little horse trolley runs down the middle of them, and electricity's going to put the horse out of business next year."
~ RogerEbert.com Link: The Shootist (1976) - Buy/Rent Watch online
"Adapted by James Agee from a novel by Davis Grubb, The Night of the Hunter represented legendary actor Charles Laughton's only film directing effort. Combining stark realism with Germanic expressionism, the movie is a brilliant good-and-evil parable, with "good" represented by a couple of farm kids and a pious old lady, and "evil" literally in the hands of a posturing psychopath. Imprisoned with thief Ben Harper (Peter Graves), phony preacher Harry Powell (Robert Mitchum) learns that Ben has hidden a huge sum of money somewhere near his home. Upon his release, the murderously misogynistic Powell insinuates himself into Ben's home, eventually marrying his widow Willa (Shelley Winters)."
~ RottenTomatoes.com Link: The Night of the Hunter (1955) - Buy/Rent Watch online
"CATCH-22 is a 1970 satirical comedy-drama war film adapted from the novel of the same name by Joseph Heller. In creating a black comedy revolving around the "lunatic characters" of Heller's satirical anti-war novel set at a fictional World War II Mediterranean base, director Mike Nichols and screenwriter Buck Henry (also in the cast) worked on the film script for two years, converting Heller's complex novel to the medium of film."
~ Wikipedia Link: CATCH-22 (1970) - Buy/Rent Watch online
""Marathon Man" is almost all people and predicaments -- or, more exactly, one person and his unending series of predicaments. We meet him during his ritual morning long-distance run: A graduate student named Babe (Dustin Hoffman) who has all sorts of frustrations bottled up inside. Babe's brother (Roy Scheider) works for the government, for some sort of shadowy agency that handles the dirty jobs the CIA and the FBI won't touch. (Isn't it a touching fantasy that there ARE jobs like that?) One day he gets killed. A man claiming to be one of the brother's fellow operatives comes to Babe and says he needs help in setting a trap. And before Babe quite knows what happens, he's involved in an intrigue so labyrinthine that neither he nor the movie ever quite figures it out. "
~ RogerEbert.com Link: Marathon Man (1976) - Buy/Rent Watch online
"After two previous film versions of Dashiell Hammett's detective classic The Maltese Falcon, Warner Bros. finally got it right in 1941--or, rather, John Huston, a long-established screenwriter making his directorial debut, got it right, simply by adhering as closely as possible to the original. Taking over from a recalcitrant George Raft, Humphrey Bogart achieved true stardom as Sam Spade, a hard-boiled San Francisco private eye who can be as unscrupulous as the next guy but also adheres to his own personal code of honor. "
~ RottenTomatoes.com Link: The Maltese Falcon (1941) - Buy/Rent Watch online
"October 11, 1939 | 12:00AM PT - "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" is typically Capra, punchy, human and absorbing-a drama that combines timeliness with current topical interest and a patriotic flavor blended masterfully into the composite whole to provide one of the finest and consistently interesting dramas of the season. Picture is a cinch for top grosses in the key runs, with holdovers the rule rather than exception. It's meaty and attention arresting for the subsequent run houses, and a topflight attraction for general audiences." ~ Variety.com Link: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) - Buy/Rent Watch online
"To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) was directed by Robert Mulligan. The screenplay by Horton Foote was based on the 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name by Harper Lee. It stars Gregory Peck and Mary Badham. Running time: 129 minutes. A Pulitzer Prize winner when it was published in 1960, Harper Lee's first book, To Kill a Mockingbird, went on to sell more than 30 million copies. Yet most Hollywood studios weren't interested in bringing Lee's story of racial intolerance in the Deep South to the big screen. According to Robert Mulligan, who directed the film for Universal, "the other studios didn't want it because what's it about? It's about a middle-aged lawyer with two kids. There's no romance, no violence (except off-screen). There's no action. What is there? Where's the story?" ~ telegraph.co.uk Link: To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) - Buy/Rent Watch online
The Accidental Tourist (1988) - "Yes, that is my son," the man says, identifying the body in the intensive care unit. Grief threatens to break his face into pieces, and then something closes shut inside of him. He has always had a very controlled nature, fearful of emotion and revelation, but now a true ice age begins, and after a year his wife tells him she wants a divorce. It is because he cannot seem to feel anything. "The Accidental Tourist" begins on that note of emotional sterility, and the whole movie is a journey toward a smile at the end." ~ RogerEbert.com Link: The Accidental Tourist (1988) - View online - Amazon
"Strange, how Howard Beale, "the mad prophet of the airwaves," dominates our memories of "Network." We remember him in his soaking-wet raincoat, hair plastered to his forehead, shouting, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore." The phrase has entered into the language. But Beale (Peter Finch) is the movie's sideshow. The story centers on Diana Christiansen (Faye Dunaway), the ratings-hungry programming executive who is prepared to do anything for better numbers. The mirror to which she plays is Max Schumacher (William Holden), the middle-age news executive who becomes Diana's victim and lover, in that order.." ~ ~ RogerEbert.com Link: Network (1976) - Buy/Rent Watch online
"At a time when movies think they have to choose between action and ideas, Steven Spielberg's "Minority Report" is a triumph--a film that works on our minds and our emotions. It is a thriller and a human story, a movie of ideas that's also a whodunit. Here is a master filmmaker at the top of his form, working with a star, Tom Cruise, who generates complex human feelings even while playing an action hero." RogerEbert.com Link: Minority Report (2002) - Buy/Rent Watch online
"The movie works like a strong and fundamental fable, sort of a "Christmas Carol" in reverse: Instead of a mean old man being shown scenes of happiness, we have a hero who plunges into despair. The hero, of course, is George Bailey (Stewart), a man who never quite makes it out of his quiet birthplace of Bedford Falls. As a young man he dreams of shaking the dust from his shoes and traveling to far-off lands, but one thing and then another keeps him at home -- especially his responsibility to the family savings and loan association, which is the only thing standing between Bedford Falls and the greed of Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore), the avaricious local banker."
~ RottenTomatoes.com Link: It's A Wonderful Life (1946) - Buy online
"The movie is based on the memoirs of Jean Shepherd, the humorist whose radio programs and books remembered growing up in Indiana in the 1940s. It is Shepherd's voice on the soundtrack, remembering one Christmas season in particular, and the young hero's passionate desire to get a Daisy Red Ryder 200-shot Carbine Action BB Gun for Christmas--the one with the compass in the stock, "as cool and deadly a piece of weaponry as I had ever laid eyes on.""
~ RogerEbert.com Link: The Christmas Story (1983) - Buy/Rent Watch online
"The claws draw blood in "Notes on a Scandal," a misanthropic game of cat and mouse from which no one emerges unscathed, including saps like us who think we’re watching a film about other people. Based on the novel "What Was She Thinking?: Notes on a Scandal" by the British writer Zoë Heller, the film stars Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett as colleagues nearly undone by desire. Ms. Dench plays Barbara, an unmarried teacher with a dedicated fondness for vulnerable women of the sort personified by Ms. Blanchett’s Sheba, a married art teacher who has just joined her secondary school. Barbara wants Sheba, but what Sheba likes, wants and eventually gets is a 15-year-old boy with a downy chin and knowing smile." ~ nytimes.com Link: Notes On A Scandal (2006) - Buy/Rent Watch online
"Set in Rio de Janeiro during Carnival Black Orpheus (Orfeu Negro) is filled with vibrant colors and a pounding calypso drum beat. This French written and directed, Portuguese language, modern day retelling of the classic Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice won both the Palme d'Or at Cannes and the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 1959. Black Orpheus takes you inside the culture of the Brazilian underclass. It is frenetically energized and features vividly drawn and dynamic characters." ~ ThreeMovieBuffs.com Link: Black Orpheus (1959) - Buy/Rent Watch online
"Almost the first thing the samurai sees when he arrives is a dog trotting down the main street with a human hand in its mouth. The town seems deserted until a nervous little busybody darts out and offers to act as an employment service: He'll get the samurai a job as a yojimbo -- a bodyguard. The samurai, a large, dusty man with indifference bordering on insolence, listens and does not commit. He wants sake and something to eat. So opens "Yojimbo" (1961), Akira Kurosawa's most popular film in Japan. He was deliberately combining the samurai story with the Western, so that the wind-swept main street could be in any frontier town, the samurai (Toshiro Mifune) could be a gunslinger, and the local characters could have been lifted from John Ford's gallery of supporting actors." ~ RogerEbert.com Link: Yojimbo (1961) - Buy/Rent Watch online
"They have reached a truce which they call happiness. When we first meet them, they’re being interviewed for some sort of newspaper article, and they agree that after ten years of marriage, they’re a truly happy couple. The husband, Johan, is most sure: He is successful in his work, in love with his wife, the father of two daughters, liked by his friends, considered on all sides to be a decent chap. His wife, Marianne, listens more tentatively. When it is her turn, she says she is happy, too, although in her work she would like to move in the direction of--but then she’s interrupted for a photograph. We are never quite sure what she might have said, had she been allowed to speak as long as her husband. And, truth to tell, he doesn’t seem to care much himself. Although theirs is, of course, a perfect marriage." ~ RogerEbert.com Link: Scenes from a Marriage (1974) - DVD
"Ingmar Bergman is balancing his accounts and closing out his books. The great director is 85 years old, and announced in 1982 that "Fanny and Alexander" would be his last film. So it was, but he continued to work on the stage and for television, and then he wrote the screenplay for Liv Ullmann's film "Faithless" (2000). Now comes his absolutely last work, "Saraband," powerfully, painfully honest." ~ RogerEbert.com Link: Saraband (2005) - Buy Online
"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" is a compelling thriller to begin with, but it adds the rare quality of having a heroine more fascinating than the story. She's a 24-year-old goth girl named Lisbeth Salander, with body piercings and tattoos: thin, small, fierce, damaged, a genius computer hacker. She smokes to quiet her racing heart. Lisbeth is as compelling as any movie character in recent memory. Played by Noomi Rapace with an unwavering intensity, she finds her own emotional needs nurtured by the nature of the case she investigates, the disappearance of a young girl 40 years earlier. As this case is revealed as part of a long-hidden pattern of bizarre violence against women, memories of her own abused past return with a vengeance." ~ RogerEbert.com Link: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2010) - Buy/Rent Watch online
"The best martial arts movies have nothing to do with fighting and everything to do with personal excellence. Their heroes transcend space, gravity, the limitations of the body and the fears of the mind. In a fight scene in a Western movie, it is assumed the fighters hate each other. In a martial arts movie, it's more as if the fighters are joining in a celebration of their powers." ~ RogerEbert.com Link: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) - Buy/Rent Watch online
The epic saga of Zatoichi begins. As tensions mount between rival yakuza clans, one boss hires a formidable but ailing ronin as his clan's muscle--while the other employs a humble, moral blind masseur named Ichi. With its lightning-fast swordplay, sleight-of-hand dice games, and codes of honor upheld and betrayed, this first chapter sets the stage for all the Zatoichi adventures to come. Link: Tale of Zatoichi (1961) - Buy/Rent Watch online
Tatsuya Nakadai and Toshiro Mifune star in the story of a wandering samurai who exists in a maelstrom of violence. A gifted swordsman--plying his trade during the turbulent final days of Shogunate rule--Ryunosuke (Nakadai) kills without remorse, without mercy. It is a way of life that ultimately leads to madness.
Link: Sword of Doom (1965) - Buy/Rent Watch online
"The opening shots inform us with authority that "DIVA" is the work of a director with an enormous gift for creating visual images. We meet a young Parisian mailman. His job is to deliver special-delivery letters on his motor scooter. His passion is opera, and, as "DIVA" opens, he is secretly tape-recording a live performance by an American soprano. The camera sees this action in two ways. First, with camera movements that seem as lyrical as the operatic performance. Second, with almost surreptitious observations of the electronic eavesdropper at work. " RogerEbert.com Link: Diva (1981) - Buy/Rent Watch online
"Michael Haneke's "The Piano Teacher," which won three awards at Cannes 2001 (best actress, actor and film), she plays a bold woman with a secret wound. She is Erika Kohut, 40ish, a respected instructor at a conservatory of music in Vienna. Demanding, severe, distant, unsmiling, she leads a secret life of self-mutilation. That she sleeps in the same bed with her domineering mother is no doubt a clue--but to what? Erika is fascinated with the sexual weaknesses and tastes of men. There is a scene where she visits a porn shop in Vienna, creating an uncomfortable tension by her very presence. The male clients are presumably there to indulge their fantasies about women, but faced with a real one, they look away, disturbed or ashamed. If she were obviously a prostitute, they could handle that, but she's apparently there to indulge her own tastes, and that takes all the fun out of it, for them. She returns their furtive glances with a shriveling gaze." RogerEbert.com Link: The Piano Teacher (2002) - View online - NETFLIX
The movie was released in 1953, and played for months, even years, in art cinemas. "Mr. Hulot" was as big a hit in its time as "Like Water for Chocolate," "The Gods Must Be Crazy" and other small films that people recommend to each other. There was a time when any art theater could do a week's good business just by booking "Hulot." Jacques Tati (1908-1982) made only four more features in the next 20 years, much labored over, much admired, but this is the film for which he'll be remembered.
Link: Mr Hulot's Holiday (1953) - Roger Ebert review excerpt
La Femme Nikita received fairly poor reviews upon its release twenty years ago. Despite the negative reception, it has had tremendous impact in popular culture, spawning a remake and multiple television series. It helped establish director Luc Besson as one a new and innovative action filmmaker. Does it hold up? Overall, yes. Though it’s brought down by a weak third act, La Femme Nikita is a refreshing take on the now-clichéd "government agency hires thug to be highly-effective super agent for some reason" plotline, combining well-executed action scenes with compelling performances and a fantastic synth score. ~ E KULESHOV EFFECT excerpt Link: La Femme Nikita (1990) - Buy/Rent Watch online
"Something is seriously amiss in the tiny British village of Midwich. At 11 a.m. one morning, every village resident suddenly falls asleep -- and then, just as suddenly, everyone wakes up, completely unaffected by the phenomenon. Well, not completely: virtually every woman of childbearing years has become pregnant. All the babies are born on the same night, at precisely the same moment. All look the same, weigh the same, and even have the same curious cross-hatched hair and underdeveloped fingernails. "
~ RogerEbert.com Link: The Village of the Damned (1960) - Buy/Rent Watch online
"Samantha Caine's an amnesiac suburban wife. Her violent past surfaces, however, when rogue US intelligence agents recognise her as sometime assassin Charly Baltimore, missing for years and believed dead. By amazing coincidence, just as her ex-colleagues decide to protect their current dirty-tricks scam by terminating her, Sam/Charly starts having flashbacks to her former self. She's also nudged along by fragments of evidence uncovered by low-rent private eye and reluctant sidekick Mitch Henessey (Jackson)."
~ NF - TimeOut.com Link: The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996) - Buy online
"Rennie plays Klaatu with all the upright dignity of a being who takes his work seriously, but has no regard for the planet he’s been called upon to help. He’s polite, but smug. We forgive him, because he’s committed to ending our many conflicts, which he terms ‘childish jealousies and suspicions.’ Indeed, the blunders of humanity are on display: Klaatu is variously suspected of Communism, stifled by cloddish bureaucracy and vilified by a histrionic press. He’s even shot. During a day trip with nine-year-old Bobby (Billy Gray), Klaatu visits Arlington National Cemetery, where Bobby’s father rests, along with thousands of others. Then they observe the saucer, which has been turned into a tourist attraction. Most damningly, they read the inscription on the Lincoln Memorial, leading Klaatu to lament that no such man exists today. Humans, apparently, cannot learn from even their own great examples. Everything Klaatu sees elicits another, regretful, shake of the head."
~ silent-volume.blogspot.com Link: The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) - Buy/Rent Watch online
"The epic action of "Edge of Tomorrow" unfolds in a near future in which an alien race has hit the Earth in an unrelenting assault, unbeatable by any military unit in the world. Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) is an officer who has never seen a day of combat when he is unceremoniously dropped into what amounts to a suicide mission. Killed within minutes, Cage now finds himself inexplicably thrown into a time loop-forcing him to live out the same brutal combat over and over, fighting and dying again...and again." ~ RottenTomatoes.com Link: Safe (2012) - Buy online
"Bullets fly, blood spurts and bodies drop all across the mean streets of New York. But through it all, there's a fairly engrossing action thriller centering on Luke Wright (Jason Statham), a cop turned secret assassin turned cage fighter turned homeless man turned guardian angel of death. Boaz Yakin's slick direction, marked by quick cuts, unstinting energy and a lack of sentimentality, makes the action scenes satisfying. But he's a better director than writer. The dialogue is riddled with clichés." ~ USAToday.com Link: Safe (2012) - Buy/Rent Watch online
''The Replacement Killers'' is all style. It's a high-gloss version of a Hong Kong action picture, made in America but observing the exuberance of a genre where surfaces are everything. The characters are as flat as figures on a billboard, but look at the way everything is filmed in saturated color, and anything that moves makes a metallic whooshing sound that ends in a musical chord, and how when the hero walks down a corridor at a car wash, it's done with a tilt and a zoom. In a movie like this, the story is simply a device to help us tell the beginning from the end." ~ RogerEbert.com Link: Replacement Killers (1998) - Buy online
"Neglecting Julie (Frances McDormand), his lawyer lady friend, Dr. Peyton Westlake (Liam Neeson) works feverishly to perfect his latest invention -- artificial skin that could be used to treat burn victims. Peyton himself falls victim to an explosion when one of Julie's crooked clients sends his henchmen to sniff out an incriminating document that's been left in Westlake's lab. Hideously disfigured and left for dead, the good doctor receives an experimental medical treatment that renders him super-strong, impervious to pain and prone to heightened fits of rage." ~ RottenTomatoes.com Link: Darkman (1990) - Buy/Rent Watch online
"Near the end of The Usual Suspects, Kevin Spacey, in his Oscar-winning performance as crippled con man Roger "Verbal" Kint, says, "The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist." This may be the key line in this story; the farther along the movie goes, the more one realizes that not everything is quite what it seems, and what began as a conventional whodunit turns into something quite different. A massive explosion rips through a ship in a San Pedro, CA, harbor, leaving 27 men dead, the lone survivor horribly burned, and 91 million dollars' worth of cocaine, believed to be on board, mysteriously missing." ~ RottenTomatoes.com Link: The Usual Suspects (1995) - Buy/Rent Watch online
"This may only be my quirky way of thinking, but if you wanted to move through the world as an invisible hit man responsible for more than 100 killings on six continents, would you shave your head to reveal the bar code tattooed on the back of your skull? Yeah, not me, either. But Agent 47 has great success with this disguise in "Hitman," which is a better movie than I thought it might be." ~ RogerEbert.com Link: Hitman (2007) - Buy/Rent Watch online
"After several years working along the margins of the underground film scene in New York, director Robert Downey broke through to wider recognition with the arthouse hit Putney Swope, a wildly irreverent satire of race and advertising in America. Putney Swope (Arnold Johnson) is the token African-American executive at an otherwise all-white advertising agency when the chairman of the board unexpectedly drops dead. Through a fluke in the chain of command, Swope becomes the new head of the firm, and decides its time to do things his way." ~ RottenTomatoes.com Link: Putney Swope (1969) - Buy/Rent Watch online
"Not since Bambi's mother was killed has there been a cannier movie for kids than "Conan the Barbarian." It's not supposed to be just a kids' movie, of course, and I imagine a lot of other moviegoers will like it. I liked a lot of it myself, and with me, a few broadswords and leather jerkins go a long way. But "Conan" is a perfect fantasy for the alienated preadolescent. Consider: Conan's parents are brutally murdered by the evil Thulsa Doom, which gets them neatly out of the way. The child is chained to the Wheel of Pain, where he goes around in circles for years, a metaphor for grade school. The kid builds muscles so terrific he could be a pro football player. One day he is set free. He teams up with Subotai the Mongol, who is an example of the classic literary type -- The Best Pal -- and with Valeria, Queen of Thieves, who is a real best pal." ~ RogerEbert.com Link: Conan the Barbarian (1982) - Buy/Rent Watch online
"I'm at a loss for words, so let me say these right away: "The Book of Eli" is very watchable. You won't be sorry you went. It grips your attention, and then at the end throws in several WTF! moments, which are a bonus. They make everything in the entire movie impossible and incomprehensible -- but, hey, WTF... The Hughes brothers have a vivid way with imagery here, as in their earlier films such as "Menace II Society" and the underrated "From Hell." The film looks and feels good, and Washington's performance is the more uncanny the more we think back over it. The ending is "flawed," as we critics like to say, but it's so magnificently, shamelessly, implausibly flawed that (a) it breaks apart from the movie and has a life of its own, or (b) at least it avoids being predictable." ~ RogerEbert.com Link: The Book Of Eli (2010) - Buy/Rent Watch online
"Everything about the early 007 movies are famous–the gagdets, the girls, the theme song, the locales, that first utterance of "Bond. James Bond." Sean Connery became the Bond that everyone following him would futilely be unable to surpass in many people’s minds. What’s amazing about watching the first Bond film, Dr. No, is how simple it all was back then. When you look at the more recent Bonds, it became all about action and throwaway style, the character of Bond so deeply ingrained in the fans of 007 that the new movies rarely pause to breathe. A charming aspect of the early films is "Bond at work," at Her Majesty’s Secret Service, getting his missions from his boss M (Bernard Lee) and playful flirting with Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell). On the job, he takes careful consideration of his hotel rooms, looking for bugs and boobytrapping his closets and briefcases. The style of Bond is subtle, rather than the walking advertisement of today. The films, now spanning into their fifth decade, are testaments the evolution (or devolution, depending on your view) of the movie industry." ~ NewYorkMovieReviews.com Link: Dr. No (1962) - Buy online
"I grew up watching James Bond and separating the quality of the films from the nostalgia I feel watching them is somewhat difficult. Even the worst films in the series hold a special place in my heart, while the best films in the series have some very visible flaws. Still, some entries in the series, like From Russia with Love, manage to keep things relatively low-key, making their flaws less glaring. I wouldn’t call this a smart film, but compared to some of 007’s other adventures, it’s tight, exciting, and a lot of fun." ~ JohnLikesMovies.com Link: From Russia With Love (1964) - Buy online
"One day while on the set of Billy Wilder's One, Two, Three James Cagney decided to retire. This would be his last movie until Milos Foreman's Ragtime twenty years later. Set in West Berlin in the months before the wall was erected by the communists to seal off East Berlin, this black & white movie is a fast-paced comedy about a Coca Cola executive who must keep his conservative boss's daughter from marrying a radical communist in order to save his job." ~ ThreeMovieBuffs.com Link: One, Two, Three (1961) - Buy online
"Three Days of the Condor" is a well-made thriller, tense and involving, and the scary thing, in these months after Watergate, is that it's all too believable. Conspiracies involving murder by federal agencies used to be found in obscure publications of the far left. Now they're glossy entertainments starring Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway. How soon we grow used to the most depressing possibilities about our government -- and how soon, too, we commercialize on them. Hollywood stars used to play cowboys and generals. Now they're wiretappers and assassins, or targets." ~ RogerEbert.com Link: Three Days of the Condor (1975) - Buy/Rent Watch online
"Breakin' All the Rules" combines a romantic comedy, a little mistaken identity and some satire about office politics into one of those genial movies where you know everything is going to turn out all right in the end. The movie depends for its success on the likability of Jamie Foxx, Morris Chestnut and Gabrielle Union, and because they're funny and pleasant, we enjoy the ride even though the destination is preordained. ~ RogerEbert.com Link: Breakin' All The Rules (2004) - Buy/Rent Watch online
"What if virtual reality wasn't just for fun, but was being used to imprison you? That's the dilemma that faces mild-mannered computer jockey Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves) in The Matrix. It's the year 1999, and Anderson (hacker alias: Neo) works in a cubicle, manning a computer and doing a little hacking on the side. It's through this latter activity that Thomas makes the acquaintance of Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), who has some interesting news for Mr. Anderson -- none of what's going on around him is real." ~ Rotten Tomatoes Link: The Matrix (1999) - Buy/Rent Watch online
" Blockbuster action director Michael Bay delivers a striking look at a strange world of the future in this sci-fi action drama. Midway through the 21st century, Lincoln Six Echo (Ewan McGregor) lives in a confined indoor community after ongoing abuse of the Earth has rendered most of the planet uninhabitable. One of the only places in the outside world still capable of sustaining life is an idyllic island where citizens are chosen to live through a lottery. Or at least that's what Lincoln and his fellow citizens are taught to believe; the truth is that Lincoln, like everyone he knows, is actually a clone who is kept under wraps to provide needed organs when the person who supplied his or her DNA falls ill." ~ Rotten Tomatoes Link: The Island (2005) - Buy/Rent Watch online
"Howard Hawks didn’t direct a film for four years after the failure of his "Land of the Pharaohs" in 1955. He thought maybe he had lost it. When he came back to work on "Rio Bravo" in 1958, he was 62 years old, would be working on his 41st film and was so nervous on the first day of shooting that he stood behind a set and vomited. Then he walked out and directed a masterpiece." ~ RogerEbert.com Link: Rio Bravo (1959) - Buy/Rent Watch online
"Steven Soderbergh's "Out of Sight" is a crime movie less interested in crime than in how people talk, flirt, lie and get themselves into trouble. Based on an Elmore Leonard novel, it relishes Leonard's deep comic ease; the characters mosey through scenes existing primarily to savor the dialogue. The story involves a bank robber named Foley (George Clooney)and a federal marshal named Sisco (Jennifer Lopez) who grow attracted to each other while they're locked in a car trunk. Life goes on, and in the nature of things, it's her job to arrest him. But several things might happen first." ~ RogerEbert.com Link: Out Of Sight (1998) - Buy/Rent Watch online
"It's Christmas time in L.A., and there's an employee party in progress on the 30th floor of the Nakatomi Corporation building. The revelry comes to a violent end when the partygoers are taken hostage by a group of terrorists headed by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman), who plan to steal the 600 million dollars locked in Nakatomi's high-tech safe. In truth, Gruber and his henchmen are only pretending to be politically motivated to throw the authorities off track; also in truth, Gruber has no intention of allowing anyone to get out of the building alive. Meanwhile, New York cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) has come to L.A. to visit his estranged wife, Holly (Bonnie Bedelia), who happens to be one of the hostages." ~ RottenTomatoes.com Link: Die Hard (1988) - Buy/Rent Watch online
"Adapted from an Elmore Leonard novel, Valdez is Coming stars Burt Lancaster in the title role. A scrupulously honest Mexican-American marshal, Bob Valdez is double-crossed and humiliated by wealthy, unscrupulous rancher Jon Cypher. Since Cypher has the law on his side, Valdez is obliged to mete out his own justice. He kidnaps Cypher's mistress Susan Clark to force the rancher's hand. At first, Cypher is able to rally a group of tough hombres against Valdez, but one by one they side with the marshal." ~ RottenTomatoes.com Link: Valdez Is Coming (1971) - Buy/Rent Watch online
"Stephen King's "Silver Bullet" is either the worst movie ever made from a Stephen King story, or the funniest. It is either simply bad, or it is an inspired parody of his whole formula, in which quiet American towns are invaded by unspeakable horrors. It's a close call, but I think the movie is intentionally funny. And because I laughed longer and louder during this film than during any other comedy I've seen since "Broadway Danny Rose," I am going way out on a shaky limb and actually give the movie a three-star rating, which means I even think you might enjoy it, too." ~ RogerEbert.com Link: Silver Bullet (1985) - Buy/Rent Watch online
"Arsenic and Old Lace is director Frank Capra's spin on the classic Joseph Kesselring stage comedy, which concerns the sweet old Brewster sisters (Josephine Hull, Jean Adair), beloved in their genteel Brooklyn neighborhood for their many charitable acts. One charity which the ladies don't advertise is their ongoing effort to permit lonely bachelors to die with smiles on their faces--by serving said bachelors elderberry wine spiked with arsenic." ~ RottenTomatoes.com Link: Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) - Buy/Rent Watch online
"Filmed on what MGM considered a B-picture budget and schedule (14 days, which at Universal or Columbia would have been considered extravagant), The Thin Man proved to be "sleeper," spawning a popular film, radio, and television series. Contrary to popular belief, the title does not refer to star William Powell, but to Edward Ellis, playing the mean-spirited inventor who sets the plot in motion. " ~ RottenTomatoes.com Link: The Thin Man (1934) - Buy/Rent Watch online
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