What About Bob (1991)

""With Dreyfuss and Murray on top form, not even the familiar plotline - uptight rich person meets free-wheeling poor person and learns about life - can prevent this lunatic comedy from being funny. Ideally cast and perfectly matched as an anal-retentive shrink and his multi-phobic patient, the stars generate laughs a-plenty. As the author of a bestselling self-help manual, Dr Leo Marvin (Dreyfuss) should have no trouble coping with a deeply dependent patient who follows him to his lakeside holiday home. But Bob (Murray) fails to heed Leo's professional advice and wreaks havoc in Leo's messed-up family, liberating them from their neuroses. Leo's reaction is neither grateful nor rational... Occasionally, something dark and disturbing threatens to rise to the surface, but this being a formulaic comedy, the ripples caused by Bob's anarchic antics soon give way to the flat calm of normality." ~   Link: What About Bob (1991) - Amazon: Watch online

Ray (2004)

"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." ~   Link: Ray (2004) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Lost in Translation (2003)

"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." ~   Link: Lost in Translation (2003) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Hombre (1967)

" 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" ~ -   Link: Hombre (1967) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Blade Runner (1982)

"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." ~   Link: Blade Runner (1982) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Pulp Fiction (1994)

"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." ~   Link: Pulp Fiction (1994) - Buy/Rent Watch online

The Princess Bride (1987)

"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." ~   Link: The Princess Bride (1987) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Psycho (1960)

"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." ~   Link: Psycho (1960) - Buy/Rent Watch online

The Mark of Zorro (1940)

"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

Bell, Book and Candle (1958)

"Bell, Book and Candle is a 1958 American Technicolor romantic comedy film directed by Richard Quine, based on the successful Broadway play by John Van Druten adapted by Daniel Taradash. It stars Kim Novak as a witch who casts a spell on her neighbor, played by James Stewart. The supporting cast features Jack Lemmon, Ernie Kovacs, Hermione Gingold, and Elsa Lanchester. The film is considered Stewart's final as a romantic lead. " ~ Wikipedia excerpt   Link: Bell, Book and Candle (1958) - 123 Movie Hub

Little Big Man (1970)

"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." ~   Link: Little Big Man (1970) - Buy

Apocalypse Now (1979)

"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.."

Forrest Gump (1994)

"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." ~   Link: Forrest Gump (1994) - Buy/Rent Watch online

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)

""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." ~   Link: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1976) - Buy/Rent Watch online

The Candidate (1972)

"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

Yakuza (1975)

"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 (1998)

"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? ~   Link: Dark City (1998) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Bringing Up Baby (1938)

"Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant star in this inspired comedy about a madcap heiress with a pet leopard who meets an absent-minded paleontologist and unwittingly makes a fiasco of both their lives. David Huxley (Grant) is the stuffy paleontologist who needs to finish an exhibit on dinosaurs and thus land a $1 million grant for his museum. At a golf outing with his potential benefactors, Huxley is spotted by Susan Vance (Hepburn) who decides that she must have the reserved scientist at all costs. "   Link: Bringing Up Baby (1938) - Buy/Rent Watch online

One Touch Of Venus (1948)

"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." ~   Link: One Touch Of Venus (1948) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Shakespeare In Love (1998)

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

The Searchers (1956)

"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." ~   Link: The Searchers (1956) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Young Frankenstein (1974)

"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." ~   Link: Young Frankenstein (1974) - DVD

The War of the Worlds (1953)

"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. " ~   Link: The War of the Worlds (1953) - DVD

Manchurian Candidate (1962)

"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."   Link: Manchurian Candidate (1962) - View online - NETFLIX

Sahara (1943)

Published: November 12, 1943 - "Those rugged, indomitable qualities which Humphrey Bogart has so masterfully displayed in most of his recent pictures—and even before, in his better gangster roles—have been doubled and concentrated in 'Sahara,' a Columbia film about warfare in the Libyan desert, which came to the Capitol yesterday. And a capital picture it is, too—as rugged as Mr. Bogart all the way and in a class with that memorable picture which it plainly resembles, 'The Lost Patrol'."
~   Link: Sahara (1943) - Amazon: Watch online

The Sun Also Rises (1957)

"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)." ~   Link: The Sun Also Rises (1957) - DVD

Dr. Stangelove (1964)

"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." ~   Link: Dr. Stangelove (1964) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Interview With the Vampire (1994)

"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."   Link: Interview With the Vampire (1994) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Five Easy Pieces (1970)

"The title of "Five Easy Pieces" refers not to the women its hero makes along the road, for there are only three, but to a book of piano exercises he owned as a child. The film, one of the best American films, is about the distance between that boy, practicing to become a concert pianist, and the need he feels twenty years later to disguise himself as an oil-field rigger. When we sense the boy, tormented and insecure, trapped inside the adult man, "Five Easy Pieces" becomes a masterpiece of heartbreaking intensity." ~   Link: Five Easy Piecs (1970) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Being There (1979)

"Satire is a threatened species in American film, and when it does occur, it's usually broad and slapstick, as in the Mel Brooks films. "Being There,'' directed by Hal Ashby, is a rare and subtle bird that finds its tone and stays with it. It has the appeal of an ingenious intellectual game, in which the hero survives a series of challenges he doesn't understand, using words that are both universal and meaningless. But are Chance's sayings noticeably less useful than when the president tells us about a "bridge to the 21st century?'' Sensible public speech in our time is limited by (1) the need to stay within he confines of the 10-second TV sound bite; (2) the desire to avoid being pinned down to specific claims or promises; and (3) the abbreviated attention span of the audience, which, like Chance, likes to watch but always has a channel-changer poised. " ~   Link: Being There (1979) - Buy/Rent Watch online

The Shootist (1976)

"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."
~   Link: The Shootist (1976) - Buy/Rent Watch online

The Night of the Hunter (1955)

"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)."
~   Link: The Night of the Hunter (1955) - Buy/Rent Watch online

CATCH-22 (1970)

"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

Groundhog Day (1993)

""Groundhog Day" is a film that finds its note and purpose so precisely that its genius may not be immediately noticeable. It unfolds so inevitably, is so entertaining, so apparently effortless, that you have to stand back and slap yourself before you see how good it really is. Certainly I underrated it in my original review; I enjoyed it so easily that I was seduced into cheerful moderation. But there are a few films, and this is one of them, that burrow into our memories and become reference points. When you find yourself needing the phrase This is like "Groundhog Day" to explain how you feel, a movie has accomplished something."   Link: Groundhog Day (1993) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Trading Places (1983)

""Trading Places" resembles "Tootsie" and, for that matter, some of the classic Frank Capra and Preston Sturges comedies: It wants to be funny, but it also wants to tell us something about human nature and there are whole stretches when we forget it's a comedy and get involved in the story. And it's a great idea for a story: A white preppy snot and a black street hustler trade places, and learn new skills they never dreamed existed. This isn't exactly a new idea for a story (Mark Twain's "The Prince and the Pauper" comes to mind). But like a lot of stories, it depends less on plot than on character, and the characters in "Trading Places" are wonderful comic inventions. Eddie Murphy plays Billy Ray Valentine, the con man who makes his first appearance as a blind, legless veteran. Dan Aykroyd is Louis Winthorpe III, the stuck-up commodities broker. And, in a masterstroke of casting, those aging veterans Ralph Bellamy and Don Ameche are cast as the Duke brothers, incalculably rich men who make little wagers involving human lives.."
~   Link: Trading Places (1983) - Amazon: Watch online

Marathon Man (1976)

""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. "
~   Link: Marathon Man (1976) - Buy/Rent Watch online

The Maltese Falcon (1941)

"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. "
~   Link: The Maltese Falcon (1941) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

"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." ~   Link: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Citizen Kane (1941)

"It is one of the miracles of cinema that in 1941 a first-time director; a cynical, hard-drinking writer; an innovative cinematographer, and a group of New York stage and radio actors were given the keys to a studio and total control, and made a masterpiece. “Citizen Kane” is more than a great movie; it is a gathering of all the lessons of the emerging era of sound, just as “Birth of a Nation” assembled everything learned at the summit of the silent era, and “2001” pointed the way beyond narrative. These peaks stand above all the others." ~   Link: Citizen Kane (1941) - Buy/Rent Watch online

All the President's Men (1976)

"Newspapers and newspapermen have long been favorite subjects for movie makers'a surprising number of whom are former newspapermen, yet not until "All The President's Men," the riveting screen adaptation of the Watergate book by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, has any film come remotely close to being an accurate picture of American journalism at its best. "All The President's Men," directed by Alan J. Pakula, written by William Goldman and largely pushed into being by the continuing interest of one of its stars, Robert Redford, is a lot of things all at once: a spellbinding detective story about the work of the two Washington Post reporters who helped break the Watergate scandal, a breathless adventure that recalls the triumphs of Frank and Joe Hardy in that long-ago series of boys' books, and a vivid footnote to some contemporary American history that still boggles the mind."
~ VINCENT CANBY - New York Times   Link: All the President's Men (1976) - Buy/Rent Watch online

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

"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?" ~   Link: To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) - Buy/Rent Watch online

The Accidental Tourist (1988)

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." ~   Link: The Accidental Tourist (1988) - View online - Amazon

Network (1976)

"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.." ~ ~   Link: Network (1976) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Minority Report (2002)

"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."   Link: Minority Report (2002) - Buy/Rent Watch online

The Usual Suspects (1995)

"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, "   Link: The Usual Suspects (1995) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Slaughterhouse-Five (1972)

""Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time." These opening words of Kurt Vonnegut's famous novel make an effective and short summary of a haunting, funny film. For the screen, director George Roy Hill faithfully renders Vonnegut's black anti-war comedy about Pilgrim (well played in a low key by Michael Sacks), who survives the horrendous 1945 fire bombing of Dresden then lives simultaneously in his past as a naïve American POW and in the future as a well-cared-for zoo resident on the planet Tralfamadore (with zaftig Valerie Perrine as his mate). In the present, he's a middle-aged optometrist in Ilium, NY. If this sounds like a bit of a jumble -- it is. "    ~   Link: Slaughterhouse-Five (1972) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Torn Curtain (1966)

"A cold war military espionage thriller, Torn Curtain succeeds in creating and exploiting plenty of enjoyable tension. It is also the only Alfred Hitchcock film to feature 1960s era superstars like Paul Newman and Julie Andrews. With Hitchcock reportedly ill at ease directing a method actor, Torn Curtain benefits from a Newman performance in which he never appears relaxed, and his agitation helps to propel the drama."
~   Link: Torn Curtain (1966) - Buy/Rent Watch online

The Conversation (1974)

"“The Conversation” comes from another time and place than today’s thrillers, which are so often simple-minded. This movie is a sadly observant character study, about a man who has removed himself from life, thinks he can observe it dispassionately at an electronic remove, and finds that all of his barriers are worthless. The cinematography (opening scene by Haskell Wexler, the rest by Bill Butler) is deliberately planned from a voyeuristic point of view; we are always looking but imperfectly seeing. Here is a man who seeks the truth, and it always remains hidden. He plays the conversation over and over, but does Mark say, “He’d kill us if he had the chance,” or “He’d kill us if he had the chance”?"
~   Link: The Conversation (1974) - Buy/Rent Watch online

I The Jury (1982)

"Armand Assante stars as Mike Hammer. He fills the role without occupying it. His lines are so hard-boiled and his manner is such stylized macho that it's sometimes hard to be sure anybody's home. He looks leaner, slicker and younger than most movie private eyes, but he plays the same basic role and the movie makes all the same basic stops: The eye has a cheap walkup office near Times Square, he's pals with a corrupt police detective, he gets involved in a case that's more complicated than it seems, he falls for a beautiful dame who almost does him in, he saves the girl, he kills the creep and he doesn't get paid a dime." ~   Link: Torn Curtain (1966) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Broken Flowers (2005)

""Broken Flowers" stars Bill Murray as Don Johnston, a man who made his money in computers and now doesn't even own one. To sit at the keyboard would mean moving from his sofa, where he seems to be stuck. As the film opens, his latest girlfriend (Julie Delpy) is moving out. She doesn't want to spend any more time with "an over-the-hill Don Juan." After she leaves, he remains on the sofa, listening to music. He reaches out for a glass of wine, changes his mind, lets the hand drop... No actor is better than Bill Murray at doing nothing at all, and being fascinating while not doing it. Buster Keaton had the same gift for contemplating astonishing developments with absolute calm. Buster surrounded himself with slapstick, and in "Broken Flowers" Jim Jarmusch surrounds Murray with a parade of formidable women."   ~   Link: The Conversation (1974) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Angel Eyes (2001)

"The movie, directed by Luis Mandoki, has intriguing opening scenes. Is this a thriller? A supernatural movie? Who do the angel eyes belong to? An angel? Or does Catch only come on like a guardian angel while reserving secrets of his own? We are still asking these questions during a stretch of the film where Sharon is staring at a gun in her face, and her life is saved by . . . Catch... There are lots of movies about cops because their lives lend themselves to excitement in a movie plot. They get involved with bad guys. They see action. They spend a lot of time drinking coffee in diners, because a booth in a diner provides an ideal rationale for a face-to-face two-shot that doesn't look awkward or violate body language. For these and other reasons "Angel Eyes" is a cop movie, but its real story doesn't involve the police, it involves damaged lives and the possibility that love can heal."   Link: Angel Eyes (2001) - Buy/Rent Watch online

RearWindow (1954)

"They say that most of the great movies begin with a simple premise. "Rear Window" sure does. Jimmy Stewart is a magazine photographer who is stuck at home in a wheelchair, with his leg up in a cast. He starts spying on his neighbors. He begins to notice odd behavior on the part of the couple across the way. They fight. The man seems violent. The woman is not seen again. What happened to her? Was she murdered? How will the man dispose of the body? Is there a person alive who would not be drawn into this plot?"   Link: RearWindow (1954) - Buy/Rent Watch online

The Graduate (1967)

""The Graduate, the funniest American comedy of the year, is inspired by the free spirit which the young British directors have brought into their movies. It is funny, not because of sight gags and punch lines and other tired rubbish, but because it has a point of view. That is to say, it is against something. Comedy is naturally subversive, no matter what Doris Day thinks. Most Hollywood comedies have non-movie assumptions built into them. One of the most persistent is that movie characters have to react to funny events in the same way that stage actors do. So we get Jerry Lewis mugging. But in the direct style of new British directors, the audience is the target of the joke, and the funny events do not happen in the movie -- they are the movie." ~   Link: The Graduate (1967) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)

"Ferris Bueller" was directed by John Hughes, the philosopher of adolescence, whose credits include "Sixteen Candles," "The Breakfast Club" and "Pretty In Pink." In all of his films, adults are strange, distant creatures who love their teenagers, but fail completely to understand them. That's the case here, all right: All of the adults, including a bumbling high-school dean (Jeffrey Jones), are dim-witted and one-dimensional. And the movie's solutions to Cameron's problems are pretty simplistic. But the film's heart is in the right place, and "Ferris Bueller" is slight, whimsical and sweet."   Link: Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Purple Rain (1984)

"Despite its initial critical drubbing, "Purple Rain" won the Oscar for Best Original Song Score, an award His Purple Badness snatched from the grasp of Kris Kristofferson AND the Muppets. Said song score became a smash-hit soundtrack popular enough to battle Bruce Springsteen’s "Born in the USA" for chart domination. The "Purple Rain" album ended one side with the 9 minute titular track, and the other with the song partially responsible for the "Parental Advisory Explicit Lyrics" stickers that adorn countless CDs today. Despite coming from a very R-rated feature, there isn’t a profanity stronger than "hell" on the entire soundtrack. In fact, "Purple Rain" doesn’t even carry the advisory sticker it spawned on its cover." ~   Link: Purple Rain (1984) - Buy/Rent Watch online

A Shot in the Dark (1964)

"Sometimes the narrative is subordinated to individual bits of business and running gags but Sellers’ skill as a comedian again is demonstrated, and Sommer, in role of the chambermaid who moves all men to amorous thoughts and sometimes murder, is pert and expert. Lom gives punch and humor to star’s often distraught superior, George Sanders lends polish as the millionaire and Graham Stark excels as Sellers’ dead-pan assistant."    Variety   Link: Wikipedia, A Shot in the Dark (1964) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Moonstruck (1987)

""Moonstruck" is a romantic comedy founded on emotional abandon and poignant truth. Not content with one romance, it involves five or six, depending on how you count, and conceding that some characters are involved in more than one. It exists in a Brooklyn that has never existed, a Brooklyn where the full moon makes the night like day and drives people crazy with amore, when the moon-a hits their eyes like a big-a pizza pie. The soundtrack is equal parts "La Boheme" and Dean Martin, and Ronny Cammareri's feelings are like those of an operatic hero, larger than life and more dramatic, as when he tells Loretta why he hates his brother Johnny. One day Johnny distracted him at the bakery, he says, and his hand got caught in the bread-slicer. As a result, his girlfriend dumped him. Holding his wooden hand in the air and pointing to it dramatically, he cries: "I want my hand! I want my bride! Johnny has his hand! Johnny has his bride!"" ~   Link: Moonstruck (1987) - Buy/Rent Watch online

The Philadelphia Story (1940)

"However stagily preposterous, George Cukor’s 1940 movie The Philadelphia Story, now rereleased, is also utterly beguiling, funny and romantic; it is based on the same stage play, by Philip Barry, as the 1956 musical High Society. This is the most famous example of the intriguing and now defunct prewar genre of “comedy of remarriage”, the subject of an equally interesting study by film theorist Stanley Cavell called Pursuits Of Happiness. It features three stars from the studio era who are the aristocrats, or deities, of the Hollywood golden age: Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn and James Stewart. Part of the fascination in watching this movie again is savouring those three extraordinary voices, highly imitable but entirely unique." ~ The   Link: The Philadelphia Story (1940) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Body Heat (1981)

""Like a tantalizing mirage, film noir haunts modern filmmakers. Noir is the genre of night, guilt, violence and illicit passion, and no genre is more seductive. But the best noirs were made in the 1940s and 1950s, before directors consciously knew what they were doing (“We called them B movies,” said Robert Mitchum). Once the French named the genre, once a generation of filmmakers came along who had seen noirs at cinematheques instead of in flea pits, noir could never again be naive. One of the joys of a great noir like “Detour” (1954) is the feeling that it was made by people who took the story perfectly seriously. One of the dangers of modern self-conscious noir, as Pauline Kael wrote in her scathing dismissal of “Body Heat,” is that an actress like Kathleen Turner comes across “as if she were following the marks on the floor made by the actresses who preceded her.”" ~   Link: Body Heat (1981) - Buy/Rent Watch online

And Justice for All (1979)

"Here's an angry comedy crossed with an expose and held together by one of those high-voltage Al Pacino performances that's so sure of itself we hesitate to demur. Pacino plays an aggressive young Baltimore lawyer who has worked within the system for 12 years or so -- he's not a reformer fresh out of law school -- but who, during the course of this movie, is driven to advise the American system of jurisprudence to stick its head where the sun don't shine." ~   Link: And Justice for All (1979) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Monkey Business (1952)

"Needless to say, "Monkey Business," which arrived at the Roxy yesterday, is not a "message picture" nor a compound of high dramatic art. It is, to be quick about it, what is known as a "screwball comedy"—or would have been known by that label back in the Greg LaCava days—and, as such, it is simply a concoction of crazy, fast, uninhibited farce. This sort of thing, when done well—as it generally is, in this case—can be insanely funny (if it hits right). It can also be a bore.This viewer found it entertaining and farcically inventive to the point where its battery of comedy writers obviously lay back on their typewriters and let it coast. That is to say, it bubbles and throws off a lot of surprise so long as its single gag is running more or less up-hill." ~ [1952 review]   Link: Monkey Business (1952) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Vertigo (1958)

"“Vertigo” (1958), which is one of the two or three best films Hitchcock ever made, is the most confessional, dealing directly with the themes that controlled his art. It is *about* how Hitchcock used, feared and tried to control women. He is represented by Scottie (James Stewart), a man with physical and mental weaknesses (back problems, fear of heights), who falls obsessively in love with the image of a woman--and not any woman, but the quintessential Hitchcock woman. When he cannot have her, he finds another woman and tries to mold her, dress her, train her, change her makeup and her hair, until she looks like the woman he desires. He cares nothing about the clay he is shaping; he will gladly sacrifice her on the altar of his dreams." ~   Link: Vertigo (1958) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Throw Momma from the Train (1987)

"Movies borrow from other movies all the time, but few have the honesty to admit it. Danny DeVito is nothing if not an honest man. He not only borrows the plot device from Alfred Hitchcock's "Strangers on a Train" for his new comedy, "Throw Momma from the Train," but he even has one of his characters actually go to the movies to study the relevant scene from Hitchcock's 1951 classic. The character (played by DeVito himself) sits in the dark of a revival house and gazes moonily up at the screen, where Robert Walker is smoothly explaining to Farley Granger how two strangers can commit two perfect murders." ~   Link: Throw Momma from the Train (1958) - Buy

What About Bob (1991)

""With Dreyfuss and Murray on top form, not even the familiar plotline - uptight rich person meets free-wheeling poor person and learns about life - can prevent this lunatic comedy from being funny. Ideally cast and perfectly matched as an anal-retentive shrink and his multi-phobic patient, the stars generate laughs a-plenty. As the author of a bestselling self-help manual, Dr Leo Marvin (Dreyfuss) should have no trouble coping with a deeply dependent patient who follows him to his lakeside holiday home. But Bob (Murray) fails to heed Leo's professional advice and wreaks havoc in Leo's messed-up family, liberating them from their neuroses. Leo's reaction is neither grateful nor rational... Occasionally, something dark and disturbing threatens to rise to the surface, but this being a formulaic comedy, the ripples caused by Bob's anarchic antics soon give way to the flat calm of normality." ~   Link: What About Bob (1991) - Amazon: Watch online

Playtime (1967)

"Jacques Tati's "Playtime," like "2001: A Space Odyssey" or "The Blair Witch Project" or "Russian Ark," is one of a kind, complete in itself, a species already extinct at the moment of its birth. Even Mr. Hulot, Tati's alter ego, seems to be wandering through it by accident. Instead of plot it has a cascade of incidents, instead of central characters it has a cast of hundreds, instead of being a comedy it is a wondrous act of observation. It occupies no genre and does not create a new one. It is a filmmaker showing us how his mind processes the world around him." ~   Link: Playtime (1967) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Intmate Stragers (2004)

"Now here is William Faber (Fabrice Luchini), a quiet, precise middle-aged man who still lives in the flat where he was raised, and carries on the accounting business his father established there. He hasn't gone far from home. Even his father's secretary, Madame Mulon, still works for him. He is a man for whom probity is a cardinal virtue, and revealing passion is unthinkable. One day a nervous young woman named Anna Delambre (Sandrine Bonnaire) walks into his office, lights a cigarette, and begins to spill the beans. She is so nervous that the camera becomes uneasy, regarding her with jerky little noticing shots. She talks frankly of problems in her marriage. William remains almost motionless behind his desk, his face a study in astonishment and alarm. The few words that he speaks are noncommittal and open-ended." ~   Link: Intmate Stragers (2004) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Cousin, Cousine (1975)

"Cousin Cousine" tells the story of an impossible love affair, and the two people who make it gloriously possible. That would be enough in itself -- blind faith in romance is so rare these days -- but for some lucky reason the movie gives us more. It gives us, first of all, one of the most engaging and likable couples in recent movies. It gives us a feeling of a real human milieu, of the families these people belong in. And then it provides the sort of courage that people in their late 30s need to make the sorts of commitments an adolescent can make (or break) in a weekend.   Link: Cousin, Cousine (1975) -, Amazon - on Blu-Ray Criterion Channel on-line

Fanny and Alexander (1982)

"Ingmar Bergman's "Fanny and Alexander" (1982) was intended to be his last film, and in it, he tends to the business of being young, of being middle-aged, of being old, of being a man, woman, Christian, Jew, sane, crazy, rich, poor, religious, profane. He creates a world in which the utmost certainty exists side by side with ghosts and magic, and a gallery of characters who are unforgettable in their peculiarities. Small wonder one of his inspirations was Dickens."
~   Link: Citizen Kane (1941) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Blow-Up (1966)

"Watching "Blow-Up" once again, I took a few minutes to acclimate myself to the loopy psychedelic colors and the tendency of the hero to use words like "fab" ("Austin Powers" brilliantly lampoons the era). Then I found the spell of the movie settling around me. Antonioni uses the materials of a suspense thriller without the payoff. He places them within a London of heartless fashion photography, groupies, bored rock audiences, languid pot parties, and a hero whose dead soul is roused briefly by a challenge to his craftsmanship."    Link:   Link: Blow-Up (1966) - Buy/Rent Watch online

La Dolce Vita (1960)

"Fellini shot the movie in 1959 on the Via Veneto, the Roman street of nightclubs, sidewalk cafes and the parade of the night. His hero is a gossip columnist, Marcello, who chronicles "the sweet life" of fading aristocrats, second-rate movie stars, aging playboys and women of commerce. The role was played by Marcello Mastroianni, and now that his life has ended we can see that it was his most representative. The two Marcellos -- character and actor -- flowed together into a handsome, weary, desperate man, who dreams of someday doing something good, but is trapped in a life of empty nights and lonely dawns."
~   Link: La Dolce Vita (1960) - Filmbox: Watch online

Rashomon (1949)

"Shortly before filming was to begin on "Rashomon," Akira Kurosawa's three assistant directors came to see him. They were unhappy. They didn't understand the story. "If you read it diligently," he told them, "you should be able to understand it, because it was written with the intention of being comprehensible." They would not leave: "We believe we have read it carefully, and we still don't understand it at all." Recalling this day in Something Like an Autobiography, Kurosawa explains the movie to them. The explanation is reprinted in the booklet that comes with the new Criterion DVD of "Rashomon." Two of the assistants are satisfied with his explanation, but the third leaves looking puzzled. What he doesn't understand is that while there is an explanation of the film's four eyewitness accounts of a murder, there is not a solution."
~   Link: Rashomon (1949) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Notes On A Scandal (2006)

"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." ~   Link: Notes On A Scandal (2006) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Black Orpheus (1959)

"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."    ~   Link: Black Orpheus (1959) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Yojimbo (1961)

"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."    ~   Link: Yojimbo (1961) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Scenes from a Marriage (1974)

"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."    ~   Link: Scenes from a Marriage (1974) - DVD

Kagemusha (1980)

"Kagemusha" is a samurai drama by the director who most successfully introduced the genre to the West (with such classics as "The Seven Samurai" and "Yojimbo"), and who, at the age of seventy, made an epic that dares to wonder what meaning the samurai code -- or any human code -- really has in the life of an individual man. His film is basically the story of one such man, a common thief who, because of his astonishing resemblance to the warlord Shingen, is chosen as Shingen's double."
~   Link: Kagemusha (1980) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Saraband (2005)

"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."    ~   Link: Saraband (2005) - Buy Online

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2010)

"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."    ~   Link: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2010) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

"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."    ~   Link: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman 1: Tale of Zatoichi (1961)

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

Sword of Doom (1965)

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

Diva (1981)

"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. "   Link: Diva (1981) - Buy/Rent Watch online

The Piano Teacher (2002)

"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."   Link: The Piano Teacher (2002) - View online - NETFLIX

Chico & Rita (2012)

"Spain's "Chico & Rita" scored one of the biggest surprises of the 2012 Oscars by winning a nomination for best animated feature. That meant this indie production placed ahead of such big-time entries as Spielberg's "The Adventures of Tintin." The reason for that is the story and the music, I suspect, not the animation. The film depicts a nearly operatic romantic tragedy, involving a lifelong affair of the heart between two Havana musicians: Chico, a piano player, and Rita, a vocalist. Their mutual problem is that Chico is unfaithful by nature, and although Rita is the woman he loves, when he's not with the one he loves, he loves the one he's with. "" target="_blank"> ~   Link: Chico & Rita (2012) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Mr Hulot's Holiday (1953)

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 (1990)

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

The Village of the Damned (1960)

"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. "
~   Link: The Village of the Damned (1960) - Buy/Rent Watch online

V for Vendetta (2006)

""It is the year 2020. A virus runs wild in the world, most Americans are dead, and Britain is ruled by a fascist dictator who promises security but not freedom. One man stands against him, the man named V, who moves through London like a wraith despite the desperate efforts of the police. He wears a mask showing the face of Guy Fawkes, who in 1605 tried to blow up the houses of Parliament. On Nov. 5, the eve of Guy Fawkes Day, British schoolchildren for centuries have started bonfires to burn Fawkes in effigy. On this eve in 2020, V saves a young TV reporter named Evey from rape at the hands of the police, forces her to join him, and makes a busy night of it by blowing up the Old Bailey courtrooms."   Link: V for Vendetta (2006) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Soylent Green (1973)

""Richard Fleischer’s “Soylent Green” is a good, solid science-fiction movie, and a little more. It tells the story of New York in the year 2022, when the population has swollen to an unbelievable 80 million, and people live in the streets and line up for their rations of water and Soylent Green. That’s a high-protein foodstuff allegedly made from plankton cultivated in the seas. But is it? Charlton Heston plays a gritty detective who gets called in when a top official of the Soylent Corp. (Joseph Cotten) is murdered. He gets on a trail that leads to a most unappetizing conclusion--but before he gets there, the movie paints a fascinating and scary picture of population growth run wild. The detective story is mostly just an excuse to keep us interested from one end of the movie to the other. “Soylent Green’s” real achievement is to create a 21st Century world that’s convincing as reality; we somehow don’t feel we’re in a s-f picture. What director Fleischer and his technicians have done is to assume a very basic (and depressing) probability: that by the year 2022, New York will look essentially as it does now, only 49 years older and more run-down." ~   Link: Soylent Green (1973) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Neighbors (1981)

"The film itself is a quirky dark comedy that inspired later films such as “the Burbs” and “Duplex”. In short retrospective, it is a simple film about a couple who are suddenly inundated with some extremely bizarre neighbors who have rented the house next to theirs. The film was directed by John G. Avildsen and was released by Columbia Pictures in 1981. The film is easily regarded as a cult film that has managed to stay off the radar for many years. For fans of dark comedic movies with a “Twilight Zone” kind of flair to it,…..”Neighbors” is a must see."   Link: Neighbors (1981 - Buy/Rent Watch online

12 Monkeys (1995)

"Much of the interest comes from the nature of the Cole character. He is simple, confused, badly informed, exhausted and shot through with feelings of betrayal. Nothing is as it seems - not in his future world, not in 1990 and not in 1996. And there is another factor, one hinted at in the opening shot of the movie and confirmed in the closing: He may have already witnessed the end of the story. The plot of "12 Monkeys," if you follow it closely, involves a time travel paradox. Almost all time travel movies do. But who cares? What's good about the film is the way Gilliam, his actors and his craftsmen create a universe that is contained within 130 minutes." ~   Link: 12 Monkeys (1995) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Forbidden Planet (1956)

"Shakespeare's "The Tempest" is transformed in this landmark science-fiction film with groundbreaking special effects. Space men travel to a planet ruled by expatriate Pidgeon who has built a kingdom with his daughter and obedient robot Robby. There the good doctor is plagued by his mad quest for knowledge through his "brain booster" machine, and by Freudian "monsters from the id" as his daughter discovers other men and learns to kiss."
~   Link: Forbidden Planet (1956) - Buy/Rent Watch online

The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)

"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 -
   Link: The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996) - Buy online

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

"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."
   Link: The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

"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." ~   Link: Safe (2012) - Buy online

Safe (2012)

"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." ~   Link: Safe (2012) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Replacement Killers (1998)

''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." ~   Link: Replacement Killers (1998) - Buy online

Darkman (1990)

"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." ~   Link: Darkman (1990) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Hitman (2007)

"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." ~   Link: Hitman (2007) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Putney Swope (1969)

"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." ~   Link: Putney Swope (1969) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Conan the Barbarian (1982)

"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." ~   Link: Conan the Barbarian (1982) - Buy/Rent Watch online

The Book Of Eli (2010)

"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." ~   Link: The Book Of Eli (2010) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Dr. No (1962)

"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." ~   Link: Dr. No (1962) - Buy online

From Russia With Love (1964)

"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." ~   Link: From Russia With Love (1964) - Buy online

One, Two, Three (1961)

"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." ~   Link: One, Two, Three (1961) - Buy online

Three Days of the Condor (1975)

"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." ~   Link: Three Days of the Condor (1975) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Breakin' All The Rules (2004)

"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. ~    Link: Breakin' All The Rules (2004) - Buy/Rent Watch online

The Matrix (1999)

"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

The Island (2005)

" 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

Rio Bravo (1959)

"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." ~   Link: Rio Bravo (1959) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Out Of Sight (1998)

"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." ~   Link: Out Of Sight (1998) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Die Hard (1988)

"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." ~   Link: Die Hard (1988) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Valdez Is Coming (1971)

""Valdez Is Coming" is a revenge Western, set in post-Civil War Arizona, about a man whose principles are somewhat loftier than those of the movie that contains them. It stars blue-eyed Burt Lancaster, wearing a lot of dark brown make-up, as a discriminated-against Mexican constable, and it was directed by Edwin Sherin, the man who directed the prizewinning stage version of "The Great White Hope." It opened yesterday at the Victoria Theater on Broadway and at other theaters throughout the city.Within the first half-hour of the movie, Bob Valdez (Lancaster) is humiliated, called a greaser, shot at and mock-crucified, all because he wants to raise $200 from the white men responsible (along with himself) for the killing of a black freed-man, a murder-suspect later known to have been innocent. The money is to go to the black man's pregnant Apache woman.This bare description of the plot will give you some idea of the film's very contemporary racial sensibilities, which though honorable, are simply the décor of a harmless Western. On second thought, perhaps, it's not quite that harmless. " ~ New York Times   Link: Valdez Is Coming (1971) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Silver Bullet (1985)

"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." ~   Link: Silver Bullet (1985) - Buy/Rent Watch online

Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)

"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." ~   Link: Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) - Buy/Rent Watch online

The Thin Man (1934)

"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. " ~   Link: The Thin Man (1934) - Buy/Rent Watch online

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