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Guardians of the Galaxy

In many respects, “Guardians,” directed and co-written by indie wit James Gunn, and starring buffed-up former schlub Chris Pratt and Really Big Sci-Fi Blockbuster vet…

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Finding Fela

Alex Gibney's "Finding Fela," about the legendary African pop star and political activist, feels like the rough draft of a very good movie.

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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

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* This filmography is not intended to be a comprehensive list of this artist’s work. Instead it reflects the films this person has been involved with that have been reviewed on this site.

What makes a movie a "classic"?

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I wasn't old enough to experience the French New Wave first hand. My introduction to the New German Cinema (Fassbinder, Herzog, Wenders, et al.) was getting my mind blown by Werner Herzog's 1973 "Aguirre, the Wrath of God" when it was released in the US in 1977. The bossa nova craze was before my time, as was Elvis, but I vividly remember Beatlemania and felt that punk and grunge were mine. It's hard for me to imagine what it must be like to look back on some of the things I experienced first-hand and to approach them retroactively.

I've been thinking about this for a while -- what a pleasure it has been, for example, to see Steven Spielberg develop, having watched his TV movie "Duel" when it was first broadcast and being absolutely riveted; discovering the monstrous phenomenon of "Jaws" when it opened and created the "summer blockbuster" before we had a term for it; witnessing the remarkable suburban double-whammy of "E.T." and "Poltergeist" (in which Spielberg's presence was clearly felt) in the summer of 1982...

But what brought it to the forefront of my consciousness was this (last?) week's Entertainment Weekly cover story touting a big ol' list of 1,000 "New Classics" in film, music, theater, video games, etc. I'm not entirely sure what their definition of "classic" is meant to be, though among the terms they use to describe them are "iconic" ("Pulp Fiction"), "primal work of popular art" ("Titanic"), "quotable" ("Jerry Maguire"), "apotheosis of its genre" ("A Room With a View"), "most amazing" ("Children of Men")... and, um, "classic" ("When Harry Met Sally").

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There will be blood bonds

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Q. I noticed the letter in the Answer Man from Daniel Stender of Ames, Iowa, who had a project of paintings of scenes from movies featuring people dressed in bear suits but who could only think of two titles, "The Shining" and "The Science of Sleep."

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Coppola looks forward to his own films

There is a kind of shyness, a modesty, about Francis Ford Coppola that is so surprising. Here is the director of "The Godfather," and the epic "Apocalypse Now," and the paranoid psychodrama "The Conversation," and he talks about whether he has the right to put his name above the title. Kids out of film school put their names on their first films, and here he is explaining why his movies are called "Mario Puzo's The Godfather" and "Bram Stoker's Dracula" and "John Grisham's The Rainmaker."

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Albert Brooks defends his cinematic life

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LOS ANGELES This is a very small anecdote, but maybe it will lead somewhere. I went to interview Albert Brooks out at his office at Warner Bros. We were going to talk about "Defending Your Life," his new comedy about a man who discovers the afterlife is a place named Judgment City, and you go on trial there. We had a good talk.

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