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Aloha

Aloha feels like several films at once, crammed together and sped up, with results that are emotionally hollow and narratively confusing.

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Tu dors Nicole

Funny, heartfelt, and gorgeously shot. This is an excellent film.

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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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I could watch a Fellini film on the radio

Nino Rota by Fellini

It was the middle of the night in Artena, Italy, a small hill village outside of Rome. Franco Zeffirelli was preparing to shoot the balcony scene of his "Romeo and Juliet." In the gardens below an old stone wall of the Palazzo Borghese, carpenters were hammering on a platform that would the camera to film Romeo's climb to Juliet's balcony. Prop men scurried up and down Romeo's path, planting strategic flowers and picturesque shrubs.

A small, bald man came threading through the trees. It was Nino Rota, Zeffirelli's composer. "I thought I'd find you here," he said. "I want you to listen to this." He began humming a tune.

I had been talking with Zeffirelli, and now I followed them, forgotten, as Rota hummed and the two men walked and swayed in time with the music. There was a full moon. I said to myself I would never forget that night, and you see I haven't.

I believe Nina Rota was the greatest composer in the history of the movies. Who else wrote scores in the 1950s and 1960s that are in print and selling well today? I have seven of them on iTunes. It is impossible to remember a film by Fellini without recalling the score.

Recently, in a review of "Nine," the musical inspired by "Fellini's "8 1/2," I noted one of its problems: It was less memorably musical than the original film. Then this sentence came from my fingers: I could watch a Fellini film on the radio.

Play these clips with your eyes closed:

amarcord

la dolce vita

casanova

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Bill Mauldin, American

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When I came to The Sun-Times in 1966, the legend was still fresh in memory: How when John F. Kennedy was shot, Bill Mauldin went directly to his easel and produced a drawing that was reproduced around the world. The Sun-Times gave it the entire back page. It was stunning. It said everything, and it said it with grief and anger at the same time. Bill and Ann Landers (Eppie Lederer) were the two most famous people on the paper. They were both nice and hung out with their fellow employees, although I can't say Eppie was a regular at Riccardo's, the hangout out the back door across Rush Street.

The front booth at Riccardo's on a Friday night would often hold Bill, his great pal John Fischetti, editorial cartoonist of the Chicago Daily News; Studs Terkel, Mike Royko, and assorted visiting firemen. Bill was good company. I remember one night I gave Bill and a copy girl named Chris rides home. Chris lived in Sandburg Terrace. As she got out and walked toward the door, I said, "There she goes, the milk-fed flower of American youth."

After Bill married Chris, he never let me forget those words. After a time they moved to Santa Fe and Bill sent his drawings in by wirephoto. He adopted a bolder line, because he developed arthritis in his fingers. Eventually he had to stop drawing. I had a wonderful time with them once in Santa Fe. He seemed happy and at peace.

The last years of his life were tragic ones. This is not the place to recite them. He slogged through World War Two as an infantryman with a drawing pad, and drew indelible cartoons that made GIs feel someone understood them. He drew the lasting image of the nation's grief after Kennedy was murdered. He was a great man. He was a friend. He lived too long.

Pulitzer Prize winners in the 1970s at the palate-shaped bar at Riccardo's. Left to right: Bill Mauldin, Ebert, Tom Fitzpatrick, John Fischetti, Ron Powers. (Photo by Playboy)

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Frequently bloody, occasionally disgusting:A Halloween roundup from the fringes of horror

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With the exception of "The Woman" (which is still in limited theatrical release), all of the films from "Bloody Disgusting Selects" are currently available on multiple platforms including Netflix (DVD only), Amazon.com and most VOD providers including Comcast, DirecTV, Amazon, iTunes, CinemaNow, VuDu and Verizon FiOS. Check your VoD provider listings, or go to www.bloodydisgustingselects.com for more information about the films and where to find them.

On DVD, all of the foreign-language films reviewed here include an optional English-dub dialogue track for viewers with an aversion to subtitles.

by Jeff Shannon

Historically and statistically, the most abundant, profitable, and creatively expressive movie genre has always been horror. It has consistently been the most viable proving ground for new talent and a focal point for the most obsessive movie fans on the planet. It's the most purely cinematic of genres, playing to the strengths of an artistic medium that has shock, surprise, dread, fear, and bloodletting built into every molecule of its DNA. It's a realm of expression that challenges masters and amateurs alike.

Of course, there's always a downside: The record-setting $50 million opening weekend of "Paranormal Activity 3" (which earned a one-star review from Roger Ebert) -- and Paramount's immediate strategy to keep that franchise booming -- provided a stark reminder that, more often than not, horror is where commerce almost always trumps art. It's the favorite plaything for copy-cats and money-grubbers. The genre's blood is frequently tainted by fast-buck pretenders and greedy opportunists who care more about profit than the genre's history, which is the worthy subject of some of the finest film scholarship that's ever been written.

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