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Abuse of Weakness

An examination of power, greed, emotional manipulation and simple need that is gripping and powerful to behold even if you don't know the story behind…

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The Expendables 3

If you’re over 40, this is your “The Avengers.” As slavishly devoted to the old action films of Sly and company as any Marvel Universe…

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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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The Gospel According to St. Matthew

The Gospel According to St. Matthew

Pier Paolo Pasolini was stuck in St. Francis' hometown of Assisi. He had come there in 1962 to attend a seminar at a Franciscan monastery. Although it was well known that Pasolini was an atheist, a Marxist and a homosexual,…

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The Rules of the Game

The Rules of the Game

I've seen Jean Renoir's "The Rules of the Game" in a campus film society, at a repertory theater and on laserdisc, and I've even taught it in a film class -- but now I realize I've never really seen it…

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West Side Story

West Side Story

Although "West Side Story" was named the best picture of 1961 and won 10 Academy Awards, it is not much mentioned by movie fans these days, and the old warhorse "Singin' in the Rain" is probably more seen and certainly…

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Amarcord

Amarcord

If ever there was a movie made entirely out of nostalgia and joy, by a filmmaker at the heedless height of his powers, that movie is Federico Fellini’s “Amarcord.” The title means “I remember” in the dialect of Rimini, the…

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Mean Streets

Mean Streets

Martin Scorsese’s “Mean Streets” is not primarily about punk gangsters at all, but about living in a state of sin. For Catholics raised before Vatican II, it has a resonance that it may lack for other audiences. The film recalls…

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The Manchurian Candidate

The Manchurian Candidate

The title of "The Manchurian Candidate" has entered everyday speech as shorthand for a brainwashed sleeper, a subject who has been hypnotized and instructed to act when his controllers pull the psychological trigger. In the movie, an American patrol is…

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Le Boucher

Le Boucher

She is a school mistress, he is a butcher, their everyday lives obscure great loneliness, and their ideas about sex are peculiarly skewed. They should never have met each other. When they do start to spend time together, their relationship…

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Alien

Alien

At its most fundamental level, "Alien" is a movie about things that can jump out of the dark and kill you. It shares a kinship with the shark in "Jaws," Michael Myers in "Halloween," and assorted spiders, snakes, tarantulas and…

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Scarface

Scarface

"Me, I want what's coming to me." "What's coming to you?" "The world, Chico, and everything in it."

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The Leopard

The Leopard

"The Leopard" was written by the only man who could have written it, directed by the only man who could have directed it, and stars the only man who could have played its title character. The first of these claims…

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Santa Sangre

Santa Sangre

To call "Santa Sangre" (1989) a horror film would be unjust to a film that exists outside all categories. But in addition to its deeper qualities, it is a horror film, one of the greatest, and after waiting patiently through…

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

A vast empty Western landscape. The camera pans across it. Then the shot slides onto a sunburned, desperate face. The long shot has become a closeup without a cut, revealing that the landscape was not empty but occupied by a…

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Breathless

Breathless

When we talked, I talked about me, you talked about you, when we should have talked about each other. -- Michel to Patricia

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A Year of the Quiet Sun

A Year of the Quiet Sun

When the actor Scott Wilson went to Poland to make "A Year of the Quiet Sun" (1984), he found the country still slowly rebuilding from World War II. "The war was a fresh memory for them," he says, and poverty…

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Moonstruck

Moonstruck

When Ronny Cammareri sweeps Loretta Castorini off her feet in "Moonstruck," he almost, in his exuberance, throws her over his shoulder. "Where are you taking me?" she cries. "To the bed!" he says. Not to bed, but to the bed.…

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Mon Oncle

Mon Oncle

Jacques Tati is the great philosophical tinkerer of comedy, taking meticulous care to arrange his films so that they unfold in a series of revelations and effortless delights. Consider a shot early in "Mon Oncle," where the camera regards the…

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