1970’s

[6.5] The Pom Pom Girls stands out from the grindhouse pack for me. The title is actually a misnomer, as there are precious few moments with any cheerleaders. The movie is really about two high-school boys and their girlfriends making love, participating in pranks, and enjoying the last year of their lives together before graduation. The only thing driving a conventional plot is a big …

[5.5] Steve Martin and director Carl Reiner team up for this absurdist, serendipitous comedy about a poor country boy who leaves his family to discover what the big city has to offer him. Martin’s character is an oblivious man-child whose ignorance and confusion sees him through a series of comic set-pieces that give The Jerk a skit-comedy feel for a while. Highlights include a gas …

[5.0] This dopey but harmless summer camp movie helped lead the charge of ’80s teen comedies that would follow in its wake. It’s tame by comparison, but noteworthy for being the first pairing of director Ivan Reitman and actor Bill Murray, who would later bring us Stripes and Ghostbusters. Fellow frequent collaborator Harold Ramis is even one of the screenwriters here. But there’s not a …

[7.0] A young man named Smitty (Wendell Burton) goes to prison and immediately falls into a brutal struggle for power and supremacy. He reluctantly enters into a submissive relationship with one of his roommates, a tough guy named Rocky (Zooey Hall) who promises to protect him from gang rapes in exchange for sexual servitude. He also observes how a drag queen named Queenie (Michael Greer) …

[7.5] Jack Weston stars in this gay-themed screwball comedy based on a stage play by Terrence McNally (Love! Valour! Compassion!). Weston plays a frumpy, middle-aged man hiding out in a New York bath house from a brother (Jerry Stiller) who plans to kill him so he won’t inherit the family business. At the bath house, Weston meets a handful of bizarre characters who end up …

[6.5] This American/Japanese animated venture would be the first feature-length movie journey into J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Produced by Rankin/Bass (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, The Last Unicorn) and animated by the studio that would later become Studio Ghibli, The Hobbit is a brisk 77-minute adaptation that features many folksy songs and a notable voice cast led by John Huston as Gandalf. While it may be …

[7.5] Documentary filmmakers Albert and David Maysles (Gimme Shelter) bring us inside the isolated world of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ eccentric aunt and first cousin, ‘Big’ Edie and ‘Little’ Edie Beale. The women, 79 and 57 respectively, live in squalor at the title mansion, a dilapidated house full of garbage, cats, and raccoons. As former socialites and entertainers, they spend their days reminiscing about the past, …

[6.5] Martin Rosen brings to life Richard Adams’ novel about a group of rabbits who leave their burrows and face a series of deadly hardships in search of a new home. Watership Down is one of the more serious animated films geared toward children. Under its episodic adventure narrative, it’s really a meditation on the ever-present risk and inevitability of death. Not all of the …

[7.5] Writer/director Steven Spielberg follows up his immensely successful Jaws with this tale of extra-terrestrials and government conspiracy. Richard Dreyfuss stars as a family man whose encounter with a UFO brings him into contact with a grieving mother (Melinda Dillon) whose young son has been kidnapped by aliens. Together, they are haunted by visions of a mountain. When they figure out their mysterious, shared vision …

[7.0] After the success of Star Wars two years earlier, Paramount was quick to launch their own cinematic foray into outer space with the first Star Trek feature film. Star Trek: The Motion Picture reunites the crew from the TV show, which by then had developed a cult following. But when audiences showed up for the film’s big opening weekend, the film wasn’t quite what …

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