Drama

[6.0] Rory Calhoun, or proto-George Clooney as I like to call him, stars in this kinda silly but kinda fun sword-and-sandals flick that earned Sergio Leone (A Fistful of Dollars, Once Upon a Time in America) his first major directing credit. Calhoun plays a visiting war hero on the island of Rhodes who gets tangled in a rebel uprising and a Phoenician conquest. He also …

[6.0] Devil and the Deep stars Tallulah Bankhead as the wife of a U.S. naval commander played by Charles Laughton (receiving ‘introducing’ credit here). Laughton’s character is mentally ill and insanely jealous of every man Bankhead ever comes into contact with, which includes Cary Grant early on in the film, and later with Gary Cooper. Thing is, Tallulah really did sleep with Cooper (God bless …

[8.5] Paul Verhoeven (Soldier of Orange, RoboCop) brings his devil-may-care attitude toward sex and morality to this slice-of-life story about three young Dutch boys who dream of escaping their restrained provincial lives by winning motor cross competitions. One of the boys, Rien (Hans van Tongeren), has a real chance of unseating the current champion (Rutger Hauer), while Eef (Toon Agterberg) struggles with his sexual identity in dark ways, and …

[8.0] A bunch of British people fall in love, out of love, and do lovey-dovey things in the month leading up to Christmas. Now, if you’re like me, that’s a description that will keep you from ever wanting to watch Love Actually. But since a hundred different people have insisted I watch it over the last fifteen years since it was released, I finally gave …

[8.0] Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg star as a man and woman who retreat to their cabin in the woods to grieve the death of their young son. Dafoe’s character is a therapist and tries to offer techniques to help Gainsbourg’s character cope with the tragedy. But Gainsbourg spirals beyond grief and into insanity… and violence. Writer/director Lars von Trier (Dancer in the Dark, The …

[5.5] James Spader plays a… well, let’s say he plays a big pussy who lets people push him around and shit all over him. But then he meets Rob Lowe, and Rob Lowe teaches him to stand up for himself and be more of a man. The two become friends, going out on the town and bringing babes back to Spader’s pad. And then Lowe …

[7.5] A curmudgeonly obsessive-compulsive (Jack Nicholson) falls for a charming waitress (Helen Hunt) and strikes up an unlikely friendship with a gay neighbor (Greg Kinnear) in As Good as It Gets, another comedy/drama hybrid from the sometimes brilliant mind of James L. Brooks (Terms of Endearment, Broadcast News). In lesser hands, this one could have turned out a tonal mess, but Brooks and the cast …

[8.0] Christian Bale once again transforms himself completely to become former vice-president Dick Cheney in Adam McKay’s (The Big Short) new film, Vice. The film is a pastiche of Cheney’s political career, driven in large part by his relationship with wife Lynne (Amy Adams) and daughters Liz and Mary. McKay is careful to keep Vice a pitch-black comedy at all times, but he also does …

[8.0] Isabelle Huppert stars as a woman trying to learn the identity of the man who raped her. Based on that description, I pegged Elle for a revenge story, but it’s much more complicated and interesting than that. As the film unfolds, we learn Huppert is the producer of sexually violent video games. Then we learn she’s the daughter of a mass-murderer. It’s indicated that …

[6.5] Mae West stars as an 1890’s club entertainer courting a variety of suitors while a dangerous boyfriend promises retribution if she leaves him. While the suitors keep her covered in diamonds, it’s the man running a mission next door who most strikes West’s fancy. That man is played by Cary Grant, in one of his earliest screen appearances. Based on West’s own stage play, …

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