Drama

[7.0] Citizens of Kansas City, Missouri, experience nuclear attack and radioactive fall-out in this horrific drama helmed by director Nicholas Meyer (Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan, Time After Time). Two-time Oscar winner Jason Robards leads the ensemble cast as a doctor who can barely maintain order at a hospital overwhelmed by incoming patients. The story is also told from the perspective of a …

[7.5] In perhaps the grimmest animated movie ever made, two dogs escape certain death at a laboratory research facility only to find themselves forever on the run from the scientists and the local sheep farmers. Director Martin Rosen (Watership Down) spectacularly defies any and all expectations you might have about an animated movie with The Plague Dogs, his second Richard Adams adaptation. The two dogs, …

[7.0] Director Jean-Jacques Annaud (The Bear, The Name of the Rose) takes us on a prehistoric adventure about three cave-dwelling early humans who embark on a search for fire after an attack by animalistic Neanderthals extinguishes the flame their tribe maintained for generations. Along the way, the three men encounter cannibals, sabre-tooth tigers, and wooly mammoths. They also meet a woman from another tribe who …

[7.0] Near the end of the silent film era, Carl Theodor Dreyer (Vampyr) would deliver one of the medium’s most powerful titles — The Passion of Joan of Arc. Maria Falconetti stars as the nineteen-year-old French heroine who fought to rescue France from English domination during the Hundred Years War. But she was eventually captured by the English, and Dreyer’s film focuses on her trial …

[4.0] Debra Winger plays a federal investigator on the trail of a ‘black widow,’ a woman (Theresa Russell) who marries and murders one rich man after another, collecting inheritances as she goes. It’s great to see Debra Winger in anything, even if she’s under-utilized. Under-utilization is actually a recurring theme in the making of Black Widow. Russell’s mysterious character is also under-written. Supporting players the …

[6.5] In this dream-like film from director Juan López Moctezuma, a teenaged girl named Justine goes to live at a convent after the death of her parents. Unfortunately, her nun roommate, Alucarda, turns out to be a satanic lesbian with slightly vampiric tendencies. How the nuns missed the warning signs, we’ll never know. But after Alucarda takes Justine to a devil orgy in the woods …

[7.5] Jakob M. Erwa directs his own adaptation of Andreas Steinhöfel’s novel about a 17-year-old who returns from summer camp to find his hedonistic mother and twin sister have become uncomfortably distant. At the same time, he enters into his first romantic relationship with the new boy at school and seeks the aid of close family friends and his mother’s latest boyfriend to help him figure …

[4.5] Sylvia Sidney (Madame Butterfly, Sabotage) plays a rich girl smitten with a drunkard. Fredric March co-stars as her somewhat charming but sobriety-challenged lover, effectively doing a dry-run for the type of role for which he’d receive an Oscar nomination five years later with A Star is Born. Despite the warnings of her father (George Irving) and friends, Sidney marries March and things go as …

[8.0] Chameleon master craftsman Billy Wilder (Sunset Boulevard, The Lost Weekend) staked a name for himself and elevated low-budget film noir to new levels of respectability with his Hitchcockian suspense yarn Double Indemnity. The film, co-written by Wilder and Raymond Chandler, stars Fred MacMurray as an L.A. insurance salesman who conspires with an unhappy housewife, played by Barbara Stanwyck, to collect a massive insurance payout …

[4.0] Ten years before he picked up Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, Richard Gere played a ho himself in American Gigolo. As a male ‘chauffeur’, Gere’s plenty pretty to look at, aided by an array of Armani suits and moody cinematography by John Bailey. He even gives us a sustained full-frontal shot. But the fantasy fulfillment element of American Gigolo quickly dissolves into a tedious, …

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