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The Girl in a Swing

Alan (Rupert Frazer), a wealthy English antique ceramics dealer, becomes smitten with a German secretary named Karin (Meg Tilly) during a business trip in Copenhagen, proposes to her, and marries her after she joins him in England. Although they’re passionately in love, a number of unsettling and seemingly supernatural events—including dreams and apparent hallucinations—begin to […]

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Action Jackson

This is more or less Fatal Beauty in drag in a Detroit setting—with Carl Weathers (Apollo Creed in the Rocky movies) taking the place of Whoopi Goldberg. The wisecracks are even less funny, the mayhem more mindless, the police brutality more glibly fascistic, and the script (by Robert Reneau) about as idiotic as any that […]

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Hugh Hefner: Once Upon a Time

For at least its first half-hour or so, when the beginnings of a genuine psychological profile seem to be promised, this is a fascinating look at the life, fantasies, and empire of Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner, directed by Robert Heath and written by Heath, Gary H. Grossman, and Michael Gross. But the rest of the […]

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From the Journals of Jean Seberg

As in his Rock Hudson’s Home Movies, Mark Rappaport offers a highly trenchant piece of film criticism, revisionist history, and social commentary in the form of a movie star’s fictionalized autobiography—specifically Jean Seberg (Mary Beth Hurt) speaking from beyond the grave about her life and career, as well as the careers of Jane Fonda and […]

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Madame DuBarry

Not the German silent extravaganza by Ernst Lubitsch but William Dieterle’s 1934 remake, with Dolores Del Rio as the courtesan of Versailles. Considered daring when it came out—the Legion of Decency condemned it—it has mainly been noted since then for its period decor. With Reginald Owen (as Louis XV), Victor Jory, Anita Louise, and Osgood […]

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Bodies, Rest & Motion

Focusing on the interactions of two men (Tim Roth and Eric Stoltz) and two women (Bridget Fonda and Phoebe Cates) in an Arizona mall city over a single weekend, this is an adaptation by Roger Hedden of his own play, directed by Michael Steinberg (codirector of The Waterdance) in his first solo effort. Nicely written […]

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Frameup

Subtitled 12 Movements to the Only Conclusion, this is the last feature made by virtuoso low-budget independent Jon Jost (All the Vermeers in New York, Sure Fire) before he split for Europe in 1993, and once you see it you’ll know why he left. A highly stylized, extremely sarcastic, and sexually explicit road movie about […]

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The Wind

While less impressive than Souleymane Cisse’s subsequent Brightness, this 1982 feature about campus rebellion and ancestral, tribal memories in contemporary Africa is full of fascination. Bah, the grandson of a traditional chieftain, and Batrou, the daughter of a military governor representing the new power elite, become involved with a campus rebellion, drugs, and each other)—which […]

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The Innocent

Though it wasn’t terribly well received when it first appeared, Luchino Visconti’s last film (1979) strikes me as arguably the greatest of his late works apart from The Leopard—a withering autocritique of masculine vanity and self-delusion, adapted from a novel by Gabriele D’Annunzio, focusing on a well-to-do intellectual (Giancarlo Giannini) at the turn of the […]