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That Sinking Feeling

Bill Forsyth’s first film (1979), made before Gregory’s Girl and Local Hero, turns out to be his best, a wry and beguiling ethnic comedy in the tradition of Alexander Mackendrick’s Tight Little Island. A social-problem background (unemployed teenagers in today’s postindustrial Glasgow) helps to anchor Forsyth’s whimsy, and the humor seems to flow more from […]

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El super

Ivan Acosta’s stage comedy about New York’s Cuban subculture, filmed by Leon Ichaso and Orlando Jimenez-Leal in 1979. Raymundo Hidalgo-Gato is the refugee hero—a bus driver in Havana, now reduced to tending a tenement on the Upper West Side. In Spanish with subtitles. 90 min.

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One Hundred Men and a Girl

Universal survived the Depression thanks to Boris Karloff and Deanna Durbin, the latter horror being a reedy-voiced child star who infected a number of late 30s musicals before creeping puberty ended her career. This is one of her more tolerable vehicles, with Deanna seducing Leopold Stokowski (1937). Henry Koster directed.

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You and i

Caught in a moral crisis, a Soviet scientist leaves Moscow for Siberia, where he meets and falls in love with another emotional refugee, a young woman who once attempted suicide. Larissa Shepitko directed (1971).

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Star Trek—The Motion Picture

Paramount Pictures bakes a $40 million loaf of Wonder Bread—this 1979 movie adaptation of the cult TV series is blandness raised to an epic scale. Robert Wise’s bloodless direction drains all the air from the Enterprise, as his characters inevitably lose their individuality in the mechanical click-clack of his crosscutting. This is the sort of […]

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Local Hero

Bill Forsyth, director of the frail and strenuously charming Gregory’s Girl, more or less gets his act together with this fable of an American executive (Peter Riegert) who succumbs to the mooniness of the Scottish fishing village he has been sent to buy for his company. The languorous, almost extinguished rhythms and the casual placement […]

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Diva

For his first feature, Jean-Jacques Beineix borrowed the formal innovations of the French avant-garde—Godard’s colors and conflicting tones, Rivette’s screwball thriller plotting—for a work of unalloyed entertainment, which was such a sharp commercial idea it’s a wonder no one had thought of it before. A young postal messenger who worships an American opera singer makes […]

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La Balance

Bob Swaim, an American-born director working in France, has crafted a superior policier from a blend of ragged realism and romantic archetypes. Petty criminal Philippe Leotard is persecuted by Parisian narc Richard Berry, who threatens to expose Leotard’s romance with a prostitute (Nathalie Baye)—a relationship forbidden by French law—unless Leotard informs on a major drug […]