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2010

The bucketloads of sanctimonious message mongering ladled on by director Peter Hyams still can’t disguise the sheerly mercenary basis of this 1986 project, a wholly uncalled-for sequel to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001. Kubrick’s 1968 film was the first in American movie history to get an open-ended, modernist narrative past a popular audience; Hyams has set himself […]

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Runaway

A 1984 thriller by Michael Crichton (Coma, Looker), set in a not-too-distant future where a police sergeant in charge of stopping runaway robots (Tom Selleck) comes up against an evil genius (Gene Simmons of Kiss) who has found a way to program them to kill. With Cynthia Rhodes, Kirstie Alley, and Stan Shaw. PG, 100 […]

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A Sunday in the Country

Craftsmanship, intelligence, and refined sentiment are the hallmarks of Bertrand Tavernier’s exquisite French feature (1984), a model of how much ground can be covered with the smallest movements. In 1912 an elderly painter (Louis Ducreux) is visited at his country home by his straitlaced son (Michel Aumont) and his family; the old man’s daughter, a […]

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A Very Natural Thing

One of the first gay films to gain an above-ground release (1973). As the title suggests, Christopher Larkin’s feature is heavy on positive, healthy images—lots of romping in the surf and that kind of thing. It’s more than a little dated now (and its R rating remains a total mystery), but this was a stage […]

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Doomed Love

Andrew Horn’s independent feature uses distorted, Caligari-like sets and a score by Evan Lurie of the Lounge Lizards to tell the tale of a suicidal English professor who falls madly in love with his psychiatrist’s nurse. Horn aims for an operatic expansion of the modest material, attempting to fuse camp detachment and melodramatic grandeur (1983).

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Destry Rides Again

The most famous of the many adaptations of Max Brand’s story of a shy sheriff who tries to tame a wide-open town without using his guns (1939). The material makes no demands on the talents of James Stewart and Marlene Dietrich, but they enter gamely into the farcical tone set by director George Marshall. Singing […]

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Oliver!

Carol Reed’s careful if passionless adaptation of the musical was mounted handsomely enough to win the best-picture Oscar back in 1969. In retrospect, it seems emblematic of the triviality Reed descended to in the last years of his career. The Third Man it’s not. With Mark Lester, Oliver Reed, and Ron Moody. 153 min.

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Gregory’s Girl

Very, very modest whimsy from Scotland, about a gangly teenager’s first crush. The only ambition of writer-director Bill Forsyth is to beguile—he has no insights worth mentioning—and I guess he succeeds, though it’s hard to warm to a film as intentionally slight and safe as this. With Gordon John Sinclair and Dee Hepburn.