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Alexander the Great

An early (1956) CinemaScope epic by Robert Rossen, more intelligent and more personal than most of the entries in that silly cycle, though hardly feather light. Rossen’s Alexander is an extension of his Huey Long in All the King’s Men, a demagogue riding a shaky wave of power. Richard Burton stars, golden-tressed in his first […]

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Penny Serenade

If you have any tolerance for soap opera, this is one of the classics, a film that does nothing more than what comes naturally to the genre (unlike, say, the melodramas of Borzage and Minnelli), but does it with such patience and responsibility that the cliches really come alive and become partly valid. It’s the […]

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Privates on Parade

John Cleese stars as a stiff-backed major in charge of “SADUSEA”—“Song and Dance Unit, Southeast Asia”—sent to entertain the British troops fighting in Singapore in 1948. Michael Blakemore (Noises Off) directed this farce, which was adapted from a 1977 Royal Shakespeare Company production. With Denis Quilley, Michael Elphick, and Nicola Pagett.

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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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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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The Machine Age

Shyam Benegal’s Indian film is an update of the Mahabhatata, transposing the story of two warring families to the newly industrialized India of the 1950s. The Puranchads and the Khubchands are the owners of opposing industrial empires, linked by blood and divided by competition for the same markets. With Sashi Kapoor

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Francisca

Portuguese director Manoel de Oliveira made this amazing film in 1981, at the age of 72; as powerful as it is stark, it suggests a blending of the modernist, minimalist techniques of Jean-Marie Straub with the elusive spiritual subject matter of Max Ophuls. In 19th-century Portugal, a rising young novelist falls in love with the […]

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Making Love

The gay theme was placed at the center of the publicity for this Arthur Hiller film, but in the movie it’s off to one side—it occupies, in fact, the same structural position that fatal disease did in Hiller’s Love Story. The film is about the breakdown of a beautiful relationship caused by forces beyond anyone’s […]