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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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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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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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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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My Way Home

Captured by the Russian army in its 1945 advance across Hungary, a boy is put to work herding cows with a young Russian soldier. The two become friends, but when the boy is released at the end of the war, he is punished for collaboration. A 1964 film by Miklos Jancso (Red Psalm), it’s said […]

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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.