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ALL THE KING'S MEN
Set in 1963, this elegant film tells the tale of a school in the middle of the desert. One day, the children find that their water jar, the sole vessel for drinking water, is cracked.
TAMING OF THE SHREW, THE
Sam Taylor's 1929 contemporary adaptation of Shakespeare's classic about sexual politics and role playing, with Douglas Fairbanks Sr. as the dashing, charismatic though unsuccessful businessman who attempts to seduce the town's notoriously ill-tempered woman, Mary Pickford. With Edwin Maxwell, Joseph Cawthorn, Clyde Cook and Geoffrey Wardell. Contains the immortal credit, "By William Shakespeare, with additional dialogue by Sam Taylor."
Sam Taylor---USA---1929---66 mins.
LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, THE
Although it has been consistently sold as a horror film over the years, Wes Craven's notorious first feature doesn't really fit into the genre. While the events in the film are certainly horrific, the movie is mainly a grim, upsetting depiction of debasement through violence. Two teenaged girls are raped, tortured and killed by sadistic criminals. When the killers arrive at the home of one of the girls, the enraged parents exact gruesome revenge. Controversial to this day, this thoroughly unpleasant film has been defended in some quarters as a statement against violence. It is certainly not a film, unlike so many exploitation movies, that makes its carnage look "fun." Based loosely on Ingmar Bergman's
The Virgin Spring
Wes Craven---USA---1972---84 mins.
Gore Verbinski's remake of the shocking 1996 Japanese ghost story
remains faithful to the original in its delivery of real scares. Naomi Watts (
) plays a newspaper reporter investigating a series of bizarre deaths, each occurring when the victim watches a specific videotape. When she decides to watch the tape herself, the terror begins. Although lacking in some of the subtleties of the original, the film still "creeps you out in high style" (Peter Travers,
Gore Verbinski---USA---2002---109 mins.
Troy Garity earned critical accolades for his portrayal of Albert, a mentally challenged man who's forced to fend for himself when his overbearing mother is unexpectedly killed. When con men begin homing in on Albert's ice fishing prize winnings, it becomes apparent that the man's sleepy Milwaukee suburb is rife with extortion, blackmail, and murder. "(Director) Allan Mindel nails the snowbound rhythms of upper Midwestern life and orchestrates a near perfect ending, a fade-to-white over an unlikely promised land" (
). With Debra Monk, Randy Quaid, and Bruce Dern.
Allan Mindel---USA---2005---95 mins.
The subject matter is
what the title promises, as Canadian filmmaker Barbara Lee examines this simple act from a variety of social, sexual, and political angles.
get mauled by
in this hypermasculine sword and sandal epic based on Frank Miller's graphic novel about the Battle of Thermopylae. A ripped Gerard Butler stars as King Leonidas, defending the Greek city-states with 300 well-trained (and toned) Spartans against the massive invading hordes of Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro). Though the Spartan to Persian kill ratio is roughly 1:10000, a troop surge is being hotly debated back home, giving snake-like Theron (Dominic West) room to conspire against Leonidas and Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey). Like
was shot against digital backgrounds, allowing director Zack Snyder [
Dawn of the Dead
(2004)] to closely replicate Miller's stylized, copper-colored cels. Iran officially objected to the film's portrayal of the ancient Persians as debauched, deformed, Orientalized transvestites. Looking past all the Persian monsters, glistening abs, bullet-time spear attacks, and overall blood-drunkenness,
could be summed thusly: Support our troops. Support our troop increase. These colors don't run, and neither do Spartans.
Zack Snyder---USA---2007---116 mins.
Made for just over $27,000, Kevin Smith's debut was the ultimate "little movie that could." This grainy, black and white, cheerfully crude sleeper became a box office hit and an immediate cult favorite. Two friends work as clerks at a neighboring convenience store and video shop, where their slacker lives intersect with several colorful characters. "...an outrageous, profane, and deliriously dead-on comedy" (Marc Savlov,
Kevin Smith---USA---1994---92 mins.
Jack Lemmon, Sissy Spacek and John Shea star in Costa-Gavras' political thriller based on the true story of Charles Horman, an American writer who disappears and is killed during the overthrow of Allende's government in Chile. Lemmon is the concerned father whose attempts to learn the truth are stonewalled by bureaucracy and cover-up.
OFF TO WAR: FROM RURAL ARKANSAS TO IRAQ
Arguably the most close-up and comprehensive view of the Iraq War to be filmed from the perspective of the American soldiers on the ground, this 10-part television series follows an Arkansas National Guard Unit from the farms and fields of the South to the bloody streets of Baghdad. Filmmakers Brent and Craig Renaud capture the lives of citizen soldiers back home in Arkansas, and then follow them through the course of their deployment, where the unit endures more deaths than any other brigade in Iraq. Among the unforgettable images are scenes of full-scale combat, a soldier's funeral, the birth of a first child, and a heart-rending homecoming. "The most intimate and memorable look at Americans in the Iraqi conflict" (
The New York Times
Brent Renaud/Craig Renaud---USA---2005---452 mins.
MURNAU, BORZAGE AND FOX
This massive Fox box set contains 12 late silent and early sound pictures directed by the great Frank Borzage and German emigre F.W. Murnau. There are two from Murnau--
(1927, 95 mins.) and
(1930, 90 mins.)--and 10 from Borzage:
(1925, 80 mins.),
(1927, 110 mins.),
(1928, 102 mins.),
(1929, 90 mins.),
They Had to See Paris
(1929, 95 mins.),
Song o' My Heart
(1930, 85 mins.),
(1930, 94 mins.),
(1931, 90 mins.),
(1932, 79 mins.), and
(1932, 70 mins.). These films are joined by the new documentary,
Murnau, Borzage and Fox
(2008, 105 mins.).
Friedrich W. Murnau/Frank Borzage---USA---1925-1932---1080 mins.
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