The Bird With The Crystal Plumage (L’Uccello Dalle Piume di Cristallo)

BBBB (out of 5) An American writer visiting Rome walks by an art gallery and witnesses a woman being stabbed, blocked from helping her by giant glass doors (in one of the film’s many ingenious sequences) but at least scaring the would-be murderer off and saving the woman from death. The crime is part of…

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The Hateful Eight

BBB (out of 5) Samuel L. Jackson blocks the path of a coach making its way to Red Rock across a nineteenth century snow-capped Wyoming ridge, begging a ride from its passengers. Jackson is a bounty hunter hauling in a few dead bodies for the reward, while riding comfortably inside the coach is another (Kurt…

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China Is Near (La Cina e Vicina)

BBBB (out of 5) A political comedy/drama that has lost none of its energy or vitality in the years since it was made.  Marco Bellocchio provides a rich satire on Italian society that focuses on an aristocratic professor who lives in his giant villa with his younger, socially conscious brother and his temperamental sister.  Within…

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1900 (Novecento)

BBBB (out of 5) Robert De Niro and Gerard Depardieu are born on the same day at the very beginning of the twentieth century, one the grandson of the padrone (Burt Lancaster) who has ownership of the peasants who work his land, and the other Lancaster’s own illegitimate son with one of the farm labourers.  They are…

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The Decameron (Il Decameron)

BBB.5 (out of 5) Pasolini’s trilogy of life gets off to a terrific start with this spirited and funny adaptation of Boccaccio’s bawdy tales, with producer Alberto Grimaldi inspired by the success of Fellini Satyricon to put more X-rated tales of antiquity on the big screen.  The stories mostly revolve around sex and money, with…

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Hamlet (1990)

BBBB.5 (out of 5) Mel Gibson is excellent in the title role of the much-depressed Danish prince whose recent loss of his father has put him into a quandary: is it possible to forgive his mother (Glenn Close) for immediately following the death of her husband with the marriage of her husband’s brother? When his father’s…

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The Unknown Woman (The Unknown) (La Sconosciuta)

BBBB (out of 5) A Ukrainian woman shows up in a Roman apartment building to work as a house cleaner, then makes her way into the home of a highly successful jeweler and her husband and becomes nanny to their child. As the film progresses, she develops an attachment to the little girl that goes…

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Malena

BBBB (out of 5) Monica Bellucci stars as the title character, the most beautiful woman in a small Italian village who is also the object of affection for a burgeoning young boy who becomes so obsessed with her that he follows her everywhere. Naturally, the dowdy women in this poor village do not take to this…

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The Star Maker (L’Uomo Delle Stelle)

BBBB (out of 5) A con man in 1940s Italy travels from village to village filming people for bogus screen tests and promising that one day he’ll come back for them and make them famous. It’s a solid moneymaking operation until one day he meets a young lady entirely devoted to the fake dream he…

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Cinema Paradiso

BBBB (out of 5) A successful, aging filmmaker looks back on his youth and remembers his life and the influence that movies have had on him throughout. He recalls his younger days as a child when we would pull the craziest pranks to see movies whenever he could, befriending the local projectionist (Philippe Noiret) while…

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Two Mules For Sister Sara

BBBB (out of 5) While on a mission to find out about a French-protected fort that he plans on attacking, soldier Clint Eastwood comes across a nun (Shirley MacLaine) who is about to be raped by three cowboys. After saving her, Eastwood finds himself stuck with the sister until she proves useful by providing key information…

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La Cage Aux Folles

BBBB (out of 5) A gay couple who own a drag cabaret in St. Tropez are pleased when their son comes home for a visit and announces that he is soon to be married. Their delight turns to disappointment, however, when he informs them that his fiancee’s family is very conservative and wouldn’t appreciate their…

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