The Evil Eye (1963, Directed by Mario Bava) English 6

Starring Letícia Román, John Saxon, Valentina Cortese, Dante DiPaolo, Luigi Bonos

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Nora Davis (Román), apparently an American, though played by an Italian actress, arrives in Rome to care for her sick Aunt. She meets her Aunt’s attractive doctor, Marcello (Saxon), an Italian played by an American, and the two are instantly attracted to one another. Later, after a bad episode where her Aunt’s health fails, Nora runs out to the streets and witnesses a murder, or at least she thinks she does. The police believe she had a hallucination brought on by trauma. Slick, incredibly lithe camera movement highlight what was an early example of the Italian giallo genre( horror or thriller). Beautiful visuals and star in hand, the film gets by, but is never truly thrilling or surprising. Still, very entertaining.

Superbad (2007, Directed by Greg Mottola) English 9

Starring Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Seth Rogen, Bill Hader, Emma Stone, Christopher Mintz-Plasse

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Seth (Hill) and Evan (Cera), like many teen movie characters before them, vow to have sex before leaving for college, and see their chances after being invited to a party by a pretty, popular girl named Jules (Stone). The problem is that they promised to bring drinks, and in order to get them, they need the help of Fogel (Mintz-Plasse), also known as McLovin, a huge dork with a fake I.D. One thing after another happens until Seth and Evan’s mission to arrive at the party with alcohol becomes as epic and wandering as The Odyssey.  Hilarious movie with non-stop head shaking but quotable dialogue, delivered with expert comedic skill by Hill and Cera in particular.

The Cobweb (1955, Directed by Vincente Minnelli) English 6

Starring Richard Widmark, Lauren Bacall, Gloria Grahame, Charles Boyer, Lillian Gish, Susan Strasberg, John Kerr, Fay Wray

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The doctors have just as much problems as the patients it seems in this lurid melodrama set in a psychiatric institution. Dr. McIver (Widmark) truly cares about his patients, but competing egos, an affair with a member of his staff, Meg (Bacall), and a growing distance from his wife, Karen (Grahame), threaten to unravel him. Well acted by all, the trumped up emotions and amplified colors become a style, and it’s a style director, Minnelli does successfully. Not as much happening subtextually in this one as in some of the better examples of ’50s melodramas, but still an entertaining potboiler.

The Wicker Man (1973, Directed by Robin Hardy) English 10

Starring Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee, Britt Ekland, Diane Cilento, Ingrid Pitt

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Righteous, determined Seargeant Howie (Woodward) comes to Summerisle, an island inhabited by a pagan religious cult, to investigate the disappearance of a young girl. Tempted and repulsed by the people who deny the girl even have existed, Howie finds it increasingly difficult to think straight. Horror icon, Christopher Lee plays Lord Summerisle , King of the heathen island. Thoroughly bizarre and mysterious, The Wicker Man boasts one memorable sequence after another. Edward Woodward, with his theatrical delivery of the lines, is spectacular, and in other circumstances would make a perfect hero. Here though, there seems to be no hope at all, and the end is suitably devastating. Beautifully shot, written, and performed. At times hilarious and shocking, and I loved the outlandish musical numbers. I could see this film influencing David Lynch, especially his series, Twin Peaks.

Luxo Jr. (1986, Directed by John Lasseter) English 6

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The short that started it all for animation juggernaut, Pixar, was merely a tease of what was to come. It’s a very simple story about a lamp and that lamp’s son playing with a ball, but it’s a testament to the studio that out of that premise, they were able to make a relatable film. To make the audience empathize with inanimate objects would prove to be their first claim to fame nearly a decade later with Toy Story.

The Fog (1980, Directed by John Carpenter) English 6

Starring Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh, John Houseman, Tom Atkins, Hal Holbrook

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A mysterious, glowing fog has swept in to Californian coastal town, Antonio Bay, on its 100th anniversary, and with it comes vengeful undead figures, killing whoever gets caught in the fog. Several of the town’s characters attempt to get to the bottom of the strange happenings, with Father Malone (Holbrook) discovering his grandfather’s old journal, revealing the truth of the matter. A beautifully crafted, slow burner, not unlike John Carpenter’s next movie, The Thing, which is a horror masterpiece, but The Fog has less of bite than that film. There are a couple of nice jump scares, but the thrill of the luminous fog is significantly less than that of an alien capable of replicating your peers.

Phantom Thread (2017, Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson) English 10

Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Vicky Krieps, Lesley Manville, Camilla Rutherford, Brian Gleeson

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Reynolds Woodcock (Day-Lewis) is a world famous designer. Like many great artist, he sacrifices all else in favor of his craft. He needs everything to be just so, and the opening reveals, how this forces the women from his life. Then one day, he meets Alma (Krieps), and while Alma too marvels at Woodcock’s work,  where other women were pushed away, she gradually begins to push back. Paul Thomas Anderson, who hit the ground running with Hard Eight and Boogie Nights, has, over the years, has grown more enigmatic and opaque with his work. I’m sure there will be several essays deciphering what exactly is going on between Woodcock and Alma (and the indomitable sister, Cyril, looming over the picture, played expertly by Lesley Manville). I saw, in the end, a strong male figure who ultimately wants to be mothered, with the ghost of his departed mother casting a shadow over his life and work. It becomes nearly masochistic by the end. What’s clear and indisputable, however, is the skill involved, both in front of behind the camera. The film, for large segments, becomes akin to one of Ingmar Bergman’s chamber plays, with three dominant characters stuck in a confined space, allowing their quirks to plays out. I also was reminded of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, wherein Professor Henry Higgins takes a woman named Eliza Doolittle off the street, and attempts to mold her in the image of his liking. Only in Phantom Thread, Alma, unlike Eliza, does the final molding.