Employee Picks

“Harlan County U.S.A.” directed by Barbara Kopple (John’s Pick)
Barbara Kopple’s Academy Award–winning Harlan County USA unflinchingly documents a grueling coal miners’ strike in a small Kentucky town. With unprecedented access, Kopple and her crew captured the miners’ sometimes violent struggles with strikebreakers, local police, and company thugs. Featuring a haunting soundtrack—with legendary country and bluegrass artists Hazel Dickens, Merle Travis, Sarah Gunning, and Florence Reece—the film is a heartbreaking record of the thirteen-month struggle between a community fighting to survive and a corporation dedicated to the bottom line.
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“Hellraiser” directed by Clive Barker (Marisa’s Pick)
Clive Barker has unleashed a nightmare like no other; a deliciously depraved vision of hell on earth that changed the face of horror forever. Andrew Robinson, Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence, and Doug Bradley — as the iconic “Pinhead” star in this extreme saga of leave after death, pleasure beyond pain, an ancient puzzle box and the legion of Cenobites that feed upon human suffering.
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“Fallen Angels” directed by Wong Kar-Wai (Josh’s Pick)
Set in the neon-washed underworld of present day Hong Kong, FALLEN ANGELS intertwines exhilarating tales of love and isolation, primarily the unconsummated love affair between a contract Killer (Leon Lai Ming) and the ravishing female Agent (Michele Reis) who books his assignments and cleans up after his jobs.
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“Videodrome” directed by David Cronenberg (Marisa’s Pick)
When Max Renn goes looking for edgy new shows for his sleazy cable TV station, he stumbles across the pirate broadcast of a hyperviolent torture show called Videodrome. As he struggles to unearth the origins of the program, he embarks on a hallucinatory journey into a shadow world of right-wing conspiracies, sadomasochistic sex games, and bodily transformation. Starring James Woods and Deborah Harry in one of her first film roles, Videodrome is one of writer/director David Cronenberg’s most original and provocative works, fusing social commentary with shocking elements of sex and violence. With groundbreaking special effects makeup by Academy Award®-winner Rick Baker, Videodrome has come to be regarded as one of the most influential and mind-bending science fiction films of the 1980s.
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“The Watermelon Woman” directed by Cheryl Dunye (John’s Pick)
Cheryl Dunye’s debut feature is as controversial as it is sexy and funny. Cheryl is a twenty-something black lesbian working as a clerk in a video store while struggling to make a documentary about Fae Richards, an obscure black actress from the 1930’s. Cheryl is surprised to discover that Richards (known populary as “the Watermelon Woman”) had a white lesbian lover. At the same time, Cheryl falls in love with a very cute white customer at the video store (Guinevere Turner from Go Fish).
Such are the complexities of race and sex in this startlingly fresh debut, which has been attacked by conservative Congressmen for having been funded by the NEA and lavishingly praised in the editorial pages for being charming and courageous.

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“Orpheus” directed by Jean Cocteau (Josh’s Pick)
Jean Cocteau’s update of the Orpheus myth depicts a famous poet (Jean Marais), scorned by the Left Bank youth, and his love for both his wife, Eurydice (Marie Déa), and a mysterious princess (Maria Casarès). Seeking inspiration, the poet follows the princess from the world of the living to the land of the dead, through Cocteau’s famous mirrored portal. Orpheus’s peerless visual poetry and dreamlike storytelling represent the legendary Cocteau at the height of his powers.
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“The Proposition” directed by John Hillcoat (Marisa’s Pick)
Rural Australia in the late nineteenth century: Capt. Stanley and his men capture two of the four Burns brothers, Charlie and Mike. Their gang is held responsible for attacking the Hopkins farm, raping pregnant Mrs. Hopkins and murdering the whole family. Arthur Burns, the eldest brother and the gang’s mastermind, remains at large has and has retreated to a mountain hideout. Capt. Stanley’s proposition to Charlie is to gain pardon and – more importantly – save his beloved younger brother Mike from the gallows by finding and killing Arthur within nine days.
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“The 10th Victim” directed by Elio Petri (Josh’s Pick)
It is the 21st Century, and society’s lust for violence is satisfied by The Big Hunt, an international game of legalized murder. But when the sport’s two top assassins are pitted against each other, they find that love is the most dangerous game of all. As the world watches, the hunt is on. Who will become THE 10TH VICTIM? THE 10TH VICTIM is the international cult classic whose wild action and sexy style has influenced a generation of movies, from THE RUNNING MAN to the AUSTIN POWERS series.
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“The Awful Truth” directed by Leo McCarey (John’s Pick)
One of the top five screwball comedies of the ’30s, this helped to cement a genre that waxed golden until the end of WWII. Director Leo McCarey won an Oscar for Best Director for this 1937 romantic comedy–one of the most successful films of his career. Irene Dunne and Cary Grant are a squabbling couple who separate because of supposed infidelities on both sides. They part but cannot really keep away from each other. Grant finds himself hooked up with a socialite, Dunne becomes engaged to a millionaire hick played by the hapless Ralph Bellamy (as if he ever stood a chance as the “other” man!). When not dating others or baiting one another in a verbal war, Grant and Dunne wage a custody battle over their pathetic pooch. Gags, double entendre, witty remarks, snide comments, and fast-paced dialogue helped this to garner six Academy Award nominations.
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“Ghost Dog” directed by Jim Jarmusch (Gabe’s Pick)
In Jim Jarmusch’s fascinating meshing of gangster story and samurai film, Forest Whitaker is Ghost Dog, a hit man who rubs out opponents for mobsters he’s indebted to because one of them saved his life. Living in a rooftop shack and communicating by pigeons, Whitaker abides by an ancient Samurai creed–even when his employers cross him.
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“Straight to Hell Returns” directed by Alex Cox (Josh’s Pick)
Straight to Hell Returns, Directed by Alex Cox, is a new version of Cox’s 1986 feature “Straight To Hell”. Four hapless bank robbers bury their loot and attempt to hide out in a deserted desert town. But the town is not deserted. Feasting, song, sexual tension, and inevitable deaths ensue. Featuring digitally improved violence and cruelty, six missing scenes, A new 5.1 stereo soundtrack by Academy Awardr Winner Richard Beggs, and a new color design by cinematographer Tom Richmond.
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“Dick” directed by Andrew Fleming (John’s Pick)
So who exactly was Deep Throat, that all-important source who helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bust open the Watergate scandal? Well, according to this thoroughly funny, keenly smart comedy from director Andrew Fleming (The Craft), it was two sweetly daft teenage girls named Betsy and Arlene. Taking the history and figures from Watergate and running gleefully and sacrilegiously amok, Dick offers up a hilarious what-if scenario that takes the Nixon administration’s downfall from grave tragedy to hilarious farce. When Betsy (Kirsten Dunst) and Arlene (Michelle Williams) run into a shady figure in the stairwell of Arlene’s Watergate apartment building, little do they know they’ve stumbled upon G. Gordon Liddy (Harry Shearer) on the night of the Democratic National Headquarters break-in.
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“Big Trouble in Little China” directed by John Carpenter (Gabe’s Pick)
Directed by thrill master John Carpenter, this edgo-of-your seat adventrue stars Kurt Russell as Jack Burton, a tough-talking, wisecracking truck driver whose hum-drum life on the road takes a sudden supernatural tailspin when his best friend’s fiancee is kidnapped. Speeding to the rescue, Jack finds himself deep beneath San Francisco’s Chinatown, in a murky, creature-filled world ruled by Lo Pan, a 2000-year-old magician who mercilessly presides over an empire of spirits. Dodging demons and facing baffling terrors, Jack battles his way through Lo Pan’s dark domain in a full-throttle, action-riddled ride to rescue the girl. Co-starring Kim Cattrall, this effects-filled sci-fi spectacle speeds to an incredible, twist-taking finish.
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“Women In Love” directed by Ken Russell (Josh’s Pick)
This compelling rendition of the literary masterpiece is a visual stunner and very likely the most sensuous film ever made (N.Y. Daily News). Glenda Jackson garnered the first of her two Oscars®* for her superb performance in director Ken Russell and writer Larry Kramer’s brilliant exploration of the complexities of sexuality and romantic love. Growing up in the sheltered society of 1920s England, Gudrun (Jackson) and Ursula (Jennie Linden) know little about the ways of love. So when they pursue thrilling, torrid affairs with a notorious playboy (Alan Bates) and a brooding philanderer (Oliver Reed), what they discover about their lovers, and themselves, may be more all-consuming and dangerously volatile than they ever dared imagine.
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“Examined Life” directed by Astra Taylor (John’s Pick)
In Examined Life, filmmaker Astra Taylor (Zizek!) liberates philosophy from the sterile world of academia through entertaining and thought-provoking excursions with some of today’s most famous and influential thinkers. Peter Singer’s thoughts on the ethics of consumption are amplified against the backdrop of Fifth Avenue’s posh boutiques. Slavoj Zizek questions current beliefs about the environment while sifting through a garbage dump. Michael Hardt ponders the nature of revolution while surrounded by symbols of wealth and leisure. Judith Butler and Sunaura Taylor stroll through San Francisco’s Mission District questioning our culture’s fixation on individualism. And while driving through Manhattan, Cornel West–called “a genius” and “an oracle” by President Obama–compares philosophy to jazz and blues, reminding us how intense and invigorating a life of the mind can be. Offering privileged moments with great thinkers from fields ranging from ethics to cultural theory, Examined Life reveals philosophy’s power to transform the way we see the world around us and imagine our place in it.
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“The Thin Blue Line” directed by Errol Morris (John’s Pick)
Errol Morris broke new ground with the “riveting” (LA Weekly) film that dramatically reenacts the crime scene and investigation of a police officer’s murder in Dallas. So powerful and convincing that it helped free an innocent man from prison, The Thin Blue Line is “one of the finest documentary features ever made” (Boxoffice). On November 28, 1976, when drifter Randall Dale Adams was picked up by teenage runaway David Harris, his fate was sealed. That night, a police officer was shot in cold blood. And though all the facts pointed to Harris, a sociopath with a lengthy rap sheet, Adams was convicted of capital murder. Was Adamsguilty? And if not, can Morris unlock the secrets of this baffling case?
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“Ashes of Time Redux” directed by Wong Kar Wai (Josh’s Pick)
From Director Wong Kar Wai comes the definitive version of Ashes of Time, an epic martial arts masterpiece of larger-than-life characters, breathtaking landscapes and exquisite fight scenes. The story centers on Ouyang Feng (Leslie Cheung), a heartbroken and cynical man who spends his days alone in the desert, connecting expert swordsmen with those seeking revenge and willing to pay for it. As Ouyang narrates his tale, interweaving the stories of his unusual clients, old friends and future foes, he begins to realize the mistakes of his own past, and how his fear of rejection may have led him to a life of exile.
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“Spetters” directed by Paul Verhoeven (John’s Pick)
From notorious filmmaker Paul Verhoeven (Basic Instinct, Showgirls) and writer GerardSoeteman comes this director’s cut of an explosive, fast-paced (Boxoffice) coming-of-age drama. Raw, intense and unabashedly sexual, Spetters is a wild ride that will knock the unsuspecting for a loop (The Hollywood Reporter). Rien, Eef and Hans are three young working-class guys stuck in an industrial town on the outskirts of Rotterdam. They couldn’t be more different except for one thing: their shared passion for motorcycle racing, which each sees as his ticket to a better life. But a deeper passion will soon rule each of their lives, when a sexy, ambitiousblonde comes between them and provokes unforeseen events that will rock their worlds.
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“Island of Lost Souls” directed by Erle C. Kenton (Josh’s Pick)
A twisted treasure from Hollywood’s pre-Code horror heyday, Island of Lost Souls is a cautionary tale of science run amok, adapted from H. G. Wells’s novel The Island of Dr. Moreau. In one of his first major movie roles, Charles Laughton is a mad doctor conducting ghastly genetic experiments on a remote island in the South Seas, much to the fear and disgust of the shipwrecked man (Richard Arlen) who finds himself trapped there. This touchstone of movie terror, directed by Erle C. Kenton, features expressionistic photography by Karl Struss, groundbreaking makeup effects that have inspired generations of monster-movie artists, and the legendary Bela Lugosi in one of his most gruesome roles.
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“Sawdust and Tinsel” directed by Ingmar Bergman (John’s Pick)
Ingmar Bergman presents the battle of the sexes as a ramshackle, grotesque carnival in Sawdust and Tinsel, one of the late master’s most vivid early works. The story of the charged relationship between a turn-of-the-century traveling circus owner (Ake Grönberg) and his performer girlfriend (Harriet Andersson), the film features dreamlike detours and twisted psychosexual power plays that presage the director’s Smiles of a Summer Night and The Seventh Seal, works that would soon change the landscape of art cinema forever.
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“The Double Life of Veronique” directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski (Josh’s Pick)
Krzysztof Kieślowski’s international breakthrough remains one of his most beloved films, a ravishing, mysterious rumination on identity, love, and human intuition. Irène Jacob is incandescent as both Weronika, a Polish choir soprano, and her double, Véronique, a French music teacher. Though unknown to each other, the two women share an enigmatic, emotional bond, which Kieślowski details in gorgeous reflections, colors, and movements. Aided by Slawomir Idziak’s shimmering cinematography and Zbigniew Preisner’s haunting, operatic score, Kieślowski creates one of cinema’s most purely metaphysical works. The Double Life of Véronique is an unforgettable symphony of feeling.
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