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Moulin Rouge!

Moulin Rouge! (2001) PG-13
The opening scene of this movie is a frenetic, whirling burst of lights, colors, and music! But try and stick with it because it is one luscious movie!

As the story goes, Christian, an impoverished writer, comes to Paris and falls in with Toulouse-Lautrec and the Bohemians of Montmartre, which leads us all to a merry romp at the Moulin Rouge. Christian meets Satine, the club's star and a beautiful courtesan. When he falls head-over-heels in love with her, a dangerous love triangle begins!

Ewan McGregor is terrific as Christian, Nicole Kidman is perfect as Satine, and they sing and dance! Visit About.com to find more about the movie, the stars, and the music.

Hombre

Hombre (1967)
Paul Newman perfected the role of the anti-hero. In Hombre, Newman plays a white man who had been raised by the Apache Indians and adopted their way of life. When John 'Hombre' Russell unexpectedly inherits a lodging-house, he sells it and heads to Bisbee, Arizona. He joins a party on a stagecoach – travelers who are incapable of protecting themselves or coping with the Western badlands. He becomes the natural leader of the group in its survival against a robber band headed by Richard Boone. In doing so, he becomes the hero, the guy who can handle things and defend the weak.

This could just be the best western ever made! Critics praise the performance of Newman and the writing of Elmore Leonard. All of the performances are excellent, making it an intelligent and important entry to the Western genre. It gets better with time, and the message is universal brotherhood.

Gaslight

Gaslight (1944)
Gaslight is a superb example of a woman-in-peril suspense film. It is a psychological thriller, perfectly atmospheric, set in a foggy, dark London of the Victorian period.

Ingrid Bergman’s performance as a woman slowly losing her mind is great – she received an Oscar for it. She is the victim of games being played to make her doubt her sanity. (The term to gaslight someone to make them doubt themself comes from the movie’s title. It refers to the frequent dimming of the gas lights she sees.)

Charles Boyer is the devil trying to destroy his wife’s mind, and Joseph Cotten the dashing, intelligent inspector whose suspicions save the day. Angela Lansbury, at 18 years old, makes her screen debut in this very enjoyable, albeit old film.

Niagara

Niagara (1953)
Marilyn Monroe and Joseph Cotten star in this dark story about love and murder set at Niagara Falls. Though not the best film ever made, Niagara helped cement Monroe's status as a box office draw. It afforded her the chance to play a cold-blooded and conniving role. Joseph Cotten turns in another of his intense, dark and disturbed portrayals.

There is an interesting noir feeling to this Technicolor film with the stalking sequence in the clock tower and the finale. The film makes great use of the falls themselves, both in a "travelogue" sense and in terms of using the location to create and maintain atmosphere. Released in 1953, it's still good to watch again!

Finding Neverland

Finding Neverland (2004) PG
The story of the man who wrote Peter Pan, author James M. Barrie, Finding Neverland features another phenomenal performance by Johnny Depp. As the story begins, playwright Barrie (Depp) has staged a recent flop and his producer (Dustin Hoffman) is getting impatient.

Finding Neverland presents a fictional account of Barrie’s creative life and the inspirations that helped bring Peter Pan to the stage. Barrie meets the four Davies boys and their mother, Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (Kate Winslet) in London’s Kensington Gardens. Captured by their boyish imagination and touched by the recent loss of their father, he begins to tell them stories and is eventually inspired to write a play about a boy who stays young forever. The Davies boys show him Neverland, and he shows it to the world.

Depp, with his own boyish looks and childhood spirit, is perfect as Barrie. Freddie Highmore, who portrays the young Peter Davies, gives a remarkable toughness and sensitivity to his first movie role.
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Charade

Charade (1963)
Charade, a film written by Peter Stone and Marc Behm, tells the tale of a woman (Audrey Hepburn) pursued by several men, including Cary Grant, who want the fortune her murdered husband has stolen. Directed by Stanley Donen, it also features Walter Matthau, James Coburn, George Kennedy and an Oscar nominated score by Henry Mancini.

It spans three genres: suspense/thriller, romance, and comedy, and is both charming and amusing. The interaction between Hepburn and Grant is the best part of this 1963 film shot in Paris. Check out About.com for more about the plot, cast, backstory, and more.

Spotlight: Horton Foote

Spotlight: Horton FooteHorton Foote is an Academy Award, Pulitzer Prize and Emmy Award-winning (and Tony Award-nominated) American author and playwright. Perhaps his best known work is his screenplay for To Kill a Mockingbird. Here are two of his other movies that you may enjoy:

Tender Mercies (1982) PG

Mac Sledge is a down-and-out country singer with his own demons. His ex-wife, Dixie, is now making popular the songs that Mac had written and sung. When he befriends a young widow and her son, the friendship provides the support he needs to find happiness and enables him to find the inspiration to resume his career.

A Trip to Bountiful (1985) PG
Set in 1947 Houston, A Trip to Bountiful is a quiet leisurely paced story that's more character than plot driven. It revolves around Carrie Watt's escape from the three-room Houston apartment she shares with her son Ludie and daughter-in-law Jessie Mae to revisit Bountiful, the small Texas town of her youth, which she still refers to as "home.” After several near-misses, Mrs. Watts makes a successful escape and her last trip home.

Still Unforgettable

Still Unforgettable by Natalie Cole (2008)
Eight-time Grammy winner Natalie Cole continues her exploration of American pop standards in this sequel to her 1991 Grammy LP of the Year Unforgettable: With Love. I found it to be a nice blend of smooth jazz and big band sounds, but I don't think she needs to do any more duets with her dead father!

Spotlight: Tim Burton

Spotlight: Tim BurtonThe decidedly quirky talents of director Tim Burton bring a unique pop culture sensibility to his work. From his debut film (Pee-Wee's Big Adventure) to his latest (Sweeney Todd), his movies have an engagingly bizarre look and humor about them. I appreciate his knack for visual wit. Some of the films have the added pleasure of feature scores by Danny Elfman or a performance by Johnny Depp. Try one or all of these:

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007) R
The cast -- Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Albert Finney and Marisa Tomei -- rise to the occasion in this recent film by director Sidney Lumet. Like an ancient tragedy, it is a melodrama told in out-of-sequence episodes (with captions so you know where you are) of the botched robbery of a mom-and-pop jewelry store. Lumet's tale seems rooted in the new middle-class money hunger and its deeply emotional consequences.

See what The New York Times said about the movie.

Amelie = Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain

Amelie  = Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain (2001) R
Amelie is a young woman with a keen imagination and an active fantasy life. She works in a cafe where she steps into the lives of others around her to help them out…in her uniquely whimsical and romantic way.

In French with English subtitles.

Two Men with the Blues by Willie Nelson and Wyntan Marsalis

Two Men with the Blues by Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis (2008)
Two Men with the Blues is truly something special. Recorded on January 12 and 13, 2007, at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis, two of the most significant figures in modern-day country and jazz, stirred the sounds of New Orleans, Nashville, Austin and New York City into a joyous live performance of blues and standards. Try it – you'll like it!

Ladyhawke

Ladyhawke (1985) PG-13
Visually a work of art, this film is based on a 13th century European legend about a beautiful maiden (Michelle Pfeiffer), a stalwart knight (Rutger Hauer) and a pickpocket (Matthew Broderick). The knight and the lady were once lovers, but a curse by the jealous Bishop of Aquila has left them "always together, eternally apart." By day, she is a hawk; by night he is a wolf.  
          
This one has a great storyline and interesting characters. Philipe's (Broderick) conversations with God add a wonderful dimension to the film as does Leo McKern as the old monk. Check out the original trailer.

Mostly Martha = Bella Martha

Mostly Martha = Bella Martha (2001) PG
Martha is the chef who obsesses over each dish before it leaves the kitchen. When her sister suddenly dies, Martha adopts Lina, her eight-year-old niece and gets unexpected help from Mario, Martha's hunky new sous chef who is as carefree as Martha is cautious! Loved the musical score.

This film was re-made in the US with the title No Reservations (2007), starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, Aaron Eckhart, Abigail Breslin, Patricia Clarkson and Jenny Wade.

In German with English subtitles.

The Scent of Green Papaya = Mùi du du xanh

The Scent of Green Papaya = Mùi du du xanh (1993)
This is a beautiful film set in 1950s Vietnam. It is a simple story of servant girl Mui’s life and love, but its real appeal is the sensuous imagery and elegant camera work that make it a work of art. The film won the Caméra d'Or prize at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival and was shortlisted for the 1993 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
In Vietnamese with English subtitles.