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Grand Illusion

It’s really impossible to adequately appreciate the great French director Jean Renoir’s two 1930s masterworks, The Rules of the Game and Grand Illusion, easily two of the greatest films ever, except through historical hindsight. They need to be considered in the light of the devastating war that enveloped Europe, and much of the rest of the world, after they appeared.

Rock of Ages

The 1980s was a decade overstuffed with memorable, original, spellbinding music. You won’t hear any of it in Rock of Ages, adapted from a Broadway jukebox musical featuring a few dozen of the worst corporate rock songs of the late 1980s.

Peace, Love & Misunderstanding

The actress on the poster looks like Frances McDormand. In the film she occasionally reminds you of Faye Dunaway. It isn’t until she speaks that you recognize her as Jane Fonda. At the age of 74, in a long wig of brown hair streaked with grey, she looks great. She just doesn’t look much like Jane Fonda. (A New Yorker piece on her last year featured a photo in which her—what’s the adjective I want here?—well-maintained face was put into perspective by here bare arms, which very much looked seven decades old.)


The stereotype of Victorian-era Brits as the most sexually repressed people in the history of humanity will not be laid to rest by Hysteria, an amusing comedy that doesn’t do nearly as much as it could have with a promising premise. For centuries, various physical and emotional problems in women were considered by doctors to be the result of a diseased or dislocated uterus (the Greek word for which is “hystera”). A recommended cure was for the medical professional to induce a “paroxysm” via manual and digital massage of the pelvic area. In other words—well, if you don’t know what all this is you’re probably too young to be reading this. Ask your mother in a few years.

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