Thursday, March 23, 2017

Thursday's Ways Not To Die

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Yesterday I listed four terrific movies I watched this past weekend that TCM host Robert Osborne had recommended, and among them was The Big Clock, a 1948 thriller starring Ray Milland as an investigative reporter trying to prove his own innocence of the crime he's concurrently being forced to investigate by his boss, played by Charles "Chuck" Laughton. 

The movie's fab and I recommend you all watch it as soon as you get the chance - it is available to rent on Amazon for a couple bucks! Anyway I am a little reluctant to spoil its finale if you haven't seen it, which this post will do, so I am going to take the rest of this post after the jump. Come along if you have already seen the film or if you just don't care about spoilers...

Arsenic and Black Lace

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I saw the poster for My Cousin Rachel first, and I was immediately struck by how goddamned pretty Rachel Weisz looked on it. But that's a given. She is Rachel Weisz. She is goddamned pretty. And also she gets her cheekbones massaged by Daniel Craig every single night before bed, so she wins. 

Anyway I knew nothing about this movie before looking at the poster, and as pretty as I thought Weisz looked the poster just made me think it was another costume drama where she'd cry beautifully in beautiful clothes a la The Light Between Oceans or The Deep Blue Sea. Mind you she's great at doing that and both of those are fine films, but that's not enough to make my heart pitter patter. Especially with a wet-noodle co-star like Sam Claflin.

Well I should've looked closer at the damn poster because the first clue that this was something different was right there. "Based on the Novel by Daphne du Maurier." I've never read this book - heck I'd never heard of the book, since the title triggered no response on its own. But the woman whose gothic tales inspired not one but two Alfred Hitchcock pictures...

... as the trailer rightly points out, well that'll get my blood pumping a bit faster. Anyway I didn't notice any of that on the poster, so it wasn't until I read The Film Experience's "Yes No Maybe So" on the trailer yesterday that I realized, "Hey you. Watch this damn trailer already." And then it still took me until last night, at which point...
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... I realized the real , profound error of my ways. 
Even Sam "Wet Noodle" Claflin
is exciting me in this trailer!

Then again the trailer works overtime in ogling his big butt in those old-timey trousers, so they earned my admiration with effort. But (butt) seriously this is so entirely in my wheelhouse - spinning candelabras and storm slammed windows and poisonous broads in lace and cliffs crumbling under horses and getting humped on by a hot guy in a field while remaining inscrutable in the face...

... this could be my life story.
Here's the trailer:
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Everything You Ever Need To Know About Life...

... you can learn from:


Mildred: Wally, you should be kept on a leash!
Now why can't you be friendly?
Wally: But I am being friendly!
Mildred: No, I mean it.
Friendship's much more lasting than love.
Wally: Yeah, but it isn't as entertaining.

The astonishment of Joan Crawford entered this Earthly realm on this day in the year 1906, and one hundred and eleven years later we're still under her eyebrows spell. What are we thinking of Jessica Lange's performance on Feud?

I think she's terrific - it's never an imitation so much as it is getting at a general spirit of Joan-ness, but she does that and then some. During this past week's episode I had to go grab my copy of Joan's book My Way of Life off the shelf and flip through it, so strong had her vibes permeated the house. It was like a seance... or, more accurately, an exorcism. 

I have a question for you wonderful people out there who know movies, though: I know Joan's late work fairly well, from the 40s onward, but I'd love to see more of her early work - she goes back to the Silents! (In the year 1926 she acted in a film titled The Boob and a film titled Tramp Tramp Tramp, which is probably the best double-feature I have ever heard of.)

So what's Cannot Miss from her early years? 
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The New Alien Covenant Poster

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... is fucking gorgeous. Have you even seen Rodin's sculpture called The Gates of Hell? They have one in Philly and I've seen that one and that's totally what I'm feeling from this. Good pick!

Good Morning, World

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And Good Morning, Sebastian. 
(via)
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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Zac Efron's All American Speedo Moment

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These pictures flash by super-fast
in the latest trailer for Baywatch
but the internet is forever, Zac. Forever.


Quote of the Day

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“Everybody loves to laugh. Larry David is great. 
Albert Brooks. Mel Brooks. I like girls that cry.”

-- That is David Lynch's answer when asked 
what makes him laugh, via GQ.
60 days until new Twin Peaks, everybody!
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Daniel Lapaine's Speedo Red Alert

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I always have a copy of Muriel's Wedding on hand in case of emergency and it came in handy just now - I was able to immediately check the footage and find out that yes that picture is actually a publicity still I have never seen before, and not just a shot taken from the movie. At no point in the finished film do we see that angle of Daniel Lapaine in his speedo, and if there's anything the world needs in it it is more angles of Daniel Lapaine in Muriel's Wedding in his speedo. (You can see our previous coverage of Daniel Lapaine in Muriel's Wedding in his speedo right here.) 

Anyway this grand and important image comes to us as the heavens themselves opened up and rained it down from the online video service FilmStruck's blog Streamline (thanks Mac), where they are celebrating the happy news that they are now streaming Muriel's Wedding for all of us to enjoy. Their piece on the film brought back many joyful memories I have of people I have recommended the film to totally being blindsided by its candy-coated pitch-black comedy - nobody quite expects the film to be such a nasty head-fuck going into it. Which is one of the (many many many many) reasons it's one of our very favorite movies. Now could somebody give Toni Collette something this good to work with again, dammit?


4 Off My Head - Ranking Robert Osborne's Faves

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When our movie-watching buddy Robert Osborne died a couple of weeks ago a Daily Beast article from 2012 started making the rounds - titled "Robert Osborne's Secret Favorite Movies" it lists eleven lesser-appreciated films that the TCM host loved and recommended. Of the 11 there were only 3 that I had previously seen (Dodsworth, Indiscreet, and Remember the Night) and all three are indeed fabulous, so I figured I'd make a go of seeing as many of these new-to-me titles as I could right quick. It didn't hurt that several of them were billed as thrillers. And so while lounging around gratuitously this past weekend I watched four of the movies in one long go of it. And now I shall rank them, from Least Good (although not bad, by any means) to Most Good, as I see them, because why not!

4. The Narrow Margin (1952) -- Nicely shot Film Noir from early in the career of director Richard Fleischer (he made everything from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea to Red Sonja) starring Charles McGraw (he played the fisherman in the diner in The Birds) as a policeman who's forced to transport a mobster's about-to-sing moll across country via a train where Every Passenger Has Secrets. The last 15 minutes worth of surprises make it worthwhile but the moll herself is a real pain in the ass you're actively rooting against safe passage for. I suppose that's part and parcel for the moral murkiness of the Noirs but you don't love to hate her, you just kinda hate her.

3. The Big Clock (1948) -- Ask me again in five minutes and I might have totally rearranged the placement of these other three films, because I enjoyed all three of them immensely. I am planning on having more to say on The Big Clock tomorrow though for our "Thursday's Ways Not To Die" series, because it's got a death scene in it that I rewound and watched three times in a row. It's terrific. It stars Ray Milland as a crime magazine reporter tasked with working out a crime that he's personally just been framed for. He's trying to throw his fellow sniffing reporters off his own scent as the noose tightens; it's a great set-up, and the scenery (mid-century office building) is grand, and he's surrounded by a stellar supporting cast including Maureen O'Hara and my beloved husband-wife duo of Charles Laughton & Elsa Lanchester (the latter typically hysterical).

2. The Mating Season (1951) -- Every time I watch a Gene Tierney movie I kind of can't even process how extraterrestrially gorgeous she is - that woman was not of this Earth. I don't know why she isn't remembered more - she honestly might be the most beautiful Classic Hollywood actress there was. The Mating Season isn't entirely hers though - she plays a rich lady rescued from falling off a cliff (seriously) by a poor gentleman (John Lund, who's a bit of a dud frankly); the rest of the movie is a charming farce in which his mother (an Oscar nominated Thelma Ritter, typically delightfully Thelma-Ritter-ian) pretends to be their maid, et cetera shenanigans. Easily the best part of the movie is Miriam Hopkins playing Tierney's rich bitch mother - a total gas.

1. My Name is Julia Ross (1945) -- This movie rules! How had I never heard of this gem? It stars an adorably irritable Nina Foch as a woman who applies for a secretary position only to be kidnapped, drugged, and forcibly cast as the crazy wife of a crazy man in a mansion beside the sea in service of a murder plot most foul. How I went this far in life without a deranged Dame May Whitty I'll never understand. Julia Ross is utterly ridiculous, and I was enthralled.

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So have you seen any of these?
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Today's Mood

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Everything You Ever Need To Know About Life...

... you can learn from:

The Babadook (2014)
Amelia: Well, I'm not scared.
Samuel: You will be when it eats your insides!

Facebook just alerted me to the fact that I first saw The Babadook three years ago today! (I know, it's a weird thing for Facebook to alert a person to, but at least it's not throwing pictures of my dead relatives at me asking me to celebrate how long we've been Facebook friends for, this time.) Here is the picture I took of director Jennifer Kent at the early US screening, which was part of FSLC's amazing annual "New Directors" series. (Which not coincidentally is going on right now!)
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A post shared by Jason Adams (@jasonaadams) on
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Actually coincidentally though just last week we finally got news on Kent's next film Nightingale, which you can read about right here.  To just say we're looking forward to this movie underestimates the possibility of the word "forward." If when you hear "forward" you picture those star streaks you get jumping into hyper-space in Star Wars, only then are you on the right track...


Five Frames From ?

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What movie is this?
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Good Morning, Tony Goldwyn Again

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A kind commenter on yesterday's Naked Tony Goldwyn post told us to check out "a Showtime movie he did in 1993" which led me to Love Matters, which I think it the movie of which they spoke (he actually did several sketchy TV movies that year) - the whole thing's uploaded onto YouTube so I was able to grab some stuff but the quality's crap; where are the Criterion collection remasters of shitty 90s made-for-TV skin-flicks? Get your priorities straight, dudes.

There is better nudity in the movie than this scene (and it's below, natch) but I had to start with the scene of Tony naked beside shelves, of course. Of course. Seriously though Tony is playing a total man-whore in this - it appears to be nothing but an excuse for him to walk around naked for 90 minutes while schtupping 90s luminaries like Gina Gershon and Annette O'Toole while Griffin Dunne watches. I don't know. Hit the jump for the whole Tony and nothing but the whole Tony, so help us...

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Pretty as a Pentagram

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I've never been much (read: none) of a metal head - a year or two before I was obsessing over Radiohead's OK Computer I was pretty obsessed with Nine Inch Nails but Closer's the closest I ever got. And to be honest I find the longstanding connection between heavy metal music and horror movies usually right on the side of goofy. Ozzy Osbourne biting the heads off bats and records speaking Satan-ese when played backwards - that's just some goofy, goofy shit.

The weird thing is you'd think it might've been my jam when it came time to rebel, because I was raised in a strict as hell (pardon the pun) Christian environment - in the Sunday School classes of my teenage years we actually watched Scare 'Em Straight videotapes about the evils of Devil Worshiping Rock Music. But those videos were the goofy yin to Alice Cooper's goofy yang - oh god, you devil, I'm not there for any of it. (Thankfully it turned out that cock-sucking was plenty of a rebellion from religion for me - I highly recommend it as an alternative route for anyone.)

I've often felt kind of alienated from the Horror Movie Lovers Community because of this disconnect - look at the pictures from any Horror Con and it's mostly a bunch of Slayer t-shirts and Heavy Metal magazine tattoos, as if somebody squeezed a Hot Topic store through a meat grinder. What's so scary about being so damn obvious? The real horrors are the dead-eyed preppy mad-men - you guys keep your black nail polish; Jeffrey Dahmer and his courtroom button-downs are my how-to style guide on horror. (Editor's Note: Jeffrey Dahmer actually loved Black Sabbath.) 

I'm setting up and smacking around a bunch of straw-men here before diving into The Devil's Candy because I feel as if my antipathy towards head-banging the sign of the horns informs what I have to say on the movie, which is that I was worried going in this was going to be along the lines of 2015's "much loved" heavy metal horror movie Deathgasm, which I made it twenty minutes into before having to throw in the towel - Deathgasm leaned too hard into all my biases about the genre; I just don't get it. It does not speak to me.

Thankfully The Devil's Candy is not a goof. Writer-Director Sean Byrne sweeps all the bullshit off the table and seemingly scours his own nightmares for something fundamentally disturbed beneath the fire-breathing dragons with big busted ladies riding on their backs - you can see it in the paintings that Ethan Embry's character paints, which are more of an amalgamation of the hellscapes of Hieronymus Bosch mixed with the disquieting kiddies of Henry Darger's Vivian Girls. They're just... not right, in the right way. Not the wrong way. Ya know?

There were still aspects of The Devil's Candy that kept me at arm's distance, which might just come down to my own disinclination towards its scene, but this movie comes closer to making a case for "The Devil's Music" than any other movie I can think of. It never poses itself as an inside baseball take, for one - its characters don't belabor their heavy metal affectations past the point of no return. And Pruitt Taylor Vince's serial killer is genuinely terrifying - an unstoppable insanity in construction cone orange lumbering about - and the film's strongest when it's skulking through the rural nowhere places alongside him, closing in on innocence one satanic whisper at a time. For him I shuddered, and flinched, and I maybe even banged my head in horror once or twice too, if I'm being honest.

Today's Mood

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Adobe.
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Where Ever Yorgos I Goes

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There aren't many directors working today whose new projects I look forward to more enthusiastically than I do The Lobster's Yorgos Lanthimos, but at the rate he's signing up for stuff right now he's spreading my only human depths of enthusiasm maybe a bit thin. I can't keep up! Today comes word that he will be making a series for Amazon on the trials and tribulations of the noted piece of shit Oliver North, and it will star Colin Farrell. 

This is very exciting news, and Colin is excellent casting, and the two have already proved they work well together. In fact they will probably have proven that again elsewhere before we get this Oliver North thing because their second feature film together The Killing of a Sacred Deer with Nicole Kidman, which has already filmed, will have come out by then.

And where does Yorgos' other TV series with Kirsten Dunst fit in? And then there's The Favourite -- which I think might be filming now? -- which is his movie starring Olive Colman as Queen Anne, co-starring Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, and Nicholas Hoult as folks clamoring for Colman's attention (aka what the rest of the intelligent world is also currently doing).

Point being - remember quality matters over quantity, my beloved Mr. Lanthimos. Preferably both, though? Just keep doing what you're doing and I'll tell you when it's too much, I guess. Same goes for you, Colin. Just in a different, dirtier way...


Jake Gyllenhaal Eight Times

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Life is out this weekend and so we're saturated, absolutely soaked head to toe, dripping, with Jake Gyllenhaal. Just the way I wanna be. These shots (via, thx Mac) are from Esquire UK - I haven't read the interview yet so I cannot tell you if he gets off any bitchy zingers like he did in The Guardian's interview I quoted from yesterday. Let's hope so! Hit the jump for the rest...

The Lyrics of Radiohead's OK Computer

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This week Pitchfork is the celebrating the approaching 20th anniversary of Radiohead's album OK Computer, which very well might be my single favorite piece of art produced in my lifetime... I'd say "so far" but I don't know that anything can topple not just the nostalgia the album stirs deep within me, but I don't know if it's even possible to feel as passionately about something as you can feel about something at 19 years old. 

So OK Computer was released in the US on July 1st, 1997, when I was a about to be a sophomore (for the second time) in college. I transferred to a new school that fall and lost a year in the process - yes I went to college for five years. (I wish I'd gone for thirty, honestly.) Anyway I made some of the best friends of my life right about then and the first thing they all got to know about me was I was the guy who listened to OK Computer non-stop. NON-STOP. I basically listened to nothing but that album for a year. 

I honestly don't know which came first - the way I now read the world around me or the way this album showed me to view the world around me. I think of I'll be goddamned if it isn't everything through the lens of Thom Yorke's soaring paranoia - when I close my eyes I hear the world through the field of electronic bleeps and bloops that Jonny Greenwood laid before me.

Anyway because Pitchfork inspired me to reminisce on the album and since I never stopped listening to it - it's as familiar as the tips of my fingers by now - I decided it'd be fun to go through the album song by song and as I listen to it choose my favorite line or two of lyrics, as they hit me that moment. (Especially in the wake of several dumb articles I've seen going around complaining about Thom's vague lyrics.) So that's what I'm doing.

Track 1: AIRBAG

"I'm amazed that I survived...
an airbag saved my life."

I doubt I'll be choosing the lyric with the song-title attached every time around but I adore the way Thom sings, "I'm amaaaaayzed that I surviiiiiived..." so it gets the gold star. (Silver goes to "Jackknifed Juggernaut" because come on.) This song's really more about its interstellar sound of guitars shooting off than anything else though.
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Track 2: PARANOID ANDROID

"I'm trying to get some rest 
From all the unborn chicken voices in my head."

How do you choose a single lyric from a song so stuffed with spectacular ones? Can you even look around yourself without seeing a "Gucci Little Piggy" on every street corner? I chose this one about the "unborn chicken voices" though because it tickles my sense of the ridiculous and absurd and horrific just right.

Track 3: SUBTERRANEAN HOMESICK ALIEN

"I live in a town
Where you can't smell a thing
You watch your feet
For cracks in the pavement"

I don't know if anybody's ever encapsulated my entire 
small town childhood more efficiently than that.

Track 4: EXIT MUSIC (FOR A FILM)

"We hope that you choke, that you choke"

This sweet and terribly sad Romeo & Juliet flavored song ends on a noted of gorgeous sustained bitterness spat out at the world, and for a gay boy feeling very very lonely and unloved, well christ on a cracker did it ring true. And does it continue - whenever I'm feeling put upon this song's my go to.

Track 5: LET DOWN

"One day I'm going to grow wings
A chemical reaction
Hysterical and useless..."

I never could rank favorite Radiohead songs, it'd kill me, straight up murder me dead, but "Let Down"'s easy top five material and listening to it now, it hits these lyrics and I just start crying... I remember that I read Franz Kafka's "Metamorphosis" for the first time right around this exact time though and that story had a profound effect on me too, and the two (this song and that story) are intermingled in my brain pretty deeply.
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Track 6: KARMA POLICE

"Her Hitler hairdo is making me feel ill"

I do love how sneering and dangerous Thom seems during this song - Radiohead always gets written off as a whiny mopey little band but Thom is often incredibly angry and threatening in his lyrics. "This is what you get when you mess with us." (Jonathan Glazer's video for this song is also maybe my favorite Radiohead music video and it is some straight up Sopranos shit. If you love that video too you should read Pitchfork's oral history of its making - lots of good stuff in there.) But I picked the "Hitler Hairdo" line because it makes me laugh and I think of it every time the people on the news talk about "Hitler Youth haircuts" these days.

Track 7: FITTER HAPPIER

"will not cry in public
less chance of illness
tires that grip in the wet 
(shot of baby strapped in back seat)"

I wrote a lot of poetry in college (I wanted to be a poet, because of course I did) and more than probably any other actual proper poet my stuff was all informed by this song (although I should maybe put "song" in quotation marks) right here. All I ever wanted was to write something this evocative and strange and deliciously suffocating. I could've chosen any passage from "Fitter Happier" but I do love these lines' turn on their heels from tears and illness to the surface pleasure of solid tires - it kinda gets to the point super quick.

Track 8: ELECTIONEERING

"I trust I can rely on... your vote"

Jeez does this song feel prescient about Trump's America. I was surprised when I looked at the lyrics how few there are to this song - it's another one that's more about the gorgeous smashing guitar-scapes, I guess. But I do love the way Thom drops down conspiratorially for "your vote" though.

Track 9: CLIMBING UP THE WALLS 

"So lock the kids up safe tonight
And shut the eyes in the cupboard"

If I ever write anything as dreamy and terrifying as 
"shut the eyes in the cupboard" I'll retire immediately.
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Track 10: NO SURPRISES

"Such a pretty house
Such a pretty garden"

The rest of this song is a list of suburban horrors and humiliations - "a handshake of carbon monoxide" - but Thom takes us through the home stretch (which is probably the tunnel towards longed-for death honestly) with a lovely image of domestic bliss that always strikes me as profoundly sad and sweet. Claustrophobic drowning never seemed so dreamy.

Track 10: LUCKY

"It's gonna be a glorious day
I feel my luck could change" 

OK Computer is a cynical and battered and abused album that nonetheless manages to sweep you off your feet at moments and convince you that sometimes ignorance really can be bliss, profound romantic and spiritual (not in the sense of religion, but in the sense of truly awe-some) bliss, and that it's possible to makes yourself believe, for fleeting moments, that everything is pretty and fine. And there is no sound in this world that moves me more than the sound of Thom Yorke soaring right off the edge of the fucking globe with, "It's gonna be a glorious day." His voice makes you believe it very well could be, and that your luck could change too. Like that. Big and beautiful...

Track 11: THE TOURIST

"Idiot, slow down, slow down"

.... or not.

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What's your favorite song off OK Computer?
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5 Off My Head: Siri Says 1968

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I was pretty pleased this morning when my telephone answered the question, "Pick a number between 1 and 100" with an answer of "68" because besides containing my single favorite movie of all-time (which - spoiler-alert - is the subject of this week's banner up top) The Movies of 1968 contain several of my favorite movies of ever even besides. This was a great year for the movies! Weirdly there are a ton that I've always meant to see that I never have, which you'll also see below - I ought to have myself a 1968 marathon in their honor. Until then I give you...

My 5 Favorite Movies of 1968

(dir. Roman Polanski)
-- released on June 12th, 1968 --

(dir. Peter Bogdanovich)
-- released on August 15th, 1968 --

(dir. Roger Vadim)
-- released on October 10th, 1968 --

(dir. George A. Romero)
-- released on December 4th, 1968 --

(dir. Stanley Kubrick)
-- released on May 12th, 1968 --

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Runners-up: The Swimmer (dir. Perry / Pollack), The Witchfinder General (dir. Reeves), Pretty Poison (dir. Noel Black), Hour of the Wolf (dir. Bergman), Destroy All Monsters (dir. Ishiro Honda)...

... Spirits of the Dead (dir. Fellini & Malle & Vadim), The Devil Rides Out (dir. Terence Fisher), Danger: Diabolik (dir. Bava), Planet of the Apes (dir. Schaffner), The Party (dir. Blake Edwards)

Special Mention for Exclamation Points:
Boom! (dir. Joseph Losey)
Beserk! (dir. Jim O'Connolly)

Never Seen: Bullitt (dir. Yates), The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (dir. Miller), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (dir. Hughes), The Bride Wore Black (dir. Truffaut), Faces (dir. Cassavetes), If... (dir. Anderson), Teorema (dir. Pasolini), The Thomas Crown Affair (dir. Jewison)

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What are your favorite movies of 1968?
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