Laberinto del Fauno, El (2006, SPA/MEX) C-119m. ***½ D: Guillermo del Toro. Starring Ivana Baquero, Sergi López, Maribel Verdú, Doug Jones, Ariadna Gil, Alex Angulo, Federico Luppi. Outstanding fantasy drama set in 1944 Spain, where there is still resistance by guerrilla groups, even after the Fascists won the Civil War. An adolescent girl is brought to a Fascist camp along with her sick, pregnant mother, who is now married to the camp’s general, ultra-sadistic López. Amidst these troubles, the girl enters a fantasy world, where a Pan (or Faun), a spirit of the forest, tells her she is a long-lost princess, whose soul will be immortal if she passes three tests. Excellent combination of war and fantasy/horror themes (as done before by del Toro in EL ESPINAZO DEL DIABLO in 2001). Compelling and intense, superbly written by the director, a must-see. Oscar-winning cinematography by Guillermo Navarro. English title: PANS LABYRINTH.

Labyrinth (1986, USA/GBR) C-101m. Scope *** D: Jim Henson. Starring David Bowie, Jennifer Connelly, Toby Froud. Shelley Thompson, Christopher Malcolm, voices of Brian Henson, Frank Oz. Cute children’s fantasy about a teenage girl (Connelly), who just wishes that her little brother might go away. Suddenly he really is gone – stolen by the King of the Goblins (Bowie). Now the girl must gather her courage and master a dangerous labyrinth, where she meets all kinds of weird and funny characters. Beautifully made, funny script by Terry Jones (of Monty Python fame), executive produced by George Lucas. Bowie’s costume and hairdo are simply embarrassing these days, however.

Lac des Morts Vivants, Le (1980, FRA/SPA) C-92m. M D: Jean Rollin. Starring Howard Vernon, Pierre-Marie Escourrou, Anouchka, Jean Rollin. Dreadful zombie film about dead WW2 soldiers, who occasionally leave their watery grave to kill naked nymphs. Sounds interesting but is very poorly made. Stands as the only(?) collaboration between Jean Rollin and the notorious Jess Franco (cowriter). There’s a similar movie called SHOCK WAVES (1977). Aka ZOMBIE LAKE.

L.A. Confidential (1997, USA) C-137m. Scope **½ D: Curtis Hanson. Starring Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, James Cromwell, Kim Basinger, Danny DeVito, David Starthairn, Ron Rifkin, Matt McCoy. Stylish noir-like thriller set in Los Angeles in the 1950s. Pearce plays an ambitious, righteous young cop investigating a multiple murder. Although three suspects are soon arrested, the pool of crime is deeper than he may have thought. Stark but badly translated adaptation of James Elroy’s novel. Plot is too complex and seems to scratch the surface only. There are too many marginal characters, not all of whom make sense. Highly regarded by some critics, however. Basinger won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Her role is quite pointless, though. The screenwriters (Curtis Hanson and Brian Helgeland) also won an Oscar (why?).

Là Dove Non Batte il Sole (1974, ITA/SPA/HGK) C-100m. Scope ** D: Anthony M. Dawson (=Antonio Margheriti). Starring Lee Van Cleef, Lo Lieh, Karen Yeh, Femi Benussi, Juliàn Ugarte, Erika Blanc, Georges Rigaud. THE STRANGER AND THE GUNFIGHTER (English title) is about Martial Arts expert Lieh, who travels to the Wild West to retrieve a fortune hidden by his late uncle. The only hints to the whereabouts of the treasure have been tattooed on the butts of prostitutes. Gunfighter Van Cleef tags along. Strange genre mixture is occasionally funny but hardly exciting. For those who want to see Lieh in a western setting (his fight scenes are below par, though). Coproduced by Run Run Shaw. Also shown at 105m.

Lady and the Tramp, The (1955, USA) C-76m. Scope *** D: Clade Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske. Starring (the voices of) Peggy Lee, Barbara Luddy, Larry Roberts, Bill Thompson, Verna Felton. Disney’s follow-up to PETER PAN (1953) is the studio’s first animated feature in widescreen (CinemaScope). Story about a cocker spaniel and her adventures with a street dog has become a classic. Beautifully animated, sweet (if not terribly compelling) story, a treat for kids.

Lady in the Water (2006, USA) C-110m. **½ M. Night Shyamalan. Starring Paul Giamatti, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jeffrey Wright, Bob Balaban, Sarita Choudhury, Cindy Cheung, M. Night Shyamalan, Mary Beth Hurt, Jared Harris. Another interesting – albeit less successful – mystery/fantasy concoction by Shyamalan about Giamatti, the caretaker of an apartment complex, who suspects some of the residents to use the pool at night. Then he meets the culprit in fragile Howard. She claims to be a sea nymph running from an evil wolf-like creature, which wants to prevent her from returning to her world. Is she a character from a bedtime story? Can he or any of the other tenants help her? Writer-director Shyamalan tries to build up a fantasy world all his own, and keeps things bubbling, but more than once undermines his plot by adding pointless humor and implausible characters. May require multiple viewings to understand all the symbolisms.

Ladykillers, The (1955, GBR) C-90m. ***½ D: Alexander Mackendrick. Starring Alec Guiness, Cecil Parker, Herbert Lom, Peter Sellers, Danny Green, Jack Warner, Frankie Howerd, Katie Johnson. Classic black comedy from the Ealing Studios about five ‘gentlemen’ who rent a flat in an old lady’s house, pretending they are musicians. In fact, they are planning to rob a money transporter, and the old lady should unwittingly give them a hand. Needless to say, things go as wrong as they possibly can. Fine performances, some hilarious set-pieces and director Mackendrick’s stylish visuals make this a treat to watch. 

Ladykillers, The (2004, USA) C-104m. ** D: Joel and Ethan Coen. Starring Tom Hanks, Irma P. Hall, Marlon Wayans, J.K. Simmons, Tzi Ma, Ryan Hurst, Bruce Campbell. Pointless remake of the cult comedy only changes the setting to the Deep South, as gentleman/professor Hanks rents a room in Hall’s house, intending to dig his way through to the safe of a casino. Not very funny comedy, made agreeable by the Coens’ usual casting ideas and some nice production design. Hanks gives it his best, but Wayans’ character is terribly annoying. Score by Carter Burwell.

Lair of the White Worm, The (1988, GBR/USA) C-93m. ** D: Ken Russell. Starring Amanda Donohue, Hugh Grant, Catherine Oxenberg, Peter Capaldi, Sammi Davis, Imogen Claire, Chris Pitt. A hobby archaeologist unearths a strange skull in a farmyard, and it turns out that it might belong to a legendary worm, which was battled by nobleman Grant’s ancestors. Meanwhile, mysterious snake woman Oxenberg has arrived at her estate nearby. Adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel is unfortunately pretentious, especially some of the performances. The rear-projection effects are bloody but unconvicing. A minor Russell film.

Lake House, The (2006, USA) C-98m. Scope **½ D: Alejandro Agresti. Starring Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Christopher Plummer, Ebon Moss-Bachrach. Bullock plays a doctor living at the title edifice, who starts a correspondence with a man (Reeves) who – as it turns out – lived there before her. The twist: He lives in 2004, she in 2006. When they fall in love, they must ask themselves how this time span can be bridged. Intriguing, albeit not entirely logical combination of fantasy and romance is a remake of the Korean SIWORAE (2000), though this seems as if it would have worked better as a 1970s European art film starring, perhaps, Romy Schneider and Marcello Mastroianni.

Land Before Time, The (1988, USA) C-70m. **½ D: Don Bluth. Starring the voices of Gabriel Damon, Candace Hutson, Judith Barsi, Will Ryan, Pat Hingle, Helen Shaver. Quite ambitious animated fantasy (from a former Disney animator), about a little dinosaur’s quest to find a hidden valley which his dying mother(!) was planning to reach with him. After a bumpy, uneven start, this becomes quite cute. Good score by James Horner. Co-executive produced by none other than George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. Followed by nine(!) video sequels until 2003.

Land of the Dead (2005, USA/CDN/FRA) C-93m. **½ D: George A. Romero. Starring Simon Baker, John Leguizamo, Dennis Hopper, Asia Argento, Robert Joy, Eugene Clark, Tom Savini, Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright. Interesting continuation of Romero’s DEAD movies takes place in a devastated urban area, where mercenary-type people raid warehouses and supermarkets to supply food for the super-rich, who have set up their existence in a huge skyscraper run by Hopper. Zombies are continually on the prowl and some of them are even showing signs of intelligence. Mercenary Baker, who dreams of getting out of the hellhole makes the acquaintance of prostitute Argento, and is then asked by Hopper to stop renegade mercenary Leguizamo. Nicely atmospheric zombie feast with all the gory ingredients, its script however (by Romero himself) remains too undramatic and often too conventional. Still, sort-of a must for horror fans. Unrated version runs 97m.

Landru (1963, FRA/ITA) C-115m. **½ D: Claude Chabrol. Starring Charles Denner, Michèle Morgan, Danielle Darrieux, Hildegard Knef, Juliette Mayniel, Stéphane Audran, Henri Attal, Dominique Zardi, Jean-Pierre Melville. Sober account of French gentleman Landru (Denner), who during WWI frequently abandons his family to seduce lonely widows and ends up killing them. Fascinating to some degree but overlong, Denner’s performance is as cold (frighteningly so) as the rest of the film. Previously filmed by Charlie Chaplin as MONSIEUR VERDOUX (1947). Screenplay by Francoise Sagan. Claude Zidi was camera assistant. English title: BLUEBEARD.

Land That Time Forgot, The (1975, GBR) C-90m. **½ D: Kevin Connor. Starring Doug McClure, John McEnery, Susan Penhaligon, Keith Barron. Exciting but not really convincing fantasy adventure about a group of people who discover a mysterious land in the South Atlantic where dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures have survived. Effects are laughable compared to Spielberg’s JURASSIC PARK creatures. Followed by a sequel in 1977.

Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003, USA/GBR/NED/GER/JAP) C-110m. Scope ** D: Jan de Bont. Starring Angelina Jolie, Gerard Butler, Ciarán Hinds, Chris Barrie, Noah Taylor, Djimon Hounsou, Til Schweiger, Simon Yam. Second big-screen adaptation of the successful computer game pits title heroine Jolie against a crime syndicate that is after Pandora’s Box in order to use it as a biological weapon. Rather silly action yarn, kept alive by some bombasitc set-pieces, but anyone aged older than 12 will be offended by the story. Good score by Alan Silvestri.

Last Chance Harvey (2008, USA) C-93m. SCOPE *** D : Joel Hopkins. Starrign Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson, Eileen Atkins, Kathy Baker, Liane Balaban, James Brolin, Richard Schiff. Nicely subdued romantic drama about composer Hoffman, who is on the brink of losing his job and travels to his estranged daughter’s wedding in London. He chances to meet spinster Thompson and they spark a romance. Refreshingly normal, without contrivances (if you can accept a Hoffman/Thompson romance), and fine performances by its stars. Written by the director.

Last Horror Film, The (1984, USA) C-87m. ** D: David Winters. Starring Joe Spinell, Caroline Munro, Judd Hamilton, David Goldenberg, David Winters, Susanne Benton. Spinell (in a redo of his role in MANIAC) plays a psychopathic New York taxi driver (ring a bell?), who travels to the Cannes film festival to meet his favorite movie star, gorgeous Munro. When he is disappointed by her and her manager, he starts killing film people in most brutal fashions. Trivial slasher movie has some good, dynamic editing to recommend it, but little else. Movie buffs will have fun counting the movie references at the Cannes festival, where this was shot in 1981. Alternative titles: FANATIC, FANATICAL EXTREME.

Last House on Dead End Street (1973, USA) C-77m. M D: Roger Watkins. Starring Roger Watkins, Ken Fisher, Bill Schlageter. Bottom-of-the-barrel cheapo with some disgusting gore scenes looks like someone’s home movies. Laughable voice-over narration in story of misfit who wants to produce snuff movies. A non-movie, in all respects. The actors all used pseudonyms. Alternative titles: THE CUCKOO CLOCKS OF HELL, THE FUN HOUSE.

Last House on the Left (1972, USA) C-91m. M D: Wes Craven. Starring David Hess, Lucy Grantham, Sandra Cassel, Marc Sheffler, Jeramie Rain, Fred Lincoln. Extremely unpleasant, cheap thriller about the kidnapping, raping and killing of two teenage girls by a group of escaped convicts and the subsequent revenge exacted by one of the girls' parents. Director Craven's first feature, but he shows no feel for action or suspense. Even his admirers will be disappointed. Craven also scripted and edited. Sean S. Cunningham (FRIDAY THE 13TH) produced. Based on Ingmar Bergman's VIRGIN SPRING. Also shown at 84m.

Last Hurrah for Chivalry (1978, HGK) C-107m. Scope **½ D: John Woo. Starring Lau Kong, Wei Pai, Damian Lau, Lee Hoi San, Fung Hark-On, Sheng Kuo. Terribly uneven martial arts drama about Lau, whose family is slaughtered by evil Lee. Lau goes on to find refuge at an old master’s place, from which he plots his revenge. His scheme includes two excellent swordsmen, who should avenge him. Early, ambitious film by Hong Kong icon John Woo (who also wrote the script) almost completely loses its focus before the mid-section, but comes back on track early enough. Well-choreographed fight scenes, good dramatic score. Produced by Raymond Chow. Also known as LAST HURRAY FOR CHIVALRY.

Last Kiss, The (2006, USA) C-105m. Scope *** D: Tony Goldwyn. Starring Zach Braff, Jacinda Barrett, Casey Affleck, Rachel Bilson, Michael Weston, Eric Christian Olsen, Harold Ramis, Blythe Danner, Tom Wilkinson. Well-acted comedy drama about 29-year-old Braff, whose girlfriend announces she is pregnant. Then he finds himself drawn to a beautiful stranger, who has fallen for him. Will he cheat on his girlfriend because he finds it too difficult to enter a new phase in his life? Or can he make the right decision? His pals seem like no great help at all. Telling drama, a remake of the Italian hit L’ULTIMO BACIO (2001), was scripted by Paul Haggis.

Last Mimzy, The (2007, USA) C-94m. Scope **½ D: Bob Shaye. Starring Chris O’Neil, Rhiannon Leigh Wryn, Joely Richardson, Timothy Hutton, Rainn Wilson, Kathryn Hahn, Michael Clarke Duncan. Interesting science-fiction drama about two ordinary children, who find a mysterious cube on the beach one day. The toys(?) inside give them extraordinary abilities, and there’s a stuffed bunny called Mimzy trying to communicate to the girl. It turns out the cube is from the future where mankind is at risk. Adapted from a short story by Lewis Padgett (a pseudonym for two authors), this is quite original, but script (by Bruce Joel Rubin and Toby Emmerich) has a few silly contrivances and is rooted in reality too much, with federal involvement completely unnecessary. Score by Howard Shore.

Last Movie, The (1971, USA) C-108m. ** D: Dennis Hopper. Starring Dennis Hopper, Stella Garcia, Julie Adams, Tomas Millian, Don Gordon, Roy Engel, Samuel Fuller, Sylvia Miles, John Alderman, Michael Anderson Jr., Rod Cameron, Peter Fonda, Henry Jaglom, Kris Kristofferson, John Phillip Law, James Mitchum, Dean Stockwell, Allan Warnick, Russ Tamblyn, Ted Markland. Cult movie made after Hopper’s success with EASY RIDER (and with the final cut option) is a lumbering, rather disjointed film-within-and-film story of a western movie shoot in Peru. Crew member Hopper is shocked when an extra dies, joins a prostitute and is asked by priest Milian to stop the population who are behaving like the cowboys in the movie. A time capsule at best, filled with cool songs by Kris Kristofferson (whose first film this was), but not everyone will appreciate its flaccid pace. Hopper spent a year editing this (with help from none other than Alejandro Jodorowsky, whose EL TOPO has the same iconoclastic attitude), then won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. Photographed by Lászlo Kóvács. 

Last Night (1998, CDN) C-70m. ** D: Don McKellar. Starring Don McKellar, Sandra Oh, Callum Keith Rennie, Sarah Polley, Geneviève Bujold, David Cronenberg. The Canadian contribution to a series of television movies, which all deal with the Silvester night 1999/2000. This one is set in Toronto, where everybody is waiting for the end of the world, which - for no apparent reason - coincides with the millenium. Writer-director McKellar shows several people in supposedly meaningful situations, but fails to make any points. Remains watchable thanks to a short running time and some guest star turns.

Last of the Mohicans, The (1992, USA) C-110m. Scope ***½ D: Michael Mann. Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Russell Means, Eric Schweig, Jodhi May, Steven Waddington, Wes Studi, Maurice Roëves, Patrice Chéreau, Colm Meaney, Pete Postlethwaite. Powerful, highly cinematic film version of James Fenimore Cooper’s classic novel about the role of the Indians in the English-French war. Great score by Randy Edelman, sweeping direction by Mann. Oscar awarded for Best Sound. Same story filmed many times before.

Last Samurai, The (2003, USA/JAP/NZL) C-154m. Scope *** D: Edward Zwick. Starring Tom Cruise, Ken Watanabe, William Atherton, Tony Goldwyn, Masato Harada, Billy Connolly, Timothy Spall, Koyuki. Embittered civil war veteran Cruise is hired by the Japanese emperor to train his inept soldiers for war against outlaw band of samurais led by Watanabe. Cruise is sent to war too soon, his army is destroyed and he is captured. As a prisoner, he learns to respect the traditions and the way of the samurai. Characterization and plotting are much too smooth and clichéd, but film is very well-made and has more than its share of beautiful, exciting, even touching moments, kudos to director Zwick. Cruise and his co-star are good. Entertaining, despite length, from the LAST OF THE MOHICANS (1992) school of filmmaking. Excellent score by Hans Zimmer, fine photography by John Toll.

Last Unicorn, The (1982, USA/GBR/JAP/GER) C-92m. *** D: Arthur Rankin Jr., Jules Bass. Starring (the voices of) Alan Arkin, Jeff Bridges, Mia Farrow, Tammy Grimes, Robert Klein, Angela Lansbury, Christopher Lee, Keenan Wynn, Paul Frees, Rene Auberjonois. Dream-like animated fantasy about a unicorn, the last of its kind, who sets out to find others of its race and meets a king that is sending out a fiery red bull to capture every unicorn. Not always on-target, but creates a beautiful fantasy feel. Has become a cult item, especially among girls. Written by Peter S. Beagle, based on his novel. Beagle had also worked on the screenplay for LORD OF THE RINGS (1978). The Japanese animation team later worked for Hayao Miyazaki.

Last Voyage, The (1960, USA) C-91m. **½ D: Andrew L. Stone. Starring Robert Stack, Dorothy Malone, George Sanders, Edmond O’Brien, Woody Strode. Disaster film about the sinking of a luxury ship is interesting in that it predates Hollywood’s disaster movie run by more than 10 years, but it is also obviously inspired by the TITANIC films of the 1950s, especially A NIGHT TO REMEMBER (1958). Corny narration, film is made watchable by earnest performances, good pace.

Last Wave, The (1977, AUS) C-106m. *** D: Peter Weir. Starring Richard Chamberlain, Olivia Hamnett, David Gulpilil, Frederick Parslow, Vivean Gray. Director Weir’s follow-up to PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK is an equally fascinating story of an apocalypse/catastrophe set in modern-day Australia, where rain and hailstorm cause emergency situations in the big cities. Chamberlain plays a lawyer who must defend several Aborigines accused of murder and slowly realizes that his own dreams and the tribe’s cult may have relevance for the abnormal weather situation. Not entirely successful (mostly due to slow pace) but chilling and especially interesting if compared to Dario Argento’s PROFONDO ROSSO and SUSPIRIA, which may have been an inspiration for this film (although SUSPIRIA was released the same year). Cowritten by Weir.

Las Vegas 500 Millions (1968, SPA/ITA/FRA/GER) C-120m. Scope **½ D: Antonio Isasi. Starring Gary Lockwood, Elke Sommer, Lee J. Cobb, Jack Palance, Jean Servais, George Géret. Not bad thriller about a gang of crooks who abduct money transporter and try to crack it open in a most unusual hideout. Static direction helped by effective editing. Sommer is sexy, but her role is limited. Aka THEY CAME TO ROB LAS VEGAS. Original (uncut) running time: 130m.

Late Show, The (1977, USA) C-94m. **½ D: Robert Benton. Starring Art Carney, Lily Tomlin, Bill Macy, Eugene Roche, Joanna Cassidy, John Considine, Howard Duff. Grumpy old private detective Carney investigates the death of his former partner Duff in this grungy murder mystery. Complex plot will mean nothing if you do not pay close attention. Characters are occasionally annoying, but score is good. A matter of taste: If you liked the 40s Chandler/Hammett classics, you will certainly go for this one, too. Produced by Robert Altman. Rating applies to German version, which is too dark and poorly dubbed.

Latino Encounter (1994, HGK) C-96m. **½ D: Derek Cheung. Starring Leon Lai, Veronica Yip, Eric Kot, Jan Lamb. Hong Kong remake of Robert Rodriguez’ EL MARIACHI can stand on its own: A drifter from Hong Kong is mistaken for a hitman in a small Mexican village, lots of mayhem ensues. Well-directed, occasionally aesthetic action thriller. Violent showdown is the highlight. A certain Tony Leung is credited as martial arts choreographer. Produced by Leonard Ho.

Lat den Rätte Komma in (2008, SWE) C-115m. SCOPE ** D: Tomas Alfredson. Starring Kare Hedebrandt, Per Ragnar, Henrik Dahl, Karin Bergquist, Peter Carlberg. Slowly paced horror drama set in wintry 1982 Sweden, where a bullied, neglected 12-year-old boy befriends his new neighbor, a girl, who may be a blood-thirsty vampire. Acclaimed, but only asset is wintry cinematography, there seems to be no point in the time setting or, in fact, the entire plot. It’s INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE less style, less suspense and less stars. There’s little texture to be drawn from the ponderous proceedings. The gory effects left me as cold as the Swedish winter. English title: LET THE RIGHT ONE IN.

Laurin (1989, GER/HUN) C-84m. **½ D: Robert Sigl. Starring Dora Szinetar, Brigitte Karner, Károly Eperjes, Hédi Temessy, Barnabas Tóth, Robert Sigl. Moody horror film about Laurin, a young girl with a strange hallucinatory gift, who is terrified when a serial killer roams the countryside killing young children. Deliberately paced, sometimes pretentious but also well-photographed and atmospheric. Production values are low, film was perhaps made for TV. Co-scripted by Sigl. Filmed in English.

Lavender Hill Mob, The (1951, GBR) B&W-81m. *** D: Charles Crichton. Starring Alec Guinness, Stanley Holloway, Sid James, Alfie Bass, Marjorie Fielding, Edie Martin, Audrey Hepburn, Desmond Llewelyn, Robert Shaw. Classic British comedy with formidable Guinness performance about a timid bank clerk, who stumbles upon a way to export gold and plans to pull off robbery that will leave him and his partners with millions. Good fun. Won Oscar for Best Screenplay. Photographed by Douglas Slocombe.

Laws of Attraction (2004, USA) C-90m. ** D: Peter Howitt. Starring Pierce Brosnan, Julianne Moore, Michael Sheen, Parker Posey, Frances Fisher, Nora Dunn, David Kellen, Peter Howitt. Totally contrived romantic comedy about divorce lawyers Brosnan and Moore, who get in each other’s ways and fall in love. Of course, they are adversaries at first, and of course, a case brings them to Brosnan’s hometurf in beautiful Ireland. Pah! Buoyed only by charismatic star performances. At least it has a compact running time.

Leading Man (1997, GBR) C-100m. **½ D: John Duigan. Starring Jon Bon Jovi, Anna Galiena, Lambert Wilson, Thandie Newton, Barry Humphries, David Warner, Nicole Kidman. Bon Jovi plays an American actor in London, rehearsing for a theater production. The writer of the play (Wilson), who has an affair with the leading-lady, is about to abandon his family. The American offers to seduce his frustrated wife, in order to make her happy. Wilson reluctantly agrees, ignorant of what this may lead to. Character drama is too undramatic to be compelling. Well-acted, an okay outing by the director of SIRENS.

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, The (2003, USA/GBR/CZE/GER) C-110m. Scope *** D: Stephen Norrington. Starring Sean Connery, Naseeruddin Shah, Peta Wilson, Tony Curran, Stuart Townsend, Shane West, Jason Flemyng, Richard Roxburgh, David Hemmings, Stephen Norrington. Marvelous, old-fashioned fantasy adventure set in 1899, where six super-heroes are gathered by Roxburgh in order to stop political escalation obviously brought about by a super-villain, which may lead to a world war. Among the valiant fighters: Allan Quatermain (Connery), Captain Nemo (Shah), the vampiric Mina Harker (Wilson), the Invisible Man (Curran), Dorian Gray (Townsend), and Dr. Jekyll (Flemyng). Plot is rather thin, but pace, twists and especially effects more than make up for it. Contains lots of references to films and literary works of the period. Great production design perfectly captures the Victorian Age. Based on the comic books by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill.

League of Gentlemen, The (1959, GBR) B&W-113m. *** D: Basil Dearden. Starring Jack Hawkins, Nigel Patrick, Roger Livesey, Richard Attenborough, Bryan Forbes, David Lodge, Patrick Wymark, Nigel Green, Oliver Reed. British RIFIFI-version about several gentlemen, most from the army, who are recruited (blackmailed) by Hawkins to perform a daring bank robbery. Suffers from inadequate pace but delightful dialogues and great actors make it fun. Co-star Forbes adapted a novel by John Boland.

Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990, USA) C-81m. ** D: Jeff Burr. Starring Kate Hodge, Ken Foree, Tom Everett, Duane Whitaker, R.A. Mihailoff, William Butler. Continuation of the horror series ignores Hooper’s sequel and puts a traveling couple in danger after they are attacked at a gas station and flee into the wrong direction. Quite vividly directed, this entry is not bad, although it becomes stupid and illogical at the end, losing its earlier bonus. Also, the cannibal family is portrayed as rather ‘normal’ freaks. Nice turn by Ken Foree (DAWN OF THE DEAD), one song is by Danny Elfman. 85m. version is also available. Followed by RETURN OF THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE.

Legally Blonde (2001, USA) C-96m. Scope ** D: Robert Luketic. Starring Reese Witherspoon, Luke Wilson, Matthew Davis, Selma Blair, Victor Garber, Jennifer Coolidge, Raquel Welch. Predictable comedy about typical blonde Witherspoon, who’d do everything to get her lover back – even go to Harvard law school. Witherspoon is radiant (as usual), but plot is awfully contrived. Hard to believe this was nominated for a Golden Globe! Based on the novel by Amanda Brown.

Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde (2003, USA) C-94m. **½ D: Charles Herman-Wurmfeld. Starring Reese Witherspoon, Sally Field, Regina King, Jennifer Coolidge, Bruce McGill, Dana Ivey, Bob Newhart, Luke Wilson. Witherspoon returns as the clever blonde Elle Woods, who is about to get married but wants to find her dog’s mother in order to send her an invitation card. It turns out that she is about to be killed in an experiment, and Elle decides she wants to fight against animal testing, even if it means losing her job at the law firm. Dressed in pink she conquers the congress. An utter contrivance in terms of plot, but swiftly paced and amusing. Witherspoon is smashing.

Legend (1985, GBR/USA) C-113m. Scope ***½ D: Ridley Scott. Starring Tom Cruise, Mia Sara, Tim Curry, David Bennent, Alice Playten, Billy Barty. Magical, visually breathtaking fantasy about beautiful Princess Sara, who stumbles into an adventure that the Brothers Grimm might have invented. An evil demon seeks to envelop the land in eternal darkness by killing the last two unicorns alive, using the Princess as a pawn. Enter young hero Cruise, who has fallen in love with the innocent girl. Brilliant production design complements director Scott's overwhelming visual style, with touches of his earlier BLADE RUNNER (1982). Jerry Goldsmith’s score was replaced by Tangerine Dream for 89m. U.S. release in 1986. Director's Cut runs 113m., released as an Ultimate Edition on DVD, retains the Goldsmith score and improves film substantially, including some potent scenes of horror. After this film director Scott turned away from fantasy and horror for good, too bad! Written by William Hjortsberg.

Legend of Evil Lake, The (2003, SKR) C-92m. Scope **½ D: Lee Kawng-Hoon. Starring Jeong Jun-Ho, Kim Hyo-jin, Kim Hye-ri, Choi Won-Seok. Hardly comprehensible South Korean martial arts epic about a demon trapped in a lake and the woman he possesses. Well-directed, superbly photographed film is a feast for the senses but not really for the mind. Give this one a look if you like this kind of stuff. Same story filmed before in 1969 (English title was A THOUSAND YEAR-OLD FOX).

Legend of Fong Sai-Yuk, The (1993, HGK) C-102m. **½ D: Corey Yuen. Starring Jet Li, Michelle Reis, Josephine Siao, Chu Kong, Adam Cheng, Man Cheuk Chiu, Sibelle Hu. Li stars as title figure, a young fighter whose parents are associated with a secret society of rebels. He falls in love with a girl of a wealthy family, and lots of fighting ensues. Unusual amount of drama uplifts standard martial arts comedy. One or two outstanding fight scenes, but film's best feature is Siao's part as Li's mother. Her character is unusually emancipated. Followed by a sequel.

Legend of Hell House, The (1973, GBR) C-94m. *** D: John Hough. Starring Pamela Franklin, Roddy McDowall, Clive Revill, Gayle Hunnicutt, Roland Culver, Peter Bowles, Michael Gough. A physicist (Revill), a mental medium (Franklin), and a survivor (McDowall) are hired to investigate mysterious haunted house that is said to kill all the people who enter. Good atmosphere achieved by creative camerawork (by Alan Hume) and chilling electronic score. Doesn’t hold up to the very end but remains convincing. Based on the novel Hell House by Richard Matheson.

Legend of Sleepy Hollow, The (1958, USA) C-33m. n/r D: Clyde Geronimi, Jack Kinney. Starring (the voice of) Bing Crosby. Nice Disney short, originally appeared as the first half of the double-bill that was THE ADVENTURE OF ICHABOD AND MR. TOAD (1949). Perfect Halloween fodder about a scrawny school teacher, who comes to a village and falls in love with pretty lass. However, he has to compete with a local hunk and, ultimately, with a headless horseman. Remade by Tim Burton in 1999 (as SLEEPY HOLLOW). Based on the story by Washington Irving.

Legend of the Golden Pearl (1985, HGK) C-87m. **½ D: Teddy Robin Kwang. Starring Sam Hui, Ti Lung, Teddy Robin Kwan, Joey Wong, Bruce Baron. Quite obvious INDIANA JONES rip-off from Hong Kong about adventurer Wisely (Hui), who starts investigating why so many people are after the legendary Golden Pearl. His exploits lead him from Africa to Asia. Some well-directed scenes and good camerawork (Peter Pau) put this slightly above average, though Hui as hero doesn’t register at all. His acting is terrible. The character of Wisely appears in three more movies: THE SEVENTH CURSE (1986), BURY ME HIGH (1990) and THE CAT (1992). Also known as LEGEND OF WISELY, LEGEND OF WU.

Legend of the Lost (1957, USA/ITA) C-108m. Scope *** D: Henry Hathaway. Starring John Wayne, Sophia Loren, Rossano Brazzi, Kurt Kasznar, Sonia Moser. Contrived but worthwhile adventure yarn set in Timbuktu, from where treasure hunter Brazzi ventures into the desert with guide Wayne. Loren is the love interest who soon puts the men’s partnership to the test. If one overlooks the artificial situations and pardons the sometimes awful dialogue, one will find the film entertaining and suspenseful. Younger audiences will be especially pleased. Jack Cardiff’s beautiful cinematography is a major asset. Shot in Lybia.

Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires, The (1974, GBR/HGK) C-88m. **½ D: Roy Ward Baker. Starring Peter Cushing, David Chiang, Julie Ege, Robin Stewart, Shih Szu, John Forbes-Robertson. Cushing is earnest as vampire hunter Professor van Helsing, who is convinced that vampires have found their way to China. Together with seven brothers he battles the ‘seven golden vampires’. Dramatic score, effective direction highlight this Hammer/Shaw co-production. Plot becomes repetitive, though, and some may consider the horror/eastern combination a drawback. The thrilling, violent action scenes almost earn it a good rating. Sure to please genre fans. Released in the U.S. as SEVE N BROTHERS MEET DRACULA.

Legend of the Werewolf (1975, GBR) C-87m. ** D: Freddie Francis. Starring Peter Cushing, Ron Moody, Hugh Griffith, Roy Castle, David Rintoul, Lynn Dalby. Acceptable version of the Werewolf legend with Cushing a police surgeon, who discovers that recent murders must have been committed by a wild beast. Solidly made, but lacks wit, style and imagination.

Legend of Zorro, The (2005, USA) C-129m. Scope *** D: Martin Campbell. Starring Antonio Banderas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Rufus Sewell, Nick Chinlund, Julio Oscar Mechoso, Pedro Armendaríz Jr., Mary Crosby. Rather late follow-up to THE MASK OF ZORRO (1998) is a better movie, surprisingly, as Zorro (Banderas, good this time) decides to leave his wife (Zeta-Jones) and their son to be able to help the underprivileged. Soon, however, he regrets this move, as his wife gets engaged to a rich landowner with sinister plans. Exciting, stylish action adventure with barely any lulls, richly scored by James Horner, well-edited by Stuart Baird. If only the contemporary James Bond and BATMAN movies could have this much zest! Steven Spielberg was among the executive producers.

Legends of the Fall (1994, USA) C-134m. **½ D: Edward Zwick. Starring Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins, Aidan Quinn, Julia Ormond, Henry Thomas, Karina Lombard, Gordon Tootosis, Tantoo Cardinal, Paul Desmond. Epic family saga, dealing with the fates of three brothers in the early 20th century. Pitt plays the rebellious Tristan, who marries the woman promised to his brother, who dies in World War One. Film explores his affiliation with nature and his domineering, anti-Government father (Hopkins). Exceptional photography and director Zwick’s (GLORY) feel for epic material almost overcome soap-opera like, pointless plot. Pitt plays the ultimate heartthrob, a reason why so many women went for this film. Based on a short novel by Jim Harrison. John Toll’s cinematography deservedly won an Academy Award.

Leggenda di Enea, La (1962, ITA/FRA) C-89m. Scope ** D: Giorgio Rivalta. Starring Steve Reeves, Carla Marlier, Liana Orfei, Giacomo Rossi-Stuart, Gianni Garko, Maurice Poli, Charles Band. Sequel to LA GUERRA DI TROIA (1961) follows Troyan hero Aeneas (Reeves) to Italy, where tries to set up a peaceful existence for his folks. Standard sword-and-sandal movie, not very rousing. Cowritten by Albert Band, whose son Charles has a small role. English titles: THE AVENGER, and THE LAST GLORY OF TROY.

Legione dei Damnati, Le (1969, ITA/SPA/GER) C-93m. Scope D: Umberto Lenzi. Starring Jack Palance, Thomas Hunter, Wolfgang Preiss, Curd Jürgens. Uninteresting war action about a group of soldiers who try to sabotage a German cannon in France. OK direction but overall, film is unexciting and trite. Coscripted by Dario Argento. U.S. title: BATTLE OF THE COMMANDOS.

Leidenschaftliche Blümchen (1978, GER) C-97m. **½ D: André Farwagi. Starring Nastassja Kinski, Gerry Sundquist, Stefano D’Amato, Gabriele Blum, Sean Chapman, Véronique Delbourg, Fabiana Udenio, Kurt Raab. Quite aesthetic (if perfect voyeurist fodder) about a school of girls, where new student Kinski arrives just right to help the other girls lose their virginity. Pretty harmless stuff, occasionally funny. Set in 1956 Switzerland, based on a novel by Laura Black. Some of the music is by Francis Lai. English titles: BOARDING SCHOOL, PASSION FLOWER HOTEL, PREPPY SCHOOL GIRLS, and VIRGIN CAMPUS.

Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004, USA) C-108m. **½ D: Brad Silberling. Starring Jim Carrey, Liam Aiken, Emily Browning, Kara and Shelby Hoffman, Timothy Spall, Catherine O’Hara, Billy Connolly, Meryl Streep, Luis Guzmán, Jamie Harris, Craig Ferguson, Jennifer Coolidge, Jane Adams, Cedric the Entertainer, Dustin Hoffman, voice of Jude Law. Three remarkable children become orphans when their house burns down and their parents die in the flames. From then on, weird uncle Olaf tries to become their guardian to steal their inheritance. Adaptation of the books by Daniel Handler (writing as Lemony Snicket) retains the weirdness and dark humor but ultimately remains rather lifeless and undramatic. Also the title should have been A SERIES OF UNLIKELY OR UNPLEASANT EVENTS. If this looks like Tim Burton worked on it, it’s because Emmanuel Lubezki shot it and Rick Heinrichs designed it. This has interesting parallels to Jerry Lewis’ THE FAMILY JEWELS (1965).

Léolo (1992, CDN/FRA) C-107m. ***½ D: Jean-Claude Lanzon. Starring Maxime Collin, Ginette Reno, Roland Blouin, Julien Guiomar, Pierre Bourgault, Giuditta del Vecchio, Denys Arcand, narrated by Gilbert Sicotte. Unique film about the life of a twelve year-old boy growing up in a poor part of Montreal, as seen through his eyes. Bizarre, surreal, colorful, atmospheric, mystical, funny, stylish and highly poetic. Screenplay by the director is semiautobiographical. Collin proves a perfect pick for the lead. Not for all tastes, but score, photography, direction all up to challenge of the script. Fine soundtrack includes songs by Tom Waits, The Rolling Stones and Gilbert Becaud.   

Léon - The Professional (1994, USA/FRA) C-135m. Scope ***½ D: Luc Besson. Starring Jean Reno, Natalie Portman, Gary Oldman, Danny Aiello, Ellen Greene. Perfect thriller/drama hybrid, both tender and thrilling, about professional hitman (Reno) who ‘adopts’ a twelve year-old girl (Portman) who has just lost her entire family in a police raid. She asks the simple-minded man to teach her his job in order to be revenged on corrupt policeman Oldman. Well-acted, well-directed, with terrific action scenes and touching scenes of emotional bonding. Oldman stands out as the bizarre psycho-cop. Originally released at 109m., film was reissued in a Director’s Cut version two years later with an additional 26m. This longer version explores the relationship between the killer and the girl in more detail.

Leo the Last (1970, GBR) C-113m. **½ D: John Boorman. Starring Marcello Mastroianni, Billie Whitelaw, Calvin Lockhart, Glenna Forster-Jones, Lew (Louis) Gossett (Jr.), Kenneth J. Warren. Experimental parable about a rich man (Mastroianni), who discovers his social conscience when watching the poor black people across the street. He more and more becomes part of their lives, until their plight becomes his. Well-directed by Boorman, but becomes repetitive after a while. For the filmmaker’s fans. Boorman also scripted with Bill Stair from a George Tabori play. Also shown in a 104m. version.

Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina (1997, USA) C-108m. **½ D: Bernard Rose. Starring Sophie Marceau, Sean Bean, Alfred Molina, Mia Kirshner, James Fox, Fiona Shaw, Danny Huston, Phyllida Law, David Schofield. Lavishly filmed but dramatically flawed adaptation of Tolstoy’s famous novel. Marceau is fine as the title figure, who falls in love with a Count (Bean), putting her marriage with Fox (with whom she has a son) in jeopardy. Handsomely photographed by Daryn Okada, who provides many of the film’s finest moments, but plot seems superficial, especially the romance between the two leads is off to an abrupt start. Director Rose himself wrote the screenplay. Filmed on location in St. Petersburg and Moscow.

Lepke (1975, USA) C-105m. Scope *** D: Menahem Golan. Starring Tony Curtis, Anjanette Comer, Michael Callan, Warren Berlinger, Milton Berle, Vic Tayback, J.S. Johnson. Gangster drama chronicling the rise and fall of syndicate Boss Lepke in Brooklyn of the 1930s. Curtis is good in the lead role, and he is given fine support, especially by Tayback as Lucky Luciano. Johnson, as the killer Mendy Weiss, has also a thankful role. Period flavor well-captured, good score by Ken Wannberg; it all adds up to a satisfying drama. Golan also produced. Photographed by Andrew Davis. Also shown at 98m. and 110m.

Lethal Weapon 4 (1998, USA) C-127m. Scope **½ D: Richard Donner. Starring Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Joe Pesci, Chris Tucker, René Russo, Jet Li. The two cops are back, this time battling a Chinese syndicate that smuggles humans. Fourth installment in the action film series starts with a bang, but when after an hour the plot is still unclear, you'll begin to shift in your seat. Lots of low-brow humor pepped up with spectacular stunts. Sadly, the film's propagated family values are contradicted by a violent final battle with villain Jet Li. Certainly for fans of the series, others beware.

Letzte Schrei, Der (1974, GER) C-96m. *½ D: Robert van Ackeren. Starring Delphine Seyrig, Barry Foster, Peter Hall, Kirstie Pooley, Ellen Umlauf, Henning Schlüter, Udo Kier, Rolf Zacher. Very strange satire about an advocate (Foster) who is hired by a lingerie producer (Hall) to save him from bankruptcy. The man, however, intends to sell the firm, and meanwhile enjoys affairs with the businessman’s wife and daughter! Intended as a farce, film is neither funny nor shocking but terribly undecided and ultimately pointless. Ambitious direction, but script cancels effect. Ackeren is best known for WOMAN IN FLAMES.

Lèvres de Sang (1975, FRA) C-87m. D: Jean Rollin. Starring Jean-Loup Philippe, Annie Briand (Belle), Nathalie Perrey, Martine Grimaud. Another one of Rollin’s vampire/sex films, this one bores with slow plot and poor acting. Philippe has vivid recollections from his childhood, which involve a sexy woman in a castle. He tries to find the place and the person, but someone is trying to prevent him from getting there. Also, there are some scantily clad vampires on the loose in the city. Unlike earlier Rollin efforts, this one has very little atmosphere. English title: LIPS OF BLOOD.

Liar, Liar (1997, USA) C-86m. ** D: Tom Shadyac. Starring Jim Carrey, Maura Tierney, Justin Cooper, Cary Elwes, Anne Haney, Jennifer Tilly, Amanda Donohoe, Swoosie Kurtz. Randall ‘Tex’ Cobb. Heinous lawyer Carrey (divorced) keeps disappointing his little five-year-old son Cooper, until the boy’s birthday wish forces him magically to say the truth for 24 hours, which gets Carrey in some precarious situations and ultimately makes him realize what a bad father he is. Carrey overacts, has some funny bits, but script is contrived and has a false, false, false Hollywood ending.

Libido (1965, ITA) 90m. *** D: Julian Berry (=Ernesto Gastaldi), Victor Storff (=Vittorio Salerno). Starring Giancarlo Giannini, Alan Collins (=Luciano Pigozzi), Dominique Boschero, Mara Maryl. Traumatized young man (Giannini) returns to his father’s estate, where he witnessed a murder twenty years ago. When he starts having visions of his late father, he begins to suspect his solicitor and his wife, who have come to the country house with him. Interesting gothic melodrama with shades of the giallo is well-acted and comes up with some neat twists in the final third to make up for some pacing flaws. Score by Carlo Rustichelli is quite good. This was Giannini’s first film and one of proficient screenwriter Gastaldi’s few directorial efforts. Film deserves to be better known.

Licence to Kill (1989, GBR) C-133m. Scope **½ D: John Glen. Starring Timothy Dalton, Carey Lowell, Robert Davi, Talisa Soto, Anthony Zerbe, Frank McRae, Everett McGill, Benicio Del Toro, Desmond Llewelyn, Caroline Bliss, Don Stroud. Sixteenth Bond adventure was Dalton’s second (and last) appearance as the British secret agent. Bond goes against South American druglord Davi and even risks his famous licence to kill, because he wants to avenge the killing of a colleague’s wife. Vicious, rather violent (probably the most violent in the whole series) but overlong, with the only really effective action set-piece coming at the very end. Dalton can’t be blamed, his performance is good. Still, the Bond movie series made a break after this film for six long years.

Licence to Wed (2007, USA) C-91m. Scope **½ D: Ken Kwapis. Starring Robin Williams, Mandy Moore, John Krasinski, Eric Christian Olsen, Christine Taylor, Josh Flitter, DeRay Davis, Peter Strauss, Grace Zabriskie, Roxanne Hart. Krasinski and Moore want to get married in her hometown, but they haven’t reckoned with reverend Williams, who makes their marriage preparation an endurance test. Quite funny, but also quite contrived, this one is an okay view, all in all.

L.I.E. (2001, USA) C-97m. *** D: Michael Cuesta. Starring Paul Dano, Bruce Altman, Billy Kay, James Costa, Tony Donnelly, Brian Cox. Aimless 15-year-old Dano, who has lost his mother to an accident on the Long Island Expressway (the L.I.E. of the title), starts hanging out with a teen who sells his body to gays and ultimately gets involved with elderly pedophile Cox. Daring subject matter, well-acted and convincingly brought to the screen, although Dano’s story is unrelentingly depressing. Cowritten by the director.

Liebestraum (1991, USA) C-113m. **½ D: Mike Figgis. Starring Kevin Anderson, Pamela Gidley, Bill Pullman, Kim Novak, Graham Beckel, Zach Grenier, Thomas Kopache, Max Perlich, Catherine Hicks. Oddly effective thriller about Anderson’s return to his birthplace, where his mother (Novak) is slowly dying. He becomes involved with his best friend’s wife and learns there is secret about the old building her husband is about to demolish. Figgis’ stylish approach seems pretentious at some points when the story ceases to make sense (especially in some surreal scenes), but there is still enough atmosphere to spare and several eerie scenes to make this an okay view. Music by director Figgis (LEAVING LAS VEGAS). David Lynch must have seen this prior to casting Pullman for LOST HIGHWAY. Watch out for cut versions.

Lifeforce (1985, GBR) C-101m. Scope *** D: Tobe Hooper. Starring Steve Railsback, Peter Firth, Frank Finlay, Mathilda May, Patrick Stewart, Michael Gothard. Fast-paced, effective science.fiction movie with horror elements about a strange spaceship that is discovered tailing the Halley’s Comet. It turns out the three humanoisd aboard are vampire-like extra-terrestrials bent on destroying the Earth. A zombie-plague puts London on the brink of destruction, and astronaut Railsback may be the only one who knows how to stop the creatures’ leader, beautiful May. Trashy tale of the bizarre is well-directed by Hooper and offers some great shocks and effects. Especially for fans of the genre, others beware. Based on Colin Wilson’s novel Space Vampires. Also shown at 116m.

Lifeforce Experiment, The (1993, CAN/GBR) C-92m. ** D: Piers Haggard. Starring Donald Suther-land, Mimi Kuzyk, Vlasta Vrana, Corin Nemec, Hayley Reynolds. Interesting but unsatisfying TV adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's 1966 story 'The Breakthrough'. A scientist (Sutherland) is conducting experiments to capture the lifeforce of dying people. The CIA, being interested in the research, sends a computer specialist (Kuzyk) to the professor, but not necessarily to make him stop. Kuzyk is unconvincing, the atmosphere is too clinical, and plot is hardly dramatic. It's the suspense that suffers.

Life Less Ordinary, A (1997, USA/GBR) C-103m. Scope **½ D: Danny Boyle. Starring Ewan McGregor, Cameron Diaz, Holly Hunter, Ian Holm, Dan Hedaya, Stanley Tucci. From the makers of TRAINSPOTTING comes this romantic comedy about unlikely kidnapper McGregor, who abducts the daughter of his former boss and finds himself in trouble when she takes control of the negotiations. In another strand of action, two angels from heaven try to make them fall in love with each other. Uneven but charming comedy, with some dazzling moments, is likely to appeal to fans of the two attractive stars. Hunter, as a resolute angel, steals the film; she has one hell of a role!

Life of Brian (1979, GBR) C-94m. ***½ D: Terry Jones. Starring Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Neil Innes, Spike Milligan, Charles McKeown, George Harrison. Now-classic satire on religious fanatism is British comedy troupe Monty Python’s best film. Born on the same day as the messiah, naïve Brian (Chapman) spends his life in Nazareth, among Roman centurions, Jewish would-be revolutionaries, and constantly bugged by his mother (director Jones himself). Absolutely hilarious gags, a laugh riot! Slightly uneven, like most Monty Python films, but first half is priceless. And remember: ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’! The actors appear in no less than 40 roles! Coproduced by ex-Beatle George Harrison. Complete title is MONTY PYTHON’S LIFE OF BRIAN.

Life of David Gale, The (2003, USA) C-130m. Scope **½ D: Alan Parker. Starring Kevin Spacey, Kate Winslet, Laura Linney, Matt Craven, Gabriel Mann, Alan Parker. Mediocre drama in the vein of TRUE CRIME (1999) and DEAD MAN WALKING (1995). Reporter Winslet gets the chance to interview murderer and rapist Spacey, who’s awaiting execution on death row. She firmly believes he is guilty, despite his reputation as an anti-capital punishment activist and philosophy professor. What brought him into this situation? Interesting but overlong and not always credible, good performances keep it afloat. Director Parker also produced with Nicolas Cage.

Life With Mikey (1993, USA) C-91m. **½ D: James Lapine. Starring Michael J. Fox, Christina Vidal, Nathan Lane, Cyndi Lauper. Fox is well-cast as former child TV star who unsuccessfully runs an agency for talented kids. One day pickpocket Vidal steals his wallet and he is so stunned by her ‘performance’ when she is caught that he decides to promote her. Needless to say, she manages to grab a role in a television commercial. Formulaic feel-good movie, a conventional comedy drama, not very imaginative.

Light at the Edge of the World, The (1971, USA/SPA/SUI/LIE) C-105m. Scope D: Kevin Billington. Starring Kirk Douglas, Yul Brynner, Samantha Eggar, Jean-Claude Drouot, Fernando Rey, Renato Salvatori, Aldo Sambrell. Absolutely incomprehensible drama set on a remote island in the 19th century (reportedly on Cape Horn), where lighthouse keeper Douglas is confronted with (impressive) Brynner and his pirate horde. Flashback scenes identify Douglas as a broken man, but you’ll give up figuring out what it’s about after an hour or so. Maybe complete 120m. version helps. Based on the novel Le Phare du Bout du Monde by Jules Verne. Beautiful photography by Henri Decae.

Limey, The (1999, USA) C-90m. **½ D: Steven Soderbergh. Starring Terence Stamp, Lesley Ann Warren, Luis Guzmán, Barry Newman, Joe Dallesandro, Nicky Katt, Peter Fonda. Stylish, initially fascinating thriller about embittered father (and ex-con) Stamp, who considers music producer Fonda to be responsible for the death of his estranged daughter. Simple revenge formula in an attractive wrapping. Unusual concoction of past/present/future is film’s major asset. Has cult film possibilities. The stars seem very relaxed. Scenes that show Stamp as a young man are from 1967 movie POOR COW, which was the directorial debut of Ken Loach.

Link (1986, GBR) C-103m. **½ D: Richard Franklin. Starring Terence Stamp, Elisabeth Shue, Steven Pinner, Richard Garnett. Well-directed horror thriller about young student Shue who goes to work with anthropologist Stamp and soon finds herself terrorized by his chimps. Plot disregards the question ‘why?’ and sends attractive, cute Shue on an exciting run from psychopathic ape Link. Just don’t search for some deeper meaning to all this. Jerry Goldsmith’s awkward score is inappropriate for a horror film, though.

Lion King, The (1994, USA) C-88m. *** D: Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff. Voices of Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Matthew Broderick, James Earl Jones, Jeremy Irons, Moira Kelly, Rowan Atkinson, Whoopi Goldberg, Cheech Marin. Cute animated feature from Disney about a young lion destined to be King one day, who falls prey to an intrigue by his evil uncle, only to return years later to claim his inheritance. Sophisticated, serious plot (not without comic bits, however), and fine, Oscar-winning songs by Elton John and Tim Rice. Love that Bruce Lee parody. One of the highest grossing cartoon features every made.

Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The (1979, GBR) C-95m. *** D: Bill Melendez. Simply but cleverly animated adaptation of C. S. Lewis’ novel about four kids who stumble into mysterious land Narnia, which is ruled by the evil Snow Queen. Kids will love this, and even adults will be delighted by this nice adventure.

Lisa and the Devil (1972, ITA/SPA/GER) C-95m. *** D: Mario Bava. Starring Elke Sommer, Telly Savalas, Alida Valli, Alessio Orano, Sylva Koscina, Gabriele Tinti. Tourist Sommer gets lost in a Spanish town and stumbles into a strange house, where the butler (Savalas) may be the devil himself! Well-produced, extremely stylish tale of the bizarre shows Bava at his best. Superbly photographed, well-acted horror drama is a masterpiece of surreal filmmaking. Haunting classical music score is an interpretation of Joaquin Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez. Note: Bava reworked his film for the 1975 American theatrical release, adding unrelated scenes to the plot. Titled HOUSE OF EXORCISM, film then resembled more an EXORCIST-clone and was dismissed by critics (this version rates ). The 1996 U.S. re-release showed the film restored, with some slight cuts, however (3 gore close-ups and one nudity scene). Rating applies to the original version only. It’s a shame Bava had to chop up his film like that (obviously for financial reasons). Italian title: IL DIAVOLO E I MORTI. Spanish title: LA CASA DEL EXORCISMO. Shot in Panoramica (1,85:1).

Lisa, Lisa (1974, USA) C-68m. **½ D: Frederick R. Friedel. Starring Leslie Lee, Jack Canon, Frederick R. Friedel, Ray Green, Douglas Powers. Three criminals on the run wind up terrorizing a girl, who cares for her paralyzed grandfather in their farm house. Little do the thugs know that Lisa is mentally unbalanced herself and willing to make use of her axe when harassed… Sick little thriller is awfully slow (especially at the beginning) but works thanks to an eerie score and compact running time. This looks as if it was shot on Italian film stock (strangely enough). Cult movie buffs, give it a look. Also known as CALIFORNIA AXE MASSACRE, AXE MURDERS, and simply AXE.

Little Boy Blue (1998, USA) C-104m. *** D: Antonio Tibaldi. Starring Ryan Phillippe, Nastassja Kinski, John Savage, Shirley Knight, Tyrin Turner, Jenny Lewis, Brent Jennings, Adam Burke. Understated, awfully low-key, but interesting and well-plotted drama about a dysfunctional Texan "family". The father (Savage) forces his son (Phillippe) to have an oedipal relationship with his mother (Kinski), because he himself is impotent. The 20 year-old also has to look after his two little brothers, ... who may be his own sons! However, the tyrant's past is catching up with him soon. Well-acted, well-written, if not terribly auspicious, this one unfolds slowly and builds to a shattering climax.

Little City (1998, USA) C-90m. **½ D: Roberto Benabib. Starring Jon Bon Jovi, Penelope Ann Miller, Josh Charles, Annabella Sciorra, JoBeth Williams, Joanna Going, Joe Bellan, Peter Gardiner. Cute romantic comedy about the hexangular relationship of several San Francisco twens. They switch lovers quickly, refusing to stay with one for long, because they can't really decide. Newcomer Miller spices things up. Amusing but uneven, with abrupt dramatics, and an unsatisfying conclusion. Bon Jovi actually plays a rather unsympathetic character, and it's Charles who scores the most points. Written by the director.

Little Girl... Big Tease (1977, USA) C-86m. ** D: Roberto Mitrotti. Starring Jody Ray, Rebecca Brooke, Robert Furey, Phil Bendone. Pure exploitation about teenager Ray, who is kidnapped one day by three criminal low-lifes (one of them her former teacher!) and held for ransom in a big house. The girl has her sexual awakening there, which includes erotic grappling with all three of her abductors. A male fantasy, this sex film is made watchable by easy listening score. Also known as SNATCHED.

Little Miss Sunshine (2006, USA) C-101m. Scope *** D: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris. Starring Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Steve Carell, Alan Arkin, Paul Dano, Abigail Breslin. Bitter-sweet comedy drama about a crazy suburban family from the lower middle class. Dad Kinnear is trying to get a book published, gay uncle Carell has just tried to kill himself, teen son Dano is refusing to speak and daughter Breslin is preparing for a beauty pageant with her grampa Arkin (in an Oscar-winning turn). Together they embark on a trip to California to bring Breslin to her competition. Oscar-winning script by Michael Arndt is hellishly funny at times. Best suited to American audiences.

Little Nicky (2000, USA) C-90m. ** D: Steven Brill. Starring Adam Sandler, Patricia Arquette, Harvey Keitel, Rhys Ifans, Tom ‘Tiny’ Lister Jr., Rodney Dangerfield, Reese Witherspoon, Dana Carvey, Jon Lovitz, Quentin Tarantino, Carl Weathers, Rob Schneider, Ozzy Osbourne. All-star, no-brain comedy about Satan’s three sons (among them the idiotic title character Sandler), who battle for the throne in hell on the streets of New York City. Low-brow spoof has its moments, but loses steam pretty quickly. Cowritten by star Sandler.

Little Odessa (1994, USA) C-98m. Scope *** D: James Gray. Starring Tim Roth, Edward Furlong, Moira Kelly, Vanessa Redgrave, Paul Guilfoyle, Natasha Andrejchenko, Maximilian Schell, David Vadim. Remarkable drama about hitman Roth, whose latest assignment takes him to Little Odessa, the place where his estranged family lives. Roth finds himself drawn into their affairs, as his mother (Redgrave) is dying of a brain tumor and his disoriented little brother (Furlong) is suffering from the tyranny of his father (Schell), an adulterous Russian patriarch. Richly textured, well-directed but also incredibly gloomy and heavy-going (especially that score). An underrated little gem, winner of the Silver Lion at the Venice film festival. Director Gray’s first feature (shot when he was 24).

Little Princess, A (1995, USA) C-97m. ***½ D: Alfonso Cuaron. Starring Eleanor Bron, Liam Cunningham, Liesel Matthews, Rusty Schwimmer, Arthur Malet, Vanessa Lee Chester, Errol Sitahal, Vincent Schiavelli. Second filmization of Frances Hodgson Burnett's children classic can stand alongside the best films for children: Bron returns from India with her father, who puts her into a boarding school, because he has to go back and fight in World War One. The headmistress is cold-hearted and unfriendly and makes the bright girl suffer at every opportunity. And then the news of her father's death reaches London. Sweet-natured, tear-jerking drama, technically very well-made, with superior art direction, set decoration and production design. Fine photography by Emmanuel Lubetzki (A WALK IN THE CLOUDS).

Live and Let Die (1973, GBR) C-121m. *** D: Guy Hamilton. Starring Roger Moore, Yaphet Kotto, Jane Seymour, Clifton James, Julius Harris, Geoffrey Holder, David Heddison, Gloria Hendry, Bernard Lee, Lois Maxwell. Unusual Bond production concerns the secret agent’s attempts to stop unscrupulous narcotics producer Kotto. Episodic adventure makes good use of locations, though the plot line disappears at times and there is comparatively little action. Roger Moore is a little stiff in his first appearance as James Bond. Still, very interesting as an homage to Blaxploitation cinema and the only Bond film to (hesitantly) include supernatural elements. Title song by Paul McCartney. Trivia notes: Shot in 1.85:1 aspect ratio, unlike most other Bond pictures, which were filmed in widescreen. Fans demanded a return of Desmond Llewelyn (‘Q’) in the next series entry, THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN.

Live Free or Die Hard (2007, USA/GBR) C-130m. Scope **½ D: Len Wiseman. Starring Bruce Willis, Timothy Olyphant, Justin Long, Maggie Q, Cliff Curtis, Jonathan Sadowski, Andrew Friedman, Kevin Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Zeljko Ivanek. Late sequel to the DIE HARD franchise pits an older, more cynical cop McClane (Willis) against computer terrorists, who are plunging the U.S. into chaos by switching off all computer-operated services (basically everything, from traffic to power). McClane is battling them with a computer whiz kid in tow. Forget plot setup or character development, this overlong blockbuster rocks only in several explosive big-scale action set-pieces that puts it in the realm of an action fantasy. Also known as DIE HARD 4.0.

Living Daylights, The (1987, GBR) C-130m. Scope *** D: John Glen. Starring Timmothy Dalton, Maryam D’Abo, Jeroen Krabbé, Joe Don Baker, John Rhys-Davies, Art Malik, Desmond Llewelyn, Caroline Bliss. Dalton’s debut as James Bond after the departure of Roger Moore is hard-hitting, well-made adventure about 007’s involvement in helping Russian general Krabbé switch sides. Ultimately, the Russian turns out to be the ally of ruthless weapons dealer Baker. Technically well-made (especially well-edited) thriller has good production values and features a refreshingly serious performance by Dalton. Unfortunately, the villain is less potent than usual and film peters out without a suitable climax. Good location work. Dalton returned in LICENCE TO KILL (1989).

Living Dead Girl (1982, FRA) C-89m. M D: Jean Rollin. Starring Marina Pierro, Françoise Blachard, Mike Marshall, Carina Barone, Alain Petit, Véronique Carpentier. A young vampire is provided with victims by her human girlfriend. An American couple discovers them. Poor horror film lacks everything that made Rollin’s earlier features (LE VIOL DU VAMPIRE, LA VAMPIRE NUE) fascinating and adds gruesome, nihilistic gore scenes.

Living Dead: Outbreak on a Plane (2007, USA) C-89m. **½ D: Scott Thomas. Starring David Chisum, Kristen Kerr, Kevin J. O’Connor, Richard Tyson, Erick Avari, Derek Webster, Dale Midkiff. Not-bad zombie horror that takes its cue from the B-movie hit SNAKES ON A PLANE. In a plane’s cargo hold, a special freight gets loose and infects the people on board with the zombie virus. There’s not much more to say, but films like this have been much worse. Solid plot setup, some gory effects, an okay view. Also known as FLIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, and PLANE DEAD.

Living It Up (1954, USA) C-95m. **½ D: Norman Taurog. Starring Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Janet Leigh, Edward Arnold, Fred Clark, Sheree North. Typical Martin/Lewis pairing about Jerry, who becomes a victim of radiation and is (wrongly) pronounced terminally ill by his doctor Martin. Enter N.Y.C. newspaper journalist Leigh, who wants to make Jerry’s last wish come true and bring him to the Big Apple. Quite entertaining but not really funny comedy, a remake of NOTHING SACRED (1937).

Lo Chiamavano Tresette… Giocava Sempre con il Morto (1973, ITA) C-84m. Scope **½ D: Anthony Ascott (=Giuliano Carnimeo). Starring George Hilton, Cris Huerta, Evelyn Stewart (=Ida Galli), Sal Borgese, Umberto D’Orsi, Rosalba Neri. Quite funny comedy western follows the exploits of unlikely duo Hilton and Huerta, as they are assigned to bring gold transport to Dallas. Spaghetti western parody with lots of low-brow humor and brawls. Hilton is good, Huerta tries to imitate Bud Spencer. Nice score by Bruno Nicolai. Followed by a sequel. Also known as THEY CALLED HIM THE PLAYER WITH THE DEAD, MAN CALLED INVINCIBLE, TRICKY DICKY and IN THE WEST THERE WAS A MAN NAMED INVINCIBLE.

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998, GBR) C-107m. ** D: Guy Ritchie. Starring Jason Flemyng, Dexter Fletcher, Nick Moran, Jason Statham, Steven Mackintosh, Vinie Jones, Sting, P.H. Moriarty. More milieu study than thriller, this box-office hit from the U.K. is about four pot-smoking small-time crooks, who decide to beat a crime kingpin in a game of poker for a lot of money. When they lose, they are given one week to get the money they owe to the man. Soon they have a plan, but lots of underworld characters complicate the proceedings. Slowly paced due to simple plotting, and never terribly thrilling or entertaining (that is, to non-British audiences). Artistic approach is more off-the-wall than stylish. A PULP FICTION-TRAINSPOTTING-influenced movie and, like most clones, a long way from the originals. Written by the director. U.S. title: TWO SMOKING BARRELS.

Logan’s Run (1976, USA) C-120m. Scope ***½ D: Michael Anderson. Starring Michael York, Jenny Agutter, Richard Jordan, Roscoe Lee Browne, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Anderson Jr., Peter Ustinov. Bizarre science-fiction adventure set in the 23rd century, where the population lives in a huge dome. Life must end for everyone at the age 30. Those who refuse to be ‘renewed’ (in a sort-of religious ceremony) go on the run. So-called Sandmen, humans of a higher caste, hunt down and kill these outlaws. Sandman Logan (York) is assigned to find secret sanctuary of escaped runners but uncovers the mystery behind the renewal and finds out what is beyond the city dome. Exciting adventure shows an intriguing future in the first half and becomes a whale of an adventure in the second. Somewhat muddled plot setup is soon forgotten. Dazzling, Oscar-winning special effects add to the fun. A latter-day cult item, based on the novel by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson. Well-photographed by Ernest Laszlo, fine score by Jerry Goldsmith. Followed by a short-lived TV series (14 episodes) in 1977.

Lola Rennt (1998, GER) C-79m. ** D: Tom Tykwer. Starring Franka Potente, Moritz Bleibtreu, Herbert Knaup, Nina Petri, Armin Rohde, Joachim Król, Ludger Pistor, Suzanne von Borsody. Aggressive, flashy pop-thriller about a rebellious young pair of lovers who get caught in crime and must deliver DM100,000, which he has forgotten in a subway train. When he (Bleibtreu) calls her (Potente) for help, she has 20 minutes to solve the problem and runs for help (and for his life). These 20 minutes are repeated twice - in increasingly unrealistic segments - each with different incidents (chance meetings, accidents, etc.) and outcomes. The point writer-director Tykwer is trying to make - that fates can depend on minor incidents - is meager. His use of many different stylistic means makes film interesting, although it doesn't enrich its plot and creates the impression that Tykwer is merely trying out all that he learned at film school. The director also contributed to the pulsating score. A smash hit in Germany. English title: RUN LOLA RUN.

Lolita (1997, USA/FRA) C-137m. *** D: Adrian Lyne. Starring Jeremy Irons, Melanie Griffith, Frank Langella, Dominique Swain, Suzanne Shepherd, Keith Reddin. Sublime version of Vladimir Nabokov’s classic novel about the seduction of a 40-year-old school teacher (Irons) by a 14-year-old nymphet (Swain), with prefect casting and sensitive direction. Irons is masterful as usual, Swain gives an eye-opening performance. More lavish than Stanley Kubrick’s 1962 version, but one can hardly forget the wonderful Peter Sellers, who had Irons’ part. Created a scandal (especially the comic-book scene) and sat on the shelf for more than a year. Score by Ennio Morricone.

Lonely Hearts (2006, USA) C-107m. Scope **½ D: Todd Robinson. Starring John Travolta, James Gandolfini, Jared Leto,  Salma Hayek, Scott Caan, Laura Dern, Michael Gaston, Bruce MacVittie, Dan Byrd, Andrew Wheeler, Alice Krige. Fairly good version of the real Lonely Hearts case, about two low-lifes Hayek and Leto, who travel the country cheating widows out of their fortune and subsequently killing them. Police inspector Travolta is on the case. Thriller recreates the period of the 1940s quite well and has good performances, but adds pointless subplots, and the criminals lack the edge or insanity of those in earlier film versions. Maybe casting gorgeous Hayek as Martha Beck wasn’t such a good idea. Filmed before as THE HONEYMOON KILLERS (1970), LONELY HEARTS (1991), and PROFUNDO CARMESI (1996).

Lonesome Jim (2005, USA) C-92m. **½ D: Steve Buscemi. Starring Casey Affleck, Liv Tyler, Kevin Corrigan, Mary Kay Place, Seymour Cassel. Downbeat Jim Jarmusch-like comedy drama about loser Affleck who returns to his hometown from an unsuccessful stance in New York City. He feels completely aimless and desperate, especially when his brother tries to commit suicide. Nurse Tyler, a single mom, could help him out of his misery. Moody but slight character drama. Buscemi’s third feature following TREES LOUNGE (1996) and ANIMAL FACTORY (2000).

Lone Wolf & Cub 2: Baby Cart at the River Styx (1972, JAP) C-84m. Scope ***½ D: Kenji Misumi. Starring Tomisaburo Wakayama, Kayo Matsuo, Minoru Ooki, Shooji Kobayashi, Shin Kishida, Akihiro Tomikawa. Dark, atmospheric, altogether fascinating action film set in 17th century Japan, the second of a 6-part series and reportedly the best. Wakayama plays Ogami, an assassin who used to be the Shogun’s executioner. He travels through the country with his son Daigoro, who is pushed by his father in a baby cart. Ogami, while being constantly under attack by clans who would like to see him dead, is hired to kill an unfaithful worker who intends to give away the secret of an important dye process. The film creates a sense of mysticism like few motion pictures before. Very little emotions in the film itself, but viewer is taken aback with beautiful visuals and fierce fight scenes that are extremely bloody and violent. A sensational achievement, based upon the Japanese comic book series. First film explains why Ogami has become an assassin and should be viewed before Part 2. All film in the series titled LONE WOLF & CUB, with different subtitles: SWORD OF VENGEANCE (1), BABY CART TO HADES (3), BABY CART IN PERIL (4), BABY CART IN THE LAND OF DEMONS (5), and WHITE HEAVEN IN HELL (6).

Long Arm of the Law, The (1984, HGK) C-94m. **½ D: Johnny Mak. Starring Chen Jing, Huang Jian, Jiang Lung, Ben Lam, Wong Kwong Leung. Hard-hitting action thriller (pre-BETTER TOMORROW) about four friends who team up in metropolis of Hong Kong to pull off a heist at a jeweller’s, only to realize that somebody betrayed them to the police. The guy who helps them out, demands a contract murder in return… but the cops are already hot on their trails. Seriously plotted, detailing the main characters’ hopes and frustrations with their situation, but film only really comes alive in the finale, which ends on a startling note. Written by Philip Chan, coproduced by Samo Hung. Original Hong Kong version runs slightly longer. Followed by three sequels. Also known as REDGUARDS FROM HONG KONG, HONG KONG VICE.

Long Dimanche de Fiancailles, Un (2004, FRA/USA) C-134m. Scope ***½ D: Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Starring Audrey Tautou, Gaspard Ulliel, Dominique Pinon, Chantal Neuwirth, André Dussolier, Marion Cottilard, Dominique Bettenfeld, Jodie Foster, Jean-Pierre Becker, Jean-Claude Dreyfus, Tchéky Karyo, Denis Lavant, Rufus. Outstanding, visually breathtaking drama from the creator of LE FABULEUX DESTIN D’AMELIE POULAIN (2001). WW1, the front, in early 1917. Five soldiers, sentenced to death, are sent between enemy lines to their certain doom. One of them, a barely 20-year-old, is in love with Mathilde (Tautou), who, about three years later, refuses to believe that her boyfriend is dead. She commences a frantic search for clues that show that he might still be alive. Dazzling, superbly directed drama has the same inimitable look and feel of the director’s earlier features. Excellent score by Angelo Badalamenti. Based on the novel by Sébastien Japrisot. English title: A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT.

Longest Night, The (197?, CHI) C-88m. Scope ** D: Chin Hsiang. Starring Josef Landa, Richard Ming. Obscure war film about the Korean civil war in the 1950s (which led to the conflict with the U.S.A.). Lots of shoot-outs, explosions, but plays more like a propaganda movie or documentary than a war film. Quite violent. German video version is titled DIE LÄNGSTE NACHT (title above is a translation into English). Very rare and obscure film is not listed in the IMDb.

Long Goodbye, The (1973, USA) C-112m. Scope *** D: Robert Altman. Starring Elliot Gould, Nina van Pallandt, Sterling Hayden, Henry Gibson, Mark Rydell, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Moody adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s classic detective novel with Gould as Philip Marlowe, who is trying to solve the mystery surrounding a friend’s suicide. He becomes entangled with all kinds of weird characters including boozy writer Hayden and his beautiful wife van Pallandt. Altman’s seemingly indifferent approach may be interpreted as contempt but film captures the defeatist tone of the novel quite well and becomes more and more fascinating as it meanders toward the solution. Gould is fine as Marlowe (who only cares for his cat).

Long Weekend (1978, AUS) C-93m. Scope **½ D: Colin Eggleston. Starring John Hargreaves, Briony Behets, Mike McEwen, Roy Day, Michael Aitkens. Australian chiller about a married couple with problems who go on a camping trip into the wilderness but find themselves stalked by different animals and “something in the water”. Slow pace in first half almost brgins it down, but second one becomes more interesting, even hypnotic. Unsettling score by Michael Carlos. Remade in 2008.

Lord of Illusions (1995, USA) C-122m. *** D: Clive Barker. Starring Scott Bakula, Kevin J. O’Connor, Famke Janssen, Vincent Schiavelli, Barry Del Sherman, Sheila Tousey. Famed fantasy/horror novelist Clive Barker’s third feature film, following HELLRAISER and NIGHTBREED, has private eye Harry D’Amour meet the Lord of Illusions in Los Angeles. The title figure is an illusionist who has learned his trade from a real magician/conjurer, who, longing to be resurrected, is bent on destroying the world. Barker’s imaginative cinematic style wins over a slowly moving plot and too many unexplained sequences. A must for horror and fantasy fans, if only to see Harry D’Amour, protagonist and hero of two Barker novels, in action. The finale is, like in NIGHTBREED, especially effective.

Lord of the Rings, The (1978, USA) C-133m. *** D: Ralph Bakshi. Starring the voices of Christopher Guard, William Squire, Michael Scholes, John Hurt, Simon Chandler, Dominic Guard, Norman Bird. First major attempt at bringing the immortal Tolkien novel to the big screen is valiant. Renowned cartoon director Bakshi (FRITZ THE CAT, HEAVY TRAFFIC) succeeds in capturing the fairy-tale world of Middle-Earth, where little hobbit Frodo must protect a powerful ring from the Dark Lord, who needs it for his own evil purposes. Ambitious, well-animated (if you excuse the somewhat disappointing combination of real-action with animation). In many parts a direct influence on Peter Jackson’s 2001 epic and like that one sticks close to its source. Only liability: This version ends unfortunately somewhere in the middle of the novel. Despite being slightly more fairy-tale-like than Jackson’s version, this is also not for small children. Fine dramatic score by Leonard Rosenman, produced by Saul Zaentz (who also cofinanced the 2001 film). Plans for a sequel were thwarted. Similar animated features: THE HOBBIT (1978) and THE RETURN OF THE KING (1980), which featured the voice of John Huston! Both were made for television.

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001, NZL/USA) C-178m. Scope *** D: Peter Jackson. Starring Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Liv Tyler, Cate Blanchett, John Rhys-Davies, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Orlando Bloom, Hugo Weaving, Sean Bean, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Bruce Spence, Peter Jackson. Long-awaited fantasy extravaganza based on the epic novel by J.R.R. Tolkien represents only the first part of the famous trilogy (Parts Two and Three were filmed simultaneously, however). Director Jackson (BRAINDEAD, HEAVENLY CREATURES) takes us on an awe-inspiring journey through fantastic Middle-Earth, as little hobbit Frodo Baggins (Wood) is entrusted with an all-powerful ring by his uncle Bilbo (Holm), which ensures stability and harmony (apart from making its bearer invisible) but is much sought-after by an evil warlord called Sauron. Frodo embarks on a long journey into an uncertain future (and never before-seen places and perils) to protect the ring from the evil bloodhounds of the Dark Lord. Magnificently filmed fantasy adventure is a mixed bag(gins). Plotwise, this could be broken up into four sections: The beginning, which is nice but lacks the kind of magical charm that made the book so enchanting; the start of the journey, which seems choppy and confusing; the part set in the halls of Morin, which is when the film hits its stride, becoming a full-fledged, exciting (and scary) adventure; and the final part, which is a good continuation of part three and paves the way very well for the films to come. Excellent use of special effects (most computer-generated, but who cares when this becomes hardly distinguishable from ‘real’ action?). Performances are good (especially McKellen’s as Gandalf), all in all film bears the marks of a production which was realized with the heartblood of all involved. Not the masterpiece expected (especially not for critical fans of the novel), but a fine thrill-ride which pulls all stops. Adapted by Frances Walsh, Philippa Boyens and director Jackson. Good score by Howard Shore.

Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The (2002, USA/NZL) C-179m. Scope *** D: Peter Jackson. Starring Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Billy Boyd, Liv Tyler, John Rhys-Davies, Dominic Monaghan, Christopher Lee, Miranda Otto, Brad Dourif, Orlando Bloom, Cate Blanchett, Karl Urban, Bernard Hill, David Wenham, Andy Serkis, Hugo Weaving, Peter Jackson. Spectacular continuation of the saga follows three major plot strands. While Frodo and Sam are trying to reach the gates of  Mordor and make the acquaintance of a most hideous creature, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli follow the Orcs, who have abducted the hobbits Merry and Pippin. Will the men’s kingdom of Rohan withstand the evil Saruman’s army of Orcs and Uruk-hai? It all comes down to a battle that will decide the fate of Middle-Earth. An improvement over the first part in terms of excitement and entertainment, film is not without dramatic flaws, however, and sometimes takes too long to make its point. Movie peters out at the end, without satisfactory set-up for the final part. Eye-popping special effects, especially at that climactic Battle of Helm’s Deep, create an awesome razzle-dazzle. The CGI creature Gollum (modeled after actor Serkis) is an equally impressive creation. Production design, cinematography are again first-rate. Filmed back-to-back with parts one and three, with the same crew.

Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The (2003, USA/NZL) C-201m. Scope ***½ D: Peter Jackson. Starring Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Billy Boyd, John Rhys-Davies, Dominic Monaghan, Miranda Otto, Bernard Hill, John Noble, Orlando Bloom, Andy Serkis, Karl Urban, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, Sean Bean, Ian Holm, Peter Jackson. Truly extraordinary, excellent conclusion of the trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien. With the Battle of Helm’s Deep over, Aragorn must mobilize all forces to help defend human kingdom of Gondor (ruled by stubborn Noble) against ultimate army of the Dark Lord. Meanwhile, Frodo and Sam have been led into Mordor by Gollum… into their demise? Even more epic, more spectacular, this extravaganza is the highpoint of the saga, featuring some of the most breathtaking battle scenes ever filmed, complemented by Jackson’s expert direction and fine performances by all. While the first film was adventurous, the second one exciting, this last part pulls all stops, resulting in a powerful movie experience (even if it takes a while to get going). Best line: ‘I am not a man’. Christopher Lee’s scenes as Saruman were cut from final print. THE RETURN OF THE KING was filmed before in 1980 (as a sequel to the animated Ralph Bakshi version).

Lords of Dogtown (2005, USA) C-108m. ***½ D: Catherine Hardwicke. Starring John Robinson, Emile Hirsch, Rebecca De Mornay, William Mapother, Julio Oscar Mechoso, Nikki Reed, Heath Ledger, Johnny Knoxville, Jay Adams, Tony Alva, Charles Napier, Stacy Peralta, Tony Hawk, Bai Ling, Alexis Arquette. Irresistible drama about the legendary Z-boys from Venice, California, a group of surfers, who made skateboarding popular worldwide in the 1970s and whose subsequent fame put their friendship to a test. Hardwicke’s direction is just as loose and lively as her protagonists, the time period is meticulously recreated, making the movie compelling despite some storytelling flaws. Screenplay written by Stacy Peralta, who was one of the founders of the movement (portrayed in the film by Robinson); he directed the documentary DOGTOWN AND Z-BOYS in 2001. This was the director’s follow-up to her equally authentic THIRTEEN (2003). Also known as DOGTOWN BOYS.

Lorna (1964, USA) B&W-91m. **½ D: Russ Meyer. Starring Lorna Maitland,

Director Meyer’s first ‘serious’ skin flick after several nudie comedies is about voluptuous title character Lorna, who feels neglected by her boyfriend and runs into an escaped convict. Meanwhile, the boyfriend is envied by his sleazy colleagues at work. Pretty steamy, with corny on-screen naration by preacher Griffith. Unfortunately, it’s rather slowly paced and the soundtrack – albeit fitting – is rather repetitive. Followed by the better, more dramatic MUDHONEY (1965).

Loser (2000, USA) C-98m. *** D: Amy Heckerling. Starring Jason Biggs, Mena Suvari, Zak Orth, Thomas Sadoski, Jimmi Simpson, Greg Kinnear, Dan Aykroyd, Colleen Camp, Andy Dick, David Spade. Amiable teen-comedy about ‘loser’ Biggs, who falls for college student Suvari, but must contend with her lover, Professor Kinnear. Funny, likable and features a great soundtrack. For those who found AMERICAN PIE or ROAD TRIP too low-brow. Written and coproduced by director Heckerling (FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH, CLUELESS).

Lost Continent, The (1968, GBR) C-89m. **½ D: Michael Carreras. Starring Eric Porter, Hildegard Knef, Suzanna Leigh, Tony Beckley, Nigel Stock, Neil McCallum. Interesting, dramatic fantasy about ship which gets lost somewhere before Caracas. The crew not only encounter a strange, hostile civilisation but also have to battle bizarre sea monsters. Earnest performances make this movie better than one would expect. Too bad it’s a little short on action. Based on the novel Uncharted Seas by Dennis Wheatley.  

Lost Empire, The (1985, USA) C-83m. Scope **½ D: Jim Wynorski. Starring Melanie Vincz, Raven De La Croix, Angela Aames, Paul Coufos, Robert Tessier, Angus Scrimm. Engagingly silly fantasy adventure features three busty babes, who infiltrate island of mysterious Scrimm, who is said to have a pact with the devil. Really absurd little trash movie has amusing one-liners and C-movie veteran Wynorski’s direction (his first) is not bad. Steals from every big movie franchise (INDIANA JONES, STAR WARS, James Bond, …) and throws in sex, violence, swordplay and prison action among other things. Which B-movie fan could resist? Wynorski also scripted and produced. Filmed in 1983.

Lost Highway (1997, USA/FRA) C-135m. ScopeD: David Lynch. Starring Bill Pullman, Patricia Arquette, Balthazar Getty, Robert Loggia, Robert Blake, Richard Pryor, Lisa Boyle, Jack Nance, Henry Rollins, Gary Busey, Marilyn Manson, Giovanni Ribisi. Tender sax player Pullman has been having some problems focusing on reality lately, and director Lynch exploits his descent into madness for more than two hours. A lot happens in this wild thriller - but absolutely nothing of it makes sense. Film could have been reduced to a ten-minute video clip. Blake’s galvanising, chilling performance as the ‘mystery man’ is the definite highlight of Lynch’s first film in six years.

Lost in Space (1998, USA/GBR) C-130m. ** D: Stephen Hopkins. Starring William Hurt, Mimi Rogers, Heather Graham, Lacey Chabert, Jack Johnson, Gary Oldman, Matt LeBlanc, Jared Harris, Edward Fox. Another movie to update a TV series from the 1960s, this one is incredibly loud and full of special effects. Hurt’s family are selected to be the first humans to colonize a distant planet (the Earth is dying from pollution), but thanks to villainous Oldman, their mission leads them completely elsewhere, to hostile places and lifeforms. Who did they make this film for? It’s too violent (not to mention way overlong) for children, too idiotic for grown-ups.

Lost in Translation (2003, USA) C-102m. *** D: Sofia Coppola. Starring Scarlett Johansson, Bill Murray, Akiko Takeshita, Kazuyoshi Minamimagoe, Kazuko Shibata, Giovanni Ribisi, Anna Faris. Acclaimed drama with an Oscar-winning script about two Americans in Japan, whose paths cross during their stay. Murray is a bored movie star on a tour in Japan filming a commercial and appearing in various TV shows. Johansson, who’s come to Tokyo with her photographer-husband Ribisi, is bored, and much like Murray feels alienated from her surroundings. During the movie they meet and spend a few days together. Old-fashioned character drama, well-acted, with a nicely laconic touch. Close to the work of Jim Jarmusch. Written by the director, executive produced by her father, Francis Ford Coppola.

Lost Souls (2000, USA) C-97m. Scope D: Janusz Kaminski. Starring Winona Ryder, Ben Chaplin, Philip Baker Hall, Elias Koteas, John Hurt, John Diehl. Endless horror movie, made by two-time Oscar-winning cinematographer Kaminski. Story concerns writer Chaplin, who is identified as the future antichrist by Ryder and Hurt. Weakly scripted, not exactly original chiller. The photography is fine (as you would expect) but otherwise this film has no merits. Avoid.

Lost World: Jurassic Park, The (1997, USA) C-134m. *** D: Steven Spielberg. Starring Jeff Goldblum, Julianne Moore, Pete Postlethwaite, Arliss Howard, Richard Attenborough, Peter Stormare. Sequel to the 1993 blockbuster is really just a rehash but entertaining all the same: When John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) reveals that the dinosaurs for his park were really bred somewhere else (on a different island), Goldblum travels there to preserve the wildlife from mean safari hunters, who want to bring the animals back to the mainland. Spielberg’s direction, creating some great cliffhanger stunts, compensates for a rather unmotivated script (based on Michael Crichton’s The Lost World, not on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel of the same title). A rollercoaster ride, to be sure, but not for very small kids.

Love Actually  (2003, GBR/USA) C-135m. Scope *** D: Richard Curtis. Starring Bill Nighy, Colin Firth, Sienna Guillory, Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, Heike Makatsch, Martin Freeman, Joanna Page, Keira Knightley, Hugh Grant, Laura Linney, Thomas Sangster, Alan Rickman, Billy Bob Thornton, Rowan Atkinson, Ivana Milicevic, January Jones, Elisha Cuthbert, Claudia Schiffer, Shannon Elizabeth, Denise Richards, Richard Curtis. Charming multi-character drama set right before Christmas about the importance of love and its impact on all of us. Contrivances aside (Hugh Grant as Prime Minister?), this comedy drama is moving and funny, kudos to director Curtis (writer of FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL, NOTTING HILL).

Love and a .45 (1994, USA) C-102m. *** D: C.M. Talkington. Starring Gil Bellows, Renée Zellweger, Rory Cochrane, Jeffrey Combs, Jace Alexander, Ann Wedgeworth, Peter Fonda, Jack Nance, C.M. Talkington. Black comedy thriller, very much in the vein of TRUE ROMANCE (1993). Bellows and Zellweger must run from police, creditors and a fellow gangster, when their latest robbery goes terribly wrong. Violence paves their way to Mexico. Well-acted, entertaining B-movie with an attitude and a cool soundtrack. Love that RAISING ARIZONA-like voice-over narration. Premiered at about the same time as PULP FICTION (1994), which may be a reason why this didn’t get the attention it deserves. Written by director Talkington, who has a cameo as the tattoo artist.

Love and Death on Long Island (1997, CDN/GBR) C-93m. *** D: Richard Kwietniowski. Starring John Hurt, Jason Priestley, Fiona Loewi, Sheila Hancock, Maury Chaykin, Gawn Granger, Elizabeth Quinn. A British writer (Hurt), out of touch with the modern world, goes to watch a movie for the first time, and instead of watching an E.M. Forster adaptation, buys the wrong ticket and is forced to watch HOT PANTS COLLEGE II, a teenage comedy starring Ronnie Bostock (Priestley). He becomes obsessed and infatuated with the young actor and decides to travel to Long Island to find him. Quiet, hypnotic drama, perfectly cast. Bogs down towards the end, but still worth watching. From the novel by Gilbert Adair.

Love and Money (1982, USA/GER) C-90m. ** D: James Toback. Starring Ray Sharkey, Ornella Muti, Klaus Kinski, Armand Assante, King Vidor. Director Toback’s follow-up to FINGERS (1978) is similarly thoughtful, but has very little to think about and simply wants too much. Sharkey starts working for wealthy businessman Kinski to influence the president of a fictitious South American country. Sharkey also has an affair with Kinski’s bored wife Muti. How will this turn out? How soon will you turn off? Sat on the shelf for two years and understandably so. Only legendary Vidor (in his first acting role since 1934!) gets some laughs.

Love Crimes (1992, USA) C-97m. *½ D: Lizzie Borden. Starring Sean Young, Patrick Bergin, Arnetia Walker, James Read, Ron Orbach, Wayne Shorter. Stupid thriller about sexually repressed, traumatized state attorney Young and her obsession with tracking down Bergin, a man who claims to be a famous photographer and gradually wins the trust of unsuspecting women. Stupid plot twists in the second half destroy this originally watchable psycho thriller. Beware of cut prints.

Love Happens (2009, USA) C-109m. ** D: Brandon Camp. Starring Jennifer Aniston, Aaron Eckhart, Dan Fogler, John Carroll Lynch, Martin Sheen, Judy Greer, Frances Conroy. Eckhart is a successful businessman promoting his latest book and holding seminars on how to deal with grief and loss. In reality, however, he cannot properly deal with the death of his own wife. Enter florist Aniston, and the romance starts. Barely believable, poorly paced and rather downbeat. Some (women) might still like it. Good score by Christopher Young.

Lovely Bones, The (2009, USA/GBR/NZL) C-121m. SCOPE **** D: Peter Jackson. Starring Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Saoirse Ronan, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, Jake Abel, Michael Imperioli, Amanda Michalka, Peter Jackson. Immensely moving fantasy tale based on the novel by Alice Sebold may well be Peter Jackson’s masterpiece. A 14-year-old girl, stuck somewhere between heaven and earth, tells of her murder and her family’s grief and attempt to find the killer, psychopath Tucci, who lives in their suburban neighborhood. The girl, wandering around lost in a world that seems to spring from her imagination, tries to influence the events after her death, before she can finally move on to heaven. Absolutely stunning recreation of 1970s America and breathtaking visualization of the girl’s fantasy world, immaculately directed by Jackson. Some scenes will chill you to the bone. Beautifully photographed by Andrew Lesnie, sensitively scored by Brian Eno, film is further highlighted by Ronan’s heart-wrenching performance. This is a film you will not easily forget. Written by director Jackson, Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh.

Love Potion No. 9 (1992, USA) C-92m. ** D: Dale Launer. Starring Tate Donovan, Sandra Bullock, Mary Mara, Dale Midkiff, Hillary Bailey Smith, Anne Bancroft, Dylan Baker. Harmless fantasy comedy about two nerds Donovan and Bullock, who both receive magic potion from gypsy Bancroft and suddenly find themselves wooed by all people they use their it on. Complications ensue, with the central question: Will they get each other in the end? Mostly silly stuff, though Bullock is cute.

Love Walked In (1998, USA) C-95m. ** D: Juan José Campanella. Starring Denis Leary, Terence Stamp, Aitana Sánchez-Gijón, Michael Badalucco, Danny Nucci, Gene Canfield, Marj Dusay, Moira Kelly. Initially interesting drama of cynical piano player Leary and his sexy lover Sánchez-Gijón, who try to pull off a scheme, blackmailing rich husband Stamp by having her seduce him. Film suffers from the same symptom of most literary adaptations (José Pablo Feinmann's novel Ni el Tiro del Final): a slow pace and too little insight into the characters. Worth a look, but it won't satisfy most viewers.

Luca il Contrabbandiere (1980, ITA) C-92m. ** D: Lucio Fulci. Starring Fabio Testi, Ivana Monti, Guido Alberi, Enrico Maisto, Venantino Venantini, Ajita Wilson, Marcel Bozzuffi, Lucio Fulci. Gangster thriller about smuggler Testi, who swears revenge when his brother is murdered after a series of blows against their business. Sort-of ambitious but never exciting, this was made during director Fulci’s most productive phase but is a cut below his stylish horror films like ULTIMI ZOMBI (1979) and PAURA NELLA CITTA DEI MORTI VIVENTI (1980). Some of his trademark gore scenes have found their way into this one too, as well as some jarringly sadistic violence. The plot manages to maintain a marginal interest. For Fulci’s fans. Alternative titles: CONTRABAND, THE NAPLES CONNECTION and THE SMUGGLER.

Lucertola Con la Pelle di Donna, Una (1971, ITA/FRA/SPA) C-99m. Scope *** D: Lucio Fulci. Starring Florinda Bolkan, Stanley Baker, Jean Sorel, Leo Genn, Anita Strindberg, Alberto de Mendoza, Ely Galliano, Silvia Monti, Georges Rigaud, Mike Kennedy. Tense psycho thriller, one of Fulci’s best films: Bolkan has hallucinatory dreams and fantasies of a sexual nature about her neighbor Strindberg and must face an investigation when the flamboyant, sexy lady next-door is stabbed to death. Did Bolkan commit the murder? Is she going insane? Plot pays the price for being complex in the uneven, confusing final third, but photography (by Luigi Kuveiller, of PROFONDO ROSSO fame) and Ennio Morricone’s excellent, disturbing score make this an impressive experience. A psychedelic time-capsule, an unexpected sleeper from an infamous director. A must for giallo fans. Cowritten by Fulci. English titles: LIZARD IN A WOMAN’S SKIN and SCHIZOID.

Lucky Jim (1957, GBR) 95m. **½ D: John Boulting. Starring Ian Carmichael, Terry-Thomas, Hugh Griffith, Sharon Acker, Jean Anderson. Mildly funny comedy about the comic misadventures of lecturer Carmichael at a British university. Slapstick scenes come off best. Based on the novel by Kingsley Amis.

Lucky Number Slevin (2006, USA) C-110m. Scope *** D: Paul McGuigan. Starring Josh Hartnett, Bruce Willis, Lucy Liu, Morgan Freeman, Ben Kingsley, Michael Rubenfeld, Peter Outerbridge, Stanley Tucci, Kevin Chamberlin, Danny Aiello, Robert Forster. Good cast in intriguing thriller puzzle about down-on-his-luck Hartnett, who arrives in NYC and is mistaken for his friend whose apartment he is using. He becomes involved with two rivalling crime lords (Freeman, Kingsley) who force him to act on their behalves. Enter hitman Willis, who may also be working for both sides. Interesting thriller has some powerfully stylish moments and is well-plotted, even if it lacks conviction at times. Writer Jason Smilovic seems to be a movie buff.

Lucky You (2007, USA/AUS) C-124m. Scope **½ D: Curtis Hanson. Starring Eric Bana, Robert Duvall, Drew Barrymore, Debra Messing, Robert Downey Jr. Poker drama set in Las Vegas, where down-on-his-luck Poker player Bana must try to raise the $10,000 needed to enter the World Series tournament. He also has to come to terms with his father, who is a poker superstar. Along the way he meets and falls in love with waitress/would-be singer Barrymore. Slickly made, but takes longer than it should. For poker fans. Score by Christopher Young.

Lumikuningatar (1986, FIN) C-88m. ***½ D: Päivi Hartzell. Starring Satu Silvo, Outi Vainionkulma, Sebastian Kaatrasalo, Tuula Nyman, Kiti Kokkonen, Kari Väänänen. Astounding fairy tale/fantasy, based on the story by Hans Christian Andersen. The evil snow queen (Silvo) lures an innocent boy into her sleigh and brings him to her ice kingdom. The boy’s sister then embarks on a wondrous journey to find and rescue her brother. Brilliantly photographed, highly artistic rendering of the fairy tale, with a beautiful score by Jukka Linkola. Often unconventional (and not really for small kids) but deserves to be seen more widely. English title: THE SNOW QUEEN.

Lunga Fila di Croci, Una (1969, ITA) C-97m. Scope **½ D: Sergio Garrone. Starring Anthony Steffen, William Berger, Mario Brega, Nicoletta Macchiavelli. Bounty hunters Django (Steffen) and Sartana (Berger) team up to catch evil pistoleros who smuggle Mexican workers into the States. Their boss Fargo tries to buy them off. Above-average spaghetti western tries hard shake off genre patterns but will hardly appeal to anyone else but fans. Still, it’s well-cast, with both stars oozing a good deal of machismo.

Lunghi Capelli della Morte, I (1964, ITA) B&W-94m. **½ D: Antonio Margheriti. Starring Barbara Steele, George Ardisson, Halina Zalewska, Umberto Raho. Quite good gothic chiller set at the time of witch burnings. Steele tries to persuade the count not to burn her mother, but he is only interested in seducing her. When she is also killed, she curses him. Her younger sister Zalewska is forced to marry the son, and then Steele returns from her grave… Uneven plot hampers proceedings considerably, though atmosphere is nice and score by Carlo Rustichelli (as Evirust) is excellent. Cowritten by Ernesto Gastaldi. English title: THE LONG HAIR OF DEATH.

Lunghi Giorni della Vendetta, I (1966, ITA/SPA) C-105m. Scope *** D: Stan Vance (=Florestano Vancini). Starring Giuliano Gemma, Francisco Rabal, Gabriella Giorgelli, Conrado San Martin, Nieves Navarro. First-rate revenge western about an outlaw who breaks out of prison to avenge the murder of his father. Stylish direction, superb timing, excellent score (by Armando Trovaioli). The showdown is perfect. Coscripted by Fernando di Leo. English title: THE DEADLIEST FIGHT.

Lung Wei Village (1980, HGK) C-84m. Scope ** D: Tyrone Hsu Hsia. Starring Lo Lieh, Yueh Hua, Polly Shang Kuan, Chin Hu. -Watchable eastern with a muddled plot about several associates who are trying to find a white-clad villain and a traitor among themselves. Lots of flying around, acrobatics, an okay eastern, but rather only for fans. Also known as 99 CYCLING SWORDS.

Lupa Mannara, La (1976, ITA) C-78m. **½ D: Rino Di Silvestro. Starring Annik Borel, Frederick Stafford, Tino Carraro, Andrea Scotti, Dagmar Lassander. Borel may be the reincarnation of a werewolf woman, burned at the stake 200 years ago, and indeed she kills her sister’s lover at full moon. She takes it on the lam and falls in love with a stranger. Frustratingly uneven crossbreed of werewolf and revenge movie, with a strong performance by the lead actress. An interesting addition to the colorful canon of Italian exploitation cinema. Original version runs about 20 minutes longer. English titles: LEGEND OF THE WOLF WOMAN, DAUGHTER OF A WEREWOLF, NAKE WEREWOLF WOMAN, SHE-WOLF, TERROR OF THE SHE WOLF, WEREWOLF WOMAN, and even WOLF MAN(!).

Lupo dei Mari, Il (1975, ITA) C-79m. *½ D: Giuseppe Vari. Starring Chuck Connors, Giuseppe Pambieri, Barbara Bach, Rik Battaglia, Pino Ferrara, Luciano Pigozzi (Alan Collins), Lars Bloch, Maurice Poli, Ivan Rassimov. Feeble film version of the classic Jack London story The Sea Wolf. Apart from the cast basically nothing of interest here. Original version runs longer. English titles: WOLF LARSEN, THE LEGEND OF THE SEA WOLF, and LARSEN, WOLF OF THE SEAS.

Luther the Geek (1990, USA) C-80m. **½ D: Carlton J. Albright. Starring Edward Terry, Joan Roth, Stacy Haiduk, Thomas Mills, Joseph Clark. Harrowing, disturbing horror film about the title character, a mentally disturbed psycho killer, who makes chicken sounds and has killed several people by neckbite. When he is paroled, the real horror begins for a housewife, her daughter and the girl’s lover. Well-filmed, suspenseful but uneven. A notable debut feature from Albright. Worthy of a comparison with THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE and HENRY, PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER.

Lycanthropus (1961, ITA/AUT) C-83m. ** D: Richard Benson ( =Paolo Heusch). Starring Barbara Lass, Carl Schell, Curt Lowens, Maurice Marsac, Maureen O’Connor, Alan Collins. Minor but not uninteresting horror thriller (an Italian-Austrian coproduction). Gruesome murders at a school for delinquent girls coincide with the arrival of a new teacher. Is he roaming the countryside as a werewolf by night? Weak direction, but some arresting camerawork and interesting plot elements (foreshadowing the giallo) make it watchable. Scripted by Ernesto Gastaldi. Score by Armando Trovaioli. Also known as WEREWOLF IN A GIRLS’ DORMITORY, BEI VOLLMOND MORD, THE GHOUL IN SCHOOL, I MARRIED A WEREWOLF, MONSTER AMONG THE GIRLS.