Mac (1992, USA) C-118m. **½ D: John Turturro. Starring John Turturro, Michael Badalucco, Carl Capotorto, Katherine Borowitz, John Amos, Olek Krupa, Ellen Barkin, Joe Paparone. Simple tale about three carpenter brothers in 1950s New York, who decide to open their own business. Bitter-sweet comedy drama, well-performed and nicely filmed (Turturro, in his directorial debut, was obviously influenced by his cooperation with the Coen Brothers in MILLER'S CROSSING and BARTON FINK). However, film lacks a certain continuity in the plot line and is not very compelling in its (ragged) depiction of the oft-quoted American Dream. Turturro also cowrote the screenplay.

Macabro (1980, ITA) C-90m. **½ D: Lamberto Bava. Starring Bernice Stegers, Stanko Molnar, Veronica Zinny, Roberto Posse, Ferdinando Orlandi, Fernando Panullo. Subtle, almost coy horror film about married woman whose lover dies in a car accident. After a stay in a clinic she moves into the house where she used to meet her deceased lover. The house’s owner, a blind man, hears strange noises coming from her room. Just what is she keeping locked in her freezer? The directorial debut of Mario Bava’s son is a truly macabre, quite suspenseful thriller. Nice art direction and cinematography (by Franco Delli Colli), but the story does not hold up to the very end. Screenplay by Lamberto Bava, Pupi Avati, Roberto Gandus and Antonio Avati. Aka MACABRE, and in the U.S. as FROZEN TERROR.

Macbeth (1948, USA) 107m. *** D: Orson Welles. Starring Orson Welles, Jeanette Nolan, Dan O’Her-lihy, Edgar Barrier, Roddy McDowall, Robert Coote, Erskine Sanford, Alan Napier. First film adaptation of Shakespeare’s famous tragedy about usurper Macbeth, who is driven by a lust for power (and his mega-lomaniacal wife Lady Macbeth). Black-and-white photography is first-rate, Welles’ direction good. Strange, surreal interior sets create an eerie atmosphere. Also shown in cut version, which runs 89m. and is dubbed into American English (original version is in Scottish). Written and produced by Welles.

Macbeth (1971, GBR) C-140m. Scope ***½ D: Roman Polanski. Starring Jon Finch, Francesca Annis, Martin Shaw, Nicholas Selby, John Stride, Stephan Chase. Master director Roman Polanski’s film version of the Shakespeare tragedy is more explicit than the Orson Welles film of 1948. The destruction of a man whose greed has led him to commit gruesome crimes is elaborately told by Polanski, who cowrote the screenplay with Kenneth Tynan. Some stunning surreal sequences cleverly woven into plot. If you can’t watch it in a theater, nothing but a widescreen video will do the film’s grandeur justice.

Machine, La (1994, FRA/GER) C-96m. **½ D: Francois Dupeyron. Starring Gérard Depardieu, Didier Bourdon, Nathalie Baye, Erwan Baynaud, Claude Berri. Sci-fi thriller set in contemporary France about brain specialist Depardieu, who has invented a mind-switch machine in secrecy and plans to use it on his latest patient, serial killer Bourdon, in order to find out what’s going wrong in his mind. Unfortunately, the killer refuses to let him return to his body. Off-beat but also highly improbable (even idiotic) body-switch movie that is almost saved by tight direction and good acting. Do not think too hard about the plot. For example, how is doctor Depardieu going to find out anything if he is just in the killer’s body and not his mind (which is again in the doctor’s body)? Based on a novel by René Belletto. English title: THE MACHINE.

Machinist, The (2004, SPA) C-102m. Scope ***½ D: Brad Anderson. Starring Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Aitana Sánchez-Gijón, John Sharian, Michael Ironside, Larry Gilliard Jr., Anna Massey. Extraordinary psycho drama that plays like a mystery: Machinist Bale, who works under deplorable conditions has problems with himself. He hasn’t slept in a long time, he finds strange notes on the refrigerator and a mysterious man keeps popping up every now and then. Is Bale going insane? Bleak but atmospheric, well-directed and ideally scripted (by Scott Kosar), this puzzler owes more than a bit to JACOB’S LADDER (1990) but stands well on its own as a mystery thriller and an examination of repressed guilt. Bale is brilliant in the title role, for which he lost an incredible 63 pounds. Made and produced by Spanish hands (apart from director, screenwriter and cast), original title is EL MAQUINISTA.

Maciste alla Corte del Gran Khan (1961, ITA/FRA) C-80m. SCOPE *½ D: Riccardo Freda. Starring Gordon Scott, Yoko Tani, Hélène Chanel, Dante DiPaolo. Another subpar muscleman movie, this one is relentlessly talky, with only a handful of action sequences, as strongman Maciste (Samson in the dubbed version) defends some peasants against a despotic ruler in the Far East. Duccio Tessari cowrote the screenplay. Also known as SAMSON AND THE SEVEN MIRACLES OF THE WORLD, GOLIATH AND THE GOLDEN CITY, and MACISTE AT THE COURT OF THE GREAT KHAN.

Maciste all'Inferno (1962, ITA) C-85m. *½ D: Riccardo Freda. Starring Kirk Morris, Helene Chanel. Naive action fantasy about title hero Maciste, who heads into Hades, trying to find a witch in order to save a beautiful young girl from the stake. He meets some odd creatures in the Underworld, but effects are dull and the supernatural power of the hero is too obviously faked. Despite the director, a most tedious venture. English title: MACISTE IN HELL.

Maciste Contro i Mostri (1962, ITA) C-80m. Scope D: Guido Malatesta. Starring Reg Lewis, Margaret Lee, Luciano Marin, Andrea Aureli, Birgit Bergen. Cheesy fantasy / stone age adventure with Reg Lewis in his only appearance as Maciste (Maxus in the English version). The strongman helps a tribe to avenge the brutal attack of a rival tribe who kidnapped their women. He battles some cardboard monsters along the way. Almost entirely without appeal, especially also because of Lewis, who is simply terrible. Sound editing by Bruno Mattei. English title: COLOSSUS OF THE STONE AGE, FIRE MONSTERS AGAINST THE SON OF HERCULES.

Maciste, l’Eroe Piu Grande del Mondo (1963, ITA) C-89m. Scope D: Michele Lupo. Starring Mark Forest, José Greci, Livio Lorenzon, Giuliano Gemma, Erno Crisa, Jacques Herlin. Another unimaginative sword-and-sandal epic about the title hero, who lends a hand in a revolution. Plot stinks, film’s good production values save it from the scrap heap. Produced by Leone Film.

Maciste, l’Uomo Piu Forte del Mondo (1961, ITA) C-98m. Scope D: Antonio Leonviola. Starring Mark Forest, Moira Orfei, Paul Wynter, Gianni Garko, Enrico Glori. Typically silly muscleman movie, one of hundreds made after the success of LE FATICHE DI ERCOLE (HERCULES). Bodybuilder Forest plays a muscleman who infiltrates the world of the sadistic ‘mole men’ in order to save a beautiful princess. Ludicrous, overlong and pretty violent. Score by Armando Trovaioli.

Maciste nella Terra dei Ciclopi (1961, ITA) C-98m. SCOPE *½ D: (Antonio) Leonviola. Starring Mitchell Gordon (=Gordon Mitchell), Chelo Alonso, Vira Silenti, Dante DiPaolo, Aldo Bufi Landi, Fabio, Moira Orfei. Rather weak peplum movie about strongman Maciste, who protects a little boy from evil queen who wants to get her revenge on Ulysses’ descendants. She also houses a brutal cyclops in her dungeon. Slowly paced, not bad at the beginning, but loses the little steam it has before long. Not much fantasy in this one. English titles: ATLAS AGAINST THE CYCLOPS, ATLAS IN THE LAND OF THE CYCLOPS, MACISTE VS. THE CYCLOPS, and MONSTER FROM THE UNKNOWN WORLD.

Madagascar (2005, USA) C-86m. *** D: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath. Starring (the voices of) Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer, Andy Richter, Tom McGrath. Funny, well-designed animated feature from Dreamworks: A lion, a zebra, a giraffe, and a hippo, all living the good life as attractions in the New York zoo find themselves tempted by freedom and get more than they bargained for when they are washed ashore on the title island. Some plot weaknesses offset by good vocal performances and production design. Recommended family fare.

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (2008, USA) C-89m. **½ D: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath. Starring (the voices of) Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer, Andy Richter, Bernie Mac, Alec Baldwin, Chris Miller. Sequel to the 2005 hit is a bit disappointing, as plot is a rip-off of THE LION KING. The N.Y.C. zoo animals want to leave Madagascar but their plane crashes in the African wilderness, where Alex the lion finds his long-lost family and must contend against evil relative, who wants to be king himself. Rather silly, saved by some good animation and funny scenes. Bernie Mac’s last film.

Madame Bovary (1991, FRA) C-142m. ** D: Claude Chabrol. Starring Isabelle Huppert, Jean-François Balmer, Christopher Malavoy, Jean Yanne, Lucas Belvaux, Jean-Claude Bouilland, Henri Attal, Dominique Zardi, narrated by François Périer. One of director Chabrol’s few duds, this adaptation of Gustave Flaubert’s famous novel is too uninvolving to justify its overlength. Huppert gives her best as the title character, a country lass who marries a doctor hoping to lead an exciting life in the city. Drama is well-acted and has some good moments, but second half is lethargic and adds no new perspectives to the story. The narration fails to evoke compassion for the main character. May appeal more to audiences who have read the novel. Previously filmed in 1932, 1934 (by Jean Renoir) and 1949 (by Vincente Minnelli).

Madame und ihre Nichte (1969, GER) C-86m. ** D::Eberhard Schröder. Staring Ruth-Maria Kubitschek, Edwige Fenech, Fred Williams, Rainer Penkert, Karl Walter Diess. Trivial erotic comedy about ‘madame’ Kubitschek, who has many lovers and says her beautiful daughter Fenech is really her niece. Nothing to get excited about, but provides enough period flavor to make this marginally interesting. For fans of Fenech, who appears nude. Also known as MADAME AND HER NIECE.

Mad City (1997, USA) C-115m. Scope *** D: Costa-Gavras. Starring John Travolta, Dustin Hoffman, Mia Kirshner, Alan Alda, Robert Prosky, Blythe Danner, William Atherton, Ted Levine, Tammy Lauren, William O’Leary. Travolta, who has only recently lost his job, returns to his former working place, a museum, to have one last talk with his former boss, and he has brought a shot gun with him to make her listen to him. When a bunch of school kids storm the scene, television reporter Hoffman - who just happens to film a news clip about the museum - immediately goes on air and reports of a ‘hostage crisis’! Travolta, whose intentions were of the most harmless kind, is soon faced with deep troubles. Hoffman, however, as he gets to interview the man, realizes that he can’t capitalize on Travolta’s desperate situation, and tries to get the public’s sympathies. How will everything turn out? Well-acted, well-written drama that goes to show how easily truth can be manipulated by the media.

Madhouse (1974, GBR) C-91m. ** D: Jim Clark. Starring Vincent Price, Peter Cushing, Robert Quarry, Adrienne Corri, Linda Hayden. Cheaply produced horror thriller about famous actor Price, whose own horror role as Dr. Death comes to haunt him, when a series of murders is committed, all copying killings from his films. Poorly designed thriller creates little suspense. The story is also not very intriguing. Based on the novel Devilday by Angus Hall. Some elements may be derived from Dario Argento’s early films, but that is probably a coincidence. Jim Clark went on to become a top Hollywood editor. Also known as DEATHDAY, THE MADHOUSE OF DR. FEAR, THE REVENGE OF DR. DEATH.

Mad Love (1995, USA) C-95m. *½ D: Antonia Bird. Starring Chris O'Donnell, Drew Barrymore, Joan Allen, Jude Ciccolella, Kevin Dunn, Liev Schreiber, Richard Chaim, Robert Nadir. Weakly scripted teenager love story, from the director of the acclaimed PRIEST. O'Donnell plays an ordinary guy who falls in love with manic-depressive girl Barrymore. Together they flee their frustrating every-day existence. No chemistry between the stars, and when the film tries for some serious dramatics at the end, the whole thing has long ceased to be credible. This is about as intellectual as its title.

Mad Magician, The (1954, USA) 72m. **½ D: John Brahm. Starring Vincent Price, Mary Murphy, Eva Gabor, Patrick O'Neal, John Emery. Price is quite good as inventor of magic tricks, who feels cheated by his boss and starts killing and impersonating famous magicians. Quite well-made, but unfortunately filmed in black-and-white, which takes away some of its corny edge. Originally released in 3-D.

Mad Max (1979, AUS) C-93m. Scope ***½ D: George Miller. Starring Mel Gibson, Joanne Samuel, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Steve Bisley, Tim Burns, Roger Ward, Vince Gil. Tense, original action drama boosted Mel Gibson to stardom: He plays a highway patrolman in the near future, who may be the only one able to stop ruthless gang of punks led by ‘Toecutter’ Keays-Byrne, who pillage, rape and kill. Few science-fiction elements apart from the time setting, film isn’t perfect (note some faults in plot coherency and dramatics in general) but very well-filmed and especially well-edited. Interesting, bizarre characters add to the unique feel of the movie. Brian May’s score is effective despite being an obvious imitation of Bernard Herrmann’s PSYCHO theme. First-time director Miller followed this with the even more impressive MAD MAX 2: THE ROAD WARRIOR (1981). He states the science-fiction cult movie A BOY AND HIS DOG (1975) as a major inspiration for this film.

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981, AUS) C-95m. Scope ***½ D: George Miller. Starring Mel Gibson, Bruce Spence, Michael Preston, Max Phipps, Vernon Wells, Kjell Nilsson, Emil Minty. Outstanding sequel to MAD MAX (1979) surpasses the original in many ways. Policeman Gibson has turned into a loner, a Road Warrior, who is constantly on the search for fuel, which has become more precious than water in the post-apocalyptic world. He reluctantly agrees to help a group of survivors defend their fuel supply against a band of scavenging lunatics. More epic in scope, grandly filmed in widescreen, this science-fiction action extravanganza made many people discover the first film and rightfully has a place in film history. Great score by Brian May. Released in the United States as THE ROAD WARRIOR. Followed by MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME (1985).

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985, AUS/USA) C-107m. Scope ***½ D: George Miller, George Ogilvie. Starring Mel Gibson, Tina Turner, Bruce Spence, Adam Cockburn, Frank Thring, Angelo Rossitto, Paul Larsson. Grandly filmed, riveting sequel with Mad Max (Gibson) going in search of his stolen automobile and ending up in the cesspool Bartertown, one of the last outposts in the post-apocalyptic wasteland. He becomes the pawn in a struggle for power between the midget ruler (Rossitto) of the underworld and the city’s mayor (Turner). He also becomes the new hope for a tribe of lost children in the desert. Lightning paced, superbly directed science-fiction adventure with beautiful photography by Dean Semler and an excellent score by Maurice Jarre. A worthy conclusion of the trilogy around the loner in the barren outback.

Mad Room, The (1969, USA) C-92m. **½ D: Bernard Girard. Starring Stella Stevens, Shelley Winters, James Ward, Carol Cole, Severn Darden, Beverly Garland, Michael Burns. Interesting psycho thriller about young woman (Stevens), who manages the affairs of a widow (Winters), and one day takes her brother and sister to live with them. Years back the two were suspected of having killed their parents and were put in an asylum. Remake of the 1941 LADIES IN RETIREMENT (based on Reginald Denham's play) is not bad, especially with that hair-raising score, but quite slow. Photography by Harry Stradling, Jr.

Maggie, The (1954, GBR) B&W-92m. **½ D: Alexander Mackendrick. Starring Paul Douglas, Alex Mackenzie, James Copeland, Abe Barker, Tommy Kearins. Minor effort from the director of THE LADYKILLERS (1955) and DON’T MAKE WAVES (1967). Douglas is an American businessman, whose cargo ends up on Scotsman Mackenzie’s ship, a run-down steamer. Afraid that he might lose it, he first sends an assistant, then takes the matters into his own hands. Mild black-and-white comedy. Released as HIGH AND DRY in the U.S.

Magic Cop (1990, HGK) C-87m. *** D: Tung Wei. Starring Lam Ching-Ying, Michiko Nishiwaki, Wilson Lam, Frankie Chin, Billy Chow, Wu Ma. Offbeat, well-paced Hong Kong fantasy about cop Lam, who comes to the city to investigate the death of a relative, who turns out to have been a zombie. This refreshing mixture of horror, fantasy and crime elements also throws in some slapstick (unfortunately). Mid-section is draggy, but there are some very well-directed sequences. Also known as MR. VAMPIRE 5.

Magician, The (1926, USA) 89m. *** D: Rex Ingram. Starring Paul Wegener, Alice Terry, Ivan Petrovich, Firmin Gémier, Gladys Hamer, Henry Wilson. Expressionist silent horror set in France about sinister hypnotist and magician Wegener’s evil plan to use the heart and blood of a virgin in order to create new life. Hesitant plot (the creation of which life?) and heavy-handed direction, but wonderful gothic atmosphere compensates. Best sequences: The conjuring of the faun and the climax in the sorcerer’s castle. Ingram adapted the W. Somerset Maugham novel. Photographed by John F. Seitz (DOUBLE INDEM-NITY, SUNSET BOULEVARD). German actor/director Wegener codirected DER GOLEM, WIE ER IN DIE WELT KAM in 1920.

Magiciens, Les (1975, FRA/ITA/GER) C-92m. ***½ D: Claude Chabrol. Starring Jean Rochefort, Franco Nero, Stefania Sandrelli, Gert Fröbe, Gila von Weitershausen. In a Tunisian holiday resort rich business man Rochefort befriends odd magician/clairvoyant Fröbe, who predicts a murder, which may have something to do with Nero, whose marriage is put to a test when he meets a former lover while vacationing with his wife. Chabrol lends a unique spin to marital dramas with this symbolic and fascinating film. Well-acted, with Fröbe excellently cast, drama draws its power from what the audience does not know and can only speculate about. Based on the novel Initiation au Meurtre by Frédéric Dard.

Magnificent Ambersons, The (1942, USA) 88m. ***½ D: Orson Welles. Starring Tim Holt, Joseph Cotten, Dolores Costello, Anne Baxter, Agnes Moorehead, Ray Collins, Richard Bennett, Erskine Sanford. Welles' second feature film is one of his best. Adapted from the Booth Tarkington novel, this brilliantly shot family drama deals with the effects of modernization on a rich family that is unwilling to accept the changing times. Welles had to give up the final cut, but this still carries the stamp of a directorial genius.

Magnifico Gladiatore, Il (1964, ITA) C-78m. Scope ** D: Alfonso Brescia. Starring Mark Forest, Marilù Tolo, Nazzareno Zamperla. Sword-and-sandal adventure featuring Forest as Attalus (not Hercules this time). The strongman must withstand the evil schemes of a would-be imperator, who has substituted Caesar with a doppelgänger. Plot is not bad, but formula had become tiresome by then.

Magnolia (1999, USA) C-187m. Scope **½ D: Paul Thomas Anderson. Starring Tom Cruise, Jason Robards. Episodic story about several characters whose lives finally intertwine got rave reviews but is overlong and rather pointless (unless that life is a series of coincidences). Some fine performances (notably Cruise’s), make up ypur own mind about the movie. From the director of HARD EIGHT and BOOGIE NIGHTS.

Magnum Special per Tony Saitta, Una (1976, ITA/CDN) C-99m. Scope ** D: Martin Herbert (=Alberto De Martino). Starring Stuart Whitman, John Saxon, Martin Landau, Tisa Farrow, Carole Laure, Jean LeClerc, Gayle Hunnicut. Detective Whitman, grieving the death of his sister, sets out with assistant Saxon to find her murderer. One-dimensional thriller mixes giallo elements with the gritty realism of police movies but is hardly distinguished. Some nice directorial touches make this film worthwhile for those who care. De Martino’s follow-up to L’ANTICRISTO. Score by Armando Trovajoli. English titles: STRANGE SHADOWS IN AN EMPTY ROOM, BLAZING MAGNUMS, TOUGH TONY SAITTA and .44 SPECIAL.

Maid in Manhattan (2002, USA) C-105m. Scope ** D: Wayne Wang. Starring Jennifer Lopez, Ralph Fiennes, Natasha Richardson, Stanley Tucci, Tyler Posey, Bob Hoskins. Contrived Hollywood romance set in a big New York hotel. Room maid Lopez, who is living a hard life as a single mother, one day dares to put on the dress of a guest, and is instantly mistaken for her by gentleman-politician Fiennes. Needless to say, it’s love at first sight. How long will she keep up the masquerade? Certainly smooth but predictable, formulaic. Fiennes and director Wang should be ashamed.

Maître Nageur, Le (1978, FRA) C-90m. **½ D: Jean-Louis Trintignant. Starring Jean-Claude Brialy, Guy Marchand, Stefania Sandrelli, Moustache, Jean-Louis Trintignant. Marchand plays a hapless singer, who meets a woman whose dreams always come true. Naturally, she has dreamt that they will fall in love and be rich one day. Marchand then takes up job as a swim master (maître-nageur) at eccentric zillionaire Zopoulos’ estate, which seems to be ruled by odd butler Brialy. Surreal comedy is full of absurd ideas, only some of them are funny. Mainly interesting for Trintignant’s direction; his only other one being for UNE JOURNEE BIEN REMPLIE (1972). Based on the novel by Vehé Katcha.

Majo No Takkyûbin (1989, JAP) C-103m. **** D: Hayao Miyazaki. Starring (the voices of) Minami Takayama, Rei Sakuma, Kappei Yamaguchi, Keiko Toda, Mieko Nobusawa, Koichi Miura. Charming, absolutely beautiful fantasy is one of master Miyazaki’s most endearing films. A 13-year-old witch, eagerly following family tradition, grabs her broomstick and black cat and heads for a city by the ocean to live there for a year by herself. After some starting problems, she befriends a baker’s family and sets up a delivery service. Lovingly animated, filled with an old-world charm of friendliness, slowness and peace (albeit not without Miyazaki’s trademark criticism of technology), this masterpiece unfolds beautifully without needing to be spectacular – and just when you didn’t expect it any more it becomes just that. Truly amazing. Miyazaki’s based his screenplay on a children’s book by Eiko Kadono. Reportedly he set the story in an alternative 1950s Europe, where the World Wars never happened. Wonderful score by Joe Hisaishi. English version, titled KIKI’S DELIVERY SERVICE, features the voice talents of Kirsten Dunst, Debbie Reynolds, Janeane Garofalo, and Phil Hartman, among others.

Mala Carodejnice (1986, CZE/GER) C-96m. *½ D: Zdenek Smetana. Poorly animated, loosely structured fairy tale about a young witch, who does all kinds of stupid things before being accepted by the older ones. Completely unappealing. Very small kids may find this spellbinding – for five minutes. Based on the book Die Kleine Hexe by popular German writer Otfried Preußler. Released in Germany as DIE KLEINE HEXE.

Mala Ordine, La (1972, ITA/GER) C-84m. ** D: Fernando di Leo. Starring Mario Adorf, Henry Silva, Woody Strode, Adolfo Celi, Sylva Koscina, Ulli Lommel. Violent but ordinary mafia thriller with Adorf a small-time crook who is framed for something he hasn’t done and is chased by two American killers (Silva and Strode) and the local mafia headed by Celi. Some interesting casting saves this thriller. Titled THE ITALIAN CONNECTION for the American release in 1973 (with a running time of 92m.).

Malastrana (1971, ITA/GER/YUG) C-97m. Scope **½ D: Aldo Lado. Starring Ingrid Thulin, Jean Sorel, Mario Adorf, Barbara Bach, Fabijan Sovagovic, José Quaglio, Jürgen Drews. Vague mystery about reporter Sorel, who is found dead in a public park in Prague. However, he is not really dead. His mind is alive, and against the prospect of an impending autopsy, he tries to remember what brought him into this situation. It turns out he set out to find his lost girlfriend Bach in the streets of Prague. Interesting giallo is quite well-made and mysterious enough to keep you guessing, but dramatics are uneven and film has little punch. Genre fans shouldn’t mind. Score by Ennio Morricone. Writer-director Lado’s first film. Released as LA CORTE NOTTE DELLE BAMBOLE DI VETRO in Italy (MALASTRANA is the film’s intended title, though). English titles: SHORT NIGHT OF GLASS DOLLS and PARALYZED.

Malèna (2000, ITA/USA) C-92m. *** D: Giuseppe Tornatore. Starring Monica Bellucci, Giuseppe Sulfaro, Luciano Federico, Matilde Piana, Pietro Notarianni. Well-directed, beautifully photographed drama setin WW2 Sicily, Italy, where a sexy woman (Bellucci) turns basically all men’s heads. Her husband is at the front, thus making her the target of speculation. We are told the story from teh point of view of an adolescent boy who falls in love with her. Funny, elegant, expertly handled by Tornatore (CINEMA PARADISO), despite some plot deficiencies. Good score by Ennio Morricone. Original Italian running time: 109m. English title: MALENA.

Malenka (1969, SPA/ITA) C-74m. **½ D: Amando de Ossorio. Starring Anita Ekberg, John Hamilton (=Gianni Medici), Julián Ugarte, Diana Lorys, Adriana Ambesi, Paul Muller. Nicely atmospheric chiller that makes use of the vampire myth. Ekberg learns she has inherited a castle and travels there, only to find her uncle waiting to turn her into a master vampire. Her fiancé Medici becomes suspicious and investigates. Interesting DRACULA variation, with Ekberg hamming it up considerably. Great sets, good score by Carlo Savina. Director de Ossorio also scripted, his first horror film. Some prints runs longer. Alternative titles: BLOODY GIRL, FANGS OF THE LIVING DEAD, MALENKA THE VAMPIRE, THE NIECE OF THE VAMPIRE, THE VAMPIRE’S NIECE.

Malibu Express (1985, USA) C-105m. D: Andy Sidaris. Starring Darby Hinton, Sybil Danning, Art Metrano, Shelley Taylor Morgan, Brett Baxter Clark. Pulp fiction about handsome private detective Hinton, whose latest case involves a secret formula stolen by the Russians. What sounds like a 60s spy movie is in fact an 80s sex movie disguised as an action thriller. Gratuitous, both in terms of nudity and plot. It’s the Playboy bunnies that get the most attention. Followed by eight(!) sequels, starting with HARD TICKET TO HAWAII (1987).

Malizie di Venere, Le (1969, ITA/GER) C-87m. Scope ** D: Max Dillman (=Massimo Dallamano). Starring Laura Antonelli, Régis Vallée, Ewing Loren, Renate Kasché, Werner Pochath, Mady Rahl, Wolf Ackva, Peter Heeg. Based on Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's notorious work, this erotic drama is about a writer's obsession with naked women, especially Antonelli, whom he marries and asks to torture him both physically and mentally. Film explores (or rather exploits) his sado-masochistic tendencies and his downfall, which leads him to seeking refuge in an asylum, where he tells his story to a psychiatrist. Interesting, well-photographed, and with enough period flavor and nudity to please fans, but pseudo-critical and slowly paced. Antonelli is a wow in one of her first roles. Alternative titles: DEVIL IN THE FLESH, VENUS IM PELZ, and  VENUS IN FURS (not to be confused with Jess Franco's film of the same year).

Mallrats (1995, USA) C-94m. **½ D: Kevin Smith. Starring Jeremy London, Jason Lee, Shannon Doherty, Claire Forlani, Ben Affleck, Joey Lauren Adams, Renée Humphrey, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Ethan Suplee, Stan Lee, Priscilla Barnes, Michael Rooker, Scott Mosier, Brian O’Halloran. More lunacy from CLERKS (1994) director Smith. Two slackers (London and Lee) spend their day at a shopping mall after having been dumped by their girlfriends. There they meet all kinds of different characters, some funny, some dull. Typical mid-90s comedy has, like Smith’s other films, acquired a cult following. Critically drubbed because of general crudeness and some mean-spirited scenes involving children. It’s fun for Smith’s fans (and filmbuffs)! Comic book artist Stan Lee plays himself.

Malpertuis (1971, BEL/FRA/GER) C-91m. *** D: Harry Kümel. Starring Orson Welles, Susan Hampshire, Michel Bouquet, Mathieu Carrière, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Daniel Pilon, Walter Rilla, Sylvie Vartan, Johnny Hallyday. Interesting curio, unreleased for many years. A sailor returns home only to find his family’s house gone. He stumbles through the streets and wakes up in Malpertuis, a mysterious mansion owned by patriarch Welles, who is dying. The old man’s last will stipulates that every potential inheritor must stay at Malpertuis until they die. Surreal, dreamy art direction, fine Georges Delerue score, atmospheric settings make this an impressive experience, although main character is hardly appealing and plot is confusing at times. Reportedly works better in uncut version, which runs around two hours. Not a horror film, although a nice companion piece to director Kümel’s LE ROUGE AUX LEVRES (DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS), released the same year. Photographed by Gerry Fisher, based on the novel by Jean Ray. Also known as THE LEGEND OF DOOM HOUSE.

Maltese Falcon, The (1941, USA) 100m. ***½ D: John Huston. Starring Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Gladys George, Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet, Ward Bond, Elisha Cook Jr., James Burke, Charles Drake, William Hopper, Walter Huston. Fast-moving, fast-talking, exciting crime classic from the book by Dashiell Hammett (filmed before in 1931). Bogart plays private eye Sam Spade with great expertise, as he is drawn into struggle for mysterious, immensely expensive title token. Sometimes he is so laid-back that his motivations are a great mystery, too. Sort-of abrupt ending keeps this from being an knock-out classic. Directorial debut of maverick director John Huston. This was also actor Greenstreet’s first film (at 62!).

Mamba (1988, ITA) C-81m. **½ D: Mario Orfini. Starring Trudie Styler, Gregg Henry, Bill Moseley. Styler is trapped in her apartment with a deadly snake, courtesy ex-lover Henry. The mamba must bite within 60 minutes, or else it will die. Silly premise, but well-photographed (by Dante Spinotti) and directed. Good sound effects and score by Giorgio Moroder. Some chills make this an okay view. Also released as FAIR GAME.

Man, The (2005, USA) C-83m. **½ D: Les Mayfield. Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Eugene Levy, Luke Goss, Miguel Ferrer, Susie Essman. Tough cop Jackson, whose partner has just been killed, is about to get in touch with a weapons dealer, when conservative family father Levy steps into his way. The dental appliances salesman is forced to work with Jackson, as the crooks believe him to be the contact. Buddy movie comedy sounds like it’s second-rate (which in some parts it is), but you end up being entertained quite well. Levy (AMERICAN PIE) is funny.

Management (2008, USA) C-94m. ** D: Stephen Belber. Starring Jennifer Aniston, Steve Zahn, Margo Martindale, Fred Ward, Woody Harrelson. Romantic comedy drama about essentially unhappy travelling businesswoman Aniston, who stays at caretaker Zahn’s motel and finds his attempts to be romantic with her amusing. However, Zahn refuses to give her up, even follows her home... and strikes a cord within her. Quite odd comedy drama has some laughs, but Aniston’s character is rather weird and not really compelling. Watch it for Zahn’s typical goofball persona, if you must.

Man Called Noon, The (1973, GBR/ITA/SPA) C-95m. Scope **½ D: Peter Collinson. Starring Richard Crenna, Stephen Boyd, Rosanna Schiaffino, Farley Granger, Patty Shepard, Angel del Pozo, Howard Ross, Aldo Sambrell. Unusual European western about clever gunslinger Crenna, who, suffering from amnesia, tries to reconstruct his identity. Is he a killer? Elaborate camera angles, nice score by Luis Bacalov, but overall too self-conscious. Crenna is quite good, but one would still wish for a tougher hero like Clint Eastwood, for instance. Not bad, though, based on the novel by Louis L’Amour. Italian title: LO CHIAMAVANO MEZZOGIORNO. Spanish title: UN HOMBRE LLAMADO NOON.

Man Cheng Jin Dai Huang Jin Jia (2006, HGK/CHI) C-114m. Scope *** D: Zhang Yimou. Starring Chow Yun-Fat, Gong Li, Jay Chou, Li uye, Ni Dahong, Qin Junjie. Sumptuous costume drama, very much in the league of the director’s earlier HERO and HOUSE OF FYLING DAGGERS. Talky plot is about emperor Chow, who is at odds with his wife and one of his sons. Court intrigue and political ambitions complicate the proceedings, but visually breathtaking scenery (including astounding production design and costumes) takes first chair. Zhang’s commanding direction makes the difference. Based on a play by Cao Yu, written by the director. English title: CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER.

Mangiati Vivi (1979, ITA) C-89m. ** D: Umberto Lenzi. Starring Janet Agren, Robert Kerman, Ivan Rassimov, Paola Senatore, Mel Ferrer. A young woman (Agren) travels to South East Asia to look for her lost sister in the jungle. Teaming up with vietnam vet Kerman, she soon finds her with a group of religious fanatics, the so-called Purification sect. Around their small camp there’s cannibals waiting for fresh human flesh. Gruesome exploitation movie, repulsive in its depiction of animal violence. Story-telling is accept-able, though. Strictly for trash fans! Screenplay by director Lenzi (CANNIBAL FEROX). English title was originally EATEN ALIVE FROM[sic!] THE CANNIBALS. The FROM was later changed to BY.

Manhattan Baby (1982, ITA) C-89m. Scope D: Lucio Fulci. Starring Christopher Connelly, Martha Taylor, Brigitta Boccoli, Giovanni Frezza, Lucio Fulci. Archaeologist Connelly returns from excavations in Egypt, unknowing that his daughter has taken a cursed amulet with her. Back in New York, all kinds of inexplicable things start to happen. Confusing shocker, redeemed somewhat by stylish camerawork, direction and an okay score. Still, only for Fulci fans. Also known as EVIL EYE, EYE OF THE EVIL DEAD, and THE POSSESSED.

Manhunter (1986, USA) C-119m. Scope *** D: Michael Mann. Starring William Petersen, Kim Greist, Joan Allen, Brian Cox, Dennis Farina, Stephen Lang, Tom Noonan. Typical 80s thriller, made by stylist Mann, about a weary cop Petersen, who tries to catch a serial killer by thinking himself into his mind. He gets unexpected help from infamous criminal Hannibal (‘The Cannibal’) Lecter. Okay plot development climaxes in furiously directed finale, which makes great use of Iron Butterfly’s 60s hit In a Gadda Da Vida. Stylish photography by Dante Spinotti. Based on Thomas Harris’ novel Red Dragon, followed by THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS in 1991 and HANNIBAL in 2001.

Maniac (1980, USA) C-87m. ** D: William Lustig. Starring Joe Spinell, Caroline Munro, Gail Lawrence, Kelly Piper, Rita Montone, Tom Savini, William Lustig. Infamous, disgusting would-be slasher drama about serial killer Spinell, who gruesomely murders women at random, scalping them to decorate the dummies in his small apartment with their hair. Pseudo-psychological trash is one of the most unbearable films of all time. As nihilistic as HENRY – PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER, but much less meaningful. Why two stars instead of a bomb? The film is not badly made, quite suspenseful, well-acted by Spinell and boasts some truly over-the-top special effects (by Tom Savini). Somehow it has to be seen to be believed (if you can bear it). Don’t watch if in doubt. Actor Spinell also cowrote and coproduced the picture. He reprised this role sort of in THE LAST HORROR FILM (1984).

Maniac Cop (1988, USA) C-85m. **½ D: William Lustig. Starring Tom Atkins, Bruce Campbell, Laurene Landon, Richard Roundtree, William Smith, Robert Z’Dar, Sheree North, Jake LaMotta, William Lustig, Sam Raimi, George ‘Buck’ Flower. Action thriller with horror elements about a mysterious, seemingly superhuman cop, who goes on a rampage in the streets of New York City. Campbell, a police officer himself, tries to solve the case of the bloody killings and hunt down the maniac. Not-bad B-thriller with eerie score, stylish directiorial touches and atmosphere to spare. Good of its type. From the director of MANIAC (1980). Written and produced by B-movie icon Larry Cohen. That’s Sam Raimi playing the reporter at the parade. Followed by two sequels in 1990 and 1992. Japanese print has several (uninteresting) additional scenes totalling 6m.

Maniac Cop 2 (1990, USA) C-88m. *½ D: William Lustig. Starring Robert Davi, Claudia Christian, Michael Lerner, Bruce Campbell, Laurene Landon, Robert Z’Dar, Charles Napier, Sam Raimi. Sequel to the quite good MANIAC COP (1988) has a silly setup which undermines the whole film. The killer cop didn’t really die in the first film, he survived and is going on another rampage. Campbell (the first film’s hero) is killed early on. Notwithstanding some interesting casting, several effective scenes, this sequel is as uninspired as any FRIDAY THE 13TH follow-up. Written and produced (again) by Larry Cohen. Followed by MANIAC COP 3: BADGE OF SILENCE.

Mani di Pistolero (1965, ITA/SPA) C-75m. Scope M D: Rafael Romero Marchent. Starring Craig Hill. Cheap Euro-western about gunslinger who has kidnapped the son of a sherrif in order to be revenged on the lawman. Atypical spaghetti western with ham-fisted direction generates no interest whatsoever. There’s also very little action.

Manitou, The (1978, USA/CDN) C-99m. Scope ** D: William Girdler. Starring Tony Curtis, Michael Ansara, Susan Strasberg, Stella Stevens, Jon Cedar, Ann Sothern, Burgess Meredith. Pretty campy, rather lucidrous horror film about phony psychic Curtis, whose girlfriend Strasberg develops a tumor on her neck, which turns out to be the fetus of an ancient medicine man waiting to be reborn! Curtis looks as if he will burst out laughing after each silly line, but film is also quite well-made and well-scored (by Lalo Schifrin). Worth a look for horror buffs (and those of unintentional humor). Plot is awfully similar to that of THE EXORCIST (1973). Some prints include additional scenes. Director Girdler’s last film; he died after this was completed in a helicopter crash at the age of 30.

Mann mit dem Goldenen Pinsel, Der (1969, GER/ITA) C-79m. ** D: Franz Marischka. Starring Willi Colombini, Edwige Fenech, Rainer Basedow, Marcella Michelangeli, Dick Randall, Ellen Umlauf, Rolf Eden, Calisto Calisti. Erotic comedy about a frustrated young painter, who suddenly becomes famous when an arts dealer likes one of his paintings made in a fit of rage. His girlfriend Hong Kong (Fenech) soon has competition in sexy Michelangeli. A trivial time capsule with nudity, slightly amusing. Fenech fans may find this a must for their collection as the actress bares it all here (especially in a delightful body-paint scene). Some prints may run longer. Italian title: L’UOMO DAL PENNELLO D’ORO. English titles: THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN BRUSH, LET IT ALL HANG OUT.

Man of Iron (1972, HGK) C-98m. Scope **½ D: Chang Cheh. Starring Chen Kuan-Tai. Young hot shot Joe (Kuan-Tai) interferes with crime syndicate when he falls in love with a prostitute. Imaginative direction and camerawork make pulp melodrama worthwhile, although the plot is strictly second-rate. The violent fight scenes are somewhat reminiscent of WEST SIDE STORY(!).

Mano Nera – Prima della Mafia, Più della Mafia, La (1973, ITA) C-90m. ** D: Antonio Raccioppi. Starring Lionel Stander, Rosanna Fratello, Michele Placido, Luigi Pistilli, Philippe Leroy, Corrado Gaipa, Nino Vingelli, Roger Brown, Salvatore Billa. Modest mafia drama about young immigrant Placido, who tries to get by in New York City, then gets involved with the mafia. Same basic story told in dozens of other films at the time, this one does not stand out. Only good thing about it is Carlo Rustichelli’s score. English title: THE BLACK HAND.

Man Outside, The (1967, GBR) C-99m. Scope **½ D: Samuel Gallu. Starring Van Heflin, Heidelinde Weis, Pinkas Braun, Peter Vaughan, Charles Gray, Paul Maxwell, Ronnie Barker. Heflin is fine as weary spy, who gets ousted from the CIA and fends for himself in case of double-crossing colleague. Competently made, realistic, but a bit too talky for its own good. Based on a novel by Gene Stackleborg.

Mansión de la Locura, La (1973, MEX/USA) C-84m. **½ D: Juan López Moctezuma. Starring Claudio Brook, Arthur Hansel, Ellen Sherman, Martin LaSalle, David Silva, Mónica Serna. Oddly fascinating drama about a researcher (Hansel), who travels to an insane asylum somewhere in the woods. The doctor in charge (Brook) explains his therapy of soothing and shows him around in the facility. Hansel starts doubting his methods, when a woman is about to be treated cruelly. A performance film, and as such a veritable 70s time capsule, this feels like it was made by a commune or a troupe of artists. Despite familiar trappings, this is not a horror film. Impressive settings seems to be an abandoned factory. Recommended to fans of Alejandro Jodorowsky, who was a close friend of director Moctezuma. Based on a short story by Edgar Allen Poe called “The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Feather”. English titles: THE MANSION OF MADNESS, DR. GOUDRON’S SYSTEM, DR. TARR’S PIT OF HORRORS, DR. TARR’S TORTURE DUNGEON, and HOUSE OF MADNESS.

Mansión de la Niebla, La (1972, SPA/ITA) C-84m. **½ D: Francisco Lara Polop, Pedro Lazaga. Starring Andrés Resino, Analía Gadé, Evelyn Stewart (=Ida Galli), Annalisa Nardi, Alberto Dalbés, Georges Rigaud. Interesting mix of gothic and giallo elements in quite atmospheric shocker. Several characters get lost in thick fog and stumble into mysterious mansion in the middle of nowhere. Soon they are confronted with Stewart’s sinister family history. Some scares, diverting for fans. Complete version runs 86m. Polop’s first movie as a director. His last was SEDUCTION OF A PRIEST in 1990. English titles: MURDER MANSION, MANIAC MANSION.

Man Who Changed His Mind, The (1936, GBR) 65m. *** D: Robert Stevenson. Starring Boris Karloff, Anna Lee, John Loder, Frank Cellier, Cecil Parker. Intriguing chiller about brilliant scientist Karloff, who has found a way of transporting minds from one chimp to another, and he thinks this works with humans, too! Well-done, with the climax especially effective. Also known as THE MAN WHO LIVED AGAIN, THE BRAINSNATCHER, DR. MANIAC.

Man Who Fell to Earth, The (1976, GBR) C-133m. Scope ***½ D: Nicolas Roeg. Starring David Bowie, Rip Torn, Candy Clark, Buck Henry, Bernie Casey, Jackson D. Kane, Claudia Jennings. Intelligent, at times fascinating science-fiction drama about “alien” Bowie, who crashlands on the Earth and uses his superior intelligence to establish a leading company. His alien-ness ultimately breaks his spirit, especially since he has had to abandon his wife and kids on their planet. Very adult parable on human estrangement and the inhuman pressures of society, not to be digested easily. Bowie is perfectly cast as the fragile being from space. First-rate photography by Anthony B. Richmond. Paul Mayersberg adapted the novel by Walter Tevis. Originally shown at 140m. Remade as a TV movie in 1987.

Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The (1962, USA) 123m. ***½ D: John Ford. Starring John Wayne, James Stewart, Vera Miles, Lee Marvin, Edmond O’Brien, John Carradine, Woody Strode, Strother Martin, Lee Van Cleef. Classic western by genre master John Ford is elegantly framed story about naïve young lawyer Stewart, who comes to the West, thinking his ideas about law are superior to local gunplay. It turns out that he is taught about the West as much as he tries to teach them. Brilliant opening and closing scenes (the frame), the actual story relies too much on comic relief, but otherwise this is one of the best American westerns of the 1960s, with excellent acting by all.

Man Who Wasn’t There, The (2001, USA) 116m. ***½ D: Joel Coen. Starring Billy Bob Thornton, Frances McDormand, Michael Badalucco, James Gandolfini, Katherine Borowitz, Jon Polito, Scarlett Johansson, Tony Shalboub, George Ives, Ted Raimi. After BLOOD SIMPLE (and to some degree, FARGO) the Coens have fashioned another film noir tale about adultery and murder. Low-key personality Thornton, a barber in a Californian town of the late 1940s, finds out that his wife McDormand is cheating on him. He plots to blackmail her lover, in order to invest the money in seedy businessman Polito’s business idea. Needless to say, this is just the beginning of a serpentine story. Immaculate atmosphere and photography (glistening black-and-white by Roger Deakins, who earned an Oscar nomination) in story that is sometimes too slow and ponderous (like its lead character) but certainly unusual, with some striking twists and ideas. Again, some highly original, ultimately engrossing writing by Joel and Ethan Coen. A must for their followers. This was their first movie without any comic touches since MILLER’S CROSSING (1990). Excellent production design (by Coen regular Dennis Gassner) makes this look like it was actually filmed in the late 1940s. Moody score by Carter Burwell includes pieces by Mozart and Beethoven.

Man Who Would Be King, The (1975, USA) C-129m. Scope *** D: John Huston. Starring Sean Connery, Michael Caine, Christopher Plummer, Saeed Jaffrey, Shakira Caine. Elaborate film version of Rudyard Kipling’s 1888 short story, with Caine and Connery as two loafers who attempt to become Kings in a distant land, Kafiristan, by drilling the people like in the army. Framework with reporter Plummer differs from that of the book and the imperial context suffers, but director Huston sems to be in his element when depicting life in Kafiristan. Interesting, funny, well-acted, but not a typical adventure yarn.

Man With Bogart’s Face, The (1980, USA) C-111m. **½´D: Robert Day. Starring Robert Sacchi, Franco Nero, Michelle Phillips, Olivia Hussey, Misty Rowe, Victor Buono, Herbert Lom, Sybil Danning, George Raft, Yvonne De Carlo, Philip Baker Hall. Amusing take on Hollywood film noir stars Sacchi as a private detective, who gets facial surgery to look like his idol Humphrey Bogart and then takes on a case a la THE MALTESE FALCON (1941). Good fun for buffs, although plot could have been a little more focused and tighter. Almost good. Sacchi does a great Bogart impression (as in the giallo CASA D’APPUNTAMENTO). Written and produced by Andrew J. Fenady, based on his novel. Also known as SAM MARLOW, PRIVATE EYE.

Man with the Golden Gun, The (1974, GBR) C-125m. *** D: Guy Hamilton. Starring Roger Moore, Christopher Lee, Brit Eklund, Maud Adams, Hervé Villechaize, Clifton James, Richard Loo, Marc Lawrence, Bernard Lee, Lois Maxwell, Desmond Llewelyn. Exotic, lavish 007 adventure, Moore’s second outing as the super-spy. Bond is led to believe that Scaramanga, the world’s best assassin, is out to kill him, but it turns out he wants to acquire a device that produces solar power. Occasionally silly, and not airtight, this is not one of the best Bond films, but still good because of the cast, the action and overall Bond flair. Certainly an answer to the Kung Fu boom of the 70s and, more accurately, to Bruce Lee’s ENTER THE DRAGON (see opening scene).

Mar Adentro (2004, SPA/FRA/ITA) C-126m. Scope *** D: Alejandro Amenábar. Starring Javier Bardem, Belén Rueda, Lola Duenas, Mabel Rivera, Celso Bugallo, Clara Segura, Joan Dalmau. Remarkable drama about middle-aged Bardem, who has been a quadriplegic for over twenty years and has now decided to go to court to have his final wish fulfilled: to end his life. The family around Bardem cannot understand him, but lawyer Rueda is fascinated by the case. Beautifully handled drama is based on a real case. The cast is flawless, Amenábar’s score is heart-felt. An interesting contribution to the discussion of euthanasia, though one might have wished for more controversy. Written by Mateo Gil and the director, who also edited and coproduced. Oscar-winner for Best Foreign Language Film. English titles: THE SEA INSIDE, and THE SEA WITHIN.

Marathon Man (1976, USA) C-125m. *** D: John Schlesinger. Starring Dustin Hoffman, Laurence Olivier, Roy Scheider, William Devane, Marthe Keller, Fritz Weaver. Superior thriller, based on the novel by William Goldman. Hoffman plays an ambitious and successful history student, who is drawn into a large-scale diamond smuggle involving his businessman brother Scheider and Nazi-criminal Olivier. Fine direction by Schlesinger, good, bizarre score by Michael Small make this an intriguing experience, although the script by Goldman (with the uncredited assistance of Robert Towne) tries to be as complex as the novel, and fails (of course). Infamous torture scene was shortened after preview audiences found it too disturbing and repellent. Cinematography by Conrad Hall.

Marat/Sade (The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum at Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade) (1966, GBR) C-120m. ***½ D: Peter Brook. Starring Patrick Magee, Clifford Rose, Glenda Jackson, Ian Richardson, Brenda Kempner, Ruth Baker, Michael Williams, Freddie Jones. Hypnotic, disturbing, brilliantly filmed and acted play about the staging of the assassination of Jean-Paul Marat, a key figure in the French Revolution, in an insane asylum. Acted with raw power. Identifies revolution with insanity in a most unusual way. Shoot this rating to **** if you are familiar with the French Revolution. Based on a play by Peter Weiss.  

Marche Pas Sur Mes Lacets (1977, FRA) C-87m. *½ D : Max Pécas. Starring Sylvain Green, Dominique Jubelin, Jean-Marc Longval, Vanessa Vaylord, Caroline Laurence. Typical low-brow teen comedy about three friends, who have a lot of sexual adventures before entering the army. They pose as hotel managers, when a group of sexy British teens arrives. Lots of nudity, little coherence. Score is quite good. Vaylord had a small role in Polanski’s THE TENANT. British video title: THE FRENCH LOVERS.

March or Die (1977, USA) C-104m. **½ D: Dick Richards. Starring Gene Hackman, Terence Hill, Max von Sydow, Catherine Deneuve, Ian Holm, Rufus. Ambitious but lackluster adventure drama about exploits of the French Foreign Legion in Marocco, where they are assigned to protect an ancient burial site. Good cast, but rather unexciting. Photographed by John Alcott.  

Mardi Gras Massacre (1978, USA) C-92m. D: Jack Weis. Starring Curt Dawson, Gwen Arment, Butch Benit, Nancy Dancer. Cheap trash piece about a religious fanatic who picks prostitutes off the streets of New Orleans and involves them in sacrificial act, which ends by gutting the women. Some unintentional hilarity, not-bad, graphic effects gain this half a star – just don’t expect anything remotely movie-like. Deadening.

Marebito (2004, JAP) C-92m. **½ D: Takashi Shimizu. Starring Shinya Tsukamoto, Tomomi Miyashita, Kazuhiro Nakahara, Miho Ninagawa. From the director of the JU-ON films comes this disturbing horror drama about cameraman Tsukamoto, who is obsessed with videotaping everything everywhere. When he films a suicide in the Tokyo subway, he becomes intrigued by the man’s motives and thinks the answer to the man’s terror-filled demise lies somewhere in the subway system. Indeed, he enters a mysterious world, where he not only encounters the suicide victim, but also a sick, naked girl with fangs. He takes her home and tries to nurture her back to health. What sounds like a bizarre fantasy horror movie, becomes a bit of a letdown as there is no satisfying explanation for anything and cult director-turned-actor Tsukamoto is obviously not up to the difficult role. Still, very interesting for horror devotees, as it not only includes some eerie, disquieting images, but also references early 20th century literature and philosophy (Lovecraft, Shaver). Screenplay by Chiaki Konaka, based on his novel. Subtitled: THE STRANGER FROM AFAR.

Marginal, Le (1983, FRA) C-98m. ** D: Jacques Deray. Starring Jean-Paul Belmondo, Henry Silva, Carlos Sotto Mayor. Violent Belmondo actioner with the French star actor in a typical role: He plays a tough cop who has been assigned to wipe out the organisation of druglord Silva. Slow and offensive at first (and glorifying the macho image of its star), but pace picks up in second half. Standard action plot has nothing new to offer, however. Ennio Morricone composed the score.

Mariachi, El (1992, MEX/USA) C-81m. *** D: Robert Rodriguez. Starring Carlos Gallardo, Consuelo Gómez, Jaime de Hoyos, Peter Marquardt, Reinol Martinez. Rodriguez’ debut feature, which he made on a shoestring budget of $7,000 (at the incredible age of 24). A harmless guitar player (=mariachi) is mistaken for a hitman and must run from gun-wielding assassins in a Mexican village. A bit slight, but ironic throughout, well-directed and sharply edited (by Rodriguez himself), its technical finesse keeps you watching. A sleeper hit, which the director sort of remade as DESPERADO in 1995.

Marie-Chantal Contre le Docteur Kha (1965, FRA/SPA/ITA/MAR) C-111m. ** D: Claude Chabrol. Starring Marie Laforêt, Francisco Rabal, Serge Reggiani, Charles Denner, Akim Tamiroff, Roger Hanin, Stéphane Audran, Claude Chabrol, Henri Attal, Gérard Tichy. Espionage spoof by none other than Claude Chabrol, who casts singer Laforêt as a hapless tourist, who is given a blue panther jewel by a stranger on a train and is followed by all kinds of people (Russian, American, and those working for villain Tamiroff) from Switzerland to Morocco. Absolutely pointless, perhaps the OCEAN’S THIRTEEN of its time. Lots of stars but hardly entertaining. Chabrol made several more commercial films of this kind, like LA ROUTE DE CORINTHE (1967), before starting on his incredible run in the late 60s. Bertrand Tavernier was production assistant, credited as ‘chargé de presse’, and Claude Zidi was camera operator. English title: BLUE PANTHER, and MARIE-CHANTAL VS. DOCTOR KHA.

Marie-Octobre (1959, FRA) 99m. *** D: Julien Duvivier. Starring Bernard Blier, Robert Dalban, Danielle Darrieux, Paul Frankeur, Jeanne Fusier-Gir, Paul Guers, Daniel Ivernel, Paul Meurisse, Serge Reggiani, Noel Roquevert, Lino Ventura. Darrieux summons nine men to her mansion, all former colleagues in the Résistance movement in WW2, now respectable members of society. It turns out she wants to find the man who betrayed them fifteen years ago and who caused the death of their leader. First-rate whodunit with intriguing twists and a top cast. Recommended. Based on the novel by Jacques Robert.

Marins Perdus, Les (2003, FRA) C-107m. **½ D: Claire Devers. Starring Bernard Giraudeau, Miki Manojlovic, Sergio Peris-Mencheta, Marie Trintignant, Audrey Tautou, Darry Cowl. After their boss goes broke, the crewmembers aboard a freighter abandon ship. Only three men stay behind, with a rather depressing outlook. Moody drama is heavy-going most of the way; saved by a stylish approach and good performances. Based on the novel by Jean-Claude Izzo. English title: LOST SEAMEN.

Mario Bava: Maestro of the Macabre (2000, USA) C-60m. *** D: Charles Preece, Garry S. Grant. Insightful documentary about a rediscovered genius of 20th century cinema: Mario Bava. Clips of most of his films are shown in-between interviews with family members (like his son Lamberto), collaborators (like Alfredo Leone or Carlo Rambaldi) and admirers (Joe Dante, Tim Burton). Successfully attempts to combine tid-bits about his work and his personality, a must for his followers and those interested in B-movies. Other interviewees: John Carpenter, Sean S. Cunningham, John Phillip Law, Ib Melchior, Daria Nicolodi, Carlo Rustichelli, Dardano Sacchetti, John Saxon and the late Samuel Z. Arkoff. Writer-director Preece also made a documentary about Dario Argento that same year.

Mariscal del Infierno, El (1974, SPA/ARG) C-88m. *½ D: León Klimovsky. Starring Paul Naschy, Norma Sebre, Guillermo Bredeston, Vidal Molina, Eduardo Calvo. Medieval costumer with Naschy an evil marshal, who hires an alchemist to produce the Philosopher’s Stone. Meanwhile, his subjects are forming to rebel against him and may have found a leader in Bredeston. Some earnest performances aside, this is extremely tedious and not really a horror film. Naschy also scripted. English titles: DEVIL’S POSSESSED, MARSHAL OF HELL.

Marley & Me (2008, USA) C-120m. SCOPE **½ D: David Frankel. Starring Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston, Eric Dane, Kathleen Turner, Alan Arkin, Nathan Gamble, Haley Bennett. Comedy drama based on a true story about young journalist couple Wilson and Aniston, who buy a labrador puppy that develops into a rowdy giant of a dog. Film follows about ten years of their lives (the life span of the dog), as they make important decisions in life regarding job and family. Some funny scenes, some drama, true-to-life, but in the end you’ll wonder what was special about this story. It could have been anyone’s. What’s more, there are many better dog movies around (although, admittedly, also worse ones).

Marlowe (1969, USA) C-96m. Scope **½ D: Paul Bogart. Starring James Garner, Gayle Hunnicutt, Carroll O’Connor, Rita Moreno, Sharon Farrell, William Daniels, Jackie Coogan, Bruce Lee. Garner plays Raymond Chandler’s famous detective in this adaptation of Chandler’s novel The Little Sister. Marlowe is hired to search for Farrell’s brother and discovers a link between his disappearance and some drug-trafficking masterminded by a surgeon. Mystery written by Stirling Silliphant is old-fashioned (in the negative sense of the word) and would be uninteresting today if it wasn’t for martial arts legend Bruce Lee’s (short) appearance. Lee also choreographed the fights (there are not many, however).

Marnie (1964, USA) C-130m. ***½ D: Alfred Hitchcock. Starring Tippi Hedren, Sean Connery, Diane Baker, Martin Gabel, Louise Latham, Bob Sweeney, Alan Napier, Bruce Dern, Alfred Hitchcock. Sophisticated psycho drama from the master about troubled secretary Hedren, who keeps stealing money and changing her identity until she is caught by Connery, a wealthy businessman, who falls in love with her. Can he find out what’s troubling her? Plot (based on the Winston Graham novel) is overlong but keeps you involved nevertheless, with some typical Hitchcock elements. The puzzle pieces come together in the stunning final third. Highly recommended, especially to cult movie buffs, as this was a decisive influence on Dario Argento’s PROFONDO ROSSO (childhood trauma, nursery rhymes, the color red, mother complex…) Excellent score by Bernard Herrmann.

Mars Attacks! (1996, USA) C-105m. Scope *** D: Tim Burton. Starring Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Annette Bening, Pierce Brosnan, Danny DeVito, Martin Short, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michael J. Fox, Rod Steiger, Tom Jones, Nathalie Portman, Jim Brown, Pam Grier, Paul Winfield, Lukas Haas, Christina Applegate. Wild spoof of old-fashioned sci-fi movies: Spaceships from Mars land on Earth and while everybody is hoping the Martians are peaceful creatures they turn out to be quite hostile, wreaking havoc on the entire planet. Who will be able to save the Earth? Superbly designed comedy doesn’t bother with a well-constructed plot but uses its brilliant ideas to entertain the audience. Danny Elfman’s great score adds to the fun. Great cast is enjoying themselves.

Martin (1977, USA) C/B&W-95m. **½ D: George A. Romero. Starring John Amplas, Lincoln Maazel, Christine Forrest, Elayne Nadeau, Tom Savini, George A. Romero, Michael Gornick. Director Romero’s first film in four years (after the apocalyptic THE CRAZIES) is now overshadowed by his masterpiece DAWN OF THE DEAD, which was released only months after MARTIN. This is more a character study than a horror film: Troubled teenager Martin (Amplas) is compulsed to kill with razorblades and drinks his victims’ blood. His fanatic uncle (Maazel) keeps seeing a vampire in him, and Martin is trying to convince him that he isn’t. Some telling social commentary, but awfully low-budget (shot in full-frame) and downbeat. Written and edited by Romero. Effects artist Savini also has a small role. Film was completely re-scored by Goblin (SUSPIRIA) for Italian release.

Martyrs (2008, FRA/CDN) C-99m. **½ D: Pascal Laugier. Starring Morjana Alaoui, Mylène Jampanoi, Catherine Bégin, Robert Toupin, Patricia Tulasne, Xavier Dolan. Difficult to stomach horror thriller that does not offer any kind of relief to its audience. A young girl escapes from torture hell and grows up in an asylum. 15 years later she finds her perpetrators and bluntly kills them. However, there’s an imagined(?) demon tormenting her and her girlfriend tries to help her in vain. Is there any escape from this bloody nightmare? The answer is no. Typically nihilistic French horror is competently filmed and has a chilling twist, but it’s unrelenting in many ways, not exactly uplifting. Pretty much as gory and vile as it gets, not recommended to anybody who’s not into cult or horror. Written by director Laugier (SAINT ANGE).

Marvin’s Room (1996, USA) C-98m. *** D: Jerry Zaks. Starring Meryl Streep, Leonardo DiCaprio, Diane Keaton, Robert De Niro, Hume Cronyn, Dan Hedaya. Keaton plays a woman who has cared for her bed-ridden father and his sick sister all her life. When she is also taken ill, she asks her sister (Streep) to come help her out. Streep, however, is facing problems of her own with rebellious son  DiCaprio. First half of this drama is not terribly moving, but film improves in the second, as first-rate performances give depth to the characters. Fine score by Rachel Portman. Based on the play by Scott McPherson.

Mary Poppins (1964, USA) C-140m. ***½ D: Robert Stevenson. Starring Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, David Tomlinson, Glynis Johns, Elsa Lanchester. Charming children’s fantasy, based on the books by P.L. Travers, about two “naughty” children and their new nanny (Andrews, in her film debut), who takes them into a marvelous fantasy world. One of the classic films about and for children (by Disney, of course), with delightful music and then-stunning effects interweaving real-action and animation. A treat for kids, though adults may find their minds wandering occasionally. Van Dyke is as delightful as in the later CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG. Oscars went to the lovely Andrews, the editor, the effects team and songwriters/composers Richard and Robert Sherman.

Maschera del Demonio, La (1960, ITA) 83m. *** D: Mario Bava. Starring Barbara Steele, Ivo Garrani, John Richardson, Andrea Cecchi, Arturo Dominici, Enrico Olivieri, Calra Bindi, Antonio Pierfederici, Tino Bianchi, Germana Dominici. Directorial debut of cinematographer Mario Bava is regarded today as a classic of the genre. Witch/vampire Steele was burned two centuries ago, but her resurrection is impending since a professor has unwittingly spilled some of his blood onto her death mask. Once the premise is established, plot never really takes off, but beautiful photography (by Bava himself) creates one of the finest gothic atmospheres in screen history. Banned upon original release, film has become a cult item. Based on a story a Nikolaj Gogol. This was Bava’s first film as a single director and as such - next to LA RAGAZZA CHE SAPEVA TROPPO (THE EVIL EYE) - his only one in black-and-white. Ubaldo Terzano, who photographed several Bava films (e.g. LA FRUSTA E IL CORPO) is credited as camera operator. Trivia notes: The death mask was designed by Mario Bava’s father, famous sculptor and painter Eugenio Bava. In 1989, Lamberto Bava (Mario’s son) directed a remake of the film. British title: THE MASK OF SATAN. U.S. title: BLACK SUNDAY.

Maschera di Cera, La (1997, ITA/FRA) C-98m. *** D: Sergio Stivaletti. Starring Robert Hossein, Romina Mondello, Riccardo Servento Longhi, Gabriella Giorgelli, Umberto Balli. Well-produced, stylish remake of HOUSE OF WAX with Hossein a sinister artist, whose wax figures look frighteningly real. A newspaper journalist discovers a link between recent disappearances and Hossein’s new creations. Superb make-up effects (by the director himself) highlight this chiller. Only marred by sort of awkward flashback sequences. Story concocted by Daniele Stoppa, Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento, who is also credited as artistical supervisor; film has some typical touches, especially the camera moves look as if Argento himself had directed them. Fulci cowrote the screenplay with Stoppa; this was his last project. English title: THE WAX MASK.

Mask of Fu Manchu, The (1932, USA) 68m. **½ D: Charles Brabin, Charles Vidor. Starring Boris Karloff, Lewis Stone, Karen Morley, Charles Starrett, Myrna Loy. Chiller based on Sax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu character, played excellently by Karloff, whose schemes involve the golden mask of Genghis Khan, with which he wants to rule Asia. Only works intermittently. Charles Vidor was fired after starting the film.

Mask of Murder (1985, CDN) C-88m. *½ D: Arne Mettson. Starring Rod Taylor, Valerie Perrine, Christopher Lee, Sam Cook, Terrence Hardiman, Christine McKenna, Cyd Hayman, Frank Brennan. Poor murder mystery with Taylor and Lee on the trail of a serial killer. After the murderer is caught, the killings don't stop, but Taylor seems to be more interested in the fact that his wife is having an affair with another policeman. Predictable, unexciting B-film, somewhat redeemed by the presence of Lee and Taylor.

Mask of Zorro, The (1998, USA) C-137m. Scope **½ D: Martin Campbell. Starring Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones. Stylish reworking of the old legend with Hopkins playing an aged Zorro, who teaches a nobody (Banderas) the art of fencing and fighting, so that the people's suppression by an evil general may end. First-rate action scenes, stunts and explosions, but film is too long and Banderas is unappealing in the lead role. Hopkins as his mentor is much more of a gentleman. Zeta-Jones provides the beautiful love interest. A sure pick for those who can accept Banderas in the lead role.

Masquerade (1965, GBR) C-102m. ** D: Basil Dearden. Starring Cliff Robertson, Jack Hawkins, Marisa Mell, Michel Piccoli, Bill Fraser, Charles Gray. Rather cheap, lifeless attempt to copy the James Bond movies at the time with Robertson an American spy, who should protect 14-year-old Arab, destined to become heir to an empire, whose uncle would rather have the inheritance for himself. Mell provides the mysterious love interest. Not really bad, but too unspectacular as a copy and too tame as a spoof. Based on a novel by Victor Canning. Also known as A SHABBY TIGER, and OPERATION MASQUERADE.

Masques (1987, FRA) C-104m. *** D: Claude Chabrol. Starring Philippe Noiret, Robin Renucci, Bernadette Lafont, Monique Chaumette, Anne Brochet, Henri Attal, Dominique Zardi. Good satirical comedy about showman Noiret, whose contempt for his audience is slowly revealed to journalist Renucci, who stays at the rich man’s house to write his biography. Aptly titled, typical Chabrol movie, with a powerhouse performance by Noiret. Fine score by Matthieu Chabrol, photography by Jean Rabier. International title: MASKS.

Massacre (1989, ITA) C-89m. M D: Andrea Bianchi. Starring Maurice Poli, Patrizia Falcone, Pier Maria Cecchini, Paul Muller. Tired slasher movie, produced by Lucio Fulci. A film crew is shocked when inexplicable murders start happening. Who is the killer? You’ve seen the same story a thousand times before. Movies like this killed the Italian horror film. Some scenes were used in UN GATO NEL CERVELLO (1990).

Massacre at Central High (1976, USA) C-88m. **½ D: René Daalder. Starring Derrel Maury, Andrew Stevens, Robert Carradine, Kimberly Beck, Ray Underwood, Steve Bond. Maury, newcomer at an L.A. high school is faced with a ruthless gang, who eventually cripples his leg. He then proceeds to take revenge on the bullies. Thriller drama has acquired a cult reputation, mainly for being one of the first Nerd/Revenge pictures. It does take unusual twists and turns but it’s also poorly produced, badly paced and lacks suspense. B-movie fans are advised to have a look at this, but don’t expect a gory slasher movie (as the title may suggest). Aka BLACKBOARD MASSACRE.

Master, The (1989, HGK) C-86m. *½ D: Tsui Hark. Starring Jet Li, Wah Yuen, Crystal Kwok, Jerry Trimble, Anne Rickets, Ruben Gonzales, Corey Yuen. Action misfire about a young student (Li) who comes to the States to find his martial arts master, who is hiding from another master. Unappealing characters, lame fight scenes, weak plot, it seems Hark and Li made this while on holiday in the U.S.

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003, USA) C-138m. Scope **½ D: Peter Weir. Starring Russell Crowe, Paul Bettany, James D’Arcy, Edward Woodall, Chris Larkin. 19th century sea-faring tale centers around unconventional title character Crowe, who motivates his crew to pursue French battleship, which may decide the war against Napoleon. Well-filmed action drama, with a literally commanding performance by Crowe, is too simple, too long to spark a genuine interest. Based on the novels by Patrick O’Brian. Cinematographer Russell Boyd deservedly won an Oscar for his work.

Master Killer (1980, HGK) C-79m. Scope M D: Wang Hong-Chiang. Starring Yuan Lung. Two brothers reunite to avenge the death of their father. Silly comic scenes take all the momentum out of this eastern. Even the action is comparatively lame. Don’t confuse this one with the acceptable THE 36TH CHAMBER OF SHAOLIN, which was released in the U.S. as MASTER KILLER.

Master Strikes, The (1980, HGK) C-95m. Scope M D: Kao Pao-Shu. Starring Meng Yuan-Wen, Meg Lam, Ka Sa-Fa. Stupid kung fu comedy about three idiots in search of a stolen jade statuette. Film disintegrates after an OK first 15 minutes.

Master With Cracked Fingers (1971, HGK) C-82m. Scope ** D: Chin Hsin. Starring Jackie Chan, Simon Yuen, Shih Tien, Tien Feng, Casanova Wong. Jackie Chan’s first starring vehicle is simply an incoherent martial arts movie. Jackie plays a young fighter who is educated by a Drunken Master and later gets involved with the ‘bad guys’ in a restaurant, where he works as a waiter. Plot is really impossible to describe (scenes without Jackie were added for the release in the late 70s). The fight scenes are okay and make the movie watchable. Also known as LITTLE TIGER FROM CANTON, SNAKE FIST FIGHTER, STRANGER IN HONG KONG, TEN FINGERS OF DEATH.

Matador, The (2005, USA/EIR/GER) C-96m. Scope **½ D: Richard Shepard. Starring Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear, Hope Davis, Philip Baker Hall, Dylan Baker, Adam Scott. Off-beat comedy drama about immoral, burned-out hitman Brosnan, who travels the world killing people. One day he meets businessman Kinnear, whose life is at a crossroads. Movie examines their relationship with ironic touches. Brosnan, obviously spoofing his James Bond roles, gives a great performance, but script is too tentative and hardly exciting. Written by the director.

Matango (1963, JAP) C-89m. Scope **½ D: Ishiro Honda. Starring Akira Kubo, Kumi Mizuno, Hiroshi Koizumi, Kenji Sahara, Hiroshi Tachikawa. Slowly paced but not uninteresting horror film from the GOJIRA director about a group of people, who are shipwrecked on an island after a storm. It turns out the gigantic mushrooms growing on the island are of a deadly, infectious kind. Good score, quite well-acted, atmospheric (studio) sets and cinematography, but frustratingly slow. Worth a look for horror buffs, especially in remastered 2.55:1 Tohoscope print. Based on a story by William Hope Hodgson. English titles: ATTACK OF THE MUSHROOM PEOPLE, CURSE OF THE MUSHROOM PEOPLE, and FUNGUS OF TERROR.

Matchless (1966, ITA) C-104m. Scope ** D: Alberto Lattuada. Starring Patrick O’Neal, Donald Pleasence, Henry Silva, Ira Fürstenberg, Jacques Herlin, Nicoletta Machiavelli, Howard St. John. Italian James Bond imitation – or spoof – about journalist O’Neal, who is transformed into a special agent, also because he has a magical ring which makes him invisible (Lord of the Rings, anybody?). Wildly plotted, mostly silly adventure. Some funny scenes make it watchable. Pleasence plays the bad guy, one year before becoming a Bond villain in YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE (1967). Score by Ennio Morricone. Edited by Franco Fraticelli.

Matchmaker, The (1997, USA/EIR) C-97m. Scope *** D: Mark Joffe. Starring Janeane Garofalo, David O'Hara, Milo O'Shea, Denis Leary, Jay O. Sanders, Rosaleen Linehan, Paul Hickey. Funny romantic comedy about a woman who travels to Ireland to find the relatives of her boss, a U.S. Senator, who is in the middle of an election campaign. She arrives there during the annual matchmaking festival and falls in love despite her initial aversion against the folks there. Not very credible but very entertaining and with a beautiful country setting.

Match Point (2005, GBR/USA/LUX) C-124m. **½ D: Woody Allen. Starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Emily Mortimer, Scarlett Johansson, Matthew Goode, Brian Cox, Penelope Wilton, James Nesbitt. Rhys Meyers, a former tennis pro, becomes involved with British upper-class family, becomes engaged with Mortimer, but jeopardizes things when he starts an affair with her brother’s fiancé Johansson. Allen’s first film made outside the U.S. makes good use of British locations, is well-acted and solidly told, but later twists make it unsatisfying, and it goes on too long (it’s also Woody’s longest movie to date). Woodyphiles might boost the raitng by half a star.

Matchstick Men (2003, USA) C-116m. Scope *** D: Ridley Scott. Starring Nicolas Cage, Sam Rockwell, Alison Lohman, Bruce Altman, Bruce McGill, Jenny O’Hara. Cage plays a trickster, a fraud, who runs a “business” with his pal Rockwell. He is also highly psychotic and keeps everything in his house painstakingly clean. His life gets a spin when he meets his 14-year-old daughter for the first time, a girl who’d rather spend her life learning his fraudulent methods than staying with her mum. Well-acted slice-of-life with a criminal twist is also well-directed and edited. The only thing putting you off is the soundtrack, which tries to incorporate just too many different styles. The ending also disappoints a little, but Cage is really something to see – again. Scott also coproduced this film, based on the book by Eric Garcia. Score by Hans Zimmer.

Matilda (1996, USA) C-98m. Scope **½ D: Danny DeVito. Starring Mara Wilson, Danny DeVito, Rhea Perlman, Embeth Davidtz, Pam Ferris, Paul Reuben, Jon Lovitz. Children’s fantasy, based on the Roald Dahl story about super-intelligent girl (Wilson), who grows up in a family of morons and is ultimately sent to a despotic girls’ school run by Ferris. Starts out very nicely, with lots of funny bits but once Matilda is separated from her parents, film descends a spiral of violent and dark humor. Well-photographed (just like a children’s fantasy should be), but this is more for older kids.

Matinee (1990, CDN) C-91m. ** D: Richard Martin. Starring Ron White, Gillian Barber, Jeff Schultz, Beatrice Boepple, Timothy Webber. Two years after someone was killed during a horror movie festival, the event is brought back to the town, and – guess what -  the killer might also return. Tame, unexciting TV movie that calls itself a horror thriller. Ambitious, solidly filmed but far too self-conscious. Also called MIDNIGHT MATINEE sometimes.

Matrix, The (1999, USA) C-136m. Scope *** D: Larry and Andy Wachowski. Starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Gloria Foster, Joe Pantoliano, Marcus Chong, Paul Goddard. Ultra-cool hi-tech sci-fi thriller with Keanu Reeves playing a hacker-turned-messiah, who discovers the world to be a computer simulation brought about by artificial intelligence, which has taken over since World War III. Together with rebel leaders Fishburne and Moss he battles seemingly indestructable androids in a computer world where all forces of nature can be overcome. Bustling with H.R. Gigeresque imagery and not-to-be believed computer stunts, film is extremely well-directed and takes the concept of artificial intelligence into new directions. Script is overlong, however, and its characters superficial (especially Reeves). Still, an intriguing sci-fi cross between BLADE RUNNER (1982) and STRANGE DAYS (1995), followed by two sequels in 2003.

Matrix Reloaded, The (2003, USA) C-138m. Scope *** D: Larry and Andy Wachowski. Starring Keany Reeves, Carrie Ann-Moss, Laurence Fishburne, Hugo Weaving, Monica Bellucci, Anthony Zerbe, Jada Pinkett Smith, Gloria Foster. Sequel to the 1999 blockbuster features more of the same computer stunts and technical wizardry. Reeves, the messiah of the ailing human race, must help to defend their last outpost, called Zion, from evil scourers. Once in a while they drop into the Matrix to make contact and find a solution to their problems. A slight disappointment plotwise (especially in the first hour), in so much as it often seems like a mere transition to Part Three, but incredibly smooth and thrilling, well-made. Immediately followed by THE MATRIX REVELATIONS.

Matter of Life and Death, A (1946, GBR) C/B&W-104m. ***½ D: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger. Starring David Niven, Kim Hunter, Robert Coote, Kathleen Byron, Richard Attenborough. Extravagant, innovative romantic drama by the famous duo Powell and Pressburger. British WW2 pilot Niven is going to crash with his plane and die in a matter of minutes, and just then becomes infatuated with Hunter, a woman who happens to catch his voice on the radio. By a heavenly mistake Niven doesn’t die and goes on to fall in love with Hunter. Should Heaven reclaim him or give him a second chance? Beautifully realized, marvelously photographed (by Jack Cardiff, in Technicolor), a post-war gem and a definite influence on the Coen brothers’ brilliant THE HUSUCKER PROXY (1994). It has great effects, too. Geoffrey Unsworth is credited as camera operator. Released in the States as STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN.

Maurice (1987, GBR) C-140m. *** D: James Ivory. Starring James Wilby, Hugh Grant, Rupert Graves, Denholm Elliott, Simon Callow, Billie Whitelaw, Ben Kingsley, Judy Parfitt. Good drama about the homosexual awakening of a Cambridge student, who is devastated upon his lover's decision to marry in order to regain his place in society, but finds romance and love soon later in a gamekeeper. Based on E.M. Forster's novel, which represents Forster's coming to terms with his own homosexuality. The book, written and set in the 1910s, was published posthumously in 1971. A daring subject matter, brought to the screen with taste and skill. From the makers of A ROOM WITH A VIEW and HOWARDS END.

Mauvais Sang (1986, FRA) C-128m. *** D: Leos Carax. Starring Michel Piccoli, Juliette Binoche, Denis Lavant, Hans Meyer, Julie Delpy, Carroll Brooks, Hugo Pratt, Michelle Perrier, Serge Reggiani. Well-acted, brilliantly directed, photographed and edited sci-fi noir drama, a perfect example of form triumphing over content. Plot (Lavant’s involvement with crime organisation that intends to steal important serum and his love affairs with Binoche and Delpy) loses importance in light of director Carax’s artistry. Slightly pretentious and overlong, and a matter of taste, but artistically brilliant. Lavant is hypnotic in the lead role, rest of cast equally good. Features a hit song by David Bowie. English title: BAD BLOOD.

Max et les Ferrailleurs (1971, FRA/ITA) C-106m. *** D: Claude Sautet. Starring Michel Piccoli, Romy Schneider, Bernard Fresson, Georges Wilson, Michel Creton, Philippe Léotard, Dominique Zardi. Acclaimed crime drama about frustrated police detective Piccoli, who plots to catch criminals by setting up a robbery for them. He befriends one of the gang’s hangers-on, prostitute Schneider, and drops hints pretending to be a banker. Dialogue-driven character drama – a specialty of Sautet – cold but interesting to watch and well-acted. This film meant Schneider’s international breakthrough. Good score by Philippe Sarde. Based on the novel by Claude Néron. English titles: MAX AND THE JUNKMEN.

Maximum Overdrive (1986, USA) C-97m. Scope D: Stephen King. Starring Emilio Estevez, Pat Hingle, Laura Harrington, Yeardley Smith, John Short, Giancarlo Esposito, Stephen King. Stupid horror movie marked the beginning and end of novelist Stephen King’s career as a movie director. Based on his story, film deals with trucks that run wild and kill people at a truck stop, all of which might have something to do with a comet passing by. Some nice destruction work and AC/DC’s songs save this from the scrap heap. Remade as TRUCKS (1997) for television.

M. Butterfly (1993, USA) C-101m. ** D: David Cronenberg. Starring Jeremy Irons, John Lone, Barbara Sukowa, Ian Richardson, Annabel Leventon, Shizuko Hoshi, Richard McMillan. Drama about a French diplomat's affair with a Chinese opera singer in China of the 1960s is unusual, if not entirely atypical Cronenberg fare. David Henry Hwang's play was a hit on stage, but on film the storytelling is weak and the surprising twist at the end not at all a surprise. What's left is another one of Irons compelling performances as the diplomat (he had worked with Cronenberg five years earlier on the superior DEAD RINGERS), some fine photography and a typically good score by Howard Shore. Like all of Cronenberg's later films deals with a destructive obsession, and his followers are advised to give this one a look.

McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971, USA) C-121m. Scope *** D: Robert Altman. Starring Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, Keith Carradine, William Devane. Good but not entirely successful western drama focusing on the lives of the title characters who become business partners running a saloon and a bordello. Well-photographed and acted, film is arresting from start to finish but Altman seems to have put in too much detail of Edmund Naughton’s novel. Carradine’s appearance, for example, is simply pointless. Still, an intelligent anti-western that reverses the usual clichés promoted by other Hollywood westerns. Leonard Cohen’s songs on the soundtrack are used excessively in the first 30 minutes and then unfortunately disappear abruptly.

Mean Creek (2004, USA) C-90m. **½ D: Jacob Aaron Estes. Starring Rory Culkin, Ryan Kelley, Scott Mechlowicz, Trevor Morgan, Josh Peck, Carly Schroeder. Adventure drama about school boy Culkin and his older brother, who along with other friends plan a scheme to take the local bully on a boating trip and teach him a lesson. On their way, they change their minds, realizing he is a vulnerable guy trying to be nice. Then a fatal accident happens… Interesting examination of teen sensitivities, dramatically uneven, but still quite powerful. Benefits from quiet score by tomandandy. Written by the director.

Medea (1969, ITA/FRA/GER) C-110m. *** D: Pier Paolo Pasolini. Starring Maria Callas, Massimo Girotti, Laurent Terzieff, Giuseppe Gentile, Margareth Clementi. The Euripides tragedy in an intellectually challenging film version by a director with theater experience. Callas plays the part of Medea, a woman who helps Iason to steal the Golden Fleece and subsequently becomes his wife. However, she is unable to adapt to the culture in her husband’s home country. Good acting by Callas, who sang the part in an opera version in the early 1950s, excellent music (co-authored by Pasolini), impressive outdoor photography, but not easily accessible as a whole. Minimal dialogue, the pictures speak for themselves. Filmed again in 1988 by Lars von Trier for Danish television.

Medea (1988, DAN) C-79m. ***½ D: Lars von Trier. Starring Udo Kier, Kirsten Olesen, Henning Jensen, Solbjorg Hojfeldt, Preben Lerdorff Rye, Baard Owe, Ludmilla Glinska. Artistically stunning adaptation of the Greek tragedy by Euripides, originally conceived by Danish master director Carl Theodor Dreyer and Preben Thomsen. Unlike Pasolini’s version, this one begins when Jason (Kier) has already left Medea (Olesen) to marry the King’s daughter Glauce (Glinska). The script focuses on Medea’s inner pain and need for revenge, which is most tragic. Director von Trier’s brilliant visual style shapes this tragedy; it is backed by a superb dramatic score (by Joachim Holbek). A haunting experience, but mainly for a demanding audience. Von Trier refined his style even more for his next film, EUROPA. Made for TV.

Medicine Ball Caravan (1971, USA/FRA) C-90m. Scope **½ D: François Reichenbach. Starring B.B. King, Alice Cooper, Delaney and Bonnie, Doug Kershaw, David Peel. Documentary about a group of hippies touring the U.S., with concert footage of artists listed above. Sometimes interesting, but too obviously filmed without a script. A failed attempt at copying Michael Wadleigh’s WOODSTOCK.

Medusa Touch, The (1978, GBR/FRA) C-105m. *** D: Jack Gold. Starring Richard Burton, Lino Ventura, Lee Remick, Harry Andrews, Alan Badel, Marie-Christine Barrault, Gordon Jackson, Derek Jacobi. Interesting supernatural chiller about mystery writer Burton, who’s convinced that he has telekinetic powers. When he is almost murdered, detective Ventura investigates and stumbles upon some startling evidence. Burton, lying in a coma, strangely doesn’t want to die. Is he working his powers from his death bed? And can psychiatrist Remick shed light on the mystery? Uneven, slightly overlong, too realistic for its own sake, but consistently interesting, even intriguing. Based on the novel by Peter Van Greenaway.

Meet Joe Black (1998, USA) C-181m. Scope **½ D: Martin Brest. Starring Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins, Claire Forlani, Jake Weber, Marcia Gay Harden, Jeffrey Tambor, David S. Howard. Death (Pitt) comes to Earth to learn what makes us human and wants billionaire Hopkins to show him "around". After he has seen everything, he will take his life. Hopkins can't believe his eyes and ears, and when Death falls in love with his daugher (Forlani), things get complicated. Second remake of the 1934 classic DEATH TAKES A HOLIDAY (which ran 78m.!) is way too long and simple, though Brest's sensitive handling of the subject matter makes it seem shorter than it actually is. After a draggy mid-section, the film ends bombastically in a tear-jerking finale. Especially for fans of the attractive Pitt and the earnest Hopkins.

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944, USA) C-113m. ***½ D: Vincente Minelli. Starring Judy Garland, Margaret O'Brien, Lucille Bremer, Tom Drake, Mary Astor, Leon Ames, Marjorie Main, June Lockhart. Classic MGM musical about a St. Louis family, their loves, fears and general happiness. Colorful, endearing and filled with many great songs, this one's for musical buffs and anyone who is looking for "perfect" family entertainment. Based on the book by Sally Benson, which credibly recreates turn-of-the-century St. Louis. Child actress Margaret O'Brien won a special Oscar for her delightful performance.

Meet the Feebles (1989, NZL) C-93m. *** D: Peter Jackson. Starring the voices and talents of Donna Akersten, Stuart Devenie, Mark Hadlow, Mark Wright, Danny Mulheron. … if you dare! Outrageous horror comedy, really a gross-out spoof of The Muppet Show, about a variety show run and performed by animal puppets:  Frustrated, aging hippo Heidi, the show’s star; an elephant who refuses to accept a hen’s child as his own (it’s evident that it’s his!); a sleazy rat that produced porn movies after hours; a dung-eating paparazzo fly; a puking rabbit; a love-sick hedgehog and a frog who’s a drug-addicted knife-thrower with a vietnam trauma. Funny, gory (and rather tasteless) comedy is unlike anything you have ever seen before. Deliciously steps over the line, but also works a lot of drama into the plot! And the songs (by Peter Dasent) aren’t bad either! A must-see for those whose stomachs can take it. Personal favorite: The Passage to India. Director Jackson (BAD TASTE, BRAINDEAD) also cowrote the story and made some of the puppets.

Meet the Fockers (2004, USA) C-115m. **½ D: Jay Roach. Starring Robert De Niro, Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman, Barbra Streisand, Blythe Danner, Teri Polo, Owen Wilson, Tim Blake Nelson. Follow-up to MEET THE PARENTS (2000) is similarly contrived but amusing comedy, where Stiller is taking Polo parents to meet his makers, Hoffman and Streisand, who are so unlike the conservative De Niro and Danner. Some tasteless gags mar the fun. Hoffman is incredibly energetic.

Meet the Parents (2000, USA) C-107m. ** D: Jay Roach. Starring Robert De Niro, Ben Stiller, Teri Polo, Blythe Danner, James Rebhorn, Owen Wilson. Male nurse Stiller travels with his love Polo to her parents’ estate to attend her sister’s marriage. Suspicious dad De Niro has doubts about his potential son-in-law, who, naturally, does everything to impress him. However, nothing seems to work that weekend. Comedy is quite funny in the beginning, then gets mean-spirited and finally painfully mean-spirited, as Stiller is presented as a complete jerk, which he isn’t at all. De Niro is simply delicious. Remake of a 1992 independent film.

Meet the Robinsons (2007, USA) C-102m. ** D: Stephen J. Anderson. Starring (the voices of) Angela Bassett, Daniel Hansen, Jordan Fry, Matthew Josten, Laurie Metcalf, Adam West, Tom Selleck. A twelve-year-old boy, abandoned by his mother at birth, grows up in an orphanage. His great talent at inventing things has kept him from finding suitable foster parents. One day he is whisked away into the future, where a certain family Robinson need his help against an evil guy who has stolen one of their time machines. Animated feature from Disney is so aggressively paced that the usual time-travel plot holes won’t matter, but film is also violent, mean-spirited and exploits the underprivileged (some characters are truly grotesque!). Reconciles the viewer somewhat with a good finale. Danny Elfman collaborated on the score (inaudibly). John Lasseter co-executive produced this movie.

Meilleure Facon de Marcher, La (1976, FRA) C-85m. **½ D: Claude Miller. Starring Patrick Dewaere, Patrick Bouchitey, Christine Pascal, Claude Piéplu, Marc Chapiteau, Michel Blanc. Several young men are working as instructors in a holiday camp for children. One of them (Bouchitey) cannot understand the low-brow humor and machismo of the others. When he is caught by fellow instructor Dewaere dressing up as a woman, the two men begin a very private feud, where Dewaere is out to humiliate, but keeps Bouchitay’s preferences a secret towards the others. Interesting, low-key drama suffers from miscasting of Dewaere, who is simply not credible as a macho (his character is extremely vile). Debut feature by the director of the underground cult MORTELLE RANDONNEE (1983) and DITES-LUI QUE JE L’AIME (1977). English titles: THE BEST WAY, THE BEST WAY TO WALK.

Mélodie en Sous-Sol (1963, FRA/ITA) 107m. Scope **½ D: Henri Verneuil. Starring Jean Gabin, Alain Delon, Viviane Romance, Claude Cerval, José Luis de Villalonga, Jean Carmet. Standard heist thriller, a disappointment given the involvement of director Verneuil and stars Gabin and Delon. Gabin plays an ex-con who joins forces with delinquent Delon, both wanting to steal a large sum of money from a casino in Cannes. Occasionally stylish, with a rich, bouncy score, but plot fails to create much interest, let alone suspense. Several alternative titles, the most common seeming to be ANY NUMBER CAN WIN.

Memento (2000, USA) C/B&W-113m. Scope *** D: Christopher Nolan. Starring Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano, Mark Boone Junior, Stephen Tobolowsky, Jorja Fox. Gripping if overlong thriller about insurance salesman Pearce, who has lost control over his life after his wife was raped and killed. He is suffering from short-term memory loss and is unable to remember anything after the accident. Using notes and tattoos, he tries to track down the killer. Who can he trust? Story unfolds backwards, resulting in a highly complicated and complex plot. Pay attention or get lost. Has cult film possibilities. Written by director Nolan and his brother Jonathan.

Mémés Cannibales, Les (1989, BEL/NED/FRA) C-89m. ** D : Emmanuel Kervyn. Starring Catherine Aymerie, Caroline Braeckman, Rochard Cotica, Danielle Daven, Patricia Davia, Robert Du Bois. Well, what can you expect from RABID GRANNIES? A family gathering to celebrate grannies’ birthdays turns into a bloodfest when the old ladies become infected with a zombie virus. Quite funny and rather nasty, too. Understandably received great acclaim among gorehounds, others needn’t bother. This is about as demented as BRAINDEAD (1992), only not as stylish or clever. Distributed by Troma Films in the U.S.

Men in Black (1997, USA) C-98m. **½ D: Barry Sonnenfeld. Starring Tommy Lee Jones, Will Smith, Linda Fiorentino, Rip Torn, Vincent D’Onofrio. Loud, special effects-ridden sci-fi comedy about secret government agency which „protects the world from the scum of the universe“. Sometimes funny, sometimes not, this comic book adaptation would be perfect for kids under 13 but some of the violence makes it unsuitable for just that audience. The roach man (the baddie of the movie), looking like a zombie, belongs into a horror film! Entertaining but pretty illogical sci-fi, produced by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Enter-tainment. Based on a comic by Lowell Cunningham.

Men Who Stare at Goats, The (2009, USA/GBR) C-94m. SCOPE *½ D : Grant Heslov. Starring George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Spacey, Stephen Lang, Robert Patrick. Barely funny satire based on the book by Joe Ronson about reporter McGregor, who travels to Iraq and chances to meet crackpot Clooney, who used to be on a secret ESP team for the CIA. Together they go on an odyssey through the war-torn country and in flashbacks we learn how the team was founded. One-joke movie has stars to offer but little more. Some liked it anyway.

Mépris, Le (1963, FRA/ITA) C-101m. Scope ***½ D: Jean-Luc Godard. Starring Brigitte Bardot, Michel Piccoli, Jack Palance, Georgia Moll, Fritz Lang. Languid, poetic, absolutely fascinating satirical drama about unsuccessful writer Piccoli, who is hired by film producer Palance to make a few changes in a script (Homer’s Odyssey) which Lang (playing himself!) is supposed to direct. Piccoli, however, is plagued by private problems with wife Bardot. Story-line is unconventional, the plot seems superficial at the beginning, but film is carried by brilliant, haunting Georges Delerue score and expertly entangles the audience. Beautiful Mediterranean location filming is breathtaking in color and widescreen. Based on a novel by Alberto Moravia. English title: CONTEMPT.

Meraviglie di Aladino, Le (1961, ITA/FRA) C-93m. Scope **½ D: Henry Levin, Mario Bava. Starring Donald O’Connor, Noelle Adam, Fausto Tozzi, Vittorio De Sica, Mario Girotti (=Terence Hill), Aldo Fabrizi, Michèle Mercier, Marco Tulli. Agreeable, colorful fantasy adventure about Aladdin (O’Connor), a boy from Bagdad, who discovers a genie inside his oil lamp and travels to a wedding, which an evil schemer (Tozzi) intends to foil. Interesting for the involvement of Mario Bava, who gave the film a nice look. O’Connor is quite funny but one wishes this was a little more serious and less whimsical. Still, quite violent for a kiddie film. Photographed by Tonino delli Colli (C’ERA UNA VOLTA IL WEST). Ducio Tessari and Franco Prosperi were among the screenwriters. English title: THE WONDERS OF ALADDIN.

Mercenario, Il (1968, ITA) C-105m. Scope **½ D: Sergio Corbucci. Starring Franco Nero, Tony Musante, Jack Palance, Giovanna Ralli. Loosely plotted but entertaining spaghetti western about mercenary Nero and Mexican revolutionary Musante who join forces against mine owners and rich people in general. Nothing special, yet surprisingly watchable. More or less remade as LOS COMPANEROS in 1970. Fine score by Ennio Morricone. U.S. titles: THE MERCENARY and A PROFESSIONAL GUN.

Merci Pour le Chocolat (2000, FRA/SUI) C-99m. *** D: Claude Chabrol. Starring Isabelle Huppert, Jacques Dutronc, Anna Mouglalis, Rodolphe Pauly, Brigitte Catillon, Isolde Barth. At 70 director Chabrol proves he is still in great form making his bourgeois crime dramas. Young Mouglalis learns that she may have been mixed up with another baby on the day of her birth and finds out her possible father is a concert pianist – like herself! She befriends the family, unknowing that they have a dark secret to protect. Good, thoughtful direction by Chabrol, well-acted by the entire cast, an unusual story adapted from Charlotte Armstrong’s The Chocolat Cobweb. Chabrol had filmed an Armstrong novel before in LA RUPTURE (1970). English title: NIGHTCAP.

Mercury Rising (1998, USA) C-111m. Scope **½ D: Harold Becker. Starring Bruce Willis, Alec Baldwin, Miko Hughes, Chi McBride, Kim Dickens, Robert Stanton, Peter Stormare. Fair thriller about FBI secret agent Willis, who has to protect an autistic boy who happens to have cracked a secret government code worth $2 billion. Baldwin plays an NSA executive who orders the boy to be killed. Unexceptional but well-paced, fairly exciting film. About as forgettable as director Becker’s last one, CITY HALL. Based on the novel Simple Simon by Ryne Douglas Pearson. Score by John Barry (James Bond).

Mermaid Chronicles Part 1: She Creature (2001, USA) C-90m. **½ D: Sebastian Gutierrez. Starring Rufus Sewell, Carla Gugino, Jim Piddock, Reno Wilson, Mark Aiken, Gil Bellows. Atmospheric, generally well-made fantasy about side show artists Sewell and Gugino, who discover a mermaid in turn-of-the-century Ireland and plan to abduct it. Little do they know about the danger they involve themselves in. Made-for-TV movie (obviously the first of an entire series) is flawed by slow pace and simple script, which draws its inspiration from ALIEN (1979). 

Mermaids (1990, USA) C-111m. *** D: Richard Benjamin. Starring Cher, Bob Hoskins, Winona Ryder, Michael Schoeffling, Christina Ricci. Entertaining, bittersweet comedy drama about mum Cher and her two daughters Ricci and Ryder, the latter being a virgin who falls in love for the first time. Cher herself is romancing Hoskins. Likeable, touching film, set in the 1960s, based on a novel by Patty Dann.

Mesogios Flegete, I (1970, GRE) C-86m. **½ D: Dimis Dadiras. Starring Costas Precas, Costas Carras, Olga Politou, Lycourgos Calergis. Greek war movie set in Greece of the early 1940s. Resistance fighters try to undermine the Nazi occupance, Politou even has an affair with a German lieutenant in order to steal classified information. Her lover is one of her own brother’s fiercest enemies. Earnest performances in poorly paced war drama, overall an okay view. English titles: THE MEDITERRANEAN IN FLAMES, and WARFLAMES.

Message in a Bottle (1999, USA) C-126m. *** D: Luis Mandoki. Starring Kevin Costner, Robin Wright Penn, Paul Newman, John Savage, Illeana Douglas, Robbie Coltrane, Jesse James. A divorced researcher for a New York newspaper (Wright Penn) one day finds a bottled message on the beach and immediately falls in love with its author (Costner). It turns out his wife has died of an illness, and they both begin a hesitant romance. Old-fashioned love story suffers from a languid and sometimes predictable presentation, but it's wonderfully acted by the stars and manages to put a lot of truth in the budding relationship of Wright Penn and Costner. A sensitively-handled tear-jerker, based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks.

Messengers, The (2007, USA/CDN) C-84m. ** D: Danny and Oxide Pang. Starring Kristen Stewart, Dylan McDermott, Penelope Ann Miller, John Corbett, Dustin Milligan, Brent Briscoe. US-debut for Asian shock artists the Pang Brothers is needlessly stupid and illogical ghost story set in rural North Dakota, where McDermott and his family have just bought a derelict farm that turns out to be haunted. Dozens of potent scares and shocks, kudos to the directors, but it’s all for naught with such a contrived, conventional story. Worst of all, perhaps, the title is never explained. Coproduced by Sam Raimi.

Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, The (1999, FRA/USA) C-160m. Scope ** D: Luc Besson. Starring Milla Jovovich, Dustin Hoffman, Faye Dunaway, John Malkovich, Tchéky Karyo, Pascal Greggory, Vincent Cassel, Timonthy West, Andrew Birkin. Historical spectacle about the title character, a young French farmers’ girl who claims to have been chosen by God in order to help France to defeat the English circa 1430. Distinctly 20th century dialogue and the fact that film doesn’t take itself seriously instantly disqualify this “epic”. Despite involvement of top talents, this seems more like a medieval version of TANK GIRL. Fast pace keeps this one alive. Hoffman, Malkovich and Dunaway have cameos at best. Not that bad, but war/religion theme and comic approach seem incompatible. Cowritten by director Besson and Andrew Birkin.

Meteor (1979, USA) C-107m. Scope ** D: Ronald Neame. Starring Sean Connery, Natalie Wood, Karl Malden, Brian Keith, Martin Landau, Trevor Howard, Henry Fonda, Ronald Neame, Sybil Danning. A meteor is on a collision course with Earth and scientist Connery is persuaded by hot-shot exec Malden to use the nuclear space weapon designed by him. One of the last big Hollywood disaster epics, but short on logic and – unfortunately – money. Effects are rather poor, attempts at some POSEIDON-esque drama are laughable at best. Only if you are a star-gazing disaster freak.

Metoroporisu (2001, JAP) C-107m. *** D: Rintaro (=Hayashi Shigeyuki). Starring (the voices of) Kei Kobayashi, Yuka Imoto, Kouki Okada, Tarô Ishida, Toshio Furukawa. Eye-popping anime is an updating of Fritz Lang’s classic METROPOLIS (1927). A young boy accompanies his private detective uncle to Metropolis, a megalopolis that is divided into several zones, with robots doing many basic jobs. During the search for a wanted scientist, amid the chaos and confusion of the city, they meet a mysterious android girl, who is supposed to become the city’s new leader. Marvelous, atmospheric settings and bombastic action set-pieces easily outdo relative coldness of the plot. Based on a comic book by Osamu Tezuka. Elaborate score makes odd use of songs sometimes. English titles: METROPOLIS, and ROBOTIC ANGEL.

Meurtrier, Le (1962, FRA/ITA/GER) 110m. Scope *** D: Claude Autant-Lara. Starring Gert Fröbe, Maurice Ronet, Robert Hossein, Marina Vlady, Yvonne Furneaux. Ronet’s marriage is at breaking point but his wife Furneaux won’t divorce him, so he seeks inspiration from Fröbe, who was suspected of having killed his wife a few months earlier. When Ronet’s wife really dies, inspector Hossein enters the scene and sees in Ronet the prime suspect — but he denies all charges. First-rate crime drama (adapted from Patricia Highsmith’s The Blunderer) acted out by a first-rate cast. Slightly overlong, though, especially in painting Ronet’s marital problems. Great score by René Cloerec. Italian title: L’HOMICIDA. English title: ENOUGH ROPE. Released in the U.S. in 1966.

Mexican, The (2001, USA) C-123m. **½ D: Gore Verbinski. Starring Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, James Gandolfini, J.K. Simmons, Pedro Armendáriz Jr., Gene Hackman. Amusing crime comedy about loser Pitt, whose relationship with Roberts is going down the drain, especially after he must accept an assignment to pick up and bring back a legendary pistol from Mexico. Of course, things go awry and Roberts is kidnapped so that he doesn’t get any strange ideas. Overlong thriller is a perfect vehicle for Pitt. Some nice scenes and a fine score by Alan Silvestri (reminiscent of Ennio Morricone’s work for the Leone westerns) make this worthwhile.

Michael Angel (1998, USA) C-116m. *½ D: William Gove. Starring Dennis Hopper, Richard Grieco, Perri Lister, Michael Cole, Jesus M. Alvarez, Ivonne Coll, Jaime Bello. Hopper plays a serial killer who uses the blood of his victims for his abstract paintings. When priest Grieco’s homosexual brother is found murdered, he goes after the slasher however uncertain whether this is not breaking his faith in God. This one sounds much more interesting than it plays. It’s extremely slow, overlong, poorly produced and terribly pretentious. No wonder it premiered on cable television. Written by the director.

Mickey Blue Eyes (1999, USA/GBR) C-102m. *** D: Kelly Makin. Starring Hugh Grant, James Caan, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Burt Young, James Fox, Joe Viterelli. Amusing, entertaining comedy about auctioneer Grant, who is about to marry the daughter of an Italian businessman. It turns out her family are mobsters and unhappy Grant gets involved in their crimes and schemes. Most of the characters are stereotypes, but cast and funny script pull it off. Produced by Grant’s ex-girlfriend Elizabeth Hurley.

Microcosme (1996, FRA/SUI/ITA) C-75m. *** D: Claude Nuridsany, Marie Perennou. Fascinating documentary, filmed with special zoom lenses, takes the viewer into the world of the insects, butter-flies, beetles, bees, and many others. Almost no narration and rather incoherent, but incredible photography never lets it get boring. A must for documentary buffs; prize winner at the Cannes Film Festival.

Midnight (1982, USA) C-94m. M D: James Russo. Starring Monica Verliin (=Verlin), Lawrence Tierney, John Hall, Charles Jackson, Doris Hackney. Grade-Z slasher movie about a devil-cult family who abducts women and sacrifices them, all under the command of their mother. Young Verliin runs away from home and ends up with them. Strictly amateur night in terms of writing, acting, directing. Even the score is awful. Effects by Tom Savini are surprisingly not very good. Written by director Russo, based on his own novel. Followed by a sequel in 1993. Also known as BACKWOODS MASSACRE.

Midnight Cowboy (1969, USA) C-113m. ***½ D: John Schlesinger. Starring Dustin Hoffman, Jon Voight. Extraordinary character study with Voight a Texan hot shot who comes to New York expecting ‘to make’ it as a stud. He befriends sleazy ‘Ratso’ Hoffman and has to find out that life in the city is tougher than he thought. Outstanding drama has many stunning sequences and completely convincing per-formances by its stars. Film director Paul Morrissey is among the party guests.

Midnight Express (1978, USA) C-121m. ***½ D: Alan Parker. Starring Brad Davis, Irene Miracle, Bo Hopkins, Randy Quaid, John Hurt, Mike Kellin, Paul Smith. Penetrating true story about an American tourist (Davis) in Turkey who is caught smuggling hashish and put into a Turkish jail where the inmates are treated inhumanely. Arresting, compelling prison thriller, one of the best of its kind. Oscars went to Giorgio Moroder for his heart-pounding score and Oliver Stone for his fine screenplay.

Midnight Movies: From the Margin to the Mainstream (2005, CDN/USA) C-88m. *** D: Stuart Samuels. Featuring interviews with George A. Romero, Alejandro Jodorowsky, John Waters, Perry Henzell, David Lynch, Richard O’Brien, Roger Ebert, Lou Adler, Ben Barenholtz. Highly interesting documentary about the midnight movie phenomenon, which turned unusual, unconventional movies into cult hits in the early 1970s by placing them on the midnight spot in theaters (sometimes long after their initial release). Film focuses on six films that have become some of the biggest cult movies ever: NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968), EL TOPO (1970), PINK FLAMINGOS (1972), THE HARDER THEY COME (1972), THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (1975), and ERASERHEAD (1977). It turns out EL TOPO started it all! The directors appear in interviews and the phenomenon is examined in detail up to the time when home video put an end to it. A must for anyone interested in cult movies (=you!). From the director of VISIONS OF LIGHT (1992).

Midsummer Night's Dream, A (1999, USA/ITA) C-115m. Scope ** D: Michael Hoffman. Starring Kevin Kline, Michelle Pfeiffer, Rupert Everett, Stanley Tucci, Calista Flockhart, Anna Friel, Christian Bale, Dominic West, David Strathairn, Sophie Marceau, Roger Rees, Bernard Hill. Fourth film version of the Shakespeare play about love and intrigues in the world of humans and elves has nice production design but a very strange cast. Tucci is not so bad as Puck, Pfeiffer odd as Oberon's wife, and the pair of lovers is inauspicious (excepting Flockhart). Comes across as nice, but is neither very funny nor romantic. Kline makes the most of his comic part. Written by the director.

Miele del Diavolo, Il (1986, ITA/SPA) C-83m. **½ D: Lucio Fulci. Starring Corinne Clery, Brett Halsey, Blanca Marsillach, Stefano Madia, Lucio Fulci. Rare Lucio Fulci effort is a tale of sexual perversion about young Marsillach, who is in love with sexually insatiable saxophonist Madia. When he dies after a motorcycle accident, because of (sexually perverted) doctor Halsey, Marsillach starts harassing him and a sadistic-masochistic relationship between the two develops. Definitely not bad, despite subject matter, this even tries to be poetic. Well-worth a look for Fulci completists. Cowritten by the director, photographed by Alejandro Ulloa. English titles: THE DEVIL’S HONEY, DANGEROUS OBSESSION, DIVINE OBSESSION.

Mighty, The (1998, USA) C-100m. *** D: Peter Chelsom. Starring Sharon Stone, Gena Rowlands, Harry Dean Stanton, Gillian Anderson, James Gandolfini, Kieran Culkin, Elden Ratliff, Meat Loaf. Endearing, moving drama based on Rodman Philbrick’s novel Freak the Mighty about the unusual relationship between a physically handicapped but extremely intelligent boy (Culkin) and a dumb giant (Ratliff), who suffers from the fact that his father has murdered his mother. Bitter-sweet film works thanks to colourful supporting cast and a good score, but could have been much better. Recommended to children of all ages.

Mighty Joe Young (1998, USA) C-114m. *** D: Ron Underwood. Starring Bill Paxton, Charlize Theron, Rade Serbedzija, Regina King, Peter Firth, Naveen Andrews, Lawrence Pressman, Terry Moore, Ray Harryhausen. Well-produced, well-filmed remake of the 1949 monster movie classic (itself a variation of KING KONG). Paxton plays a kind-hearted scientist, who is fascinated by an African legend of a giant gorilla and travels to the place where he is said to roam. He finds a young woman (Theron), who grew up with the beast. He manages to convince her to ship the ape to the U.S., where predictable complications ensue. Rousing adventure, good for kids and adults, though a bit long. Impressive monster created by Rick Baker.

Milano Calibro 9 (1972, ITA) C-101m. ** D: Fernando Di Leo. Starring Gastone Moschin, Barbara Bouchet, Mario Adorf, Frank Wolff, Luigi Pistilli, Ivo Garrani, Philippe Leroy, Lionel Stander, Fernando Di Leo. Above-average Italian police thriller, quite an early example of its time. Moschi is released form prison and immediately under attack from mobsters. Where are the $300,000 that he stole before being arrested? Meanwhile, the police are fighting their own war against crime. Ambitious crime melodrama lacks a compelling, fast-paced plotline, but good score by Luis Bacalov still provides depth. English titles: CALIBER 9, and THE CONTRACT.

Milano Odia: La Polizia Non Può Sparare (1974, ITA) C-99m. Scope **½ D: Umberto Lenzi. Starring Tomas Milian, Laura Belli, Henry Silva, Gino Santercole, Anita Strindberg, Guido Alberti, Ray Lovelock. Gritty, violent, fast-paced crime thriller about sadistic, ruthless crook Milian, who conspires to kidnap the daughter of a wealthy businessman and coldbloodedly kills everyone in the way. Frustrated cop Silva makes this case his personal crusade against the Milanese crime scene. Milian is perfect as the villain (one of the most sadistic in film history), Lenzi’s direction is fluid and his social commentary not that unrealistic or out of place (as some critics believed). Unsettling score by Ennio Morricone. One of the best Italian crime films (poliziotto) of the period. Do not view if easily offended, though. A cult film for those who don’t object to film’s morale. Released abroad in 1980 as ALMOST HUMAN and THE KIDNAP OF MARY LOU.

Mille et Une Recettes du Cuisinier Amoureux, Les (1996, FRA/GRG/GER) C-97m. *** D: Nana Djordjaze. Starring Pierre Richard. A gallery owner stumbles by chance upon some documents written by famous cook Pascal Ichak, which prove that his mother had an affair with the man. In flashback sequences, which make up the most part of the film, we are told Ichak’s life in Georgia, the place he chose to live in his older days. He fell in love with the country’s cuisine and became a cook and a restaurant owner himself. Fine, titillating drama with a wonderful performance by Richard as Ichak, a man who always knew how to enjoy life. He even tried to defy the rise of Communism as it threatened his happiness. Highly recommended to lovers of European art cinema and gourmets of any conviction. Title means ‘A Thousand and One Recipes of a Cook in Love’.

Mille Milliards de Dollars (1982, FRA) C-132m. ***½ D: Henri Verneuil. Starring Patrick Dewaere, Michel Auclaire, Caroline Cellier, Charles Denner, Anny Duperey, Jeanne Moreau, Mel Ferrer, André Falcon. Dewaere (in his next-to-last film before his suicide) plays a journalist, who receives mysterious information about an industrial magnate and begins to investigate. It turns out that the man had connections to a world-wide operating conglomerate… and their methods are more than questionable. Is Dewaere on to a conspiracy? Riveting political thriller, much in the vein of Verneuil’s masterpiece, the brilliant I… COMME ICARE (1979), poses intriguing questions about the nature and the ethics of such global players. Not always on target, but very well-told, a winner. Verneuil based his script on novels by Robert Lattes and Lawrence Meyer. Excellent piano score by Philippe Sarde. English title: A THOUSAND BILLION DOLLARS.

Miller’s Crossing (1990, USA) C-115m. *** D: Joel Coen. Starring Gabriel Byrne, Marcia Gay Harden, John Turturro, Jon Polito, J.E. Freeman, Albert Finney, Steve Buscemi, Michael Badalucco, Sam Raimi, Frances McDormand. Elegant, stylish homage to gangster films a la THE GODFATHER trilogy, set in the late 1920s. Byrne is mafia boss Finney’s bookie/counselor, but can’t keep his hands off his boss’s dame Harden. To complicate matters further, Finney is about to start a war with kingpin Polito, and Byrne may change sides. The Coen Brothers’ third film has some magnificent cinematography (by Barry Sonnenfeld), a first-rate score (Carter Burwell) and some truly astonishing sequences (the dead man’s hairpiece, the scenes at Miller’s Crossing, The Dane’s demise etc.), it’s too bad that the plot lacks dramatic impact. Byrne’s character is underwritten and too cold, perhaps as calculating as the movie itself. Still, a must for Coen fans, if only to indulge in their visual style. All the supporting actors are excellent, especially Polito, Turturro and Freeman. Supposedly, a loose adaptation of Dashiel Hammett’s Red Harvest and Glass Key.

Million Dollar Baby (2004, USA) C-132m. Scope *** D: Clint Eastwood. Starring Clint Eastwood, Hilary Swank, Morgan Freeman, Jay Baruchel, Mike Colter. Quiet but powerful drama about aged boxing instructor Eastwood, who reluctantly agrees to coach determined 31-year-old woman Swank. A movie about friendship, love and determination, extremely well-told. Almost a throwback to 1970s character dramas, but its deliberate pace is not a flaw. Winner of 4 Oscars including Best Picture, Best Direction, Best Actress (Swank) and Best Supporting Actor (for Freeman, who is terrific). Eastwood also did the music for this one and coproduced.

Million Dollar Hotel, The (2000, USA) C-122m. Scope ** D: Wim Wenders. Starring Milla Jovovich, Jeremy Davies, Mel Gibson, Jimmy Smits, Peter Stormare, Amanda Plummer, Gloria Stuart, Tom Bower, Donal Logue, Bud Cort, Julian Sands. Weird, eccentric drama written by Bono Vox (lead singer of the pop group U2) about a bunch of social drop-outs, most of them crazy, who live in the house of the title. Gibson plays a CIA special agent who intends to clear up the mystery of one inhabitant’s suicide. In his investigations he is urged by the dead man’s rich father to find someone who is responsible. Worth watching for some truly wacked-out performances (Stormare is a hoot), but script goes absolutely nowhere. Obviously a matter of taste, aided by director Wenders stylish approach. Bono also contributed some songs to the sondtrack.

Millions (2004, GBR/USA) C-98m. *** D: Danny Boyle. Starring Alex Etel, Lewis McGibbon, James Nesbitt, Daisy Donovan, Christopher Fulford. Quite an unlikely follow-up to Boyle’s own 28 DAYS LATER… (2002), this is set in suburban England, where a little boy, who has just moved to a new neighborhood with his father and brother, finds a suitcase full of money just before Christmas. With only days before the British pound switches to the Euro (fictionally only!), rendering the bills useless, the boys have to make up their minds fast what to do with the money. Interesting, telling examination of morals and religious implications, done in the same inimitable style as Boyle’s A LIFE LESS ORDINARY (1997). Good score by John Murphy.

Mimic (1997, USA) C-105m. *** D: Guillermo del Toro. Starring Mira Sorvino, Jeremy Northam, Charles S. Dutton, Alexander Goodwin, Giancarlo Giannini, Josh Brolin, F. Murray Abraham. Mira Sorvino plays a scientist who creates genetically changed cockroaches in order to wipe out the normal ones, which are carrying a disease that is affecting small children. Three years after the successful experiment, she is faced with what has become of these creatures: giant, man-eating insects that are inhabiting New York’s subway and sewer channels. Tense, scary horror from the director of the acclaimed CRONOS. Well-made, suspenseful, if not entirely logical. Highly recommended to fans of the genre. After such an oppressively atmospheric film you’ll be happy to return to your everyday life (stepping on each cockroach you’ll see)! Cowritten by del Toro. Coproduced by Ole Bornedal (NATTEVAGTEN).

Mimi wo Sumaseba (1995, JAP) C-111m. **** D: Yoshifumi Kondo. Starring (the voices of) Youko Honna, Kazuo Takahashi, Takashi Tachibana, Shigeru Muroi, Shigeru Tsuyuguchi, Keiju Kobayashi. Bookworm Honna, on the verge of puberty, finds out there’s somebody who has checked out the same books that she’s been reading and sets out to find him, her soulmate? Although she really ought to study for her school entrance exams, she finds herself drawn to an old antique shop and the owner’s son, a violin-maker. Simply wonderful drama about love, friendship, growing-up, the pangs of puberty, and most importantly, self-confidence, is lovingly animated and beautifully scored. A masterpiece, written and produced by Hayao Miyazaki for Studio Ghibli, one of their very best achievements. The story within the story is a gem! Based on a one-volume manga by Aoi Hîragi. Sadly, this was Miyazaki protégé Kondo’s only film as a director. He died of an aneurysm in 1998. Two of the characters (The Baron and Muta) returned in the 2002 Ghibli feature NEKO NO ONGAESHI (THE CAT RETURNS). English title: WHISPER OF THE HEART.

Minagoroshi no Reika (1968, JAP) B&W-90m. SCOPE *** D: Tai Kato. Starring Chieko Baisho, Yuki Kawamura, Sanae Nakahara, Ran Fan O, Makoto Satô. Five women become the target of a killer, but the motive or reason is more than obscure. It may have something to do with the suicide of a delivery boy. Difficult to watch and not really enjoyable (also due to slow pace and labored plotting), but psycho drama has a way of creeping up to you and has some powerful moments towards the end. Fine black-and-white cinematography and good score make this worthwhile for buffs. Also known as I, THE EXECUTIONER, and GOSPEL FOR GENOCIDE.

Mind of Mr. Soames, The (1969, GBR) C-96m. *** D: Alan Cooke. Starring Terence Stamp, Robert Vaughn, Nigel Davenport, Christian Roberts, Jody Parfitt. Unspectacular science-fiction about a man (Stamp) who has spent his whole life (30 years) in a coma and is woken up by scientists Vaughn and Davenport. The two differ in their opinion about how to teach him all the knowledge necessary and Vaughn slowly finds access to the child-like man. Intriguing premise might have been played out more intelligently and lacks certain technical and dramatic elegance, but basic points do come across. Based on the novel by N.N.

Ming Patriots, The (1975, HGK) C-87m. Scope D: Au Yeung-Chuen. Starring Li Shiao-Lung (=Bruce Li), Bruce Chen, Chang Yu, Ka Ling. In the 17th century a princess of the Ming dynasty is on the run from Manchu warriors who have killed her family. A ‘drunken master’ comes to her aid. One-dimensional eastern with a violent finale.

Minnesota Clay (1964, ITA/SPA/FRA) C-90m. Scope ** D: Sergio Corbucci. Starring Cameron Mitchell, Fernando Sancho, Alberto Cevenini, Georges Rivière, Ethel Rojo. Lackluster spaghetti western about the title character (played by Mitchell), who escapes from prison and seeks out the man who can prove his innocence. However, Clay is going blind and this complicates things. Ambitious plot, but poor dialogues and pace, this lacks the finesse of later westerns. Corbucci followed this with the classic DJANGO (1966). Edited by Franco Fraticelli. Reportedly, Mario Bava gave (uncredited) technical advice.

Minority Report (2002, USA) C-145m. Scope **½ D: Steven Spielberg. Starring Tom Cruise, Max von Sydow, Colin Farrell, Steve Harris, Neal McDonough, Patrick Kilpatrick, Samantha Morton, Jessica Capshaw, Jessica Harper, Peter Stormare, cameos by Cameron Crowe, Cameron Diaz. In the mid-21st century, a so-called pre-crime organization makes use of psychics to intercept criminals before they commit a murder. One day, pre-crime exec Cruise is forced to run for it when he finds out that he himself is going to kill somebody. Big-scale adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s short story is cold and calculated for most of the way and provides a technical overkill (although some of the ideas are impressive). Should have been much more intriguing and suspenseful. Also, it owes more than a bit to the superior STRANGE DAYS (1996). Coproduced by Jan de Bont.

Minus Man, The (1999, USA) C-112m. **½ D: Hampton Fancher. Starring Owen Wilson, Sheryl Crow, Dwight Yoakam, Dennis Haysbert, Alex Warren, Brian Cox, Mercedes Ruehl, Janeane Garofalo. Quiet psycho drama about friendly but mentally disturbed serial killer Wilson, who travels from town to town, ending up as a tenant in Cox and Ruehl’s house. He soon carries on with his murders without being particularly auspicious. Quite well-filmed and appealing but basically shapeless and even pointless. Written by director Fancher (scriptwriter for BLADE RUNNER), based on the novel by Lew McCreary.

Minuto per Pregare, un Instante per Morire, Un (1968, ITA/SPA) C-97m. **½ D: Franco Giraldi. Starring Alex Cord, Arthur Kennedy, Mario Brega, Nicoletta Machiavelli, Robert Ryan. Low-key spaghetti western about handicapped outlaw Cord, whose exploits take him to the city of Escondidou in New Mexico, where he attempts to gain amnesty from governor Ryan. Unusually mild-mannered and serious for the genre, this western has its defenders and is definitely worth a look. However, if you want action, look elsewhere. Produced and cowritten by Albert Band. Score by Carlo Rustichelli. Also known as A MINUTE TO PRAY, A SECOND TO DIE and OUTLAW GUN.

Mio Caro Assassino (1971, ITA/SPA) C-100m. Scope **½ D: Tonino Valerii. Starring George Hilton, Salvo Randone, William Berger, Manuel Zarzo, Patty Shepard, Piero Lulli, Tullio Valli, Marilù Tolo. Police detective Hilton investigates a series of grisly killings, all possibly linked to a kidnapping case. Mediocre, rather talky and quite violent giallo is elevated by one of Ennio Morricone’s more sinister scores. Worth a look, especially for genre fans. Edited by Franco Fraticelli, cowritten by director Valerii. English title: MY DEAR KILLER.

Mio Min Mio (1987, SWE/NOR/RUS) C-99m. *** D: Vladimir Grammatikov. Starring Nick Pickard, Christian Bale, Timothy Bottoms, Susannah York, Christopher Lee. Adaptation of the children’s fantasy by Swedish author Astrid Lindgren about an orphan who feels unloved by his foster parents and escapes to a medieval fantasy world, where his father is king and he has to defeat an evil knight (Lee). A bit naive and slowly paced, but a welcome change from Hollywood sensibilities. Kids will find this exciting. Pickard is not fully up to the lead role, Bale plays his friend and helper in the quest. Filmed in English. English title: MIO IN THE LAND OF FARAWAY.

Mio Nome è Nessuno, Il (1973, ITA/GER/SPA) C-130m. Scope *** D: Tonino Valerii. Starring Terence Hill, Henry Fonda, Jean Martin, Piero Lulli, Leo Gordon, R.G. Armstrong, Mario Brega. Retiring gunslinger Fonda faces his last challenge in super-fast aspiring revolverman Hill. Latter-day spaghetti western wavers rather uncomfortably between melancholy drama and outright parody but remains likable and entertaining throughout. Overlong, eevn in the shorter German version, but Ennio Morricone’s self-parodying score keeps it afloat. Story credited to Sergio Leone. English title: MY NAME IS NOBODY.

Miracle Mile (1989, USA) C-80m. *½ D: Steve DeJarnatt. Starring Anthony Edwards, Mare Winningham, John Agar, Lou Hancock, Denise Crosby. Incredible, at times even ridiculous sci-fi about nerdish Edwards, who learns by chance that an atomic war has been started and the end of the world is only 75 minutes away. Film tries to look at mass hysteria, but fails miserably. Originally shown at 87m.

MirrorMask (2005, GBR/USA) C-101m. **½ D: Dave McKean. Starring Jason Barry, Rob Brydon, Stephanie Leonidas, Gina McKee, Dora Bryan, Stephen Fry, Dave McKean. Brilliantly designed film about down-to-earth young teenager Leonidas, whose mother has an impending operation and whose family circus is about to break apart. In this critical situation the artistically gifted girl flees into a dream world that she has created with her drawings, where people wear masks and  she must save the life of a queen. Bizarre visuals carry the stamp of writer Neil Gaiman, who penned the screenplay with director McKean. Leonidas is remarkable. Unfortunately, overall bizarreness generally outweighs the plot, so that many viewers will be put off. Still, an interesting, ambitious film that recalls fantasy films like LABYRINTH or even THE WIZARD OF OZ.

Miss Congeniality (2000, USA) C-109m. **½ D: Donald Petrie. Starring Sandra Bullock, Michael Caine, Benjamin Bratt, William Shatner, Ernie Hudson, William Shatner. Bullock plays an FBI agent, who’s after an elusive criminal and is persuaded to go undercover as a contestant for the Miss United States show, where the next killing is presumed to take place. Quite funny, fast-paced comedy is enjoyable on a non-think basis. Bullock looks adorable, and Caine lends her professional support as the expert who tries to get her into shape. Climactic show is best part. Produced by Bullock.

Mission, The (1999, HGK) C-86m. Scope **½ D: Johnny To. Starring Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Francis Ng, Jackie Lui Chung-Yin, Roy Cheung, Simon Yam. One of literally hundreds of gangster movies produced in Hong Kong after the (re-)creation of the genre by John Woo. This one has a novel twist: Five bodyguards are followed in their daily (really mostly nightly) routines. Nothing to get excited about, though the direction and camerawork show some style (especially in the use of wide-angle lenses). Original title: CHEUNG FO.

Mission: Impossible (1996, USA) C-110m. Scope **½ D: Brian De Palma. Starring Tom Cruise, Jon Voight, Emmnuelle Béart, Henry Czerny, Jean Reno, Ving Rhames, Kristin Scott Thomas, Vanessa Red-grave, Emilio Estevez. Danny Elfman’s reworking of Lalo Schifrin’s score is best thing about this attempt to turn the long-running TV series of the 60s and 70s into a feature film. Cruise stars as Ethan Hunt, a specialist for extremely difficult missions issued by a secret branch of the government. In Prague, he is framed for betraying his own ‘firm’ and along with colleague Béart tries to find out who brought him into this situation. Gadget-laden, at times exciting, but also confusing and filled with stereotypes. The finale is spectacular, but weak script dulls its effect. Fans of the series would do better to rewatch some old episodes.

Mission: Impossible II (2000, USA) C-123m. Scope ** D: John Woo. Starring Tom Cruise, Dougray Scott, Thandie Newton, Ving Rhames, Richard Roxburgh, Brendan Gleeson, Rade Serbedzija, Anthony Hopkins. Sequel to the 1996 blockbuster is even louder and more annoying, as secret agent Ethan Hunt (Cruise) must recover deadly virus stolen by rival spy Scott. Starts okay, but you’ll want to walk out on the movie after an hour. Stay, if you want to catch the bombastic final fight. Relatively little action, hardly anything interesting in the plot – what’s left is expert Woo’s usually stylish direction. Written by Robert Towne(!).

Mission: Impossible III (2006, USA) C-126m. Scope **½ D: J.J. Abrams. Starring Tom Cruise, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ving Rhames, Billy Crudup, Michelle Monaghan, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Keri Russell, Maggie Q, Simon Pegg, Eddie Marsan, Laurence Fishburne, Sasha Alexander. Second sequel to the TV series’ big-screen adaptation is okay action fare as Cruise investigates the death of a partner, who died spying on weapons dealer Hoffman. What is the villain’s next move? The mission brings Cruise into the Vatican and Shanghai, but the action and the plot are so removed from reality they qualify as pure fantasy. You watch things at an emotional distance and don’t really care about anything.

Mission to Mars (2000, USA) C-114m. Scope **½ D: Brian De Palma. Starring Gary Sinise, Tim Robbins, Don Cheadle, Connie Nielsen, Jerry O’Donnell, Kim Delaney, Elise Neal, Armin Müller-Stahl. Uneven, muddled space drama, a failed attempt to create the movie magic from better movies such as CONTACT or even 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. First Mars mission encounters strange phenomena, rescue mission headed by Robbins are out to help. Film is not at all interesting for the first 40 minutes, then manages to create some suspense, only to end in an incredibly overblown finale. Only occasionally fascinating, not the space opera intended.

Mister X (1967, ITA/SPA) C-90m. SCOPE *½ D: Piero Vivarelli. Starring Norman Clark (=Pier Paolo Capponi), Franco Fantasia, Armando Calvi, Helga Liné, Umberto Raho. Endlessly talky spy drama about a DIABOLIK-like spy, who baffles the  police and criminals. He takes revenge on a crime boss who killed his girlfriend. Even for fans, a most tiresome venture. Score is one long jazz impro. Vivarelli (co-writer of DJANGO) followed this with SATANIK (1968). Also known as AVENGER X.

Modern Vampyres (1999, USA) C-95m. *½ D: Richard Elfman. Starring Caspar Van Dien, Natasha Wagner, Rod Steiger, Udo Kier, Robert Pastorelli, Kim Cattrall, Gabriel Casseus. Yet another vampire movie, and this time pure trash. Rod Steiger plays Dr. Frederick Van Helsing, vampire hunter, who has come to L.A. to exterminate some bloodsuckers. It turns out the Count (Pastorelli) is at odds with some of the resident vampires. Trashy, gory, realized on a meager budget. Score by Danny Elfman(!). Alternative title: REVENANT.

Môjû (1969, JAP) C-86m. Scope ***½ D: Yasuko Masamura. Starring Eiji Funakoshi, Mako Midori, Noriko Sengoku. Raw, powerful drama about a young, ambitious fashion model, who finds herself kidnapped one day by a blind sculptor, who intends to keep her in his bizarre studio until he has completed the perfect sculpture. He is aided by his overbearing mother in this crazy scheme. Stylishly shot psycho drama has a fine, creepy score and three brilliantly intense performances. Hard to take at times and slightly uneven, but packs a wallop, especially for cult movie fans. From a story by horror/mystery writer Rampo Edogawa, an interesting, darker, typically Japanese variation of William Wyler’s THE COLLECTOR (1965). English titles: BLIND BEAST, WAREHOUSE.

mommy (1995, USA) C-89m. M D: Max Allan Collins. Starring Patricia McCormack, Rachel Lemieux, Jason Miller, Brinke Stevens, Kevin McCarthy, Mickey Spillane. Atrocious “thriller” about mother McCormack, who loves her daughter so much she doesn’t shy away from murder. Slowly paced low-budget movie that telegraphs its punches. Features what is probably the most idiotic mother-daughter relationship put on film. Inspired by THE BAD SEED (1956) and incredibly followed by a sequel in 1997.

Monaca nel Peccato, La (1986, ITA) C-91m. *½ D: Dario Donati (=Joe D’Amato). Starring Eva Grimaldi, Karin Well, Gabriele Gori, Jessica Moore, Gabriele Tinti. Rather terrible sex drama set in a convent, where newcomer Grimaldi is subject to all kinds of sexual molestation. Film has shades of a real plot, but episodic scenes are repetitive, and overwhelming nudity (in a semi-serious film) becomes off-putting. For those who think D’Amato is a good director. He also edited and photographed this film, whose English title was THE CONVENT OF SINNERS. Based on the novel Le Religieuse by Denis Diderot.

Monday (2000, JAP) C-100m. **½ D: Sabu (=Hiroyuki Tanaka). Starring Shin’ichi Tsutsumi, Yasuko Matsuyuki, Ren Osugi, Masanobu Ando, Hideki Noda. Another one of director Sabu’s off-beat comedy dramas, this one is very close to the loser portrayals of Jim Jarmusch. Clerk Tsutsumi wakes up in a hotel room one day, without any memory. It turns out he freaked out during a funeral and got mixed up with the local Yakuza. Not consistently funny, but Sabu’s fans should get their money’s worth.

Mondo dell’Orrore di Dario Argento, Il (1985, ITA) C-70m. *** D: Michele Soavi. Featuring Dario Argento, Luciano Tovoli. Early documentary on the leading European horror film director Dario Argento. Argento himself speaks about his films, the techniques he used in them and his fascination with horror in general. Enlightening for his fans, interesting for film buffs in general. Clips of all his films are shown, starting with L’UCCELLO DALLE PIUME DI CRISTALLO (1970) and ending with PHENOMENA (1984) and DEMONI (1985). Unfortunately also reveals the climaxes of all these movies, so you should stay away if you plan to watch the films. Director Soavi was Argento’s assistant and went on to make the stylish slasher AQUARIUS (1986). Followed by two more documentaries: DARIO ARGENTO – MASTER OF HORROR (1991) and IL MONDO DI DARIO ARGENTO 3 (1997).

Money From Home (1953, USA) C-100m. **½ D: George Marshall. Starring Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Pat Crowley, Robert Strauss, Jack Kruschen. Typical Martin/Lewis vehicle, but not so funny as others: Martin flees from gangsters, taking bumbling idiot Lewis with him. They get involved in the kidnapping of a jockey and fall in love. Episodic plot, good for some laughs. Originally released in 3-D.

MonkeyBone (2001, USA) C-92m. M D: Henry Selick. Starring Brendan Fraser, Bridget Fonda, Chris Kattan, Dave Foley, Whoopi Goldberg, Giancarlo Esposito, Rose McGowan, Lisa Zane, Stephen King. Just when he’s ready to take a break from work, famous comic book artist Fraser has an accident which puts him in a coma. He enters a strange dream world, from which only his creation, the mischievous chimp MonkeyBone manages to escape – using Fraser’s body. Absolutely annoying fantasy comedy with painful gags. One of those children’s (or: childish) movies that should be R-rated. Almost unwatchable, a major disappointment from the director of such instant classics as NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS (1993) and JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH (1996). Based on the graphic novel Dark Town.

Monkey Shines (1988, USA) C-113m. **½ D: George A. Romero. Starring Jason Beghe, John Pankow, Kate McNeil, Joyce Van Patten, Christine Forrest, Stanley Tucci. Relatively unexciting horror about paralyzed Beghe, who takes in little pet monkey to help him, then pays price for Pankow’s tampering with its brain. Solidly made, ambitious (for 80s horror), but too slow and/or too long. Scripted by Romero, from a novel by Michael Stewart. Also called MONKEY SHINES: AN EXPERIMENT IN FEAR.

Monkey’s Mask, The (2000, AUS/FRA/ITA/CDN/JAP) C-93m. Scope *** D: Samantha Lang. Starring Susie Porter, Kelly McGillis, Marton Csokas, Abbie Cornish, William Zappa, Brendan Cowell, John Noble. Quite atmospheric crime drama and character study set in Sydney about lesbian private eye Porter, who takes on case of young poet, who has been missing for some time and gets involved with university professor McGillis, who was one of her teachers. Interesting, well-scored adaptation of the novel by Dorothy Porter gives you what you expect.

Mon Seung (2006, HGK/THA) C-85m. *** D: Oxide Pang Chun. Starring Charlene Choi, Shawn Yue, Isabella Leong. Psycho drama about a young woman (Choi), who’s just been left by her boyfriend without a word. She starts despairing and cannot seem to be consoled by her only friend. Then she meets someone who looks just like her ex-lover. The starting point for a new relationship? Or is she imagining things? At first one-note and simplistic, but this drama becomes darkly stylish, with enough evidence of Pang’s cinematic virtuosity to make it satisfying for cult movie fans. The screenwriting is dizzyingly creative, with the narrative shifting back and forth in time. Pang also cowrote and coproduced. Also known as DIARY, and WISHFUL THINKING.

Monsieur Klein (1976, FRA/ITA) C-123m. **½ D: Joseph Losey. Starring Alain Delon, Jeanne Moreau, Francine Bergé, Juliet Berto, Massimo Girotti, Michel Lonsdale, Gérard Jugnot, Francine Racette, Raymond Danon. Rambling account of Catholic arts dealer Delon, who takes advantage of Jews in WW2 France but finds tables turned on him, when he is mistaken for a Jew of the same name. He sets out to find the man or uncover any conspiracy against his person. Largely disappointing, cold psycho drama keeps the plot at a slow pace and none too involving. It’s Delon and a fine supporting cast who make the film endurable. No match for Losey’s 60s cult classics ACCIDENT and SECRET CEREMONY. Costa-Gavras cowrote the screenplay sans credit, Delon also coproduced. César winner for Best Film, Best Director. English title: MR. KLEIN.

Monsieur Verdoux (1947, USA) C-124m. *** D: Charles Chaplin. Starring Charles Chaplin, Mady Correll, Allison Roddan, Robert Lewis, Audrey Betz. Unusual comedy drama, written, directed, produced and scored by mastermind Chaplin. He plays a French serial killer, who marries elderly women and kills them, hoping to cash in their fortune. At the same time, he has a wife and son waiting for their ‘sea-faring’ husband and father to return. Broad comedy doesn’t always gel with ultimately serious subject matter, which hampers the effect, though Chaplin’s sardonic performance is brilliant in its innocence. Uneven but intriguing, well-worth a look.

Monster (2003, USA) C-109m. *** D: Patty Jenkins. Starring Charlize Theron, Christina Ricci, Bruce Dern, Lee Tergesen, Annie Corley, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Kane Hodder. Searing drama based on a real case, about a street hooker (Theron), who befriends a lesbian loner (Ricci) and takes it on the lam with her when she shoots one of her customers, a sadistic rapist. More serious than NATURAL BORN KILLERS (which was a satire), film is also worthy of comparison to HENRY – PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER (1986). Oscar-winning performance by Theron. Written by the director.

Monster House (2006, USA) C-91m. Scope **½ D: Gil Kenan. Starring (the voices of) Mitchell Musso, Sam Lerner, Spencer Locke, Steve Buscemi, Maggie Gyllenhaa, Jason Lee, Kevin James, Nick Cannon, Catherine O’Hara, Fred Willard, Kathleen Turner. Two neighbourhood pals are wondering what’s wrong with the resident of the house across the street – a grumpy old man whose mansion seems strangely alive. Together with a girl scout they investigate the disappearance of objects and even people. Animated horror comedy for older children has great design and animation, but the explanation for the going-ons must be incomprehensible for kids – it’s even strange for adults. Otherwise, you are in for a roller-coaster ride. Coproduced by Steven Spielberg.

Monster-in-Law (2005, USA) C-101m. Scope D: Robert Luketic. Starring Jennifer Lopez, Jane Fonda, Michael Vartan, Wanda Sykes, Adam Scott. Almost unwatchable comedy marks Fonda’s return to motion pictures after a hiatus of 15 years. Surgeon Vartan meets and falls in love with aspiring artist Lopez, just then his mother gets fired from her immensely popular talk show because they want a younger host. Guess which mother instinct is awakened next. Painful, unfunny, sappy romance, even more contrived than the Hollywood standard. Fonda is thoroughly thrashing her image with this (although she tries hard to be radiant).

Monster in the Closet (1986, USA) C-90m. *** D: Bob Dahlin. Starring Donald Grant, Denise DuBarry, Claude Akins, Howard Duff, Henry Gibson, Donald Moffat, Paul Dooley, John Carradine, Jesse White, Stella Stevens. Hilariously funny monster horror spoof about an ugly Californian creature attacking innocent people in their closets. Grant is the nerdish reporter investigating the case. Intelligent, well-directed, well-written by Dahlin, film has more to offer than the usual Troma schlock. Crammed with movie references from PSYCHO to the THE EXORCIST. Those gargling sound effects are a scream. Executive produced by Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz, of THE TOXIC AVENGER-fame.

Monsters Vs. Aliens (2009, USA) C-94m. *** D: Rob Letterman, Conrad Vernon. Starring (the voices of) Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie, Will Arnett, Kiefer Sutherland, Rainn Wilson, Stephen Colbert, Paul Rudd, Jeffrey Tambor, Renée Zellweger, John Krasinski. Exciting 3D-animated Dreamworks movie about a young woman, who is hit by a meteorite with a special substance and growns into a 50-foot giant. She joins a group of monsters, who are kept secret by the government, but have to be released to battle alien invasion. Lots of fun references to sci-fi and monster movies, even Japanese ones, but if it wasn’t for the excellent 3D effects, the movie wouldn’t be so good. It’s the plot again that fails to convince. Reduce the rating by half a star if you watch it in 2D.

Montagna del Dio Cannibale, La (1978, ITA) C-100m. Scope ** D: Sergio Martino. Starring Ursula Andress, Stacy Keach, Claudio Cassinelli, Antonio Marsina, Helmut Berger. Keach joins Andress in the search for her husband, who disappeared in the jungle near a cannibal tribe. Production values make this superior to other cannibal flicks like MANGIATI VIVI or CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, but this is still trivial and very violent. Incredible how the producers could sign up two international stars. English titles: SLAVE OF THE CANNIBAL GOD, MOUNTAIN OF CANNIBAL GODS.

Montagna Sacra (1975, MEX) C-118m. Scope **½ D: Alejandro Jodorowsky. Starring Alejandro Jodorowsky, Horacio Salinas, Ramona Saunders, Juan Ferrara, Adriana Page, Bert Kleiner. Jodorowsky's third feature film, following FANDO Y LIS and EL TOPO, is almost impossible to rate or describe. A thief wanders around aimlessly in the slums, acts in a toad show with an amputee, is used as a model for hundreds of Jesus figures, and crawls into a mysterious tower, where a guru turns his excrement into gold. He joins forces with a group of wealthy industrialists, who want to ascend the Holy Mountain and steal the secret of eternal life from the druids. Loosely told, not consistently interesting, but filled with odd, surreal images of visionary quality. Good score, good camerawork. Drawbacks: The meaning is difficult to decipher, and audiences may be put off by Jodorowsky's radical style, which emphasizes that freaks are normal and normal people are freaks. English title: THE HOLY MOUNTAIN.

Monte Carlo or Bust (1969, GBR/ITA/FRA) C-122m. Scope **½ D: Ken Annakin. Starring Terry-Thomas, Tony Curtis, Bourvil, Mireille Darc, Gert Fröbe, Jack Hawkins, Nicoletta Machiavelli, Dudley Moore, Eric Sykes, Derren Nesbitt, Marie Dubois. Game cast in attempt at a big comedy a la IT’S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD (1963). Several competitors take part in 1500-mile race from several European cities to Monte Carlo. Lots of slapstick ensues. Typically engaging comedy is not particularly funny, nor too cleverly plotted, but its set-pieces provide agreeable entertainment. A follow-up to Annakin’s THOSE MAGNIFICENT MEN IN THEIR FLYING MACHINES (1965). Titled THOSE DARING YOUNG MEN IN THE JAUNTY JALOPIES for U.S. release. Also known as MONTE CARLO RALLYE.

Monte Walsh (1970, USA) C-94m. Scope *** D: William A. Fraker. Starring Lee Marvin, Jeanne Moreau, Jack Palance, Mitch Ryan, Jim Davis, G.D. Spradlin, Bo Hopkins, Richard Farnsworth. Marvin plays an aging cowboy in a dying West in this offbeat, melancholy western. Not much plotwise, but moody, atmospheric and well-acted. Excellent main theme by John Barry.

Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl (1980, GBR) C-80m. **½ D: Terry Hughes and Monty Python. Starring Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Carol Cleveland, Neil Innes. A recording of a live performance by the cult comedians in Los Angeles in September 1980. Funny, but not throughout. A must for fans, however. Shot on video, then transferred to film and theatrically released in 1982.  

Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (1983, GBR) C-107m. **½ D: Terry Jones. Starring Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Carol Cleveland, Simon Jones. Episodic satire on the meaning of life - structured in 7 parts, from the miracle of birth to the Grim Reaper himself. Anyone who knows the eccentric, irreverent British comedy troupe Monty Python will know what to expect. Includes some funny sketches, with the restaurant bit the funniest (and grossest) of them all. Python fans will howl, others may quibble about the unevenness of the presentation. Not continually funny enough to score a higher rating. Animation and special sequences by Terry Gilliam. Some prints may be without the short film THE CRIMSON PERMANENT ASSURANCE.

Moomins, The (TV series, 1979-1982, POL/AUT) C-8m. (78 episodes) n/r D: none credited. Narrated by Hans Clarin (German version), Richard Murdoch (English version). Finnish children’s book author Tove Jansson’s beloved Mumin or Moomin characters are featured in this television series. In the first episode the Mumin friends find a hat belonging to a Hobgoblin that can transform things inside. Later they go on a trip to an island and find strange inhabitants who worship a barometer. A bit gloomy, but highly imaginative, adventurous and peopled with interesting characters. The fourth(!) TV series about the Mumins, done in cut-out stop-motion style. Edited down to 5 minutes per episode for some showings. Finnish title: MUMINTROLLET.

Moonfleet (1955, USA) C-87m. Scope *** D: Fritz Lang. Starring Stewart Granger, George Sanders, Joan Greenwood, Viveca Lindfors, Jon Whiteley. Alan Napier, Jack Elam. Beautifully filmed adventure drama about penniless orphan Whiteley, who comes to title castle and is taken in by smuggler Granger and his crew. Granger develops a liking for the boy, whereas his men consider him a danger to their operations. Film doesn’t hold up due to listless plotting, but should be watched alone for its striking cinematography (by Robert Planck), which lends the film a dark, brooding atmosphere. Director Lang reportedly disliked this project. Based on a novel by J. Meade Falkner, but seems more like Dickens or Hawthorne. Filmed in 2.55:1 CinemaScope. Score by Miklós Rósza.

Moonlight & Valentino (1995, USA) C-104m. Scope **½ D: David Anspaugh. Starring Elizabeth Perkins, Whoopi Goldberg, Kathleen Turner, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jon Bon Jovi, Peter Coyote. A film to please women, if there ever was one: Perkins, newly widowed after her husband dies in a car crash, is faced with loneliness and the inability to cope with this new situation. Friend Goldberg, sister Paltrow and step mom Turner try to help her get over it. And - wouldn't you know it - there's a cute Italian painter (Bon Jovi) in town, just when Perkins' house needs a face-lift. Not as bad as it sounds, in fact quite good, with fine performances (especially by Goldberg) and nice subject handling. Based on Ellen Simon's stageplay.

Moonraker (1979, GBR/FRA/USA) C-126m. Scope *** D: Lewis Gilbert. Starring Roger Moore, Lois Chiles, Michael Lonsdale, Richard Kiel, Corinne Clery, Bernard Lee, Desmond Llewelyn, Alfie Bass, Albert R. Broccoli, Lewis Gilbert. Amusing James Bond adventure pits the superspy against industrial mogul Drax (Lonsdale), who is about to conquer space with sophisticated spaceships. Episodic like most films of the series, but delivers enough cliffhanger stunts and chases to make this a fine entry. Good production values, incredible sets, a lot of fun. Some did not like this; judge for yourself if you can enjoy Moore’s sardonic performance. Followed by FOR YOUR EYES ONLY.

Moonshine County Express (1977, USA) C-95m. ** D: Gus Trikonis. Starring John Saxon, Susan Howard, William Conrad, Morgan Woodward, Claudia Jennings, Jeff Corey, Dub Taylor, Albert Salmi, Bruce Kimball. Fair enough B-movie drama about feuding whiskey distilleries. Howard’s father dies and leaves his distillery to his daughters. Competitor Conrad gives them a hard time until race car driver and womanizer Saxon lends them a hand. Predictable, not too entertaining, for those interested in the veteran cast. Also known as SHINE.

Mordi e Fuggie (1973, ITA/FRA) C-98m. Scope *** D: Dino Risi. Starring Marcello Mastroianni, Oliver Reed, Carole André, Lionel Stander, Bruno Cirino, Nicoletta Machiavelli, Jacques Herlin, Gian Carlo Fusco. Businessman Mastroianni intends to spend a pleasure-filled weekend with his lover André but is taken hostage by ruthless criminal Reed and his gang, who have just robbed a bank and flee with the couple in a car. Soon the cops and the media are hot on their trail. Crime drama with comic elements features a brilliant performance by Mastroianni and a completely convincing one by Reed. The ending is especially good. Sort of the Italian counterpiece to Steven Spielberg’s SUGARLAND EXPRESS (1974), though it rather tends to be more politically motivated – like perhaps Claude Chabrol’s NADA (1974). Good score by Carlo Rustichelli, photography by Luciano Tovoli. English title: DIRTY WEEKEND.

More (1969, GER/FRA/LUX) C-117m. *** D: Barbet Schroeder. Starring Klaus Grünberg, Mimsy Farmer, Heinz Engelmann, Michel Chanderli. Director Schroeder’s debut feature is free-wheeling, well-told drama about German mathematics student Grünberg, who takes a break from his studies to get to know the real world. He goes to Paris and falls in love with Farmer, a hippie girl with a liberal attitude towards drugs. Some consider this romance boring, and as a treatise on addiction it is not very illuminating, but characters are interesting and atmosphere is well-captured. A free-spirited time capsule, perhaps a matter of taste. The music is by Pink Floyd. Script by Schroeder and Paul Gégauff, produced by Schroeder. Photographed by Néstor Almendros.

Morfalous, Les (1984, FRA/TUN) C-93m. ** D: Henri Verneuil. Starring Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jacques Villeret, Michel Constantin, Francois Perrot. Action drama set in 1943 Tunisia, where Belmondo’s Foreign Legion battaillon is almost completely wiped out when trying to claim gold worth 6 billion Francs. Belmondo and three remaining soldiers go against the Germans to get the gold for themselves. Poor thriller, a disappointment from cowriter-director Verneuil. Perhaps the inspiration for THREE KINGS (1999). Score by Georges Delerue.

Morirai a Mezzanotte (1986, ITA) C-88m. **½ D: Lamberto Bava. Starring Valeria D’Obici, Leonardo Treviglio, Paolo Malco, Lara Wendel, Lea Martino. Typical giallo (made well after the genre’s heyday) about police inspector Malco, who must deal with a killer that is after women. Can he get help from profiler D’Obici, especially since his own daughter may be among those targeted? Mario Bava’s son Lamberto pays tribute to his close colleague Dario Argento by including references to his films, and the result is an interesting thriller. Some heavy-handed scenes are offset by pulsating score by Claudio Simonetti (member of Goblin). For fans of this kind of stuff (who won’t mind the second-rate plot). Script by Dardano Sacchetti and Lamberto Bava (as John Old Jr.). English titles: MIDNIGHT KILLER, and YOU’LL DIE AT MIDNIGHT.

Morozko (1964, RUS) C-84m. **½ D: Aleksandr Rou. Starring Aleksandr Khvylya, Natalya Sedykh, Eduard Izotov, Inna Churikova. Children’s fantasy, based on a Russian fairy tale, about the adventures of a girl and a boy, who pass several adventures in a forest before finding themselves. Film is peopled by odd, almost grotesque characters, which makes it interesting to watch, but its sensibility is equally strange and color cinematography is sometimes so washed out it looks like black-and-white. Non-Russian audiences may find this difficult to connect to. English titles: FATHER FROST, THE CRYSTAL STAR, THE FROSTY, JACK FROST.

Morte Cammina Con i Tacchi Alti, La (1971, ITA/SPA) C-108m. SCOPE *** D: Luciano Ercoli. Starring Frank Wolff, Susan Scott (=Nieves Navarro), Simón Andreu, Carlo Gentili, George Rigaud, José Manuel Martín, Luciano Rossi. Strip-dancer Scott is followed by a blue-eyed killer, who wants to get his hands on her father’s diamonds. Not knowing their whereabouts, she faces death. When she starts suspecting her loser-boyfriend Andreu, she flees the country with admirer Wolff and hides out at his sea-side cottage. Uneven but interestingly plotted giallo has many twists and turns. This one was even followed by a sequel, LA MORTE ACCAREZZA A MEZZANOTTE (DEATH WALKS AT MIDNIGHT). Well-photographed by Fernando Arribas, nice score by Stelvio Cipriani. Actor Wolff committed suicide three weeks after this was released. Erneste Gastaldi was among the writers. English title: DEATH WALKS ON HIGH HEELS.

Morte Ha Fatto L’Uovo, La (1968, ITA/FRA) C-90m. *** D: Giulio Questi. Starring Jean-Louis Trintignant, Gina Lollobrigida, Ewa Aulin, Jean Sobieski, Renato Romano, Giulio Donnini. Fascinating, unique film about Trintignant, who runs a poultry farm with his wife Lollobrigida, but obviously also enjoys an affair with their ‘guest’, beautiful Aulin. Trintignant slowly seems to lose his wits… does he want to kill his wife? And is he the prostitute killer of late? Unconventional, partly surreal thriller that could only have been made in the late 60s. Good, creative direction by Questi (SE SEI VIVO SPARA), bizarre experimental score by Bruno Maderna in a much sought-after film that is an interesting precursor to the giallo. Edited by cowriter Franco Arcalli, who went on to work with Fellini, Bertolucci, Antonioni. Only available on Japanese DVD. English titles: DEATH LAID AN EGG, PLUCKED, and A CURIOUS WAY TO LOVE.

Morte Ha Sorriso all’Assassino, La (1973, ITA) C-84m. SCOPE *½ D: Joe D’Amato (=Aristide Massaccesi). Starring Ewa Aulin, Klaus Kinski, Sergio Doria, Angela Bo, Giacomo Rossi-Stuart. Horror film, not a giallo (the title is illogical), set in the early 20th century with a gothic touch. Aulin has an accident with a horse carriage and is taken in by castle owners Doria and Bo. They wonder how she survived the crash, and doctor Kinski examines her. What is this strange mark on the neck about? Extremely weak, incoherent plot and D’Amato’s trademark bludgeon style ruin this film. One wonders why Aulin signed up for it; this might have ruined her career, as 1973 was the last year she appeared in films. English titles: DEATH SMILED AT MURDER, DEATH SMILES ON A MURDERER.

Mortelle Randonnée (1983, FRA) C-121m. ***½ D: Claude Miller. Starring Michel Serrault, Isabelle Adjani, Guy Marchand, Stéphane Audran, Geneviève Page, Sami Frey, Jean-Claude Brialy. Fascinating psycho drama about troubled private eye Serrault’s growing obsession with the woman he is observing. Stars give top performances and film is absolutely spellbinding. Adapted from Marc Behm’s novel The Eye of the Beholder. Also known as DEADLY CIRCUIT and DEADLY RUN. Remade in 1999 as EYE OF THE BEHOLDER.

Mort en Direct, La (1980, FRA/GBR/GER) C-119m. Scope **½ D: Betrand Tavernier. Starring Romy Schneider, Harvey Keitel, Harry Dean Stanton, Thérèse Liotard, Max von Sydow, Vadim Glowna, Bernhard Wicki, Robbie Coltrane. Initially intriguing, low-key science-fiction drama set in the near future, where television shows have become taboo-breaking. Famous writer Schneider learns that she is terminally ill, and Keitel – with a hidden camera implanted in his eye – befriends her to film her secretly for a TV show. Effect is muted by film’s slow pace, turning it into a ponderous and depressing chore to watch. The actors are terrific, especially Schneider in one of her last film appearances. Based on David Compton’s novel The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe, or The Unsleeping Eye. Filmed in Scotland. Also shown at 128m. English titles: DEATH WATCH, DEATH IN FULL VIEW.

Morte Negli Occhi del Gato, La (1973, ITA/FRA/GER) C-95m. Scope **½ D: Anthony M. Dawson (=Antonio Margheriti). Starring Jane Birkin, Doris Kunstmann, Anton Diffring, Konrad Georg, Hiram Keller, Françoise Christophe, Dana Ghia, Venatino Venantini, Serge Gainsbourg. Gothic horror/giallo-mix has beautiful Birkin travel to family’s castle in Scotland, where a murderer is stalking her relatives. A cat is the only witness to the killings. Good direction, atmosphere, film even manages to be suspenseful at times, though plot lacks momentum and does not add up to much. Director Dawson cowrote the screenplay, based on a novel by Peter Bryan. English title: SEVEN DEATHS IN THE CAT’S EYE.

Morte Risale a Ieri Sera, La (1971, ITA/GER) C-93m. *½ D: Duccio Tessari. Starring Raf Vallone, Eva Renzi, Gabriele Tinti, Frank Wolff. When his daughter, a 25 year-old who behaves like a 3- year-old(!), goes missing, Vallone asks the police for help. When they fail to come up with results, he takes justice into his own hands. Not a giallo, just an uninteresting crime drama with some nudity. English title: DEATH OCCURRED LAST NIGHT.

Morte Viene dallo Spazio, La (1958, ITA/FRA) B&W-78m. ** D: Paolo Heusch. Starring Paul Hubschmid, Fiorella Mari, Madeleine Fischer, Ivo Garrani, Dario Michaelis, Gérard Landry, Giacomo Rossi-Stuart. During the first space mission something goes wrong and sends the rocket off into space, with astronaut Hubschmid returning to the Earth in an emergency capsule. Days later, strange occurrences light up the sky. It turns out the renegade rocket has sent a meteorite shower on collision course with our planet. Is this the end of the world? Interesting, not-bad sci-fi disaster movie, brought down by talkiness (accounted for by low budget). Pace and direction agreeable, DP Mario Bava responsible for some stylish bits. Score by Carlo Rustichelli. English titles: THE DAY THE SKY EXPLODED, DEATH COMES FROM SPACE, and DEATH FROM OUTER SPACE.

Most Dangerous Game, The (1932, USA) 63m. *** D: Ernest B. Schoedsack, Irving Pichel. Starring Joel McCrea, Fay Wray, Leslie Banks, Robert Armstrong, Noble Johnson. Adventure classic from the makers of the original KING KONG (1933). After a shipwreck writer/hunter McCrea is washed ashore on a tiny island. Soon he discovers there’s a Russian count living in a fortress-like castle, who has a special way of treating his guests… he hunts them to death. Occasionally hokey and over-acted but well-made, with some effective sequences. Adapted from a story by Richard Connell.  Excellent score by Max Steiner. Originally intended to be twenty minutes longer, footage was filmed but never inserted, is now regarded as lost. Remade several times, as for example A GAME OF DEATH (1945), RUN FOR THE SUN (1956), HARD TARGET (1993) or SURVIVING THE GAME (1994).

Mostro di Firenze, Il (1986, ITA) C-90m. **½ D: Cesare Ferrario. Starring Leonard Mann, Bettina Giovannini, Gabriele Tinti, Francesca Muzio. Unusual crime drama about writer Mann, who is researching some killings of the year 1968 and tries to link them to the present. Who is behind it all? Interesting, quite well-directed, though it is too slow and redundant at times. Good score by Paolo Rustichelli (son of Carlo?) is reminiscent of the A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984) main theme. English title: THE MONSTER OF FLORENCE.

Mostro di Venezia, Il (1965, ITA) B&W-77m. *½ D: Dino Tavella. Starring Maureen Lidgard Brown, Gin Mart (=Luigi Martocci), Luciano Gasper, Anita Todesco. Relentlessly talky, slow “thriller” about a madman who abducts, kills and stuffs/embalms young women. The police are clueless but news reporter Martocci has his eyes and ears open. Much too harmless, plays like a tourist video of Venice. Difficult to believe this was made in the 1960s, the tone and style would better suit to the 50s. Some people consider this a giallo; there’s a bit of gothic atmosphere (a la German Edgar Wallace films) and a touch of 50s comedy, it’s a distant relative at best. Director Tavella’s second and last film, he died in 1969 aged 49. English titles: THE EMBALMER, and THE MONSTER OF VENICE.

Motel Hell (1980, USA) C-101m. *** D: Kevin Connor. Starring Rory Calhoun, Paul Linke, Nancy Parsons, Nina Axelrod, Wolfman Jack, John Ratzenberger. Bizarre, disquieting horror thriller about farmer Calhoun and his fat sister Parsons, whose meats are famous in the whole county. The reason for this – a very special one – is about to be discovered by naïve maid Axelrod, who is taken in by the two weirdos, after her partner died in a motorcycle crash (or did he?). Unpredictable (if occasionally implausible) horror with comic touches maintains interest until showstopping chainsaw finale. Recommended to cult movie buffs. Surprisingly elaborate orchestral score (by Lance Rubin) is first-rate. From the director of FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE (1973).

Mother’s Day (1980, USA) C-90m. *½ D: Charles Kaufman. Starring Holden McGuire, Billy Ray McQuade, Rose Ross, Nancy Hendrickson, Deborah Luce, Tiana Pierce. One of Troma Films first outings, this nasty horror movie is a comic bastardization of DELIVERANCE and THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE. Three friends spend the weekend in the woods and are harassed by a mother and her two demented sons. Violent revenge pic, competently filmed but extremely stupid and idiotic plotwise. Coproduced by Michael Herz and Lloyd Kaufman.

Mothman Prophecies, The (2002, USA) C-119m. Scope *** D: Mark Pellington. Starring Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Will Patten, Debra Messing, Bill Laing, Mark Pellington. Writer-director Pellington’s follow-up to the good ARLINGTON ROAD (1999) is ideally mounted horror mystery about journalist Gere, whose (much too) happy marriage to his wife is brought to an end when she dies after a car crash. Obviously something irritated her. Two years later, Gere goes on a business trip and ends up somewhere completely else… and the people here report similar sightings. Who is the mysterious mothman? Imaginative direction and camerawork, as well as Gere’s convincing performance make this work, despite overlength and some logical loopholes. For mystery fans. Based on the novel by John A. Keel, which in turn is based on some real occurrences in West Virginia in 1966/1967. Good score by tomandandy (KILLING ZOE).

Motorpsycho (1965, USA) 74m. ** D: Russ Meyer. Starring Haji, Alex Rocco, Thomas Scott, Coleman Francis, Arshalouis Aivazian, Holle K. Winters, Russ Meyer. Pulp melodrama, a lesser one from cult director Meyer: Vet Rocco pursues gang of ruthless juvenile delinquents after they raped his wife. He is joined by voluptuous Haji, whose husband they murdered. Plot is overly simple and poorly constructed, all other Meyer trademarks are here. Finale in canyon best part. Photographed and cowritten by the director, whose similar FASTER, PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL! was much better. Alternatively spelled as MOTOR PSYCHO. Also known as MOTOR MODS AND ROCKERS and RIO VENGEANCE.

Mountain Family Robinson (1979, USA) C-100m. **½ D: John Cotter (=Jack Couffer). Starring Robert Logan, Susan Damante-Shaw, Heather Rattray, Ham Larsen, George ‘Buck’ Flower, William Bryant. Follow-up to two WILDERNESS FAMILY movies with the same cast, more like a remake than something new. Logan and his family live in the Rockies until they are warned by a local sheriff that their cabin has been built on government property. Some nice wildlife scenes, but adventure factor is rather low.

Mountaintop Motel Massacre (1986, USA) C-95m. **½ D: Jim McCullogh Sr. Starring Bill Thurman, Anna Chappell, Will Mitchel, Virginia Loridans. Chappell brings conviction to her role of quietly disturbed motel owner, who already spent some time in an asylum. Here, she returns home, slays her similarly demented daughter and proceeds to terrorize and ultimately slaughter some motel guests from her subterranean maze. Quite bizarre T.C.M./PSYCHO hybrid that horror fans might want to give a look; attempts for atmosphere are there, the effects and the plotting are rather lame. Roger Corman reportedly coproduced this one. Filmed in 1983.

Mouton à Cinq Pattes, Le (1954, FRA) 93m. *** D: Henri Verneuil. Starring Fernandel, Delmont, Françoise Arnoul, Paulette Dubost, Louis de Funès. Fernandel gives one of his best performances as father of quintuplets (all played by Fernandel!), who each gather for a family reunion in a small provincial town. Funny characterizations make this thoroughly enjoyable. English title: THE SHEEP HAS FIVE LEGS.

Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005, USA) C-120m. Scope M D: Doug Liman. Starring Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Vince Vaughn, Adam Brody, Kerry Washington, Keith David, Chris Weitz, voice of Angela Bassett. Preposterous action comedy about married couple Pitt and Jolie, who are both hitmen but know nothing of each other’s profession. One day their paths cross during an assignment, and then they become targets themselves. Completely contrived, over-the-top, incredible, and the stars lack chemistry. Some effective action sequences cannot save it.

Mr. Bean’s Holiday (2007, GBR/USA/FRA/GER) C-90m. ** D: Steve Bendelack. Starring Rowan Atkinson, Emma de Caunes, Willem Dafoe, Jean Rochefort, Max Baldry. Mr. Bean returns to the big screen after a break of ten years (the 1997 BEAN), winning a prize draw and a trip to Cannes, France. Along the weay he picks up a little Russian boy, who was lost by his dad on the way to the Côte d’Azur. Some funny bits, but most of the gags aren’t funny enough. Then again, if you like Mr. Bean…

Mr. Boo 2: The Private Eyes (1976, HGK) C-95m. Scope D: Michael Hui. Starring Michael Hui, Samuel Hui, Ricky Hui, Angie Chiu, Richard Ng, Shih Kien. Action comedy (with the emphasis on comedy), about bumbling private detective Mr. Boo (Michael Hui), who hires a new assistant, and together they solve several unrelated cases. Mild, episodic Hong Kong comedy has only a few scattered laughs. Produced by Raymond Chow. John Woo is credited as associate producer.

Mr. Holland’s Opus (1995, USA) C-142m. Scope *** D: Stephen Herek. Starring Richard Dreyfuss, Glenne Headley, Jay Thomas, Olympia Dukakis, William H. Macy, Alicia Witt, Joanna Gleason. Soft-spoken drama about composer Dreyfuss who takes up a job as a music teacher at a high school and discovers his passion for teaching. Fine ensemble cast makes up for pathetic Americana. The story is believable, and despite its length the film is always worthwhile.

Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium (2007, USA) C-93m. Scope ** D: Zach Helm. Starring Dustin Hoffman, Natalie Portman, Jason Bateman, Zach Mills, Ted Ludzik. Children’s fantasy drama about a 243-year-old toy store owner (Hoffman), who feels his time has come, hires accountant Bateman and wants his self-conscious store manager (Portman) to take over his magical store. Sounds intriguing but film’s a misfire, it never reaches its full potential. Portman’s character remains flat, and there’s not enough humor or excitement. Written by the director.

Mr. Stitch (1995, USA/FRA) C-98m. M D: Roger Avary. Starring Rutger Hauer, Wil Wheaton, Ron Perlman, Tom Savini. Post-modernist approach to the Frankenstein myth fails in all compartments as scientist Hauer creates a (laughable) human being out of 88 body parts. The movie’s criticism of the abuse of science for military purposes is drowned in pretentious plot. Avary’s ‘I am so cool’-attitude after PULP FICTION (which he coscripted) led him to make this mess of a movie. Special effects by Tom Savini.

Mr Wrong (1985, NZL) C-88m. **½ D: Gaylene Preston. Starring Heather Bolton, David Letch, Margaret Umbers, Gary Stalker. After having left home, young Bolton buys a Jaguar that should ensure mobility. It turns out that the car is haunted by its former owner – a murdered woman. Chiller creates interest, which is then obliterated when the director keeps revelling in ordinary, every-day matters – not exactly helpful when trying to create suspense. Worth a look, but the similar thriller TRIAL RUN (1984) was better. Cowritten by Geoff Murphy. Alternatively known as DARK OF THE NIGHT.

Much Ado About Nothing (1993, USA/GBR) C-111m. *** D: Kenneth Branagh. Starring Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson, Robert Sean Leonard, Denzel Washington, Keanu Reeves, Richard Briers, Kate Beckinsale, Brian Blessed. Faithful rendering of one of William Shakespeare’s later comedies (written in 1598) about four lovers-to-be, Benedick & Beatrice and Claudio & Hero. Fine cast is having fun in wonderful Italian setting, with the stupid watch (led by Michael Keaton) providing the comic highlight. Another respectable adaptation of a Shakespeare play by Branagh (HENRY V., HAMLET).

Mudhoney (1965, USA) 92m. *** D: Russ Meyer. Starring Hal Hopper, Marla Maitland, Stuart Lancaster, John Furlong. Early Russ Meyer film follows the impact of the arrival of a stranger in a rural village during Prohibition. He finds work at a farm and meets many oddball characters, among them two randy blondes. Well-filmed adult drama with strong characterizations has more to say than the director’s notorious nudie films. Maybe not for all tastes (and slowly paced) but very dramatic and typically American. Furlong is menacing as the sleazy villain. See also FASTER, PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL!

Muerte Llama a las Diez, La (1974, SPA/ITA) C-91m. ** D: Juan Bosch. Starring Gillian Hills, Angel del Pozo, Carlos Otero, Orchidea de Santis. Mild, sloppily acted thriller about London lady Hills, whose husband is away in Vietnam. One day she takes in a stranger, who is then pushed off the balcony. From then on, a maniac seems to stalk the inhabitants of the house. Poorly constructed and paced, film is too vague but remains watchable. Interesting score by Marcello Giombini. This Spanish giallo was based on a novel by Luisa María de Linares. English titles: THE KILLER WORE GLOVES, HOT LIPS OF THE KILLER, SATAN’S LAST SUPPER.

Muerto Hace las Maletas, El (1972, SPA/GER) C-78m. D: Jess Franco. Starring Fred Williams, Elisa Montés, Horst Tappert, Luis Morris, Barbara Rütting, Rainer Basedow, Wolfgang Kieling, Jess Franco. One of the last German (Brian Edgar) Wallace adaptations vaguely resembles a giallo. A black-gloved killer is roaming the streets of London by night, carefully packing his victim’s suitcase before dispatching them (the victims). Incredibly muddled, confused plot sinks this early on. Manuel Merino’s camerawork, using unusual lenses and angles, is the only thing worth seeing here. English title: THE CORPSE PACKS HIS BAGS.

Mulan (1998, USA) C-88m. *** D: Barry Cook, Tony Bancroft. Starring (the voices of) Ming-Na Wen, Lea Salonga, Eddie Murphy, B.D. Wong, Donny Osmond, Harvey Fierstein, Miguel Ferrer, Pat Morita, George Takei, James Hong. Entertaining and funny animated feature from Disney, turning an ancient Chinese legend into a dramatic powerhouse of epic scope. Chinese girl Mulan defends the honor of her crippled father by enlisting in the army to fight in the war against the terrible Huns. Plotting is not perfect, but dramatic scenes and hilarious situations (mostly springing from Mulan's mini-dragon Mushu) make this a satisfying view. Score by Jerry Goldsmith. Followed by a video sequel in 2004.

Mulan II (2004, USA) C-79m. **½ D: Darrell Rooney, Lynne Southerland. Starring (the voices of) Ming-Na, B.D. Wong, Mark Moseley, Lucy Liu, Harvey Fierstein, Pat Morita, George Takei. OK sequel to Disney’s 1998 animated feature has Mulan and her fiancé accompany the emperor’s daughters to their bridegrooms-to-be. The arranged marriages are supposed to help China against invaders. Mushu, the pet dragon, tries to bring the lovers apart for selfish reasons. Lacks the dramatic impact of the original.

Mulberry Street (2006, USA) C-85m. ** D: Jim Mickle. Starring Nick Damici, Kim Blair, Ron Brice, Bo Corre, Tim House, Larry Fleischman. In a shabby New York neighborhood, several people living in the same run-down apartment building are faced with carnivorous rats that turn people into blood-thirsty zombies. Overly reminiscent of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968), with some effective attack scenes, but plot doesn’t measure up. Worth a look for horror fans, others needn’t bother.

Mulholland Dr. (2001, USA/FRA) C-147m. *** D: David Lynch. Starring Justin Theroux, Jeanne Bates, Naomi Watts, Dan Birnbaum, Laura Elena Harring, Sean Everett, Scott Wulff, Robert Forster, Brent Briscoe, Lee Grant, Billy Ray Cyrus, Michael J. Anderson, Chad Everett, Rita Taggart, Angelo Badalamenti, Dan Hedaya, Mark Pellegrino. Mystery drama about an amnesiac woman (Harring), who finds refuge at the apartment of an aspiring actress (Watts), who has just come to Los Angeles , hoping to make it to stardom. The two women investigate and a pool of other, mysterious characters soon complicate the plot. Multi-layered, multi-dimensional Lynchian concoction is fascinating to some degree, though there is probably no rational explanation for the last thirty minutes of the movie. Surreal, consistently interesting, a must for followers of the director and cineastes in general. Reminiscent of Lynch’s TV series ‘Twin Peaks’, this was originally conceived as a pilot but was rejected by producers! Garnered an Oscar nomination for Best Direction and won that prize at the Cannes Festival. Also known as MULHOLLAND DRIVE.

Mulino delle Donne di Pietra, Il (1960, ITA/FRA) C-96m. *** D: Giorgio Ferroni. Starring Pierre Brice, Scilla Gabel, Wolfgang Preiss, Dany Carrel, Herbert Böhme, Liana Orfei. Beautifully atmospheric highlight of Italian gothic chillers: Brice comes to a remote mill in order to do some research on resident professor Böhme’s work. He finds the mill shrouded in mystery, with a strangely sick daughter and a bizarre show of wax figures. What is the doctor experimenting on? Well-photographed horror chiller is reminiscent of the work of Roger Corman and Mario Bava. It’s too bad Ferroni only returned to the horror genre once (for the good 1972 NOTTE DEI DIAVOLI) and did not make a single giallo. Good score by Carlo Innocenzi. A must for horror fans, even if pacing flaws mar it in the second half. English titles: MILL OF THE STONE WOMEN, DROPS OF BLOOD, HORROR OF THE STONE WOMEN, ICON, and THE HORRIBLE MILL WOMEN. French original title: LE MOULIN DES SUPPLICES.

Mummy, The (1932, USA) 73m. *** D: Karl Freund. Starring Boris Karloff, Zita Johann, David Manners, Arthur Byron, Edward Van Sloan, Bramwell Fletcher, Noble Johnson. Karloff is unforgettable as a mummy accidentally resurrected by excavators and its attempts to be reconciliated with his lover who is reincarnated in Johann. Tops in atmosphere and lighting, but awfully slow. Characters seem to move in slow-motion. Still, a horror classic and a must. Director Freund also made MAD LOVE (1935).

Mummy, The (1959, GBR) C-88m. **½ D: Terence Fisher. Starring Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Yvonne Furneaux, Eddie Byrne, Felix Aylmer. Diligently produced Hammer horror, where the studio tackled their third major film monster, after HORROR OF DRACULA and CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN. Cushing is part of excavations in Egypt, becomes involved in curse that follows them to England. Beware the Mummy! Beautiful lighting and camerawork offset pedestrian plot partly. Lee, as the Mummy, has the best scenes. Written by Jimmy Sangster. Followed by two sequels, starting with THE CURSE OF THE MUMMY’S TOMB (1964).

Mummy, The (1999, USA) C-125m. Scope ** D: Stephen Sommers. Starring Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, Arnold Vosloo, Kevin J. O’Connor, Jonathan Hyde, Oded Fehr, Erick Avari. Big, loud – and hollow – adventure spectacle in the vein of the INDIANA JONES films, with Fraser a legionnaire who helps archaeologist Weisz to find a valuable book in an Egyptian pharao’s tomb, and – wouldn’t you know it – awakens the mummy and a curse along the way. Premise serves as a showcase for special effects, and kinetic editing and direction hardly camouflage the non-existence of the plot.

Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, The (2008, USA/GER) C-112m. SCOPE **½ D: Rob Cohen. Starring Brendan Fraser, Jet Li, Maria Bello, John Hannah, Michelle Yeoh, Luke Ford, Anthony Wong, Isabella Leong, Liam Cunningham, David Calder, Russell Wong. Fairly entertaining sequel to the 1999 and 2001 MUMMY films bring Fraser and his wife back from retirement to deliver a gem stone to China, where their son has discovered the tomb of the dragon emperor. Needless to say, the villain gets resurrected and heads for Shangri-La to claim his superpowers. Fast-paced, with exotic locations and excellent effects. Too bad the plot is only second-rate.

Muppet Family Christmas, A (1987, USA) C-42m. n/r D: Peter Harris, Eric Till. Starring Gerry Parkes, voices of Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Dave Goelz, Richard Hunt, Jerry Nelson. TV special for the Christmas season: Fozzie brings the Muppets home to his mother’s farm, only Miss Piggy is still Xmas shopping. Even the guys from Sesamestreet and the Fraggles show up! The Swedish chef tries to cook Big Bird. Quite nice, with some funny jokes and classic songs. Followed by THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL (1992).

Murder by Death (1976, USA) C-94m. **** D: Robert Moore. Starring Peter Sellers, Peter Falk, David Niven, Maggie Smith, James Coco, Alec Guiness, Elsa Lanchester, Eileen Brennan, Nancy Walker, Estelle Winwood, Truman Capote, James Cromwell. Classic comedy with an all-star cast hasn't aged one bit. An eccentric millionaire (Capote) invites the world's greatest detectives to his castle in the middle of nowhere. They are supposed to solve a crime that will be committed at midnight. Who will prove to be the most resourceful sleuth? Neil Simon's script is a great parody of the classic detectives of filmdom, brilliantly portrayed (and spoofed) by Sellers as Mr. Wang (Charlie Chan), Niven as Mr. Charleston ('The Thin Man'), Falk as Sam Diamond (Sam Spade), Coco as Monsieur Perrier (Hercule Poirot) and Lanchester as Mrs. Marbles (Mrs. Marple). Guiness also scores as the blind butler. Filled with crazy ideas and unforgettable set-pieces. A perfect example of how crucial a setting (and the sets!) can be for the success of a film. Follow-up THE CHEAP DETECTIVE, also by Simon and Moore, is not nearly as good. Film debut of the 26 year-old James Cromwell (BABE) as Coco’s butler.

Murder by Phone (1980, CDN/USA) C-94m. ** D: Michael Anderson. Starring Richard Chamberlain, John Houseman, Sara Botsford, Robin Gammell, Gary Reineke. By no means bad but hardly credible thriller about a killer who murders people via the telephone line(!), sending through a high voltage. Chamberlain is trying to find out who’s behind it. Some good shock scenes and an acceptable pace almost overcome laughable plot. Score by John Barry is barely there. Also available in a 79m. version. Alterantive titles: BELLS, THE CALLING, and HELL’S BELLS.

Murder Obsession (Follia Omicida) (1981, ITA/FRA) C-93m. ** D: Riccardo Freda. Starring Stefano Patrizi, Martine Brochard, Henri Garcin, Laura Gemser, John Richardson, Anita Strindberg. Barely okay, barely seen thriller about an actor, who retuns to his mother’s estate intending to overcome his childhood trauma. As a little boy he killed his father with a knife. He brings his girlfriend and film crew with him and soon they start dying one by one. Freda makes nods to PROFONDO ROSSO and SUSPIRIA, and he creates a handful of frightening, sometimes ultra-gory images, but film is poorly written, with shoddy acting and gratuitous sex scenes. Too bad. Both Freda and Strindberg’s last film. Freda died in 1999 without directing another movie, Strindberg merely retired from acting. Also known as FEAR, DELIRIUM, MURDER SYNDROME, L’OSSESSIONE CHE UCCIDE, PAURA, SATAN’S ALTAR, THE WAILING, and UNCONSCIOUS.

Murderock – Uccide a Passo di Danza (1984, ITA) C-93m. ** D: Lucio Fulci. Starring Claudio Cassinelli, Olga Karlatos, Ray Lovelock, Janna Ryann, Lucio Fulci. At a dance school, a murderer is stalking beautiful students, and police inspector Cassinelli must find out who it is. Stylish direction fails to enliven typical giallo-like plot. Thriller is crammed with references to Argento and Bava, making it interesting for genre buffs. Not very violent, despite the director’s reputation. Also known as MURDER ROCK, SLASHDANCE and GIALLO A DISCO.

Murder of Crows, A (1999, USA) C-102m. *** D: Rowdy Herrington. Starring Cuba Gooding Jr., Tom Berenger, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Eric Stoltz, Mark Pellegrino, Ashley Laurence, Carmen Argenziano, Renée Estevez. Well-plotted thriller with a serpentine story: Righteous lawyer Gooding Jr. loses his job and licence when he refuses to defend guilty but wealthy Stoltz. A few months later in Florida he meets an old loner, who has written a novel and asks him to read the manuscript. Before Gooding Jr. can give it back to the man, he learns of his death. Despite some moral pangs he decides to publish it under his own name. And it’s a success. Some more surprises in this sleeper will keep you on the edge of your seat, although it’s also a little contrived, a bit unlikely. No world-beater but well-done, kudos to writer/director Herrington. Released directly to video.

Murder on the Orient Express (1974, GBR) C-127m. *** D: Sidney Lumet. Starring Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Martin Balsam, Ingrid Bergman, Jacqueline Bisset, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Sean Connery, John Gielgud, Wendy Hiller, Anthony Perkins, Rachel Roberts, Richard Widmark, Michael York, Colin Blakely, George Coulouris. Top cast in sublime Agatha Christie whodunit, set aboard the Orient Express, where businessman Widmark’s murder poses a challenge to master detective Poirot (Finney). Well-produced, fine suspense, although not really ingeniously plotted. Bergman won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as a Swedish missionary. The first modern-day Christie adaptation, followed by DEATH ON THE NILE (with Ustinov as Poirot).

Murders in the Rue Morgue, The (1986, USA) C-92m. *** D: Jeannot Szwarc. Starring George C. Scott, Rebecca de Mornay, Ian McShane, Neil Dickson, Val Kilmer. Fifth film version of the Edgar Allan Poe story is enjoyable chiller about Scott trying to solve a most puzzling murder case. Some directorial shortcomings, but still worthwhile. Made for television.

Murder Story (1989, GBR/NED) C-89m. ** D: Arno Innocenti. Starring Christopher Lee, Bruce Boa. Acceptable suspenser set in Amsterdam about ambitious young man who investigates a murder case with mystery writer Lee. Modest plot, Lee’s interesting casting helps.

Murder: Ultimate Grounds for Divorce (1984, USA) C-81m. *½ D: Morris Barry. Starring Roger Daltrey, Leslie Ash, Terry Raven, Toyah Willcox. “The Who”-lead singer Daltrey plays a rough guy, who takes his wife and two of their friends on a camping trip. Once there, bottled up emotions and aggressions cause violence and profanity. A pointless and unpleasant movie.

Muriel’s Wedding (1994, AUS) C-105m. *** D: P. J. Hogan. Starring Toni Collette, Bill Hunter, Rachel Griffiths, Jeanie Drynan, Gennie Nevinson, Matt Day, Chris Haywood, Daniel Lapaine. Unusual comedy-drama about twenty year-old Muriel, who wastes away her life spending time in her room listening to ABBA songs and seems to be unable to suceed in any job. Her only goal in life is to marry one day, and she indulges in fantasies about her wedding – but who would want to marry an ugly, lazy and rather fat girl? When she runs away from her dysfunctional family to Sydney, she thinks a new life for her has begun. Unpredictable, offbeat drama with comic touches leaves an incredibly bitter after-taste. Highly original film is not for all tastes sometimes but should keep you interested all the way. Written by the director.

Muse, The (1999, USA) C-97m. *** D: Albert Brooks. Starring Albert Brooks, Sharon Stone, Andie MacDowell, Jeff Bridges, Cybill Shepherd, Lorenzo Lamas, Jennifer Tilly, Rob Reiner, Wolfgang Puck, James Cameron, Michael Scorsese. Witty, funny comedy drama Albert-Brooks-style about a scriptwriter (Brooks), who is told one day that he’s lost his bite and goes on to hire a muse (Stone), who shall boost his creativity. His wife (MacDowell) can’t seem to agree. Satirical, hilarious sleeper, cowritten by Brooks. Many of the (famous) cast members appear as themselves. Music by Elton John.

Mushrooms (1995, AUS) C-92m. *** D: Alan Madden. Starring Julia Blake, Simon Chilvers, Lynette Curran, Brandon Burke, George Shevtsov, Boris Brkic, John Gaden. Delicious black comedy about two weird elderly sisters, one of them agoraphobic, who one day are surprised by a criminal at large looking for a hideout. When the inspector on the case becomes their new lodger(!) and the criminal is accidentally gassed(!!) one night, they are faced with a lot of troubles. How should they dispose of the dead body without making the detective suspicious? Does not hold up to the very end, but film is very well-acted by the whole cast. Amusing, unconventional, but not for every taste (literally!).

Music & Lyrics (2007, USA) C-104m. **½ D: Marc Lawrence. Starring Hugh Grant, Drew Barrymore, Brad Garrett, Kristen Johnston, Campbell Scott, Scott Porter. Contrived but quite enjoyable romantic comedy about faded 80s pop star Grant, who gets the chance to make a comeback in a duet with a current superstar but needs a new song idea fast. Chance acquaintance Barrymore seems to have a talent for writing lyrics. Never rises above the mire, but has some funny moments. Features a great fake 80s pop song and video. Written by the director.

Music Lovers, The (1970, GBR) C-123m. Scope *** D: Ken Russell. Starring Richard Chamberlain, Glenda Jackson, Max Adrian, Christopher Gable, Kenneth Colley, Isabella Telezynska, Maureen Pryor. Impressive, passionate bio-pic of world-famous Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Chamberlain). His relationship to two women is examined and his passion for music is vividly brought to the screen. Impressionistic film relies heavily on performances and direction, and succeeds. Extensive use of classical music a further asset. Based on the book Beloved Friend. Cinematography by Douglas Slocombe. Russell returned to composers of classical music for MAHLER (1974) and LISZTOMANIA (1975).

Music of the Heart (1999, USA) C-124m. *** D: Wes Craven. Starring Meryl Streep, Kieran Culkin, Aidan Quinn, Cloris Leachman, Angela Bassett. Conventional but engrossing drama about violin teacher Streep, who belives that every kid – even those in the ghetto – can learn to play the instrument. The single mother encounters many problems at the beginning and must fight for acceptance. Well-acted, well-scripted drama that was directed by an old horror pro! Overlength shows in typical Hollywoodesque finale, otherwise this is well-worth watching (also for horror fans).

Mussolini: Ultimo Atto (1974, ITA) C-114m. ** D: Carlo Lizzani. Starring Rod Steiger, Franco Nero, Lisa Gastoni, Lino Capolicchio, Umberto Raho, Henry Fonda, Tom Felleghy, Luciano Pigozzi, John Stacy, Bill Vanders, Giacomo Rossi-Stuart. Big-scale but disappointing war drama recounts the last four days in the life of Il Duce, the Fascist leader Benito Mussolini. Steiger’s presence gives film a boost, but it is relentlessly talky and never manages to convey the high tension of the final days of WW2. Score by Ennio Morricone is hardly ever used. Edited by Franco Fraticelli. Originally shown at 125m. or 126m. English titles: MUSSOLINI: THE LAST ACT, MUSSOLINI: THE LAST FOUR DAYS, THE LAST DAYS OF MUSSOLINI, THE LAST TYRANT.

Must Love Dogs (2005, USA) C-98m. Scope ** D: Gary David Goldberg. Starring Diane Lane, John Cusack, Elizabeth Perkins, Christopher Plummer, Dermot Mulroney, Stockard Channing. MUST LOVE CONTRIVED ROMANCES: Lane, a divorced woman in her thirties, is urged by her family to find a new partner, then finds herself torn between two men: Mulroney, the father of one of her pre-school pupils, and Cusack, an eccentric boat-builder, who’s been left by his wife. Predictable, by-the-numbers romantic comedy, only Plummer shines. At least it makes you want to watch DOCTOR ZHIVAGO (1965) again. Based on the novel by Claire Cook.

Mutant Hunt (1987, USA) C-76m. *½ D: Tim Kincaid. Starring Rick Gianasi, Mary Fahey, Ron Reynaldi, Taunie Vrenon, Bill Peterson. Cheap, amateurishly directed splatter horror set in the near future, where androids run rampant after being injected a certain drug. Some kind of super-hero walks through cardboard sets to stop them. Some of the gore effects are not bad, but that’s not a reason to watch this mess. Produced for the video market. Uncut print may run 80m.

Mutations, The (1972, GBR) C-92m. ** D: Jack Cardiff. Starring Donald Pleasence, Tom Baker, Brad Harris, Julie Ege, Michael Dunn, Jill Haworth. Boring horror film about scientist Pleasance and his attempts to crossbreed humans and plants. The professor's students meet terrible fates, ending up in a freak circus. Score and direction are ambitious, but fail to enliven tired, poorly paced plot. Circus scenes are reminiscent of Tod Browning's FREAKS. Released on video as THE FREAKMAKER.

Mute Witness (1995, GBR/GER/RUS) C-96m. **½ D: Anthony Waller. Starring Marina Sudina, Fay Ripley, Evan Richards. Psycho-thriller set in Russia, where a mute make-up artist, who works there on an American movie, sees a snuff movie being shot after-hours. She soon finds herself pursued by all kinds of underworld characters, including the ‘Ripper’, a master criminal, played by Alec Guiness, who appears unbilled (his scenes were reportedly shot in 1985). First-time director Waller creates terrific suspense, but film fails to bring up a carefully planned and believable plot.

Mutilator, The (1983, USA) C-86m. ** D: Buddy Cooper. Starring Matt Mitler, Ruth Martinez, Bill Hitchcock, Connie Rogers, Frances Raines. Straight-forward slasher movie with a chilling premise: Young boy accidentally shoots his mother when cleaning one of his gun-crazy father’s rifles. Years later he and his friends are stalked by a maniac at a beach house. Some slow stretches, but also some potent (and gory) effects. For slasher fans, others may find plot too stupid. Main theme (the song) is quite good but completely unsuitable for a horror film. Alternatively titled FALL BREAK.

Muttertag (1994, AUT) C-90m. *** D: Harald Sicheritz. Starring Alfred Dorfer, Reinhard Nowak, Andrea Händler, Roland Düringer, Lukas Resetarits, Willi Resetarits, I Stangl. Meet the Neugebauers, a typically Viennese family who lives its life like the harmless people next door. Or do they? Daddy is entertaining a mistress, Mummy is a shoplifter, Grampa is a senile old fart and the little son is watching pornographic pictures on the personal computer while changing an electric kitchen knife into a deadly weapon. And by the way, Mother’s Day is coming up next Sunday... Funny satire, characterized by the blackest of humors. Comes close to John Waters’ work for the cinema. Well-acted, especially by Nowak as the nervous, stressed father. Originally a stand-up comedy. May appeal only to Austrian audiences, who will know what is spoofed here. Düringer appears in no less than eight roles.

Muumi ja Vaarallinen Juhannus (2008, FIN/AUT/POL) C-71m. *** D: Maria Lindberg. Starring (the voices of) Tapani Perttu, Jasper Pääkkönen, Johanna Viksten, Outi Alanen. Compilation of the 1979 TV series THE MOOMINS about hippo-like creatures who live on an island and must abandon their house, when the water level keeps on rising after a volcano erupts nearby. They finds refuge on a floating theater. Advertised as a ‘new’ adventure of the Moomins, but this is clearly taken from the original 2D stop-motion episodes. Still, a lot of nostalgic fun. Recommended, as almost everything is offbeat here. Also known as MOONIN [sic!] AND THE MIDSUMMER MADNESS.

My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997, USA) C-105m. *** D: P.J. Hogan. Starring Julia Roberts, Dermot Mulroney, Cameron Diaz, Rupert Everett, Philip Bosco, M. Emmet Walsh, Rachel Griffiths. Good romantic comedy about Julia Robert’s panic after her best friend (and former lover) Mulroney announces that he is going to be married in four days. Roberts tries to spoil the wedding, but realizes that she herself may not be the bridegroom’s perfect match. Amusing, but also quite serious – good entertainment. From the director of MURIEL’S WEDDING (no, Hogan didn’t direct FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL).

My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002, USA) C-95m. *** D: Joel Zwick. Starring Nia Vardalos, Michael Constantine, John Corbett, Lainie Kazan, Jayne Eastwood. Waitress Vardalos is part of a Greek immigrant family in Chicago but unlike her sister has remained a boring spinster much to the chagrin of her parents. At 30, she decides to change her life, train for a non-traditional job, and finally meets Mr Right. Well-acted romantic comedy is refreshingly cliché-free, steering clear of all typical make-up/break-up twists. It became a huge box-office hit. Produced by Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson, based on Vardalos’ own stage play.

My Bloody Valentine (1981, CDN) C-91m. ** D: George Mihalka. Starring Paul Kelman, Lori Hallier, Neil Affleck, Keith Knight, Alf Humphreys, Cynthia Dale. Slasher movie, clearly derived from HALLOWEEN and FRIDAY THE 13TH, about a demented coalminer, who wants to avenge an accident that happened twenty years ago. Lots of gruesome murders follow. Despite familiar subject matter, this one is not badly made.

My Dog Skip (2000, USA) C-95m. *** D: Jay Russell. Starring Frankie Muniz, Diane Lane, Luke Wilson, Kevin Bacon, Clint Howard, narrated by Harry Connick Jr. Sweet-natured, well-cast family movie set in the 1940s, a childhood reminiscence and piece of immaculate Americana. Muniz, a nine-year-old only child is given a little dog on his birthday, little dreaming that the dog would become his companion for the most important years of his life. Great production design for story that has few ups and downs but is a crowd-pleaser nevertheless. Fine score by William Ross.

My Husband's Secret Life (1998, USA) C-93m. ** D: Graeme Clifford. Starring Anne Archer, James Russo, Maria Conchita Alonso, Marguerite Moreau, Gerard Plunkett, Gary Chalk, Henry Beckman. Made-for-television drama about Archer, widow of a policeman who investigates the death of her husband, which was covered up because he died in an illegal night club. All she wants is a higher pension, in order to afford her 17 year-old daughter's university education. Not at all interesting. For the Wednesday night TV crowd.

My Lucky Stars (1986, HGK) C-88m. ** D: Samo Hung. Starring Jackie Chan, Samo Hung, Yuen Biao, Eric Tsang, Richard Ng, Charlie Ching, Fung Shui Fan, Sibelle Hu, Lau Kar Wing, Paul Chang, James Tien, Wu Ma. Action comedy with an all-star cast about Samo and his gang travelling to Japan in order to help out friends Jackie and Yuen. Plot is abandoned early on for slapstick scenes (some of which work but go on for too long). The action is okay. Mindless entertainment for undiscriminating fans.

My Name is Modesty: A Modesty Blaise Adventure (2003, USA) C-78m. *½ D: Scott Spiegel. Starring Alexandra Staden, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Raymond Cruz, Fred Pearson. Quentin Tarantino  executive produced this low-budget, low-grade action film that offers very little action. Title character Staden works in a casino for a rich Russian, who is assassinated one day by vengeful Coster-Waldau. At the roulette table Modesty tells him her life story and learns why he had such a hatred for her boss. A prequel to the comic strip from the 60s (filmed before by Joseph Losey as MODESTY BLAISE) but pretty ridiculous, neither action film nor adventure. Stay away.

Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello, The (2005, AUS) C-26m. n/r D: Anthony Lucas. Starring (the voices of) Joel Edgerton, Helmut Bakaitis, Jude Beaumont, Tommy Dysart. Oscar-nominated animated short subject about a navigator who travels around in his airship looking for a cure for viral disease that is wiping out humanity. By chance they stumble upon island in the sky with strange creatures. Beautifully designed, intriguing science-fiction, although it does have an industrial, gothic touch recalling the early 20th century. Reminiscent of the bizarre worlds of Tim Burton and Henry Selick, warmly recommended to genre fans.

Mysterious Island (1961, USA/GBR) C-101m. **½ D: Cy Endfield. Starring Michael Craig, Joan Greenwood, Michael Callan, Gary Merrill, Herbert Lom, Beth Rogan, Percy Herbert. Jules Verne fantasy about some P.O.W.s who escape in a balloon, which carries them to remote island where they joins forces with two female shipwrecks, and ultimately, Captain Nemo (Lom). They soon notice that the island is inhabited by giant animals, which threaten their lives. Kind-of a sequel to 20000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA (1954), but rather slowly-paced and talky, anti-climactic most of the way. You think something is going to happen, but it doesn’t. Only four Ray Harryhausen stop-motion monsters appear. All in all, it’s an old-fashioned, colorful adventure, if you like this kind of thing. Score by Bernard Herrmann.

Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933, USA) C-77m. *** D: Michael Curtiz. Starring Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray, Glenda Farrell, Frank McHugh, Allen Vincent. Stunning horror film by the man who would later direct CASABLANCA. Wax sculptor Atwill’s work is destroyed by a fire, but the artist returns with puppets that look frighteningly real… Early Technicolor movie looks very good. The first horror film with a contemporary urban setting (N.Y.C.). Based on a play by Charles Belden. Remade as HOUSE OF WAX (1953) with Vincent Price and MASCHERA DI CERA (1997) cowritten by Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci.

Mystery Train (1989, USA/JAP) C-110m. *** D: Jim Jarmusch. Starring Masatoshi Nagase, Youki Kudoh, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Cinque Lee, Nicoletta Braschi, Elizabeth Bracco, Joe Strummer, Rick Aviles, Steve Buscemi, Tom Noonan, Rockets Redglare, Rufus Thomas, and the voice of Tom Waits. Small independent gem by cult director Jarmusch about characters whose lives intertwine in Memphis, Tennessee, the city of the King Elvis Presley. Three-part film depicts the director’s America, a mysterious country of great inspiration, whose legends continue to live even in the shabbiest of places. As most cult films not for all tastes, but unique situations, intelligent observations add up to a cinematic treat.

Mystic River (2003, USA) C-137m. Scope **½ D: Clint Eastwood. Starring Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay Harden, Laura Linney, Kevin Chapman, Tom Guiry, Eli Wallach. Downbeat crime drama about three childhood friends, who are reunited when Penn’s daughter is found murdered in the park. Bacon, who is now a cop, investigates and Robbins, a victim of sexual abuse, may be among the suspects. Somber, conventional, deliberately paced drama, based on a novel by Dennis Lehane, buoyed by three strong performances, most notably Robbins’. He and Penn won Academy Awards.

My Super Ex-Girlfriend (2006, USA) C-95m. Scope ** D: Ivan Reitman. Starring Uma Thurman, Luke Wilson, Anna Faris, Rainn Wilson, Eddie Izzard, Wanda Sykes. Well, spoof of SUPERMAN RETURNS (2006) or not? Wilson is looking for a new girlfriend and finds it in Thurman, who’s not just like the girl next door, she’s also a superhero, who flies out to save the world from disaster. Can this relationship work out? Anyone willing to buy into that might have an okay time, the plot is unimaginative not to mention silly.

Myth of Fingerprints, The (1997, USA) C-91m. *½ D: Bart Freundlich. Starring Blythe Danner, Roy Scheider, Julianne Moore, Noah Wyle, Arija Bareikis, Brian Kerwin, Hope Davis, James Le Gros. Completely inauspicious drama about a family reunion at Thanksgiving and the conflict among the members that are brooding below the surface. Despite interesting cast a complete lull. This film may pass without you noticing. Have a good sleep.