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Extending the summer vibe with Elin Hilderbrand

Autumn might be arriving on Tuesday, but a good way to extend that summer vibe is to read Elin Hilderbrand. I was introduced to the bestselling writer’s work when she came to Connecticut a few years ago to promote “Silver Girl.” Bookstores fill up with beach-themed “women’s fiction” every summer, so it can be hard […] [Read More]

Melina Mercouri & ‘10:30 P.M. Summer’ — magnificent over-acting

The Greek actress Melina Mercouri was always an acquired taste — she believed in playing everything larger than life, which turned off as many people as it turned on — but for those who locked on to her wavelength, she quickly became an addiction. Mercouri was as passionate off screen as she was on, risking […] [Read More]

‘The Swimmer’ gets deluxe DVD treatment

The Frank and Eleanor Perry film version of the John Cheever story “The Swimmer” was a resounding flop in 1968, but over the years it has acquired a cult following. The movie has always been of particular interest in Connecticut because the Perrys and star Burt Lancaster spent the summer of 1966 filming in and […] [Read More]

Rent it now: Woody Allen’s underrated ‘Manhattan Murder Mystery’

Woody Allen has made so many movies over the past five decades that some of them don’t receive as much attention as they deserve. Everyone knows about the masterpieces — “Annie Hall,” “Manhattan,” “Hannah and Her Sisters” and a few others — but I’m often surprised by the blank looks I get when I mention […] [Read More]

Is Pierce Brosnan in his prime at 61?

Ignoring the rather lousy reviews — and the dismal 36 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes — I made “The November Man” my rainy day movie during a beach vacation last week. The combination of an espionage drama derived from a Bill Granger novel (“There Are No Spies”) and Pierce Brosnan in the lead left me […] [Read More]

‘Dirty Movies’: a porn world love story

For most of his career, New Yorker Joe Sarno worked in obscurity, producing and directing sexploitation films during the 1960s — under his own name — and then hardcore porn films from the late 1970s through the 1990s (under a variety of pseudonyms). Sarno had an early and influential fan in the Village Voice film […] [Read More]

‘Smoke’: flirting with sexual danger at a New York party

The already intimate basement space at the Flea Theater has been reconfigured to be even more up-close-and-personal for the new Kim Davies play “Smoke.” By clustering the seating around the small set — the kitchen of an apartment in Harlem — the audience is given a voyeuristic view of the action that is both exciting […] [Read More]

A still-daring film from the summer of Woodstock

  Haskell Wexler’s “Medium Cool” didn’t get nearly as much attention as some of the other daring major studio films of the summer of 1969 — it was up against “Midnight Cowboy” and “Easy Rider” among other zeitgeist-defining films that were playing in theaters then — but no other American film did a better job of […] [Read More]

‘Party Animals’: 1970s Hollywood decadence

If you’re looking for an especially juicy Hollywood biography you should check out then-Variety senior editor Robert Hofler’s 2009 book about the film and stage producer Allan Carr — “Party Animals” — which is available from  DaCapo Press. Carr has been largely forgotten in the 15 years since he died, but Hofler reminds us of […] [Read More]

Bad Movies We Love: the goofy & melancholy ‘Blood Beach’

There are bad movies we watch more than once because they are so over-the-top awful (“Valley of the Dolls”) or that capture a slice of society rarely seen on screen (the early 1980s Broadway of “The Fan”), and then there are true oddities like “Blood Beach.” A cable staple 30 years ago, the 1980 B-movie […] [Read More]