Tahar Rahim

(Photo by Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Getty Images)

French-Algerian actor Tahar Rahim first rose to international acclaim with his performance in Jacques Audiard’s 2009 crime thriller A Prophet, which debuted at Cannes to rave reviews and went on to earn an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Film. It wasn’t his first feature film, but it was the one that opened the doors for him to work with an eclectic mix of filmmakers that includes Asghar Farhadi (The Past), Fatih Akin (The Cut), Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Daguerrotype), and Kevin Macdonald (The Eagle).

Rahim’s latest project reunites him with Macdonald for a challenging role in a based-on-true-events drama, The Mauritanian. In it, he plays the titular character, Mohamedou Ould Slahi, who was kidnapped from his home country in 2002, transported to the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, and detained there without being charged with any offense for 14 years before he was ultimately released. The film details not only Slahi’s harrowing experiences at the facility, but also the efforts of ACLU attorney Nancy Hollander (Jodie Foster) to afford him due process and the shocking discoveries made by the U.S. government’s own military prosecutor, Stuart Couch (Benedict Cumberbatch). Working alongside a star-studded cast that also includes Shailene Woodley and Zachary Levi, Rahim’s standout performance recently earned him a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor.

Rotten Tomatoes had the opportunity to speak with Rahim ahead of the Globes to talk about the new film, describe what it was like to meet and spend time with the real-life Mohamedou Ould Slahi, and drop a wish list of directors he’d love to work with (somebody please get him a meeting with the Safdie brothers). Before that, though, read on for Tahar Rahim’s Five Favorite Films.


Taxi Driver (1976)

- -

I’m a big fan of the New Hollywood wave, a very big fan of this period. I think it’s the best period of movies ever. This one is a very specific one because it’s an incredible story of someone who is an antihero. He’s got all the flaws, when you think about it. It can read as a racist, in a way, who could be in love with young girls and totally crazy, who’s trying to kill the president. So he’s got all the flaws, and yet he’s still an ordinary man, you see.

It tells a lot about the way society can create heroes, because at the end of the movie, he’s saving this young girl from evil, from the streets of New York. He wants to clean the streets of New York; that’s his obsession. He finally does it, but you don’t know if he does it for him, for her, whatever. He does it. He quenched his thirst for violence. At the end of the movie, he turned out to be an American hero. It’s crazy what it tells about the media, about society.

And the performances are stellar. The movie is incredible, the way it’s shot. We get to see New York in the ’70s. Because I always say that movies are testimonies for the next generations when they’re well-made classics like this one. When I discovered it — I might have been 17 or 18 — and I could tell my friends what New York looked like in the ’70s. It was right. It was true. They were in the streets, shooting people, the random people who were walking in the streets and buildings and cars and the way they would talk. The whole thing blew me away.

Plus, the script is incredible, the way it’s written. You know, it’s this new period that that looks like a little bit of the New Wave in France. They met the concept of going out there to film reality and people. The way the New Hollywood turned it, it’s better for me, because they weren’t afraid to create antiheroes, to write bigger stories, and to make an x-ray of American society.

I could talk about this movie for hours. You know, the first time I discovered Jodie Foster starting her career; she was absolutely awesome. And of course, Robert De Niro, who stays the best actor ever for me, to me. The ’70s, in a way, they created some codes of acting that never moved from there.

Scarecrow (1973)

77%

Number two, still New Hollywood. It’s Scarecrow by Jerry Schatzberg. I love what we call here in French kind of a… I don’t know if it’s the same expression in America, but buddy movies. But in this one, I remember when I first watched it, there’s this opening with this road, empty road, windy, and two guys who are hitchhiking, and they’re waiting for someone to pick them up. What’s happening is they talk without a single word. This might be the most beautiful encounter of two characters I’ve seen.

At this moment, they don’t even talk. There’s not a lot of action, but you can tell who’s who, what type of character they are, their identities, in a way. You see Gene Hackman is grumpy. He doesn’t really want to watch him. You can feel that he is ready to jump on him and beat him. The other one’s trying to just, in a way, find a father. That’s sort of the whole movie, to me. He’s trying to make him laugh, using his own skills, all he’s got to communicate. To go from The Godfather to this character, Al Pacino, it’s crazy what he’s doing in this movie. It’s the opposite of The Godfather.

At some point, they start a story together. I remember that they walk through life, and yeah, they have a purpose and they’re going to help each other. It’s about being dependent on someone, but in a good way, because they became friends. I think that Al Pacino’s character is looking for a father. He’s very interesting, but he’s still a kid. He’s a kid that has to be an adult, because he’s got a son, and he’s going to meet him for the first time. He doesn’t know what to do. He just bought a present that he keeps with him all the way along. The poetry of this present is amazing.

The ending, when he finally meets his ex-wife and sees his son, and she’s like, “You’re not going to tell him that you’re his daddy.” She starts to ruin him. You see a mother being rude with her kid. That’s where he fell into despair, into madness. The arc of his character is sad, but incredible.

The 400 Blows (1959)

98%

I think in English it’s 400 Blows. What an incredible movie. Classic. I mean, I saw it a long time ago when I was a kid. It was beautiful. I liked it, but I didn’t really know what it was talking about. Then I watched it again 10 years ago. When you put it back in its context in the ’60s or ’70s — I don’t know exactly — it’s so brand new. Watching a kid wandering in the streets of Paris and making his own 400 blows, and being a young adult. It was pretty amazing. It brought me back to my childhood. It felt good to watch this movie.

And it tells a lot about French society at that time — working class people; how a relationship between a man and a woman was, in a way; what people know, but don’t say, between the lines. There’s a lot of this in this movie, between the mom and the son and the dad and the son. It’s incredible. I loved it. There’s this pure innocence in this movie as well. The ending on the beach with fireworks… It’s beautiful.

Memories of Murder (2003)

95%

What a great movie. I saw it at the video tech, not in a movie theater. I didn’t know what I was about to see. I didn’t expect that this movie would be so good. I remember I discovered Oldboy, and I was like, “Okay, we got real movies over there.” I wanted to know more, and I watched this movie.

It starts like a… You see two detectives that don’t really seem clever, and then the guy from the street, from the big city, is going to meet people from the countryside. The shock, culturally, between those two different roots, in a way, is very interesting. It’s like, “Okay. Whether it’s in America, France, or Korea, it’s kind of the same thing.”

The ending is so unexpected. I was like, “What?” And it’s the first time ever that I saw that in a movie, in a thriller like this. The whole movie is built on this investigation — the structure of the movie, as well — so when you reach the climax, you need an answer, and it doesn’t give you an answer. It’s not meant to have a sequel. But I think it’s so clever to do this. Plus, the movie’s protected by its own true story. They never found the right guy, the perpetrators, the killer.

I remember the cinematography is so good. So good. Do you remember the scene when the cops are arresting the young man, thinking that he’s the killer? The father comes and he’s like, “No, it’s my son. He did nothing.” And they start to fight and there’s the cops and this father and his son being arrested, and it’s all in slow motion, except for the sound; the sound runs normally, which is incredible. You’re like, “Oh, it’s the first time I see it.” Usually it’s slow motion music, silence. Now you’ve got the slow motion shot, and the sound is a direct sound. People are screaming and you hear them fighting. It’s incredible. Like, “Okay, wow. What a director.” He did that before [David] Fincher.

Also, in this movie, it’s very serious, but at the same time, there’s a comic layer. It’s funny, sometimes. It’s a lot of poetry.

The Truman Show (1998)

95%

The Truman Show, Peter Weir, because man, it was ahead of its time, like crazy. I think this movie came out in the ’90s, 10 or 15 years before social media, before reality shows. I mean, that’s so avant garde. He understood so many things, Peter Weir, about the world at that time, what would be the outcome. If you just watch it again, for example, tonight or tomorrow, whatever, you’re going to go crazy. You’re going to go like, “Okay. I mean, did he time travel?”

Plus, you see the innocence of Jim Carrey, who’s got an amazing part, and see his deception. It’s kind of a coming-of-age movie as well, in a way. He’s a kid, very innocent. At some point, he’s going to have to get to the real life, life of adults. No more fantasy, no more lies. It’s just the cruelty of the world.


Tahar Rahim in The Mauritanian

(Photo by ©STX Entertainment)

Ryan Fujitani for Rotten Tomatoes: The Mauritanian is not the first time you’ve portrayed a real person on film. Do you find that it’s more freeing to play a character based on a real person because you have a template to follow? Or do you enjoy more getting to collaborate and infuse a fictional character with your own ideas?

Tahar Rahim: I think right now, I’d say it’s, in a way, easier to portray someone who is a real life character, because the range of liberty you have is limited. They don’t go all over the place. The main answers you need to know for questions about your character, you have them. And you don’t have them in 100 pages, you have them from someone who’s been living for years, decades, so he knows exactly what he’s talking about. You don’t even have to, “No, you know, I think the character would answer this way.” You don’t have any conversation about who the guy is. He is who he is. It helps a lot.

But on the other hand, the problem is that you have a responsibility to not, in a way — let’s use this word, and I don’t know if it’s the right one — but to not betray that person and his identity and his personality, his life, what he’s been through. You still have some freedom because he’s not a famous person, but not a lot. I don’t know if it feels better to play someone who’s a real life character or just a character. I don’t know if it feels better because it’s a whole thing. It’s not just about a performance, it’s about your relationship with your partners, with the director, the story, the script, and the whole thing.

Rotten Tomatoes: I know you met Mohamedou Ould Salahi before you shot the film. Was there anything about him that surprised you, or anything unexpected about him? Something you were able to work into your performance?

Rahim: I knew about him because I read the book, I talked with [director Kevin Macdonald], I had his recordings. So I had enough materials to make my research. But I needed to meet him for other reasons, to know him and to understand the way he moves, he talks, whatever. But I was so surprised to see how funny the guy was. Everybody would say it, but I couldn’t expect that he would be that funny, because sometimes he was sarcastic, sometimes just funny. That surprised me a lot.

But you know, it was not just a joke. He likes to joke around. But instantly he can find a good joke that is connected to the context. It’s not just written jokes; he’s taking advantage of the situation and turning it into something funny. You need to be very talented to be able to do that, because it’s like improvisation. It’s like asking a comedian on stage to improvise. They need to improvise between their jokes, the things that are written. It’s a real job. This guy has it naturally.

But also, the fact that he was full of life, full of life. Very nice. When you know what he’s been through, it’s almost impossible to believe. The trauma is still there; he manages in some ways to control it, so you don’t see it.

Tahar Rahim in The Mauritanian

(Photo by Graham Bartholomew/©STX Entertainment)

Rotten Tomatoes: This is a difficult role for anyone, and I would ask how you would normally decompress or de-stress during shooting, but you’ve said that you basically didn’t, because you were afraid you would lose everything you had put into the character. Doesn’t that take a bit of a toll on you?

Rahim: Of course, of course. But I was lucky to shoot that abroad, to shoot this movie abroad. I was alone, with just one of my best friends. Otherwise, if this movie was shot in Paris and I had to see my family and my wife, my kids every day, it wouldn’t have been possible to portray Mohamedou the way I… to give my all.

I got really lucky. I didn’t want to be disturbed. It’s such a difficult part that once I caught him, I didn’t want to let him go. I know myself. I’m almost 40; I know if I start to get relaxed too much, I’m getting out of my character, and then to get back in, it’s hard.

Rotten Tomatoes: You obviously take your work very seriously, and you’ve been able to work with a wide variety of filmmakers from all kinds of backgrounds across different genres to build a really eclectic resume. But you’ve also expressed in the past that there are some Hollywood directors you’d love to work with. If you had to name the top three on your wish list, who would they be?

Rahim: Of course, Martin Scorsese. Paul Thomas Anderson. Who else? There’s so many great directors. I’d say [Alejandro González] Iñárritu. You know what? from the new generation, definitely the Safdie brothers.

Rotten Tomatoes: I could absolutely see you in a Safdie brothers movie.

Rahim: You know, Good Time was a beautiful surprise. I was like, “Oh, man!” You can feel the New Hollywood references, but it’s not copying. It’s not about that. They’re talking about their time, the people they met, their life, their New York, and it’s incredible. It reminded me of New Hollywood, without copying them. I found it so clever and so brand new, in a way, in the way they shot, in the way they direct their actors, and the last film they did, Uncut Gems, the last 13 minutes… It’s like a James Brown concert. It’s like James Brown saying, “We’re going to shake them. Shake them ’til the end.” I was like, “Whoa. Okay, these guys are great.”


The Mauritanian was released on February 12, 2021.

Thumbnail images: Everett Collection, ©Neon


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WALL-E

(Photo by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection. Thumbnail image: 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved. Courtesy: Everett Collection.; Warner Brothers/courtesy Everett Collection; MGM.)

50 Essential Movies For Kids

Looking to enrich your kid’s viewing habits? Or if you’re under 13 yourself, love movies, and you want to watch some of the best ever made, take it from us when we list 50 Essential Movies For Kids!

These are not just great children’s movies, but movies that play well for the curious and growing mind. While all these movies are classics and can be seen at any age, some have stronger themes than others that would play better during upper years. So, we separated the movies in suggested age categories:

Ages 1-5: Kids may not actively recall everything from this age, but a good baseline is fundamental in developing a healthy appetite for movies. Here we feature colorful classics (The Wizard of Oz), fun adventures (Chicken Run), and tales as old as time (Beauty and the Beast).

Ages 6-9: As more time is devoted to school and outside life, movies become more of an escape, and their power to transport starts to become apparent. Don’t miss out on epic quests (Star Wars), wish fulfillment (Home Alone), and dazzling fantasies (Spirited Away).

Ages 10-12: The magic window, the time in life when movies can move and change tweens, and stick for the rest of time. A good era for the classic portrayals of youth (The 400 Blows), face-melting action (Raiders of the Lost Ark), and romance (Romeo & Juliet).

Whether you’re a parent looking for a moral, entertaining movie night with your kids, or you’re a young student of movies making the leap on your own, check out these 50 Essential Movies For Kids!


Ages 1-5

#50
#50
Adjusted Score: 103564%
Critics Consensus: Enchanting, sweepingly romantic, and featuring plenty of wonderful musical numbers, Beauty and the Beast is one of Disney's most elegant animated offerings.
Synopsis: An arrogant young prince (Robby Benson) and his castle's servants fall under the spell of a wicked enchantress, who turns... [More]
Directed By: Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise

#49

Chicken Run (2000)

#49
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: This engaging stop-motion, claymation adventure tells the story of an American rooster who falls in love with a gorgeous hen... [More]
Directed By: Peter Lord, Nick Park

#48

Frozen (2013)
90%

#48
Adjusted Score: 100194%
Critics Consensus: Beautifully animated, smartly written, and stocked with singalong songs, Frozen adds another worthy entry to the Disney canon.
Synopsis: When their kingdom becomes trapped in perpetual winter, fearless Anna (Kristen Bell) joins forces with mountaineer Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and... [More]
Directed By: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee

#47
#47
Adjusted Score: 98716%
Critics Consensus: Kiki's Delivery Service is a heartwarming, gorgeously-rendered tale of a young witch discovering her place in the world.
Synopsis: In this anime feature, 13-year-old Kiki moves to a seaside town with her talking cat, Jiji, to spend a year... [More]
Directed By: Hayao Miyazaki

#46
#46
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: When young Sara (Liesel Matthews) is sent to a boarding school by her well-meaning World War I-bound father (Liam Cunningham),... [More]
Directed By: Alfonso Cuarón

#45
#45
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: After Kermit the Frog decides to pursue a movie career, he starts his cross-country trip from Florida to California. Along... [More]
Directed By: James Frawley

#44
#44
Adjusted Score: 95572%
Critics Consensus: My Neighbor Totoro is a heartwarming, sentimental masterpiece that captures the simple grace of childhood.
Synopsis: This acclaimed animated tale by director Hayao Miyazaki follows schoolgirl Satsuke and her younger sister, Mei, as they settle into... [More]
Directed By: Hayao Miyazaki

#43

The Red Balloon (1956)
95%

#43
Adjusted Score: 96989%
Critics Consensus: The Red Balloon invests the simplest of narratives with spectacular visual inventiveness, making for a singularly wondrous portrait of innocence.
Synopsis: A red balloon with a life of its own follows a boy around Paris.... [More]
Directed By: Albert Lamorisse

#42
Adjusted Score: 99669%
Critics Consensus: With its involving story and characters, vibrant art, and memorable songs, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs set the animation standard for decades to come.
Synopsis: The Grimm fairy tale gets a Technicolor treatment in Disney's first animated feature. Jealous of Snow White's beauty, the wicked... [More]
Directed By: David Hand

#41

Toy Story (1995)
100%

#41
Adjusted Score: 106145%
Critics Consensus: Entertaining as it is innovative, Toy Story reinvigorated animation while heralding the arrival of Pixar as a family-friendly force to be reckoned with.
Synopsis: Woody (Tom Hanks), a good-hearted cowboy doll who belongs to a young boy named Andy (John Morris), sees his position... [More]
Directed By: John Lasseter

#40

WALL-E (2008)

#40
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: WALL-E, short for Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-class, is the last robot left on Earth. He spends his days tidying... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Stanton

#39

The Wizard of Oz (1939)
98%

#39
Adjusted Score: 115182%
Critics Consensus: An absolute masterpiece whose groundbreaking visuals and deft storytelling are still every bit as resonant, The Wizard of Oz is a must-see film for young and old.
Synopsis: When a tornado rips through Kansas, Dorothy (Judy Garland) and her dog, Toto, are whisked away in their house to... [More]
Directed By: Victor Fleming


Ages 6-9

#38

Babe (1995)
97%

#38
Adjusted Score: 101436%
Critics Consensus: The rare family-friendly feature with a heart as big as its special effects budget, Babe offers timeless entertainment for viewers of all ages.
Synopsis: Gentle farmer Arthur Hoggett (James Cromwell) wins a piglet named Babe (Christine Cavanaugh) at a county fair. Narrowly escaping his... [More]
Directed By: Chris Noonan

#37
#37
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In this 1980s sci-fi classic, small-town California teen Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) is thrown back into the '50s when... [More]
Directed By: Robert Zemeckis

#36

Coco (2017)
97%

#36
Adjusted Score: 123792%
Critics Consensus: Coco's rich visual pleasures are matched by a thoughtful narrative that takes a family-friendly -- and deeply affecting -- approach to questions of culture, family, life, and death.
Synopsis: Despite his family's generations-old ban on music, young Miguel dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol Ernesto de... [More]
Directed By: Lee Unkrich

#35
Adjusted Score: 110789%
Critics Consensus: Playing as both an exciting sci-fi adventure and a remarkable portrait of childhood, Steven Spielberg's touching tale of a homesick alien remains a piece of movie magic for young and old.
Synopsis: After a gentle alien becomes stranded on Earth, the being is discovered and befriended by a young boy named Elliott... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#34

Elf (2003)
85%

#34
Adjusted Score: 91985%
Critics Consensus: A movie full of Yuletide cheer, Elf is a spirited, good-natured family comedy, and it benefits greatly from Will Ferrell's funny and charming performance as one of Santa's biggest helpers.
Synopsis: Buddy (Will Ferrell) was accidentally transported to the North Pole as a toddler and raised to adulthood among Santa's elves.... [More]
Directed By: Jon Favreau

#33
#33
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: After 12 years of bucolic bliss, Mr. Fox (George Clooney) breaks a promise to his wife (Meryl Streep) and raids... [More]
Directed By: Wes Anderson

#32

The Goonies (1985)
77%

#32
Adjusted Score: 80849%
Critics Consensus: The Goonies is an energetic, sometimes noisy mix of Spielbergian sentiment and funhouse tricks that will appeal to kids and nostalgic adults alike.
Synopsis: When two brothers find out they might lose their house they are desperate to find a way to keep their... [More]
Directed By: Richard Donner

#31
Adjusted Score: 89062%
Critics Consensus: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone adapts its source material faithfully while condensing the novel's overstuffed narrative into an involving -- and often downright exciting -- big-screen magical caper.
Synopsis: Adaptation of the first of J.K. Rowling's popular children's novels about Harry Potter, a boy who learns on his eleventh... [More]
Directed By: Chris Columbus

#30

Home Alone (1990)
68%

#30
Adjusted Score: 71390%
Critics Consensus: Home Alone uneven but frequently funny premise stretched unreasonably thin is buoyed by Macaulay Culkin's cute performance and strong supporting stars.
Synopsis: When bratty 8-year-old Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) acts out the night before a family trip to Paris, his mother (Catherine... [More]
Directed By: Chris Columbus

#29
#29
Adjusted Score: 105999%
Critics Consensus: Boasting dazzling animation, a script with surprising dramatic depth, and thrilling 3-D sequences, How to Train Your Dragon soars.
Synopsis: Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is a Norse teenager from the island of Berk, where fighting dragons is a way of life.... [More]

#28

Inside Out (2015)
98%

#28
Adjusted Score: 113968%
Critics Consensus: Inventive, gorgeously animated, and powerfully moving, Inside Out is another outstanding addition to the Pixar library of modern animated classics.
Synopsis: Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) is a happy, hockey-loving 11-year-old Midwestern girl, but her world turns upside-down when she and her parents... [More]
Directed By: Pete Docter

#27

The Karate Kid (1984)
89%

#27
Adjusted Score: 91180%
Critics Consensus: Utterly predictable and wholly of its time, but warm, sincere, and difficult to resist, due in large part to Pat Morita and Ralph Macchio's relaxed chemistry.
Synopsis: Daniel (Ralph Macchio) moves to Southern California with his mother, Lucille (Randee Heller), but quickly finds himself the target of... [More]
Directed By: John G. Avildsen

#26

The Iron Giant (1999)
96%

#26
Adjusted Score: 101301%
Critics Consensus: The endearing Iron Giant tackles ambitious topics and complex human relationships with a steady hand and beautifully animated direction from Brad Bird.
Synopsis: In this animated adaptation of Ted Hughes' Cold War fable, a giant alien robot (Vin Diesel) crash-lands near the small... [More]
Directed By: Brad Bird

#25

The LEGO Movie (2014)
96%

#25
Adjusted Score: 105956%
Critics Consensus: Boasting beautiful animation, a charming voice cast, laugh-a-minute gags, and a surprisingly thoughtful story, The Lego Movie is colorful fun for all ages.
Synopsis: Emmet (Chris Pratt), an ordinary LEGO figurine who always follows the rules, is mistakenly identified as the Special -- an... [More]

#24
#24
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Gabe (Josh Hutcherson), a sixth grader, is partnered with Rosemary (Charlie Ray) in his karate class. Though he's known her... [More]
Directed By: Mark Levin

#23

Matilda (1996)

#23
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: This film adaptation of a Roald Dahl work tells the story of Matilda Wormwood (Mara Wilson), a gifted girl forced... [More]
Directed By: Danny DeVito

#22
#22
Adjusted Score: 82895%
Critics Consensus: A magical journey about the power of a young boy's imagination to save a dying fantasy land, The NeverEnding Story remains a much-loved kids adventure.
Synopsis: On his way to school, Bastian (Barret Oliver) ducks into a bookstore to avoid bullies. Sneaking away with a book... [More]
Directed By: Wolfgang Petersen

#21

Paddington 2 (2017)
99%

#21
Adjusted Score: 113872%
Critics Consensus: Paddington 2 honors its star's rich legacy with a sweet-natured sequel whose adorable visuals are matched by a story perfectly balanced between heartwarming family fare and purely enjoyable all-ages adventure.
Synopsis: Settled in with the Brown family, Paddington the bear is a popular member of the community who spreads joy and... [More]
Directed By: Paul King

#20
#20
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A fairy tale adventure about a beautiful young woman and her one true love. He must find her after a... [More]
Directed By: Rob Reiner

#19

The Sandlot (1993)
64%

#19
Adjusted Score: 69221%
Critics Consensus: It may be shamelessly derivative and overly nostalgic, but The Sandlot is nevertheless a genuinely sweet and funny coming-of-age adventure.
Synopsis: When Scottie Smalls (Thomas Guiry) moves to a new neighborhood, he manages to make friends with a group of kids... [More]
Directed By: David Mickey Evans

#18

Spirited Away (2001)
97%

#18
Adjusted Score: 103390%
Critics Consensus: Spirited Away is a dazzling, enchanting, and gorgeously drawn fairy tale that will leave viewers a little more curious and fascinated by the world around them.
Synopsis: 10-year-old Chihiro (Daveigh Chase) moves with her parents to a new home in the Japanese countryside. After taking a wrong... [More]
Directed By: Hayao Miyazaki, Kirk Wise

#17

Spy Kids (2001)
93%

#17
Adjusted Score: 97787%
Critics Consensus: A kinetic and fun movie that's sure to thrill children of all ages.
Synopsis: Two young kids become spies in attempt to save their parents, who are ex-spies, from an evil mastermind. Armed with... [More]
Directed By: Robert Rodriguez

#16
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The Imperial Forces -- under orders from cruel Darth Vader (David Prowse) -- hold Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) hostage, in... [More]
Directed By: George Lucas

#15
Adjusted Score: 95406%
Critics Consensus: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is strange yet comforting, full of narrative detours that don't always work but express the film's uniqueness.
Synopsis: The last of five coveted "golden tickets" falls into the hands of a sweet but very poor boy. He and... [More]
Directed By: Mel Stuart


Ages 10-12

#14

The 400 Blows (1959)
98%

#14
Adjusted Score: 104188%
Critics Consensus: A seminal French New Wave film that offers an honest, sympathetic, and wholly heartbreaking observation of adolescence without trite nostalgia.
Synopsis: For young Parisian boy Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud), life is one difficult situation after another. Surrounded by inconsiderate adults, including... [More]
Directed By: François Truffaut

#13
#13
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Akeelah, an 11-year-old girl living in South Los Angeles, discovers she has a talent for spelling, which she hopes will... [More]
Directed By: Doug Atchison

#12
#12
Adjusted Score: 99418%
Critics Consensus: Louis Malle's autobiographical tale of a childhood spent in a WWII boarding school is a beautifully realized portrait of friendship and youth.
Synopsis: In 1943, Julien (Gaspard Manesse) is a student at a French boarding school. When three new students arrive, including Jean... [More]
Directed By: Louis Malle

#11

Hugo (2011)

#11
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Orphaned and alone except for an uncle, Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) lives in the walls of a train station in... [More]
Directed By: Martin Scorsese

#10
#10
Adjusted Score: 78600%
Critics Consensus: A charming, quirky, and often funny comedy.
Synopsis: In small-town Preston, Idaho, awkward teen Napoleon Dynamite (Jon Heder) has trouble fitting in. After his grandmother is injured in... [More]
Directed By: Jared Hess

#9
#9
Adjusted Score: 89483%
Critics Consensus: Pee-Wee's Big Adventure brings Paul Reubens' famous character to the big screen intact, along with enough inspired silliness to dazzle children of all ages.
Synopsis: Pee-wee Herman (Paul Reubens), an eccentric child-like man, loves his red bicycle and will not sell it to his envious... [More]
Directed By: Tim Burton

#8

Queen of Katwe (2016)
94%

#8
Adjusted Score: 104634%
Critics Consensus: Queen of Katwe is a feel-good movie of uncommon smarts and passion, and outstanding performances by Lupita Nyong'o and David Oyelowo help to elevate the film past its cliches.
Synopsis: Living in the slum of Katwe in Kampala, Uganda, is a constant struggle for 10-year-old Phiona (Madina Nalwanga) and her... [More]
Directed By: Mira Nair

#7
#7
Adjusted Score: 102904%
Critics Consensus: Featuring bravura set pieces, sly humor, and white-knuckle action, Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of the most consummately entertaining adventure pictures of all time.
Synopsis: Dr. Indiana Jones, a renowned archeologist and expert in the occult, is hired by the U.S. Government to find the... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#6

Romeo and Juliet (1968)
95%

#6
Adjusted Score: 98016%
Critics Consensus: The solid leads and arresting visuals make a case for Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet as the definitive cinematic adaptation of the play.
Synopsis: In the Italian city of Verona, the Montague and the Capulet families are perpetually feuding. When Romeo (Leonard Whiting), a... [More]
Directed By: Franco Zeffirelli

#5

Rudy (1993)
78%

#5
Adjusted Score: 81458%
Critics Consensus: Though undeniably sentimental and predictable, Rudy succeeds with an uplifting spirit and determination.
Synopsis: Rudy Ruettiger (Sean Astin) wants to play football at the University of Notre Dame, but has neither the money for... [More]
Directed By: David Anspaugh

#4
Adjusted Score: 121235%
Critics Consensus: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse matches bold storytelling with striking animation for a purely enjoyable adventure with heart, humor, and plenty of superhero action.
Synopsis: Bitten by a radioactive spider in the subway, Brooklyn teenager Miles Morales suddenly develops mysterious powers that transform him into... [More]

#3

Time Bandits (1981)
90%

#3
Adjusted Score: 93073%
Critics Consensus: Time Bandits is a remarkable time-travel fantasy from Terry Gilliam, who utilizes fantastic set design and homemade special effects to create a vivid, original universe.
Synopsis: Young history buff Kevin (Craig Warnock) can scarcely believe it when six dwarfs emerge from his closet one night. Former... [More]
Directed By: Terry Gilliam

#2

West Side Story (1961)
93%

#2
Adjusted Score: 104490%
Critics Consensus: Buoyed by Robert Wise's dazzling direction, Leonard Bernstein's score, and Stephen Sondheim's lyrics, West Side Story remains perhaps the most iconic of all the Shakespeare adaptations to visit the big screen.
Synopsis: A musical in which a modern day Romeo and Juliet are involved in New York street gangs. On the harsh... [More]

#1

The Witches (1990)
93%

#1
Adjusted Score: 96146%
Critics Consensus: With a deliciously wicked performance from Angelica Huston and imaginative puppetry by Jim Henson's creature shop, Nicolas Roeg's dark and witty movie captures the spirit of Roald Dahl's writing like few other adaptations.
Synopsis: While staying at a hotel in England with his grandmother, Helga (Mai Zetterling), young Luke (Jasen Fisher) inadvertently spies on... [More]
Directed By: Nicolas Roeg

(Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)

Nicolas Cage is the hardest working man in show business. Over the past two years alone, he has appeared in ten films, including the Edward Snowden biopic Snowden and the bonkers horror comedy Mom and Dad. We’re barely two months into 2018, and Cage has already starred in two more: Panos Cosmatos’ revenge thriller Mandy, which premiered at Sundance, and Looking Glass, a psychological thriller about a married couple who take over a desert motel and discover the dark secrets it holds. The man clearly enjoys his work, and the world is all the better for it.

Cage also has a reputation for putting 100% of himself into every role he takes, no matter how small, so it wasn’t too surprising to learn that he had not merely Five Favorite Films he wanted to talk about, but a cool baker’s dozen. As he put it, “I can’t put it all in five. It’s just, there’s different movies for different reasons in different lifetimes.”

And listen, if Nicolas Cage wants to talk Thirteen Favorite Films, Nicolas Cage gets to talk Thirteen Favorite Films. Read on for all of his choices, in which he sheds some light on the ways Dennis Hopper, Bruce Lee, Jerry Lewis, and Jean Marais have all influenced his unique acting style.


Once Upon a Time in the West (1969) 95%

Once Upon a Time in the West would come on the million-dollar movie. We had that once a week, I think, when everything was deployed on television. I had a [inaudible] television and I watched Once Upon a Time in the West, and I was blown away by the power in the stillness and silence of Charles Bronson as Harmonica, and I just thought the culmination of Morricone’s score with Leone’s gorgeous style, and then the showdown between Henry Fonda, who is outstanding as a bad guy, and Bronson was one of the most powerful moments I’ve ever experienced in cinema, and it really made a big impact.

East of Eden (1955)

East of Eden was the movie that really put the hook in me to become a film actor, because of James Dean’s performance when he has the nervous breakdown trying to get the money to Raymond Massey, playing his father, from selling beans, and he’s rejected. That nervous breakdown affected me more than anything else, and that’s what made me want to become a film actor.

Apocalypse Now (1979) 98%

I saw Apocalypse Now really with everybody else, so Marlon Brando was there, and my uncle was showing the movie, and Dennis Hopper was there and [Marc Marrie], and … I don’t think Marrie was there, but everybody … Let’s see. Larry was there. They were watching the movie for the first time, and I must’ve been about, gosh, what was I? 12, 13? I don’t know, but it really put a big effect in me, and I was blown away by the scope of the film. I don’t think there really was a movie like that before with the helicopter sequences, and with Brando’s performance with Dennis Hopper was… I mean, he was really going off the rails in that, and that had a big impact on me as well, in terms of my own later choices with film performance. I wanted to get a little more Dennis Hopper or less Dennis Hopper with some of the stuff that I was doing, so that had a big impact.

Citizen Kane (1941)

Citizen Kane I saw when I was… My dad used to take me to the arthouse theaters, and I grew up on these movies. I was watching Citizen Kane when I was like eight years old, and I just watched it again. I watched it at night and I watched it the next day, and that is the best movie ever made. Nothing really ever comes close to it, and even now, the editing today doesn’t match. I don’t know if Welles did it, but I know he had total authority on the film, and then they took it away from him for The Magnificent Ambersons, and even now, in terms of performance, in terms of film editing, in terms of the cinematography, in terms of the music, all of it just came together perfectly, and it has never really been challenged in any way. I think it stays as fresh today as it ever was.

Was that something you were able to process, even as an eight-year-old seeing it for the first time?

Yeah. Yeah, I was blown away. I think Welles’ performance was heartbreaking, really, and that lands, even if you’re a child. The emotion is there, and you feel it. I mean, little kids can understand music that might seem complex — you can play classical music for a little child, and they will be affected. They know good music, and I knew what I was seeing was a great film, and it was exciting to see it as an adult.

Enter the Dragon (1973)

Enter the Dragon was powerful to me because it was like watching a superhero come to life. I’d never seen anything like Bruce Lee, and that movie changed my life, because it made me believe that a man can actually do these extraordinary things physically, and he was a great actor. He had great facial expressions, and he’s also had a big impact in some of my choices as a film performer, certainly not in terms of my style of movement — nobody can move like him — but in some of the facial expressions. If you look at the end of Face/Off, when I shoot the Castor Troy character with the harpoon, my face goes through all these expressions. That was direct steal from Bruce Lee when he jumped on a guy and killed him with his feet. In fact, I went through that slow-motion shot rather recently with Mandy. I stole from Bruce Lee’s facial expressions when he breaks the guy’s neck and the camera goes right into his eyes and he’s got that very ferocious, wide-eyed look. He passed, and I put that in the picture.

The Nutty Professor (1963) 81%

The Nutty Professor. So Jerry Lewis, I met Jerry once. We became friends later, but when I first met him, he knew what a fan I was of The Nutty Professor, particularly the Buddy Love performance, and [inaudible] I said to him — and I meant it — I said, “Jerry, it’s just you and Brando,” and he took about a two-minute pause, and he went, “Well, Brando’s good also.” It was hilarious. He was wearing a kimono, if you believe that, a Japanese kimono and tennis shoes.

Something about Jerry Lewis’ direction, he believes in the total filmmaker. He felt that you weren’t really a filmmaker unless you starred in it, composed it, edited it, directed it, all of it, and that’s what he was, and I think that The Nutty Professor has also had a huge impact in terms of my own tone, performance style. I’ve borrowed from the Buddy Love character a million times, and so much so that I’ve had directors tell me I need to get new material. I put him in City of Angels, and I got the good fortune of having him play my father in The Trust before he passed on, so Nutty Professor was a big influence.

The 400 Blows (1959) 98%

400 Blows I saw when I was a kid, and that of course really was heartbreaking. I felt so bad for the kid in that movie, and he went on to become an actor. I think he was in Last Tango in Paris, the actor in that.

War of the Gargantuas (1966)

War of the Gargantuas was something I just thought was so fantastical and so bizarre that it is my favorite of Honda’s movies, but the effects look great, and all the little toys, and it was just something that transported me. I can lose myself in that movie, and I love the brothers warring, and it has kind of like a personal feeling for me.

Juliet of the Spirits (1965) 79%

Juliet of the Spirits was something I also saw at a young age. It spooked me, but also kind of turned me on, and I found it thrilling and psychedelic and colorful, and it had an enormous impact on my childhood because I would have bad dreams about it. That’s also the case with The Wizard of Oz.

The Wizard of Oz (1939) 98%

The Wizard of Oz, the witch was always haunting me, the green witch, the Wicked Witch of the West, so Wizard of Oz was also a huge impact film in my childhood, as well as Pinocchio.

Pinocchio (1940) 100%

I think Pinocchio is Disney’s masterpiece, and I think that it’s such a perfectly put-together film. It has such a beautiful message in it, and so much thought went into it, and of course it’s beautifully drawn, and the colors are extraordinary, and I love Monstro, and the underwater sequences are quite something.

Beauty and the Beast (1946)

Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast. Again, very fantastical, very transporting and mysterious, and Jean Marais’ performance as the beast is wonderful. I wanted to have that sound to my voice when I did Moonstruck, and then Norman Jewison got very upset with me and lost his patience with it and almost fired from the movie. He called me on Christmas Eve to tell me that the dailies weren’t working, because he said, “You gotta drop the Jean Marais. I don’t want you sounding like [inaudible] talk like that in the character,” but the irony is that John Patrick Shanley told me that when he originally wrote Moonstruck the title was The Wolf and the Bride, so I thought there was some connection there.

A Clockwork Orange (1971) 87%

A Clockwork Orange, of course, was like the ultimate film for an adolescent to see. I watched [Malcolm McDowell’s] performance in that, and it had such an impact on me that I would glue an eyelash on my eye and then go to school with one eyelash. My father really lost his patience with that one. He said, “You gotta take that eyelash off. You’re not going to school like that.”


Looking Glass is currently in theaters in limited release and available to stream. Mom and Dad is available to stream and on DVD/Blu-ray. And just for fun, here are Nic Cage’s top 5 movies by Tomatometer:

(Photo by Priscilla Grant/Everett Collection)

Spider-Man: Homecoming may mark the re-launch of a beloved character on the big screen, but it also marks the emergence of an exciting up-and-coming filmmaker in director Jon Watts. In what seems to be becoming a familiar Hollywood story, Watts was discovered following an independent film of his that made a splash when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

The name of the film is Cop Car, and Watts’ honest and grounded handling of the film’s young leads is what put him on Marvel’s radar for this latest take on the well-known webslinger – one that would find Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man, back in high school, navigating the complexities of coming of age while also having super powers.

“What’s important is to just try to remember what it was like to be that age,” Watts told Rotten Tomatoes. “For me, it was like if I was 15 and I could do what Peter Parker could do, that would be so much fun. That would be so amazing, and there’s no way around it. Drama will come and dramatic things definitely happen in the movie, and there’s a lot of awesome action and all of that. But fundamentally, I wanted to approach this from the perspective of enthusiasm and excitement.”

Watts devoured every coming-of-age movie he could get his hands on while prepping to make Spider-Man: Homecoming, and when Rotten Tomatoes sat down with him to discuss his Five Favorite Films, the director insisted we stay on theme, natch.

Here, then, are the Spidey director’s five favorite coming-of-age movies.

The 400 Blows (1959) 98%

I would say that’s the first quintessential coming-of-age movie. It felt so real, and it just captured the freedom, danger, fear, hope, and everything that comes with being a kid. It’s one of the best movies ever made. It was such a shock to the world when it came out, too, and it was, like, “Oh, wow. You can make movies like this?” It stands up, too.

Léolo (1992) 90%

This is a really obscure one, but there’s a really weird French-Canadian movie called Leolo. Roger Ebert loved it. He gave it a four-star review when it came out. The filmmaker, Jean-Claude Lauzon… He made two movies and then he died. It’s a really tragic story. It’s this surreal, messed-up story about a kid whose family is going insane, and so he comes up with these fantastical stories to escape from his world. I saw that movie when I was in high school, and it just made such an impression on me because of the way it balanced humor and absurdity, and surrealism, and then just tragedy. It’s great. I should probably see it again. I haven’t seen it in a couple of years, so I want to make sure it still stands up. That movie is another very particularly strange coming-of-age movie that will always be a reference for me.

Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995) 90%

Welcome to the Dollhouse is great. Even though it’s about a girl in middle school, to me, that feels like the most honest reflection of what being a kid around that age feels like. It’s just so bad. It’s like that movie captures the very worst moments of being that age so perfectly. Everything is unfair, everyone hates you, and the world is totally against you. It’s such a good coming-of-age movie.

River's Edge (1987) 88%

I love River’s Edge. River’s Edge is one of those movies like… I grew up in Colorado. When I saw it, I was like, “That’s more like where I’m from than a John Hughes movie.” It’s like seeing that, and then seeing Gummo. That feels more like where I’m from than Can’t Hardly Wait.

Mazes and Monsters (1982)

This one isn’t a high school movie, but more a college-age movie. It’s called Mazes and Monsters and it stars Tom Hanks. It’s about the dangers of role-playing games, and if you play these role-playing games, you’ll lose touch with reality. Tom Hanks is a kid who gets too into their version of Dungeons and Dragons, which they call Mazes and Monsters. He loses touch with reality and thinks he really is on the quest, and disappears into New York City. His friends have to try and find him. It’s definitely worth checking out if you can find it. It might be one of those movies that just disappeared. I think it was a made-for-TV movie, but it’s always affected me. I saw it when I was a kid on the Saturday afternoon matinee movie, and it just has this ending that is so bleak that I’ll never forget.


According to Watts, he hopes Homecoming will serve as a launching pad for more Spider-Man stories that, like the movies mentioned above, are honest and respectful of what it’s like growing up, but also captivating and wildly exciting because, well, Spider-Man!

Spider-Man: Homecoming opens everywhere on Friday, July 7.

(Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for DGA)

Garth Davis is only getting started. With just a few credits to his name (including some TV work on Top of the Lake and Love My Way, as well as a documentary called P.I.N.S.), Davis directed Lion, a drama based on a true story about an adopted Indian man living in Australia who uses Google Earth to track down the small village where he grew up. The film has become a critical darling and an awards favorite, earning six Academy Awards nominations, and it has launched Davis into the big time. With the Oscars arriving shortly, we took the opportunity to speak with him and find out what movies make him tick. Here are Garth Davis’ Five Favorite Films:

A Woman Under the Influence (1974) 90%

This is my favorite. It’s A Woman Under the Influence by John Cassavetes. What I love about his movies — especially this film too — is just the performances are so brave. The characters are so unpredictable. They’re so full of life. Also, there’s such a social commentary in this movie about how society doesn’t allow people to be who they really are, and I just find that a great metaphor for so many things in one’s life. I thought, “Through this one relationship, I’m moved in such a deep way.”

I also love how Cassavetes pushes the performances so far that it finds this kind of amazing poetry at a certain point. I particularly remember this scene where Gena Rowlands is basically just so misunderstood and so cut down and beaten down that she finds this physicality. It was almost like a moment of ballet. I just think there’s something very genius going on in that film and very brave and I love it. It’s a beautiful film.

The Lovers on the Pont-Neuf (1991) 85%

Actually, I just thought of another one which really affected me. I don’t know if I’m going to pronounce it correctly. It’s Les Amants du Pont-Neuf — Lovers on the Pont-Neuf [aka Lovers on the Bridge]. It has Juliette Binoche in it and Denis Lavant. He’s very good. I was a university student when this came out. It’s kind of a love story of a privileged girl who’s going blind and she kind of runs away from her privileged life to live on the streets. And she falls in love eventually or creates this friendship with this homeless man. It’s an extraordinary film. It just blew my mind. Again, the filmmaking was incredibly brave and just committed and front-foot and so unique. Again, a film that looks at relationships and has a life in the characters — very alive. I don’t know. It was just an experience to watch that film. I just love it.

Seems you’re into deep character studies and human drama.

Yup. The human condition. Otherwise I’m not watching it [laughing].

The 400 Blows (1959) 98%

I love 400 Blows. [François] Truffaut is just a genius and, again, just there’s a total Cassavetian quality in his performances as well. I know that story was close to his own story, so that was very moving and just a totally immersive experience. I like him and a lot of the French filmmakers, obviously, for the exact reason we’re talking about. That last scene in 400 Blows where he escapes the children’s home in that really, really long tracking shot was just astonishing, just such an astonishing end to that film. That and when the kids steal a typewriter too, and they’re struggling with the weight of it; that was great. It’s just great, great fun.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) 91%

Okay. I’m going to say a weird one here — but what an amazing performance in that film. When I was a kid I just loved these kind of movies that just took me to another world. I still like watching it today. I watch it with my kids. Gene Wilder. What a performance. It’s just extraordinary. It’s just a film that’s always stayed with me and I still love it today. It’s still fascinating to look at. Gene Wilder is just wild and kind of lonely and mad and so unhinged. It’s a fantastic film.

My Name Is Joe (1998) 89%

Maybe My Name Is Joe, to mix it up a bit. At the time when I saw this, I was just wanting to get into filmmaking and I was really fascinated by Ken Loach — and Mike Leigh — because, again, they were social realist films. Loach is more politically based. My Name Is Joe was just such a moving film and it basically portrayed a portrait of a man that basically didn’t have a choice in the choices he made because of his political situation, and then, just how that wasn’t really enough. It was a really tragic, moving film. I just love that film.


Lion is now open in limited release.

There’s a lot worth watching on home video this week, including the most recent seasons of Mr. Robot and Homeland, a pair of Certified Fresh films, an action thriller, and more. Read on for the full list.


Mr. Robot: Season 2 (2016) 89%

Rami Malek won an Emmy earlier this year for his work on this USA Network drama, which centers on a troubled computer engineer suffering from occasional paranoid delusions who becomes a cyber-vigilante with an underground network of hackers. The season 2 set comes with deleted scenes and a pair of inside-look featurettes.

Get it Here, Stream it Here


Homeland: Season 5 (2015) 88%

In Showtime’s Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning espionage drama stars Claire Danes as obsessive CIA agent Carrie Mathison, a bipolar counterterrorism specialist who attempts to balance personal and professional interests as she engages in high-stakes espionage. The season 5 set includes a retrospective of the Carrie Mathison character’s journey and an examination of the season’s Berlin setting and its themes.

Get it Here, Stream it Here


Closet Monster (2015) 82%

This drama centers on a teen whose efforts to come to terms with his sexual identity are complicated at home and on the job. Special features include an interview with writer/director Stephen Dunn, a number of behind-the-scenes featurettes, and deleted scenes.

Get it Here


Deepwater Horizon (2016) 83%

Star Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg team up in the first of their two Certified Fresh 2016 collaborations, an account of the 2010 disaster on the titular drilling rig. Bonus features include almost an hour’s worth of behind-the-scenes featurettes, a profile of Berg as director, a look at the film’s setting, and more.

Get it Here, Stream it Here


Kevin Hart: What Now? (2016) 76%

Kevin Hart takes the stage for this comedy concert film, which chronicles the comedian’s set in front of an audience of 50,000 at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field. Extras include an alternate opening, deleted/alternate scenes, a gag reel, and more.

Get it Here, Stream it Here


The Birth of a Nation (2016) 73%

Nate Parker writes, directs, and stars in this historical tale about the life of Nat Turner, who famously led a slave revolt in 1831. Special features include a documentary on Nat Turner, deleted scenes, a making-of doc, a 2014 short film by Parker, a spoken word performance, and more.

Get it Here, Stream it Here


The Accountant (2016)

Ben Affleck and Anna Kendrick star in this thriller about an expert, autistic accountant with deadly skills who goes on the run when he discovers the secret behind a successful robotics company. Extras include a look at the main character’s condition and his training, as well as an overview of his creation.

Get it Here, Stream it Here


The 400 Blows (1959) 98%

And, as we often do, we close with a couple of choices from the Criterion Collection, beginning with this re-release of their Blu-ray for François Truffaut’s debut, The 400 Blows, a semi-autobiographical portrait of a misunderstood teen growing up in Paris. The release contains two commentary tracks, rare audition footage of the film’s leads, excerpts of interviews with Truffaut, and more.

Get it Here


His Girl Friday (1940)

Lastly, we have Howard Hawks’ classic comedy starring Rosalind Russell as a quick-witted reporter headed out of town to get married and Cary Grant as the editor (and ex-husband) who uses a juicy scoop to try to get her to stay. Available for the first time on Blu-ray, this new release comes with archival interviews with Hawks, making-of featurettes, a radio adaptation from 1940, and more.

Get it Here

Photo by Carlos Alvarez / Stringer / Getty Images

As Non-Stop demonstrates, director Jaume Collet-Serra has a knack for tense thrillers in extreme locations. His latest, The Shallows, stars Blake Lively as a woman seeking refuge from a shark by clinging to a buoy. Here, he shares his Five Favorite Films, placing particular emphasis on the importance of a John Wayne classic and a Bruce Willis action-fest in the development of his career.


The Searchers (1956) 96%

This might be the first movie that I saw. I remember watching it when I was five or six — I shouldn’t even have been watching it — and I saw it in a theater. I grew up in a small town and they had one of those small town theaters, and they put Westerns and whatnot onscreen. It’s one of those movies that made me think it would be very cool to work in movies. I don’t know if I understood the concept of being a director, but I understood the concept of someone making movies, and this movie did it for me. Other people say Star Wars or Indiana Jones. For me it was this one. That’s why I have an emotional reaction to it.

Rosemary's Baby (1968) 96%

It’s the perfect genre movie. It’s brilliant I every aspect. It deals with some very complex subjects and is done masterfully. Even the dream sequences were so advanced at the time, the way [director Roman Polanski] made it surreal like a dream has to be, but very economic. I love every aspect and I watch it over and over again.

Die Hard (1988) 94%

I have to mention this as one of my favorites. I’ve been lucky enough to work with [producer] Joel Silver. It rewrote the rules on the modern thriller. It set the stage for the expectation that every question needs to be answered, and it has to be big, fun, and emotional, and a movie that can do everything. I try to do Die Hard in every movie that I do, by fulfilling that promise of delivering from the first frame. Obviously many more movies have done that — like Hitchcock — but as a movie that potentially could have gone many ways, it became a masterpiece. Before this movie, you could potentially believe that the bad guys are just bad guys; they don’t have motivation or are dumb. This guy had smart plans and dialogue, and set the bar high. Other movies have met it, but this was one of the first ones and I was blown away when I saw it. As much as I’ve liked other movies, at that time, Die Hard has had more of an influence on my work than the other ones of the time.

The Conversation (1974) 97%

This is such a complete technical movie about such a simple idea done so beautifully. It’s a thriller with very few elements and it’s a deconstruction and pure poetry. The sum of the parts is more than each of the parts individually and it’s so simple, yet the pieces together blows your mind. It also places a big emphasis on shooting because every shot means something, not one shot is wasted. I strive to do that. I think it’s very important that every shot has to have a meaning.

The 400 Blows (1959) 98%

This is what film is about. It’s pure art. It’s the movie that expresses why movies are important. We can have fun, we can have movies that touch us, movies that are an experience, and then we have 400 Blows. And then you understand why film will transcend every other art. I could never make a movie like that. It’s the ultimate expression of artistry.


The Shallows is now playing in wide release.

This week on streaming video, we’ve got a handful of acclaimed indie films available for purchase, as well as two well-received films from 2014 on Netflix, a sci-fi series on Hulu, and some classics on Fandor. Read on for the full list:

Available for purchase


Wild Tales
94%

This Oscar-nominated black comedy anthology from Argentina is comprised of six short tales in which ordinary people pushed to violence.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu


The Wrecking Crew
95%

This Certified Fresh documentary tells the story of the legendary L.A. session musicians who backed up everyone from Frank Sinatra to the Beach Boys.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu


Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter
88%

Rinko Kikuchi stars in this Certified Fresh drama about a woman who leaves behind her life in Japan to search for the buried cash in Fargo.

Available now on: iTunes, Vudu


Danny Collins
78%

Al Pacino stars as an aging pop star on the downside of his career whose life is changed when he discovers a long-lost letter sent to him by John Lennon. His spirit reinvigorated, Collins attempts to mend his frayed relationships with family and friends. Annette Bening, Bobby Cannavale, Jennifer Garner Jennifer Garner Michael Caine, and Christopher Plummer round out the cast.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes


Lord Montagu

This documentary profiles the titular English aristocrat who, after being elected to Parliament, was arrested for homosexual offenses in a landmark case, then later went on to invent a new form of tourism.

Available now on: iTunes, Vudu

New on Netflix


Nightcrawler
95%

In this Certified Fresh thriller, Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Lou Bloom, a freelance TV journalist who sells lurid crime footage to a local station. But as his career progresses, and his scoops become ever more explosive, Bloom’s shaky ethics threaten to overwhelm him.

Available now on: Netflix


High Fidelity
91%

Based on the Nick Hornby novel of the same name, this Certified Fresh comedy from Stephen Frears stars John Cusack as a music junkie and record store owner who reexamines his past love life after his longtime girlfriend leaves him.

Available now on: Netflix


Rosewater
76%

Jon Stewart’s Certified Fresh directorial debut focuses on the real life story of Maziar Bahari (Gael Garcia Bernal), an Iranian-Canadian journalist who was imprisoned and tortured by the Iranian government for four months in 2009.

Available now on: Netflix


Life of Crime
68%

John Hawkes, Jennifer Aniston, Tim Robbins, Isla Fisher, Will Forte, and Yasiin Bey star in this caper comedy about a man who refuses to pay the ransom for his kidnapped wife.

Available now on:
Netflix

New on Hulu


The Strain: Season One

A vampiric “virus” is discovered after a plane lands in New York with all but four passengers dead of mysterious causes. The remaining survivors gradually acquire a rapacious appetite for — can you guess? — blood.

Available now on: Hulu

New on Fandor


The 400 Blows
98%

François Truffaut’s masterpiece — the story of a 13-year-old who knocks around Paris to escape his trouble home life — is one of the most influential of all the French New Wave films, and one of the most beloved.

Available now on: Fandor


Stolen Kisses
96%

François Truffaut’s whimsical romantic comedy stars Jean-Pierre Léaud once again as Antoine Doinel, who in this film becomes a private detective and stumbles through some amusing misadventures.

Available now on: Fandor


Farewell, Herr Schwarz
91%

This fascinating documentary tells the story of a reunion of siblings who survived the Holocaust.

Available now on: Fandor

Richard-Linklater's-Five-Favorite-Films

Director/screenwriter Richard Linklater has been a Tomatometer darling over the years. And this week, he hits 100 percent Certified Fresh for the second time with his new film Boyhood (the first time was Before Sunrise in 1995). Shooting his film over the span of a dozen years, Linklater captures the coming-of-age story of Mason (Ellar Coltrane), a boy who literally grows up before your eyes.

To celebrate Linklater’s cinematic achievement, we asked him about the films that he loves. Tasking Linklater to list his five favorites is like asking him to describe his mood: the list will likely change in a day, or even in five minutes. “I once made a list of my 250 favorites — and that was just scratching the surface,” Linklater laughed. Still, as you go through the list of Linklater’s five favorite films (as they struck him at 1:30 p.m. EST on a Thursday in July), you will see how well they represent a filmmaker whose art is funny, sprawling, romantic, and radical — a body of work that captures a certain realness about the human condition, no matter what the genre.


Some Came Running (Vincente Minnelli, 1959; 78% Tomatometer)



It’s one of the great ’50s melodramas, and it’s kind of like a musical without the music, but it has a great score, of course. I saw it in my early- to mid-20s, and it just really affected me. It’s about a guy who goes back to his hometown where his brother is a prominent citizen. He’s a stalled-out, blocked writer, and he’s been a soldier, and a worker, and a would-be novelist, and he’s kind of a gambler and a drinker — this is Sinatra, of course, the conflicted one — and he lives in two worlds. Because he’s a published writer, he has the respect of the local English teacher and her brother — the respectable world of literature — but he really has a soft spot for bars and gambling and floozies and the Shirley MacLaine character. And then you’ve got Gwen French, who’s played by Martha Hyer, who’s the uptight school teacher. So it’s all these opposites colliding — respectability, debauchery… It’s wonderfully melodramatic and beautifully made… It’s about male friendship too. I consider it kind of the first Rat Pack movie, although it’s just Dean and Frank with Shirley around too. It doesn’t have a lot of the other people, but it’s the first one to capture these guys gambling and hanging out and that camaraderie. They become roommates and go on, like, a trip to Terre Haute, IN, to go gambling. It’s just wonderful.

If… (Lindsay Anderson, 1968; 97% Tomatometer)



The great British director Lindsay Anderson died 20 years ago and he only made five or six films, but they’re all very interesting, and I think his most famous is called If… It’s the film Malcolm McDowell did before A Clockwork Orange, and it’s kind of the ultimate teenage movie. It’s beautiful and very radical. It won Cannes that year, and it’s very much of its time, the ’60s, and Malcolm McDowell is brilliant in it. It’s the ultimate teen rebellion movie — and I like that genre — but it’s also very poetic, almost Brechtian, and there’s almost fantasy elements to it. Like, there’s this woman in the movie who might not even be real. It’s filmed in color and there are sections that are black-and-white and it’s kind of amazing. It’s the first film of a trilogy too. Malcolm McDowell’s character’s name is Mick Travis, and so a few years later, they did a film called O Lucky Man! and then ten years later they did Britannia Hospital together, Lindsay Anderson and Malcolm McDowell. So it’s one of the greater film trilogies in my opinion… It’s definitely worth watching. It used to be a bigger cult film in the ’70s and the ’80s, but I see it’s falling off. I don’t know if young people are watching it the way they used to.

They’re watching Dazed and Confused.

If… is much better. Trust me.

The 400 Blows (Francois Truffaut, 1959; 100% Tomatometer)



The 400 Blows by Truffaut is a real canonical film that everyone’s seen — and yet, there are still a lot of people who haven’t seen it! It’s Truffaut’s first film. He did it in his 20s, and it’s about a few days in the life of his young, 13-year-old hero, Antoine Doinel, who went on to do four more films in character. Truffaut, of all the great the directors, I think, had the most sensitivity toward children ultimately. He made this film, which is widely considered to be the best film about a kid, and went on to do The Wild Child and Small Change. He was just a good director of kids and this is one of the great kids movies — a young hero and his family life. It’s incredible.

Nashville (Robert Altman, 1975; 93% Tomatometer)



It’s the ultimate, sprawling ensemble Altman film — the way each character has their own story to such a degree, and he pulls it all together. It has these thrilling moments, these funny moments. The music is both very moving and satirical, funny and beautiful too. Keith Carradine’s song, “I’m Easy,” is a beautiful song, and some of the other songs like “200 Years” by Henry Gibson is hilarious. It’s just ridiculous. So, that you could have all of this go into one big collage where you have realism, satire, romance — it’s all there — is quite a feat. And I actually saw this when I was a teenager — fourteen or fifteen — and I was bored. I didn’t really understand what I was watching, but I saw it a little bit later, and it kicked off something else in me.

Sullivan’s Travels (Preston Sturges, 1941; 100% Tomatometer)



Let’s do Preston Sturges and the greatest comedy of all. This film hasn’t aged a day from 1941 when it came out; it’s amazing — especially with Hollywood in mind. It’s the ultimate inside Hollywood movie. It’s about a guy searching for meaning in his art who’s had all this success in Hollywood… The human dynamics of it are very true to life. I mean, it’s a comedy and it’s all pitched at that point, but Preston Sturges was such the master of dialogue and delivery that the whole tone and pitch of it is totally unique. It’s amazingly contemporary. This character’s desires and the timeless subject of, say, art versus commerce is one of the best film depictions of that you could ever find — and in a very comedic way. He has a project that the studio doesn’t want him to make about homelessness — this is coming out of the Depression — and he’s a spoiled rich guy and he has a project he wants to make. Of course, the Coens made a film with that name, O Brother, Where Art Thou? That’s where that comes from. And it’s kind of a ridiculous desire to say something that has social significance and meaning about suffering and all that stuff, but he’s really kind of desperate to make a comedy. He ends up on a chain gang by a series of misadventures… So he really is suffering. It’s just a brilliant movie and surprisingly contemporary.


Boyhood opens in limited release this weekend, and it’s currently Certified Fresh at 100 percent on the Tomatometer.

As an accomplished modern artist, sometime provocateur and acclaimed film director, Julian Schnabel’s long and diverse career has taken him from much-lauded exhibitions of his paintings to widespread critical praise — and several Academy Award nominations — for his movies.

Schnabel’s feature-film career began with 1996’s Basquiat, a portrait of fellow American painter Jean-Michel Basquiat that allowed the director to explore his interest in lives lived on the margins of society. His follow-up, 2000’s Before Night Falls, garnered star Javier Bardem’s first Oscar nomination, for his affecting portrayal of exiled Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas. It was Schnabel’s next film, however, that solidified his reputation as a unique director with a bold stylistic approach: 2007’s The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, shot largely through a subjective POV of the paralyzed, wheelchair-bound Jean-Dominique Bauby, was a critical smash, earning the filmmaker a nomination for Best Director from the Academy.

This week, Schnabel returns with his latest project, Miral. Drawn from the novel by Rula Jebreal, it’s an emotional journey that follows several generations of Palestinian women against the turbulent landscape of the Arab-Israeli conflict, with the central story refracted through the experience of teenage Miral — played by Slumdog Millionaire‘s Freida Pinto.

We sat down with Schnabel this week and asked him to talk about his Five Favorite Films, and in doing so got some insight into his own directing process. “Okay, let’s try to figure them out,” Schnabel ponders, with the first of several long, thoughtful pauses. “I mean, I like Kaspar Hauser by Werner Herzog and… I think I need 10, man. [laughs] Viridiana by Bunuel… Raging Bull, Mafioso by Alberto Lattuada… did I say 400 Blows? Oh, another movie that I loved that I’d put up there is I Am Cuba. It’s a responsibility to talk about the movies and they all have different qualities. I think there are things that exist in these other movies that don’t exist in the first five.”

 


Andrei Rublev (1966, 93% Tomatometer)

 

Well, I think one thing is I love seeing the 15th century in black and white, in the 20th century. The physical imagery… that scene in the balloon at the beginning of the movie, the way that it’s cut together and the way that it functions and what he’s looking at. The sound, the music. Tarkovsky is one of my favorite directors and I think there’s just a great abstract quality in his films, where you see something and, as you’re looking at it, it transforms in front of your eyes. Things happen that you can’t believe you’re looking at — a horse falling down a flight of stairs; all of a sudden there’s a moment where you’ve got Christ, in the snow, carrying his cross up a hill. The kind of subliminal violence that occurs — when this guy gouges the eyes out of one of those journeymen, artisans that are leaving the reconstruction of a church; the apathy in the violence reminds me of the W.H. Auden poem, “Musee des Beaux Arts.” The old masters, they really knew about human suffering.

And I guess in that particular film, what I’m thinking about is the length of the takes, and the surprise of what you actually see being filmed. The way slow motion is used in that movie also; the way that movies are not like that anymore. The scale and the depth of field of what you’re seeing is vast. So there’s a poetic quality to that. I’d have to mention The Passenger also, because there’s a moment when Antonioni has Jack Nicholson sticking his arms outside of a cable car, and for that moment you just have this sense of observing observation — that’s a big part of moviemaking to me, or painting. That kind of filmmaking, where the camera is still but everything around it is moving, and moving at different speeds, is something that I’m attracted to.

The Battle of Algiers (1966, 99% Tomatometer)

 

The notion of making a fiction — meaning you look at it and you think it’s all documentary footage, but it’s all shot. And the reality factor of that is something that makes you able to escape into the film; the fabric of that fiction is so believable and completely knitted together that you buy the proposition of the film — even when you see people getting shot and there’s no blood coming out of their bodies or whatever. There’s something about shooting something [in black and white] — and I’m talking about two movies that are in black and white, we should say, except for the part [in Andrei Rublev] where they show the color of the fresco of the Russian icons. I really like movies that are in black and white, because you feel like you are watching a movie. We associate it with things that were filmed at that time, that would have been filmed in black and white. So there are different concessions and commitments to make to a limited palette for a reason. When I make a movie like Miral, there’s a kind of reversal stock that I’m using outside and sometimes it really feels like Technicolor, like a movie like Exodus, and there are other moments when it’s rougher and it feels like The Bad Lieutenant, or something like that.

The Godfather (1972, 100% Tomatometer)

The Godfather, Part II (1974, 98% Tomatometer)

 

 

Godfather one and two, as one movie — but not blended together; I don’t think that worked when they tried to combine them [for the TV version]. I have to just say that The Godfather is a quintessential American film, where it’s absolutely satisfying. The writing is so excellent — what is being said, and the nuance of what is being said, is so understood. And the color, again, situates you in a particular moment in time. It’s a portrait of America. It’s one of those things where storytelling and acting found one of those magical, elegant solutions…

Raging Bull (1980, 98% Tomatometer)

 

…and it’s something that happens with Raging Bull, also. And Marty Scorsese’s notion of sound — the memory. Sound memory is so important in Raging Bull; when you see the scene where Robert De Niro shows Cathy Moriarty his father’s house and tells him about the bird — “It was a bird, it’s dead” — and what’s going on around in the street, and you realize how important sound is. The other thing is the acting: Joe Pesci and Robert are so great together. I mean, the hardest thing in the world to do is just shoot two people in a room. All these other things are very easy to do — you get 150 people, you turn your camera on, you create a situation and as long as nobody looks at the camera you can make them seem very real. [Two people in a room] is really difficult. If I think of Robert Duvall, say, talking to Al Pacino in The Godfather two, when Al says to him, “Well what’d you get my son for Christmas?” and he says, “I got him a little car,” and Robert Duvall puts his hand over the couch — these are gestures that people understand as human gestures and they bring you into the storytelling.

The 400 Blows (1959, 100% Tomatometer)

 

Here’s one where the music is so important. And the decision where the camera movement is. There’s one moment in particular in 400 Blows, where the two boys skip school and they go into this centrifuge, and the kids are spinning around and you’re watching the movie and then all of a sudden you realize you’re watching something on the screen — you’re seeing this pole in the middle and these bodies flying by. I guess they’re just epiphanies of humanness that resonate, and I guess all that comes out of really physical human decisions — whether it’s about where you point your camera, what and how you’re editing, or how people are acting. But in all of these movies I can’t think of one that is depending on special effects. So I would say that what drives me is something that has to do with things that seem much more fundamental to storytelling, that are simple things… but maybe that’s because I’m a primitive kind of person.

 


Julian Schnabel’s Miral is released in theaters this week.

It’s a good week for Watchmen fans, as the highly anticipated animated short Tales of the Black Freighter (and the faux-documentary Under the Hood) arrive on shelves. Animation fans should also check out Disney’s Certified Fresh adventure Bolt, which debuted on Blu-ray on Sunday but is available this week on DVD. Adrenaline junkies have a few titles to choose from, including the latest James Bond adventure (Quantum of Solace) and, in anticipation of the upcoming fourth film, The Fast & the Furious trilogy set. Indie audiences should look for Kristen Stewart’s second star turn in two weeks, after last Saturday’s Twilight DVD debut (The Cake Eaters), while classic movie buffs have their own delights to consider (Criterion’s The 400 Blows on Blu-ray).

WatchmenTales of the Black Freighter & Under the Hood — N/A

Hot on the heels of the theatrical debut of Watchmen, Zack Snyder‘s epic tale about a band of former superheroes being hunted down in an alternate-1980s America, comes a supplementary DVD that will only further foment Watchmen-fever for those of you already enamored of the original Alan Moore graphic novel. Much like Snyder’s meticulously faithful big-screen adaptation, this DVD-only release (which combines an animated version of the meta-comic Tales of the Black Freighter and the faux-documentary Under the Hood) is a love song for established fans of the Watchmen world, though not so much for the uninitiated.

Tales of the Black Freighter breathes life into the meta-story of the same name, which appeared as a comic-within-a-comic throughout Moore’s graphic novel but is only alluded to in Snyder’s theatrical version (look for Black Freighter to be woven into the story in a director’s cut of Watchmen). In it, a ship captain (voiced by Gerard Butler, who played Leonidas in Snyder’s 300) loses his crew to the Black Freighter, a pirate ship headed to his home town; spurred by a desire to save his family from the Black Freighter’s dastardly crew, the mariner makes his way home but struggles to retain his sanity. With a gloomy, anime-like style and a story adaptation by Snyder and writer Alex Tse, this short runs just under 30 minutes and, if slightly unsatisfactory on its own, is a nice supplement to the world of Watchmen.

More intriguing for fans of the Watchmen film will be Under the Hood, a fake documentary posed as a “Where Are They Now?” retrospective, in which Carla Gugino (Silk Spectre), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Comedian), and Stephen McHattie (Nite Owl) reprise their all too-brief roles in Watchmen on the fictional “Culpeper Minute” show. It’s a nice way to see more of these supporting superheroes, who serve more peripheral roles in the feature film, and while some of it is lifted verbatim from the novel, much of it is improvised. Akin to Watchmen‘s great, nostalgic opening montage (Superhero History 101, from the Minute Men to the public scandals to the rise and fall of the Watchmen), Under the Hood fleshes out the great strengths of the Watchmen universe — the idea of an ironic superhero existence, extraordinary heroes who yet remain deeply, complexly flawed human beings.

Next: Disney’s Oscar-nominated Bolt races to DVD

Bolt — 86%

Disney’s Oscar-nominated tale about a canine actor trying to find his way home to Hollywood won over critics and audiences alike — and kids and adults alike — thanks to its sweet “a girl and her dog” sentiments and pop culture-savvy dialogue. The Certified Fresh release arrives on DVD (after hitting Blu-ray on Sunday) as one of the more satisfying family-entertainment titles of late, and, proving that Pixar doesn’t have a complete monopoly on the genre, drew kudos as one of the best animated flicks of 2008. Tween fans will be delighted to see lots of Miley Cyrus all over the DVD and Blu-ray bonus materials, as well as insightful making-of featurettes and behind-the-scenes glimpses; a feature dedicated to Rhino (Bolt’s hammy hamster sidekick) is a nice coda for the film’s biggest scene-stealer.

Next: The Blonde Bond is back in Quantum of Solace

James Bond’s second outing after being reborn in 2006’s Casino Royale (94%) fell a few notches south of its predecessor, though critics agreed that it featured some of the most frenetic and brutal action sequences of the year. While Quantum of Solace might have better been titled “Emo James Bond” — he’s still moping over the loss of Vesper Lynd the entire time, and that happened an entire movie ago — 007 jet-sets from Italy to South America on the trail of a sinister eco-terrorist conglomerate while managing to have a martini (and a lady) along the way, in true Bond fashion. Pick up the 2-Disc DVD for supplemental materials like on location featurettes, segments on director Marc Forster and Bond girl Olga Kurylenko, and a music video for the worst Bond theme in recent memory, courtesy of Jack White and Alicia Keys.

Next: 3 Fast 3 Furious, or The Fast & The Furious Trilogy

The Fast & The Furious Trilogy — N/A

Catch up on all three previous films in The Fast & the Furious franchise with Universal’s new trilogy pack, on Blu-ray and Limited Edition DVD sets this week. (Just in time for a refresher on where Vin Diesel and Paul Walker‘s torrid bromance will pick up in the fourth film, in theaters April 3!)

Personally, we loved the original Fast & the Furious (53%), in which undercover cop Brian O’Conner (Walker) befriends the street-racing criminal, Dominic Toretto (Diesel) — a saga of lies, friendship and brotherly love that could aptly be called “Point Break on Wheels.” The magic faded a bit when Brian relocated to Miami for John Singleton‘s Diesel-less sequel, 2 Fast 2 Furious (35% – Best. Title. Ever.), despite a hilarious turn by model-turned-singer-turned-actor Tyrese Gibson. But the franchise picked up again with the Justin Lin-helmed Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift (34%), in which troubled newcomer Sean Boswell (Lucas Black, AKA the kid from Sling Blade) moves to Japan only to become tangled up…with drifting yakuza!

Tons of bonus materials accompany each film, for everyone from gear heads (“Tricking Out a Hot Import Car,” vehicle spotlights) to movie fans (storyboard comparisons and special effects features) to the conscientious (“Paul Walker Public Service Announcement”), and each film includes two new features apiece. Picture-in-Picture is enabled for Blu-ray viewers, although visually not all three films benefit from their High Def treatments.

Next: Kristen Stewart stars in Mary Stuart Masterson’s The Cake Eaters

Despite starring in the biggest teen movie event of last year — Summit Entertainment’s TwilightKristen Stewart has always been more of an indie actor than a mainstream starlet. (Take that, Vanessa Hudgens!) She shows her remarkable acting chops again in The Cake Eaters, an independent dramedy filmed two years ago that also marks the directorial debut of actress Mary Stuart Masterson (Fried Green Tomatoes). Stewart stars as Georgia, a teenager who suffers from a degenerative neurological disease and wants to live life as fully as she can — by falling in love with Beagle (Aaron Stanford), a local kid whose family and hers are intertwined. A director’s commentary, cast interviews, behind-the-scenes featurettes and deleted scenes accompany the disc (The Cake Eaters is still in limited release in select cities).

Next: Did someone say, “Rob Schneider’s directorial debut?”

Big Stan — N/A

When the phrases “Rob Schneider’s directorial debut,” “David Carradine as martial arts mentor,” and “prison comedy” are bandied about in the same sentence, is there any question that a direct-to-video film is a must-see? Such is the case of Big Stan, a prison comedy featuring David Carradine as a martial arts mentor that also happens to be Rob Schneider‘s directorial debut. Schneider also stars (a double treat!) as Stan, a two-bit criminal who prepares for prison by learning from a martial arts master, only to find himself the big dog behind bars, torn between breaking out and leading his fellow inmates against an evil warden. M. Emmet Walsh, Randy Couture, and G4’s Olivia Munn also star in this direct-to-video pick of the week!

Next: Anne Hathaway’s throwaway thriller, Passengers

Passengers — 21%

Anne Hathaway notched a minor blip on her career radar with this tepid thriller, which — in case you missed it, and you’re not alone — did actually come out in theaters last fall. (Her other October release, Rachel Getting Married, made a somewhat bigger splash.) Hathaway plays a psychologist counseling the five survivors of a terrible plane crash, one of whom (Watchmen‘s Patrick Wilson) she takes a romantic interest in. When her patients start disappearing, Hathaway starts suspecting something’s a little off…and that she might be better off in a Jonathan Demme character study.

Next: Casting against type — Tom Arnold as a pedophile in the devastating Gardens of the Night

Hitting DVD shelves directly from the indie film circuit, Gardens of the Night explores extremely sensitive ground: the consequences of child kidnapping and sexual abuse, as seen through the eyes of two victimized teenagers. The difficult material is made compelling thanks to brave performances by young actors Gillian Jacobs and Evan Ross (the son of Diana Ross, who cut his showbiz teeth in ATL and Pride); a supporting cast led by, of all people, Tom Arnold (as a middle-aged pedophile), John Malkovich (as a case worker), and Harold Perrineau (of ABC’s Lost) makes for a compelling, if hard to watch, drama.

Next: Criterion brings Truffaut’s The 400 Blows to Blu-ray

The 400 Blows — 100%

Film critic-turned-director Francois Truffaut (who coined the phrase “auteur theory” before becoming one of its best examples) made his directorial debut with Les Quatre Cents Coup (The 400 Blows), a semi-autobiographical tale of a working-class Parisian boy with a problem with authority and a severe case of wanderlust. The tragicomic escapades of Antoine Doinel, played by the astounding Jean-Pierre Leaud, were modeled on Truffaut’s own childhood, which lent the picture an air of authenticity and rebellion — two markers of the French New wave to which it belongs. Criterion has released The 400 Blows before, but for this High Def re-issue they’ve given Truffaut’s film its best transfer yet; the black and white picture is alternately crisp and lush, exactly as good as you hope it will be. While there are unfortunately no new extras, the bonus menu (highlighted by archival interviews with Truffaut discussing the film, original trailers, and two audio commentaries, one of which is by Truffaut’s lifelong friend Robert Lachenay, upon whom Antoine’s best friend is modeled) offer a thorough experience nonetheless.

Until next week, happy renting!

Now here’s something trippy for you. This item not only concerns a movie remake, but is itself a remake of news from ten years ago: According to Variety, Roland Emmerich has decided to direct a new version of 1966’s cult sci-fi classic Fantastic Voyage.

Emmerich, who recently finished next March’s 10,000 B.C., was attached to a Voyage remake in the ’90s, but the project became a casualty of the disappointment that was Godzilla — until the director read a new script treatment by National Treasure screenwriters Marianne and Cormac Wibberley. Whatever Emmerich read convinced him a new Voyage could be successful after all, and the film is now set to be released by Fox, with the Wibberleys in negotiations to write the script.

The original, you may recall, starred Raquel Welch and Donald Pleasence in the story of a team of scientists who are miniaturized and injected into a scientist’s body in order to repair a blood clot in his brain. Emmerich’s first attempt at a new Voyage was to take place 30 years after the events of the original film, but it’s unclear which direction the new script will take.

Source: Variety

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