Olympia Dukakis, revered star of stage and screen, stars in A Little Game, a new coming-of-age adventure film currently on VOD and DVD. Each of Dukakis’ five favorite films is a freshly-rated classic (we would expect no less!). Most of the films listed here can be used as a starter pad to launch your own stretch of fine foreign film viewing. Enjoy.

Doctor Zhivago (David Lean, 1965) 84%

I love the book so much. The fact that in spite of the disasters of life, it asks you to keep choosing life, to risk love and risk caring about your work and risk that. I was very moved by that, really moved by that.

Miracle of Milan (Vittorio De Sica, 1951) 100%

It’s a great movie, Italian, post-Second World War. These are all going to be foreign films. Miracle of Milan, I can’t even remember the plot, but when you asked me my favorite films, it just hit me again. It’s a story out of the wreckage of the Second World War, and the people finding a way and a reason to go forward. And that’s why it’s called a miracle.RT: I sense a theme.

I just realized it myself.

Life of Pi (Ang Lee, 2012) 86%

This is a fabulous film. I’ve seen it, like, six times.RT: It’s so beautiful. Have you read the book?

No. The movie is so visual, and all of the different episodes and magical aspects of it make me afraid to.

Seven Samurai (Akira Kurosawa, 1954) 100%

Kurosawa, my God. I saw that film and I left the theater and I thought, “When I grow up I wanna be a samurai.” I just love it, I think it’s great. Kurosawa, you can’t get any better. Do you remember Ran?RT: Absolutely.

The scene where there’s fighting and the camera angle is above them, overlooking the battle field. Richard Shickel — the critic, he’s semi-retired — he did a lot of shows on television and bios. He interviewed him. We were talking about Ran one day and he interviewed Kurosawa and asked him about that scene where the battle is happening but you can’t hear it. Kurosawa said the gods don’t hear us. They see us but they don’t really hear us. I found that very powerful.

Jules and Jim (François Truffaut, 1962) 93%

Oh my God, how could I forget it? Jules and Jim. It’s that one with that very famous French actress, [yells at her husband to look up the name] Jeanne Moreau! I had never seen acting by a woman that way. She was so layered and complicated, and she threw things away that other actresses would nurture for a whole film. Do you know when I saw that movie — I saw it by myself — in the middle of it, it was so overwhelming I had to walk back and watch it from the back of the theater. I couldn’t just sit in my chair. It was so wonderfully honest and complex about relationships between men and women. And you saw aspects of her that were really dark that came out, as opposed to the stuff that was coming out back then.

A Little Game is now available on VOD and DVD. It also stars Ralph Macchio, Janeane Garofalo, and Rachel Dratch.

This week on home video, we’ve got a new action thriller from Luc Besson, a mediocre Conjuring spinoff, and Laika’s latest stop-motion feature film. Then we also have a number of notable smaller films, like a Certified Fresh crime drama starring Tom Hardy and an acclaimed documentary about an internet activist. Read on for details:



Lucy

67%

French writer-director Luc Besson has been the brains behind some of the most gleefully brainless thrillers in recent memory, like the Taken franchise, and though he doesn’t get behind the camera as often as he once did, we still get something like Lucy every once in a while. Scarlett Johansson stars as an American ex-pat living in Taiwan who is forced to become a drug mule by a Korean mob boss. When the experimental drug begins seeping into her system, she begins to experience heightened physical and mental abilities, which she utilizes to seek revenge. Besson has a thing for powerful leading ladies, and Lucy seems to be aware of its own silliness, so critics were relatively kind to the film, ludicrous logic and all. It may dumbfound you and confound you, but if you’re looking for a cheesy actioner, this may do the trick.



Annabelle

29%

The very beginning of 2013’s horror hit The Conjuring introduced audiences to the paranormal team of Ed and Lorraine Warren via the story of a mysterious doll named Annabelle. While we wait for the sequel to that film, the producers thought, “Eh, why not throw’em a bone in the meantime?” Hence, last year’s Annabelle, a Conjuring spinoff that includes the same introductory scene from the earlier film and builds off that to explain the origins of the creepy possessed doll that makes things go bump in the night. Unfortunately, critics weren’t too impressed with the story, which, like a lot of horror films these days, simply borrows elements from better predecessors and attempts to jump-scare you into submission. At just 29 percent on the Tomatometer, Annabelle is kind of a poor appetizer for The Conjuring 2, but if you just want to spend more time in that universe, it’ll do.



The Boxtrolls

78%

The stop-motion animation studio Laika had great success with their first two features, 2009’s Coraline and 2012’s ParaNorman, so there was some anticipation for their third, The Boxtrolls. Isaac Hempstead-Wright leads an all-star voice cast as Eggs, a human boy raised by the titular Boxtrolls in an underground home beneath the city of Cheesebridge. The Boxtrolls are misunderstood, however, and when an exterminator named Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley) vows to wipe them out, Eggs teams up with this first human friend, Winnie (Elle Fanning), to save his family. If you’ve seen the trailer for this film, you know that its visuals are both typically spectacular and a little off-kilter, which is also indicative of its sense of humor. Though it’s not Laika’s best effort to date, it’s still an entertaining family film that’s fascinating to watch.

Also available this week:

  • The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz (93 percent), a Certified Fresh documentary about the programming wiz (and Reddit co-founder) whose tireless efforts in information activism resulted in legal troubles and, ultimately, suicide at the age of 26.
  • The Drop (89 percent), starring Tom Hardy and James Gandolfini in a Certified Fresh crime thriller about a bartender who gets targeted by the Chechen mob when a robbery goes awry.
  • The Mule (85 percent), a dark comedy about a drug mule who decides withhold evidence by not… performing his bodily functions.
  • The Green Prince (77 percent), a documentary about Mosab Hassan Yousef, a Palestinian who operated as an Israeli spy.
  • William H. Macy’s Rudderless (63 percent), starring Billy Crudup and Anton Yelchin in the story of a grieving father who discovers his son’s demo tapes and decides to form a band to play the music.
  • Terry Gilliam’s The Zero Theorem (52 percent), starring Christoph Waltz and Matt Damon in a sci-fi drama about a computer genius tasked with discovering the meaning of life.
  • White Bird in a Blizzard (49 percent), starring Shailene Woodley in a coming-of-age drama about a young woman whose mother goes missing and who slowly comes to grips with the truth about the disappearance.
  • A Little Game, starring Janeane Garofalo and F. Murray Abraham in a family drama about a young girl who doesn’t get along with her peers but becomes unlikely friends with a local chess master.

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