It (1927), Marilyn Monroe in There's No Business Like Show Business (1954), Shirley MacLaine in Woman Times Seven (1967), and, um, that giant blimp in Black Sunday (1977).
If you're into Pam Grier blaxpoitation flicks, then this month's expirations may especially hurt. Three of her better-known movies are on the chopping block: Coffy (1973), Friday Foster (1975), and Sheba, Baby (1975). Fortunately, she'll still maintain a respectable streaming presence, with her "cage" pictures and a number of more recent actioners and melodramas sticking around, including Quentin Tarantino's latter-day ode to her, Jackie Brown (1997).
Map of the Sounds of Tokyo (2009). I only recently discovered this one (thanks to an interest in star Rinko Kikuchi, from Babel and last year's Pacific Rim), and found myself absorbed by the understated West-meets-East vibe and quiet performances by Kikuchi, as an unlikely assassin/fish-factory worker, and Sergi Lopez as a soulful wineshop owner in mourning. I couldn't make out all the dialogue—the two characters often speak in heavily accented English—but the film's many strengths overcame this shortcoming (including some steamy scenes set in an imaginatively designed hotel room).
The Frenchness of It AllOf course, many of you know my predilection for artsy European fare, which makes this next group of titles particularly difficult to part with. All are French and, while none would be considered "important" in a cinematic sense, there are a couple of minor classics among them. The least of these is probably The Swimming Pool (La Piscine), from 1969, which stars "French Robert Redford" Alain Delon, along with Romy Schneider, Maurice Ronet, and a young Jane Birkin (still finding her way in France at the time). A slow-boil thriller in the Claude Chabrol mold, half the film's pleasure is the sight of all these gorgeous stars sulking and brooding in swimsuits beneath the St. Tropez sun. If you're a fan of any of them, give this one a shot—especially if you enjoyed Delon and Ronet in Purple Noon, the 1958 French version of The Talented Mr. Ripley.
Delon also stars in Jean-Pierre Melville's Dirty Money (Un Flic) (1972), along with Richard Crenna and Catherine Deneuve. Melville made several of the best films of the 1960s, including two masterpieces, Le Samourai (1967) and Army of Shadows (1969). He was one of the premiere directorial minimalists, letting the precise actions of his characters always take precedence over words, yet able ratchet up the tension on a par with Hitchcock. This languid, methodical heist film doesn't always connect the dots, but for Melville completists and Delon fans it has its pleasures.
If that one doesn't do it for you, then give Le Professionnel (1981) a try. Veteran New Waver Jean-Paul Belmondo plays a badass rogue spy who's got it in for his Secret Service bosses—and the president of an African country. Even if you're not an aficionado of foreign action movies, this tough little thriller has the perfect mix of fights, chicks, guns, and car chases, all while maintaining a fairly realistic tone. It's good, tense stuff, without any James Bond excesses or gimmicks but some genuinely exciting scenes (including a great car chase at the base of the Eiffel Tower) and of course an excellent Belmondo outsmarting everyone he meets.
WoNN Spotlight A Woman Is a Woman (1961)
The last of the French films expiring this month is of more recent vintage. If less heralded, it's still entirely worthy—the 27th adaptation of D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley (2006). Okay, maybe it's not the 27th (26th?), but it's quite possibly the best. If you've never seen a film version of this story and were always curious—or if you're a Marina Hands fan or simply a devotee of literary erotica—this is the one for you. Great performances, lush locations, and just the right note of pent-up Lawrentian transgression.
February 7Unmade Beds (2009)
February 11My Last Five Girlfriends (2009)
February 15The Muse (1999)
February 17Super 8 (2011)
February 23Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (2011)
February 27Haywire (2011)
The Yellow Sea (2011)
February 28Beach Blanket Bingo (1965)
Black Snake Moan (2007)
Black Sunday (1977)
The Boxer (1997)
Caterina in the Big City (2005)
Change of Plans (2009)
Dances with Wolves (1990)
Dirty Money (Un Flic) (1972)
Escape by Night (1960)
A French Gigolo (Cliente) (2008)
Friday Foster (1975)
The Garden of Earthly Delights (2004)
Hard Eight (1996) - Review
Hustle & Flow (2005)
Internal Affairs (1990) - Review
Jacob's Ladder (1990)
Jesus Christ Superstar (1973)
Lady Chatterley (2006)
An Officer and a Gentleman (1982)
Le Professionnel (1981)
Lewis Black: In Got We Rust (2011)
The Man from Snowy River (1982)
The Man with One Red Shoe (1985)
Map of the Sounds of Tokyo (2009)
Men in Black (1997)
Once Bitten (1985)
Sacco and Vanzetti (2006)
The Shakiest Gun in the West (1968)
The Swimming Pool (La Piscine) (1969)
Sheba, Baby (1975)
Sidewalks of New York (2001)
Soldier Blue (1970)
Tanner Hall (2009)
Targets (1968) - Review
There's No Business Like Show Business (1954)
Two-Way Stretch (1960)
A Woman Is a Woman (1961)
Woman Times Seven (1967)