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" Oh, if I just wasn’t a lady, what I wouldn’t tell that varmint! "
— Vivian Leigh, Gone with the Wind

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Pic of the Week

Each week we pick a recommended "Pic" from our archives. Below are our most recent picks.

Spellbound

***1/22003, Jeffrey Blitz Jeffrey Blitz

The movie’s great achievement is that it captures a broad cross-section of America

The mother of one of the spellers in Jeffrey Blitz’s documentary joked that spelling bees are just another form of child abuse. As a former speller myself, I couldn’t agree more. When I won my junior high bee, the runner-up exploded at the indignity and unfairness of it all. She, like so many kids, placed too much importance on the competition.

A Mighty Heart

***1/22007, Michael Winterbottom

In A Mighty Heart, Angelina Jolie finally proves her Oscar win wasn’t a fluke

In A Mighty Heart, Angelina Jolie finally proves her Oscar win wasn’t a fluke. This is her best performance and it’s now on DVD. Oscar voters, keep this one at the top of your stack.

Stalin’s Bride

***1/21991, Péter Bascó

How Parana the idiot becomes Stalin’s “fiancee” is humorous and tragic

Parana is an idiot. By “idiot” I don’t mean a fool or an affable, bumbling Forrest Gump. No, she’s a full-blown, filthy, barefoot, sack-wearing, eye-rolling, Village Idiot with a capital ‘VI.’ She’s of the classic Russian variety you have to go to a Dostoyevsky novel to see these days. And her teeth... don’t even get me started. How she comes to be Stalin’s “fiancee” is the humorous and tragic tale told in Stalin’s Bride, the 1990 Hungarian film by director Peter Basco.

Splash

***1/21984, Ron Howard

For a movie made 20 years ago, Splash has aged wonderfully

Before Splash, everyone thought of Ron Howard as “Opie Cunningham” from his television acting days on The Andy Griffith Show and Happy Days; Tom Hanks was just some guy who was on an obscure sitcom called Bosom Buddies; and Disney was a fading studio on life support. Splash could not have come at a better time for all three, as illustrated in Touchstone Video’s 20th anniversary edition of the movie.

Elsewhere

***Nikolaus Geyrhalter

Next movie night, go somewhere else

Elsewhere is a four-hour collection of 12 short documentaries. Each segment was shot during a different month of the year 2000. February’s was shot with the Sami people of northern Finland; July’s was shot in India, somewhere near the Himalayas; and so on.

The Mother

***2004, Roger Michell

Daniel Craig in a December-May romance

It’s practically impossible to discuss The Mother without mentioning Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Ali: Fear Eats the Soul. Both are love stories that involve an older woman’s affair with a much younger man. In both cases, the film’s magnetism comes from the unusual, some might say unnatural, pairing.

Sister

***1/22012, Ursula Meier

Emotionally engaging and impeccably crafted

Midway through Sister (L’enfant d’en haut) someone asks about Simon and Louise’s mother. The siblings trade a knowing look and say what they probably always say: we have a pretty fucked-up family.

Vikings

***1/22006, Marc Fafard

Vikings invade DVD in this excellent IMAX production.

Offering a quick look at the Vikings and their early influence on world history, Vikings: Journey to New Worlds is an ambitious production originally presented in IMAX theatres and now available for home viewing.

Locked-In Syndrome

***1/21997, Jean-Jacques Beineix

Fascinating documentary predecessor to Diving Bell plays it straight and keeps it concise

Locked-In Syndrome is a straightforward introduction to a complex man, Jean-Dominique Bauby.

Chronicles of Narnia

***2005, Andrew Adamson

Another case of overkill and double-dipping, but at least the new bonus features are interesting

Perhaps you checked out the two-disc DVD edition of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. You listened to both audio commentaries, watched all of the behind-the-scenes featurettes. And yet you found yourself wanting to know exactly how they put those talking CGI beavers on the screen with human actors. And maybe you wanted to know who this C.S. Lewis guy was. And how they came up with the design for Tilda Swinton’s gowns.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

***2011, Michael Bay

Dark of the Moon is the best of the Transformers trilogy.

It doesn’t sound like high praise, but Dark of the Moon is the best of the Transformers trilogy.