ROUNDERS
1998, Park Circus/Miramax, 118 min, USA, Dir: John Dahl

Mike McDermott (Matt Damon) loses his money in a poker game against Russian gangster Teddy “KGB” (John Malkovich). Under pressure from his girlfriend (Gretchen Mol), he quits gambling - until his friend, Lester “Worm” Murphy (Edward Norton), gets out of prison and needs to pay off an old debt to Teddy. One of the best poker movies ever made, this underrated gem costars John Turturro, Famke Janssen and Martin Landau.


SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE
2000, Lionsgate, 90 min, UK/USA/Luxembourg, Dir: Elias Merhige

This fictional meditation about F.W. Murnau (John Malkovich) and the making of NOSFERATU is based on the conceit that the director was so determined to make the most authentic movie ever that he employed a real vampire, Max Schreck (Willem Dafoe), to play the title character. Attributing Schreck's weird behavior and ghastly appearances to "Method" acting, Murnau indulges his leading man's every exigency, shooting only at night and at the remote locations the "actor" calls home. But Schreck hungers for human blood, and as cast and crew fall ill at a terrifying rate, Murnau races to finish his film before Schreck finishes him. An exceedingly witty exploration of creation, in which demanding artist and demanding star - the genius and the monster - reveal their uncontrollable, potentially destructive but unusually seductive compulsions.


EMPIRE OF THE SUN
1987, Warner Bros., 152 min, USA, Dir: Steven Spielberg

Director Steven Spielberg and screenwriter Tom Stoppard created one of their most ambitious and acclaimed works with this adaptation of J.G. Ballard's autobiographical novel. A young Christian Bale stars as a boy growing up in Shanghai, where he lives a sheltered life until the Japanese invasion separates him from his parents and changes his life forever. In Spielberg's hands, the result is a character study that is epic and intimate in equal parts, with a stirring score by John Williams.


Syndicate content