“Interview with the Vampire” (March 31)
Anne Rice’s best-selling “Vampire Chronicles” finally hit the big screen in 1994, starring Tom Cruise as the lead vampire Lestat, a role whose sexual fluidity and camp theatrics seemed to many (including including Rice herself) out of the actor’s reach. Yet Cruise pulls it off well, conveying the character’s charisma and menace, while Brad Pitt captures the despair of the narrator, Louis. But the show stealer is Kirsten Dunst in a haunting performance as Claudia, a vampire who is “transformed” as a child and remains locked away at this age. Director Neil Jordan beautifully blends the story’s gothic horror and dark comedy elements, adding the atmosphere of the Bayou for extra pizzazz.
Five movies to watch this winter
‘In the Cut’ (March 31)
Campion’s second appearance on this month’s list concerns one of his most controversial films, a raw and thorny erotic thriller that committed what seemed like an unforgivable sin in 2003: it sexualized the darling of the America, Meg Ryan. With its hyperventilating hype far in the rearview mirror, we can finally appreciate “In the Cut” for what it is, a steamy exploration of female desire, a heartbreaking meditation on resisting female sexual agency, and a showcase for performance. atypical but touching of Ryan, Jennifer Jason Leigh and a promising Mark Ruffalo.
‘Jumanji’ (March 31)
The first film adaptation of the beloved 1981 children’s book, this 1995 family adventure stars Robin Williams as a child trapped for decades in a board game, Bonnie Hunt as a friend who barely made it to get by and Dunst and Bradley Pierce as contemporary kids who help him escape – and then have to finish the game. Joe Johnston (“Captain America: The First Avenger”) directs with the right mix of boyish enthusiasm and of wide-eyed terror, and the special effects (of wild animals and swarms of insects descending on suburban enclaves) remain surprisingly compelling.
“The Neverending Story” (March 31)
German director Wolfgang Petersen has followed the worldwide success of his tense, Oscar-nominated underwater thriller ‘Das Boot’ with an unexpected left turn: he’s fulfilled a family fantasy. Adapting Michael Ende’s novel, Petersen tells the story of Bastian (Barret Oliver), a shy young outcast who discovers he can escape the misery of his everyday life by disappearing into a magical book and its tales of princesses, warriors, fantastic beasts and dark forces. Like “Jumanji”, it’s a longtime family favorite that has lost none of its power or magic, still enchanting generation after generation.
“A River Runs Through It” (March 31)
Brad Pitt was still a young actor on the rise – just a year away from his breakthrough role in ‘Thelma and Louise’ – when he starred in this operatic adaptation by Robert Redford of Norman Maclean’s short story. Pitt and Craig Sheffer star as the sons of a Montana minister (Tom Skerritt) as they grow up and become separated in the early 20th century. It’s one of the finest films of the 1990s (Philippe Rousselot’s cinematography won and deserved an Oscar), and it was a cable expectation for years after. But it’s more than comfort food. Redford’s subtle direction resists empty nostalgia and demagogy for the good old days in favor of a nuanced portrayal of shifting values and mores.