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List of "N" Movies

Nacho Libre (2006) PG comedy

Director Jared Hess' follow-up to Napoleon Dynamite is this similarly whacked tale of a Mexican monk (Jack Black) who dreams of becoming a professional wrestler. He pursues this dream in spite of risking getting kicked out of the monastery. There are plenty of goofy laughs to please comedy fans. This is one of Black's funniest performances. Starring: Jack Black, Hector Jimenez, Ana de la Reguera, Richard Montoya, Darius Rose. Directed by: Jared Hess. B

Nadine (1987) PG comedy

This entertaining comedy stars Kim Basinger as a woman who tries to confiscate compromising photos from a local photographer (Jerry Stiller) when he is murdered. She takes what she thinks are the photos from his dead fingers and flees the scene, but she soon discovers that she accidentally took the blueprints for a new highway. Her nearly divorced husband (Jeff Bridges) sees the business opportunity in this and begins making plans to buy some property surrounding the highway. Unfortunately, these blueprints actually belong to a high-stepping businessman (Rip Torn). Generally well done cat-and-mouse sequences and excellent comedic performances by the two leads are more than enough to keep this film fun. Starring: Jeff Bridges, Kim Basinger, Rip Torn, Gwen Verdon, Glenne Headley, Jerry Stiller, Jay Patterson, William Youmans, Mickey Jones, Norman Bennett. Directed by: Robert Benton. B+

Naked Lunch (1991) R comedy

David Cronenberg once again proves why he's awesome as he helms this film adaptation as the once-thought-unfilmable novel by William S. Burroughs. (I haven't read the book, but I understand that this isn't quite a literal adaptation of the book.) Peter Weller, in unusual casting, does a fine job as a soft-spoken bug exterminator who finds himself in the center of an exquisite conspiracy theory involving centipede meat. This film will confuse, disturb and delight the right viewer at the same time. This is not for the weak of heart! Starring: Peter Weller, Judy Davis, Ian Holm, Julian Sands, Roy Scheider, Monique Mercure, Nicholas Campbell, Michael Zelniker, Robert A. Silverman, Joseph Scorsiani. Directed by: David Cronenberg. A

Nanny McPhee (2006) PG comedy

Emma Thompson wrote the screenplay and she stars this delightful and funny kiddie flick as a horrendously ugly nanny who is assigned to a half dozen or so rambunceous children who badly need to be taught proper manners. Meanwhile, the father (Colin Firth) whose wife died recently is having problems of his own. His mean mother-in-law (Angela Lansbury) is forcing him to remarry or his money will be cut off. While this film is no masterpiece, it is amiable and certainly something that children and parents would enjoy together. Starring: Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Angela Lansbury, Kelly MacDonald, Thomas Sangster, Patrick Barlow, Jenny Daykin, Raphael Coleman, Samuel Honywood, Holly Gibbs, Hebe Barnes, Zinnia Barnes, Phyllidia Law, Derek Jacobi, Eliza Bennett, Imelda Staunton, Celia Irmie. Directed by: Kirk Jones. B+

Napoleon Dynamite (2004) PG comedy

This low-budget, low-octane comedy is a gem. In a small rural Idaho town that seems forever stuck in the 1970s, there lives Napoleon Dynamite (Jon Heder), a lanky, sleepy-eyed, slack-jawed, curly-haired high school geek. He is largely oblivious to his own awkwardness and is prone to outlandish, obviously untrue boasts such as being recruited by gangs and having intricate knowledge of illegal ninja moves. Yet he is fearless and can do amazing things, sometimes wildly surprising. To say he is quirky is an understatement. To say he is a freak of nature is vastly untrue. He's like any nerdy, outsider kid -- likable in his own way and oddball enough to be scorned at by the popular kids. He's standoffish, but also is quick to make a close friend in the new kid at school, Pedro (Efren Ramrirez). He's strange and awkward just like Napoleon -- but friendlier. Napoleon's even geekier brother is Kip (Aaron Ruell). He's well past high school age, and he spends all day in internet chat rooms talking to babes, or so he says. But that boast turns out to have some merit, as he finally gets to meet one: LaFawnduh (Shondrella Avery). They make about the funniest couple I've seen on screen. His uncle Rico (Jon Gries) is also incredibly funny as a get-rich-quick schemer forever stuck mentally in 1982 -- when he just barely missed his big chance at being an NFL star, according to him. The comic timing throughout this film is dead-on, whether a silly line, a bit of slapstick -- or what should be considered this film's most fine-tuned strength -- awkward silence. This is one film I've seen a dozen times and it doesn't fail to make me snigger -- constantly. Starring: Jon Heder, Jon Gries, Aaron Ruell, Efrem Ramirez, Tina Majorino, Diedrech Bader, Haylie Duff, Trevor Snarr, Shondrella Avery. Directed by: Jared Hess. A

Nashville (1975) R drama

This is a classic character study and commentary on Americansí obsession with celebrity. It weaves in and out of the lives of dozens of people who prepare for a concert at the title location. This is considered one of the most important films ever to come out of the United States, and thatís a distinction well deserved. Starring: Henry Gibson, Barbara Baxley, Ned Beatty, Karen Black, Ronee Blakely, Lily Tomlin, Keith Carradine, Geraldine Chaplin, Robert DoíQui, Shelley Duvall, Allen Garfield, David Arkin, Scott Glenn, Jeff Goldblum, David Hayward, Michael Murphy, Christina Raines. Directed by: Robert Altman. A+

National Lampoon Presents Dorm Daze (2003) R comedy)

The only thing interesting about this film is that tells nearly five dozen jokes and not one of them produces a laugh. National Lampoon should stop presenting movies. Starring: Tatyana Ali, Boti Bliss, Gable Carr, Patrick Cavanaugh, James DeBello, Marieh Delfino, Tony Denman, Danielle Fishel, Courtney Gains, Gregory Hinton, Edwin Hodge. Directed by: David Hillenbrand and Scott Hillenbrand. D

National Lampoon's Animal House (1978) R comedy

The classic college comedy about the members of a fraternity full of underachievers and troublemakers. Together this lousy bunch must battle the dean who threatens to shut down their beloved and sloppy fraternity. This is very frequently imitated, yet never actually surpassed. It has least one chuckle per minute. Starring: John Belushi, Tim Matheson, John Vernon, Verna Bloom, Thomas Hulce, Cesare Danova, Peter Reigert, Stephen Furst, Donald Sutherland, Karen Allen, Sarah Holcomb, Bruce McGill, Martha Smith, Mary Louise Weller, James Daughton, Kevin Bacon, Mark Metcalf, James Widdoes. Directed by: John Landis. A

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989) PG-13 comedy

The usually well-meaning but wound-up Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) hosts a chaotic Christmas get-together with his family and in-laws. Albeit, he seems to spend most of his time outside putting up the most elaborate Christmas light display anyone in suburbia has any right to put up. Chevy Chase's character, always on the verge of a mental breakdown, is hilarious in itself, but his wacky family and his evil boss that finally pushes him over the edge provides plenty of guffaws. Most importantly, at the center of it all, Griswold wants nothing more than to give his family a good Christmas--and that is all the heart a movie like this needs. Starring: Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Randy Quaid, Diane Ladd, John Randolph, E.G. Marshall, Doris Roberts, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, Mae Questel, William Hickey, Brian Doyle-Murray, Juliette Lewis. Directed by: Jeremiah S. Chechik. B+

National Lampoon's European Vacation (1985) PG-13 comedy

This second film of the series is almost entirely devoid of giggles. A disappointment since giggles were so reliably consistent in the first film. Nevertheless there's still goofy charm here. As much charm, anyway, as one could garner from watching Chevy Chase improvise a polka dance in lederhosen. Which incidentally is my favorite moment of the whole movie, if that should tell you anything. This film begins as The Griswolds stumble upon the correct answer on a corny television quiz show called Pig in a Poke where they have to dress in fuzzy pink pig costumes. Their prize: a multi-country jaunt across the pond. Clark (Chase) and his wife Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo) are eager to go, but his son Rusty (Jason Lively) and daughter Audrey (Dana Hill) are reluctant. Audrey because she doesn't want to spend time apart from her boyfriend Jack (William Zanbka). Rusty, I guess, because he harbors traumatic memories of that ill-fated trip to Wally World. Anyway, the kids are irritating in this film more than any other in the franchise -- Audrey pines for Jack the whole time, and Rusty spends much of his efforts questing after a glimpse of the almighty, bare naked bosom. They start out in England where Clark has trouble with driving on the left side of the road and crashes into nearly every automobile he passes. The joke here: the English are super-polite. When he gets to France, the waiters curse at him in French. The joke here: the French people are rude. I confess to not finding much humor in that. This film also doesn't have the snowballing sequence of disasters that the first film had. This sequel is more episodic. Every place they visit, they get a new car, commit new blunders, and encounter new misfortune. The best thing I can say about the film is it's harmless enough -- the humor being more blissful rather than cynical. Starring: Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Dana Hill, Jason Lively, Eric Idle, Mel Smith, Ballard Barclay, Robbie Coltrane, John Astin, Shelia Kennedy, Trisha Long. Directed by: Amy Heckerling. C-

National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1 (1993) PG-13 comedy

starts out pretty funny but keels over very quickly. No plot to speak of; it just pokes fun at such recent hits as Lethal Weapon, Silence of the Lambs, and more. The acting is horrible and the jokes are tasteless ripoffs of preceding spoofs, such as Airplane!. The only appeal to this film is its wide range of stars in its cast and a horrendous amount of explosions (which some people like). Starring: Emilio Esteves, Samuel L. Jackson, John Lovitz, Tim Curry, Kathy Ireland, Frank McRae, William Shatner, James Doohan, Charlie Sheen, Bill Nunn, F. Murray Abramham, Corey Feldman, Phil Hartman. Directed by: Gene Quintano. D+

National Lampoon's Senior Trip (1995) R comedy)

Another screwy film from the National Lampoon library is about a dysfunctional senior class from a dysfunctional high school asked by the president himself to inform him about the faulty educational system. So the beer guzzling and recklessly crude bunch hops on a bus and head for Washington DC. A film where practically every joke misses, it is kept moving along by Matt Frewer's eccentric performance as the goofy principal. Starring: Matt Frewer, Valerie Mahaffey, Lawrence Dane, Thomas Chong, Kevin McDonald. Directed by: Kelley Makin. D+

National Lampoon's Vacation (1983) R comedy

Beyond being a frequently funny farce, this film manages to capture the essence of the American road trip: excruciating dreariness, extremely delayed gratification, and family squabbling. (It's not all bad . . . I used the term gratification somewhere in there.) Of course no American could possibly have a worse trip than The Griswolds. Or at least I hope not. Chevy Chase stars as Clark Griswold in a genuinely great performance spoofing the quintessential American father. He is a man whose reason for existing (this particular summer) is to treat his family to a trip to Wally World -- a fictional theme park in Southern California. His wife Ellen (Beverly D'Angelo) thinks they should fly, but Clark insists on experiencing Americana the way any family ought to -- from the windows of a grody station wagon with a lime green and fake wood paneling exterior and extremely poor suspension. With son (Anthony Michael Hall) and daughter (Dana Barron) in tow they embark from Illinois on a trip filled with mayhem and screwy misadventure. This isn't an airtight film -- some of the gags work, others don't. A scene when Clark is passed by a beautiful, flirty blond (Christine Brinkley) in a red convertible is amusing at first, as a clearly out-of-his-element Griswold tries to clumsily return it. But then it gets ruined when her character just keeps resurfacing -- culminating in a dreadfully unfunny scene at a hotel swimming pool. Other gags are good for light giggles, such as Clark deciding to give his son his first sip of beer, who immediately downs the whole thing. The humor also occasionally takes a shockingly dark turn, mainly involving Clark's crude, trailer trash in-laws they visit along the way (featuring what's probably considered an iconic performance by Randy Quaid). They end up getting roped into transporting their annoying Aunt Edna (Imogene Coca) to Arizona, which they succeed at doing . . . mostly. The movie ends with a dark punchline that I find very funny -- my only complaint being that dragged out far expiration date so as to give it time to twist out a happy ending. (Please, Hollywood, let us cynics enjoy ourselves every once in awhile.) Starring: Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Anthony Michael Hall, Imogene Coca, Randy Quaid, Dana Barron, Christine Brinkley, John Candy, Eugene Levy, Brian Doyle-Murray. Directed by: Harold Ramis. B

National Treasure (2004) PG-13 action

This is enjoyable fluff starring Nicolas Cage as a treasure hunter whose family had been chasing gold allegedly left by the U.S. founding fathers. Unfortunately for them, many of the clues the founding fathers left behind have since become significant landmarks and their quest involves stealing the Declaration of Independence among other things. Also unfortunately, there is another team of treasure hunters (the bad guys) after the same thing. Itís hardly essential viewing, but itíll give you something fun to watch for a rainy day. Starring: Nicolas Cage, Diane Kruger, Justin Bartha, Sean Bean, Jon Voight, Harvey Keitel, Christopher Plummer, Hunter Gomez. Directed by: Jon Turteltaub. B

The Natural (1984) R sports

A magical film about a career-deprived baseball player, played by Robert Redford, who finally enters into the major league when he's middle aged. At first, the coach thinks he's worthless until he sees Redford hit! It's one of the better baseball films ever. The ending is breathtaking. Starring: Robert Redford, Robert Duvall, Glenn Close, Kim Basinger, Wilford Brimley, Barbara Hershey, Robert Prosky, Richard Farsworth, Joe Don Baker, John Finnegan, Alan Fidge, Paul Sullivan. Directed by: Barry Levinson. A-

Natural Born Killers (1994) R drama

A wild movie. Nuts. A troubled young couple (Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis) embark on a murderous spree. They state no particular reason for killing people. Their targets mainly just people with the misfortune of crossing their paths. Except, as Harrelson explains it, killing people is just in their nature. The couple also does hallucinogenic drugs, and the intense and stylistic way the film is shot and edited even gives me the feeling I took those drugs. Really, this is a phenomenal film. Violent, often shockingly so, but also frequently funny. Also, mesmerizing, I could hardly turn away from it. Robert Downey Jr. turns in an intense performance as an exploitive journalist who gets himself a little too caught up in their world. Starring: Woody Harrelson, Juliette Lewis, Robert Downey Jr., Tom Sizemore, Tommy Lee Jones, Rodney Dangerfield, Edie McClurg, Sean Stone, Russell Means, Lanny Flaherty, Evan Handler. Directed by: Oliver Stone. A

Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind (1984) PG animated

Hayao Miyazaki, Japanese animation guru and genius, directs this adventerous film about a princess who must save the world from an impending war, and a hostile nature-world featuring a posionous forest and giant, raging insects. Clearly not among Miyazakiís most mesmerizing works, but this is dang awesome entertainment just the same. He surely presents a fascinating and one-of-a-kind world. Voices of: Alison Lohman, Uma Thurman, Patrick Stewart, Edward James Olmos. Directed by: Hayao Miyazaki. B+

Needful Things (1993) R horror

This movie is Rated R, but the cutesy soundtrack gives it a Home Alone vibe. I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing, except it drives home the idea that this Stephen King adaptation would have worked far better as a children's film. It isn't particularly scary, and there are some pretty bluntly surmised morals to the story. Just cut out some of the swears, tone down a couple of the violent scenes, and Bob's your uncle. As it stands, however, this is a passable morality tale about a mysterious man (Max Von Sydow) who moves into a small town and opens a shop. In his inventory, he somehow has exactly what any person who walks in needs or wants the most. But it comes at a price. Starring: Max Von Sydow, Ed Harris, Bonnie Bedelia, Amanda Plummer, J.T. Walsh, Ray McKinnon, Valri Bromfield. Directed by: Fraser C. Heston. C

Neighbors (1981) R comedy

Call this one a minor masterpiece in surrealist filmmaking. Really, it might have been a major one had it only kept its dark momentum going till the end. But the protagonist of our tale Earl (John Belushi) decides suddenly he likes his neighbors out of Hell. That was a mistake. The film begins when Earl notices new neighbors, Vic (Dan Aykroyd) and Ramona (Cathy Moriarty), have moved into the dilapidated house next door. He is stunned to find them loud, obnoxious, imposing and even a little bit criminal. His wife Enid (Kathryn Walker) doesn't seem to notice. The more Earl tries to do to prove this couple are unscrupulous, the more it flies back in its face. Making the situation even more uncomfortable for Earl is Ramona is constantly trying to seduce him. While this film doesn't exactly have jokes in it per se, I do find myself laughing out loud quite a lot thanks to the absurdity of it all. Starring: John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Cathy Moriarty, Kathryn Walker, Igors Gavon. Directed by: John G. Avildsen. B+

Never Forget (1991) NR drama

Leonard Nimoy proves that he has formidible acting abilities after all. He gives a fine performance in this effective television movie as Mel Mermelstein, a Jew in the early eighties who previously had his entire family killed in the infamous gas chambers of German concentration camps during World War II. When Neo-Nazis start a campaign saying that the Holocaust never happened, Mr. Spock takes it personally. Starring: Leonard Nimoy, William H. Bassett, Thomas Bellin, Joseph Chapman, Dabney Coleman, Blythe Danner, Jack Eiseman, Steve Franklin, Michael Goorjian, Ben Gregory. Directed by: Joseph Sargent. B

Never Say Never Again (1983) PG spy

Sean Connery returns as an older James Bond in this 1983 remake of Thunderball. Bond must save the world from a rich, evil-genius who threatens to destroy the earth with nuclear warheads. Connery himself is all right and a pleasure to watch, but it is uneven and usually tedious. Certainly not one of the best Bonds ever made, but fans (especially Connery fans) are sure to enjoy this one. Some people don't consider this a "true" James Bond flick since Albert Broccoli had nothing to do with it. Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean) is in this! Starring: Sean Connery, Klaus Maria Brandauer, Max Von Sydow, Barbara Carrera, Kim Basinger, Bernie Casey, Alec McCowen, Rowan Atkinson, Edward Fox. Directed by: Irvin Kershner. C

The NeverEnding Story (1984) PG fantasy

A triumph of old-fashioned storytelling and then-modern special effects. A little boy, who is completely hooked on books, swipes one from an old man and reads it in an abandon room in his school building. However this isn't a normal book. It's about the mythical land of Fantasia being annihilated by "nothingness," a strange incomprehensible force that is destroying the land. The only thing that can save Fantasia is a warrior, a boy named Atreyu. The film does a great job switching back and forth between reality and fiction. Nearly 25 years on, this is still a great fantasy flick for kids and manchilds. Starring: Noah Hathaway, Barret Oliver, Tami Stronach, Moses Gunn, Patricia Hayes, Sydney Bromley, Gerald MacRaney. Directed by: Wolfgang Petersen. A

The New Guy (2002) PG-13 comedy

It's one of those quirky things that happened that DJ Qualls was given his own teen sex comedy vehicle. It even did fairly well at the box office. Such was the state of turn-of-the-21st-Century cinema. As a lead actor, he doesn't have much charisma, and his physical comedy comes off far too forced. He's no Jim Carrey, that's for sure. Hardly even a Pauly Shore. He stars as Dizzy Harrison, a nerdy high school senior who is tired of being bullied. Through a series of misadventure, he finds himself in jail where he meets Luther (Eddie Griffin) who becomes his mentor. In order for Dizzy to become cool, Luther advises that he get expelled from school so that he can attend a new one. And then -- on his first day -- punch the toughest person he can find. Lo and behold, it works! He catches the attention of the lead cheerleader (Eliza Dushuku), and from then thereafter, he finds his life on an exciting new path. This is much to the dissatisfaction of his core nerdy group of friends, who also happen to be in a funk band with him. He also inexplicably betrays his new image by taking an interest in school spirit. For instance, engaging in a Patton-like inspirational speech to inspire the football team to win a game. This story is confused as it sounds, and the hijinks scattered throughout leave me wanting badly for laughs. I suppose a mildly amusing appearance from Gene Simmons as a minister who preaches sexual abstinence is small consolation. Lyle Lovett is also nicely cast as the father. Starring: DJ Qualls, Eliza Dushku, Eddie Griffin, Zooey Deschanel, Lyle Lovett, Jerod Mixon, Perry Shen, Rachael E. Stevens, Ameer Baraka, Kina Cosper, Ross Patterson, Geoffrey Lewis, Kurt Fuller, Sunny Mabrey, Illeana Douglas. Directed by: Ed Decter. D

The New World (2005) PG-13 drama

The high quality cinematography and musical score cannot save this bloated film about the 1607 founding of Jamestown. Colin Farrell stars as John Smith who becomes the first European to become involved with Native Americans. He falls in love with a lovely princess Pocahontas (Qíorianka Kilcher). It wasnít a bad effort; this film is sometimes breathtaking. It was just misfired. Starring: Colin Farrell, Qíorianka Kilcher, Christopher Plummer, Christian Bale, August Schellenberg, Wes Studi, Jonathan Pryce. Directed by: Terrence Malick. C

Next Stop Wonderland (1998) R comedy

A bit of an indie-classic, Next Stop Wonderland is a charming film. A Boston woman (Hope Davis) is dumped, and her mother (Holland Taylor) puts a personal ad in the paper without permission. Sheís against it at first, but pretty soon, she starts checking the responses. Meanwhile, an aquarium maintenance worker (Alan Gelfant) wants to be a marine biologist. Itís very light and makes a pretty good date film. Starring: Hope Davis, Alan Gefant, Victor Argo, Cara Buono, Holland Taylor, Jose Zuniga, Robert Klein. Directed by: Brad Anderson. B+

Night at the Museum (2006) PG comedy

Ben Stiller stars as man desperately in need of a job. He finds one as the night guard at the New York Museum of Natural History, but he takes the job before he realizes the exhibits come alive at night. This is a goofy concept that works well in the first half, but melodramatics take over after that point, which makes it lose its irrelevant charm. Nonetheless, this is a perfectly likable family film with plenty of funny moments. Starring: Ben Stiller, Carla Gugino, Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney, Bill Cobbs, Jake Cherry, Ricky Gervais, Robin Williams, Kim Raver, Owen Wilson, Steve Coogan, Mizuo Peck. Directed by: Shawn Levy. B

A Night At the Opera (1935) NR comedy

This freakishly excellent comedy shares the spotlight with Duck Soup as being the best Marx Brothers flick of all time. Groucho, Chico and Harpo end up in an ocean liner and scheme their way to helping their friend, an underdog, becoming an opera star. The laugh-a-minute script is virtually unbeatable and the Marx trio (without Zeppo) is as funny as ever. Apart from the occasional musical number, this stuff hasn't aged a day since its release. Starring: Groucho Marx, Chico Marx, Harpo Marx, Kitty Carlisle, Allan Jones, Walter Woolf King, Sig Rumann, Margaret Dumont, Edward Keane, Robert Emmett O'Connor, Gino Corrado. Directed by: Sam Wood. A+

Night of the Demons (1988) R horror

This intentionally campy horror film is a mite too self-aware but nonetheless provides decent B-movie laughs and twisted shocks. The opening sequence sets the tone appropriately. It's Halloween night, and a hooligan teenager pranks an old man with a rubber rat, causing him to drop his groceries. A teen girl named Judy (Cathy Podewell) comes to help, but he wards her off, calling her a whore. Scattered among his fallen groceries are an apple and razor blade, which he picks up and laughs maniacally, saying these kids are going to get what they deserve. The actors certainly have fun with this film, goofy performances not much different than an improv show. Just that the story is so generic that they should've gone back to the audience for more ideas. Judy and some acquaintances from school decide to spend Halloween night at an abandoned mansion and hold a seance. They inadvertently summon a demon that, one by one, possesses them and causes them to go on sex-fueled killing sprees. As silly as this film is, the make-up and effects are seriously impressive. The blood and guts, faces contorting and melting. Of course the scene everyone talks about: a woman pushing a stick of lipstick into her nipple (yikes). The chase and terror sequences are fine, but they don't get my blood pumping till the very end. This is the kind of movie fit for a Halloween party in large groups where laughs are valued more than scares, and your friends' WTF reactions are free to reverberate. Starring: Cathy Podewell, Amelia Kinkade, William Gallo, Alvin Alexis, Linnea Quigley, Lance Fenton, Hal Havins. Directed by: Kenneth S. Tenney. B-

Nighthawks (1981) R action

Sylvester Stallone stars as a police officer assigned to track down a ruthless terrorist (Rutger Hauer). Some very taut action sequences and Hauerís great performance as the villain makes this a highlight of the action genre. The ending was excellent. Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Billy Dee Williams, Rutger Hauer, Nigel Davenport, Persis Khambatta, Lindsay Wagner. Directed by: Bruce Malmuth. A-

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) PG animated

A highly creative stop-motion picture from Tim Burton, and it is among his best works to date. Jack Skellington, Pumpkin King of Holloweentown, goes wandering into the woods and stumbles upon Christmastown, a different kind of world where, unlike Holloweentown, people are actually kind and pleasant. Extremely creative characters makes this film a delight and the songs, while not being the best, are above average. A must for children, but adults will probably like it more. Voices of: Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon, Catherine O'Hara, William Hickey, Glenn Shadiz, Paul Reubens, Ken Page, Ed Ivory, Susan McBride, Debi Durst. Directed by: Henry Selick. B+

9 to 5 (1980) PG comedy

Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton and Jane Fonda team up in this hilarious comedy that devotes is message to "not mess with us ladies!" These three work in an office with strict and tight rules running it. Even worse, it's run by a sexist S.O.B., played nicely by Dabney Coleman. When Coleman gets too carried away, the women get angry, kidnap him and make him wish that he was a bit nicer. This comedy is not one to miss. Starring: Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton, Dabney Coleman, Sterling Hayden, Elizabeth Wilson, Henry Jones, Lawrence Pressman, Marian Mercer, Ren Woods. Directed by: Colin Higgins. B+

1984 (1984) R sci-fi

George Orwell's famous novel brought to the big screen is technically well made but doesn't quite paint the whole story. The film takes place in the future where Winston, a man trapped in its oppressed environment, indulges in pleasures that the government forbids. The film is clever and interesting but is inappropriately lackadaisical and somewhat confused. This film is certainly worth a look, because it's intriguing. This marked Richard Burton's final role. Starring: John Hurt, Richard Burton, Suzanna Hamilton, Cyril Cusack, Gregor Fisher. Directed by: Michael Radford. B

1941 (1979) PG comedy

Steven Speilberg proves that he cannot handle spoofs in this overblown extravaganza with a plot that zigzags all over the place. Fortunately, he makes good use of his big budget with an all-star cast, good special effects and entertaining slapstick. Itís not a very rewarding flick, however. Starring: John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Ned Beatty, Treat Williams, Nancy Allen, Robert Stack, Tim Matheson, Toshiro Mifune, Christopher Lee, John Candy, Warren Oates, Babbo DiCiccio, Diane Kay, Murray Hamilton, Lorraine Gary, Slim Pickens, Eddie Deezen. Directed by: Steven Speilberg. C

Ninotchka (1939) NR romantic comedy

Iím not sure why everyone seems to regard this film as the funniest thing to ever to hit the cinemas, but it is a very pleasant diversion. The plot concerns a stubborn Soviet diplomat (Greta Garbo) who goes to Paris to sell fancy jewelry to buy food for the people. But she meets a freewheeling count (Melvyn Douglas) and falls in love with the western way of life. This is the kind of Anti-Communist propaganda that I like! Keep it coming! A Hollywood classic, and the kind of romantic comedy that modern day Hollywood continually tries but fails to produce. Starring: Greta Garbo, Melvyn Douglas, Bela Lugosi, Sig Rumann, Ina Claire, Alexander Granach, Gregory Gaye, Rolfe Sedan, Richard Carle, Florence Shirley, Harry Semels, Alexander Schoenberg, Tamara Shayne. Directed by: Ernst Lubitsch. A

Nixon (1995) R drama

Director Oliver Stone managed to make a pretty fascinating movie with JFK, but this similar-minded biography of Richard Nixon is a disappointing follow-up. For a film that is sensationalized, it isnít very fascinating. The dramatic scenes are overplayed and the filmís atmosphere is ineffectively dark and drab. To top that off, Anthony Hopkinsí portrayal of the vulgar title character isnít done with enough heart despite his intentions. This three-hour movie isnít too difficult to sit through; thereís not really a good reason to. Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Joan Allen, Powers Boothe, Ed Harris, Bob Hoskins, E.G. Marshall, Paul Sorvino, Sean Stone, Mary Steenburgen, Jon Tenney, Ronald Von Klaussen, Victor Rivers, Marilyn Rockafellow, George Plimpton. Directed by: Oliver Stone. C

No Way to Treat a Lady (1968) NR thriller

A realistic and chilling look at the short and demented life of a serial killer. Rod Steiger is perfectly cast as the murderer and George Segal is flawless as the cop who tries to track him down. Don't miss this if you found Silence of the Lambs fascinating. This one is just as good except less gross. Starring: Rod Steiger, Lee Remick, George Segal, Eileen Heckart, Murray Hamilton, Michael Dunn, Barbara Baxley, Ruth White, Doris Roberts, David Doyle. Directed by: Jack Smight. A

Noises Off! (1992) PG-13 comedy

A frustrated play director (Michael Caine) tries to put on a British farce, but the cast cannot seem to work together. The script is sharp and punchy, and the cast seemed perfectly suited for their roles. Nothing else needs to be said; just watch this. Starring: Michael Caine, Carol Burnett, Denholm Elliott, Marilu Henner, Julie Hagerty, Mark Lin-Baker, John Ritter, Christopher Reeve, Nicollette Sheridan. Directed by: Peter Bogdanovich. A

Nomadland (2020) R drama

Films with powerful messages often don't come in fancy packages, as this will attest. This film is about as low-key as it gets. Frances McDormand is Fern, a sixty-something whose life has been upended through a combination of her husband passing away and her place of employment, a gypsum mining plant, seizing operations. Without much in terms of savings, she buys a van to live out of, and she drives from place to place for exploration and also to find work. She is invited to a rendezvous in Arizona, a support system for fellow nomads, where she learns survival skills. McDormand's performance is seamlessly organic. She is exactly the person you would meet on the road--kind and friendly and with a fierce desire to be independent. The realism of her performance is such that she seems natural alongside the supporting actors, many of whom aren't actors at all but real-life nomads. Viewers can take different messages from this film, whether it is a woman's depressing plight, her quest for life, or perhaps broader political messages about how society treats its impoverished elderly. Starring: Frances McDormand, David Strathairn, Linda May, Swankie, Bob Wells, Derek Endres, Peter Spears, Tay Strathairn. Directed by: Chloe Zhao. A

North (1994) PG comedy

When I was a kid, I remember seeing this in theaters, and I liked liked liked it. Watching as an adult, I try my best to appreciate it for what it is. Which is a kid's idiotic fantasy. North (Elijah Wood) is a "perfect child" whose parents don't appreciate him. So he imagines divorcing them and shopping around for new ones. North's impressions of the world are so limited that Texans eat gargantuan plates of barbecue and sing country music. Hawaiians have luaus and paraglide. Alaskans travel by Iditarod and live in igloos. Even for the '90s, this brazen cultural stereotyping was embarrassing. While I appreciate the effort of making a quirky and irrelevant film and while I find certain characters or a line or two in the script giggle-inducing, this movie ultimately wears out its welcome pretty fast. Starring: Elijah Wood, Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, Bruce Willis, Jon Lovitz, Alan Arkin, Dan Aykroyd, Kathy Bates, Faith Ford, Graham Greene, Reba McEntire, John Ritter, Abe Vigoda, Kelly McGillis, Alexander Godunov, Ben Stein. Directed by: Rob Reiner. C-

North By Northwest (1959) NR thriller

This first-rate Hitchcock thriller proves to be a classic of cinema that is completely exciting and perfect! Cary Grant stars as a man who is mistaken for another by underground spies and gets tangled in a tremendous mess. Contains the classic scene atop Mt. Rushmore. It's a wonderful film that should please everybody. A must for movie buffs. Watch for this classic movie screw-up: when Cary Grant is in the Mt. Rushmore dining area you can see a little boy covering his ears right before Eva Marie Saint shoots her gun. Starring: Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason, Leo G. Carroll, Martin Landau, Jessie Royce Landis, Philip Ober, Adam Williams, Josephine Hutchinson, Edward Platt. Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock. A+

North Country (2005) R drama

A tremendously engaging drama inspired by a 1988 sexual harassment class action lawsuit by a group of women against a Minnesota iron mine. Charlize Theron stars as Josey Aimes, a single mother and hairdresser who has trouble making ends meet takes a far more lucrative job at the local, unionized iron mine. But the workforce dominated by men believe that she and the handful of other women employed there have no business doing man's work. More than that, these men believe their women coworkers are free to touch, intimidate, and humiliate all they please. Some of the things they do -- such as sneaking into the women's locker room and spelling out obscene words in fecal matter -- seem so extreme that I doubt they really happened. And somehow even less believable is the extremely acrimonious relationship Josey has with her father (Richard Jenkins) who is so disgusted at his daughter's gall at working at the plant that it's like she killed someone. When all she wants to do is work so that her children (his grandchildren) can have a better life. Nonetheless, I was still very taken by this film -- the melodrama and the classic underdog dynamic I bought into hook like and sinker, and I appreciated broader points it makes about sexism and workplace bullying. No small part of this film's success are some truly dynamite performances from this brilliant cast. Starring: Charlize Theron, Frances McDormand, Sean Bean, Richard Jenkins, Jeremy Renner, Michelle Monaghan, Woody Harrelson, Sissy Spacek, Rusty Schwimmer, Jillian Armenante, Thomas Curtis, Elizabeth Peterson, Linda Emond. Directed by: Niki Caro. A-

The Northman (2022) R adventure

Gritty, epic, mesmerizing. This tale about Vikings is one big, sustained adrenaline-fueled slap to the face. The story begins with a boy prince eager to greet his father, the king (Ethan Hawke), back home after battle. But the primeval kingdom is rocked with Shakespearean conspiracy when the king is murdered at the hands of his own brother (Claes Bang) who then proceeds to marry his widow (Nicole Kidman). The boy, who has a legitimate claim to the throne, is also earmarked for death, but he narrowly manages to escape. Years pass, he grows up (Stellan Skarsgard), and he had only one thing on his mind: Revenge. Historical epics all too often leave me behind with stuffy dialogue and far too much focus on needless detail. But not this one. This one's hyper-focused on the lead character's revenge plot. And I found myself gaping at the screen hardly able to blink as I was treated to eye-popping (and often gruesome) visuals, blood, sweat, brawn, mud, lust, and men screaming. Let me reiterate: Lots of men screaming. (Why should men talk when they can scream and get their point across far more effectively?) Willem Dafoe makes a brief but impactful appearance as a crusty, mostly naked shaman. Anya Taylor-Joy is remarkable as a Slavic slave. And cheers to Nicole Kidman for taking an unflattering, quite difficult film role and proceeding to nail it. A remarkable film. I'd imagine roughly what it's like to experience a cruise down the River Styx. Starring: Alexander Skarsgard, Nicole Kidman, Claes Bang, Anya Taylor-Joy, Ethan Hawke, Gustav Lindh, Elliot Rose, Willem Dafoe, Bjork. Directed by: Robert Eggers. A

The Notebook (2004) PG-13 romance

This sappy romance has James Garner reading a story from an old notebook to a woman (Gena Rowlands) in a nursing home. This story (which takes up most of the screen time) involves the difficult romance between a poor driven young man (Ryan Gosling) and a fiery young rich woman (Rachel McAdams). Itís heavily manipulative, but itís engaging. Starring: Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams, James Garner, Gena Rowlands, James Marsden, Kevin Connolly, Sam Shepard, Joan Allen. Directed by: Nick Cassavetes. B-

Nothing But the Night (1973) PG mystery

Any movie with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee ought to provide the viewer with plenty of B-movie delights, but instead of the expected horror fare, we get a melodramatic mystery that revolves around the murders of trustees of an orphanage. The murderers fail to kill a girl (Gwyneth Strong) who has strange but fuzzy recollections of a fire. It's hardly a terrible film, but up until its unexpected conclusion, I had trouble getting myself invested in it. Starring: Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Diana Dors, Georgia Brown, Keith Barron, Gwyneth Strong, Fulton Mackay. Directed by: Peter Sasdy. C-

Nothing to Lose (1997) R comedy

Merely a so-so pairing of Tim Robbins and Martin Lawrence. Robbins plays a successful advertising exec who discovers that his wife (Kelly Preston) is having an affair with his boss (Michael McKean). Enraged, he gets into his car and drives around when a hapless carjacker (Lawrence) tries to rob him, but Robbins was feeling a bit suicidal anyway. Lawrence's antics are entertaining overall, but the film lacked its needed sense of comraderie and too much of it isn't all that funny. Starring: Martin Lawrence, Tim Robbins, John C. McGinley, Giancarlo Esposito, Kelly Preston, Michael McKean, Rebecca Gayheart. Directed by: Steve Oedekerk. C

Notorious (1946) NR thriller

Certainly one of director Alfred Hitchcock's best, this is an exciting thriller starring Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman. Cary Grant is an intelligence agent who oversees the actions of Ingrid Bergman who married Claude Rains to spy on him and figure out what wicked things he's been up to. It's thrilling, and it's definitely recommended. Starring: Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains, Louis Calhern, Mme. Konstantin, Reinhold Schunzel, Moroni Olsen, Ivan Triesault, Alexis Minotis, Wally Brown, Gavin Gordon. Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock. A+

Now, Voyager (1942) NR drama

I enjoy the first half of this drama about an "ugly duckling" heiress (Bette Davis) who is terrorized by her overbearing mother (Gladys Cooper) and sent away to an opulent sanitarium. When she re-emerges, it's as a new woman--thinner and with a less spinster-like fashion sense. Her manipulative mother of course abhors this new look. The performance by Davis is great, but I find the film drags in the final half--getting too bogged down with dull melodrama. Starring: Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Gladys Cooper, Bonita Granville, John Loder, Ilka Chase, Lee Patrick, Franklin Pangborn, Katharine Alexander. Directed by: Irving Rapper. B-

Nuns on the Run (1990) PG-13 comedy

This is an enjoyable comedy about a pair of gangsters on the run with two suitcases full of money. In order to keep hidden from the cops and any "bad guys" after the dough, they disguise themselves as nuns in a convent. Eric Idle and Robbie Coltrane do a fine job in their rolls despite the poor script they had to work with. Starring: Eric Idle, Robbie Coltrane, Camille Coduri, Janet Suzman, Doris Hare, Lila Kaye, Robert Patterson, Robert Morgan, Winston Dennis, Tom Hickey. Directed by: Jonathan Lynn. C+

The Nun's Story (1959) NR drama

Overly dramatic and powerful look at Sister Luke, played by Audrey Hepburn, and her difficulties with nunhood. She struggles with the demand of her convent while carrying out what she's most suited for: medicine and surgical work. An engaging film with terrific acting. A must for Hepburn fans. Starring: Aurdery Hepburn, Peter Finch, Edith Evans, Peggy Ashcroft, Dean Jagger, Mildred Dunnock, Colleen Dewhurst. Directed by: Fred Zinnemann. B+

The Nutty Professor (1996) PG-13 comedy

Eddie Murphy stars in this funny remake of Jerry Lewis' 1963 comedy as Sherman Klump, an excessively overweight college professor, who takes a dose of his own medicine -- a formula he's been working on that will alter a person's DNA structure to make him/her more thin. Thus emerges Buddy Love, Klump's wild, crazy and thin alter-ego. One thing about the formula: it wears down and Prof. Klump must constantly replenish himself -- that is, if he wants Buddy Love to return. This is a funny alteration of the Jekyll and Hyde story that features Eddie Murphy playing not only Sherman Klump but also his six relatives. One of Murphy's best films that is good for laughs. Starring: Eddie Murphy, Jada Pinkett, James Coburn, Dave Chapelle. Directed by: Tom Shadyac. B+

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