Top 10 films

1. MEET ME IN ST LOUIS(PG) 113 minutes

Directed by the incomparable Vincente Minnelli in 1944, this is one of the greatest of Hollywood musicals, a cosy slice of Americana that’s also a heartbreaking study of the fragility of happiness and the pain of growing up. Judy Garland stars as yearning teenager Esther Smith, with Margaret O’Brien as her demonic little sister.

Digitally projected. Sun Cinema, Bairnsdale, tomorrow, noon, and Sun Theatre, Yarraville, tomorrow, 12.50pm.

2. CHINATOWN(130 minutes) M

Set in the 1930s but steeped in the cynicism of the Nixon era, this 1974 neo-noir marked a career peak for everyone involved – screenwriter Robert Towne, director Roman Polanski, and leading man Jack Nicholson, characteristically oafish yet sympathetic as a Los Angeles gumshoe detective who tragically proves no match for the corruption on all sides.

Digitally projected. Astor, tomorrow, 7pm.

3. ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK(99 minutes) M

In the near future – as imagined in 1981 – Manhattan has become a maximum security prison where the inmates run the show. John Carpenter’s beautifully honed sci-fi action thriller has seedy nocturnal atmosphere, a typically minimal synth score (composed by the director) and a great cast led by Kurt Russell as the hard-boiled Snake Plissken.

Digitally projected. Electron Workshop (North Melbourne), today, 7.25pm. Screens as part of a 24-hour sci-fi marathon starting 10am. Online registration essential at valhallacinema爱杭州同城论坛

4. ENTER THE DRAGON(102 minutes) MA

There’ll never be another martial arts star like Bruce Lee, icon of physical grace and supercilious cool. Released just after his sudden death in 1973, his sole English-language vehicle is a James-Bond-style adventure that sees him competing in a tournament on an island owned by a mysterious crime boss (Shih Kien).

Digitally projected. Shadow Electric, tomorrow, sundown.

5. HAIRSPRAY(117 minutes) PG

Much bigger and splashier than John Waters’ original 1988 comedy, Adam Shankman’s 2007 musical ranks among the best recent screen adaptations of Broadway hits. The zany benevolence of the storyline – about the battle to end racial segregation on a 1960s TV dance show – seems embodied in John Travolta’s larger-than-life yet totally committed turn as a heavyset Baltimore housewife.

Special singalong version. 35-millimetre print. Astor, tomorrow, 2pm.

6. THE LITTLE MERMAID(83 minutes) G

Very loosely based on the classic tale by Hans Christian Andersen, this upbeat 1989 cartoon boasts imaginative backdrops, catchy songs (Under the Sea), and a charming, sexy heroine in Ariel (voiced by Jodi Benson), insatiably curious about life on dry land. The first (still the best?) modern Disney blockbuster. Screens as part of the Disney Princess Film Festival.

Digitally projected. Selected Village cinemas (check listings for sessions).

7. CAMILLE CLAUDEL 1915(97 mins) M

Bruno Dumont’s bleak, disconcerting study of the sculptor Camille Claudel focuses on her later years in a mental institution – giving his star Juliette Binoche the chance to shift unpredictably from grief to wild laughter to panic, while using performers with actual mental disabilities as a way of grounding her virtuosic emotional display.

Screens as part of the Alliance Francaise French Film Festival. Digitally projected. Kino, today, 8.45pm.

8. DONNIE DARKO(113 minutes) M

The 1980s are the new 1950s in Richard Kelly’s 2002 cult favourite about an alienated teenager (Jake Gyllenhaal) counting down the days to the apocalypse. Kelly’s trademark blend of apocalyptic gloom and sheer zaniness is at its most accessible, and the late Patrick Swayze gets to be funny for once.

Digitally projected. Rooftop Cinema, today, 9.30pm.

9. ALL IS LOST(106 minutes) M

Alone and adrift in the Indian Ocean, an elderly yachtsman (Robert Redford) keeps his head even as his chances of survival diminish. Anchored by a finely judged central performance, this nearly wordless existential adventure story from writer-director J.C. Chandor (Margin Call) gets more tense and emotional as it goes on.


10. MATILDA(98 minutes) PG

A precocious girl (Mara Wilson) uses her strength of mind to wreak revenge on adults in this subversive 1996 exercise in juvenile wish-fulfilment, directed by Danny DeVito with his usual malicious, cartoonish flair. Of all screen adaptations of Roald Dahl’s work, this may best catch the spirit of the original.

Digitally projected. Palace Balwyn and Palace Dendy Brighton, today and tomorrow, 10.30am.

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