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Design for Living (NR)

The Criterion Collection

Ernst Lubitsch's underrated 1933 gem is almost entirely about sex, yet was made with such sophistication and lack of crudity, you could watch it with your grandmother and never blush. The sexual urge manifests itself in this appropriately unfaithful Noël Coward adaptation as a manic competition between man and woman that challenges traditional roles. Gary Cooper and Fredric March play starving artists, best friends and would-be bohemian geniuses hampered only by their lack of talent. Enter Gilda (Miriam Hopkins), a free spirit who serves as their mutual muse as long as they all remain abstinent, an accord easier made than kept. The film is about immorality — a ménage-à-trois, a kept woman and rampant pre-marital fornication all figure in — but it's treated with that fizzy, strangely ennobling Lubitsch touch. — Daniel Barnes

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Tanner Hall (R)

Anchor Bay / Release date: Dec. 13

Tanner Hall is a wretched film about poor little rich girls who inhabit a New England boarding school. All the stereotypes are here: mean girl, tomboy, overly sexual flirt and supposed cipher. They get into all types of stupid trouble, none of which is probably relatable to anyone but the children of the 1 percent. Which makes great sense, because the film was directed by mega-heirs Tatiana von Furstenberg (daughter of Prince Egon and Diane Von Furstenberg) and Francesca Gregorini (who is apparently a countess and stepdaughter to Ringo Starr), and is based on their experiences. To normal, hard-working Americans, it comes off like bragging and rubbing our faces in their privilege. Also, the movie is more of a collection of "feel sorry for me" vignettes and advertisements for the directors' bands than an actual attempt at filmmaking. — Louis Fowler

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Intruder: Director's Cut (NR) (Blu-ray)

Synapse Films / Release date: Dec. 13

Intruder is the best slasher film of the '80s, and you've probably never heard of it. Directed by Evil Dead alumnus Scott Spiegel and even starring Evil Dead director Sam Raimi, Intruder is everything that was pure and fun and decent about slasher flicks before more commercially minded heads prevailed, dumbing things down and making them into pop-culture caricatures. The setting is a small Michigan supermarket that's about to go out of business. As the staff marks items down, an unseen killer is mowing them down, treating us to previously censored gore effects by the legendary KNB EFX Group. (The effects were too real for the studio, which cut out most of them.) For horror fans, this complete, uncut Synapse Films version might be the best DVD release of 2011, a genre masterpiece that is finally getting its due. — Louis Fowler

  • Design for Living, Tanner Hall, Intruder

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