4 Best Movies to Watch by Greta Scacchi

Staff & contributors

Like so many pictures about the pictures, The Player is a biting satire of the biz. Tim Robbins plays Griffin Mill, a Hollywood executive who gives dinner speeches about movies being art but works at a studio where endings are unceremoniously tweaked for maximum audience approval ratings — and therefore maximum profits. The greedy corporate Tinseltown of The Player feels very close to the franchise-pumping Tinseltown of today, but there’s enough wit and irony here to keep it from feeling too depressing.

Legendary New Hollywood director Robert Altman packages his critique in familiar clothing: that of a film noir. After receiving threatening postcards from a disgruntled writer he never called back, Griffin takes matters into his own hands and soon finds himself living out the plot of a taut thriller. The Player gets even more deliciously meta than this: nearly every scene contains a winking reference to the movies, and it’d probably be easier to count which stars of past and present don’t show up for a cameo here. What’s more, Altman gives The Player the kind of “happy ending” that Griffin’s studio is always demanding from writers — only here, it’s spun into a bitter commentary on the whole industry. Simply masterful.

Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama, Mystery

Actor: Adam Simon, Alan Rudolph, Alexandra Powers, Althea Gibson, Andie MacDowell, Angela Hall, Anjelica Huston, Annie Ross, Bert Remsen, Brad Davis, Brian Brophy, Brian Tochi, Brion James, Bruce Willis, Buck Henry, Burt Reynolds, Cathy Lee Crosby, Charles Champlin, Cher, Cynthia Stevenson, David Alan Grier, Dean Stockwell, Dennis Franz, Derek Raser, Dina Merrill, Elliott Gould, Felicia Farr, Frank Barhydt, Fred Ward, Gary Busey, Gina Gershon, Greta Scacchi, Harry Belafonte, Jack Jason, Jack Kney, Jack Lemmon, Jack Riley, James Coburn, Jayne Meadows, Jeff Celentano, Jeff Goldblum, Jeremy Piven, Jill St. John, Joan Tewkesbury, Joel Grey, John Cusack, Julia Roberts, Karen Black, Katarzyna Figura, Kathy Ireland, Kevin Scannell, Leah Ayres, Leeza Gibbons, Lily Tomlin, Louise Fletcher, Lyle Lovett, Malcolm McDowell, Marina Zenovich, Marlee Matlin, Martin Mull, Michael Bowen, Michael Tolkin, Mike Kaplan, Mimi Rogers, Natalie Strong, Ned Bellamy, Nick Nolte, Pamela Bowen, Patricia Resnick, Patrick Swayze, Paul Dooley, Paul Hewitt, Peter Falk, Peter Gallagher, Peter Koch, Randall Batinkoff, Ray Walston, Rene Auberjonois, Richard Anderson, Richard E. Grant, Ritchie Montgomery, Robert Carradine, Robert Wagner, Rod Steiger, Sally Kellerman, Sally Kirkland, Scott Glenn, Scott Shaw, Shari Belafonte, Stephen Tolkin, Steve Allen, Steve James, Susan Emshwiller, Susan Sarandon, Sydney Pollack, Ted Hartley, Teri Garr, Tim Robbins, Vincent D'Onofrio, Whoopi Goldberg

Director: Robert Altman

We mostly think of objects as just stuff to buy, to sell, to give, and to throw away, but for many musicians, their instruments are quite important to them. The Red Violin takes it to the extreme– with the titular instrument infused with the life force of a human– but the film justifies this passion, the pain, and the cost through one of the most beautiful violin scores ever made, and through an ambitious series of vignettes spanning across four centuries and five countries. As the object passes hands, and the owners live, and play, and die, The Red Violin suggests that while these artists’ lives are fleeting, there’s still something human and important in chasing the sublime, and this instrument is just proof of it.

Genre: Drama, Music, Mystery, Romance, Thriller

Actor: Anita Laurenzi, Arthur Denberg, Carlo Cecchi, Clotilde Mollet, Colm Feore, Dany Laferrière, David Gant, David La Haye, Dimitri Andreas, Don McKellar, Dorothée Berryman, Eva Marie Bryer, Florentín Groll, Gregory Hlady, Greta Scacchi, Herman Meckler, Hong Tao, Irene Grazioli, James Bradford, Jason Flemyng, Jean-Luc Bideau, Jody Shapiro, Johannes Silberschneider, Joshua Bell, Julian Richings, Monique Mercure, Rainer Egger, Rémy Girard, Russell Yuen, Samuel L. Jackson, Samuele Amighetti, Sandra Oh, Stuart Yung Sai-Kit, Sylvia Chang, Sylvia Stewart, Tommaso Puntelli, Wang Xiaoshuai, Wolfgang Böck, Zifeng Liu

Director: François Girard

Rating: R

In the sea of mommy-horror films, Run Rabbit Run would float somewhere in the middle. Despite Sarah Snook's imposing commitment to playing a mother haunted by her past, the story doesn't meet her halfway with a memorable script. The dynamic between mother and daughter gets stuck in an exhausting loop of sudden bursts of anger and angst followed by glaringly quick reconciliation. Twists and scares are present as Snook's character, also named Sarah, confronts the dark and disturbing truths of her past, but it feels more mandatory than useful. The potential for transforming gripping familial tension into horror is lost in a meandering mother/daughter fight.

Genre: Drama, Horror, Thriller

Actor: Damon Herriman, Genevieve Morris, Greta Scacchi, Julia Davis, Katherine Slattery, Lily LaTorre, Michala Banas, Naomi Rukavina, Neil Melville, Sarah Snook, Trevor Jamieson

Director: Daina Reid