‘Interview With the Vampire’ (March 31)
Anne Rice’s best-selling, long-running “Vampire Chronicles” finally made it to the silver screen in 1994, with Tom Cruise in the leading role of the vampire Lestat, a role whose sexual fluidity and camp theatricality seemed to many (including Rice herself) out of the actor’s reach. Yet Cruise acquits himself nicely, conveying the character’s charisma and menace, while Brad Pitt captures the hopelessness of the narrator, Louis. But the show stealer is Kirsten Dunst in a haunting performance as Claudia, a vampire who is “turned” as a child and remains locked at that age. The director Neil Jordan beautifully mixes the story’s Gothic horror and dark comedy elements, ladling on the Bayou atmosphere for extra spice.
‘In the Cut’ (March 31)
Campion’s second appearance on this month’s list is for one of her most controversial films, an unapologetically raw and thorny erotic thriller that committed what seemed an unforgivable sin back in 2003: It sexualized America’s sweetheart, Meg Ryan. With its hyperventilating hype far in the rearview, we can finally appreciate “In the Cut” for what it is, a scorching exploration of feminine desire, a harrowing meditation on the resistance to female sexual agency and a showcase for atypical but affecting performances by Ryan, Jennifer Jason Leigh and an up-and-coming 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 out and Dunst and Bradley Pierce as the contemporary children who help him escape — and must then finish the game. Joe Johnston (“Captain America: The First Avenger”) directs with the proper mixture of childlike enthusiasm and wide-eyed terror, and the special effects (of wild animals and swarms of insects descending on suburban enclaves) remain startlingly convincing.
‘The NeverEnding Story’ (March 31)
The German director Wolfgang Petersen followed up the worldwide success of his tense, Oscar-nominated submarine thriller, “Das Boot,” with an unexpected left turn: He directed a family fantasy. Adapting the novel by Michael Ende, Petersen tells the story of Bastian (Barret Oliver), a shy young outcast who finds he can escape the misery of his everyday life by disappearing into a magical book and its tales of princesses, warriors, fantastical beasts and dark forces. Like “Jumanji,” this is 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 rising young actor — only one year out from his breakthrough role in “Thelma and Louise” — when he starred in this lyrical adaptation by Robert Redford of the novella by Norman Maclean. Pitt and Craig Sheffer star as the sons of a Montana minister (Tom Skerritt) as they come of age, and come apart, in the early 20th century. It’s one of the best-looking films of the 1990s (Philippe Rousselot’s cinematography won an Oscar and deserved it), and it was a cable standby for years after. But it is more than comfort food. Redford’s subtle direction resists empty nostalgia and good-old-days grandstanding in favor of a nuanced portrait of shifting values and mores.