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John Rodat

John Rodat

It’s My Life

by John Rodat July 3, 2014

thumb_27cinemapicOBVIOUS

  Chances are, Obvious Child will not be a particularly controversial movie. Few indie romantic comedies are; they just don’t have the visibility. (And, the armchair sociologist in me thinks, they tend to be screened at ...

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Let’s Hang On

by John Rodat June 26, 2014

thumb_26cinemapicJERSEY

  The first hit for the Four Seasons, “Sherry,” was released in 1962. That’s 52 years ago. Fifty-two years before that, Thomas Edison was reluctantly abandoning his wax cylinder for the more popular platter-style recorded disc, ...

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Dumbed Down

by John Rodat June 19, 2014

Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche star in Words and Pictures.

  In Words and Pictures, two teachers at a Maine private high school square off over the issue of which of their disciplines is the more powerful: literature or visual art. Does this seem like a ...

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Bad Faith

by John Rodat June 19, 2014

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  Look, I’m not heartless, OK? I cry at those seasonal McDonald’s commercials, just like everybody else; and that one episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air? I’m not a monster. But Precocious Kids With Cancer ...

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James McMurtry, Bottle Rockets

by John Rodat June 12, 2014

  Looking back on the music of the early ’90s, it’s easy to forget that there were popular forms other than grunge. The spectacular success and traumatic demise of Nirvana loom large in musical memory. But ...

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The Hideous, the Bad and the Ugly

by John Rodat June 5, 2014

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  The plot summation for Seth MacFarlane’s comedy Western, A Million Ways to Die in the West, goes something like this: A cowardly rancher is forced into a showdown with murderous outlaw after he falls for ...

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Fractured Franchise

by John Rodat May 30, 2014

thumb_22cinemapicXMEN

  I will give Bryan Singer credit: X-Men: Days of Future Past is not the total wreck it should be. It’s an ambitious and watchable superhero flick, with several solid performances and a small handful of ...

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Your Mileage May Vary

by John Rodat May 22, 2014

thumb_21cinemapicLOCKE

  Writer-director Steven Knight’s Locke is almost more a dramatic or threatrical stunt than a movie: Save a very short introductory bit, the entire film takes place in an SUV as the main character, Ivan Locke, ...

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Too Cool for Everything

by John Rodat May 15, 2014

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  By the late ’80s, Jim Jarmusch was a kind of lo-fi rock star of indie film. Films like Stranger Than Paradise, Down by Law and the marvelous Mystery Train were deadpan celebrations of idiosyncratic individuality: ...

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Web Master

by John Rodat May 8, 2014

thumb_19cinemapicSPIDER

  Low expectations can be extremely helpful. I went to see The Amazing Spider-Man 2 motivated, in great part, by the fact that it was my nephew’s 8th birthday. If an 8-year-old boy in a Spider-Man ...

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The Hold Steady

by John Rodat April 17, 2014

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  In an interview with Terri Gross a couple of years back, Hold Steady frontman Craig Finn fielded a question about lyrical allusions to the Catholic upbringing he shares with some of the songs’ characters. Gross ...

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A Wonderful Contraption

by John Rodat March 27, 2014

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL - 2014 FILM STILL - Photo Credit: Fox Searchlight

  I’m not sure which group should be most eager to see Wes Anderson’s newest film, The Grand Budapest Hotel: his fans or his passionate detractors. Those who have enjoyed Anderson’s work thus far will find ...

Mike Birbiglia

by John Rodat March 27, 2014

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  I associate Mike Birbiglia with a number of other popular stand ups I know best from the Internet but of whom I first became aware in the alt-comedy boom of the ’90s: comedians like Louis ...

Troy Savings Bank Music Hall

True Love

by John Rodat January 16, 2014

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  The trailers for Spike Jonze’s Her are misleading. They admit upfront that the plot involves the love relationship that develops between a lonely man and a computer-operating system. But they allow the misapprehension that Her ...

Dream Small

by John Rodat January 2, 2014

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  I’m not certain to whom The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is meant most to appeal: James Thurber fans? That seems unlikely. Ben Stiller followers? I don’t think that’s a category unto itself. Arcade Fire ...

Santa Fidelis

by John Rodat December 24, 2013

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  A darkened room is dominated by a large projection screen. A map of the world’s continents glows in blue digital light. Individual red lights densely dot those outlines and with trails of red connecting them ...

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A Sci-Fi Holiday

by John Rodat November 27, 2013

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  A dining room at Thanksgiving. The table is laden with traditional fare: a dirigible-sized turkey glistens golden brown, a snowy Himalayan mound of mashed potatoes steams, gravy rich and black in a ceramic boat so ...

Misplaced Focus

by John Rodat November 27, 2013

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  Given the difficulties of the process, an excess of passion is a good thing to have if you hope to get a film made. When the film in question is a biopic, that passion often ...

The Celebrity Report: Haiku

by John Rodat November 13, 2013

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  His kimono flows. David Bowie loves ping pong. Iman won’t play him.   The chips and snacks aisle: A roadie buys Funyons. Lady Gaga smiles.   No, Donald Glover is not the child of Danny. Nor Corey’s either.   Tom Hanks hates the mail. So many flyers for ...

Elvis Costello

by John Rodat November 13, 2013

  When Elvis Costello illuminated the large stage-floor-level “Request” light three-quarters of the way through his show at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, I did not call out. Amid hollers for “Pump It Up,” and “Oliver’s ...

Terribly True

by John Rodat November 6, 2013

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  First, the easy stuff: Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave is very powerfully and efficiently written, tremendously well cast and acted and deliberately and surely directed. In short, it’s an excellent movie, which is not ...

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Your Own Private Idaho

by John Rodat October 31, 2013

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  Lou Reed conjured a NYC of which he became the embodiment. His cultishly loyal fans are—must be—attracted to those quasi-mythical neighborhoods the way that fantasy and science-fiction fans are attracted to Middle Earth or galaxies ...

Hip to be Square

by John Rodat October 3, 2013

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  When asked to review Don Jon, I considered the possibility that I was being punk’d. The movie was written and directed by its leading man, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and it co-stars Scarlett Johansson. I am not ...

His Wife Was a Nazi Telepath?

by John Rodat September 26, 2013

thumb_39cinpicSALINGER

  Advanced press about the documentary Salinger promised an “unprecedented” look inside the life of J.D. Salinger, the famously reclusive author of The Catcher and the Rye. But even a cursory search of Amazon turns up ...

The Apocalypse? I’m Cool With That

by John Rodat December 20, 2012

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  On Friday, Dec. 21, 2012, they say the world will come to an end. “Oh, that Mayan nonsense?” you scoff.  For all the popular buzz there’s little real scholarship and less hard science behind this particular ...