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Film Review

Maxed Out

by Ann Morrow May 21, 2015

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  Take out the Mad Max part of the title and Mad Max: Fury Road might not be so infuriating. In this feverishly crazed reboot, there is a character named Max but he’s a wan facsimile ...

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Shout, Sister, Shout

by Shawn Stone May 21, 2015

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  Looser, less serious and considerably crasser than Pitch Perfect, this sequel is a lot more of the same dazzling and unutterably goofy a capella singing madness that made the original a cult hit—and so oddly ...

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Project: Rock and Roll

by Shawn Stone May 21, 2015

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  Who knew? The Who’s rise to fame and fortune began as a film project. This fascinating documentary fills in the gaps in the history of the legendary rock band by telling the story from the point ...

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Thespians

by Shawn Stone May 14, 2015

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  This beguiling, textured comedy-drama about actors, fame and the inevitability of, well, death, is the story of Maria (Juliette Binoche), a 40-something movie star and her relationships—with her managers, her accountant, her (estranged) husband, her ...

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Snake Oil Salesmen

by Ann Morrow May 14, 2015

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  The moniker “spin doctor” is a completely inadequate a term for the brazen deceit of the wielders of press and publicity in Merchants of Doubt, a documentary on how (and why) corporations misinform the American ...

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Lumbering Toward Destiny

by Shawn Stone May 7, 2015

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  Age of Ultron is generally more enjoyable than the first Avengers movie. Ultron (voiced by James Spader), as a colleague pointed out, is not as interesting a villain as Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) brother Loki (Tom ...

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Ex Machina

by Shawn Stone May 1, 2015

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  This is turning out to be a great year for artificial intelligence at the movies. Neill Blomkamp’s terrific Chappie may have may have primarily an action flick with a surfeit of human grotesques, but it ...

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Going, Going . . .

by Shawn Stone February 20, 2015

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  Julianne Moore’s performance in the title role is the only reason to see Still Alice, an often-wrenching drama about someone struck down in the prime of life by early onset Alzheimer’s. Her portrait of a ...

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Lust for Light

by Ann Morrow February 12, 2015

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  Mr. Turner, about the brilliant marine painter J. M.W. Turner, is a Mike Leigh film, and as such it focuses on social realism and the working class as much as on the Royal Academy, where ...

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Gray Areas

by Laura Leon February 5, 2015

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  Set in 1981 Manhattan, a time when crime in that city was at an all-time high, A Most Violent Year recalls the glory years of ’70s cinema, notably the films of Sydney Lumet and Alan ...

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Left Out in the Rain

by Laura Leon January 29, 2015

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  Jennifer Aniston’s quest to be taken seriously as a “real” actress continues with Cake, a movie about a profoundly scarred (both physically and emotionally) woman addicted to pain killers. I hate the use of air ...

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In Harm’s Way

by Laura Leon January 22, 2015

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  As I set out to write this review, the talking heads of the media are reveling in the war of words dispatched by Michael Moore, Seth Rogen and their ilk, re: the nature of anybody ...

Hippie Noir

by Shawn Stone January 15, 2015

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  The likelihood of any novel by Thomas Pynchon being adapted for the big screen has always seemed remote, owing to the difficulties in adapting the material and the elusiveness of the author. Yet here is ...

Righteous Might

by Shawn Stone January 15, 2015

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  In this drama about the 1965 showdown in Selma, Ala., where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the movement he led attempted to force President Lyndon Johnson to move voting rights to the top of ...

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Nowhere Man

by Ann Morrow January 8, 2015

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  The Imitation Game is explained by Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) in a low-key scene that serves as a denouement, yet Turing’s puzzle-like explanation is the most beguiling example, onscreen, of his brilliant mind: Turing is ...

Period Picture

by Shawn Stone January 8, 2015

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  Is “kitsch” art if the artist is sincere? Asked about Margaret Keane’s phenomenally successful art, which consisted of hauntingly strange paintings of sad-faced, poverty-stricken, bizarrely big-eyed waifs, Andy Warhol said, “It has to be good. ...

Survivor

by Laura Leon January 8, 2015

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  I was so enthralled with the story behind Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken when I read an excerpt from it a few years back in Vanity Fair that I immediately bought the book, read it cover to ...

Middling Earth

by Ann Morrow December 24, 2014

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  There are things in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies—crass, silly, dragon-sickened things—that no fan of Tolkien’s The Hobbit (or The Lord of the Rings) should ever have to bear witness to. Among ...

Warped Dreams

by Laura Leon December 24, 2014

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  Bring a warm scarf to Foxcatcher regardless of which theater you see it in, because it’s impossible not to develop a deep chill watching this strange, intense elegy about the darkness of the soul and ...

Celebrity Savvy

by Laura Leon December 18, 2014

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  Chris Rock is in fine, albeit Woody Allen, form in Top Five, which he wrote, stars in and directs. He plays André Allen, once an Eddie Murphy-type talent whose meteoric rise to the top has ...

Biblical Dud

by Ann Morrow December 18, 2014

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  There’s a reason why so many historical and biblical epics rely on actors’ speaking the King’s English, and to know why, try sitting through Exodus: Gods and Kings, where they don’t. Ridley Scott’s latest period ...

Unsettling

by Laura Leon December 11, 2014

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  The fabled stories of the how the West was won are populated with images of hardscrabble pioneers and undaunted bravery, but rarely, save in instances dealing with capture by Indians, do we come across the ...

The Melodrama Lingers On

by Ann Morrow December 4, 2014

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  There isn’t a Hunger Game in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, which is actually part 3 of the franchise. It’s slower paced than it needs to be (undoubtedly a tactic to prolong the profitable ...

Funny Enough

by Laura Leon December 4, 2014

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  As somebody who has experienced multiple viewings of Madagascar and its sequel, I can verify that the penguins of Madagascar are, really, the reason to see either film. The flightless little creatures are known as ...

Family Time

by Shawn Stone November 26, 2014

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  Force Majeure is a comedy. It is a very dark comedy, and it’s likely that some people will be afraid to laugh. Don’t be. This upper-class Swedish family’s misery is very funny. The accidental force referred ...