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Film Review

A Supposedly Fun Tour

by John Rodat August 27, 2015

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  I loved David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, and consumed it in a near-nonstop multi-day bout. When the novel was released in 1996, I was 28 years old and, more or less, still in college. I ...

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American Story

by Shawn Stone August 20, 2015

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  When N.W.A.’s album Straight Outta Compton was selling millions of copies in the late 1980s as a genuine critical and pop-culture phenomenon, one of the least likely long-term prospects would have been the group becoming ...

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Poor Relations

by Shawn Stone August 20, 2015

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  Superheroes are the dominant movie form, and there is one aspect of this genre that has proven particularly irksome: the origin story. Sony swaps out the actor playing Spider-man and what happens? They go back ...

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Super Failure

by David King August 13, 2015

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  Director Josh Trank shouldn’t take all the blame for the cinematic atrocity that is Fantastic Four. No, we all should. Spend the hour and 40 or so minutes actually watching the movie and it quickly ...

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Bonding

by Shawn Stone August 6, 2015

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  “I am Tom Fucking Cruise! There is no greater action star in the world!” Ethan Hunt, the character Cruise plays in the Mission: Impossible films, doesn’t actually break character and scream this in the latest edition, ...

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Was This Trip Necessary?

by John Rodat August 6, 2015

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  In an age of billion-dollar franchise movies, it’s not surprising that producers would get behind an attempt to revive the popular, if (ahem) artistically inconsistent Vacation series, originally put out under the National Lampoon banner. ...

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A Study in Mortality

by Ann Morrow August 6, 2015

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  “The deerstalker? I’ve never worn one.” So says Sherlock Holmes (Ian McKellen), and he would know. His Japanese host (Hiroyuki Sanada) is disappointed to learn that the most beloved facts about the famous sleuth (no ...

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Endured, Not Enjoyed

by John Rodat July 30, 2015

TRAINWRECK - 2015 FILM STILL - Pictured: Amy (AMY SCHUMER) chats it up with LEBRON JAMES as himself - Photo Credit: Mary Cybulski

© 2015 Universal Studios. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  Comedian Amy Schumer has been on a roll, recently. Her sketch-comedy show Inside Amy Schumer is both popular and highly acclaimed. Even her professional peers—perhaps the pettiest, bitchiest profession on the planet—heap praise upon it, ...

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Hearts Beat Faintly

by Ann Morrow July 16, 2015

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Adapted from Vera Brittain’s much-admired, best-selling memoir of World War I, Testament of Youth should be better than it is. Swedish actress Alicia Vikander plays Vera with a flawless British accent and impeccable, lip-trembling emotion, ...

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Love Among the Floribundas

by Ann Morrow July 9, 2015

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  Louis XIV, the Sun King, who made absolute monarchy a divine right, is getting older. And his new palace at Versailles has been under construction for ages, and still isn’t worthy of his absolute divineness. ...

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Life Lessons

by Shawn Stone July 2, 2015

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  Spoiler alert: The “girl” dies. The “me” in the title Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is Greg Gaines (Thomas Mann), an awkward high school senior wracked by self-loathing who has worked really hard to ...

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Live and Let Laugh

by Shawn Stone June 25, 2015

Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) ist eine ganz besondere Agentin. Foto: 2015 Twentieth Century Fox

  The latest Melissa McCarthy comedy is a shrewd, funny send-up of spy films, complete with a Bond-style theme song, a smashing opening set piece and enough world travel to give Daniel Craig jet lag. McCarthy ...

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Candy-Colored Despair

by Shawn Stone June 25, 2015

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  The hitmakers at Pixar—led by Pete Docter, director of Up and one of the key writers on the Toy Story series—take us literally into the mind of a girl on the cusp of childhood’s end ...

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Meaner, Faster, Smarter

by Shawn Stone June 17, 2015

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  Nothing brings out my inner misanthrope quite like the Spielbergian approach to children and families. The children in his films are uniformly unbearable. (OK, maybe not Drew Barrymore in E.T.) That’s why the crushing disappointment ...

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All About Yves

by Ann Morrow June 11, 2015

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  Yves Saint Laurent was one of the brightest stars of fashion for most of the 1970s; among his era-defining designs were the Mondrian dress and safari suit. The glamour of his high fashion demi-monde makes ...

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Fractured Fairy Tale

by Shawn Stone June 11, 2015

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There are few more fascinating stories in 1960s rock & roll than the Beach Boys. They became superstars when they were little more than kids; three of the members were brothers (and another a cousin); ...

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It’s No Game

by Shawn Stone June 6, 2015

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  This French thriller begins with the return of a prodigal. Twenty-something Agnes (Adele Haenel) is returning home after the failure of her marriage. When she’s met at the terminal by her mother’s lawyer, Maurice Agnelet ...

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Pretty, Lifeless

by Ann Morrow May 28, 2015

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  In Danish director Thomas Vinterberg’s staid take on Thomas Hardy’s novel Far From the Madding Crowd, farmer Oak, the sheepherder who falls in love with willful Bathsheba Everdene, does not utter his famous lines of ...

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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 ...