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Film Review

Love Hurts

by Shawn Stone February 10, 2014

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  The trailer for The Broken Circle Breakdown, a Belgian musical drama nominated for this year’s Best Foreign Language Film, neatly suggests the depths of passion, love and anger the film explores. But only suggests: This ...

Squirrelly

by Shawn Stone January 30, 2014

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  The Nut Job is an animated comedy set among our furry friends in an urban park, circa fall 1949. Winter is coming, and, under the stern but fair leadership of Raccoon (voiced by Liam Neeson) ...

Tested, Found Wanting

by Laura Leon January 23, 2014

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  The fifth edition of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan franchise, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, is meant to be the start of something new. It’s a combination origin story-reboot (because writers in Hollywood can’t seem to dig ...

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 ...

It Takes a Worried Man

by Shawn Stone January 16, 2014

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  Folk singer Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) is having a bad week. A really bad week. The Coen brothers’ latest film opens with the title character giving an excellent performance of a moving, traditional folk ballad ...

Courage Under Fire

by Laura Leon January 16, 2014

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  With a title like Lone Survivor, it’s pretty apparent what the outcome will be, but even for those familiar with the remarkable story of Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, the unfolding that leads to that conclusion ...

Thespians!

by Laura Leon January 16, 2014

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  August: Osage County is one of those movies you leave amazed at the performers’ collective ability to ingest ginormous chunks of dialogue and spit it out like so many verbal tacks. Then you remember that ...

Ain’t That America

by Laura Leon January 8, 2014

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  I couldn’t wait to dislodge myself from a matinee showing of Nebraska. The theater was hot, and it was packed, and I’m notoriously claustrophobic. The film itself takes place across vast expanses of Middle America, ...

Insatiable

by Ann Morrow January 2, 2014

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  It’s a Scorsese movie all the way. And perhaps because his sizzling storytelling, when it comes to crime, with its jacked-up characters, dizzying morality arcs, and stroke-of-genius pop soundtracks, has become an oft-copied formula (most ...

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 ...

A Spoonful of Sugar

by Laura Leon January 2, 2014

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  Most people of a certain age recall their first time seeing Mary Poppins, the Disney confection about a brisk and no-nonsense nanny who tightens up the Banks family ship before departing on a favorable wind ...

Chutzpah

by Shawn Stone December 19, 2013

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  American Hustle is a twisty story of corruption and redemption. It’s a con inside a con; a duplicitous provocation that simultaneously fools the characters in the film and the audience in the theater. Most of ...

Cash Monster

by Ann Morrow December 19, 2013

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  Smaug the dragon is the fearsome evil in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, written before his Lord of the Rings epic and intended for a younger readership. Yet in The Desolation of Smaug, part two of ...

Hard Times

by Ann Morrow December 12, 2013

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  Out of the Furnace is titled after the historical novel Out of This Furnace, about steelworkers in Braddock, Pa., and the film undoubtedly gets its corrosive authenticity from that work. Yet the belching steel mills ...

A Matter of Faith

by Laura Leon December 5, 2013

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  Playing the decidedly dowdy title character, an old Irish lady, Judi Dench reminds us that she can do much more than what has become her standard, stereotypical commanding role, whether it is an English queen ...

The Action Man

by Shawn Stone December 5, 2013

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  Since this is a Jason Statham movie, Homefront begins with gunfire, a high-speed chase, a series of outrageous explosions and—of course—hand-to-hand combat. Broker (Statham, steady as ever) is an undercover DEA agent (with terrible hair) ...

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A Kinder, Gentler Nazism

by Ann Morrow December 5, 2013

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  Liesel (Sophie Nelisse), the light-fingered heroine of The Book Thief, doesn’t really steal books, she borrows them. The first book she filches is from a gravesite—during the burial of her younger brother. It’s 1938 Germany, ...

All-American Hustle

by Laura Leon November 27, 2013

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  Am I a broken record or what, referring yet again to Matthew McConaughey as a tremendously gifted actor? Well, so be it. Traditionally, actors who change their appearances are bound to get Oscar recognition, and ...

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 ...

CGI Banality

by Ann Morrow November 27, 2013

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  What is a serious thespian like Jeffrey Wright (along with Amanda Plummer, and Toby Jones) doing in a pop-culture spectacle like The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the second installment in the futuristic gladiatorial trilogy? The ...

Love Is Blue

by Shawn Stone November 20, 2013

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  Currently setting arthouse screens ablaze is Cannes’ Palm d’Or winner Blue Is the Warmest Color, the French film about a passionate, multiyear love affair between the young Adele (Adele Exarchopoulos) and the older, more experienced ...

The Old Man and the Sea

by Ann Morrow November 13, 2013

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  Absurd, really, the fragility of existence. One day you are tranquilly sailing the Indian Ocean, and the next, your beautiful old sailboat is taking on water and you’ve lost all power of navigation and radio ...

Hammer Time!

by Laura Leon November 13, 2013

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  The beginning of Thor: The Dark World has audiences wondering whether or not they’ve entered into yet another Lord of the Rings installment. That’s because Anthony Hopkins’ Odin intones a preface to what otherwise is ...

Bad Trip

by Laura Leon November 13, 2013

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  So there’s a stammering Brit who longs to be in a loving relationship and has the luck to be able to travel back in time to make things right . . . are you sold ...

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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