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Film Review

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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Girl on a Bicycle

by Shawn Stone October 31, 2013

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  Wadjda has the burden of being “first,” as in, it’s the first movie ever filmed in Saudi Arabia. This is a place with no film industry and no movie theaters. The filmmakers and cast, from ...

Dangerous Pursuits

by Ann Morrow October 24, 2013

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  One in every four people who attempt the summit of Savage Mountain will be killed. That chilling fact informs the prologue to The Summit, a gripping examination of the deadliest day ever to occur on ...

Like Watching People Type

by Laura Leon October 24, 2013

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  Desperately trying to spin a political thriller a la All The President’s Men, blended with the modern relevance of The Social Network, The Fifth Estate meanders along, continuously showing its audience images of pasty-faced computer ...

American Hero

by Laura Leon October 17, 2013

  There’s a game of wits at the heart of Captain Phillips, Paul Greengrass’ biopic about the ship captain of the Maersk Alabama who gained fame for keeping a cool head amid a potentially deadly Somali ...

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To the Wonder

by Ann Morrow October 10, 2013

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  It could’ve been Speed in Outer Space, and not just because of the casting of Sandra Bullock as an astronaut. Instead, Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity is a heart-pounding and hauntingly beautiful meditation—co-written with his son, Jonas ...

You Are There

by Laura Leon October 10, 2013

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  Based on Vincent Bugliosi’s Four Days in November, Parkland attempts to evoke the national sense of loss, horror, helplessness and regret engendered by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, but from the perspective of ...

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 ...

A Fine Romance

by Laura Leon October 3, 2013

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  Throughout her filmmaking career, Nicole Holofcener has displayed an uncanny ability to create characters whose thoughts and fears tap directly into our own. Or is it me? To call her movies chick flicks is derisive, ...