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Film Review

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

thumb_43cinemapicSUMMIT

  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

thumb_43cinemapicFIFTH

  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

thumb_41cinemapicGRAVITY

  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

thumb_41cinemapicPARKLAND

  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, ...

Dangerous Men

by Shawn Stone October 3, 2013

thumb_40cinemapicRUSH

  It’s self-evident that race car drivers aren’t like the rest of us. At one point in the terrific action drama Rush, Formula One racer James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) tartly admonishes one of his many adoring/complaining ...

Pure Horror

by Ann Morrow September 26, 2013

thumb_39cinemapicPRISONERS

  Child abduction. It’s every parent’s worst nightmare, and it’s in the news on a depressingly regular basis. In Prisoners, Hugh Jackman plays Keller Dover, a father searching for his missing daughter, and as each harrowing ...

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 ...

Needs a Good Slap

by Laura Leon September 26, 2013

thumb_39cinemapicSHARING

  Depending on how seriously you take the concept of sex addiction, Thanks for Sharing is either really engaging or thoroughly preposterous. In any event, it’s a movie that never quite delivers. Adam (Mark Ruffalo), an ...

We’re Not in 2D Anymore

by Shawn Stone September 26, 2013

thumb_39cinpicWIZARD

  There is certainly economic value in converting the 1939 version of The Wizard of Oz to 3D. If the original version goes into the public domain in 2035 (and that’s a big if), this version ...

Charmless

by Ann Morrow September 18, 2013

thumb_38cinpicAUSTENLAND

  Austenland is an estate in England that offers an “immersive Austen experience” to women obsessed with the romantic plots and dishy men of Jane Austen’s novels. One of these women is Jane (Keri Russell), an ...

Crimes and Misdirection

by Laura Leon September 18, 2013

thumb_38cinpicFAMILY

  Based on an action novel by Tonino Benacquista, The Family is an unhappy merger between crime drama and buddy comedy. After ratting out his mob buddies, Giovanne Manzoni (Robert De Niro) and his family go ...

Once More, With Bigger Monsters

by Rick Marshall September 13, 2013

thumb_37cinpicRIDDICK

  It’s been almost 13 years since Pitch Black pleasantly surprised audiences with its smart spin on classic creature features and the charisma of its little-known star, Vin Diesel. The tense, sci-fi horror hybrid generated enough ...

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The Cruelest Animal

by Ann Morrow September 12, 2013

thumb_37cinemapicBLACKFISH

  Killer whales, or orcas, are so powerful that they can hunt down a great white shark for supper. Yet these apex predators are also playful and intuitive, and research indicates that they are not only ...

Hillbilly Gothic

by Laura Leon September 12, 2013

thumb_37cinemapicAINT

  Borrowing more than a little from the style and substance of Terence Malick’s Badlands and Days of Heaven, as well as from a few other iconic filmmakers, writer-director David Lowery imbues Ain’t Them Bodies Saints ...

In the Mood to Fight

by Ann Morrow September 5, 2013

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  The grandmaster in Wong Kar-Wai’s latest visual rhapsody is Ip Man (Tony Leung), a legend in the history of the martial arts, and not just for his involvement in the training of Bruce Lee. According ...

In Neutral, With Feeling

by Laura Leon September 5, 2013

thumb_36cinemapicNOW

  The previews would have you think that The Spectacular Now is a comedy following in the steps of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, featuring the class cut-up who is friend to everybody but, famously, predictably unreliable ...

They’re Watching

by Laura Leon September 5, 2013

thumb_36cinemapicCLOSED

  With its birds-eye, security-cam views of Brits, ex-patriots, and tourists walking through, talking in, working, and just living in London, Closed Circuit makes us shiver at the  mere suggestion of 24/7 surveillance even as it ...

With a Bang

by Shawn Stone August 28, 2013

thumb_35cinemapicWORLDS

  Like The Great Gatsby, this new Edgar Wright comedy features a protagonist determined to re-create the past. Like Jay Gatsby, Gary King (Simon Pegg) is willing to move heaven and earth to bring his dream ...

Nowhere Man

by Shawn Stone August 28, 2013

thumb_35cinemapicJOBS

  As an actor, Ashton Kutcher is very tall. He also owns his “smug asshole” shtick. Both of these qualities are an asset as the titular Apple Computer cofounder Steve Jobs. In this surprisingly conventional and ...

Senseless Violence

by Shawn Stone August 22, 2013

thumb_34cinemapicKICK

  The problem with Kick-Ass 2 is, fundamentally, the same problem that undermined Kick-Ass. The title character, a weakling teenage fanboy (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) who reinvents himself as the “superhero” Kick-Ass, is a bore. In terms of ...

Backstairs at the White House

by Laura Leon August 22, 2013

The Butler (2013)
Forest Whitaker
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  The main strength of Lee Daniels’ The Butler is its depiction of working-class blacks doing what they need to do to succeed and thrive in the context of great social change and upheaval. This is ...