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Film Review

Inescapable

by Laura Leon February 27, 2014

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  The Past isn’t just the title of Asghar Farhadi’s latest film, a worthy follow-up to A Separation, but a character in and of itself. Like in DuMaurier’s Rebecca, the past is ever present, encircling the ...

High Time

by Ann Morrow February 27, 2014

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  The Great Beauty is indeed a beautiful film, a sumptuous pageant of the sights and sounds and various social strata of Rome, especially its sophisticated and decadent nightlife. The undisputed star of this fantastical nightlife ...

Alive

by Laura Leon February 19, 2014

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  It’s a rare thing indeed to see women onscreen doing the mundane things that real-life women do every day: vacuuming the car, waxing, taking yoga classes, working. Rarer still is to see women “of a ...

Snow Job

by Ann Morrow February 19, 2014

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  In the war between good and evil, everyone has a miracle they can use. In 1916, a Russian couple being turned away at Ellis Island apparently don’t know anyone with an extra miracle or two, ...

Missed Adventure

by Laura Leon February 13, 2014

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  Near the end of World War II, President Roosevelt commissioned a few middle-aged artists, sculptors and architects to go behind enemy lines on a special mission: to rescue the great artworks of Western civilization, which ...

He Was the Best of Men, He Was the Worst of Men

by Ann Morrow February 10, 2014

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  Charles Dickens, the writer: charming, witty, the life of every party, and so magnetic that he was in huge demand as a speaker. In The Invisible Woman, this Dickens (Ralph Fiennes) is marvelous company, and ...

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Love is Strange

by Laura Leon February 10, 2014

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  Set in 1987 over the course of a long, hot weekend, Labor Day tells the melodramatic tale of a socially stunted woman, Adele (Kate Winslet), whose life, and that of her son Henry (Gattlin Griffith), ...

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 ...