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Movies

July 25, 2012 11:00 PM

High expectations sometimes lay you low, and the very word “superhero” spurs one’s anticipation of a movie adaptation to leap tall multiplexes in a single bound.

High expectations sometimes lay you low, and the very word “superhero” spurs one’s anticipation of a movie adaptation to leap tall multiplexes in a single bound and travel faster than a speeding bullet to the box office. It can’t be helped. Walking into the July 20 midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises, my hopes were high. I assumed that this grand finale would be not only a step above all predecessors, but also well worth the particular discomfort of cramming into a packed theater at midnight. Neither of these assumptions panned out.

July 19, 2012 12:00 AM

I would like to see Bill Nighy be a nice guy in more movies. He’s so effective as a ragged, aging musician or as, say, a creepy ancient vampire that I forget what a wonderful actor he is in ordinary roles.

I would like to see Bill Nighy be a nice guy in more movies. He’s so effective as a ragged, aging musician (Love Actually) or as, say, a creepy ancient vampire (the Underworld series) that I forget what a wonderful actor he is in ordinary roles.

July 12, 2012 12:00 AM

Woody Allen is a great American filmmaker, though I’m not sure if I should place that somewhat queasy statement in quotation marks or simply note that, as an assertion, it drags the luggage of several qualifiers.

Woody Allen is a great American filmmaker, though I’m not sure if I should place that somewhat queasy statement in quotation marks or simply note that, as an assertion, it drags the luggage of several qualifiers.

July 5, 2012 12:00 AM

Many of us secretly harbor unreasonable dreams. Maybe you want to be an Olympic medalist at a sport you’ve never tried, or fantasize about starring in blockbuster action films but have never set foot on stage. I like to imagine that in some alternate word, I learned to dance at a young age.

Many of us secretly harbor unreasonable dreams. Maybe you want to be an Olympic medalist at a sport you’ve never tried, or fantasize about starring in blockbuster action films but have never set foot on stage. I like to imagine that in some alternate word, I learned to dance at a young age. (In reality, when I was little I wanted to be a librarian.)

June 28, 2012 12:00 AM

Oh, that hair. Rapunzel may have the length, but she has little else on the locks of Merida (Kelly Maconald), the Scottish princess in Pixar’s Brave.

Oh, that hair. Rapunzel may have the length, but she has little else on the locks of Merida (Kelly Maconald), the Scottish princess in Pixar’s Brave. Merida’s hair is sunset orange, vermillion, peach, candy-apple red, a riot of curls that never settles, bouncing around her shoulders in a glorious tangle. It streams behind Merida as she gallops through the forest on horseback, nailing targets with perfectly aimed arrows; it flounces and bounces, uncontrollable, when she shows up all of Scotland’s eligible first-born sons in an archery contest.

June 21, 2012 12:00 AM

At last, the white smoke wafts up from the Vatican chimney, and the exultant masses cheer Habemus Papam. Translation: We Have a Pope

At last, the white smoke wafts up from the Vatican chimney, and the exultant masses cheer Habemus Papam. Translation: We Have a Pope, a sly new comedy by Italian filmmaker Nanni Moretti. The premise is delicious, like Dostoyevsky’s “Grand Inquisitor” filmed as broad satire by the late Hal Ashby: The Pope has died, and the international gathering of cardinals — each of whom fervently begs God not to be chosen — votes in the long-shot Cardinal Melville, played to sympathetic perfection by French actor Michel Piccoli.

June 21, 2012 12:00 AM

Director Bruce McDonald’s documentary Music from the Big House follows Canadian blues vocalist Rita Chiarelli as she journeys into the Louisiana State Penitentiary.

In 1968, Johnny Cash played Folsom State Prison, in what would become the definitive live performance of his career. It’s a show that will never be forgotten. This wasn’t, however, the first prison-bound performance to make history, and it certainly wasn’t the last.

June 14, 2012 12:00 AM

There’s simply too much circumstantial evidence to ignore the truth another minute: Tony Scott and Ridley Scott are the same exact person.

I’ve been told Tony Scott, the shameless pimp responsible for such box-office bait jobs as Top Gun and Beverly Hills Cop 2, is the younger brother of Oscar-nominated director Ridley Scott, but I’m not so sure. Where’s the proof? I want to see a birth certificate. Because, just having sat through Prometheus, I’ve come to the conclusion that Hollywood has hatched the boldest conspiracy since they sealed Uncle Walt’s nuts in a Mason jar of formaldehyde.

June 7, 2012 12:00 AM

If it’s true that nationalism and immigration are the most dangerous issues confronting the planet in this early 21st century, it’s reasonable to suggest that, at the spiritual level, our soul’s greatest peril now lies in the tension between belief and nothingness.

If it’s true that nationalism and immigration are the most dangerous issues confronting the planet in this early 21st century, it’s reasonable to suggest that, at the spiritual level, our soul’s greatest peril now lies in the tension between belief and nothingness — a crisis of faith that finds the New Age con pitted against the death of God, where our need to believe is crucified by our suspicion that all our myths are shattered lies. It’s the curse of the Enlightenment.

June 7, 2012 12:00 AM

When a movie poster trumpets not the film’s stars but that it’s “From the producers of Alice in Wonderland,” we should see that as a bright and telling signpost.

When a movie poster trumpets not the film’s stars but that it’s “From the producers of Alice in Wonderland,” we should see that as a bright and telling signpost: The film to come will be full of brief flashes and thin shadows, hollowness and pretty costumes, a mass-produced print hung in an antique frame. 

May 31, 2012 12:00 AM

Chris Thile, the obsessive genius behind prog-bluegrass pioneers Punch Brothers, first picked up the mandolin at age 5, and is now hailed by many as the finest player in the world.

Chris Thile, the obsessive genius behind prog-bluegrass pioneers Punch Brothers, first picked up the mandolin at age 5, and is now hailed by many as the finest player in the world. In Mark Meatto’s new documentary, How to Grow a Band, there is scarcely any footage of Thile without his instrument; he’s always off in the corner, perfecting some lickety-split chromatic run. At one point in the film, Punch Brother banjoist Noam Pikelny recalls a family legend about his colleague’s daunting dedication.

May 24, 2012 12:00 AM

First Position is an unfussy, enjoyable documentary that doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what it is: an inspirational sports movie about young dancers.

First Position is an unfussy, enjoyable documentary that doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what it is: an inspirational sports movie about young dancers hoping to enter the highly competitive world of professional ballet.

May 17, 2012 12:00 AM

Nothing could be simpler, more pat and shrink-wrapped, than the plot of The Raid: Redemption.

Nothing could be simpler, more pat and shrink-wrapped, than the plot of The Raid: Redemption, a new Indonesian beatdown flick by writer/director Gareth Evans. Like a plain wire hanger holding up a Dior cocktail dress, Evans’ screenplay pitches just enough narrative ballast to support this breakneck epic of cops and bad guys indulging in an orgy of wham-bam gunplay and jittery fisticuffs (and karate chops, eye gouges, head butts, pile drivers, evisceration, vivisection and defenestration).

May 10, 2012 12:00 AM

It’s possible that Joss Whedon’s true calling in life is to write dialogue for Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark.

It’s possible that Joss Whedon’s true calling in life is to write dialogue for Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark. Or maybe RDJ was born to speak Whedon’s quippy, pop-culture-laced dialogue, which sounds as natural coming from Downey’s mouth as it did from Sarah Michelle Gellar’s when she played Whedon’s best-known creation, vampire slayer Buffy Summers.

May 2, 2012 11:00 PM

Kevin, the sullen-faced first child of wealthy parents, is a piece of work. As a baby, he screams so fiercely that his mother finds a jackhammer soothing.

Kevin, the sullen-faced first child of wealthy parents, is a piece of work. As a baby, he screams so fiercely that his mother finds a jackhammer soothing; as a toddler, he’s resistant to everything; as a teen, he’s destructive and aggressively surly. There’s nothing redeeming about the kid, but his father, Franklin (John C. Reilly), sees nothing wrong. It’s just how boys are, right? 

April 25, 2012 11:00 PM

As an archetypal resident of L.A.’s shadier streets, the Dude abides, a latter-day California Buddha in the Holy Temple of Slackerdom, plum mystic and stoned immaculate, a knocker of pins, drinker of Caucasians. “He’s the man for his time and place,” says the man in the cowboy hat, his purple baritone of a voice rumbling like warm milk in your stomach.

April 18, 2012 11:00 PM

Academic satire breathes a fairly rarified air, typically isolated to dodgy second novels or the untenured ravings of drunk grad students.

Academic satire breathes a fairly rarified air, typically isolated to dodgy second novels or the untenured ravings of drunk grad students. It seems diminishing, then, to classify director Joseph Cedar’s brilliant new movie, Footnote, as merely a jab at the pretensions of ivory tower intellectuals. Though this nearly perfect film does pick, hilariously, at the itchy nit of alienated highbrows — revealing how the fortress of academia also doubles as emotional hideout — it becomes in the end something more profound than the infinitesimal parody implied by its title.

April 18, 2012 11:00 PM

Once upon a time, there was a blonde girl in an alley, and she looked like easy prey for a hungry vampire. But that girl’s name was Buffy, and the vampire was totally wrong

Once upon a time, there was a blonde girl in an alley, and she looked like easy prey for a hungry vampire. But that girl’s name was Buffy, and the vampire was totally wrong

Once upon a time, and another time, and another time before that, there was a group of kids, and when they thought they were going to have a nice weekend in a cabin in the woods, they were totally wrong

April 11, 2012 11:00 PM
#MUTLIPLE#

HIS/HERS The POV from a P and V

Crazy Horse, opens Friday, April 13, at Bijou Cinemas

 

April 5, 2012 12:00 AM

Director Antony Cordier’s Four Lovers is a film that travels far beyond the borders of most comfort zones.

Director Antony Cordier’s Four Lovers is a film that travels far beyond the borders of most comfort zones. When Rachel (Marina Foïs) brings home new friends Vincent (Nicolas Duvauchelle) and his wife Teri (Élodie Bouchez) to have dinner with her and husband Franck (Roschdy Zem), there is distinct chemistry among the four. 

April 5, 2012 12:00 AM

Are we currently hung up on fairy tales, or is it just Snow White?

Are we currently hung up on fairy tales, or is it just Snow White? Once Upon a Time and Grimm carry the fairy-tale banner on television; on the big screen, Mirror Mirror  beats the upcoming Snow White and the Huntsman to the punch. Fairy tale retellings abound in novels and comics, plenty of them featuring the girl with white skin, red lips and ebony tresses.

March 29, 2012 12:00 AM

The Oscar-nominated Polish film In Darkness truly resides in darkness. There is the dank, flickering dimness of the sewer system where a small group of Polish Jews hides after their ghetto is murderously hollowed out by Nazis; there’s the looming shadow cast by the city worker upon whom this starving, hunted group is forced to place its tenuous trust; and overwhelming everything is the black hole of the Holocaust, extinguishing every glimmer of human hope.

March 29, 2012 12:00 AM

The Hunger Games is a solid piece of entertainment about kids being forced to kill other kids for the amusement of a corrupt elite.

THE HUNGER GAMES:  Directed by Gary Ross. Screenplay by Gary Ross, Billy Ray and Suzanne Collins, based on Collins’ novel. Cinematography, Tom Stern. Editors, Christopher S. Capp, Stephen Mirrione, Juliette Welfling. Music, James Newton Howard. Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Lenny Kravitz and Elizabeth Banks. Lionsgate, 2012. PG-13. 142 minutes.Three and a half stars.
March 22, 2012 12:00 AM

The way I see it, there are four types of movies: those good, those enjoyably bad, those so bad they are no longer enjoyable, and those so much worse than that they become enjoyable again. 

 THE ROOM: Written and Directed by Tommy Wiseau. Starring Tommy Wiseau, Greg Sestero, Juliette Danielle. Wiseau Films, 2003. R. 99 minutes. Five Stars.