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Is This Real Life?

As usual, compelling documentary films abounded in 2011

0 Comments · Wednesday, December 28, 2011
It irks me to go into a video store that has separate sections for “dramas,” “comedies,” “action” and then, somewhere way in the back, “documentaries.” (Blockbuster calls them “special interest.”) A good documentary can have every bit the drama, comedy, action, romance, etc., of a fictional film. Often, more.    

The Girl Also Rises

David Fincher’s Dragon Tattoo leaves a truly indelible mark

0 Comments · Wednesday, December 21, 2011
The Swedish translation of the first book in Stieg Larsson’s Millenium trilogy is Men Who Hate Women, and the 2009 Niels Arden Oplev adaptation made sure to lay that hatred bare, introducing audiences to the Vanger clan, a Swedish industrial family of the first order with deep and long ties to the Nazis and unhealthy animosity for any with sympathies aligned alongside the better nature of man or God.  

This Is The End?

In 2011, the most ambitious movies often featured inconclusive conclusions

1 Comment · Wednesday, December 21, 2011
One of the most frustrating things about movies — good movies, with quality actors playing interesting characters — is that they too often resort to clichéd endings to wrap up their stories. That’s why it’s refreshing to see that 2011 brought us a spate of movies with quizzical, ambiguous endings.    

Breakout Breakdown

A look at the film world’s best breakthrough entertainers of 2011

0 Comments · Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Several performers were working overtime in 2011. Brad Pitt planted The Tree of Life, then scored with Moneyball and even had time to lend vocal support to Happy Feet 2. George Clooney multi-hyphenated himself as co-writer/director/co-star of The Ides of March and then vacationed as a mere performer in The Descendants.  

Out of the Cloud, Against the Stream

For those who still want a hard copy, 2011 brought an abundance of eclectic, sometimes eccentric DVD releases

0 Comments · Wednesday, December 21, 2011
I get a bit jittery come December. A nervous tick sets in. An anxiety rests deep in the gut. It’s time to pick the best DVD releases of the year. And I have no idea what to choose. Not for lack of selections, of course.    

Reframing the Scene

A pair of recent releases recreate on-set movie magic from earlier ages

0 Comments · Wednesday, December 14, 2011
It is an oft-repeated refrain that the movie industry has settled into what many in the critical circles have deemed lazy practices and thinking, returning to proven ground with a flood of remakes from the (not always so distant) past. The thought process behind remakes is obvious and full of appeal because it is about embracing that feeling of nostalgia.   

A Starlet is Born

Elizabeth Olsen gives a star-making performance, but can she follow it up?

0 Comments · Wednesday, December 7, 2011
In an industry always looking for the next new thing, there might be nothing more exciting than witnessing a star-making film performance.  

The Natural

Shailene Woodley discusses her breakout role in 'The Descendants'

0 Comments · Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Alexander Payne’s long-anticipated return to the filmmaking scene is another slanted, deadpan comedy about the ways in which a relatively ordinary man’s life can go terribly off course. CityBeat recently phoned the 20-year-old actress Shailene Woodley, who plays 17-year-old Alexandra in the film, to discuss the experience of making The Descendants.  


Scorsese delivers wildly imaginative 3-D adventure

1 Comment · Wednesday, November 23, 2011
With Hugo, Scorsese has completely indulged his inner child, the wildly imaginative free spirit in love with the dawn of the age of moving pictures, that initial time of wonder and magic, when children and adults found themselves ensorcelled by the spells and tricks of showmen like George Melies (Ben Kingsley) who dreamed of life under the sea and rocket ships blasting off and landing in the eye of the man on the moon.   

Arthur Christmas

Animated holiday tale rides on its lively British voices

0 Comments · Wednesday, November 23, 2011
The old cynic in me, the one never raised to believe in the commercial or the elfin hokum of the season, fought valiantly, but thanks to the fantastically lively British voices and the rollicking international incident caused by a team of flying reindeer, I found myself glad that Arthur Christmas cared enough to make this early delivery.  

The Muppets

Return delivers an endlessly entertaining celebration of its characters

0 Comments · Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Hard as it is to pick one scene that captures everything that is so delightful about the endlessly entertaining The Muppets, let me go with this one: During the climactic live Muppet Show revival at the end, Camilla — beloved chicken of Gonzo the Great — and several poultry friends perform a version of a certain recent, ubiquitous Cee Lo Green hit. The tune is sung entirely in “buck buck” noises, without subtitles.  

The Descendants

Clooney shines Alexander Payne's latest slanted dramedy

0 Comments · Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Matt King (George Clooney) comes from a distinct lineage. In terms of his own narrative, that of the new Alexander Payne film The Descendants, he is a modern-day land baron, the trustee of a family that owns the last and largest untapped acreage in Hawaii. But King is a simple man with a wife (Patricia Hastie) in a coma and two daughters, Alexandra (Shailene Woodley) and Scottie (Amara Miller), who knows that paradise is a dream world for fools. Grade: A.

My Week with Marilyn

Michelle Williams is mesmerizing as Mariilyn Monroe

0 Comments · Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Michelle Williams delivers an Oscar-worthy performance playing screen siren Marilyn Monroe. The vehicle is director Simon Curtis' thoughtful adaptation of Colin Clark's diaries. At the age of 23 Clark worked as third assistant director to Laurence Olivier for his 1956 romantic comedy The Prince and the Showgirl.

Happy Feet Two

Ambitious animated sequel needs more focus

0 Comments · Friday, November 18, 2011
The original 2006 Happy Feet incorporated live-action actors to surreal effect and presented a hard-to-miss allegory for tolerance of “alternative lifestyles” that inspired outrage from the likes of Glenn Beck and Michael Medved. Happy Feet Two is, in its way, also utterly distinctive from the great mass of contemporary animated fare — yet it’s also far too frantic and muddled to work as simple storytelling.  

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1

Latest entry in saga leaves us twisting in the breeze

0 Comments · Friday, November 18, 2011
For a series that has been all about the waiting and the longing, it's only fitting that Part 1 leaves audiences twisting in the breeze again. But there could have been some real payoff here, enough to actually add to the highly anticipated clash of the monstrous titans to come.