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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.   

Like Crazy

Sundance favorite looks at the travails of young love

0 Comments · Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Writer-director Drake Doremus graduates from the micro-niche ranks into indie world with Like Crazy, the Grand Jury Prize winner at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. With works like Moonpie (2006), Spooner (2009) and Douchebag (2010), which screened in dramatic competition at Sundance, in the rearview, it would seem that Doremus would be poised for a breakout.   

The Skin I Live In

Almodovar's latest another lush, twisted gem

0 Comments · Friday, November 11, 2011
Pedro Almodóvar proves himself an apt technician at sustaining suspense in the thriller genre. Antonio Banderas returns to work with Almodóvar for the first time in over 20 years, since his memorable performance Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!. The years have been kind to Banderas, who brings his A game to a deliciously diabolical role.   

Jack and Jill

Adam Sandler refuses to grow up yet another lame comedy

0 Comments · Friday, November 11, 2011
Adam Sandler tightens his embrace of broad family hijinks with this story about a set of adult twins (Sandler plays both brother and sister, yeah!) who bicker, bicker, bond, bicker some more and then bond one last time during their annual holiday gathering. The movie kicks off (and ends) with real-life twins engaged in a bit of filmed back and forth about their relationships. The off-the-cuff banter and some of the contrasting visual juxtapositions contain the real gems lacking in what gets sandwiched in between.   


Majestic visual can't save this lifeless adventure

0 Comments · Friday, November 11, 2011
From the producers of 300 comes this neo-mythic tale of Theseus (Henry Cavill), the mortal chosen by the gods to lead the fight against Hyperion (Mickey Rourke), a ruthless king intent on awakening the vanquished titans to defeat the gods and destroy all of humanity.