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by Jason Gargano 01.21.2011
at 01:53 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 

Friday Movie Roundup: Borat Is Back Edition

It's kind of hard to evaluate this week's opening films when none of them were screened in advance for critics — or at least none of them were screened locally, a trend that's always more prevalent this time of year.

Surprisingly, early word on No Strings Attached — Ivan Reitman's sexually liberated romantic comedy featuring Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher — is strong.

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by Jason Gargano 03.04.2011
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Friday Movie Roundup: Cedar Rapids Edition

It's been a pretty shitty year to date at the movie house. Check this list of critical bombs that have graced the multiplex in 2011, all of which generated a D or worse from CityBeat's review team: Season of the Witch, The Rite, Drive Angry, Big Momma's: Like Father, Like Son, Sanctum, From Prada to Nada, Country Strong, The Roommate, Hall Pass, Just Go With It and No Strings Attached. (Curiously, that group features films starring Oscar winners Nicolas Cage, Anthony Hopkins, Gwyneth Paltrow and Natalie Portman.)

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by Jason Gargano 10.10.2010
at 10:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 

Friday Movie Roundup: Bounty of Options

After months of sparse and, more importantly, mediocre (if not abysmal) movie options, recent weeks have give us a bounty of worthwhile offerings in a variety of genres — from art-house fare like Catfish, Jack Goes Boating, Lebanon and A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop to multiplex stuff like The Social Network and Let Me In and Easy A. And this week delivers yet more of both: Buried, It's Kind of a Funny Story, Secretariat and Never Let Me Go.

Add in the Cincinnati Film Festival, which opens today and runs through Oct. 16, and we have a smorgasbord of cinematic offerings from which to choose.

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by Jason Gargano 03.25.2011
at 03:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 

Friday Movie Roundup: Multiplex Blues Edition

It's been a typically lackluster first quarter of the year at the movie house, as precious few offerings have risen beyond mediocrity (Blue Valentine, Cedar Rapids, The Lincoln Lawyer, Rango and The Way Back have been rare exceptions).

The dire situation has more acute at the multiplex.

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by Jason Gargano 11.24.2010
at 01:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 

Wednesday Movie Roundup: Severed Arm Edition

Listen up, moviegoers: Five of this week's six new releases open today, highlighted by Danny Boyle's 127 Hours, the tension-laced, surprisingly brisk-moving true story of hiker Aron Ralston (played by an inspired James Franco), whose arm was lodged between a boulder and a canyon wall for five days.

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by Jason Gargano 11.03.2011
at 12:26 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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The Return of Pauline Kael

A pair of new books centering on film critic Pauline Kael — The Library of America's lavishly rendered The Age of Movies: Selected Writings of Pauline Kael and Brian Kellow's incisive biography Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark — have resulted in an avalanche of recent Kael appraisals and reminiscences a decade after her death in 2001 and 20 years after her retirement from writing in 1991.

I can't quite remember when I became aware of Kael, but it had to be in my late teens, which is when I began to move beyond the Hollywood blockbusters of my youth and into deeper, more adventurous cinematic waters. I do know that my initial Kael exposure occurred after she had retired from The New Yorker, where she rather famously wrote film essays and reviews for nearly 25 years.

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by Jason Gargano 03.01.2011
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A Snooze of an Oscars

The Academy has been trying in recent years to move its awards show into the 21st century without dissing its tradition-rich past. The results have been mixed.

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by tt stern-enzi 04.05.2013
at 09:42 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Roger Ebert Will Live on When the Lights Dim

What can I say about a man I never met, but who had been part of my life for decades? I, seemingly like a whole generation of film fans, watched Siskel and Ebert back in the 1980s, and then graduated to reading his reviews in the Chicago Sun-Times during my college years. Every Friday morning, I made my sojourn to the Annenberg School of Communications  library and collected the Sun-Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Village Voice, and Variety so that I could prepare for the weekend’s new releases. I didn’t always go to the movies, but I wanted to know what the critics thought, which meant I wanted to know, first and foremost, what Ebert thought. I didn’t always agree with him – many times, in fact, I was flummoxed by his wrongheadedness – but reading his take was a necessary and very personal prequel to the filmgoing experience.

I’ve been a working critic now for almost 13 years, and for the last seven I’ve also taught film review and feature writing classes at the University of Cincinnati. I never imagined I would be working in the same field as Ebert, even while I was taking undergraduate level class that examined film as text. I simply loved movies. Always have and always will. I know that last part will be the case thanks to Ebert. His love of the movies evolved as the form and critical analysis experienced their own growing pains. He made us all critics, by opening up an exchange that now, thanks to the Internet, has a global forum. What has been most inspiring about his work and approach over the last decade is his willingness to embrace technology as a means of broadcasting that very singular voice of his, overflowing with knowledge, but also immediately accessible. His sense of the need for accessibility is the greatest and most lasting impact he will have on criticism. It is what can and should continue to guide the would-be critics to come – the next generation of bloggers, tweeters, and those adherents to whatever is to come.

More established critics and writers have stories about meeting Ebert, spending time in his presence, what have you. My remembrance of the man is different. I’m one of those Johnny-come-lately types who “knew” him from afar. I’ve attended the Toronto International Film Festival for the last four or five years, and I recall, my first Ebert-sighting, about three year back. He and his wife were ahead of me on the escalator at the downtown multiplex space that serves as the main screening hub. They were engaged with others, talking very likely about the upcoming screening or maybe he was thinking about the Twitter event he was scheduled to host. Whatever was the case, there he was, despite all those years of globetrotting and a dizzying collection of screenings, still so full of life and joy for the festival experience. I didn’t need to speak with him or even be near him. Just to know he was there, doing his thing, seeing movies, helping us to engage with them by any means necessary, was more than enough. I looked for him each year after that and was always glad when I spotted him. I’ll likely do the same thing this year and I won’t be surprised if my mind plays a little trick on me and I convince myself that I’ve seen him again, roaming about Toronto somewhere.

He’ll be there, somewhere in the dark, like always.

This story was originally published on tt stern-enzi's blog, here.

 
 
by Jason Gargano 03.03.2011
at 08:14 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Franco and Hathaway Shine in Day Jobs

In an obvious stroke of marketing synchronicity, it’s no coincidence that James Franco’s and Anne Hathaway’s recent films are being released on DVD/Blu-ray this week, just a few days after the duo hosted Hollywood’s biggest yearly extravaganza of pomp and self-congratulation.

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by Jason Gargano 09.03.2010
at 02:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 

Friday Movie Roundup: Bring On the New Season

The fall movie season gets underway this week with a curious quartet of options: a languid character piece about a mysterious hit man played by George Clooney; a reasonably effective romantic comedy featuring a pair of real-life lovers; a B-movie homage packed with a crazy-quilt cast; and an intriguing documentary about our ill-advised adventure in Afghanistan.

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