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by Jason Gargano 04.22.2011
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Friday Movie Roundup: Digital Revolution Edition

Once upon a time people would go to grandiose, darkened theaters to watch images projected on large screens via illuminated strips of film.

Those days are all but over.

Initially altered by the late-’70s advent of platter projection — not to mention that same era's movie-magic-eroding advent of cable TV and home-video players — film culture is now going through a sea change as theaters of every stripe move to digital projection, a turnabout that has had more of an impact than might meet the eye.

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by Jason Gargano 11.24.2010
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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 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 03.25.2011
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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 12.22.2010
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Wednesday Movie Roundup: Year in Film Edition

The year-end movie season is now in high gear, as media entities of every stripe unveil their top 10 lists and various awards groups reveal their nominations. CityBeat's film writers will present our lists next week. In the meantime, check out this week's Year in Film essays, which offer a look at 2010's noteworthy cinematic trends — from a roundup of “off-the-wall” DVDs and an examination of the further fracturing of movie reality and indie cinema to the year's best crime epics and the lack of strong movies by and for African Americans.

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by Jason Gargano 09.03.2010
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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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by Jason Gargano 04.08.2011
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Friday Movie Roundup: Smorgasbord of Options Edition

In a cinematic turn of events akin to a cicada uprising (especially given our slim pickings in recent months), this week delivers no less than 10 new releases that span a number of genres, topics and stylistic approaches.

Better yet, several are actually (or look) worthwhile, headlined by a trio of smaller, character-driven films: Cary Fukunaga's Jane Eyre, Xavier Beauvios' Cannes-approved Of Gods and Men and Tom McCarthy's Win Win.

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by Jason Gargano 10.15.2010
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Friday Movie Roundup: Apathy Is Not an Option

Our movie-house winning streak continues, as this week delivers yet another collection of worthwhile options — from Davis Guggenheim's eye-opening documentary Waiting for Superman and Sam Taylor-Wood's John Lennon docudrama Nowhere Boy to the latest works from the irrepressible Jackass crew and the ceaselessly prolific Woody Allen. Even the right-wing “documentary” about the role government should play in our lives, I Want Your Money — which (not so) curiously didn't have an advanced press screening — looks intriguing/amusing if likely one-sided.

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by Jason Gargano 11.03.2011
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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 12.18.2009
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Friday Movie Roundup: Awards Season Mania

The movie awards season kicked into overdrive Dec. 15 with the announcement of the 67th annual Golden Globe Awards nominations. I’m typically the first one to criticize the Globes’ often banal, stars-and-studio-influenced nominations, but this year’s crop seems more discerning than usual.

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