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Posted May 21, 2014in Film Review

Merchant ivory present

“Belle” 4 stars Rated PG 88 minutes Drama Starring: Gugu Mbatha-Raw Matthew Goode, Emily Watson However fated to be inexorably linked to “12 Years a Slave” — by mere virtue of its slave-related subplot — “Belle” is an accomplished period drama firmly in line with the top-drawer production values and

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Posted May 14, 2014in Film Review

Spectacular failure

“Godzilla” 1 star Rated PG-13 123 minutes Action Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston Further confirmation that no one in Hollywood knows how to tell a story on film anymore, “Godzilla” starts out promising enough before slipping into a snooze-fest by the end of its first act. A cool

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Posted May 07, 2014in Film Review

Cobwebs

“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” 2 stars Rated PG-13 141 minutes Action Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx Even the nerdiest members of that long-dead-gone cultural movement known as fanboys will admit that rebooting Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” is/was a mistake. It’s bad enough that the franchise lost Raimi, along with

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Posted April 30, 2014in Film Review

Ozon’s gaze

“Young & Beautiful” 5 stars Not Rated 95 minutes Drama Starring: Marine Vacth, Géraldine Pailhas, Frédéric Pierrot For his latest filmic exploration, François Ozon addresses a complex mix of sexual, personal, social, familial, gender-based and technological issues, inexorably honing in on a striking synthesis of generational catharsis. That he does

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Posted April 23, 2014in Film Review

Artificial intelligence by degree

“Transcendence” 3 stars Rated PG-13 119 minutes Drama Starring: Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, Morgan Freeman In spite of its many and assorted plot-holes, “Transcendence” is a captivating sci-fi movie thanks to strong performances from a stable of reliable actors and a romantic hook at the heart of its high-concept trappings.

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Posted April 16, 2014in Film Review

Rumsfeld crushes Morris

“The Unknown Known” 4 stars Rated PG-13 96 minutes Documentary Starring: Donald Rumsfeld, Errol Morris, Kenn Medeiros Errol Morris meets his match in Donald Rumsfeld. The notoriously contentious documentarian, whose probing interviews with 1960s secretary of defense Robert McNamara form the finest political documentary ever made (“The Fog of War:

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Posted April 09, 2014in Film Review

The vampire-alien who fell to Earth

“Under the Skin” 2 stars Rated R 108 minutes Drama Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy McWilliams, Lynsey Taylor Mackay More visually accomplished than its malnourished narrative supports, “Under the Skin” works well as a foxy sci-fi movie for stoners. It would look great projected on a giant screen at a rave

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Posted April 02, 2014in Film Review

Farm workers unite!

“Cesar Chavez” 3 stars Rated PG-13 101 minutes Biography Starring: Michael Peña, America Ferrera, Rosario Dawson Diego Luna’s second directorial outing is a prudently succinct brief-biopic about the Mexican farm-worker-turned-union-activist responsible for improving working conditions for migrant laborers in America. Timed for the film’s release to coincide with the March

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Posted March 26, 2014in Film Review

Samuel L. Jackson pays homage to Russia in ‘Mishkin’s Complaint’

“Pulp Fiction” star Samuel L. Jackson delivers his directing debut with a poignant sexy melodrama rooted in 1930’s Moscow, Russia. “Mishkin’s Complaint” pushes the envelope on modern cinema’s trend toward A- and B-list Hollywood actors engaging in full-fledged sex acts onscreen. The result leaves an impression. Jeremy Irons plays Mishkin,

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Posted March 19, 2014in Film Review

Bloody sandals

“300: Rise of an Empire” 3 stars Rated R 102 minutes Action Starring: Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Headey “300: Rise of an Empire,” of the sword-and-sandal hybrid war franchise based on Frank Miller’s (“Sin City”) graphic novel, fumbles through this superfluous sequel to “300” (2006). Huge sheets of splaying

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