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November 27, 2013 01:00 AM

First-time writer, director and actor Alex Richanbach has gone a long way to revive the true spirit of romantic comedies. His debut film, We Are Young, is a wry, smart and, yes, romantic updating of this much-maligned and greatly desecrated form. What this means, in short, is that Richanbach’s movie is dialogue driven, sharply acted and full of moments that are by turns uncomfortably real and deeply touching, and always authentic.

Genre breeds familiarity, and then formula, and then contempt. This is especially true when it comes to romantic comedies, which seemed to suffocate on their own fey cuteness with the disappearance of such seminal directors as Billy Wilder, Preston Sturges and Howard Hawks.

November 21, 2013 01:00 AM

In Kill Your Darlings, Daniel Radcliffe, with a mop of tousled hair half swallowing his face, plays the young Allen Ginsberg, when the now-renowned poet was but an innocent Columbia freshman. You can stop thinking of Radcliffe as Harry Potter now; since that series ended, he’s made a career of heading off in the opposite direction, and his role in John Krokidas’ directorial debut might be the final step on the road to being taken seriously.

In Kill Your Darlings, Daniel Radcliffe, with a mop of tousled hair half swallowing his face, plays the young Allen Ginsberg, when the now-renowned poet was but an innocent Columbia freshman. You can stop thinking of Radcliffe as Harry Potter now; since that series ended, he’s made a career of heading off in the opposite direction, and his role in John Krokidas’ directorial debut might be the final step on the road to being taken seriously.

November 14, 2013 01:00 AM

Three forces drive How I Live Now: Meg Rosoff, on whose award-winning young adult novel the film is based; Saoirse Ronan, who has managed to make watchable everything she’s been in, even Hanna; and Kevin Macdonald, whose track record as a director is spotty at best. Macdonald is arguably best known for The Last King of Scotland, a mediocre film wrapped around a Forest Whitaker performance that made me want to use the kind of descriptive words (“blistering”) that make no sense but yet come closest to capture the force that came off the screen. 

Three forces drive How I Live Now: Meg Rosoff, on whose award-winning young adult novel the film is based; Saoirse Ronan, who has managed to make watchable everything she’s been in, even Hanna; and Kevin Macdonald, whose track record as a director is spotty at best.

November 7, 2013 01:00 AM

The blow to the head that occurs during the opening scenes of Concussion has so little to do with what this smart, subtle movie is really about that the title almost seems like, at best, a MacGuffin. It just so happens, however, that Passon herself, just before writing the screenplay, suffered a mild concussion. Art is funny that way: From pain is born investigation and inspiration, and in this case, a knock on the noggin has resulted in a very fine film about sexual politics and personal freedom, or lack thereof.

October 31, 2013 01:00 AM

When Bijou Cinemas announced its 72-hour Horror Film Fest, I said to myself: Why not? It was an open competition with no entry fee; contestants had three days to write, film and edit a 2-3 minute scary movie, the only mandate being that each entrant must utilize a prop and single line of dialogue provided by the Bijou. The prop, in this instance, was a tennis ball, and the bit of dialogue, delivered at the start of the 72-hour countdown, was a line spoken by the ghost Delbert Grady in The Shining: “I should know, sir, I’ve always been here.”

When Bijou Cinemas announced its 72-hour Horror Film Fest, I said to myself: Why not? It was an open competition with no entry fee; contestants had three days to write, film and edit a 2-3 minute scary movie, the only mandate being that each entrant must utilize a prop and single line of dialogue provided by the Bijou. The prop, in this instance, was a tennis ball, and the bit of dialogue, delivered at the start of the 72-hour countdown, was a line spoken by the ghost Delbert Grady in The Shining: “I should know, sir, I’ve always been here.”

October 31, 2013 01:00 AM

Only a few years ago, Joseph Gordon-Levitt was still mostly known as “that kid from 3rd Rock from the Sun.” Since 2005, he’s taken on a host of interesting roles; built the really nifty hitRECord.org, an “open collaborative production company”; and now made his debut as a feature film director with the funny, lewd and thoughtful Don Jon, which does double duty as a broad comedy and a mildly subversive take on gender and expectations.

October 31, 2013 01:00 AM

If it all ended with a zombie apocalypse, I’d spend the last days shacked up in Costco. Until that fateful day when the dead walk the Earth, the closest we have for preparation is a genre of movies that has inspired both cult and mainstream followings.

If it all ended with a zombie apocalypse, I’d spend the last days shacked up in Costco. There are enough supplies to last me a while, a gazebo to camp in and every Friday I’d have first-in-line access to the free samples. Until that fateful day when the dead walk the Earth, the closest we have for preparation is a genre of movies that has inspired both cult and mainstream followings. The Majestic Theatre taps into this zeitgeist with its short, and anything-but-sweet, Hallow’s Eve Zombie Film Festival, featuring three classics from the genre.

October 24, 2013 01:00 AM

Is it possible to scare the living daylights out of someone in the space of two minutes? The Bijou’s Joshua Purvis says he’s hoping local filmmakers will give it a go when the inaugural 72-Hour Horror Film Fest comes to life Oct. 24 with a kick-off party downtown at First National Taphouse.

Is it possible to scare the living daylights out of someone in the space of two minutes? The Bijou’s Joshua Purvis says he’s hoping local filmmakers will give it a go when the inaugural 72-Hour Horror Film Fest comes to life Oct. 24 with a kick-off party downtown at First National Taphouse.

October 24, 2013 01:00 AM

If every story about the new Saudi Arabian film Wadjda begins with the same pieces of information, the reason is simple: It would be downright unfair to leave the backstory out. This film was the first feature shot in a country that, as every interview with the director, Haifaa al-Mansour, will tell you, doesn’t have cinema.

If every story about the new Saudi Arabian film Wadjda begins with the same pieces of information, the reason is simple: It would be downright unfair to leave the backstory out. This film was the first feature shot in a country that, as every interview with the director, Haifaa al-Mansour, will tell you, doesn’t have cinema. Strict rules for female behavior required the movie’s director to, at times, sit in a van and speak to her actors via walkie-talkie.

October 17, 2013 01:00 AM

If you are wary of what we might term the “mature romantic comedy” — having been burned by things like the atrocious Something’s Gotta Give — please understand that I am right there with you. The previews for Enough Said didn’t do the movie any favors, and to want to see the film simply because it features James Gandolfini in one of his last roles feels slightly dark and morbid.

If you are wary of what we might term the “mature romantic comedy” — having been burned by things like the atrocious Something’s Gotta Give — please understand that I am right there with you. The previews for Enough Said didn’t do the movie any favors, and to want to see the film simply because it features James Gandolfini in one of his last roles feels slightly dark and morbid. But maybe you loved Julia Louis-Dreyfus on Seinfeld, or you can’t get enough of Catherine Keener in roles that don’t insult her intelligence.

October 10, 2013 01:00 AM

Every once in a while, we are allowed the laughter of the gods. It is a pure laughter, sprung from joy rather than bitterness or irony. It is not schadenfreude. It has no victim. Rather, such laughter revels in creation the way a child revels in play — with pure mind and a freedom beyond the shackles of doubt. It is a thankful laughter, a barometer registering sheer gratitude.

Every once in a while, we are allowed the laughter of the gods. It is a pure laughter, sprung from joy rather than bitterness or irony. It is not schadenfreude. It has no victim. Rather, such laughter revels in creation the way a child revels in play — with pure mind and a freedom beyond the shackles of doubt. It is a thankful laughter, a barometer registering sheer gratitude.

October 3, 2013 01:00 AM

Make no mistake: The new movie by Joe Swanberg is not a romantic comedy. If you waltz into Drinking Buddies expecting the formulaic satisfaction of a rom-com by Nora Ephron, you will be violently disappointed. You will throw your popcorn at the screen and demand your money back.

Make no mistake: The new movie by Joe Swanberg is not a romantic comedy. If you waltz into Drinking Buddies expecting the formulaic satisfaction of a rom-com by Nora Ephron, you will be violently disappointed. You will throw your popcorn at the screen and demand your money back.

September 26, 2013 01:00 AM

It’s likely you already know too much about Prisoners, the excellent new film by young Quebecois director Denis Villeneuve. Yes, Prisoners is about a kidnapping and its brutal aftermath. Yes, the movie’s scenes of unreconstructed violence are deeply disturbing. Yes, it has a crackerjack cast, which includes Hugh Jackman, Maria Bello, Terrence Howard and Jake Gyllenhaal as the talented and tormented detective assigned to the case.

It’s likely you already know too much about Prisoners, the excellent new film by young Quebecois director Denis Villeneuve. Yes, Prisoners is about a kidnapping and its brutal aftermath. Yes, the movie’s scenes of unreconstructed violence are deeply disturbing. Yes, it has a crackerjack cast, which includes Hugh Jackman, Maria Bello, Terrence Howard and Jake Gyllenhaal as the talented and tormented detective assigned to the case.

September 19, 2013 01:00 AM

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a marine biologist and/or work at a marine park. As you can see, I did nothing of the sort. But one thing lingers from those younger days: a whopper of a sense of awe at the sight of whales, seals, even sea lions, those goofy things — and orcas. 

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a marine biologist and/or work at a marine park. As you can see, I did nothing of the sort. But one thing lingers from those younger days: a whopper of a sense of awe at the sight of whales, seals, even sea lions, those goofy things — and orcas. 

September 12, 2013 01:00 AM

Maybe the most bittersweetly delightful thing about James Ponsoldt’s The Spectacular Now is the way it captures the feeling of a drawn-out ending. For Aimee (Shailene Woodley), Sutter (Miles Teller) and their classmates, it’s the end of high school, a time when everything is bitingly vital and yet nothing matters much, since it’s all going to change in a few weeks anyway. 

Maybe the most bittersweetly delightful thing about James Ponsoldt’s The Spectacular Now is the way it captures the feeling of a drawn-out ending. For Aimee (Shailene Woodley), Sutter (Miles Teller) and their classmates, it’s the end of high school, a time when everything is bitingly vital and yet nothing matters much, since it’s all going to change in a few weeks anyway. What happens next is of the utmost importance, but no one really knows what that next thing will be, least of all Sutter, who has yet to get around to applying to college.

September 5, 2013 01:00 AM

If we’re going to invent new sub-genres for Edgar Wright movies, a la the rom-zom-com (Shaun of the Dead), we need one for Lake Bell’s directorial debut, which is a … well … it’s a fem-fam-film-rom-geek-com? That needs some work.

If we’re going to invent new sub-genres for Edgar Wright movies, a la the rom-zom-com (Shaun of the Dead), we need one for Lake Bell’s directorial debut, which is a … well … it’s a fem-fam-film-rom-geek-com? That needs some work. (Maybe Bell, a sharp and nuanced writer, can come up with something clever.) In a World… is a movie built for film geeks, trailer junkies and, well, anyone who’s ever noticed Hollywood’s sexist side. Which I like to think is, by now, all of us.

August 29, 2013 01:00 AM

It’s been six long years since the last Edgar Wright/Simon Pegg collaboration, the gets-better-with-age Hot Fuzz. Wright and Pegg have kept plenty busy: Wright directed Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, my favorite comic book movie that comes off like a video game movie, and Pegg, of course, is Scotty in the new Star Trek franchise. Pegg and the third member of this trio, Nick Frost, spent some time on the disappointing Paul, while Frost memorably appeared in the entirely excellent Attack the Block (which Wright executive produced).

It’s been six long years since the last Edgar Wright/Simon Pegg collaboration, the gets-better-with-age Hot Fuzz. Wright and Pegg have kept plenty busy: Wright directed Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, my favorite comic book movie that comes off like a video game movie, and Pegg, of course, is Scotty in the new Star Trek franchise. Pegg and the third member of this trio, Nick Frost, spent some time on the disappointing Paul, while Frost memorably appeared in the entirely excellent Attack the Block (which Wright executive produced). 

August 22, 2013 01:00 AM

Against my strongest instincts, I will resist saying too much, or anything too fancy, about Fruitvale Station, the excellent new movie based on the 2009 New Year’s shooting of a young black man by a security guard on San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit line. When a critic encounters anything of this rarefied quality, it’s best just to get out of the way. The film is that good.

Against my strongest instincts, I will resist saying too much, or anything too fancy, about Fruitvale Station, the excellent new movie based on the 2009 New Year’s shooting of a young black man by a security guard on San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit line. When a critic encounters anything of this rarefied quality, it’s best just to get out of the way. The film is that good. It is art of the highest caliber. It speaks for itself. It has the power to break your heart.

August 15, 2013 01:00 AM

Science fiction, contrary to what its frequently fluffy appearances at the multiplex might lead you to believe, is a brilliant medium for ideas. You can invent anything: a starfleet based on equality, a future destroyed by robots, a world of passively invading alien parasites. 

Science fiction, contrary to what its frequently fluffy appearances at the multiplex might lead you to believe, is a brilliant medium for ideas. You can invent anything: a starfleet based on equality, a future destroyed by robots, a world of passively invading alien parasites. You can dream up new versions of the future, or meld past and present; you can envision impossible technology. Science fiction is built to tell us who we are by imagining where we might be going. 

August 8, 2013 01:00 AM

Perhaps, like Bauhaus furniture or the beauty of shallow people, Stanley Kubrick’s movies are meant to be admired but not loved. Kubrick was a master stylist, a director whose films are as quickly identifiable as those of Alfred Hitchcock or Michael Mann.

Perhaps, like Bauhaus furniture or the beauty of shallow people, Stanley Kubrick’s movies are meant to be admired but not loved. Kubrick, who died in 1999 at the age of 70, was a master stylist, a director whose films are as quickly identifiable as those of Alfred Hitchcock or Michael Mann. Steely, distanced, full of hard angles and wide vistas, a Kubrick movie is a study in formal technique, like looking upon a painting that magically, and rather sinisterly, animates itself.

August 1, 2013 01:00 AM

Broken begins with loosely shuffled snippets of character and drama. When the film snaps into narrative focus, it’s with a sudden act of violence: On a quiet cul-de-sac, a young man washes his car. A passing neighbor girl says hello. The boy appears not quite all there: He has a hard time putting words in order, but he seems kind. As the girl departs, another neighbor appears, pulling his shirt off before knocking the young man halfway across the car.

Broken begins with loosely shuffled snippets of character and drama. When the film snaps into narrative focus, it’s with a sudden act of violence: On a quiet cul-de-sac, a young man washes his car. A passing neighbor girl says hello. The boy appears not quite all there: He has a hard time putting words in order, but he seems kind. As the girl departs, another neighbor appears, pulling his shirt off before knocking the young man halfway across the car.

July 25, 2013 01:00 AM

It’s possible — though maybe not common — to go through your entire life not realizing that the line Merry Clayton sings in the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” begins, “Rape, murder!” 

It’s possible — though maybe not common — to go through your entire life not realizing that the line Merry Clayton sings in the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” begins, “Rape, murder!” 

July 18, 2013 01:00 AM

Tonto’s first appearance was on the 11th episode of the radio show The Lone Ranger on Dec. 7, 1938. The radio broadcast identified Tonto as a chief’s son in the Potawatomi Nation. The choice to make Tonto Potawatomi seems to come from the station owner’s childhood affiliation with Michigan. Tonto was created by a nonnative, which in my opinion, is undoubtedly Tonto — nonnative.

“ … The motion picture community has been as responsible as any for degrading the Indian and making a mockery of his character, describing his as savage, hostile and evil. It’s hard enough for children to grow up in this world. When Indian children watch television, and they watch films, and when they see their race depicted as they are in films, their minds become injured in ways we can never know.” — Marlon Brando, Oscar speech, 1973

 

July 18, 2013 01:00 AM

When Pacific Rim’s end credits rolled, a friend turned to me and said, “Now I kind of want to watch that Hugh Jackman ‘rock ’em, sock ’em’ robots movie.” Such is the effectiveness of Guillermo del Toro’s deliciously oversized robots vs. monsters movie: It’ll make you want more fighting robots, even of the sub-par kind.

When Pacific Rim’s end credits rolled, a friend turned to me and said, “Now I kind of want to watch that Hugh Jackman ‘rock ’em, sock ’em’ robots movie.” Such is the effectiveness of Guillermo del Toro’s deliciously oversized robots vs. monsters movie: It’ll make you want more fighting robots, even of the sub-par kind.