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Leonard Maltin

film review: Barney's Version

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • January 14, 2011 12:26 AM
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  • 5 Comments
Paul Giamatti is one of those actors whose presence in a movie generally validates it, and Barney’s Version is no exception. He manages to make a central character with few—if any—admirable traits not only bearable but downright compelling. And if this Barney strays from the way Mordecai Richler painted him in his first-person novel, he still justifies his existence in this entertaining film.

dvd review: STILL RAGING

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • January 12, 2011 5:30 AM
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  • 6 Comments
The other night, my wife and I sat down to watch the new 30th Anniversary Blu-ray edition of Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull. I could scarcely believe it’s been three decades since we first saw it, start to finish, and I felt some trepidation, as I always do when revisiting a great movie of the past: will it hold up or disappoint after all this time?

Animation Marvels—In Print And On DVD

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • January 10, 2011 5:00 AM
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  • 1 Comment
A spectacular new book about Ray Harryhausen is cause for celebration—but more about that later. The estimable Mr. H was inspired to pursue his art, and craft, by the films he saw as a boy, especially The Lost World (1925) and King Kong (1933). But the man who created the stunning animation in those films, Willis O’Brien, wasn’t the only person experimenting with the wonders of stop-motion. Steve Stanchfield, Stewart McKissick and Ken Priebe at Thunderbean Animation have compiled a dizzying DVD collection of rare short subjects appropriately titled Stop-Motion Marvels! and it’s a must for anyone interested in this field.

film review: Blue Valentine

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • January 7, 2011 5:00 AM
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  • 5 Comments
Two daring performances make Blue Valentine a standout, even if the film’s reach somewhat exceeds its grasp. Director and co-writer Derek Cianfrance attempts to explore the beginning and end of an intimate relationship, hopscotching back and forth in time from the couple’s first meeting and subsequent wooing through the utter disintegration of their marriage.

CRUISING THROUGH THE HOLIDAYS

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • January 5, 2011 5:00 AM
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  • 4 Comments
It may not sound like work, because I’m lucky enough to combine business and pleasure, but I lecture on Princess Cruises. For a year-end trip through the Panama Canal I was asked to introduce four of my favorite unsung films of 2010, and I was happy to do so. City Island was by far the audience favorite—people thanked me for days after the screening—but Mother and Child was also well received, along with Flipped and The Winning Season. Seasoned film-buff passengers also fared quite well with my session of movie trivia, scoring 17 out of a possible 20.
More: Journal

film review: Another Year

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • January 3, 2011 8:28 AM
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  • 4 Comments
I look forward to a Mike Leigh movie the way some readers anticipate a new novel by their favorite author. But unlike some writers who hew to comfortable formulas, Leigh always cooks up something different; you never know what to expect. The most obvious common thread in his work is the appearance of familiar actors from his informal stock company, many of whom have won honors for their work in his pictures (Marianne Jean-Baptiste in Secrets & Lies, Imelda Staunton in Vera Drake, Sally Hawkins in Happy-Go-Lucky, et al). The deeper through-line is his concern with ordinary people, usually from the working class, in a throwback to England’s famous “kitchen sink” dramas of the late 1950s and early 60s. Many of those dramas were famously angry, while Leigh sees the brighter side of life.

dvd review: Discovery: The Night of the Hunter - 2002

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • January 2, 2011 1:52 AM
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  • 0 Comments
It’s become commonplace to see “making-of” documentaries and promotional videos, even for crummy movies that don’t merit such attention. Unfortunately, behind-the-scenes footage for movies of the 1930s, 40s, and 50s is scarce, and when it exists it’s generally brief.

Remembering “Hollywood And The Stars”

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • December 30, 2010 5:00 AM
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  • 11 Comments
It’s that time when we look back and remember the people who’ve pass on during 2010. (If you haven’t seen Turner Classic Movies’ always-incredible memorial segment, you should: www.tcm.com) One of those who left our midst was producer David L. Wolper. When I read his obituary in August, I knew it would focus on his early success with television documentaries like The Making of the President, his epic miniseries Roots, his well-loved feature Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and his spectacular opening ceremonies for the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
More: Journal

Scanning The Movie Year

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • December 27, 2010 5:00 AM
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  • 13 Comments
Like any critic, I have an ego: it comes with the territory, or I couldn’t express my opinion with confidence. Imagine what it’s like, then, to sit in a room with forty other critics—each one certain and confident—and try to reach a consensus, as I do with my colleagues in the Los Angeles Film Critics Association every December. We meet in person and vote out loud, using a point system to determine the most popular candidates in every category; then we have a runoff show of hands between the two top vote-getters to determine who wins. (If you’d like to see all of this year’s winners, or learn more about our group and its members,—

film review—THE ILLUSIONIST

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • December 25, 2010 5:00 AM
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  • 3 Comments
I have nothing but admiration for Sylvain Chomet’s The Illusionist, a heartfelt homage to the great filmmaker and comedic artist Jacques Tati, based on one of his unproduced screenplays. But I wanted to love the film wholeheartedly, and I didn’t.

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