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Leonard Maltin

Silent Stars Still Mesmerize

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • August 10, 2010 4:00 AM
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  • 4 Comments
At the recent San Francisco Silent Film Festival I acquired several recently-published books I hadn’t seen before. Now that I’ve spent time with them I feel duty-bound to spread the word.

film review: 3D Worth Paying to See: Step Up 3D

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • August 6, 2010 4:00 AM
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  • 1 Comment
As a longtime 3D fan, I’ve been puzzled and discouraged to hear more than one director refer to “subtle use of 3D” in their films. Excuse me? I may be wrong, but I don’t think “subtle” and “3D” belong in the same sentence. The whole point of 3D is to provide an enhanced movie-watching experience. At its best, it can be a lot of fun—whether it’s Charles Bronson leaping out of the dark to pounce on Phyllis Kirk in House of Wax or a winged creature taking flight in How to Train Your Dragon.

book review: Three Chords For Beauty's Sake:

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • August 4, 2010 4:00 AM
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  • 4 Comments
The Life of Artie Shaw by Tom Nolan (Norton)

film review: Dinner For Schmucks

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • July 31, 2010 6:26 AM
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  • 3 Comments
I’d like to extoll the virtues of a great comedy, but this isn’t it. A word of explanation: I come to Dinner for Schmucks at a disadvantage, because I love the French film on which it’s based, The Dinner Game (1998). I’ve also heard its creator, the brilliant writer-director Francis Veber, describe his filmmaking philosophy, and criticize Hollywood colleagues for always wanting to expand and complicate his material. (The Birdcage is the best translation ever made of a Veber property, but I still prefer his original, La Cage aux Folles.)

film review: Get Low

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • July 30, 2010 4:01 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Get Low is one of the treats of the summer movie season, a modest film that offers ample rewards, not the least being the opportunity to watch wonderful actors at work. The setting is Tennessee during the Great Depression. Robert Duvall is well cast as a man who’s lived as a hermit for the past forty years. One day he turns up in town and asks the local preacher to hold his funeral—while he’s still alive. Over the course of the film we learn what has brought him to this moment, and what drove him away from his friends and neighbors so many years ago.

film review: The Extra Man

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • July 30, 2010 4:00 AM
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  • 3 Comments
If you have any fondness for life’s oddballs, I think you’ll share my affection for the latest film from the writing/directing team of Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman, who brought us American Splendor. The Extra Man, based on a novel by Jonathan Ames, focuses on two men who exist out of their time: Henry Harrison, a pompous, world-class eccentric who gets by as an escort, or “extra man,” for aging Manhattan society women, and Louis Ives, an unworldly academic with a propensity for cross-dressing.

movie review: Salt

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • July 23, 2010 4:00 AM
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  • 7 Comments
Salt moves like a bullet, and almost never stops to take a breath; as a result, neither do we. I can’t think of a recent film that’s maintained such a breakneck pace or made me so unaware of time flying by. This is beneficial, because the story doesn’t always make sense…but when a film is this energetic and entertaining, it would be a shame to spoil the fun by demanding too much of it.

movie review: Life During Wartime

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • July 23, 2010 3:59 AM
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  • 1 Comment
I vividly recall the year Todd Solondz’s Happiness debuted at the Telluride Film Festival. His deadpan treatment of such sensitive subjects as pederasty and masturbation polarized the assembled moviegoers; some walked out in disgust, others stayed and were full of praise. Only a filmmaker as iconoclastic as Solondz would create a sequel twelve years later—and recast all the leading characters. Many of his films in that intervening period have been disappointing and downright strange, but Life During Wartime is exceptional…just as good as Happiness, and possibly even better.

book and dvd reviews: It's A Noir, Noir, Noir, Noir World

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • July 16, 2010 4:00 AM
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  • 3 Comments
The term “film noir” didn’t exist in the 1940s and early 1950s. The late Larry Gelbart, who wrote the noir-inspired stage musical City of Angels, once told me that back then “film” was something you got if you didn’t brush your teeth. People went to “the movies.” But ever since the term was taken up by American film buffs and scholars in the 1970s it has created a special allure for those dark, hard-boiled melodramas that studios ground out so effortlessly in the post-War era. What’s more, since today’s audiences have no trouble digesting cynicism, these films seem positively modern as opposed to the apple-pie wholesomeness of other Hollywood product from the period.

film review: The Sorcerer's Apprentice

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • July 14, 2010 4:00 AM
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  • 0 Comments
If you know that this film comes from the team that gave you National Treasure, you have a pretty good idea of what to expect: a larger-than-life action yarn with special effects and a sense of humor. It isn’t my favorite kind of entertainment, but there’s a good reason Jerry Bruckheimer is successful: he (mostly) makes movies people pay money to see. Director Jon Turteltaub and a team of writers are clearly in sync with the producer’s m.o.

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