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Under The Radar: A Kiwi Western And A Jazz Doc

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • April 23, 2012 3:21 PM
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  • 4 Comments
Some movies open “wide,” on thousands of screens; others play in just a handful of theaters. And some films, lacking promotion or advertising budgets, simply materialize, with the hope that people will discover them On Demand, or cable, or DVD, like a sleeper from New Zealand I was lucky enough to see on the big screen at the 2011 Santa Barbara Film Festival.

Monsieur Lazhar—movie review

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • April 13, 2012 12:55 AM
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  • 2 Comments
The hype-meisters of moviedom have made it difficult to use words like “heartwarming” and “inspiring” without sounding like a huckster…but when you see a film as moving and well-wrought as 'Monsieur Lazhar', it’s hard to resist. Yet what I admire most about the picture, which was an Oscar nominee this year as Best Foreign Language Film, is its restraint.

A Capra Classic Made Whole

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • April 2, 2012 1:00 AM
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  • 6 Comments
A year before 'It Happened One Night' famously swept the Oscars, Frank Capra and screenwriter Robert Riskin made 'Lady for a Day', which earned four Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture—but because it was withheld from TV and 16mm distribution for years, it never attained the widespread awareness and residual affection that other Capra classics have always enjoyed.

Wrath Of The Titans—movie review

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • March 30, 2012 1:00 AM
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  • 5 Comments
I remember feeling a certain amount of wrath over the ham-handed 3-D effects in 2010’s 'Clash of the Titans', but the film itself wasn’t bad: uneven, to be sure, but strengthened by adhering to the story template of the 1981 movie of the same name, written by Beverley Cross. If I were 12 years old I would have loved it.

UPA Cartoons—At Last!

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • March 28, 2012 1:00 AM
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  • 7 Comments
I’m proud to be associated with TCM’s exclusive new three-disc DVD set of 'Jolly Frolics', the innovative, award winning UPA cartoons that have been neglected on home video so long. I’m speaking of 'Gerald McBoing Boing', 'Unicorn in the Garden', 'The Tell-Tale Heart', 'Rooty Toot Toot', and the first Mister Magoo cartoon, Ragtime Bear, among others. These shorts, made by former Disney staffers who embraced modern art and graphics, wowed pop-culture critics, audiences, and Oscar voters in the late 1940s and 50s, but haven’t been readily accessible in recent years.

The Hunger Games—movie review

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • March 22, 2012 8:53 PM
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  • 27 Comments
As someone who hasn’t read Suzanne Collins’ trilogy of novels, going to see 'The Hunger Games' “cold,” I felt comforted by the presence of two young actors I admire, Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson. Given the downbeat nature of the story, set in a bleak future world, having warm-blooded actors who can bring life and depth to their characters is crucial.

21 Jump Street—movie review

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • March 16, 2012 1:00 AM
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  • 3 Comments
Following in the hallowed footsteps of 'The Brady Bunch Movie', '21 Jump Street' revives a vintage TV series and subverts it at the same time. Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who have written and directed TV and theatrical animation such as 'Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs', resist the temptation to turn this into a live-action cartoon, which is all to the good. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are well cast as former high school rivals who meet up again as police academy students and become friends.

From Renoir To Ellington: Scanning Recent DVDs

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • March 12, 2012 1:07 AM
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  • 1 Comment
I haven’t been able to keep up with Twilight Time’s limited-edition DVD and Blu-ray releases since the company launched last year, so it’s ironic that the first disc I’ve spent real time with—Jean Renoir’s 'Swamp Water' (1941)—benefits least from the label’s innovative offering of isolated music tracks. That feature is much more valuable in other Twilight Time releases with scores by Bernard Herrmann, Franz Waxman, Hugo Friedhofer, et al., as well as 'Picnic', which I’ll discuss in a moment.

DVD Discovery: The Silver Fleet

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • March 8, 2012 1:00 AM
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  • 5 Comments
I got my basic training in British cinema from the late, great William K. Everson, but to the best of my knowledge he never screened The Silver Fleet (1943), starring Ralph Richardson. Its recent DVD release from VCI gave me a chance to see it for the first time, and made me a fan. It is officially a presentation of The Archers, the production unit formed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. That automatically elevates its status, as the credited writer-directors, Vernon Sewell and Gordon Wellesley, had long but generally undistinguished careers. Of that, more later.

Project X—movie review

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • March 2, 2012 8:50 PM
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  • 44 Comments
So, is this merely an extreme teenage version of The Hangover, or is it another sign of the end of civilization as we know it? How you feel about Project X will have a lot to do with your age and gender. If I were a hormonally charged 16-year-old boy, I might think it was...

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