Even if it had nothing else to offer, Martha Marcy May Marlene would be worth seeing to witness the debut of an extraordinary young actress, Elizabeth Olsen. But writer-director Sean Durkin’s feature, which earned him a Best Director prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, has a lot going for it aside from this striking performance.
It’s not an easy film to watch: it’s intense, discomforting, and slowly-paced. What’s more, Durkin has chosen to leave some things unsaid, forcing us to—
In telling the story of a true-life unsung hero a filmmaker faces many pitfalls. How often have we seen well-intentioned movies become sanctimonious and lose their dramatic edge? No such accusations can be leveled at Jim Loach’s Oranges and Sunshine, an impressive film that documents an astonishing but little-known story.
The wonderful Emily Watson plays Margaret Humphreys, whose book Empty Cradles documents her efforts, from 1986 onward, to trace the facts behind a mass deportation of “unwanted” children from England to—
Le Havre is Finland’s official entry for this year’s Foreign Language Oscar, as it is the work of celebrated Finnish writer-director Aki Kaurismäki—yet it takes place in France, where it was shot with a nearly all-French cast. Let us agree, then, not to get caught up in details or semantics and simply enjoy this charming fable.
Andre Wilms plays a courtly older man who ekes out a living by shining shoes near the train station in the seaside city of Le Havre. He returns to his apartment each night where his—
Margin Call manages to put a human face on the current economic crisis—but I wish it was as good as its trailer, which is forceful, well-edited, and dramatically scored. The film itself has many good qualities, and an exceedingly strong cast, but it’s a bit dry.
The setting is a major investment bank in Manhattan, where the story is set in motion by a series of peremptory firings. As risk-management specialist Stanley Tucci is escorted out of the office he gives some information to his protégé, Zachary Quinto (and, curiously, the security guard doesn’t stop him), urging him—
The Big Year is a star-driven comedy, led by Steve Martin, Owen Wilson, and Jack Black, with an unusual premise about three dedicated “birders” and their competitive attempt to track as many species as possible during a calendar year. But the film itself qualifies as a rara avis: a benign, good-hearted movie about three disparate characters’ search for happiness. The fact that it’s rated PG, and yet is intended for adult audiences, should tell you something about—
Does the world really need a remake of Footloose? I would answer no, but I must also admit that the new movie is innocuous and pleasant-enough to watch. Writer-director Craig Brewer, who made the disarming Hustle & Flow, has taken Dean Pitchford’s 1984 screenplay and layered onto it some backstory ingredients that help it make more sense than the original. (There’s now a reason why the small town has banned dancing, and a purposefulness to the new kid’s outlook on life.)
I especially enjoyed watching newcomer Kenny Wormald, who—
I’ve taken many unusual cinematic journeys with Pedro Almodóvar and enjoyed most of them, but I just didn’t care for The Skin I Live In. The filmmaker’s best work has always felt organic, even at its most outrageous; this one is burdened by an inescapable air of contrivance. One scene, in which an older female character unburdens herself and reveals a startling amount of expository information, actually plays like a—
The world of politics provides all the drama—and satiric fodder—any filmmaker could ask for. And even though the public has shown indifference to such movies in recent years, Hollywood keeps making them. The Ides of March has star-power on its side, with George Clooney and Ryan Gosling in the leads, but even if people are attracted to theaters by their presence they’re not likely to leave feeling satisfied. The Ides of March has nothing new to offer in its portrait of the campaign trail, and doesn’t seem quite sure what—
From the billboards you might think thisis another Transformers movie—heaven help us—when in fact, Real Steel is a cross between Rocky and The Champ. It’s formulaic and unashamedly manipulative, but it’s played with sincerity…and it works.
This project has been in development for years, under Steven Spielberg’s watchful eye, and bears only superficial resemblance to the Richard Matheson story that inspired it. (You may remember its first adaptation, as a 1963 episode of The Twilight Zone called “Steel,” with Lee Marvin.) The screenplay is creditd to John Gatings, with story credit to Dan Gilroy and Jeremy Leven.
I like films that reveal themselves gradually, instead of following an instantly predictable pattern. That’s one reason I was so taken with Philippe Le Guay’s The Women on the 6th Floor. On the surface it’s a social comedy, set in Paris during the early 1960s. That deft comedic actor Fabrice Luchini plays a stockbroker who’s not only inherited his father’s investment business but his—
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