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Leonard Maltin

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.

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.

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.

film review—TRUE GRIT

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • December 22, 2010 5:15 AM
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  • 17 Comments
The Coen Brothers want to have their cake and eat it, too. They apparently intend some of their adaptation of True Grit to play believably, and some of it to reflect the ironic distance for which they’re so well known. That’s a tough two-step to pull off, and they almost get away with it.

film review: SOMEWHERE

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • December 22, 2010 5:00 AM
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  • 4 Comments
I count Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation as one of my favorite films of the decade, and I have great respect for her other pictures—except for the one at hand. Somewhere, which somehow won the Golden Lion at this year’s Venice Film Festival, strikes me as a non-movie, an utter waste of time.

film review—RABBIT HOLE

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • December 17, 2010 5:20 AM
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  • 1 Comment
A film about a couple trying to get over the loss of their young son is not likely to generate what marketers call a high “want-to-see” factor. But when the story is told with care, honesty, and even moments of humor that reflect the unpredictability—and absurdity—of life, it deserves to be seen.

film review—TRON LEGACY

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • December 17, 2010 5:17 AM
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  • 6 Comments
If you’re old enough to remember seeing Tron when it came out in 1982, you may understand why I wasn’t chomping at the bit to see this much-hyped sequel. Tron was revolutionary in its use of computer graphics to place Jeff Bridges into a videogame environment—and that was definitely cool. But even cutting-edge technology needs a story to create a satisfying movie experience, and that’s where Tron fell short. I’m sorry to say the new movie is an example of history repeating itself.

film review—HOW DO YOU KNOW

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • December 17, 2010 5:15 AM
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  • 1 Comment
If you admire such films as Broadcast News, Terms of Endearment, and As Good as it Gets, as I do, you’ll be rooting for James L. Brooks to score another bull’s-eye with his latest effort. But it’s clear pretty early on that How Do You Know is a muddled misfire: a tiresome, talky romantic comedy about a bright young woman who, at a vulnerable moment in her life, can’t decide between two men—neither of whom seems terribly appealing. That these three characters are played by Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson and Paul Rudd makes it even more—

film review: The Fighter

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • December 10, 2010 5:15 AM
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  • 3 Comments
The Fighter doesn’t just take place in Lowell, Massachusetts; it reeks with the atmosphere of this working-class New England town, making vivid use of its look, feel, and sounds. Director David O. Russell clearly immersed himself in the community and worked overtime to capture its flavor, going so far as to cast some local non-actors (notably, police officer and fight trainer Mickey O’Keefe as himself). What makes the movie work as well as it does is that Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams and especially Melissa Leo blend seamlessly into this setting alongside the real-life residents.

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