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leonardmaltin
Contact Leonard at MovieCrazyMail@maltinmovies.com


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Avatar

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • December 20, 2009 4:33 AM
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  • 12 Comments
Avatar is at once a fascinating and a frustrating movie. I found much of it captivating, and while I resist the hype-driven phrase “immersive experience,” I did find myself drawn into its 3-D world, an extraordinarily rich cinematic environment created, in breathtaking detail, by artists and computers. I didn’t think I could care about odd-looking humanoid characters, but I did. I didn’t think I would relate to the interaction between humans and aliens, but I did. Writer-director James Cameron has delivered on his promise to take filmmaking to another level by fully realizing his imaginative visual concepts of character and design...and by turning the 3-D process inside out by pulling us through the looking glass instead of...

NINE

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • December 19, 2009 2:28 AM
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  • 0 Comments
As someone who had major problems with Rob Marshall’s Chicago—which robbed the Broadway show of all its humor and rendered its dance numbers unwatchable through egg-beater editing—I did not expect to like Nine, Marshall’s ambitious adaptation of the 1982 stage musical inspired by Federico Fellini’s 8½. Imagine my surprise, then, as I tell you I loved it. I’ve already heard complaints about the picture from other quarters, which I won’t enumerate here, but I bought into it one hundred percent. It begins with accepting—or embracing—Daniel Day-Lewis as 1960s Italian film director Guido Contini. He makes the transformation so effortless that I couldn’t resist...and it’s a treat to see this great actor portray a character who has light-hearted, even mischievous, moments. John Myhre’s spectacular production design, Dion Beebe’s sumptuous cinematography, and Colleen Attwood’s costumes all contribute...

Invictus

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • December 14, 2009 4:27 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Invictus doesn’t have the element of surprise in its favor, but the story it tells is solid, interesting, and (yes) inspiring. Would that the world had more leaders as wise as Nelson Mandela, who recognized that despite his election to the Presidency of South Africa in 1995, there was still dissension and hostility throughout the land. How he goaded his national rugby team to push itself toward greatness, and how that...

Red Cliff

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • December 14, 2009 3:45 AM
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  • 0 Comments
John Woo built his reputation by creating visceral Hong Kong action films that made their Hollywood counterparts seem tame and old-fashioned. In Red Cliff he emulates epic historical dramas like Spartacus and once again reveals his mastery of cinematic storytelling, while raising the bar for...

Up in the Air

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • December 14, 2009 1:48 AM
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  • 2 Comments
Up in the Air is the best film I’ve seen all year. Frankly, that isn’t much of a compliment, so let me be clearer: this is mainstream moviemaking at its best. It’s entertaining, first and foremost, but it’s also thoughtful, timely, and provocative. The film has been...

The Princess and the Frog

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • December 12, 2009 4:38 AM
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  • 0 Comments
The filmmakers who helped usher in the renaissance of Disney animation twenty years ago with The Little Mermaid have done it again with The Princess and the Frog. Here is a tuneful, entertaining, great-looking, hip, funny animated feature destined to the capture the hearts of young fans and Disney aficionados alike. All the right...

Broken Embraces

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • December 12, 2009 4:34 AM
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  • 0 Comments
I felt a tinge of disappointment when I realized the hero of Pedro Almodóvar’s latest film was a director. It struck me as a glib, easy way of concocting a story to express the Spanish filmmaker’s love of cinema. I should have had more faith in him. Broken Embraces is a marvelous piece of storytelling that...

Everybody's Fine

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • December 12, 2009 3:52 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Sentiment is a tough sell nowadays, but when I see the success of The Blind Side I know that audiences are just as susceptible as ever to manipulation by a skillful storyteller. Everybody’s Fine isn’t nearly as ambitious as The Blind Side, and doesn’t have the same broad appeal—there’s no sports angle, and it isn’t based on a true story—but it’s...

Me and Orson Welles

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • December 12, 2009 3:41 AM
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  • 0 Comments

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • December 12, 2009 3:03 AM
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  • 0 Comments
During a panel discussion at this year’s Telluride Film Festival, Nicolas Cage was asked to respond to a description of his performance in this film as over-the-top. He replied, with a smile, that it seemed that casting him in this particular role under Werner Herzog’s direction meant “over-the-top” was a given.

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