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Thompson on Hollywood

Now and Then: The Rachel Weisz Argument, or the Best Performers of the Year

Last week, the NYFCC awarded Rachel Weisz its Best Actress prize for her sumptuous period turn in "The Deep Blue Sea," and well-deserved it was. But it reminded me of what I'm calling the Rachel Weisz Argument: an actor's entire body of work in a given year is a better measure of "best."
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • December 11, 2012 4:49 PM
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  • 6 Comments

Review: Czech Oscar Entry 'In the Shadow,' Sleek Neo-Noir and Gorgeously Old-Fashioned Policier

“In the Shadow,” the Czech Republic’s official Oscar entry, takes place in 1953 Prague, during the currency reform. World War II has been over for the better part of a decade, but the stench of anti-Semitism is still thick in the air, and a tightly controlled police state looms. Detective Jarda Hakl (Ivan Trojan) falls upon a seemingly routine burglary case -- a safe broken into, jewelry missing -- that leads him down a labyrinthine rabbit hole with murder, lies and relentless surveillance in its cavernous depths.
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • December 11, 2012 1:53 PM
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  • 0 Comments

2012 Heroine Worship in Movies, from Katniss Everdeen and Hushpuppy to 'Bridesmaids' and 'Girls'

The New York Times' A. O. Scott recaps the year in Heroine Worship, when it was still news when women actually carry a movie that scores at the box office. He writes: "There is a smattering of evidence to support the impression that [things have changed], because 2012 was, all in all, a pretty good year for movies and also a pretty good year for female heroism." But why, he asks, do we still need to make a fuss about heroines such as Katniss Everdeen in "The Hunger Games" or Hushpuppy in "Beasts of the Southern Wild"?
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • December 9, 2012 1:46 PM
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  • 1 Comment

Weekend Preview: Head for Indie Doc 'Tchoupitoulas' & Neo-Noir 'Deadfall'; Skip 'Playing for Keeps' on the 'Hudson'

If you live in a "limited release" city, it might be best to stick with documentaries this weekend. Standouts are "Tchoupitoulas," following three young brothers discovering the magic of New Orleans, and "Only the Young," a portrait of a trio of charismatic teens.
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • December 7, 2012 4:05 PM
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  • 0 Comments

Review Roundup: Bill Murray Deserves Better than 'Hyde Park on Hudson'

Focus Features has done a swell job promoting Joe Wright's "Anna Karenina," but two of their small-scale year-end features aren't getting the kind of response any awards-contender needs, "Promised Land," and "Hyde Park on Hudson." Which leads me to ask what benefit these films get from being scrutinized inside the awards window. Why not give them a chance in a less competitive frame?
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • December 7, 2012 1:27 PM
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  • 0 Comments

'Les Miserables' Review Roundup; Hooper and Cast Talk Singing Live

The review embargo for Tom Hooper's "Les Miserables" has lifted. Critics are singing the praises of the film's strong performances (Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman are standouts), and admire the successful hybridizing of the musical with the Victor Hugo source material, but for some the film sags under its own bombast. Review roundup below.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • December 6, 2012 2:51 PM
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  • 8 Comments

Review: Moving, Lyrical 'Kauwboy' Could Ride an Oscar Dark Horse

“Kauwboy,” the Netherlands’ official Oscar entry and recent winner of the European Film Awards Fipresci prize, finds similarity in another 2012 Foreign-Language submission, Ursula Meier’s “Sister,” and last year’s enigmatic Cannes Grand Jury winner from the Dardenne brothers, “Kid with a Bike.” Each film centers on a neglected boy, with a sensitive eye to the fundamentally loving yet insufficiently responsible adults around him.
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • December 6, 2012 7:36 AM
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  • 0 Comments

Review Roundup: Damon & Van Sant Fracking Drama 'Promised Land' Lacks Subtlety

"Promised Land" is Matt Damon's third teaming with director Gus Van Sant, who jumped into directing the film at the last minute after Damon decided he couldn't direct the film that he wrote with John Krasinski. We know that Van Sant is a capable director--nothing is wrong with his handling of this material. The fault lies in the script, which is well-intentioned with a strong anti-fracking message.
  • By Anne Thompson and Beth Hanna
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  • December 5, 2012 3:40 PM
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  • 1 Comment

Review Roundup: Dustin Hoffman's 'Quartet' is Genial Escapist Fun

Dustin Hoffman's genteel directorial debut "Quartet," starring Maggie Smith and a legion of other notable Brit actors as members of a musicans' retirement community, will play best for music-loving Anglophiles who enjoy the company of wily and entertaining British seniors. Yet again, Dame Smith steals the show as a proud aging diva who arrives with no idea how much she wounded the husband she once jilted during her more playful days at the top of the opera world. Tom Courtenay is her courtly swain, while Billy Connolly and Pauline Collins chew up the scenery as the remaining members of a once-famous quartet.
  • By Anne Thompson and Beth Hanna
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  • December 5, 2012 3:26 PM
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  • 0 Comments

Now and Then: In Harmony, 'Life of Pi' and 'Beasts of the Southern Wild' Are the Best Films of the Year

One is a grand, sea-borne spectacle, a master's first glorious foray into 3-D. The other, like its breakout star, is a furious miniature whose impact far outweighs its size. But both "Life of Pi" and "Beasts of the Southern Wild" are fervently alive to the world of nature, of spirit — two halves of the same double helix.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • December 4, 2012 4:25 PM
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  • 4 Comments

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