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The Many Deaths and Nine Lives of Movie Criticism

Like the movies themselves, criticism has moved from analog to digital, a move that is not universally beloved. Reports of the death of criticism are greatly exaggerated. Countless times during my career criticism has been declared dead only to pop up its furry groundhog head to say, “I’m back!” Here’s a piece I wrote for Variety that takes the temperature, blood pressure and checks other vital signs of criticism. I called diagnosticians such as Roger Ebert, Jeanine Basinger and Jim Hoberman for second, third and fourth opinions. Thoughts? Where do you go for criticism?
  • By Carrie Rickey
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  • March 10, 2012 6:03 PM
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Review Round-Up: 'Friends with Kids' Has Moments of Sharp Humor, Heartfelt Romance (Video)

Jennifer Westfeldt's romantic comedy "Friends with Kids" opens Friday, after premiering at the Toronto Film Festival. The film stars Westfeldt, alongside Maya Rudolph, Jon Hamm, Adam Scott, Chris O'Dowd, and Kristen Wiig. We interviewed the actress-writer-director and Jon Hamm here.
  • By Maggie Lange
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  • March 9, 2012 5:03 PM
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Immersed in Movies: Andrew Stanton's Leap of Faith with 'John Carter' (VIDEO)

So what are we to make of "John Carter"? A fascinating failure, as Anne Thompson has suggested? Another "Dune" that's lovely to look at but short on narrative? Well, Francois Truffaut once wrote that fascinating failures are more memorable than safe successes.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • March 9, 2012 2:38 PM
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DVD Review: Sink Your Teeth Into Universal's 100th Anniversary Monsters Collection

As part of its 100th anniversary celebration, Universal has released a box set spotlighting four classic titles from the studio's heyday of creature features: "Dracula," "Frankenstein," "Bride of Frankenstein" and "Creature from the Black Lagoon." (Sadly, no "Wolf Man.")
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • March 7, 2012 4:25 PM
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  • 4 Comments

Memoir of a Character Actor: Dark Visions of a Golden Age

Rick Lenz's memoir "North of Hollywood" is full of "good drinkers." Jason Robards was one, shimmying up a flagpole one night; George C. Scott was another. Jackie Gleason, smashed through much of the shoot of a failed comedy called "How Do I Love Thee?" (1971), is not counted a "good drinker." He couldn't hide the slosh behind the smile.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • March 7, 2012 11:37 AM
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  • 1 Comment

Why 'John Carter' Is a Fascinating Disaster, Early Reviews (Video)

You could see Disney's "John Carter" (March 9) shaping up as a misfire from a long way off. No studio has projected "disaster" so loudly since Sony's misbegotten remake of "Godzilla" in 1998. For a $250 million movie to be tracking near a $25 million opening is shocking.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • March 6, 2012 1:42 PM
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  • 26 Comments

Now and Then: From 'Ferris' to 'Sleepover,' Teens, and Times, Have Changed

"The Myth of the American Sleepover," David Robert Mitchell's independent film about a group of suburban Detroit teens messing around, and messing up, on a single night near the end of summer, is a quiet reminder of the power, and price, of looking.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • March 5, 2012 7:28 AM
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'The Walking Dead' Episode 4 Review: 'Judge, Jury, Executioner'

Perhaps it's because it originally set its own bar too high: “The Walking Dead” was so good out of the gate, such a great mixture of genre and sophistication, that its current episodes feel like a come-down.
  • By Terry Curtis Fox
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  • March 5, 2012 1:02 AM
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  • 1 Comment

Why Masterpiece Classic's 'Downton Abbey' Season 2 Was Such a Smash

A few months ago, who would have bet that 5.4 million people would watch the two-hour finale of the second season of Masterpiece Classic’s “Downton Abbey?”
  • By Aljean Harmetz
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  • February 28, 2012 1:41 AM
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Now and Then: Gay Biopics 'J. Edgar' and 'Milk' Reveal How History Is Made

"We must never forget our history," growls aging anti-Communist lion J. Edgar Hoover (Leonardo DiCaprio) near the end of "J. Edgar." "We must never lower our guard." Here, Janus-like in their fusion and opposition, lay the film's two faces: To narrate the past and hopefully to redeem it.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • February 27, 2012 7:30 AM
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  • 0 Comments

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