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Thursday, Jul 31, 2014
King and Country finds Joseph Losey examining the human soul with his signature dispassionate curiosity.

Joseph Losey never saw a cornice, plinth, or pediment he didn’t like. This most architectural of directors opens King and Country with a slow, caressing shot that runs over two minutes long, moving around the details of a war memorial from arch to statuary to frieze. We hear only traffic, and then we cut to newsreel footage of an explosion with a boom. Surely, only Losey would open a movie this way.


Then we get to the credits, scored by Larry Adler’s lonely harmonica as the close-up camera roves over mud, boots, and duckboards of the trenches of WWI. The explosion repeats again, followed photos from the Imperial War Museum, then capped off by a transition of one startling skull-headed soldier’s corpse to the head of Tom Courtenay, lying down (already dead without knowing it) and supposedly playing that harmonica we’ve been hearing. We also hear a few lines from A.E. Housman. In this way, the film announces itself as serious art.


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Tuesday, Jul 29, 2014
Leave it to Marvel to save the Summer 2014 movie season with this amazing slice of popcorn entertainment. Here's 10 reasons why this unusual group of heroes is blockbuster boon.

It shouldn’t work. It doesn’t have the standard issue super heroes on display. It starts off in pain and continues to mine said subtext throughout while adding a healthy dose of irreverent humor. There’s a questionable villain with what appears to be a religious fervor mentality to his plotting and terrorizing. Most tellingly, one of the main features is a diminutive raccoon with a sassy, salty mouth. So how did James Gunn do it? How did he manage to make what is arguably one of the Summer of 2014’s best films? Easy: he followed his own amazing muse, and Guardians of the Galaxy is the result. Spinning several fringe Marvel characters into a cohesive whole is one thing, but to do it without the mandatory pre-Avengers origins films is another. To make something that rivals Joss Whedon’s billion dollar baby is proof of the talent both in front of and behind the lens.


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Monday, Jul 28, 2014
With the release of the new teaser trailer, Fifty Shades of Grey proves that what might work in the boudoir just doesn't translate to the big screen.

Let’s talk about sex, shall we? Frankly. Honestly. Without adolescent snickers or contemporary Puritanical embarrassment. Let’s talk about the biological act, the physical intimacy between two people. Let’s not throw gender or orientation into the mix. Instead, let’s focus on the real issue at hand: the recently released teaser trailer for the upcoming big screen adaptation of British author E.L. James’ bestselling Fifty Shades of Grey.


Born out of that most incendiary of literary laughing stocks, fan fiction, it is the oft-criticized scribe who is now giggling, all the way to the bank. And it’s a book about sex. Sort of.


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Friday, Jul 25, 2014
Rob Reiner fuels this old hat hokum with below-grade over-earnestness.

Linda Ellerbee remains a media radical. In the ‘70s and ‘80s, she was part of a the highly acclaimed NBC news show, Weekend, before headlining the cult phenomenon, Overnight. In 1986, she published an amazing memoir of her time in the spotlight. Entitled And So It Goes, it covered… what, wait? That’s not what we are talking about here? No?


Oh, it’s the new movie, And So It Goes, starring Oscar winners Michael Douglas, Diane Keaton, from a script by As Good As It Get‘s co-writer, Mark Andrus, and directed by former quality filmmaker Rob Reiner. Damn. TV back then was so much more scintillating. Ellerbee’s story is a billion times more interesting than this tired RomCom trope featuring aging adults of divergent backgrounds coming together over a kid.


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Friday, Jul 25, 2014
If you surgically grafted a snippet of Flowers for Algernon and a low-end documentary about the human brain onto a Cliff Notes summary of La Femme Nikita, the result might approach the lazy schizophrenia of Luc Besson's latest fembot warrior fantasy.

Luc Besson has been impatient when it comes to shootouts ever since 1990’s La Femme Nikita. A typical scene that we’ve seen him repeat from that film to 1997’s The Fifth Element to his newest, Lucy, goes as follows: a lone armed hero or villain walks swiftly into a room filled with many other characters with guns. The lone gunperson lets off many, many rounds in the blink of an eye. Everybody else falls down dead.


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