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Reviews

Friday, December 12 2014

America’s Existential Crises in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Adaptation of ‘Inherent Vice’

As in The Master, the ocean haunts the protagonist in this film adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s novel, but it’s a haunting of a different kind.


The Context of ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’ Is Out of Its Control

Just like Moses' task from God, the social and cultural context that surrounds Exodus: Gods and Kings shapes it in ways that these actors and filmmakers might not have wanted.


Tuesday, December 9 2014

‘Tesis’ Hits All the Points on the Standard Suspense Curve

Alejandro Amenábar’s suspense-drama Tesis is a fairly predictable, American-influenced thriller, but its stellar performances, particularly from Ana Torrent, are all aces.


Monday, December 8 2014

Von Trier’s Cinema as Literature in ‘Breaking the Waves’

Lars Von Trier’s cinema, particularly in Breaking the Waves, is an acknowledgement of film as an offshoot of literature and the heritage of storytelling.


Friday, December 5 2014

Reese Witherspoon Takes a Trek With a Gigantic Blue Backpack in ‘Wild’

The metaphor of Cheryl's (Reese Witherspoon) giant backpack works in multiple ways, from the personal ordeals she confronts to the social expectations she can't avoid.


In ‘Magic in the Moonlight’, Ideas Trump Characters

The fundamentalist atheism and myopic intellectualism of Woody Allen's latest depiction of an older man/younger woman dynamic makes it a pale imitation of his best work.


Thursday, December 4 2014

Liv Ullman Takes on Strindberg’s Class-Focused Drama in ‘Miss Julie’

Liv Ullmann's take on August Strindberg's classic drama emphasizes the class struggles of its characters, depicting the ways in which power systems drive individuals beyond reason.


Tuesday, December 2 2014

‘The Babadook’ Is a Smart Reconsideration of Mothers and Monsters

The Babadook reveals that grief is a lot like a monster: even if you think you've killed it, it's never quite as killed as you would hope.


‘The Conformist’ Is a Political Thriller Washed in the Hues of a Thousand Psychosexual Dreams

Bernardo Bertolucci’s magnificent drama The Conformist bridges the supreme elegance of the jazz age with Euro mod-chic.


Monday, December 1 2014

‘Venus in Fur’ Blurs the Lines Between Character, Actor, and Director

Roman Polanksi's adaptation of David Ives' play is a layered film where the true identity of its characters, including Polanski himself, is constantly being interrogated.


Friday, November 28 2014

‘Horrible Bosses 2’ Goes for the Laughs, Not the Anger

The sequel skips the original’s workers' fury and lets its comedy all-star trio play to their strengths, with mixed results.


Wednesday, November 26 2014

‘The Imitation Game’ Doesn’t Pretend to Solve the Enigma That Is Alan Turing and His Machine

As visible as the Turing machine may be on screen -- and it is gorgeous, strange, and haunting, as well as sublimely mechanical and daunting -- it remains unfathomable.


Tuesday, November 25 2014

The ‘Penguins of Madagascar’ Is Terminally Cute and Cuddly

It seems right that Werner Herzog narrates the start of Penguins of Madagascar, concerning the overwhelming cuddly cuteness of penguins and the absurd value humans attribute to them.


The Postal Service: Everything Will Change

Surprisingly, a bunch of sentimental laptop pop songs from ten years ago (Give Up) make for a dynamic and engaging live show.


Monday, November 24 2014

DOC NYC 2014: ‘Enquiring Minds’ + ‘The Last Impresario’

Two documentaries about surprising success stories: the men behind the National Enquirer and Rocky Horror Picture Show.


‘The Vanishing’ Tells the Horror of Privileged Lives in Prosperous Counteries

The evil is both banal and terrifying in George Sluizer's 1988 labyrinthine thriller.


A Newsroom in an Apocalypse: ‘The Day the Earth Caught Fire’

Val Guest's newsroom drama take on the apocalypse is a product of its nuclear war-obsessed times and a prescient commentary on the present day.


Saturday, November 22 2014

‘Foxcatcher’ Is Another Tale of Men Being Men

None of the men in this telling of John du Pont's murder of Dave Schultz are able to say what's going wrong -- they might not even know themselves.


Friday, November 21 2014

In ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1’, Propaganda Wins

This penultimate installment of The Hunger Games film saga is all about perception, the film frequently has you watch someone watching someone while being watched by someone.


In ‘Extraterrestrial’, Cliché Counts as Comedy

Extraterrestrial's "formula-as-purpose" style doesn't make it the "meta" movie it wants to be; instead, it's just grating and mired in cliché.


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