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The Great Magician

Now you see it ...


Drama

Rod Lott
With magic-themed movies The Incredible Burt Wonderstone and Now You See Me on the way, Hollywood is all about the abracadabra these days. If that exposes more eyeballs to 2011’s The Great Magician, good.
 
Sunday, March 10, 2013

Smashed

Mary Elizabeth Winstead gives an intoxicating performance.


Drama

Rod Lott
In a short career largely dominated with genre films — from Final Destination 3 to this past summer’s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter — Mary Elizabeth Winstead always has exuded a certain something. But nothing that ever suggested the level of performance she delivers in Smashed.
 
Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Loneliest Planet

Take a hike.


Drama

Rod Lott
It’s curious that the Internet Movie Database (among other sources) has classified The Loneliest Planet as a “thriller,” since the film forgoes not just all that genre’s trappings, but narrative altogether.
 
Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Master

‘Master’ful filmmaking, yet impenetrable for some.


Drama

Rod Lott
Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master is my least favorite of the director’s half-dozen films. That said, he has yet to make a bad one.
 
Friday, February 22, 2013

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

High school was tough.


Drama

Phil Bacharach
John Hughes, for all the love people heap on his ’80s teen movies, was far too easy on high school. Maybe your high school experience was different than mine — and, if so, congrats. For many of us, however, those years were a marathon of self-pity, heartache, passion and anything else you’d find on an album by The Smiths.
 
Thursday, February 7, 2013

Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai

Seppuku never has been so beautiful.


Drama

Rod Lott
Vanguard director Takashi Miike is not one to repeat himself, and in Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai, he hasn't — not really. Yes, the film is the Japanese filmmaker's follow-up to 2010's 13 Assassins; yes, both are remakes and focused on samurais. But they approach the genre from such varying ways that other than excellence, the similarities end there.
 
Monday, February 4, 2013

Game Change

Sarah, we hardly knew ye ... which is exactly the point.


Drama

Rod Lott
Nearly every scene of the made-for-HBO Game Change, I recall from John Heilemann and Mark Halperin's excellent nonfiction book of the same name. But the movie directed by Jay Roach (of the Austin Powers and Meet the Parents franchises) tells only half — maybe even just one-quarter — of the story, ignoring the 2008 presidential-campaign narratives of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards for the one it finds most compelling: that of Sarah Palin and John McCain, and not the other way around.
 
Thursday, January 10, 2013

Lawless

The family that bootlegs together, stays together.


Drama

Rod Lott
If John Hillcoat is setting out to build a directorial career on downbeat and depressing films, he's doing a fine job. From The Proposition and The Road — especially The Road — and now Lawless, bleakness is his bread and butter.
 
Monday, December 17, 2012

Magic Mike

Abracadoldrums!


Drama

Rod Lott
Please believe me when I say that my dislike for Magic Mike has nothing to do with being heterosexual. It has everything to do with mediocre acting and a mess of a script. And I say this as one of the civilized nation’s biggest Steven Soderbergh’s apologists who will defend the goodness of Haywire and Contagion to the point of fisticuffs if we must.
 
Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Your Sister's Sister

Three’s a crowd in one fine film.


Drama

Phil Bacharach
In an age of cinema jammed with reboots, remakes and raunch, it's a welcome revelation to come across the heartfelt Your Sister's Sister on Blu-ray and DVD, in which low-budget indie meets comedy of manners.
 
Monday, November 5, 2012

Americano

Salma Hayek stripping isn't even the film's best element.


Drama

Rod Lott
Mathieu Demy's Americano opens with a little death, followed immediately by a big one, as Frenchmen Martin (Demy) receives one of those middle-of-the-night phone calls that deliver the worst of bad news: His mother has died.
 
Monday, October 22, 2012

Peace, Love & Misunderstanding

You'll want to punch a hippie.


Drama

Phil Bacharach
Nothing can bring out one’s inner Richard Nixon like a flight of baby-boomer whimsy that rubs your nose in 1960s nostalgia. Peace, Love & Misunderstanding, a gentle-minded paean to the Woodstock generation, might just make you want to punch a hippie.
 
Monday, October 1, 2012

The Lucky One

Generates no Sparks.


Drama

Rod Lott
Life can change in the blink of an eye, according to the opening minute of the turgid romance The Lucky One. It's the kind of empty observation that has become such a cliché, it no longer holds weight. But somehow, against God and every force of nature, grotesquely arrogant novelist Nicholas Sparks has built a lucrative career stringing such things together.
 
Monday, August 27, 2012

Full Metal Jacket: 25th Anniversary Blu-ray Book

More than just the movie that made ‘me so horny’ a household phrase.


Drama

Rod Lott
When Stanley Kubrick’s Vietnam film, Full Metal Jacket, hit theaters in the summer of 1987, I was all of 16 years old. Even I could tell it was far better than Oliver Stone’s Platoon, which by then had won four Academy Awards; by comparison, Jacket would be nominated for one, Best Adapted Screenplay, and lose it to The Last Emperor.
 
Friday, August 24, 2012

The Chapman Report

The women of 'The Chapman Report' are as uncomfortable talking about sex as they are having it.


Drama

Rod Lott
Judging by the 1962 portrayed by The Chapman Report, everybody smoked cigarettes, LPs of poetry readings were a hot commodity, and the female orgasm had yet to be invented. While this film from legendary old-Hollywood director George Cukor (My Fair Lady) was determined to be earnest and serious in its time, it's quite a hoot today.
 
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
 
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