October 17, 2013 |
**** (out of four) “12 Years a Slave” is a raw, powerful film that matters, but watching it doesn't feel like work. If this movie ever appears on a syllabus, students will look forward to class. Adapting a horrifying true story, director Steve McQueen (“Shame,” “Hunger”) refuses to compromise the truth about a hideous period that's a part of us all. The filmmaker is no stranger to long takes, and he incorporates them repeatedly into his latest and arguably most daring work.
June 13, 2013 |
**1/2 (out of four) Far out in subject matter but not style, the documentary “The Source Family” chronicles a rather unusual family - unless you see nothing out of the ordinary about a marriage between Sunflower and Heaven. Yes, those are people's names, not an attempted union between a plant and the afterlife. The family is the cult that formed in 1970s California around Jim Baker, a leader with an almost comically absurd backstory: The six-foot, four-inch spiritual father figure/WWII vet was dubbed “America's strongest boy”...
December 1, 2011 |
**** (out of four) Obviously the sex-addiction drama “Shame” has been rated NC-17 because of its nudity (something everyone experiences every day) and sex (something many people wish they experienced every day). Much has been written about the pro-violence, anti-sex rating system's foolishness, so we'll leave that alone. What deserves more conversation is star Michael Fassbender (Rochester in "Jane Eyre," Magneto in "X-Men: First Class"), who's fantastic in everything; in the riveting...
September 26, 2013 |
** (out of four) Just as unpleasant movies can be fantastic (“Requiem for a Dream” comes to mind), entertaining movies can be mediocre. That's the case with “Don Jon,” the writing-directing debut for Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who also stars as Jon, a buff, church-going New Joysy ladies' man who believes none of his one-night stands can live up to porn. As each girl sleeps in his bed, he gets up, turns on his computer and enjoys what he perceives as his ultimate sexual experience.
January 12, 2014 |
Combining movies and TV, a live broadcast and drinking celebs always creates the potential for oddness. But with the exception of the inevitable excellence of hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler (who also won!), Sunday's Golden Globes was particularly strange. Jared Leto, who took time off from a terrible band to make "Dallas Buyers Club," opened his best supporting actor acceptance speech (for a serious role as a transgender woman with AIDS) with numerous bad jokes about Brazilian waxing.
February 20, 2014 |
The Academy Awards (being held March 2) bring out all kinds of extreme emotions and opinions from some people, but not me: I'm always totally even-tempered and maintain perspective that, in the grand scheme of things, Oscars don't mean a lot. Yeah, right. It's easy to get wrapped up in overrated nominees, undeserving winners and the occasional smart choice. On that note, here are my edited, post-deep breath thoughts about the major categories along with the unedited thoughts running through my head.