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‘Life of Crime’ toggles between humor and horror

Sometimes all it takes is one name to assure film-goers that a film promises to deliver. For “Life of Crime&rdq...

'The Trip to Italy' stalls: engine trouble

“The Trip to Italy” is a sequel to “The Trip,” truly one of the funniest movies ever conceive...

'Code Black' goes inside LA County Hospital's ER

Many gripping documentaries take the viewer to unexpected places with a first-hand, behind-the-scenes vantage point. ...

'Frank' inhabits a quirky life of pleasing dissonance

In the age of cookie-cutter movies, along comes "Frank," as direct, atypical and surprising as its one word...

Playing games trumps 'Video Games: The Movie'

When I saw the title of the film "Video Games: The Movie," I thought, "Well, finally a documentary abo...

Beginning with a roar as a speeding motorcycle races by, director Ridley Scott's "The Counselor" injects nerve-jangling excitement into a tried-and-true drug trafficking disaster. The set up is elegant and quick. The Counselor, committing to marry his adored Laura, agrees to participate in a routine drug deal. His greed will, unsurprisingly, connect him with a ruthless drug network.

Published in Film Reviews

A visually gorgeous film, "Mother of George" tells a very personal story through an impressionistic style that foregrounds moods and emotions. Minimalist and slow by Hollywood standards, it explores profoundly and carefully the cultural and familial expectations dictating that newly married Andenike is expected to bear a child. When she fails to become pregnant, Nike's world threatens to shatter.

Published in Film Reviews

Minimalist to the extreme, "All Is Lost" proves the adage that less certainly can be more. Under the astute direction of J.C. Chandor, with a mesmerizing performance by Robert Redford, the pared down, unpretentious story is simple. Alone on a 39 foot yacht, the central character finds himself stranded in the Indian Ocean, 1700 nautical miles from the Sumatra Straits.

Published in Film Reviews

First the title: the fifth estate refers to a class of society beyond the clergy, the nobility, the commoners and the press. In this relatively stodgy film, the fifth estate is personified by Julian Assange accompanied by Wikileaks.

Published in Film Reviews

There's both wisdom and wit as well as annoying moments in director Doris Dorrie's documentary "How to Cook Your Life." It interrogates the principles of Zen Buddhism practiced and preached by Edward Espe Brown in his preparation of food that nurtures the soul as much as the body. A bracing counterpoint to our fast-food obsession, How to Cook Your Life gives food its due, sometimes humorously, but always with a respect too often absent from contemporary practice.

Published in Film Reviews

The film "Captain Phillips" conscientiously dramatizes the true story of Somali pirates' capture of the U.S. container ship Maersk Alabama that Richard Phillips commanded and his subsequent kidnapping as the four pirates fled in a lifeboat. Most of us remember that March 2009 incident in the Indian Ocean with events and an ending more unbelievable than a Hollywood movie.

Published in Film Reviews

Far too often, IMAX technology is used for films that could just as easily fit on a disc in a laptop, but "Jerusalem," the latest film in the OMNIMAX theater of the Saint Louis Science Center, exploits the technology into a stunning and inspirational exploration of that sacred site.

Published in Film Reviews

"The Summit" chronicles a tragic loss of life on K2, the Himalayan mountain, second highest in the world at 28,251 feet. On August 1, 2008, 25 climbers left Camp Four to climb K2. Eleven would not survive the descent, always the most dangerous part of the climb.
 

Published in Film Reviews

"Sign Painters" is a documentary that raises the quintessential post-doc question: "Who knew?" Behind every sign is a painter -- at least, behind signs not slapped together with vinyl letters from a computer. Those painters are opinionated, fiercely in favor of the real thing. They value their history and their art but they know, realistically, that their work is always for someone else.

Published in Film Reviews

As "Gravity" opens, astronaut Commander Matt Kowalski works over 300 miles above Earth on the Hubble Telescope with his co-worker, medical engineer Ryan Stone. Quickly and unexpectedly, disaster strikes when debris from a communications satellite destroyed by Russia hurtles toward them at phenomenal speed. And through the 3-D magic created by director/co-writer Alfonso Cuarón, a breathtaking film begins.

Published in Film Reviews

An unnamed woman sits in a war-ravaged room, her husband comatose, a bullet in his neck from a quarrel after an insulting exchange with fellow Jihad fighters. She can't afford any more serum so devises a sugar water substitute. Her husband's brothers have fled the fighting, the militia moves through periodically, and she talks, unburdening herself as never before.
 

Published in Film Reviews

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