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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...

Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki needs no introduction to animé fans. His latest film "The Wind Rises" will not disappoint with its exquisite animation in the story of Jiro Horikoshi, aeronautical engineer and designer of WWII Japanese navy fighter planes. The title comes from a French poem quoted several times, translated as "The wind is rising; you must try to live."

Published in Film Reviews

Director Joel Allen Schroeder's documentary "Dear Mr. Watterson" delivers a 90-minute love letter to Bill Watterson, the creator in 1985 of the immensely popular comic strip Calvin and Hobbes. Schroeder's sentiments are heartfelt, effusive, and dull. He makes the common mistake of enlisting Calvin and Hobbes' admirers for testimonial after testimonial when insight and analysis are needed to explain the praise.

Published in Film Reviews

It's no secret that Emile Zola knew how to tell a story, especially the pitiful story of orphan Therese Raquin. From that novel, a play was written by Neal Bell, and from that play, a film script was produced into a film called "In Secret" and directed by newcomer Charlie Stratton.

Published in Film Reviews

"The Trials of Muhammad Ali" begins with a jolt from 1968--a verbal denouncement of Ali by David Susskind speaking from London to Ali via live television satellite. Producer/director Bill Siegel immediately cuts to President George W. Bush bestowing the Medal of Freedom on Ali in 2005, juxtaposing jarring counterpoints of attitude as well as of Ali's physical presence.

Published in Film Reviews

As direct and candid as its subject, director Sini Anderson's "The Punk Singer: A Documentary Film about Kathleen Hanna" profiles this outspoken feminist's life. This includes her late 1980s days at Evergreen College, the formation of Bikini Kill with Hanna as the lead singer, her step away from performing in 1995, and her empowering involvement with Riot Grrrl.

Published in Film Reviews

George Clooney made a noble effort to tell the story of soldier/scholars sent by President Franklin Roosevelt to save the culture of Europe near the end of World War II. A noble effort, however, does not immediately translate to a fine film. 

Published in Film Reviews

As relevant now as when it premiered at New York's Philharmonic Hall in 1964, "Nothing But a Man" retains its amazingly, quietly intense appeal without a hint of sentimentality. Masterfully restrained, it never sacrifices communicating the deeply disturbing racist insults and pervasive inequities affecting Duff Anderson, introduced working on a railroad section crew in a town near Birmingham, Alabama.

Published in Film Reviews

Too bad the title "It's Complicated" went to 2009 film starring Meryl Streep and Steve Martin, for the title could be a generic. It certainly applies to "The Past," which depends on revelations, each one more complicating than the last. "The Past" is a mystery wrapped in a soap opera.

Published in Film Reviews

A documentary difficult to watch but essential viewing, "Fire in the Blood" charts the pharmaceutical industry's response to the AIDS antiretroviral treatment breakthroughs, beginning in 1996. Instead of embracing opportunities to save, literally, millions, young and old, dying excruciating deaths, U.S. Big Pharma companies worked nationally and internationally to protect their patents and profits.

Published in Film Reviews

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