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Martha K. Baker

Sometimes all it takes is one name to assure film-goers that a film promises to deliver. For “Life of Crime” that name is Elmore Leonard. He co-wrote the script with the director Daniel Schecter, so the expectation is that humor will dance around the violence of the underworld.

“The Trip to Italy” is a sequel to “The Trip,” truly one of the funniest movies ever conceived and produced. It had a boyish bounce at its core as comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon tooled their way about the Lake District of England, reviewing restaurants without knowledge but with braggadocio.
 

If you’ve been led to believe that “The Hundred-foot Journey” is all about whatever character Helen Mirren is playing this time, you might be vexed to discover she’s a secondary character, for this is not her character’s journey. It is Hassan Kadam’s, a young man from Mumbai, set down in France.
  

The comedy troupe known as Monty Python put a last show on stage that’s been filmed for all to see. It’s hysterically funny, if stupid, insular, sophomoric, and boyish, meaning there will be gas-passing. Watching it is like watching Gramps perform his old Shriners’ act for the neighborhood kids.

Yes, the verb’s in the wrong mood in the title: It’s indicative where it should be subjunctive: Wish I Were Here. Nevertheless, the mood of the movie is just right as it curses at death and laughs at life, especially life as a thirty-something or life as a teen-ager.
 

“Carnage,” the last film directed by Roman Polanski before “Venus in Fur,” involved a quartet of actors arguing with and among one another. He halves the company in “Venus in Fur”: a couple, a man and a woman, engage in an age-old argument, a battle, if you will, of the sexes.

“The Nance,” a stage play written by Douglas Carter Beane, presents a gay old time in the homosexual history of the United States. It includes references to well-known reformers such as Fiorello LaGuardia and lesser known hypocrites such as Paul Moss. At the center of the story is Chauncey Miles.
 

The complications of this film start with the title. “Third Person” refers, of course, to pronoun usage: he, she, it and they. The phrase can also refer to a third person in a party. A triangle. In the movie, “Third Person,” that extra member can be a lover with a married couple.

Not since 1972 has abortion been treated with so much compassion, humor, honesty and reality. November 1972 was when the title character on TV’s “Maude” chose to end her pregnancy via abortion, the same choice made by Donna Stern in Jenny Slate’s “Obvious Child.”

Ordinarily, a biodoc of a critic would appeal to a smallish audience, but a documentary about Roger Ebert appeals more widely. Before Ebert, film critics were rather a precious group comprising the likes of Sarris and Kael. After Ebert, especially after PBS’ “Sneak Previews” went on the air, film criticism entered popular culture.

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