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    ‘Unbroken’ captures Zamperini’s suffering, but not his spirit

    Unbroken Written by Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, Richard LaGravenese & William Nicholson Directed by Angelina Jolie USA, 2014 An unrelentingly grim affair, Unbroken excels at its realistic portrayal of dehumanization, but fails to capture the indomitable spirit of its protagonist.  Angelina Jolie’s film is an impressive technical achievement, and her hero’s journey is undeniably gripping, […] More

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    Burton’s ‘Big Eyes’ is bigger than his stomach

    Big Eyes Written by Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski Directed by Tim Burton USA, 2014 It’s difficult to imagine what Tim Burton was trying to accomplish with his latest effort, Big Eyes.  Tonally, it’s the most confounding movie of the year, pinging wildly between drama, surrealism and farce.  Even the actors seem confused, with each […] More

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    ‘The Theory of Everything’ or The Theory of Biopics and why they’re all the same

    As a humble film critic, one can’t pretend to guess at the theory of everything in respect to the physical forces of the Universe. However, there may be a theory of everything concerning biopics, since, as The Theory of Everything demonstrates, they can’t help but all seem exactly the same. Surely, the uniform execution of tropes in storytelling, production, and acting across disparate movies point to the presence of some law underlying reality. Either that or biopics just make people really, really lazy. More

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    ‘Kill the Messenger’ lacks a compelling message

    If you can imagine Nixon resigning in the middle of All the President’s Men, with the remainder of the film dedicated to Woodward and Bernstein fighting their editor, you have a pretty good idea how Kill the Messenger plays out. It’s not a bad film, but it is a sloppy one that squanders a firecracker start and a terrific performance from Jeremy Renner. As Gary Webb ponders whether to publish his inflammatory story, he is advised that, “Some stories are just too true to tell.” Such is the case with some scripts, which, in their admirable haste to relate the truth, forget the requirements of compelling storytelling. If you want to find the heart of Webb’s story, you’ll have to dig a little deeper. More

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    ‘The Last of Robin Hood’ plays like a tepid tabloid

    If all the world’s stage, then surely some players crave the spotlight more than others. And if ever there was a player, it was Errol Flynn. The Last of Robin Hood tells the twisted story of three people who will do almost anything for fame. That each must settle for infamy is one of the juicy, yet unexplored ironies in a movie that doesn’t know which story it wants to tell. By taking an evenhanded and humanistic approach to such salacious subject matter, the filmmakers have effectively squashed any possibility for tawdry fun. Instead, we get a bone-dry historical drama that skimps on the history and bypasses the drama entirely. More

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