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7 articles


Boyhood movie review: time in a cinematic bottle

11 July 2014 5:46 AM, PDT

An audacious coming-of-age tale unique in the history of cinema; deeply moving and beautifully authentic. I’m “biast” (pro): I’m a fan of Richard Linklater

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

We’ve seen children grow up onscreen before. Ron Howard. Jodie Foster. All the Harry Potter kids. But not like this. Not in a single film. Richard Linklater had the audacious idea to shoot a story about almost the entire span of one boy’s childhood using the same actors over the course of a dozen years. Audacious because such a long production time — probably the longest ever in the history of cinema — comes with unique challenges. (The most dramatic one might be: What if one of your actors dies midway? Recasting would have ruined the beautiful authenticity the film aims for, and achieves.) Audacious because in retrospect, »

- MaryAnn Johanson

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Snowpiercer movie review: hunger train

10 July 2014 6:53 AM, PDT

Hauntingly grim, full of appalling ironies and awful truths. This is most definitely not the feel-good movie of the summer. I’m “biast” (pro): I’m a big Sf geek

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

I have not read the source material

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

There’s a reason why Snowpiercer — which could have, theoretically, easily been a centerpiece summer film for a major Hollywood studio — is getting handled with the timid kid gloves of an arthouse release by the industry, quietly dribbling into a few cinemas here and there instead of getting a big opening-weekend push out onto three thousand screens. It’s a reason that has a lot to do with what the film has to say about human nature, hope, despotism, and a revolutionary spirit that might want to counter that despotism. What Snowpiercer is about offers too harsh »

- MaryAnn Johanson

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The State Within TV review: unknown knowns

9 July 2014 5:58 AM, PDT

A riveting BBC political thriller offering one of the most trenchant explorations yet of the sick symbiosis between big government and big business. I’m “biast” (pro): love Jason Isaacs and Ben Daniels

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

I wasn’t planning on writing anything about this. I only came across it on Netflix (it’s available in the U.S. and the U.K., but not Canada) because I’m crushing on Ben Daniels (just inducted into the Boyfriend Hall of Fame) and there were no Law & Order: UK reruns on at that moment and I needed a fix. And this had Jason Isaacs in it, too! Double yum.

But oh my god, now that I’ve finished all seven episodes — it’s a limited miniseries, so that’s all there will ever be — I feel like I »

- MaryAnn Johanson

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female gazing at: Ben Daniels

9 July 2014 3:55 AM, PDT

Because the tall blond ones are always my favorites.

That’s from The State Within, in which he is supersexy partly because his character is so mysterious: for most of it we suspect he might be a villain, but it’s not till near the very end that we learn what he’s actually up to.

Oh my god, with a sword:

(That’s from Merlin, apparently. Guess I’m gonna have to watch more of that.)

Oh my god, with little glasses:

Totally gorgeous:

(If you have a suggestion for someone we should female-gaze at, feel free to email me with a name or a link to a particular photo. But check to see whom we’ve already gazed at.) »

- MaryAnn Johanson

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what’s on iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Netflix (from Jul 08)

8 July 2014 1:44 PM, PDT

What’s new, what’s hot, and what you may have missed, now available to stream.

streaming now, while it’s still in theaters

Beyond the Edge: through gorgeous archival footage and new re-creations, thrillingly places us amidst the first successful summit of Everest in 1953 [my review] [iTunes Us] Life Itself: a touching biography of film critic Roger Ebert, and an accidental look at the tremendous upheaval that journalism has weathered in the past half century [my review] [iTunes Us] The Lunchbox: a charming, bittersweet, utterly chaste love affair forged over food and cemented by kindred spirits [my review] [iTunes Us] Particle Fever: funny, exhilarating, suspenseful documentary about the Large Hadron Collider, and how physics is more akin to philosophy and art than you may have imagined [my review] [iTunes Us] We Are the Best!: an exuberant rock ’n’ roll comedy in which three of the most memorable movie teens ever embrace their adolescent angst and give it screaming voice [my review] [iTunes Us]

streaming now, »

- MaryAnn Johanson

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Palo Alto movie review (Edinburgh International Film Festival)

8 July 2014 6:16 AM, PDT

A meditative contemplation of the boredom of overprivileged, under-aspiring, shallow, spoiled kids. As you’ve been dying to see. I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

I have not read the source material

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

I can’t wait for the day when James Franco finally comes out of the performance-art closet and reveals that almost everything he’s done in the past, oh, ten years or so has been part of an intricate ongoing practical joke to yank celebrity culture and our knee-jerk worship of those who are famous. His turn as the charlatan man behind the curtain in Oz the Great and Powerful was a big clue, I think. He’s waiting for someone — anyone — to debunk the smoke and mirrors of the fame that allows him to churn out increasingly ridiculous pontifical junk. And no one does. »

- MaryAnn Johanson

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what’s on iTunes, Amazon UK Instant Video, blinkbox, Netflix UK, BBC iPlayer (from Jul 07)

7 July 2014 1:06 PM, PDT

What’s new, what’s hot, and what you may have missed, now available to stream.

streaming now, before it’s on dvd

The Lego Movie: you’ve seen this all before — it’s Toy Story meets The Matrix — just not done in Legos [my review] [at iTunes UK] The Lunchbox: a charming, bittersweet, utterly chaste love affair forged over food and cemented by kindred spirits [my review] [at iTunes UK] 112 Weddings: startling and welcome breath of reality for an institution overladen by fantasy in our culture: happily ever after is hard! [my review] [at iTunes UK] Visitors: a weirdly beautiful film, eerie in its complicated simplicity, and open to seven billion interpretations, all of them valid [my review] [at iTunes UK] The Zero Theorem: Terry Gilliam’s latest is chock full of glorious Gillam style and a fun performance from Christoph Waltz, but little else [at iTunes UK]

streaming now, before it’s on dvd

The Lego Movie: you’ve seen this all before — it’s Toy Story meets »

- MaryAnn Johanson

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7 articles



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