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Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart Work Hard to ‘Get Hard’

27 March 2015 10:35 AM, PDT

Full disclosure: I am not a fan of Will Ferrell’s comedies. I hoped that Kevin Hart’s brand of energy and the boldness of dealing head-on with racial stereotypes might give Get Hard a different dimension. No such luck. My students at USC laughed fairly often at our screening last night but I did not. Ferrell’s stock-in-trade is a self-aware silliness. In this film he plays a clueless money manipulator who’s enjoyed the fruits of success. He lives in a ridiculously opulent home with a social-climbing fiancée (Alison Brie) whose father (Craig T. Nelson) is also his boss. He treats his Latino house staff with the same irritating condescension as the fellow (Hart) who ...

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- Leonard Maltin

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While We’re Young: Ben Stiller in Crisis Mode

27 March 2015

It might seem premature for filmmaker Noah Baumbach and his screen alter-ego Ben Stiller to be having a mid-life crisis, along with wife Naomi Watts, but the situation is explored with empathy and wit in While We’re Young. Although the finished product is a bit lumpy it still represents an individual voice and point of view, within the framework of a contemporary comedy infused with the Woody Allen-ish flavor of New York City. Stiller plays a egotistic documentary filmmaker who’s been stalled on his latest project for a decade. His mostly-happy marriage to Watts is shadowed by the fact that they’ve given up on having children after several failed attempts. Now, as their friends...

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- Leonard Maltin

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Remembering Roger Mayer

25 March 2015 5:13 PM, PDT

When Martin Scorsese presented him with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 2005, I’m sure many people watching the Oscarcast around the world had no idea who Roger Mayer was. Hollywood insiders and the community of film archivists knew him well as a fair-minded business executive and a generous benefactor. I was lucky enough to call him a friend. Roger suffered a heart attack on Tuesday at 89. He had a bout of health problems last year that had many of us worried but he eventually rallied, so this news comes as a shock. Roger belied his age for many years, chairing meetings with vigor and enthusiasm and raising funds for causes he cared about. My wife and I learned...

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- Leonard Maltin

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Grand Finale For Cinefest

24 March 2015 6:17 PM, PDT

After 35 years, the Cinefest in Syracuse, New York has come to an end, following a grand finale this past weekend. Four days of nonstop screenings, browsing the dealer’s rooms, and hanging out with old friends made it worth traveling to Central New York in the dead of winter.  Naturally, it was a bittersweet occasion for me and other longtime attendees. We’ve looked forward to this movie binge every year, but the “boys and girls” of the Syracuse Cinephile Society are entitled to rest on their laurels after working so hard to entertain us all these years.   As usual, the bill of fare was wide and varied, including one-of-a-kind 16mm prints from private collectors (including...

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- Leonard Maltin

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