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A Gem from Brazil: The Second Mother

16 hours ago

When a movie captivates you within seconds, you know you’re watching something special. The opening of The Second Mother—a simple scene of a housekeeper taking care of a young boy after he’s had a swim, while juggling a phone call to her own daughter—encapsulates everything the movie is about. It’s honest, observant, and unaffected, and writer-director Anna Muylaert never falters from that moment on. No wonder this Brazilian import won a Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival for its two leading actresses. Regina Casé plays a self-effacing woman named Val who has devoted herself to a prosperous family in Sao Paolo as their housekeeper and nanny—while her own...

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- Leonard Maltin

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Still Time To See ‘End Of The Tour’

25 August 2015 8:01 PM, PDT

I’m glad to have finally seen End of the Tour, and as it is still playing in theaters nationwide, I feel impelled to recommend it. It’s never too late to catch up with a film this special and satisfying. James Ponsoldt, who won me over with The Spectacular Now, adds another feather to his cap with his treatment of this challenging two-character piece, scripted by Donald Margulies. And I won’t soon forget the penetrating performances of Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg. Eisenberg plays David Lipsky, a writer who—upon hearing news of the suicide of David Foster Wallace in 2008—digs out the audiocassettes of his conversations with the author. With that, we flash back twelve years to the...

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- Leonard Maltin

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Woody Allen, the Storyteller: ‘Irrational Man’

25 August 2015 8:00 PM, PDT

Woody Allen feels no need to paint on a giant canvas. He’s content to follow his imagination wherever it leads him, whether it results in a complex, multi-character piece or a tightly-focused narrative. Irrational Man falls into the latter category and while it’s a minor effort on the filmmaker’s résumé, it’s still quite watchable and benefits from perfect casting. Joaquin Phoenix plays a philosophy professor with a checkered past (and a colorful reputation) who accepts a job at a small Rhode Island liberal arts college. It’s clear from his lectures on Kant and Kierkegaard that he’s a gifted teacher who has done much thinking about the role that chance plays in...

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- Leonard Maltin

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Late To ‘Straight Outta Compton’

25 August 2015 11:47 AM, PDT

Still catching up with films I’ve missed during my illness, I didn’t know if Straight Outta Compton would speak to me. I’m familiar with Ice Cube and Dr. Dre today, but I had no awareness of N.W.A. when they burst on the scene several decades ago. I certainly didn’t understand gangsta rap or its origins on the mean streets of Los Angeles. Strong reviews and word of mouth impelled me to see the movie this past weekend and I’m glad I did. It’s awfully good. Director F. Gary Gray has a lot of ground to cover but manages to keep the film moving from one incident to another, like a vaudevillian spinning plates—no easy feat given the number of characters it portrays and the many...

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- Leonard Maltin

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