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18 articles


Unbreakable Bones

24 March 2015 9:00 PM, PDT

Broccoli is green. The presence of ice on one’s windshield indicates that it is extremely cold outside. White rice is white, unless there’s butter on it, in which case it’s roughly the color of snow after it’s been urinated on by a dog. Speaking of dogs, they bark, and, at some point today, a rerun (or four) of Bones will air on some station somewhere.

Bones, which has been around for a whopping 200 episodes (the second half of season ten commences this week on Fox), is as ubiquitous and nebulous as General Electric or Intel. You know it’s durable and successful, yet you don’t quite know what it does or sounds like. But rest assured that, at some point, it will unexpectedly impact you »

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Two Generations, One Actress: Sutton Foster on Her Empowering Role in Younger

24 March 2015 9:00 PM, PDT

Doing everything right in one generation just makes you old-fashioned, even obsolete, in the next. That’s the harsh reality that confronts 40-year-old Liza — played with spirited, sarcastic élan by Tony-winning actress Sutton Foster — when she attempts to re-enter the workforce after a decade and a half of stay-at-home motherhood. Finding herself shut out of the industry where she’d once been hailed as a wunderkind, Liza passes herself off as a 26-year-old to start again at the bottom of the publishing ladder in the peppy and observant Younger, the new sitcom from Sex and the City creator Darren Star.

Getting to play both the middle-aged divorcée and the wide-e »


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The Star-Crossed Lovers of From Mayerling to Sarajevo Return to the Big Screen

24 March 2015 9:00 PM, PDT

Max Ophüls remains revered for his densely layered postwar sandcastles of love and irony, and as a result his international résumé through the Thirties is often overlooked — if seen at all. This 1940 rarity, released in France nine days before the Germans began their assault and occupation, is quite apparently an Ophüls-for-hire quickie, and apparently the only movie ever made about the devout but royal-protocol-vexed romance between the Hapsburg dynasty's Archduke Franz Ferdinand (American politician-to-be John Lodge) and his underclass Czech-countess love Sophie Chotek (Edwige Feuillère) in the century's first decades. The modern era looms, as the Empire's unrest builds, a spontaneous yet inevitable world war approaches, and Lodge »


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Superstar Michel Houellebecq Doesn't Mind Being Boxed In

24 March 2015 9:00 PM, PDT

Michel Houellebecq is France's most famous contemporary writer, owing in no small part to controversy that he either stirs up or can't escape from. In 2002, he was tried for (and eventually acquitted of) "inciting racial hatred" for calling Islam "the dumbest religion" during an interview to promote his 2001 novel, Platform. His latest book, Submission, a satiric portrayal of France under Shariah law in 2022, was published in that country on January 7 — the same day of the slaughter at the office of Charlie Hebdo, which had featured a cartoon of the author on that week's cover. In Guillaume Nicloux's droll, loose docu-concoction The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq, the writer plays a version of himself: less the world-renowned provocateur than a »


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Musical Comedy Cupcakes Is Infused with Can-Do Optimism

24 March 2015 9:00 PM, PDT

Eytan Fox loves Eurovision. The filmmaker known for tragic romances like Yossi & Jagger and The Bubble has made a sweet confection about an unlikely group of Tel Aviv neighbors who'll represent Israel in an international song contest. This musical comedy is sugary and sincere, like the cupcakes Anat (Anat Waxman) prepares with national flags rendered in colorful icing for the annual viewing party. Friends arrive at her apartment, but the usually upbeat baker is experiencing marital problems and can't revel in the garish competition (known in Cupcakes as UniverSong). Singer-songwriter Efrat (Efrat Dor) brings out her guitar, begins improvising a cheery ballad, and everyone else joins in — with perfect lyrics and no false notes. Fox counters the »


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Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper Star in the Misbegotten Adaptation Serena

24 March 2015 9:00 PM, PDT

Beware the Serena who is too serene. The title character in novelist Ron Rash's backwoods gothic is a decisive, collected queen bee who rules through retribution and murder. It's a great role for the Jennifer Lawrence of Winter's Bone, whose fierce intelligence, quiet strength, and deep understanding of rural life would make her a formidable lumber baroness. But that's not the Serena of Susanne Bier's adaptation — and not the Lawrence who embodies her. In Rash's novel, Serena arrives at a North Carolina train station on the way to her husband's logging camp in an oxford shirt, leather jodhpurs, and boots. Bier introduces Serena to her new home deep in the Smoky Mountains wearing a silk dress, fur-topped cloth coat, and T-strap heels. Lawrence maintains her »


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Larry Clark Reaches for Bigger Themes Than Teen Sex in Marfa Girl

24 March 2015 9:00 PM, PDT

Made just on the cusp of his turning 70, photographer-filmmaker Larry Clark's latest reckless-youth provocation (see also: Kids, Bully, Ken Park) proves Matthew McConaughey's immortal Dazed and Confused adage: He gets older, but those skinny, objectified adolescents stay the same age. Within this loosely paced West Texas portrait of lyrical desolation (its grungy panoramas quite beautiful when not looking like advertising gloss), smoking pot, fucking, and spanking the boredom away is still the modus operandi for Clark's largely nonprofessional ensemble. Half-Hispanic teen Adam (Adam Mediano) skateboards from one hedonistic distraction to the next and is occasionally bullied by sadistic, racist Border Patrolman Tom (Jeremy St. James). Everyon »


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The Dogs Out-Act the Humans in White God

24 March 2015 9:00 PM, PDT

The infamous stray dogs of Bucharest, Romania, numbered 60,000 in September 2013, the same month a pack stormed a playground and tore apart a four-year-old boy. Since then, a new euthanasia law has harshly halved their ranks. Neighboring Budapest, Hungary, doesn't have that problem — or final solution — but local writer/director Kornél Mundruczó's White God imagines what if it did. His Cannes-winning doggie dystopia is a slow-burning, brutal watch where every grown-up is channeling Cruella de Vil. The star, a sweet ginger mutt named Hagen, has an expressive face and a knack for trouble. Dumped by his young guardian Lili's (Zsófia Psotta) estranged father (Sándor Zsótér) and hunted by the pound, he's ca »


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Tracers Is the Best Parkour-Based Action-Romance with Taylor Lautner You'll See All Year

24 March 2015 9:00 PM, PDT

Bike-messenger boy meets girl, joins her NYC gang of parkour-ing thieves, and winds up in formulaic trouble in Daniel Benmayor's Tracers, a by-the-books B movie only notable for its energetic action choreography. In debt to a loan shark, Cam (Taylor Lautner) ditches cycling in favor of hopping, skipping, and jumping around Manhattan after meeting Nikki (Marie Avgeropoulos), a beauty in league with other one-dimensional urban-athlete twentysomethings who pull off daring heists while dressed like ninjas. Cam is the usual good guy in a bad spot, and his need for cash drives him to join their crew, whose leader, Miller (Adam Rayner), likes to spout faux-philosophical nonsense about striving for new "plateaus." Of course, what initially seems great to Cam even »


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52 Tuesdays Is an Impressive Debut from Sophie Hyde

24 March 2015 9:00 PM, PDT

The most distinctive detail about 52 Tuesdays — that it was filmed in bursts once a week over a year — is just one of this impressive debut's many highlights. The sixteenth year of Billie's (Tilda Cobham-Hervey) turbulent life becomes the most trying one yet when her lesbian mother (Del Herbert-Jane) undergoes the transition from Jane to James. Needing the space and freedom to medically alter himself, James requests that Billie live with her dad (Beau Travis Williams) for a year, but that they spend every Tuesday together. It's during these few hours that this intimate near-masterpiece takes place, weaving James's transition tale with Billie's sexual coming-of-age. (The voyeuristic high schooler meets her new best friends by spying on their ma »


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The Barber Is a Tawdry, Stylish Serial-Killer Flick

24 March 2015 9:00 PM, PDT

Veteran character actor Scott Glenn relishes the opportunity to sink his teeth into a rare lead role in this tawdry, if stylishly shot, serial-killer flick. Looking grizzled and emaciated, Glenn is compelling as small-town barber Gene Van Wingerdt, a buttoned-down blend of Billy Bob Thornton's saturnine snipper in The Man Who Wasn't There and Michael Douglas's simmering white-collar workhorse in Falling Down. Like countless other movie psychos, Gene marries a strict puritanical bent — he doesn't like it when his young Hispanic employee Luis (Max Arciniega) curses, for example — with an extremely dark past. Two decades prior, he was arrested for murdering several women, but released due to insufficient evidence. The outcome drove the c »


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A Girl Like Her Tells an Up-to-the-Second Story of Bullying

24 March 2015 9:00 PM, PDT

Amy S. Weber's heart-wrenching A Girl Like Her begins by solving one mystery while posing another. As teenager Jessica (Lexi Ainsworth) tries on a spy camera that records from a seemingly impossible p.o.v. angle, the scene is intercut with footage from that same camera a year later as she takes an overdose of prescription hydrocodone. Ostensibly shooting a documentary about Jessica's high school's awesomeness, filmmaker Amy Gallagher (played by director Weber) begins investigating why Jessica attempted suicide, leading her to investigate popular girl Avery (Hunter King), who reportedly bullied Jessica. A Girl Like Her uses up-to-the-nanosecond technologies and storytelling methods to convey age-old messages about the cycle of violence and bullying »


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Bay Area Noir Man From Reno Has Plenty of Twists

24 March 2015 9:00 PM, PDT

When writer-director Dave Boyle was nineteen, he spent two years as a Mormon missionary in Australia. He mainly hung out with Japanese surf bums, picking up enough of the language that when he returned to the States, he cast himself as a Japanophile businessman in his debut feature, Big Dreams Little Tokyo. Ever since, he's specialized in indie films about Asians in America, or more precisely, indie films that happen to star Asian actors as just a matter of fact, without flogging their casting into a pronouncement on the state of race relations. It's a curious career for an early-thirties white dude, and thank heavens for it. Boyle's fifth and newest film, Man From Reno, is a San Francisco noir with a canny twist on Vertigo. Suicidal mystery »


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While We're Young Is a Fearless, Annoyed Comedy About Getting Older

24 March 2015 9:00 PM, PDT

When you're young, to be old — even just the 44 kind of old — is unimaginable. Yet no one who has ever turned 44, or 54 or 74, can tell you how it happened. There's no single moment of passing to the other side of the looking glass; the only thing that's real is the bewilderment of realizing that you've somehow squeezed through it.

That bewilderment is the guiding force of Noah Baumbach's fearless half-a- comedy While We're Young, an unsparing consideration of what makes the young different from the not-so-young. Baumbach's eighth feature isn't just sharp, it's serrated — its jokes, and there are lots of them, come at you with rows and rows of tiny teeth. But even if Baumbach, who also wrote the film, betrays annoyance with the sense of entitle »


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New Black Voices Jolts the Big Screen with Black Life

24 March 2015 9:00 PM, PDT

"In the city, black people are producing modern forms of life," says influential scholar and historian Saidiya Hartman in Arthur Jafa's brilliant docu-poem Dreams Are Colder Than Death. "These emergent formations are only recognizable on their initial appearance as monstrous....There's a history of black anarchism, an everyday practice of revolution against certain forms of property arrangement."

Though it appeared on no major best-of lists last year and only played the festival circuit, Dreams was one of 2014's best and most important films, the only one to unambiguously capture the transitional American and global moment in which we live. Plugged right into the zeitgeist, it's an exploration from the trenches of everything in play within the #BlackLivesMatter »


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Wenders's Salt of the Earth Captures the Brilliance of Photographer Sebastiao Salgado

24 March 2015 9:00 PM, PDT

Even if you think you don't know the photographs of Sebastião Salgado, you've probably seen them. In one of his most famous pictures, taken in the mid-1980s in Mali, a woman whose face is half-hidden by a dark, rough-textured cotton veil, her bearing as elegant as anything you'd see in fashion photography, appears to gaze off into the middle distance. When you look closely, you realize that she can't be gazing at anything at all, at least not in the way we see with our eyes: Her left eye is clouded, obviously sightless. The image is both arresting and moving — you want to stop short of calling it "beautiful," which implies patronization, objectification, and all other sorts of -ations that we've been schooled to avoid. Susan Sontag, in fact, railed against wha »


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Kevin Hart's Nerdiness Rescues Get Hard from Its Uncomfortable Homophobia

24 March 2015 9:00 PM, PDT

Get Hard, Etan Cohen's comedy about a white stockbroker who hires a black man to prepare him for a ten-year stretch in San Quentin, is like a spoon that's almost-but-not-yet sharpened into a shiv. With just a little more effort, it could kill.

Judging by the poster, in which star Kevin Hart braids cornrows into Will Ferrell's auburn curls, Get Hard looks as hoary as a Night at the Apollo stand-up still flogging the old “White people walk like this” culture-clash shtick. In truth, Ferrell's ultra-rich James King does walk kinda funny. Sauntering past his worshipful underlings at the brokerage firm run by his fiancée’s (Alison Brie) father (Craig T. Nelson), Ferrell glides like a prize goose.

But Get Hard is hunting anot »


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The Riot Club Tries Too Hard to Make Us Hate the Rich

24 March 2015 9:00 PM, PDT

Clueless rich guy Tom Perkins rightly became the laughingstock of the internet last year after comparing America’s “war on one-percenters” to the Nazi Kristallnacht. However detestably fatuous Perkins is in real life, it must be admitted he’d make a fascinating fictional character, perhaps in a Greek tragedy about a wealthy man so consumed by his feelings of being hated by his neighbors that he can hardly enjoy his fortune.

At its dramatically richest, The Riot Club comes close to that paradoxical knot. Oxford student Alistair Ryle (Sam Claflin) is the stuff of Occupiers’ nightmares — “I am sick to death of poor people,” he declares — but there’s also something sad and compelling about his delusion that he’ »


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