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ROSEWATER

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Jon Stewart (“The Daily Show”) depicts a remarkable, somewhat fictionalized, tale of one man’s “red badge of courage”; in 2009 Maziar Bahari (“Then They Came for Me”) was arrested and incarcerated for filming the riots in Teheran, Iran after the election; Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal soars as “Bahari” an Iranian-born, London-based journalist working for Newsweek; Western confidence and ebullience ... Read More »

MOCKINGJAY PART 1

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Knowing that audiences were to be served only a portion of the third book in Suzanne Collins’s “Hunger Games” trilogy; leaving partially satiated appetites, unanswered dilemmas, lacking the magnetism of previous “Game” movies; light on energy, heavy on angst; difficult to be invested in the half-baked. The commencement is ploddingly slow: “Katniss Evergreen” (abundantly talented Jennifer Lawrence) must psychologically accept ... Read More »

NIGHTCRAWLER

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“Lou Bloom” is one creepy, amoral, conscienceless character and Jake Gyllenhaal is stratospheric in his depiction of this man of the night, chasing gory, sensational, bloody accidents, filming the scene, its victims and selling them to a Los Angeles TV station. From the moment we meet “Lou”, excessively polite, verbose with Keane-like eyes and gaunt frame we know something is ... Read More »

ST.VINCENT

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Manipulative, melodramatic, simultaneously marvelous; a film that delivers warm, fuzzy, chuckling, satisfying fun; Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Jaeden Lieberher, Naomi Watts give performances worthy of writer/director Ted Melfi’s semi-autobiographical story. “Vince” (Murray) a broke, curmudgeonly boozer is hired by his new neighbor “Maggie” (McCarthy) to babysit (for 11 dollars an hour) her twelve-year-old son “Oliver” (enchanting characterization by Lieberher); Vince ... Read More »

BIRDMAN (THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE)

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Ignorance would have been blissfully indulgent if only I had not willingly subjected myself to this quixotic, sophistic expose on the cons of action films and their heroes; the bane of vindictive critics; ageing actors on a downward spiral into moral turpitude, and their drug-addicted progeny. “Unexpected’ trouble bamboozled the viewer in the initial scene: “Riggan Thompson” aka “Birdman” , ... Read More »

WHIPLASH

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Rarely does a film come along that is in perfect alignment: flawlessly acted, magnificently  written/ directed, rhythmically stunning, an electrifying story that clings to the conscience long after experiencing; “Whiplash” is an experience not to be missed. Miles Teller sinks his sensational skills into the role of “Andrew Neyman”; a portrait of a young man’s obscene obsession, a maniacal drive ... Read More »

ON BEAUTY (HIGHLIGHTED DOCUMENTARY AT THE CHICAGO INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL)

On Beauty

Director Joanna Rudnick’s remarkable iconoclastic commentary on traditional, expected norms of beauty: thin, waif-like, gauntly-chiseled countenances, leggy models who grace the covers of fashion magazines are replaced, shattered by the inimitable photographer Rick Guidotti who sees beyond the facade and unearths, brings forth the gorgeousness of those with physical aberrations; “disfigured” by Albinism, hypo –pigmentation, Sturge-Weber syndrome and chromosome 18 ... Read More »

THE JUDGE

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Watching this fine, outstanding film one word kept galloping through my mind; every scene, each performance; pristine, prescient directing was laden with “integrity”; two hours of blatant honesty, infused with genealogical, unresolved issues; personal and professional trials, patterns of pain, anchored in years of obfuscation, segregation. The audience voyeuristically watches as the Palmer family flays the past, confronting the present,  ... Read More »

12 YEARS A SLAVE

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“More inhumanity has been done (to man) by man himself, than any other of nature’s causes.” (Samuel von Pufendore, 1632-94). Experiencing, (it is a visceral, torturous, emotional rack) Steve McQueen’s exceptionally intelligent “12 Years a Slave”, the true story of Solomon Northup’s horrific betrayal; he is a refined, educated violinist, with a wife and two children, living respectfully in Saratoga ... Read More »

CAPTAIN PHILLIPS

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Recently, there have been films, based on actual people, cosmic events, that have been controversial, challenged because of their supposed inaccuracies or flawed “hair-raising” technicalities: “The Butler”, “Gravity” and now “Captain Phillips”. Unless billed as a documentary, I gift “poetic license” to the filmmakers. These films are stunning, immensely entertaining and worthy of their embellishments or lack thereof. Once again, ... Read More »

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