Film & TV

‘Population Boom’ Examines Consequences of Planet Overpopulation

Michael Verdirame

In his latest documentary, “Population Boom,” filmmaker Werner Boote examines the topic of the overpopulation of the planet in an attempt to discover if in fact the exponential growth of the total number of human beings on Earth over the last several hundred years is something to be concerned about, or if it is just a cover for a different, more pressing problem.  Throughout the film, Boote travels to diverse locations all over the world, from Africa to Asia to North America, interviewing many local citizens about their opinions on the world population.

‘Big Eyes,’ ‘The Babadook’ Arrive on Home Video

Forrest Hartman

The unlikely tale of Margaret and Walter Keane created one of the most interesting stirs in the history of contemporary art, and director Tim Burton does a fine job dramatizing their lives. It has been decades since the Keanes made a splash in the art world, so many viewers will come to their story fresh, but that does nothing to diminish the film. “Big Eyes” is loaded with universally accessible themes, including commentaries on narcissism, the power of mass production and the problems with a patriarchal society. 

‘A Most Violent Year,’ ‘The Immigrant’ Arrive on Home Video

Forrest Hartman

Set in 1981 New York, “A Most Violent Year” tells the story of a hard-working businessman determined to grow his heating-oil company despite intense competition and a crime spree highlighted by the hijacking of several of his trucks. Chandor paints Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac) as a decent man struggling to do the right thing in an industry overrun by corruption. 

‘The Imitation Game,’ ‘Wild’ Arrive on Home Video

Forrest Hartman

“The Imitation Game” won only a single Academy Award (best adapted screenplay for Graham Moore) in February, but the movie’s nomination tally is a better representation of its quality. The tightly paced suspense film, which depicts key moments in the life of British computer pioneer Alan Turing, received eight nominations, including nods for best picture, best director, best actor and best supporting actress. 

‘The Hobbit,’ ‘Unbroken’ Arrive on Home Video

Forrest Hartman

At first, director Peter Jackson’s decision to split his screen adaptation of “The Hobbit” into three films seemed like an excessive attempt to milk cash from a project better suited to a single 150-minute feature. In retrospect, it is obvious that Jackson was less interested in a straightforward screen adaptation of the J.R.R. Tolkien novel than an epic prequel to his “Lord of the Rings” saga. 

‘Annie,’ ‘Top Five’ Arrive on Home Video

Forrest Hartman

There was no great outcry for another film adaptation of the Broadway musical “Annie,” but writer-director Will Gluck’s take on the material is as good as one could hope for. Gluck’s new “Annie” is hipper and more urban than the like-titled 1982 movie but the essence of the story is the same. Ten-year-old Annie (Quvenzhané Wallis) lives in a foster home with several other orphan girls, but she is convinced that her parents will eventually show up to reclaim her. 

‘Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb’ Arrives on Home Video

Forrest Hartman

“Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb,” like so many unnecessary sequels, isn’t so much bad as irrelevant. The film’s selling point is that it blends top-notch special effects and a family friendly story with an excellent cast that includes Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Steve Coogan, Ricky Gervais and the late Robin Williams. The down side is that it fails to bring anything new to the table. 

From ‘Mad Men’ to ‘The Americans’: How Television Handles the Issue of Sexual Assault

Megan Walsh

One of the methods often used to integrate a rape storyline into a show is as a tragic backstory – a flashback used to explain why a woman is the way she is, particularly if that woman is of the colder, less trusting variety. The Americans did this with lead character Elizabeth Jennings, a Soviet spy undercover as a normal American citizen. In the pilot of the series, during a flashback, we see a young Elizabeth preparing for her future role as a spy and subsequently being assaulted by a commanding officer. 

French Film ‘Vandal’ Delves into the World of Graffiti Artists

Gabriella Tutino

Sent to Strasbourg, Cherif has to readjust as he takes up the construction trade, learns to live under his uncle’s rules, and works alongside his father. He’s in for a surprise when his cousin—a supposed goody-two shoes—brings him along to tag with his group Ork. Cherif’s initiation into the graffiti scene begins; he learns about a rival tagger, Vandal, who does his work on his own and at impressive heights. 

‘Foxcatcher,’ ‘Hunger Games: Mockingjay’ Arrive on Home Video

Forrest Hartman

“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1” pulled in more than $336 million during its U.S. theatrical run, edging out “Guardians of the Galaxy” to become the top-grossing film of 2014. Nobody should confuse box office success with quality, as these things rarely relate, but “The Hunger Games” pictures have been solid. Unfortunately, “Mockingjay” is a letdown in comparison to the previous entry in the franchise, “Catching Fire.” 

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