Movies

Gauging the Real Effects of Media

Marty Kaplan

There wouldn’t be an advertising industry if people weren’t susceptible to messages.  POM Wonderful wouldn’t rent billboards promising (falsely) to prevent prostate cancer, the fossil fuel industry wouldn’t spend millions on spots claiming (falsely) to produce clean energy, candidates wouldn’t fork over billions of dollars to local TV stations for (pants-on-fire) political ads if all their money could buy were some wispy correlation.

 

‘Veronica Mars’ Arrives on Home Video

Forrest Hartman

The “Veronica Mars” movie exists only because fans of the TV show willed it into existence. Writer-director Rob Thomas and star Kristen Bell sought funding for the long-talked-about picture on the Kickstarter website, and money rolled in at an astounding pace. The fact that major studios previously balked at the idea of backing the film makes one wonder about the state of the film industry. 

Soul and Wit are the Essence of John Turturro’s ‘Fading Gigolo’

Gabriella Tutino

Written, directed by and starring John Turturro, Fading Gigolo is a subtle, charming comedy making an observation about the entanglements of sex and love. It could be due to the age of the cast in the film, but there is a tender treatment of the relationships portrayed, bringing out raw honesty. The premise is rather simple:  Murray (Woody Allen), a rare bookseller, literally “pimps out” his close friend Fioravante ( Turturro), a florist, for a threesome since his business is going under. After a successful venture, the two friends partner up.

‘Labor Day,’ ‘The Legend of Hercules’ Arrive on Home Video

Forrest Hartman

Writer-director Jason Reitman (“Juno,” “Up In the Air”) has proven himself an engaging talent with a flair for making movies that are more thought-provoking and off-center than those produced by his famous father, Ivan (“Ghostbusters,” “Stripes”). His latest, “Labor Day,” works both as an unconventional romance and a coming-of-age tale. The plot centers on Henry (Gattlin Griffith) who lives an uneasy life with his severely depressed mother, Adele (Kate Winslet). Henry’s existence is thrown into turmoil when a rough-looking man named Frank (Josh Brolin) approaches him at a department store and “insists” on a ride. 

‘Barefoot,’ ‘The Best Offer’ Arrive on Home Video

Forrest Hartman

“Barefoot,” Director Andrew Fleming’s English-language remake of the 2005 German movie “Barfuss,” is an offbeat affair that ranges from endearing and sweet to flat-out creepy. The emotional range is primarily due to the cad-like ways of male lead Jay Wheeler (Scott Speedman). Although Jay was born to a wealthy, Louisiana family, he left his life of privilege to make a mess of himself in Los Angeles. When viewers meet him, he’s deeply in debt to a loan shark and working as a janitor in a psychiatric hospital. 

‘Inside Llewyn Davis,’ ‘The Book Thief’ Arrive on Home Video

Forrest Hartman

Filmmaking brothers Joel and Ethan Coen are treasures of modern cinema who somehow craft one great movie after another, regardless of the genre they explore. In 2010, they reinvigorated the Western with a beautiful adaptation of the 1968 Charles Portis novel “True Grit.” Their latest film, “Inside Llewyn Davis,” treads different territory but is just as compelling. Set in 1961, the film introduces viewers to Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac), a fictional folk singer struggling to make it in New York’s Greenwich Village. 

Predictable Themes of Ennui, Infidelity Plague Tedious 'In Secret'

Kaitlyn Fajilan

Though "putrid" isn't quite the word to describe this Charlie Stratton adaptation of Zola's classic (though it does boast one or two bloated corpses), there is sense of overripeness to the film, a tinge of déjà vu in that we've seen this story played out countless times before and already know how it is going to end. Elizabeth Olsen (of Martha Marcy May Marlene fame) plays the parentless Thérèse, whose overbearing aunt, Madame Raquin (Jessica Lange), forces her into an engagement with her only child, the sickly and decidedly humdrum Camille (portrayed by Tom Felton). 

Dangerous Delusions Unravel in ‘The Last Elvis’

Angelo Franco

In his directorial debut, Armando Bo (who co-wrote the script with Nicolás Giacobone) uses the seemingly oversaturated Buenos Aires celebrity-impersonators scene to explore the depths of character of one man, Carlos “Elvis” Gutierrez, who is struggling to match his fantasies with the hard realities he faces.   As far as he is concerned, Carlos is the King, not only on stage among impersonators but in his mind as well.

‘Inside Llewyn Davis’: The Coen Brothers’ New Film Strikes a Chord

Benjamin Wright

Llewyn Davis is the Coen Brothers’ 16th full-length film, and their first in three years, since 2010’s True Grit – the latter a work that earned a whopping 10 Academy Award nominations, including one for Best Picture, but won none.  Though they directed two segments and contributed as writers to other projects in between, Joel and Ethan Coen’s body of work as directors started with 1984’s Blood Simple and has included 14 other works between that and Llewyn Davis, among them such works as: Raising Arizona, Barton Fink, Fargo, The Big Lebowski, Burn After Reading, No Country for Old Men and A Serious Man. 

Spike Jonze’s ‘Her’: Love in a Future Age

Melinda Parks

In an age where cell phones are our constant companions, where an operating system can respond to voice-activated prompts and mobile Internet access provides us with instant information at any given moment, our relationships with technology and with each other are rapidly evolving. Writer-director Spike Jonze’s latest film, “Her,” an original and surprisingly emotional story about a lonely writer who develops feelings for his cell phone operating system, serves as a commentary on our society’s increasing reliance on technology.

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