Movie Reviews

'Blackhat' fails to compute as a great thriller

By Barry Paris / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

I used to think algorithms had something to do with Caribbean music, blissfully unaware they were crucial to computers, let alone terrorism. Now, alas, with Kim Jong Un and Sony ’n’ at, we must all get with the online program of 21st-century warfare, which threatens to destroy society as we know and love-hate it. Read more... about 'Blackhat' fails to compute as a great thriller

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'Merchants of Doubt' shows how to do battle on major issues

By Barry Paris / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

There’s no doubt that asbestos and cigarettes cause lung cancer.

There’s no doubt that DDT kills wildlife.

There’s no doubt about the existence of acid rain and holes in the ozone layer.

There’s no doubt that the Arctic and Antarctic ice shelves have shrunk by 23 percent. Read more... about 'Merchants of Doubt' shows how to do battle on major issues

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'Queen and Country' charmingly captures English life in the 1950s

By Barry Paris / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

It takes a successful Hollywood film about 15 — maybe 20 — minutes to generate a sequel. In England, the gestation period for a really good sequel of a really good film tends to be much longer — in writer-director John Boorman’s case, 28 years. Read more... about 'Queen and Country' charmingly captures English life in the 1950s

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'Kumiko' pays homage to 'Fargo'

By Barry Paris / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Kumiko is a stranger in a strange land and in the equally strange movie that bears her name.

At work in Tokyo, she’s an “Office Lady” for Mr. Sakagami, a Clarence Thomas-type boss, who seems to be pushing a sexual agenda even while instructing her to buy an anniversary present for his wife.

“What kind of present?” asks Kumiko (Rinko Kikuchi). Read more... about 'Kumiko' pays homage to 'Fargo'

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'Wild Tales' just that plus a cathartic jolt

By Barry Paris / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“Anybody asks you what the sweetest thing in life is, you tell ’em it’s revenge!” snarls Paul Lazzaro, obsessed with killing Billy Pilgrim, the hero of Kurt Vonnegut’s great “Slaughterhouse Five.” Read more... about 'Wild Tales' just that plus a cathartic jolt

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Wallace Shawn plays Ibsen's womanizing architect in 'A Master Builder'

By Barry Paris / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

It's been a long time -- 33 years, to be exact -- since actor Wallace Shawn and director Andre Gregory famously dined in front of a camera. Now, if not quite by popular demand, they're together again thanks to Henrik Ibsen and Jonathan Demme. Read more... about Wallace Shawn plays Ibsen's womanizing architect in 'A Master Builder'

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'Secret Sharer' skillfully blends mutiny, murder and romance

By Barry Paris / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

It’s just a noisy old rust-bucket cargo ship in the South China Sea, but Konrad is the proud young Polish captain of it — unexpectedly promoted to his first command by the boat’s wealthy Chinese owner. As he arrives to take charge, it feels like the first day of school. There’s something strange about it, but why question your good fortune? Read more... about 'Secret Sharer' skillfully blends mutiny, murder and romance

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'Leviathan' delves into the stark realities of life in a Russian fishing town

By Barry Paris / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Everybody and everything is vodka-saturated in “Leviathan,” Russia’s Oscar-nominated foreign film entry for 2015. Read more... about 'Leviathan' delves into the stark realities of life in a Russian fishing town

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'Focus' entertaining, but good pieces don't make satisfying whole

By Barry Paris / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Nicky Spurgeon runs a kind of Academy of Con Arts and Sciences. The arts involve sleight-of-hand and misdirection. The science is getting people to trust you. Read more... about 'Focus' entertaining, but good pieces don't make satisfying whole

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'Mr. Turner' delivers superb acting, filmmaking

By Barry Paris / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Revolutionary artists rarely have an easy time of it, and rarely give those around them an easy time, while typically reveling in the turmoil they cause. I’ve thought about Beethoven and Picasso in that regard. But I’m now thinking about J.M.W. Turner, and so will you if you treat yourself to Mike Leigh’s stunningly beautiful biopic, “Mr. Turner.” Read more... about 'Mr. Turner' delivers superb acting, filmmaking

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