Movie Reviews

Oscar-nominated short documentaries outstanding and heavy

By Barry Paris / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Heavy, heavier, heaviest — plus mega-heavy — would characterize this year’s Oscar-nominated short documentary films, whose subjects include dying mothers, gravely ill babies, suicide and animal slaughter. The quality is exceptionally high, although watching them all together is an emotional challenge. Read more... about Oscar-nominated short documentaries outstanding and heavy

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Live action beats animated in 2015 Oscar-nominated shorts

By Barry Paris / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

In Oscar categories as well as men’s underwear, there are shorts — and then there are briefs. Some of the live-action and animated mini movies nominated for this year’s Academy Awards are REALLY brief: One of the best runs a grand total of 2 minutes. Read more... about Live action beats animated in 2015 Oscar-nominated shorts

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'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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'Inherent Vice' a ball of confusion

By Barry Paris / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Raymond Chandler meets Elmore Leonard, Cheech and Chong and Thomas Pynchon’s literary pretensions in the drug haze of the semi-comic detective story “Inherent Vice.”

Time: a quarter past the late ’60s.

Place: Southern California.

'Inherent Vice' movie trailer

In 1970, drug-fueled Los Angeles detective Larry "Doc" Sportello investigates the disappearance of a former girlfriend. Read more... about 'Inherent Vice' a ball of confusion

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'My Old Lady' charming at times but slips into melodrama

By Barry Paris / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“I was born with a silver knife in my back,” says Mathias Gold, with an abundance of self-pity. But there’s an absence of gold and silver alike in his bank account, which is why he’s in Paris: He just inherited a valuable apartment there (in the 10 million euro range) from his estranged father and has come to claim and cash it in. Read more... about 'My Old Lady' charming at times but slips into melodrama

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'Only Lovers Left Alive': an incisively original take on vampires from Jim Jarmusch

Pity a depressed vampire: His existential despair is maximized by the fact that his existence is eternal. Pity -- even more -- a suicidal vampire: He can't very well drive a stake through his own heart. But he can order a custom-made .38-caliber wooden bullet.

Read more... about 'Only Lovers Left Alive': an incisively original take on vampires from Jim Jarmusch

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"Le Week-End": A weekend won't save this troubled marriage

By Barry Paris / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Who's Afraid of a Last Tango in Paris?

Nick and Meg. It's their 30th anniversary, and they've returned to the City of Lights for the first time since their honeymoon -- two long-in-the-tooth baby boomers looking maybe to rekindle the old flame or at least the flicker. But in the course of "Le Week-End," each must work up the nerve to relay painful news to the other. Read more... about "Le Week-End": A weekend won't save this troubled marriage

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`Walter Mitty' fades, due to the secret life of Ben Stiller

James Thurber's very short story "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," which occupied just 2½ New Yorker pages in 1939, gained such a beloved place in American life and language that its title character has his own dictionary entry as "a painfully ordinary man/milquetoast, given to heroic daydreams rather than involvement in the real world."

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A spoonful of charm saves Mary Poppins, Disney and 'Mr. Banks'

Bert (Dick Van Dyke): I know a man with a wooden leg named Smith.

Uncle Albert (Ed Wynn): What's the name of his other leg?

Convulsive laughter greeted that line, from kids and adults alike. The timing was perfect, and the 1964 film -- like Mary Poppins herself -- was practically perfect in every way.

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`He Who Gets Slapped': Lon Chaney's lesser-known masterpiece gets a rare screening

 

            For some reason, people find nothing more amusing than seeing other people get slapped.  And in the long unhappy history of clowns, none is unhappier than “HE”---the one who gets slapped---in MGM’s first great feature-film production. Read more... about `He Who Gets Slapped': Lon Chaney's lesser-known masterpiece gets a rare screening

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