Movie Reviews

'Dangerous Method' analyzes the twisted psychoanalytic trio of Freud, Jung and Spielrein

John Huston's "Freud," with Montgomery Clift in the title role, was underrated by the critics and under-respected by the college freshmen with whom I saw it in the mid-1960s. During the scene where Monty gives Susannah York a sexy new negligee, one wise guy shouted out, "Hey, it's a Freudian slip!"

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Glenn Close is superb in gender-bending 'Albert Nobbs'

Glenn or Glenda?

The answer in 19th-century Ireland echoes that of 21st-century America: It's about jobs, stupid!

Albert Nobbs has a painfully constricting one as butler-waiter-valet in a Dublin hotel, whose pretentious proprietress is always on the lookout and ready to dismiss her staffers for any real or imagined infraction. But she has no need to worry about Albert. He is ultra-meticulous, by inclination and necessity.

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'Tomboy': French gender-bender coming-of-age story in 'Mockingbird' tradition

Now that the Thanksgiving and Christmas-Hanukkah seasons are behind us, the cross-dressing season is upon us and our movie screens. The big-budget Anglo-American entry -- "Albert Nobbs," with Glenn Close -- opens next week.

The subtler little French one is "Tomboy," opening Friday. Its titular heroine is 10-year-old Laure (Zoe Heran), whose family has just moved to a new home and life in the suburbs. How to fit in and find new friends there during the summer break before school starts?

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'The Mill' explores Bruegel's Passion of Christ

Charlotte Rampling as Mary in "The Mill and the Cross."

Virtuoso Polish director Lech Majewski's "The Mill and the Cross" is a moving picture in three senses: It gives motion to a 16th-century oil painting. It translates the artist's unique storytelling technique from canvas to cinema. And the resultant narrative cannot fail to move its viewers viscerally.

Which is not to say it's easy viewing ... or reviewing. But it is perhaps the most extraordinary visual experience of this fiscal-filmic year.

The canvas we literally enter and inhabit here is "The Way to Calvary," by Pieter Bruegel (1525-69), the Flemish Renaissance master of landscapes and peasant genre scenes. His potent subject is Christ's Passion, set "locally" during the brutal Spanish occupation of the Low Countries. The Reformation was then flourishing in Flanders, and Catholic inquisitor forces pursued Protestants with a vengeance: Male heretics were executed by sword or torture; female heretics were buried alive.

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Robert Downey Jr.'s manic manifestation of Holmes continues in 'Game of Shadows'

The anarchists are coming, the anarchists are coming! All across 1890s Europe, bombings and assassinations are stirring up a new industrial-strength war between Germany and France for the fun and profit of evil international munitions makers. Looks like a job for -- Sleuth-Man.

Anarchy characterizes the medium as much as the message in "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows," the frenetic sequel to director Guy Ritchie's frenetic 2009 entry, with Robert Downey Jr. reprising his eccentric incarnation of the world's greatest forensic freelancer on steroids.

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'Skin I Live In' peels perverse layers of sex, obsession and revenge

Snakes have had a bad rap ever since the Book of Genesis hit the stands. Do one bad thing, and suddenly you're the eternal embodiment of evil, with the creepy ability to shed and replace your skin. When Flesh and the Devil are so intertwined, in and out of the Garden of Eden, that's a highly useful skill. Humans don't come by it naturally. They need the help of a very good plastic surgeon -- or a very malevolent one.

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Scorsese's 3-D 'Hugo' a visual tour de force

Asa Butterfield and Chloe Moretz in "Hugo."

Leave it to Martin Scorsese to redeem the wretched excess of 3-D. Unlike James Cameron's "Avatar," "Hugo" is not a bloated 3-D spectacle. It is, rather, the first movie to integrate the spectacular 3-D device naturally into the telling of a beautiful story.

It must be nice to be Mr. Scorsese at this point in his legendary career -- to be able to do what you want. And it's correspondingly nice to be his audience.

What Mr. Scorsese wants nowadays in general -- with "Hugo" in particular -- is to celebrate the history and magic of film itself. He found a perfect vehicle to do so in author-artist Brian Selznick's 2007 book, "The Invention of Hugo Cabret," whose elaborately detailed illustrations served as a ready-made storyboard for the film.

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'The Rum Diary' raises a glass to Johnny Depp and Hunter S. Thompson

Friday, October 28, 2011

"The Rum Diary" -- Hunter S. Thompson's first novel -- chronicles the late great gonzo journalist's fear and loathing in Puerto Rico, where he sought a freelance reporting gig at San Juan's not-so-great English-language newspaper. It opens in the fabulous fall of 1960, when miracles could still happen, with a couple prescient predictions.

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'From Morning to Midnight' (1920) speaks volumes- when accompanied by Alloy Orchestra

From Morning to Midnight

The 2011 Three Rivers Film Festival's closing-night event is a humdinger, and Boston's acclaimed Alloy Orchestra will be here to help with the humming at the premiere of a bizarre and brand new silent film.

That oxymoronic "new" silent is the recently rediscovered and restored German expressionist masterpiece "From Morning to Midnight" ("Von Morgens bis Mitternachts") of 1920. Alloy Orchestra will perform a live soundtrack for a single screening of it -- Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Regent Square Theater. It's the most visually astonishing pre-sound film I've seen since, roughly, the Eisenhower administration.

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'Joanna' tells a haunting tale

'Joanna' tells a haunting tale

The sudden and permanent disappearance of loved ones -- so appallingly common in Poland during World War II -- was an unspeakable thing for adults, an unthinkable one for children. But they are forced to do much painful thinking and speaking about it in director Feliks Falk's "Joanna."

The title character of this gut-wrenching drama, set in Krakow during the Nazi occupation, is a gentle young woman whose soldier-husband has not been heard from since the first days of the war. Joanna (Urszula Grabowska), a devout Catholic and an optimist, is better off than most: She has an education, a large comfy apartment and strong family support.

But she also has a brave -- most would say foolishly soft -- heart, which leads her to shelter a little Jewish girl named Roza (Sara Knothe), whose mother was caught during a vicious Nazi round-up.

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