Movie Reviews

'Midnight in Paris': a charming Woody Allen rom-com in a gorgeous setting and context

Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams in Woody Allen's movie Midnight in Paris."

Anybody need a Cannes opener?

The French did, and Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris" lifted the lid quite nicely last month. Out popped a bon-bon of a rom-com that should now charm Yankee audiences as much as the Euro-chic.

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4

'Conspirator' explores conspiracy surrounding Lincoln's assassination

Robin Wright stars as Mary Surratt

April 14, 1865: Praise God, the Civil War -- worst and longest of all our national nightmares -- is over!

Not quite. Abraham Lincoln would have just 48 hours to savor Lee's formal surrender to Grant at Appomattox. A well-known actor would provide the bad American dream with a theatrical horror-show finale.

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4

'Of Gods and Men' weaves spiritual tale

'Of Gods and Men' weaves spiritual tale

"Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it for religious conviction."---Pascal

The eight monks at the Cistercian monastery live in -- if not the Garden -- at least a little Oasis of Eden.

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4

'Certified Copy' explores duplication of art, life

Is it a case of real or faux love between William Shimell and Juliette Binoche i

An attractive fortysomething Frenchwoman stumbles in late -- dragging her furious teenage son behind her -- to a stuffy Brit's lecture in Florence. He's there, as briefly as possible, to promote his seminal new work on original works of art vs. copies. The Great Author was, in fact, late for the book-signing himself and is so distracted that, at one point, he interrupts his own remarks to take a cell phone call.

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4

Dancers attempt to stop deportation

As a teen, my head was always spinning. Figuratively. The teenage heads of the Akkouch siblings are spinning literally -- and not just because they're virtuoso hip-hop dancers. They are also dancing around the daily threat of deportation.

"Neukolln Unlimited," a wonderful documentary about an extraordinarily talented German-Lebanese family, is one of the best offerings in the Carnegie Mellon Filmfest's ongoing "Faces of Migration" series, focusing on the agonies and ecstasies of immigrants all over the globe.

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4

Jewish Film fest offers baseball, inspiration and more

Amnon's Journey

 
The only way to fathom the enormity and monstrosity of the Holocaust is to celebrate the frail fragments of beauty and humanity preserved by its victims.
 
No finer example of that is to be found than in "Amnon's Journey," a powerful little documentary (just 52 minutes long) chronicling the work of master violin maker Amnon Weinstein. His life's passion: to locate and restore the precious few instruments that -- unlike their players -- survived the Nazi camps, ghettos and killing grounds.
 
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3

CMU's International Film Festival explores 'Faces of Migration'

 A terrific Eleanor Roosevelt anecdote -- and a timely one, today -- is how she opened her address to those blue-blooded DAR dames (Daughters of the American Revolution): "My fellow immigrants ..."

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3

Oscar-nominated shorts offer a little something for everyone

"Na Wewe" is among Oscar-nominated live-action shorts.

Oscar shorts are like Jockey shorts: They come in assorted sizes and styles to suit your taste, and they always contain something of live (if not animated) interest.

The two categories of film briefs have become my annual favorites, for their virtues of brevity and unpredictability. Thanks to the Pittsburgh Filmmakers, you'll have a chance to see the cream of 2010's Oscar-nominated crop -- animated and live-action -- digitally projected at the Regent Square, starting today.

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3

'Barney's Version' long on character but short on plot

Paul Giamatti, left, and Dustin Hoffman portray father and son in "Barney's Vers

I'm thinking "Jewish picaresque" -- in film form, at least -- is an oxymoron.

Not that Mordecai Richler's "Barney's Version" isn't entertaining. It could hardly fail to be, with Paul Giamatti chewing up the scenery and the cigars during a guided tour of his title character's love life and times.

Vote: 
2.4

"Biutiful" looks at one man's flawed but beautiful life

Javier Bardem as Uxbal in "Biutiful."

"To make God laugh, tell him your plans." -- Mexican proverb

Everything about "Biutiful" -- starting with its title -- is unnerving and idiosyncratic, as are all of virtuoso director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's tragic visions. His vision here concerns nothing less than a doomed man's struggle to reconcile fatherhood, love, crime, guilt, death and the afterlife.

A rather jam-packed agenda.

Vote: 
3.5

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