Movie Reviews

'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.”

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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Slick 'Kingsman' well-suited to juveniles

By Barry Paris / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Welcome to the pseudo-o-o-7 universe — 007.2, if you prefer — in which the classic James Bond film is deconstructed (and “celebrated”) by combining it with today’s dominant comic-book movie genre. For better or worse.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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