Movie Reviews

'Robot & Frank' surprises with its humanity---and Frank Langella's performance

Ex-burglar Frank Langella comes to rely on his Robot for more than caretaking in

In the ambiguous "near future" of a clever caper called "Robot & Frank," old codgers such as Frank are not scared -- just annoyed -- by the latest technological gadgets, which are only slightly higher-tech than today's. More annoying than the technology are the young technocrats, who are phasing out all obsolete "printed matter" at his local library.

"What's the point of a library if you can't check out books?" asks Frank (Frank Langella). Read more... about 'Robot & Frank' surprises with its humanity---and Frank Langella's performance

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'Well-Digger's Daughter': lovely French remake of a lovely Pagnol original

Daniel Auteuil is a widowed father of six daughters in "The Well-Digger's Daught

At its emotional and visual best, film can sweep us away, on the wings of a strong story and characters, to a time and place wondrously different from our own.

No stories and characters are stronger than those of Marcel Pagnol, whose novels were turned into the gorgeous diptych of "Jean de Florette" and "Manon of the Spring" (1986). Those films co-starred Daniel Auteuil, who has turned himself into a deft actor-director with "The Well-Digger's Daughter," a lovely remake of Pagnol's 1941 original. Read more... about 'Well-Digger's Daughter': lovely French remake of a lovely Pagnol original

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'Take This Waltz' steps deftly through a marriage losing steam

Margot and Lou have been happily married for five years, yet there are some issues. There are always marital issues. But they're not always rendered as skillfully and provocatively as in Canadian director Sarah Polley's "Take This Waltz."

She sets the stage with an opening party -- and post-party-partum discussion -- in her characters' idyllic Toronto home.

"Say something," says Margot (Michelle Williams) after they've cleaned up.

"Why?" asks Lou (Seth Rogen).

"So we can have a conversation -- why don't you ask me how I'm doing?" Read more... about 'Take This Waltz' steps deftly through a marriage losing steam

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`Chinese Take Away': Mutually unintelligible odd couple forms a bond

The chances of being struck by lightning or getting hit by a meteor---or of a cow falling out of an airplane and landing on top of you---are small. But not quite zero.

That's the kind of thing curmudgeonly Roberto ponders, and the kind of stories he clips out of the newspaper, to confirm his pessimistic worldview in "Chinese Take-Away," a bittersweet dramedy of cross-cultural incomprehension from Argentine director Sebastian Borensztein. Read more... about `Chinese Take Away': Mutually unintelligible odd couple forms a bond

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Film noir 'Elena': a grim Russian tale of post-crime, pre-punishment

Intramural class warfare is the name of the game in "Elena," a provocative film-noir tale of post-Putin Russia, set in a palatial glass-and-chrome exurban manse that is so post-modern, it's pre-Apocalyptic.

Are you keeping track of all the pre-and-post modifiers? You'll need to:

Sixty-somethings Vladimir and Elena come from diametrically different backgrounds. He's a wealthy retired technocrat, cold and detached. She's his former nurse, a product of the working class -- now his dowdy, docile, dutiful wife. Read more... about Film noir 'Elena': a grim Russian tale of post-crime, pre-punishment

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'A Cat in Paris': more beautiful than poignant animation

Cat burglars are only human -- unless they're actual cats. Dino, the titular "Cat in Paris," has only two rather than nine lives, but that's plenty: By day he is a little girl's cuddly pet. By night he's a high-end thief's aide par excellence.

Co-directors Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol served up this charming entry, which was Oscar-nominated for best animated feature of 2012. It lost out to Gore Verbinski's "Rango" but, thanks to Pittsburgh Filmmakers, is now available for your inspection---French animation at its best. Read more... about 'A Cat in Paris': more beautiful than poignant animation

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'A Cat in Paris' is more beautiful than poignant

By Barry Paris Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Cat burglars are only human -- unless they're actual cats. Dino, the titular "Cat in Paris," has only two rather than nine lives, but that's plenty: By day he's a little girl's cuddly pet. By night he's a high-end thief's aide par excellence. Read more... about 'A Cat in Paris' is more beautiful than poignant

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Woody Allen's 'To Rome With Love': singing in the shower rather than the rain

City valentines are a film staple. Roman and Parisian holidays abound on screen, as do cinematic "Adventures" in Manhattan, London, Lisbon, Rio -- just about everywhere except Pyongyang. Now comes the postman with the Woodman's charming love letter to the immortal pines, fountains and schlemiels of Rome.

Woody Allen's 45th movie, "To Rome With Love," opens with Deano's velvet-voiced "Volare" while an Italian police officer (channeling Pittsburgh's own Vic Cianca) artfully choreographs traffic at the intersection of four stories: Read more... about Woody Allen's 'To Rome With Love': singing in the shower rather than the rain

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Norwegian thriller 'Headhunters': A Nordic, black-comic `Pulp Fiction'

A kind of Nordic "Pulp Fiction" -- with more twists and turns than Saw Mill Run Boulevard -- is on hand in "Headhunters," the new black-comic crime thriller from Norwegian director Morten Tyldum.

We must climb every mountain and fjord every stream of a complex plot involving Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie), the most infamous corporate recruiter in Norway. A smooth-talking, supremely self-confident scoundrel, Roger prides himself on "never having given a client any advice that he hasn't followed" -- or hunted a head he didn't land. Read more... about Norwegian thriller 'Headhunters': A Nordic, black-comic `Pulp Fiction'

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Jack Black's 'Bernie' offers blissful bereavement

Nobody has a bad word to say about Bernie, so deeply involved in the life and deaths of his community. He's the most beloved resident of tiny Carthage, Texas -- and not just for his impeccable skills as a funeral director. On top of attention to bereavement detail (and innovations like the climactic release of a white dove during interment), Bernie teaches Sunday school, sings in the church choir, directs and stars in the town's amateur musicals, and coaches its Little League team -- always lending a helping hand, always going that extra step. Read more... about Jack Black's 'Bernie' offers blissful bereavement

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