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items tagged with Documentaries

Mississippi Yearning: "The Help" and "Glee: The 3D Concert Movie"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2011-08-14 18:16:01

Emma Stone, Octavia Spencer, and Viola Davis in The HelpTHE HELP

Based on Kathryn Stockett’s much-loved bestseller, The Help concerns the tenuous relationships between black domestic workers and their privileged white employers in early-’60s Mississippi, and it’s a fairly obvious movie, with director Tate Taylor opting for broad brushstrokes over subtlety, and the occasionally wrenching drama sitting, rather uncomfortably, alongside klutzy jokiness. Yet offhand, I can’t think of another popular entertainment whose flaws matter less than this film’s, because everything that’s lacking in the picture is more than made up for in the fearless, emotionally precise, and oftentimes devastating portrayals of Taylor’s cast. The Help is easy to complain about, but all it takes is one of the magnificent Viola Davis’ fierce, tearful stares – or a blast of Octavia Spencer’s anger, or a flash of Emma Stone’s heartbreak, or a burst of Jessica Chastain’s joy – to make your complaints feel positively moot.


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Cirque du Soulful: "Water for Elephants," "Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family," "Rio," and "African Cats"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2011-04-24 04:27:54

Robert Pattinson in Water for ElephantsWATER FOR ELEPHANTS

After his where’s-my-paycheck? turn in The Green Hornet, I was mildly concerned that, following his Oscar-winning Inglourious Basterds portrayal, Christoph Waltz might be resigned to a career of forever playing Euro-trashy über-villains in Hollywood action dreck. With director Francis Lawrence’s Water for Elephants, though – a Depression-era romance based on Sara Gruen’s beloved novel – my fears have proved unfounded. As the egomaniacal, possibly sociopathic owner and ringleader of a second-tier traveling circus, enraged by the blossoming affections between his star-performer wife (Reese Witherspoon) and the troupe’s young veterinarian (Robert Pattinson), Waltz is every bit as mesmerizing – charming, unpredictable, terrifying – as he was in Quentin Tarantino’s World War II opus. Yet fantastic though he is, Waltz’s talents here aren’t a shock. The bigger surprise is that the movie itself is so bloody marvelous.


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Biebermania: "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never," "The Eagle," "Just Go with It," and "Gnomeo & Juliet"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2011-02-13 20:26:40

Justin Bieber in Justin Bieber: Never Say NeverJUSTIN BIEBER: NEVER SAY NEVER

Leave it to that great Socratic thinker Ozzy Osbourne, in a recent TV commercial, to ask the question that’s been on many a middle-aged mind of late: “What’s a Bieber?”


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Hare, Hare!: “Rabbit Hole,” “Sanctum,” “The Ultimate Wave: Tahiti,” and “The Roommate”
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2011-02-06 22:04:59

Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart in Rabbit HoleRABBIT HOLE

John Cameron Mitchell’s Rabbit Hole, which stars Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart as a married couple coping with the loss of their four-year-old son, is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by screenwriter David Lindsay-Abaire, and there’s probably not much reason for the film to exist. Happily, though, it appears that nobody brought that to the director’s or the author’s attention, because as unnecessary movies go, Rabbit Hole is a mostly exemplary one – a stagey yet emotionally incisive, ultimately cathartic experience blessed with the sort of powerhouse cast that could never be assembled, in full, on a stage.


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Schadenfreude-ian Slips: “Inside Job,” “Dogtooth,” and “The Mechanic”
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2011-01-30 22:16:31

Elliot Spitzer in Inside JobINSIDE JOB

You might not think that director Charles Ferguson’s Inside Job, the newly (and deservedly) Oscar-nominated documentary about 2008’s global economic meltdown, would offer much in the way of participatory, audience-goosing entertainment. After all, this isn’t exactly a Michael Moore doc we’re dealing with here. Employing dozens of lucid, well-reasoned interviews with financial experts and reams of statistics and graphs, Ferguson’s strong, angry, yet level-headed explanation of our current financial crisis is the polar opposite, in temperament and tone, of a Fahrenheit 9/11 or Capitalism: A Love Story. But while the experience of the impeccably photographed, sharply edited Inside Job is a mostly dead-serious one, damn but my audience appeared to have a good time at it – or, perhaps it’s more appropriate to say, a cathartic time.


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