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items tagged with Richard LaGravenese

Forgotten, but Not Gone: "Still Alice" and "The Last Five Years"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2015-02-23 15:23:00

Kristen Stewart and Julianne Moore in Still AliceSTILL ALICE

In Still Alice, newly minted Oscar winner Julianne Moore plays Alice Howland, a 50-year-old recently diagnosed with a hereditary form of Alzheimer’s. At one point in the movie, after a series of not-bad days and pretty-awful ones, Alice and her family attend an off-Broadway production of The Three Sisters starring the youngest Howland daughter, Lydia (Kristen Stewart). We see Lydia enact Chekhov’s dialogue with appropriate, impressive anxiety and fortitude, and our view of Alice in the audience suggests that she sees it, too. After the play ends, the family goes backstage to congratulate Lydia, and Alice, with carefully chosen words, praises her daughter for her complex rendering of Chekhovian heart and humanity. Lydia smiles and blushes; this might be the most interest her mother has ever shown in her acting career. Then Alice asks what play Lydia is doing next, and whether she’ll be sticking around New York much longer. And in the reaction shot that follows, the heartbreak in Lydia’s eyes verifies what we immediately suspect: Alice, at this moment, has no idea who Lydia is.


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True Defective: "Unbroken," "The Imitation Game," and "Big Eyes"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2014-12-29 01:20:46

Jack O'Connell in UnbrokenUNBROKEN, THE IMITATION GAME, and BIG EYES

Among other titles, Christmas Day brought with it the area releases of Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken, Morten Tyldum’s The Imitation Game, and Tim Burton’s Big Eyes. Each of them opens with a title-card variant on “This is a true story.” Each of them ends with a series of title cards informing us what happened to characters after the films’ narratives concluded. And each of them, for occasional better and more frequent worse, feels absolutely, 100-percent Hollywood.


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Caster Roiled: "Beautiful Creatures" and "A Good Day to Die Hard"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2013-02-17 23:28:25

Viola Davis, Alice Englert, and Alden Ehrenreich in Beautiful CreaturesBEAUTIFUL CREATURES

As it concerns a sensitive high-schooler who enters a world of trouble after falling for a moodier version of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, it should come as no shock to learn that the supernatural romance Beautiful Creatures is based on the first in a series of popular young-adult novels. But while I’d never argue that the YA-lit genre is completely humorless, surely the gender-reversed Twilight knock-off by co-authors Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl can’t be as legitimately, intentionally hilarious as this big-screen adaptation, right?


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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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Multi(plex)-Tasking: "National Treasure: Book of Secrets," "The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep," "P.S. I Love You," "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story," and "AVPR: Aliens vs. Predator - Requiem"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2008-01-02 08:22:22

Nicolas Cage and Diane Kruger in National Treasure: Book of SecretsNATIONAL TREASURE: BOOK OF SECRETS

National Treasure: Book of Secrets, the follow-up to 2004's globe-trotting-archaeologist adventure, could generously be termed "perfunctory"; it gives (family) audiences exactly the formulaic, Indiana Jones-lite action, romance, and humor they adored in the original. It could also, less generously, be described as "crummy," as returning director Jon Turteltaub ensures that every remedially staged sequence has the same bland, going-through-the-motions tone as the one that came before. (At least its predecessor provided a few jokes.)


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