Movies Articles

Character Is King

Abe Vigoda, master of the second fiddle.
Feb 08, 2016

There’s a great joke about acting. One actor says to another actor, Hey, I just got cast in Hamlet. The other actor says, I know this is embarrassing, but I've never read or seen it. What's it about? The first one says, It's about this guy, Gravedigger #2 .  .  .

Nobody goes into acting to specialize in small parts, just as no one seeks a career as a middle-inning reliever in baseball or as a third-string quarterback in football. All actors want to be stars, the fixed points around which all other action revolves, onstage and off.

Stars are the primary recipients of the fame and adoration all performers falsely believe will sate the desperate hunger for attention that drives them to expose

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Star Wars, Nothing But Star Wars

Tomorrow is the day!
5:02 PM, Dec 17, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens wide at midnight tonight and I don't want to get out over my skis here, but it's pretty much the most important movie in the history of cinema.

There are plenty of reasons for this. Along with Jaws, the original Star Wars changed the economics of film, ushering in the era of mass-release, tent-pole films. Even more so than Jaws, the original Star Wars created an enormous legacy: It inaugurated a hugely popular genre. It pioneered industrial-grade movie-merchandizing. It became so thoroughly embedded in the culture that characters (Darth Vader), images (the Death Star), and phrases ("May the Force be with you.") are still part of our societal consciousness forty years later.

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Doomsday Machine

Moviegoing heads for the exit
Mar 23, 2015

Will anyone go to the movies 25 years from now? Will there even be movie theaters 25 years from now? These are not idle questions. New research from the Motion Picture Association of America shows how the moviegoing audience of those between the ages of 25 and 39 has contracted precipitously—dropping almost 25 percent over the past four years.

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Patton's Pathetic Pandering

Patton Oswalt tries desperately to regain his fans.
3:01 PM, Jan 27, 2015

It’s been several weeks since the actor and comedian Patton Oswalt (you may remember him from his star turn as “Toast A Bun Manager” in 2009’s Observe and Report) outraged his tens of thousands of Twitter followers with the following suggestion

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The Ongoing 'American Sniper' Freakout

1:04 PM, Jan 27, 2015

Last week, I wrote about how the professional left was attacking Clint Eastwood's new biopic about Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle. American Sniper is almost exclusively about the struggles and heroism of one remarkable man who fought in the Iraq war, but the film's critics can't seem to forgive the fact a film was made about the war on terror that mostly eschewed politics and didn't go out of its way to attack Bush-Cheney and/or denounce American imperialism.

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A Star Is Born

By any measure, you won’t forget Gugu Mbatha-Raw
Jan 05, 2015

Who is the best young actress in the movies? The obvious answer is Jennifer Lawrence, all of 24 and with a deserved Oscar to her credit for Silver Linings Playbook and a second she should have won for her supporting role in American Hustle.

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The Big Slide

Fans aren’t exactly flocking to the cineplex
Sep 22, 2014

The summer of 2014 confirms it: Hollywood is dying. By “Hollywood,” I mean the industry that produces mainstream, conventional movies that are made and distributed by big studios.

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Edge of Oblivion

For Tom Cruise, from top gun to second fiddle?
Jun 23, 2014

Movie stars go cold. It’s part of the way popular culture works. For a long time, people just love watching them. People can’t get enough of them. And then, after they go to the well once too often with a formula that has gone flat, or after their messy personal lives get all mixed up in the characters they’re playing, stars become even slightly distasteful.

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Valerie Jarrett to Hollywood to Get Obamacare in Movie, TV Scripts

'I'm a really good nag.'
10:46 AM, Mar 28, 2014

A top of advisor to President Barack Obama is in Los Angeles to try to get Obamacare written into scripts of TV shows and movies. Valerie Jarrett explained in an appearance on Top That! on

"That's the cool thing," a host said to the presidential advisor. "You've been reaching out to people that are, you know, outside of the norm of what the president might work with. Who else are you working with? Like celebrities, personalities, things like that?"

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Harold Ramis, 1944-2014

2:31 PM, Feb 26, 2014

Harold Ramis died on Monday morning. Having written, directed (or written and directed) five of the funniest movies of the last 40 years, I think it's safe to put him on the short list for Funniest Guy of His Generation.

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If Memory Serves

Familiar premise (art heist) meets tired device (amnesia).
Apr 22, 2013

Trance has to be judged one of the great disappointments in recent cinema, given that it is only the second movie Danny Boyle has made since Slumdog Millionaire. That Oscar-winning worldwide smash may have been the best film of the past decade.

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Obama on Ebert: 'Roger Was the Movies'

3:49 PM, Apr 04, 2013

President Obama released the following statement on the passing of film critic Roger Ebert:

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I See Nothing

The busy life, and the busier television schedule, call for desperate measures.
Mar 04, 2013

Someone living in Barack Obama’s America, circa 2013, says these words to you: “I’m so behind.” In previous epochs—say, the Age of Lewinsky, or of disco—this might mean any number of things. A person might have failed to collate the year’s receipts for his accountant. Another might not have completed the longitudinal analysis necessary for her dissertation. A third might not have cleaned out the attic.

No longer. In Barack Obama’s America, those words refer to only one thing: the inability to keep up-to-date with a serialized television program.

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Sing You Sinners

There are bumps along the way, but Les Misérables is worth the trip.
Jan 14, 2013

Les Misérables grabs you by the lapels from the first moment and never lets you go. In this respect it is little different from the stage musical from which it derives—and not so different from the Victor Hugo novel from which the stage musical derives.

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The Blessings of Liberty

Secured by immense power.
Dec 10, 2012

The Fandom Tollbooth

Calculating the price of obsession.
Oct 15, 2012

"What really matters,” said Rob (John Cusack) in High Fidelity, “is what you like, not what you are like. Books, records, films—these things matter.” 

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Passeth Understanding

An impressive rendition of nothing at all.
Oct 15, 2012

When a movie receives rave reviews from critics who say they need to see it again to understand it fully, you should treat such a recommendation as though you were Will Robinson from the old 1960s TV show Lost in Space hearing his friendly robot companion as it flails its accordion-like arms and shout

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Dim Viewer

Philip Terzian, the non-moviegoer
Oct 15, 2012

I recall an interview with William Faulkner in which he said that he didn’t read books but read in books, the distinction being that he seldom consumed a volume from start to finish but preferred to stick his toes in here and there, read favorite chapters over and over, proceeding from finish to start if necessary. 

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Try, Try Again

Sometimes the trip back to the drawing board is worth the trouble.
Sep 24, 2012

A new zombie movie called World War Z starring Brad Pitt and budgeted at $150 million won’t be coming to your local multiplex anytime soon, even though it was originally supposed to premiere this Christmas. Nor will the sequel to the G. I. Joe movie I’m sure you didn’t see, which cost $125 million and was due for release in June. And there’s a martial arts film with Keanu Reeves called 47 Ronin, which no sane person over the age of 9 would choose to see, originally set for theaters this year—and not in theaters this year.

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Energy Secretary Reviews Avengers on Facebook, Sees Promise of Green Energy in Hollywood Movie

Chu thumbs up!
1:31 PM, May 18, 2012

Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, a recipient of the Nobel Prize for Physics, takes to Facebook today to review the Avengers, a movie about a bunch of superheroes banding together to save the world, “which focuses on a new, limitless clean energy source called ‘The Tesseract,’” according to Chu.

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Hooverville Blues

How to turn an interesting career into a preposterous film.
Nov 28, 2011

There are important discoveries to be made when you see J. Edgar, Clint Eastwood’s new film about the progenitor of the FBI. I’m not referring to the movie’s wild speculations about Hoover’s supposed homosexuality, of which there is not a shred of proof—but the bald assertion of which allows director Eastwood and screenwriter Duncan Lance Black to feature a torrid kiss between Hoover and his longtime aide Clyde Tolson.

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White House Compromising Intelligence with bin Laden Movie?

12:32 PM, Aug 10, 2011

Did the Obama administration compromise intelligence and sensitive military information by giving a Hollywood director high level access to details of the killing of Osama bin Laden? That’s what Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, wants to investigate.

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Say, What?

Movies make plenty of noise, but don’t speak to us.
Aug 01, 2011

Do movies matter? 

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President Obama, Harry Potter Fan!

3:04 PM, Jul 21, 2011

First lady Michelle Obama, at a Joining Forces screening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two earlier today, revealed that her husband, Barack Obama, is a fan of the megahit Harry Potter series.

"How many Harry Potter fans are here?" Michelle Obama asked the crowd. "How many people have read all the books and seen all the movies? Well, you’re right along with the president and my girls. They’ve seen the movie already. They lined right up."

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Movie Horror

Genocide and supernatural powers don’t mix.
Jun 20, 2011

X-Men: First Class

Directed by Matthew Vaughn

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Weekend Movies!

4:01 PM, May 27, 2011

Kari Barbic reviews Kung Fu Panda 2 in the Washington Times:

Po and the Fabulous Five are back, and they are kung fu fighting in 3-D this time around in “Kung Fu Panda 2,” which stays true to the style and humor of the original as it continues the journey of the unexpected Dragon Warrior.

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At the Movies: The Princess of Montpensier, The Human Resources Manager, and Fast Five

4:00 PM, Apr 29, 2011

THE WEEKLY STANDARD's Kelly Jane Torrance reviews three new films this weekend for The Washington Examiner. First up is the French film The Princess of Montpensier:

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In a League of Her Own

Geena Davis's crusade to clean up TV.
11:55 AM, Apr 13, 2011

On Monday, the Wall Street Journal ran a special section reporting on the paper’s recent conference entitled “Women in the Economy: An Executive Task Force.” One of the taskforce members was Geena Davis, the Academy Award winning actress and more recently founder of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. The Journal noted that Ms. Davis, “has become an advocate of gender equality in children’s entertainment” and a critic in general of gender portrayal in film and in preschool programming.

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'Hanna' Rests on Ronan's Narrow Shoulders

5:00 PM, Apr 11, 2011

Kelly Jane Torrance reviews Joe Wright's new movie, Hanna:

Films are sometimes described as "vehicles" for the big names that headline them. "Arthur," the remake of the 1981 film that opened this weekend, was made simply to showcase the outsize personality of Russell Brand. It's not often a film looks like a vehicle for a young, relatively new talent -- let alone one with a name few Americans can even pronounce.

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The Beauty Part

Elizabeth Taylor, 1932-2011.
Apr 04, 2011

A few years ago, on Turner Classic Movies, I came upon a 1952 MGM movie called Love Is Better Than Ever that was entirely unknown to me. It turned out to be a delightful romantic comedy about a fast-talking press agent whose head is turned by a young dancer. The press agent is always insulting the dancer: “Ah, I see you took your ugly pill today,” he says, or “Hey, hideous.” It doesn’t sound very nice, but she doesn’t take it personally, and those of us watching completely understand why he’s doing it and why she doesn’t take offense. This ordinary-looking guy has to do something to cope with the fact that he is in

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