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Film Reviews

  • Leonard Maltin
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    film review: Barney's Version

    Paul Giamatti is one of those actors whose presence in a movie generally validates it, and Barney’s Version is no exception. He manages to make a central character with few—if any—admirable traits not only bearable but downright compelling. And if this Barney strays from the way Mordecai Richler pai...

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    film review: Blue Valentine

    Two daring performances make Blue Valentine a standout, even if the film’s reach somewhat exceeds its grasp. Director and co-writer Derek Cianfrance attempts to explore the beginning and end of an intimate relationship, hopscotching back and forth in time from the couple’s first meeti...

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    film review: Another Year

    I look forward to a Mike Leigh movie the way some readers anticipate a new novel by their favorite author. But unlike some writers who hew to comfortable formulas, Leigh always cooks up something different; you never know what to expect. The most obvious common thread in his work is the appearance of familiar actors from his informal stock company, many of whom have won honors for their work in his pictures (Marianne Jean-Baptiste in Secrets & Lies, Imelda Staunton in Vera Drake, Sally Hawkins in Happy-Go-Lucky, et al). The deeper through-line is his concern with ordinary people, usually from the working class, in a throwback to Englan...

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    Scanning The Movie Year

    Like any critic, I have an ego: it comes with the territory, or I couldn’t express my opinion with confidence. Imagine what it’s like, then, to sit in a room with forty other critics—each one certain and confident—and try to reach a consensus, as I do with my colleagues in the Los Angeles Film Criti...

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    film review—THE ILLUSIONIST

    I have nothing but admiration for Sylvain Chomet’s The Illusionist, a heartfelt homage to the great filmmaker and comedic artist Jacques Tati, based on one of his unproduced screenplays. But I wanted to love the film wholeheartedly, and I didn’t.

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    film review—TRUE GRIT

    The Coen Brothers want to have their cake and eat it, too. They apparently intend some of their adaptation of True Grit to play believably, and some of it to reflect the ironic distance for which they’re so well known. That’s a tough two-step to pull off, and they almost get away with it.

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    film review: SOMEWHERE

    I count Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation as one of my favorite films of the decade, and I have great respect for her other pictures—except for the one at hand. Somewhere, which somehow won the Golden Lion at this year’s Venice Film Festival, strikes me as a non-movie, an utte...

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    film review—RABBIT HOLE

    A film about a couple trying to get over the loss of their young son is not likely to generate what marketers call a high “want-to-see” factor. But when the story is told with care, honesty, and even moments of humor that reflect the unpredictability—and absurdity—of life, it deserves to be seen.

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    film review—TRON LEGACY

    If you’re old enough to remember seeing Tron when it came out in 1982, you may understand why I wasn’t chomping at the bit to see this much-hyped sequel. Tron was revolutionary in its use of computer graphics to place Jeff Bridges into a videogame environment—and that was definitely cool. But even c...

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    film review—HOW DO YOU KNOW

    If you admire such films as Broadcast News, Terms of Endearment, and As Good as it Gets, as I do, you’ll be rooting for James L. Brooks to score another bull’s-eye with his latest effort. But it’s clear pretty early on that How Do You Know is a muddled misfire: a tiresome, talky romantic comedy abou...

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