Monthly Archives: December 2013

Diary of a Country Priest (French, 1951)

I tell my film students to give themselves over to whatever film they’re watching; let the film draw you into its world and take you for whatever ride it wants. Perhaps no film is more challenging for a modern audience … Continue reading

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Philomena

In the midst of noise, overused special effects and all that Oscar bait sits Philomena, a small-to-medium sized film of great talent, beautiful moments, some confusing turns and the inimitable Judi Dench. Philomena tells the true story of a woman … Continue reading

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American Hustle

In some ways, American Hustle reminded me of Joe Wright’s 2012 version of Anna Karenina. Wright burst onto the international scene with a thoughtful and wildly entertaining Pride and Prejudice in 2005, followed by 2007’s Atonement, which was occasionally too … Continue reading

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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

The good news is that this middle film of the trilogy is a great improvement over The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Director Peter Jackson has forsaken, thankfully, his use of 48-frames-per-second, which created a plastic, video look to the sets, … Continue reading

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Saving Mr. Banks

Saving Mr. Banks is the story of the creative tug of war between Walt Disney and P.L. Travers, the author and protector of Mary Poppins, which Disney had tried to turn into a film for nearly two decades. It’s soft … Continue reading

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Blonde Venus (1932) and Applause (1929)

Sometimes the vagaries of a changing personal schedule can provide opportunities for comparisons that wouldn’t be discernible otherwise. Being a bona fide film nerd, I am always catching up films I haven’t seen at all or in a while. Finishing … Continue reading

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The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Yes, it’s true. The second in the series is a better film than the first. It’s leaner, tougher and grittier—the elements the first lacked to its detriment. And yes, it helps if you have seen the first one. (In fact, … Continue reading

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