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Michel Piccoli in Nanni Moretti's "We Have a Pope"

What if they picked a new Pope, but the chosen cardinal didn’t want the job and fled? That’s the basic conceit behind We Have a Pope (Habemus Papam) by writer/director Nanni Moretti (The Son’s Room). It’s a fertile set up for a religious farce, but Moretti has something a little more thoughtful in mind. There (read…)

Francois Damiens and Audrey Tautou in "Delicacy"

Francois Damiens and Audrey Tautou in Delicacy [Delicacy previously opened in New York on March 14th and finally lands in Los Angeles on April 6] Just when I think every romantic bone in my body has been filleted, a movie comes along to remind me that deep down I’m still kind of a sap. Not (read…)

Carrie MacLemore, Greta Gerwig and Megalyn Echikunwoke in Whit Stillman's "Damsels in Distress" (2012)

Carrie MacLemore, Greta Gerwig and Megalyn Echikunwoke are Damsels in Distress “You know the saying ‘Prevention is 9/10ths the cure?’ Well, in suicide it’s actually 10/10ths.” – Violet Whit Stillman’s fourth film, and his first since 1998’s The Last Days of Disco, is about relationships. It’s about suicide prevention. It’s about international dance crazes (the (read…)

Alex Libby in Lee Hirsch's "Bully" (2012)

Alex Libby, one of five stories in Lee Hirsch’s Bully Lee Hirsch’s powerful new documentary Bully movingly tells the story of five kids who are among the more than 13 million children the Department of Education estimates are bullied in schools each year. On one hand, it’s true that bullying of one form or another (read…)


Terence Davies returns to the bad old good old days of post-War England by way of Terrence Rattigan’s 1952 play The Deep Blue Sea. Against the backdrop of an emotionally repressed and class conscious country still reeling from the deprivations of war but with the social revolution of the 1960s not yet in sight, a (read…)

Jennifer Lawrence in "The Hunger Games"

The first Living in Cinema rule for literary adaptations, also known as The Da Vinci Code Rule, says that a movie shouldn’t feel like it takes longer to watch than the book upon which it is based took to read. Clocking in at almost 2 1/2 hours and feeling even longer, The Hunger Games is (read…)

Bobby Liebling

[Note: Last Days Here previously opened in New York on March 2nd. I’m reviewing it now in anticipation of the film’s LA premiere Friday night at Cinefamily on Fairfax, just up the street from Canter’s Delicatessen, home of the best corned beef reuben in Los Angeles. Filmmaker Don Argott and his producer Sheena Joyce will (read…)

Iko Uwais in Gareth Evans' "The Raid: Redemption"

Iko Uwais in Gareth Evans’ The Raid: Redemption The blazing Indonesian martial arts flick The Raid: Redemption from Welshman Gareth Evans (Merantau) burst onto the scene to breathless reviews at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2011. All too often, however, genre pictures that are endlessly hyped on the festival circuit wind up disappointing when (read…)

Will Ferrell and Genesis Rodriguez in "Casa de Mi Padre"

Clocking in at a reported budget of $6 million (brought to you in glorious Mexico-Scope!), Will Ferrell’s gleefully stupid Casa de mi Padre certainly delivers more laughs per dollar spent than most comedies, though that’s not to say it quite achieves the status of absurdist comedy classic. A Spanish-language mixture of Mexican telenovela and some (read…)

Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum in "21 Jump Street"

21 Dick Jokes is more like it. Of course, humor is highly subjective, so if that’s your thing then go forth and enjoy this action-comedy update of the late-80s Stephen J. Cannell show that launched the career of Johnny Depp. If you need a little more than that on the other hand, look elsewhere. To (read…)

Ed Helms and Jason Segel in Mark and Jay Duplass' "Jeff, Who Lives at Home"

Ed Helms and Jason Segel in Jeff, Who Lives at Home In the gently comic new film from Mark and Jay Duplass (The Puffy Chair, Cyrus) Jason Segel is Jeff who lives at home. Killing time in his mother’s basement, the doughy 30-something spends his ample free time smoking weed and watching M. Night Shyamalan’s (read…)

Cecile De France and Thomas Doret in Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne's "The Kid with a Bike"

. They’ve been doing it so consistently and for so long, it’s easy to take Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne for granted – more so since their work thrives on subtlety, directness and a complete lack of sentimentality even with material that seems melodramatic on paper. They’re at it again and have come up with yet (read…)

Adam Scott and Jennifer Westfeldt in "Friends with Kids"

Adam Scott and Jennifer Westfeldt As a cynical, single non-breeder, the odds were heavily against me enjoying a movie called Friends with Kids. It’s true, I was kind of hoping this would be a bitter dismantling of people who’ve capitulated to the biological imperative, but I knew it wouldn’t be. In fact, it’s really a (read…)

john carter

Lynn Collins and Taylor Kitsch in John Carter A little bit corny, a little bit dorky and unapologetically old-fashioned, John Carter is also actually kind of great. It’s a shame that Disney was afraid to market it as it really was rather than as another Avatar or something out of Heavy Metal magazine. Seriously, that (read…)

The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore

The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore Of the three Oscar short film categories, the animated category is reliably my favorite and 2012 does not disappoint. While it has the single weakest entry of all the short films, it also has the two strongest. As with the Oscar nominated live action and documentary shorts, ShortsHD (read…)

The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom

The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom For the second year in a row, ShortsHD and Magnolia Pictures are presenting the Oscar-nominated documentary shorts in addition to the popular live action shorts and the animated shorts. Running 130 minutes, the documentary program opens in New York on February 10, Los Angeles on February 17th and around (read…)

Time Freak

Time Freak, one of 5 Oscar-nominated Live Action Shorts One of the few reliable pleasures of Oscar season is the collection of 15 animated, live action and documentary shorts films that get nominated every year. Thanks to ShortsHD and Magnolia Pictures, we’ve been able to see the animated and live action shorts in theaters since (read…)


After premiering at the Venice Film Festival, Madonna’s film W.E. has drawn reactions that can best be described as polarized. Conversely, the film also won Madonna a Golden Globe for Best Original Song and earned Arrianne Phillips an Oscar nomination for Best Costume Design. Like many awards-season releases, W.E. is suffering the cruel fate of (read…)

Liam Neeson in The Grey (2012)

“No, I can’t believe I’m the guy from Schindler’s List either, but hey, at least this isn’t The A-Team.” If you go to the multiplex to see an action movie in January, you take your chances and you can’t really complain too much if you come away disappointed. I went into Liam Neeson’s new survival (read…)

Christian Bale in Zhang Yimou's The Flowers of War

Chinese writer/producer/director Yimou Zhang has proven himself time and time again to be one of the world’s most accomplished and consistently excellent filmmakers, hitting a career zenith his past decade with the Oscar-nominated films Hero, House of Flying Daggers, and Curse of the Golden Flower. The Flowers of War is his greatest achievement, a sweeping epic of a film (read…)

Gina Carano and Michael Fassbender in Steven Soderbergh's Haywire

With an auteur-type like Steven Soderbergh behind the wheel of a genre picture, the danger is that he’ll spend all his energies rethinking and deconstructing that genre while forgetting to deliver on the things the genre promises in the first place. Luckily, in the action-revenge picture Haywire, Soderbergh shows no such pretensions. This is a stripped down, old-school piece of work and a perfect showcase for mixed martial artist Gina Carano who has the beauty, charisma and, most importantly, the physical credibility to be a real action star. Haywire may not be high art, but it is high entertainment. Isn’t that as it should be?

Jim Broadbent and Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady

“I’d like to thank the Academy…” Neither character assassination nor hagiography, The Iron Lady is doomed to displease movie lovers of both liberal and conservative stripes. Though it is admirable if unconvincing in its stab at humanizing Margaret Thatcher, it fails to illuminate her in any way except the most simplistic. In fact, the film’s (read…)

Adepero Oduye in Dee Rees' Pariah

On paper, Dee Rees’ Pariah (expanded from her 2007 short of the same name) sounds like Sundance bait. While the noted independent film festival indeed bought it hook, line and sinker, Pariah is no Precious even though they’re both coming of age stories about troubled young black girls in the big city. Instead of overheated (read…)

Jeremy Irvine in War Horse

Based on the 2007 stage adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s 1982 children’s novel, Steven Spielberg’s War Horse tells an epic and episodic story of war and peace as seen through the eyes of Joey, a young thoroughbred horse who begins life in rural England on the eve of World War I. As Joey changes hands, he (read…)

Goran Kostic in Angelina Jolie's In The Land of Blood and Honey

Set during the war between Serbians and Bosnians in the 1990s, Angelina Jolie’s well-intended narrative feature directorial debut In the Land of Blood and Honey revolves around the queasy romance between a Serbian military leader and a Bosnian muslim woman. They meet before the war really gets going and are reconnected when she ends up (read…)

Matt Damon in Cameron Crowe's We Bought a Zoo

Matt Damon is Bourne free, as free as the wind blows, as free as the grass grows… [Editor’s Note: While I do most of the reviewing around here, Jackson got a jump on the latest from Cameron Crowe so he can do the honors.] We Bought a Zoo is an emotionally engaging crowd-pleaser, featuring touching (read…)

Rooney Mara in David Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

“Lisbeth, oh Lisbeth. Say, have you met Lisbeth, Lisbeth the dragon-tattooed lady?” The biggest mystery behind David Fincher’s icy thriller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is why the auteur felt the need to remake the adequate if unspectacular Swedish original in the first place. After seeing the movie itself, that question remains unanswered. It’s (read…)

The dance Vollmond from the film Pina by Wim Wenders

I went into Wim Wender’s 3D documentary on legendary dancer/choreographer Pina Bausch knowing nothing about her or her Tanztheater Wuppertal ensemble and having very little familiarity with modern dance. I came away totally captivated and eager to know more. Wenders was similarly captivated by a 1985 performance of the ensemble’s “Café Müller.” He and Bausch (read…)


The frustrating thing about Rodrigo Garcia’s Albert Nobbs is not that it’s a bad movie (and it is a bad movie), it’s that for almost an hour it seems like it might actually be a good one. The story of a woman passing herself off as a male butler working in a 19th century Dublin (read…)

The Adventures of Tintin (2011)

[Note: This review was written based on a 2D presentation of The Adventures of Tintin as seen on a DVD screener which I freely admit is no way to properly appreciate such a richly visual movie. I probably shouldn’t even run this review, and if I hadn’t liked the film I wouldn’t, but I’ll be (read…)

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All material copyright 2007-2012 by Craig Kennedy unless otherwise stated