The first real Oscar contender of the season has emerged: If you recognize Eddie Redmayne, it will most likely be from his endearing performance as Marius in Les Miserables, or his charming turn as the object of Marilyn Monroe's fleeting attention in My Week with Marilyn. This time, Redmayne takes center stage in a striking portrayal of physicist Stephen Hawking.
This movie is exactly what you expect. I say that with a kind of psychological surety because this film is sort of a cinematic Rorschach test: You see what you want to see. If your faith is unshakable and your fandom unwavering, this is a brilliant setting-of-the-stage for the big finale: the less-spectacular but still awe-inspiring fireworks before the grand finish. If you're a little less invested, you might find this third Hunger Games installment to be like watching a lit fuse as it slowly burns toward dynamite without ever getting there.
This film is based on a true story and marks the directorial debut of funnyman and The Daily Show host Jon Stewart. The reasons for Stewart's career shift seem apparent when it becomes clear that an appearance by Maziar Bahari, the subject of the film, on Stewart's late night talk show may have unwittingly triggered the events that followed. The story seems to be as much a tribute to Bahari's triumph of spirit as a mea culpa from Stewart.
I'll give you the bad news first. The big movie opening last week was Dumb and Dumber To. A sequel that in 1994 then A-lister Jim Carrey scoffed at as preposterous. Who needs $10 million for a crap movie when people are beating down your door with offers? I guess when it's that or a reality show, the choice is a bit more tempting. The good news: a lot of terrific options were released this week as well. Perhaps studios sensed people steering clear of the cineplex. Who knows.
Story: In 1938, 8-year-old Berry Gordy Jr. witnessed the thrill his parents experienced when American boxer Joe Louis defeated German fighter Max Schmeling in a heavyweight bout. Gordy Jr. was determined to bring happiness to others in a way much like he saw in his parents’ faces at news of that epic boxing event.
Story: It’s another deadly dull day for Angela and Stu. The couple, who’ve been married for some 20 years, aren’t nearly as passionate as they were when they met in high school, at least not Angela. She’s grown weary of their threadbare existence and the livelihood that depends on their moribund convenience store.
I have to say this movie had two strikes against it going in: First, it's just shy of three hours. At this stage, a running time of 2:20 is my limit. It's not that three hours is unbearable, it's mainly that most three-hour movies are self indulgent (or director-indulgent, I should say). The other aspect of this movie that had me driving very slowly toward the theater is the lead. Frankly, I've had my fill of Matthew McConaughey. Between the award speeches and the Lincoln ads, he's overexposed, and, dare I say, a bit smug. But if any film-maker could win me over, it's Christopher Nolan—and he does.
Story: An original, found-text performance created entirely from postings on the website Craigslist, which runs posts varying from classified ads for buying or selling merchandise to lonely hearts entreaties and sometimes graphic sexual notes.
Story: Five months after the outbreak of World War I, a number of British, French and German troops positioned in trenches alongside “no man’s land” in Europe stopped their fighting for a brief but poignant period on Christmas Eve, 1914. Tentative and leery at first, they slowly emerged from their rat-infested trenches to extend holiday greetings to each other. They sang songs, exchanged simple gifts and even participated in an impromptu soccer game on the frozen terrain.
As repellent as the paparazzi and celebrity scandal-mongers are, most of us find it difficult to totally sympathize with celebrities who mourn the attention. I'm so sorry you're rich and famous and adored, and the price you pay is getting jostled running to your car or filmed buying drugs. It seems a small price to pay. When cameras invade every aspect of everyone's life, however, the story takes a turn. This film touches on a larger issue; a commentary on what the public expects, on line-drawing and about what's newsworthy.
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