Movies

“Once” Is Not Enough: Carney’s Begin Again Even Better

in
5 hours 5 min ago

**** (out of four)

Every now and then, a movie comes along that’s so much fun to watch, it oughta be declared a controlled substance.

John Carney’ s “Begin Again” is the latest such film -- maybe the best  ever made about the power of music. more»

Heaven is for Real - Movie Review

in
13 weeks 3 days ago
Movie Poster

HEAVEN IS FOR REAL: Doing It Right

Joseph W. Smith III     *** (out of four)

At last! A Christian-themed film non-Christians can watch without bolting for the exit. more»

Grand Budapest Hotel - Movie review

in
13 weeks 3 days ago
Movie Poster

15 Good Reasons … and One Great One

Joseph W. Smith III      ***1/2 (out of four)

 Here are 15 good reasons to see “Grand Budapest Hotel”: more»

“GOD’S NOT DEAD”: Paging Flannery O’Connor

in
16 weeks 6 days ago

*1/2 (out of four)

 

Can I suggest that Christians who want to write movies spend several months reading Flannery O’Connor first? more»

ARONOFSKY’S “NOAH”: Turning the Story Upside Down

in
16 weeks 6 days ago

* (out of four)

 

A lesser-known passage in the writings of Ezekiel suggests that Job, Daniel and Noah were among the most genuinely righteous figures in the Old Testament.

Somehow, I don’t think Darren Aronofsky read that verse -- or much other scripture either. more»

NON-STOP: Plot Holes Be Damned

in
21 weeks 4 hours ago

 *** (out of four)

 

Years ago, I read a review in which the writer rightly insisted that when you like a given film, it doesn’t really matter if the plot is full of holes.

I liked “Non-Stop.”

A lot. more»

Roll Over and Play Dead: THREE DAYS TO KILL

in
22 weeks 7 hours ago

** (out of four)

If it weren’t for the acting, “Three Days to Kill” would be a disaster.

Of course, that’s often the reason we go to the movies -- to watch three pros like Kevin Costner, Hailee Steinfeld and Connie Nielsen. more»

Defying prognostication: OSCAR PREDICTIONS 2014

in
22 weeks 7 hours ago

Cate Blanchett will win Best Actress for her excellent work in Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine.”
There -- I just had to get that out of the way! more»

Testing the Limits: LONE SURVIVOR

in
24 weeks 9 hours ago

***1/2 (out of four)

“Lone Survivor” pushes the envelope on how much brutality filmgoers can tolerate.

But of course, the unnerving experience of watching this film bears no comparison to the nightmare endured by its characters, most of whom -- as the title indicates -- did not make it to the end of this fight. more»

Toning It Down: THE MONUMENTS MEN

in
24 weeks 9 hours ago

*** (out of four)

Imagine a big-budget war movie with a dynamite cast that’s very old-fashioned, very slow and generally played as comedy.

Not what you’d expect from writer-director George Clooney -- which may explain why critics didn’t care for “Monuments Men,” the fact-based tale of experts charged with saving priceless art from the Nazi war machine. more»

BEST OF 2013: Another great year at the movies

in
28 weeks 6 days ago

The 2013 movie slate got off to a slow start and then exploded: As of June, my “best-of” list contained only one title; now I’m having trouble keeping it to ten!
Here they are, heavily weighted toward fall and winter: more»

Director’s “Mitty” offbeat and appealing

in
28 weeks 6 days ago

THE SECRET LIFE OF BEN STILLER
*** (out of four)

“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” is a big-budget adventure with the feel of an offbeat indie. more»

ALL IS LOST: Redford on His Own in a Tale of Survival and Despair

in
30 weeks 8 hours ago

*** (out of four)

If Robert Redford wins Best Actor for “All Is Lost,” it will be out of sentiment and admiration for his courage, rather than for the performance itself. more»

SAVING MR. BANKS: Feeling Like a Million Bucks

in
30 weeks 8 hours ago

**** (out of four)

With another fine performance in “Saving Mr. Banks” to stand beside “Captain Phillips,” Tom Hanks just might become the fourth actor ever to get an Oscar nomination in both categories.

But this dandy film belongs to Emma Thompson. more»

12 YEARS A SLAVE: “The American Holocaust” –- and an American Classic

in
35 weeks 3 days ago

****

Years ago, I heard a speaker refer to U.S. slavery as “the American holocaust.”

Anyone skeptical about that term should read Frederick Douglass’s 1845 autobiography -- or see “12 Years a Slave.”

But you’d better have a strong stomach.

Brutal, authentic and utterly enthralling, Steve McQueen’s film about Solomon Northup is a masterpiece. more»

ENDER’S GAME: Fitting Version

in
37 weeks 3 days ago

***1/2 (out of four)

“Ender’s Game” has all the essentials of great science fiction: a strong storyline; exciting action; characters who feel real even in unreal situations; a terrific climax; an even better coda -- and big ideas. Really big ideas. more»

CAPTAIN PHILLIPS: Hanks reinvents himself

in
41 weeks 8 hours ago

***1/2 (out of four)

There’s a reason Tom Hanks’s name runs above the title in ads for “Captain Phillips”:

The man is awesome. more»

Cuaron’s GRAVITY: Front-runner for this year’s Best Picture

in
42 weeks 6 hours ago

**** (out of four)

Films like “Gravity” are the reason cinema was invented.

Utterly original, beautifully acted, fiercely exciting, thoughtful, humane, stunningly gorgeous -- it’s the best movie I’ve seen this year. more»

CLOSED CIRCUIT: Low-key and creepy

in
43 weeks 4 days ago

*** (out of four)

A few weeks ago, the wannabe thriller “Paranoia” badly failed to live up to its name.

“Closed Circuit” fares considerably better.

Not only does the new film unleash plenty of creeped-out dread, but also, the storyline perfectly encapsulates its title. more»

THE FAMILY: Are We Actually Supposed to LIKE These People -- or This Movie?

in
45 weeks 9 hours ago

*1/2 (out of four)

“The Family” is a reprehensible film -- and the worst thing about it is that for a while, it actually works.

By “works,” I mean it succeeds in getting us to cheer on characters who are little more than homicidal, narcissistic thugs. more»

BLUE JASMINE: Woody and Cate make Oscar bait

in
47 weeks 3 days ago

***1/2 (out of four)

Imagine Woody Allen warming up to blue-collar workers -- making them wiser and warmer than callow upper-class sophisticates. more»

NOT TOO LONG OR TOO DISAPPOINTING: Disney’s “Planes” does the job

in
49 weeks 4 days ago

**1/2 (out of four)

It’s silly to object that Disney’s new “Planes” is a copy of “Cars”; the film acknowledges this at every turn.

Remarking that the film isn’t as good seems pointless, too; animated movies simply don’t get much better than “Cars.” more»

THE WAY, WAY BACK: Heroes and villains you can actually believe in

in
49 weeks 4 days ago

***1/2 (out of four)

Ever notice that some adults seem less mature than their own children?

That’s one premise in “The Way, Way Back,” a funny, tender and painfully authentic beachside comedy. more»

MUCH ADO ABOUT MUCH ADO: Whedon does Shakespeare

in
50 weeks 1 day ago

***1/2 (out of four)

Kenneth Branagh and Joss Whedon have switched places -- at least for now. more»

R.I.P.D. No life among the dead

in
1 year 3 days ago

** (out of four)

“R.I.P.D.” is a mash-up of romance, sci-fi, mystery, action, cops, comedy, cowboys and zombies.

This mix may have worked in the graphic novels that served as the movie’s source -- but on screen it flops. more»

Glee Actress Trisha Rae Stahl to Join Central PA Film Office Board

in
1 year 1 week ago
Trisha Rae Stahl

Glee actress Trisha Rae Stahl will join the advisory board of the Central Pennsylvania Film Office (CPFO). Stahl hails from the Williamsport area and is excited to give back to her community by working with the CPFO. more»

Waiting for 'The Way, Way Back': A Round-up of Sam Rockwell

in
1 year 1 week ago

In case nobody noticed, this summer looks a bust at the movies.

Yes, the new “Star Trek” and “Iron Man” were solid; so was “Now You See Me.” But costly hopefuls like “Man of Steel” and “Lone Ranger” were, to say the least, disappointing; and “Pacific Rim” just opened in third place -- behind two sequels. more»

THE LONE RANGER: Flat, deadpan, just a little horse

in
1 year 2 weeks ago

**1/2 (out of four)

“The Lone Ranger” is rarely boring, but it isn’t a whole lot of fun either. more»

MAN OF STEEL: Ignorance and Apathy

in
1 year 5 weeks ago

** (out of four)

A recent joke asks, “What’s the different between ignorance and apathy?”

Answer: I don’t know, and I don’t care.

That pretty much sums up my reaction to “Man of Steel,” the new Superman update from director Zack Snyder. more»

Style over Substance -- but what great style!

in
1 year 7 weeks ago

NOW YOU SEE ME
*** (out of four)

“Now You See Me” is a pretty much case of style over substance.

But what style! more»

STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS

in
1 year 9 weeks ago
Zoe Saldana is Nyota Uhura, who must choose between her love for Spock, played by Zachary Quinto, and the good of her team.

Movie No. 12 and Still Going Strong

***1/2 (out of four)

Quick -- think of a franchise where later entries are among the best.

Maybe Dr. Who; maybe Sherlock Holmes; maybe 007, who’s taken on new life with Daniel Craig. more»

GOLDEN GATSBY: DiCaprio opens up the book

in
1 year 10 weeks ago

*** (out of four)

Imagine a lovely, gold-leaf, hardback copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby.”

Now imagine getting hit over the head with it, firmly and repeatedly.

That’s how the first 20 minutes feels in Baz Luhrmann’s glitzy new film version of the 1925 classic. more»

IRON MAN 3: Box-office glory despite some flaws

in
1 year 11 weeks ago

*** (out of four)

“Iron Man 3” has one great strength and one liability:

The script. more»

Filmmakers Release Human Trafficking-Awareness Film 'Remember to Forget Me'

in
1 year 12 weeks ago

Two young female Pennsylvania filmmakers have created a film and released it on Youtube that tackles the difficult and dark subject of human trafficking in America. “Remember To Forget Me” is a 30 minute video a year in the making. It has been created to raise awareness on Human Trafficking through artistic film. more»

Here’s 'Mud' in Your Eye

in
1 year 12 weeks ago

Thought-provoking thriller with great performances and gorgeous visuals

*** (out of four)

 

Chivalry is not dead. more»

Take a Cruise on OBLIVION

in
1 year 13 weeks ago

First of many goodies in a promising sci-fi year
*** (out of four)

Yes, there is more going on than meets the eye in “Oblivion,” the new sci-fi hit starring Tom Cruise. more»

'The Impossible' deserved a shot at Best Picture -- and Best Actress

in
1 year 14 weeks ago

**** (out of four)

“The Impossible” is a stunning reminder that we don’t go to the movies merely to be entertained.

This film about the 2004 tsunami is one of the most shattering experiences I’ve had in a theater. more»

'42' In a League of Its Own

in
1 year 14 weeks ago

'42' a Stirring Tribute to Jackie Robinson

***1/2 (out of four)

Thanks to “A League of Their Own,” everybody knows there’s no crying in baseball.

But there is crying in baseball movies -- at least for the audience. more»

CREDIBILITY HAS FALLEN: “Olympus” exciting but lazy

in
1 year 18 weeks ago

**1/2 (out of four)

During “Olympus Has Fallen,” half the time I kept thinking, “This is really exciting!” -- and the other half, “This is really stupid!”

In the end, “exciting” wins out -- but not by much. more»

OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL

in
1 year 19 weeks ago

Pretty and powerful -- until the end
OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL **1/2 (out of four)

“Oz the Great and Powerful” strikes a good balance between paying homage to its glorious predecessor and charting its own individual course.

A fairly good balance, that is. more»

DEAD MAN DOWN

in
1 year 19 weeks ago

Terrence Howard as a villain?  Yes, indeed.
DEAD MAN DOWN *** (out of four)

“Dead Man Down” is unusual -- not great, not bad, and certainly not as run-of-the-mill as previews make it look. more»

HITCHCOCK

in
1 year 19 weeks ago

A Tale of “Psycho: Ed Gein … and true love
HITCHCOCK: *** (out of four)
 

Surprise, surprise -- “Hitchcock” is a love story.

This late 2012 film about the making of “Psycho” finally arrived in our area in February, playing for a few days at the Campus in Lewisburg. more»

DIE HARD 5: A Good Day to Take a Nap

in
1 year 22 weeks ago

** (out of four)

I haven’t seen the fourth film in Bruce Willis’ long-running “Die Hard” series; but friends assure me that the new “Good Day to Die Hard” is better.

In that case, “DH4” must have been pretty bad. more»

OSCAR 2013: A Night of Firsts

in
1 year 22 weeks ago
Replicas of Academy Award statuette in a gift store Hollywood (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

This year, Oscar will be a night of firsts.

Among other things, the 2013 slate features both the oldest and youngest females ever to be nominated for Best Actress.

And when Daniel-Day Lewis wins for his uncanny portrayal of Abraham Lincoln (believe me, this is a no-brainer), he’ll become the first man ever to win Best Actor three times. more»

SIDE EFFECTS: A Dandy Thriller -- but See It Before You Read Too Much!

in
1 year 23 weeks ago

SIDE EFFECTS:
*** (out of four)

Years ago, a Village Voice review of “Jagged Edge” started by proclaiming its excellence -- and then insisted that readers who hadn’t seen it should do so at once before reading any farther. more»

Four acting nominations -- and then some

in
1 year 26 weeks ago

“Silver Linings Playbook”
**** (out of four)

When the credits rolled for “Silver Linings Playbook,” I turned to my wife and said, “Can’t we just stay here and watch it again?”

I was also thinking, “Time to rewrite my best-of-2012 list again.”

“Playbook” goes very close to top. more»

Bigelow shoots with the big boys

in
1 year 27 weeks ago

ZERO DARK THIRTY

***1/2 (out of four)

So now in addition to reviewing “Zero Dark Thirty,” I’m probably expected to weigh in on whether the movie advocates torture -- and whether director Kathryn Bigelow was unfairly snubbed when she didn’t get nominated for an Oscar. more»

DJANGO UNCHAINED: Maybe a little too entertaining

in
1 year 29 weeks ago

*** (out of four)

Only Quentin Tarantino would use Jim Croce in a shoot-em-up saga of slavery and bounty-hunting.

I confess I never really “got” Tarantino -- until now. I still think his violence is excessive; but the writer-director’s latest movie, “Django Unchained,” is a terrifically entertaining piece of cinema.

Maybe too entertaining. more»

LES MISERABLES: What All the Fuss Is About

in
1 year 29 weeks ago

***1/2 (out of four)

One great thing about musicals -- they get to be over the top.

The notion of everyone bursting into unanimous song is very well suited to larger-than-life material -- joy, despair, sin, repentance, loss, mercy, heaven, selfless sacrifice and love at first sight. more»

BEST OF THE BEST: 2012 a “splendid” year for movie buffs

in
1 year 30 weeks ago

 

In most years, I find it tough to come up with enough great films for a top-ten list. Not so 2012. I could easily have picked a baker’s dozen from this splendid year; but here are a few of my faves: more»

'Hobbit' Offers Glimpses of Enchanting Tolkien Magic

in
1 year 31 weeks ago

*** (out of four)

How well I remember reading “The Hobbit” in eighth grade -- and falling under the spell of that magical world created by a middle-aged genius with the heart and soul of a 10-year-old boy.

The new film version of J. R. R. Tolkien’s 1937 novel is pretty good; but it offers only glimpses of that enchanting Tolkien magic. more»

FIVE FRANCHISES THAT WON’T DIE

in
1 year 31 weeks ago

While final box-office receipts aren’t in yet, this year’s top 20 will likely include nearly a dozen sequels, tie-ins or franchise movies.

Whether “Twilight” or “Madagascar” will still be hot in 10 years remains an open question; but five franchises currently seem stronger than ever -- even after many decades: more»

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