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The Monuments Men: About Time

By Sandra Olmsted

Director George Clooney’s timely The Monument Men chronicles the real-life adventure of the American lead effort to save the cultural history of Europe as the Allied Forces pursued the retreating Nazi army across the continent. According to The Monuments Men Foundation website, the Monuments Men were a force of about 345 men and women representing thirteen nations who were mostly “museum directors, curators, art historians, artists, architects, and educators. Their job description was simple: to protect cultural treasures so far as war allowed.”

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Labor Day may be good Valentine film

The pie making scene in  Labor Day w with Josh Brolin and Kate Winslet, rivals that of the pot throwing scene in Ghost.

The pie making scene in Labor Day w with Josh Brolin and Kate Winslet, rivals that of the pot throwing scene in Ghost.

By Sandra Olmsted

In writer-director Jason Reitman’s Labor Day, the slowly unfolding story doles out romantic and dramatic tensions in digestible bites. Although told from the perspective of  13-year-old Henry (Gattlin Griffith), the story focuses on his mother Adele (Kate Winslet) heartbreak, depression, and withdrawal from society. At first, her wallowing in seems to be about being divorced from Henry’s father Gerald (Clark Gregg), but a deeper reason for Adele’s sadness drove the weak Gerald away. Although Hollywood rarely makes this once popular genre of film, the Woman’s Picture, Reitman may revive it with Labor Day.

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Nut Job: Fun, But Politically Uneven

By Sandra Olmsted

TNJ rat pge 7In director Peter Lepeniotis’ Nut Job, an ambitious extension of his 2005 animated short, “Surly Squirrel,” Surly (voice of Will Arnett), a lazy, reckless, and self-centered individual, lives in the idyllic-looking Liberty Park in the city of Oakton, which evokes late 1950s Americana.

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August: Osage County: No Fun in Their Dysfunction

By Sandra Olmsted

If George (Richard Burton) and Martha (Elizabeth Taylor) from director Mike Nichols’ Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolff? (1966) had had children, this would have been their family dynamic, and not since that battling couple has a film captured the dysfunction, pettiness, and conflict of family life as does director John Wells’ August: Osage County.

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Lone Survivor Gives Away Too Much

By Sandra Olmsted

Peter Berg’s Lone Survivor biggest problem is revealing who the lone survivor of the failed military operation will be at the beginning of the film. War films by definition and necessity are patriotic, jingoistic spectacles, and, undoubtedly an American war film, Lone Survivor celebrates the toughness and dedication of American servicemen in its excruciating battle scenes. Unfortunately, Berg robs the audience of connecting with all the soldiers and of feeling loss when they die. He also fails, as the writer of the script, to create characters which are individualized sufficiently and leaves the actors to fill in the blanks with what appears little direction or emphasis.

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2013 St. Louis Film Critics Awardees

Best Film:  “12 Years a Slave”  (runner-up): “American Hustle”

Best Director:  Steve McQueen (“12 Years a Slave”)  (runner-up): Alfonso Cuaron (“Gravity”)

Best Actor:  Chiwetel Ejiofor (“12 Years a Slave”)  (runner-up): Matthew McConaughey (“Dallas Buyers Club”)

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