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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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Holiday Movies Always Bring Oscar Buzz

By Sandra Olmsted

The holidays are here and plenty of great films that are getting Oscar buzz and some movies that are just entertainment are headed to theaters in the next few week.

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Home Grown Awards: St. Louis Film Critic’s Announce Nominations

By Sandra Olmsted

The local film critics, who have been making a name for themselves in awards circles, released their nominations for the 2013 films. One of the most unusual awards the St. Louis Film Critics (SLFC) give is for Best Scene. These are the nominations for this year: 12 Years a Slave – The hanging scene; Captain Phillips – The scene near the end of the film where Tom Hanks is being checked out by military medical personnel and he breaks down. Gravity – The opening tracking shot; Her – Off-screen OS sex scene. The Place Beyond the Pines – The opening scene where Ryan Gosling is walking through the carnival.

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