Movie Reviews

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American Sniper: Eastwood Returns to the War Zone, Cooper Carries Film

By Sandra Olmsted

Director Clint Eastwood again proves he know what war is all about in American Sniper, which is based on Chris Kyle’s American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History. Not only does Eastwood show his mastery of big action, but he explores the wages of violence and the toll it took on the Iraqi and Afghanistan soldiers who fought in a guerilla war where every local was considered hostile.

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Inherent Vice: Hallucinatory Journey to the End of an Era

By Sandra Olmsted

Director Paul Thomas Anderson adapts Thomas Pynchon’s 2009 novel Inherent Vice and captures Pynchon’s love of movies and the transition from the decade of free love to Nixon era paranoia. Although the dying counterculture looks sad and stoned and the future looks depressingly scary and corporate, the film has innumerable movie references and cameos galore by star after star, who elevate the whole film with intense performances.

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Musical Opens Christmas Day

Into the Woods: A Tasty Treat For the Holidays

by Sandra Olmsted

With Into the Woods, an adaptation of the Broadway musical, director Rob Marshall whips up a tasty treat for the holiday. Dashes of wit and Brothers Grimm darkness complement the equal parts talented cast, solid musical source material, and, finally, imaginative staging for film.    The story combines several favorite fairy tales into a new story with interwoven threats between the stories, as through all these familiar characters live in the same community. At the center of the fairy-tale-based musical by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, the Baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) long for a child, and then the neighborhood witch (Meryl Streep) informs them that she has cursed the Baker’s family for something his father stole from her garden and offers the couple a way to have child.

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WWII codebreaker film is Oscar material

The Imitation Game: There’s Nothing Fake about It

by Sandra Olmsted

Norwegian director Morten Tyldum makes his English language debut with The Imitation Game, the true story of Alan Turing (played smashingly by Benedict Cumberbatch), the man who broke the German code during WWII and created an early version of a computer in the process.    Also the tragic story of Turing’s demise because he was gay, and under the Victorian-era Labouchere Amendment (1885-1967), being gay was illegal.

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Foxcatcher: Great Performances But Bleak and Long

By Sandra Olmsted

Director Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher, which has already garnered prestigious accolates, mostly for acting, chronicles the true store of eccentric multimillionaire John du Pont’s (Steve Carell) descent into madness and murder.

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The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is Thrilling Finale

By Sandra Olmsted

Director Peter Jackson’s final installment in his extended adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit is definite the best of his three prequels to The Lord of the Rings trilogy, which Jackson also directed. For The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Jackson pulls out every computer generated image and special effect trick he knows and uses them well to create his leanest, most thrilling film in his Hobbit trilogy. The film also resolves a number of subplots that have been swirling through Jackson’s artificially lengthened trilogy based on one thin novel.

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